Every year, the Cannes Film Festival jury chooses the best film of the year and rewards it with the coveted Palme d’Or, considered by many to be the highest prize a film can receive internationally. Every time, the jury is chaired by various outstanding personalities of cinema. In the 2000s, the jury included Luc Besson, David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Wong Kar-wai, Isabelle Huppert, Tim Burton, and others, and they chose some truly remarkable films for the Cannes Film Festival’s grand prize. Here are all Palme d’Or winners of the 2000s, ranked.
10 Fahrenheit 9/11
Fahrenheit 9/11 took home Cannes Film Festival’s grand prize in 2004, and is the only other documentary to win the Palme d’Or aside from the very first recipient, The Silent World from Jacques Cousteau. The American documentary by Michael Moore takes a critical look at George W. Bush, the September 11 attacks, and the invasion of Iraq. Film critic Roger Ebert described this movie about politics as “a compelling, persuasive film, at odds with the White House effort to present Bush as a strong leader,” and remains one of the highest-grossing documentaries of all time.
9 The Class
Laurent Cantet’s 2008 drama The Class is a humanistic movie about a teacher. The story follows the idealistic young man, who teaches a troubled class of racially mixed students dismissed as no-hopers by other teachers. The film is based on a semi-autobiographical novel by a French language and literature teacher, François Bégaudeau. In The Class, Bégaudeau steps into the leading role and plays himself. Because of this, the film turned out to be realistic, vivid, and sincere.
8 The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Winner of the 2006 Palme d’Or, Ken Loach’s war film The Wind That Shakes the Barley follows two brothers, Damien (one of the best Cillian Murphy performances) and Teddy (Pádraic Delaney), who join the Irish Republican Army to fight for their country independence from the United Kingdom. It is an authentic, powerful, and breathtaking film about the tragic period of Irish history. Irish Mirror described The Wind That Shakes the Barley as a modern classic.
7 The Son’s Room
Nanni Moretti’s 2001 Italian drama The Son’s Room is a heartbroken story about loss. The 2001 Cannes Film Festival-winning film centers on a successful psychoanalyst, Giovanni (played by the director, Moretti), who does not know how to live after the tragedy that befell his family. Giovanni’s family goes through all stages of grief to accept what happened. It is a tender and touching film, sometimes accused of sentimentality, about the fragility of human life, with a quietly beautiful ending.
6 The Child
In 2005, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, a Belgian filmmaking duo, won the Palme d’Or for the second time. They received the highest prize at the Cannes Film Festival for their film The Child (or The Child), which centers on a young couple, criminal Bruno and his pregnant girlfriend Sonia. To make quick money, Bruno decides to sell their child. The Dardenne brothers’ movie looks at the bleak side of the bottom of society. It is sad, horrifying, and dramatic, but not hopeless, and features the Dardennes’ neorealism at its tragic best.
Winner of the 2003 Palme d’Or, Gus Van Sant’s psychological drama Elephant is based on the Columbine High School massacre. This film is the second in the filmmaker’s Death Trilogy (starting with Gerry in 2002 and continuing with Elephant and Last Days). Elephant follows the lives of ordinary high school students, two of them planning a school shooting. One of the best Gus Van Sant films stars mostly non-professional actors, so it feels very real. It is a deeply affecting and disturbing movie, and one of the most important films about gun violence and teenage alienation.
4 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu’s 2007 drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days explores the suffering of women in a country where abortion is illegal. The film is set in the 1987 Socialist Republic of Romania and follows two students, one helping the other in organizing abortion. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is a horrifying and powerful film that has shown life in the Soviet Bloc better than most, and a strong testament for a woman’s right to choose .. In the BBC list of the 21st century’s 100 greatest films 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was ranked 15th.
3 The White Ribbon
In 2009, a modern movie shown in black and whiteMichael Haneke’s disturbing drama The White Ribbonwon the Palme d’Or. The White Ribbon tells the dark story of German society before World War I. “I wanted to describe the atmosphere of the eve of world war. There are countless films that deal with the Nazi period, but not the pre-period and pre-conditions, which is why I wanted to make this film “, Michael Haneke said. In the film, a series of sinister incidents take place in a German village, where almost every character has their own horrifying secrets. The White Ribbon is an outstanding analysis of evil, brilliantly exploring the Holocaust by avoiding the actual event, instead of observing human nature and the events leading up to it.
2 Dancer in the Dark
The 2000 Cannes Film Festival-winning musical drama Dancer in the Dark is an incredibly powerful film by a Scandinavian outsider from the Hollywood mainstream, Lars von Trier. Dancer in the Dark is the third film in his Golden Heart Trilogy (starting with Breaking the Waves in 1996 and continuing with The Idiots and Dancer in the Dark). The movie tells the painful story of a Czechoslovakian immigrant, Selma, who gradually loses her vision and is ready to do everything so that her son does not suffer the same fate. Icelandic singer Björk steps into the role of Selma, and her rare performance, especially her touching song I’ve Seen It Allbrings a lot of emotional depth to the expertly photographed film.
1 The Pianist
Based on the autobiographical book of a Holocaust survivor, pianist Władysław Szpilman, Roman Polanski’s 2002 war drama The Pianist was widely acclaimed by critics, with The Guardian noting, “The Pianist is a weighty and moving film. A genuine achievement.” The film stars Adrien Brody as a musician who was broadcasting live on Warsaw radio when the German bombs fell. It’s Adrien Brody’s most heartbreaking and incredible performance and his career-defining role. “I can not even watch the film. I can not. I kind of cry when I talk about it”, said Brody. Watching The Pianist can be a really difficult experience, but this film is definitely worth it.
Cannes: Every Palme d’Or Winner of the 2010s, Ranked