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Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or for Winter Sleep

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So that was the Cannes Film Festival. A triumph for one biopic and a disaster for another but hey, that’s Cannes for you.

Mr Turner won a Best Actor award for Timothy Spall in the title role of Mike Leigh’s moving portrayal of the life of the painter JMW Turner. The British actor was clearly unprepared to walk off with one of the film world’s most prestigious prizes and rushed back to Cannes from his boat in Holland with a speech which was hastily written on his mobile phone.

‘It’s a funny old thing,’ he told the Festival’s closing ceremony, ‘I’ve often been a bridesmaid but this is the first time I’ve ever been a bride. And typical - I can’t find my glasses.’ Julianne Moore won Best Actress for her turn as a fame obsessed film star from hell in David Cronenberg’s clever satire Maps to the Stars.

Julianne Moore 300The gods were not with the opening movie however, and Nicole Kidman’s vehicle Grace of Monaco was annihilated by critics for its whimsically sentimental retelling of the marriage of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Described as a work of fiction based on real historical events, the real star was Nicole’s wardrobe with a dazzling array of outfits, many of which were by Dior.

But with a clunking script and a scene which made critics at the press screening laugh out loud as Nicole’s etiquette teacher Derek Jacobi tries to elicit different reactions from Grace to flashcards proclaiming arrogance, regret and other emotions (reader, the reactions were one and the same), the result was one of the biggest turkeys to have secured the Festival’s opening slot in recent years.

Cannes FIF 250This year's jury was led by New Zealander Jane Campion, whose film The Piano won in 1993. The Palme d'Or was awarded to the bookies' favourite Winter Sleep, a Turkish film by director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Meanwhile best screenplay was won by Andrei Zvyaginstev for Leviathan, a haunting social drama set in contemporary Russia.

Leviathan was also a favourite contender for the Palme, with stiff competition from veteran filmmakers, such as director Jean Luc Godard, with Goodbye to Language, and the Dardenne brothers with Two Days, One Night, a working-class drama with a standout performance by Marion Cotillard.

British rivals for the prize included director Ken Loach, with Jimmy’s Hall, an Irish period drama about political activist Jimmy Gralton, and Mr Turner, also starring Lesley Manville. Robert Pattinson, of Twilight, also featured in Maps to the Stars, having previously worked with Cronenberg in his 2012 Palme challenger, Cosmopolis.

And so to the parties, which to the Cannes crowd are every bit as important as the films. A dazzling array of A-listers was in town with Robert Pattinson, Sofia Coppola, Lupita Nyong’o, Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, John Travolta and Jane Fonda hitting the red carpet.

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The Calvin Klein Collection/Independent Filmmaker Project party at a swanky villa in Super Cannes was one of the most chic parties. Klein’s creative director Francisco Costa mingled with guests, who tucked into caviar blinis and Moet & Chandon while watching a blisteringly soulful performance by London singer Jessie Ware.  

Rita Ora rocked out a huge performance at the Belvedere party at Club Albane on a rooftop in Cannes as she performed a medley of hits including her latest number one single I Will Never Let You Down while the same night, a pneumatic looking Pamela Anderson shocked guests at the beach club launch of her new foundation with Dame Vivienne Westwood by revealing how she had been abused as a young girl.

By far the most glittering party of the fortnight was the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS gala at the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc, hosted by Sharon Stone, who was staying on board the M/Y Galaxy. Around 600 guests drank Belvedere cocktails and Champagne and the charity auction, which featured a Damian Hirst gilded woolly mammoth, helped to raise a staggering €28 million for AIDS research.

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My most surreal moment of the Festival? At amfAR when a very dapper Justin Bieber, dressed in a smart dinner suit with his jacket sleeves pushed up to reveal his tattoos, strode over surrounded by his security team to shake hands and introduce himself to me just before dinner.

Weirdest question at a press conference came from a German TV journalist, who asked Grace of Monaco star Tim Roth: ‘Was there a moment when you felt like hitting Princess Grace?’ Tim looked puzzled before responding: ‘What a strange question! No I really didn’t ever feel the urge to hit Nic. We were aiming at strong feelings but I think he really loved her.’

Best overheard comment was at the Calvin Klein/IFP party as an unknown male guest escorted his date in. ‘That’s Julianne Moore,’ he told his girlfriend. ‘She’s lovely. I know her.’

And most random red carpet question came from yet another German journalist to TV presenter Louise Roe: ‘What is your favourite kind of pizza?’ I mean, does anyone in Hollywood actually eat pizza? Her answer? ‘La reine.’

Full list of 2014 winners here 

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