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The somewhat sizzling temperatures that have baked the South of France over the last few days may have kept most non-mad dogs off the Croisette (at least the ones that don’t mostly travel in overpriced luxury handbags), but it’s thankfully been a different story on the screens.
As Cannes approaches its midway point, mutt watchers have already sniffed out some poochy potentials for the Palm Dog, the annual celebration of the festival’s most pawesome four-legged performances, now celebrating its 20th year.
Pound for hound, 2019 may have been the greatest year for the Palm Dog, featuring a ceremony where not only could Brandy, Brad Pitt’s pit bull in Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, claim the top honor, but Quentin Tarantino himself showed up to collect the dog collar prize (slamming The Hollywood Reporter’s incorrect suggestion of a low canine count as he did so).
But so far in 2021, The Hollywood Reporter‘s critics have singled out a “very good boy” in Un Certain Regard entry Delo by Aleksey German Jr., a “Jack Russell lookalike” who keeps his master company under house arrest and “likes to hear him recite poetry.” Over in the Directors’ Fortnight, three larger beasts — springer spaniels actually owned by star Tilda Swinton- – were widely praised in Joanna Hogg’s much-adored The Souvenir Part II. It was noted that Swinton obviously has a “very good rapport with them.”
Elsewhere, a “faithful mixed-breed sheepdog” was praised in gritty French Critics’ Week film Softie, while competition lineup standouts included an “amazing medium-build German Shepherd lookalike” in Chadian abortion drama Lingui.
Mark Cousins’ roadtrip doc The Storms of Jeremy Thomas — a Cannes Classics selection — may not feature any actual dogs per se (it’s mostly just Cousins and Thomas in a car driving from London to Cannes), but it reportedly features a “two-minute digression on the importance of dogs in cinema.”
For Palm Dog founder Toby Rose, a year after the pandemic made a dog’s dinner of his awards show, hounds are bounding back.
“On the 20th anniversary of the Palm Dog, unsurprisingly canines are putting their best paw forward,” he said. “It’s a major rover rebound.”
That all said, 2021 may well be remembered as a year where an entirely different animal altogether is the one that gets most critical tails wagging. As one THR reviewer commented after watching the titular bovine in Andrea Arnold’s documentary Cow, perhaps it’s time for a new award: Palm de Bouef?
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