Cannes: Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins Palme d'Or

Bong Joon-ho Cannes Closing Ceremony 2019 - Getty - H 2019
Gareth Cattermole / Staff

Elsewhere, Antonio Banderas nabbed the best actor award for his role as a past-his-prime director in Pedro Almodóvar's 'Pain & Glory,' while Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' came up empty-handed.

A star-studded Cannes Film Festival came to a close Saturday night with a bang as Bong Joon-ho's Parasite took home the Palme d'Or, while Mati Diop's Atlantics landed the runner-up Grand Prix award.

The Parasite win denied Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino his second top Cannes prize of his career (the helmer won the Palme d’Or 25 years ago for his groundbreaking Pulp Fiction) as his widely praised new pic came up empty-handed at the ceremony.

Joon-ho's dark comedy, which premiered the same night as Once Upon a Time, has drawn raves, including at the Cannes closing ceremony, where the audience stood and screamed when it was named the Palme d'Or winner. The film revolves around a man and his unemployed family as they take a peculiar interest in a wealthy family, which leads all of them to become entangled in an unexpected incident. Jury president Alejandro G. Iñárritu said the Palme d'Or decision was "unanimous."

Antonio Banderas won Cannes' best actor award for his starring role in Pain & Glory. In his eighth teaming with director Pedro Almodóvar, Banderas plays a Spanish film director past his professional peak and in the middle of a creative crisis, battling addiction among other physical and mental ailments. The nod bodes well for Banderas’ chances come awards season (Sony Pictures Classics will mount a campaign for the Spanish actor).

"You have no idea how much I'd love to speak French," said Banderas to the roar of the crowd. "I met Pedro 40 years ago — eight movies together. I respect him, admire him, love him. He's given me so much in my life that this award obviously is dedicated to him. People think we live on a red carpet. But we suffer a lot, sacrifice a lot and there is a lot of pain. And also there are nights of glory. And this is my night of glory."

Brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne nabbed best director honors for Young Ahmed, a film about a Belgian teenager embracing Islamic extremism.

Brit Emily Beecham won the best actress award for Little Joe for her turn as Alice, a scientist who creates a genetically modified plant that seemingly causes uncanny changes in other living creatures.

The Jury Prize wound up in a tie for Ladj Ly's Les Misérables, a drama about life in the French projects, and Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles' Bacurau, a paranormal Western from Brazil. Earlier in the festival, Amazon nabbed distribution rights to Les Misérables.

Celine Sciamma took home the screenplay prize for Portrait of a Lady on Fire. Sciamma, who also directed the film, crafted a story about a young female painter in the 18th century who disguises herself as a lady's maid in order to gain her subject's trust, only to find herself inadvertently falling in love. U.S. outfit Neon will distribute both Parasite and Portrait of a Lady.

The awards ceremony drew a who's who of celebrities from the film industry, including Viggo Mortensen, Sylvester Stallone and Vincent Cassel, adding to the glamour quotient for the festival, which also saw the world premieres of such films as the Taron Egerton-led Elton John biopic Rocketman and the opening-night film The Dead Don't Die, with its star-studded ensemble cast including Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tilda Swinton and Selena Gomez on hand for its bow. But nothing was quite like the red carpet for Once Upon a Time, where Leonardo DiCaprio walked alongside Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie for the film that takes place around the famed Manson murders of 1969.

Michael Moore, whose Fahrenheit 9/11 won the Palme d'Or in 2004, also was in the room when the Palme d'Or was named. Moore, who handed out the Jury Prize, added a political note to the evening when he took to the stage. "Art is the lie that enables us to realize the truth," he said, quoting Pablo Picasso. "[Donald] Trump is the lie that enables us more lying." The director added, "In dark times, art is what has helped save humanity from the autocrats and idiots, what inspired the masses to not give up, to not despair, to rise up and defeat the insanity with love."

While the festival has been making strides to include more female filmmakers in its Competition lineup, the Palme d'Or and best director prizes went to men, with the Dardennes picking up the latter. But Diop's win for the night's runner-up prize was significant, given that she also was the first black woman to direct a movie featured in Competition at the festival. With elements of the supernatural, Atlantics kicks off in a suburb of Dakar, Senegal, where workers at a construction site of a futuristic tower, having foregone pay for months, decide to leave the country via the ocean for a better future.

During the ceremony, Iñárritu called his post as head of the jury "an enormous privilege." He added, "We, during the last 10 days, saw 21 films and spent hours not as judges but as film lovers sharing film passionately for hours ... incredible, very, very challenging [work] from iconic filmmakers to new voices from all around the world. Only time will judge them clearly."

Members of the Competition jury also included actress Elle Fanning and helmers Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women) and Pawe? Pawlikowski, who won last year's top director prize for Cold War.

The first prize of the night — the Camera d'Or — went to César Diaz for Our Mothers; the award honors the best first feature film presented in one of Cannes' selections (it screened in the Critics' Week sidebar). Special mention went to Elia Suleiman for It Must Be Heaven, which played in Competition.

Best Screenplay: Celine Sciamma for Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Best Actress: Emily Beecham for Little Joe
Best Actor: Antonio Banderas for Pain & Glory
Best Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne for Young Ahmed
Jury Prize: (tie) Ladj Ly's Les Misérables and Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles' Bacurau
Grand Prix: Atlantics, directed by Mati Diop
Palme d’Or: Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho

Twenty-one films screened in Competition. Here is the complete list:

Atlantics, Mati Diop
Bacurau, Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles
The Dead Don't Die, Jim Jarmusch
Frankie, Ira Sachs
A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick
It Must Be Heaven, Elia Suleiman
Little Joe, Jessica Hausner
Matthias & Maxime, Xavier Dolan
Les Misérables, Ladj Ly
Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo, Abdellatif Kechiche
Oh Mercy!, Arnaud Desplechin
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino
Pain & Glory, Pedro Almodóvar
Parasite, Bong Joon-ho
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma
Sibyl, Justine Triet
Sorry We Missed You, Ken Loach
The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio
The Whistlers, Corneliu Porumboiu
The Wild Goose Lake, Diao Yinan
Young Ahmed, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne