Did The 2023 Oscars Kickoff At Cannes?

The closing ceremony for the 2022 Cannes Film Festival provided a number of surprises. The biggest being “Triangle of Sadness” taking the Palme d’Or. Not only did it become Ruben Östlund’s second Palme winner after the “Square,” but U.S. distributor NEON’s third win in a row after 2021’s “Titane” and 2019’s “Parasite.” Like Julia Ducournau‘s winner though, “Sadness” will likely not be a significant player during awards season. But, as expected, a number of other films that debuted on la Croisette should be in the Oscars mix in the months ahead.

READ MORE: “Close” is an exquisite tale of childhood heartbreak [Cannes Review]

The real Oscar players were spread out amongst the other jury winners and the most obvious players are those who will represent their nations in the International Film category. Right now no country has made any official selections, but we can easily guess who some of the submissions based on their critical acclaim and, of course, filmmaker politics.

Ali Abbasi’s “Holy Spider,” which saw Zar Amir- Ebrahimi win Best Actress, is likely Denmark’s submission even though it takes place in Iran. Marie Kreutzer’s “Corsage,” which saw Vicky Krieps win Best Actress in the Un Certain Regard competition, should be Austria’s submission. Cristian Mungiu‘s “R.M.N.” is likely Romania’s entry. The 85-year-old Jerzy Skolimowski tied with the Jury Prize for “E.O.” which easily looks like Poland’s submission. Tarik Saleh, who won Best Screenplay, should see “Boy From Heaven” selected by Sweden. Iran is expected to pick Saeed Roustayi’s “Leila’s Brothers” and Hlynur Pálmason’s “Godland” should represent Iceland. After those selections, things get much dicier.

In theory, Park Chan-wook, who won Best Director for “Decision to Leave,” one of the most critically acclaimed films at the festival, should have South Korea’s submission locked up. But, “Broker,” which stars Best Actor winner and “Parasite” star Song Kang-Ho, has a shot at the upset. The issue is whether Korea will submit it with Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda at the helm. Koreeda was previously nominated in this category on behalf of Japan for his own Palme d’Or winner, “Shoplifters,” and it’s possible Japan could submit it as well (confusing, I know). With powerhouse financier CJ Entertainment behind both films it’s likely “Decision” is the safe Korean entry, but, hey, things happen.

Belgium should submit Lukas Dhont’s “Close” (more on that one in a minute) which tied for the Grand Prix (essentially second place), but could surprise with the Dardennes “Tori and Lokita” which was awarded a special 75th Anniversary prize by the festival jury. That would be a colossal mistake, but again, anything can happen with these committees.

France and Italy, two perennial players in this category have some tough decisions on their hands and both nations’ selection committees are no doubt focused on debuts at the upcoming Venice Film Festival. In the meantime, France’s best shot at making the shortlist is Mia Hansen-Løve‘s “One Fine Morning.” Charlotte Vandermeersch and Felix Van Groeningen’s “The Eight Mountains,” which tied for the Jury Prize could also qualify for Belgium or Italy. Beyond what arrives on the Lido at the end of August, Italy also has the option of picking Mario Martone’s highly regarded competition title, “Nostalgia.”

READ MORE: “Triangle of Sadness” wins the Palme d’Or at Canne

The real question is whether any of these films have a shot to crack the other Oscar categories. Remember, even despite a misguided release and awards campaign, Cannes 2021 veteran Joachim Trier’s “Worst Person in the World” earned an Original Screenplay nomination, and eventual International Film winner “Drive My Car” saw Ryusuke Hamaguchi take Adapted Screenplay and Best Director nods. The Academy is more international than many observers want to admit (let alone Twitter) and that’s probably good news for Dhont and “Close,” which A24 picked up before its premiere.

It’s not a slam dunk, but “Close” is an artful tearjerker that could easily land a Best Picture nomination with the right positioning and tender love and care from A24. A director nomination feels unlikely for Dhont, but Original Screenplay, Cinematography, and Original Score recognition could be at play. “Close” will screen for Academy members similarly in some ways to previous Best Picture nominees “Amour” and “The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.” It will have its critical naysayers, but it’s the sort of film Academy members will gush over. Throw in key screenings at Telluride, TIFF, and NYFF, and the path to a nom is clear.

Other Cannes competition contenders include James Gray’s “Armageddon Time” (likely in the mix for Original Screenplay), David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future” (Hair and Makeup), and Chan-wook’s aforementioned “Decision To Leave” (Production Design, Cinematography, Original Score).

Opening outside of competition was Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” which mostly earned praise for its musical performances and Austin Butler’s charismatic turn as the King of Rock and Roll. It’s hard to see Warner Bros. mustering a Best Picture nod for “Elvis” (although box office could always swing its fortunes), but Butler is certainly on the list for a potential Best Actor nomination. However, our gut tells us he’ll likely suffer the same fate as “Rocketman’s” Taron Edgerton. Makes all the lists, earns Critics Choice or Golden Globe nods, and never ascends as a legit threat for an Oscar nod. That being said, like most Luhrmann films, “Elvis” is a definite player in Costumes, Hair and Makeup, Sound, and Production Design.

And then there is Joseph Kosinski’s “Top Gun: Maverick” which following a big song and dance screening at Cannes demolished the Memorial Day box office and earned critical kudos (78 on Metacritic after 60 reviews ain’t nothing to sneeze at). We would suggest people take a breath before predicting a Best Actor nomination for Tom Cruise, but the film is beloved enough already that a Best Picture nomination is not out of the question. We’ve got a long way to go and effectively landing that “10th slot” won’t be easy. But, Paramount appears to have another legitimate player beyond Damien Chazelle’s highly anticipated “Babylon.” And nods in categories such as Editing, Visual Effects, Cinematography, and Sound are absolutely attainable.

As for “Triangle,” Östlund’s latest probably has a very outside shot at a screenwriting nomination. For Neon, it’s a tempting art house play that could generate substantial buzz with its core audience. And for Östlund, that only helps him set up a potential Oscar run for his next film which is also expected to be in the English language.

Follow along with all our coverage from the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.