CANNES, France — The satire “The Triangle of Sadness,” from the Swedish director Ruben Ostlund, won the Palme d’Or at the 75th Cannes Film Festival at a ceremony here on Saturday. A blunt, ugly sendup of class politics, the movie had sharply divided critics.
The awards ceremony ran a relatively painless 90 or so minutes, another reminder that the emphasis at Cannes remains on the movies themselves, not the accompanying circus. Held inside the magnificent Grand Lumière Theater inside the festival’s headquarters — with the nine-person jury watching from the stage — the awards confer critical legitimation and generate much-needed public relations for movies that, years into the pandemic, are headed into a still-difficult world for art cinema.
The Grand Prix — the festival’s second prize — was split between “Close,” from the Belgian director Lukas Dhont, and “Stars at Noon,” from the French auteur Claire Denis. “Stars at Noon” was brutalized by critics, but it wasn’t wholly a shock that it won an award: Vincent Lindon, the president of this year’s jury, has appeared in several of Denis’s movies. “Close,” a critical and audience favorite about two 13-year-old boys whose friendship is tragically tested, drew warm applause from the Lumière audience.
The Jury Prize, the third prize, was split between two very different dramas: “EO,” a heartbreaker about a donkey from the Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski, and “The Eight Mountains,” a coming-of-age story from the Belgian filmmakers Felix Van Groeningen and Charlotte Vandermeersch. Skolimowski, 84, began his acceptance speech by thanking (and naming) all six of his donkeys — including a little beauty called Taco. For her part, Vandermeersch seemed to surprise her co-director and partner by repeatedly kissing him right before he started his acceptance speech.
The South Korean director Park Chan-wook won the director prize for “Decision to Leave,” an entertainingly twisty thriller (which riffs on Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”), which was a critical favorite. “This is so cool,” Park said in English on taking the stage, though he also added an expletive.
The screenplay award was given to the engrossing (and chatty) drama “Boy from Heaven,” from the Swedish director Tarik Saleh. The film traces the political intrigues swirling around a young Egyptian student, a Sunni Muslim, soon after he begins studying at a powerful religious university. After accepting his award, Saleh dedicated his prize to young Egyptian filmmakers: “Raise your voices, and tell your stories.”
In one of the bigger surprises of the evening, the best actress went to Zar Amir Ebrahimi, the star of the widely disliked true-crime drama “Holy Spider,” from the Iranian-born director Ali Abbasi. She plays a journalist who faces the indifference and misogyny of the police as she tracks down a serial killer. The best actor prize was given to Song Kang-ho, the brilliant South Korean actor (“Parasite”), for his sensitive, soulful performance as a baby trafficker in “Broker,” the latest from the Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda.
A special prize to commemorate the festival’s 75th anniversary was given to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who were in competition again with “Tori and Lokita,” about two undocumented African immigrants in a cruel, profoundly inhospitable Belgium. The Dardennes are among the most justly honored filmmakers in the history of Cannes, having won the Palme twice (for “Rosetta” in 1999 and “The Child” in 2005). This award was richly deserved.