The 2023 Cannes Film Festival is officially underway and leading the way is none other than Johnny Depp in all his Louis XV glory with Maïwenn's film Jeanne du Barry. Keeping the tradition alive, the esteemed film festival brings along a wide selection of films that includes both competition and out-of-competition categories. Anurag Kashyap will join Robert Rodiguez and others with his neo-noir Kennedy to represent the brooding Midnight Screenings category with Martin Scorsese's nearly four-hour-long epic Killers of the Flower Moon (starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Robert De Niro and others) being screened in the 'Out of Competition' section which also includes James Mangold's Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
In the past, the Palme d'Or has been awarded to some of the best films from across the world and each of these films, as a result of the honour, has etched itself a permanent name in the world cinema's glorious legacy. These are films that are not only artistically and aesthetically rich but also compelling stories that manage to transport us to those unique worlds and conceived by some of the most vividly beautiful minds. So, as we countdown to the awards ceremony of Cannes 2023, here's a list of the top Palme d'Or winning films from across the world that you can binge-watch on OTT right away.
From Scorsese's brooding anger to Tarantino's ironic violence and everything in between, this small-but-comprehensive list is your perfect starting guide to understanding what the Cannes Film Festival honours are all about.
Taxi Driver - Sony Liv
Martin Scorsese's grim portrait of post-Vietnam War America still remains a watershed moment in modern film history. Exploring themes such as urban isolation, corruption, paranoia and a lot more through a congenial but slightly unhinged protagonist, Scorsese's rendition of Paul Schrader's seminal script has served as an inspiration to several filmmakers of subsequent generations. The film has its share of controversies too but one could never ignore the strength of the conviction of Martin Scorsese who, as the legend suggests, was willing to forego all his sanity for the sake of his film. He did have to go to the greatest depths of his resolve to bring the film to life and the simmering, almost palpable, anger that Robert De Niro masterfully embodied is perhaps the best reflection of those efforts. Taxi Driver won the Palme d'Or in 1976.
Jacques Audiard's gripping story set in the underbelly of modern-day Paris boasts the unlikeliest of protagonists: a Sri Lankan refugee who is a former LTTE soldier. Drawing inspiration from countless gut-wrenching real-life incidents, the auteur paints a marvellous human portrait involving three strangers - a man, a woman and a little girl - seeking political asylum in a foreign country. Audiard infuses elements and tones of American cinema of the 1970s (Straw Dogs and Death Wish being two prominent references) to render a Parisian crime film that is both tender and brooding in nature. To further expose the juxtapositions, he employs the music of the brilliant Nicolas Jaar and imbues his story with a sense of 'jarring stillness'. Dheepan went on to win the Palme d'Or in 2015.
Pulp Fiction (Netflix)
Having stunned the whole world with his debut outing Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino proved his mettle as a generational genius with his sophomore film Pulp Fiction. Be it the iconic lines, the superb staging that was perfectly executed by an incredible cast or the perfect use of irony through the help of an eclectic soundtrack, Pulp Fiction emerged as a model modern American film that went on to redefine the genres of both crime and comedy. Several filmmakers have tried to mimic Tarantino's Pulp Fiction-like qualities since then but none have managed to come to find a place in the same realm as his - Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or in 1994.
Sex, Lies and Videotape (Netflix)
Having written the screenplay of Sex, Lies and Videotape in a matter of eight days while on a cross-country trip and taking all of a month to shoot the film with a (measly budget of $1.2 million dollars), the 26-year-old Steven Soderbergh made an emphatic entry in 1989 into the world of cinema and there's been no turning back for the discerning filmmaker since then. He would go on to win the Palme d'Or to become not only the youngest solo recipient of the esteemed award but also the poster child of the post-punk, independent scene of American cinema.
Triangle of Sadness (Sony LIV)
Ruben Östlund is only the eighth filmmaker in history to win the Palme d'Or award twice and he joins the elite list that includes Francis Ford Coppola, Bille August, Emir Kusturica, Shohei Imamura, The Dardenne Brothers, Michael Haneke and Ken Loach. His 2022 film Triangle of Sadness came as a no-holds-barred, satirical (and mildly sadistic) take on the rich & wealthy which he explored through a group of people stationed on a luxury yacht. Previously, Östlund had won the Palme d'Or for his 2017 comedy-drama The Square, which is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.