10 Cannes Film Festival Winners That You Can Stream Right Now

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This week, thousands of fancy people (plus a bunch of journalists) will visit a certain beautiful mid-sized French city on the shores of the Mediterranean for the 66th Festival de Cannes. It's the most prestigious film festival in the world, so don't feel bad about not being able to go. The fact is, you can watch many past Cannes premieres online, without having to put on a tuxedo or uncomfortable shoes. Here are 10 options, each one a winner of the Palme d'Or (the top award) or the Grand Prix (second place) the year it debuted at Cannes.


Where to watch it: Amazon

You might recognize this antiwar drama—about a soldier (Timothy Bottoms) imprisoned in his own mind after he loses his limbs and most of his face—from the music video for Metallica's "One." It's the only film that the once-blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo ever directed, based on his own 1939 novel. 


Where to watch it: Amazon/Hulu/iTunes

Speaking of the horrors of war: Francis Ford Coppola's expensive, troubled Vietnam epic had its first public screening at Cannes. That version was a "work in progress" that ran about 30 minutes longer than the eventual theatrical cut (and 15 minutes shorter than the Apocalypse Now Redux version that played at Cannes in 2001, before its theatrical re-release). Finished or not, the Cannes jury had no problem giving it the Palme d'Or. It went on to win Oscars for its sound and cinematography, plus nominations in six other categories (including Best Director and Best Picture).

3. THE MISSION (1986)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes

Jeremy Irons plays a Jesuit missionary working in South America in the 1750s in Roland Joffé's pious drama, which also stars Robert De Niro, Aidan Quinn, and Liam Neeson. It's one of the few faith-oriented movies to have been lauded by mainstream Hollywood as well as religious institutions: England's Church Times, in publication since 1863, named it the best religious movie, and it appeared on the Vatican's list of 45 great films. You know a movie is worth checking out when the Pope and the Cannes jury agree on it.

4. BARTON FINK (1991)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes

Joel and Ethan Coen's fourth feature, starring Jon Turturro as a stymied screenwriter in 1941 Hollywood, marked the brothers’ first visit to Cannes. It was a fruitful visit: not only did the film take the Palme d'Or, it won awards for Best Director (only Joel was officially credited) and Best Actor, too—an unprecedented sweep that has never been repeated. Since then, seven of the Coens' films have played at Cannes, and they were presidents of the jury in 2015. Ironically, despite acclaim at Cannes and from critics, Barton Fink turned out to be a box-office dud (though it did earn three Oscar nominations).

5. PULP FICTION (1994)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes/Netflix

Quentin Tarantino's first film, Reservoir Dogs, premiered at Sundance—not too shabby. Two and a half years later, his Travolta-reviving follow-up went all the way to the top for its debut and jabbed a needle full of adrenaline into the jury's hearts. It was only the fourth American film to win the Palme d'Or, so the jokes about what they call a Big Mac in France must have gone over really well.

6. THE CLASS (2008)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes

This low-key French film (called Entre les murs—"Between the Walls"—back home) has an air of authenticity that can't be faked. And it wasn't: its star and screenwriter, François Bégaudeau, based the film on his own experiences teaching French at a multi-ethnic middle school in a rough part of Paris. The kids are non-actors, too, so you really get a fly-on-the-wall view of a French classroom. 

7. A PROPHET (2009)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes

A semi-delinquent young Arab man enters prison terrified at the beginning of this tense, visceral crime drama. By the end of the movie, his fear is gone. Writer-director Jacques Audiard's A Self Made Hero (1996) had won a Best Screenplay prize at Cannes 13 years earlier, and his Rust and Bone would play in 2012. His latest work, Dheepan, won the Palme d'Or last year, making him one of the few filmmakers to score multiple Palmes d'Or in his or her career. (Heads up: There is going to be an American remake of this, written by Dennis Lehane and directed by Sam Raimi. See the original first so you can sound smart when the new one comes out.)

8. REALITY (2012)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes

Writer/director Matteo Garrone is another Cannes favorite, having won the Grand Prix with Gomorra in 2008 and the same award four years later for this surreal, satiric dramedy about a fishmonger who believes it's his destiny—his right, even—to be a reality TV star. It's a jaunty, whimsical film, even when its satire is scathing. (Be careful not to confuse this Reality, which is Italian, with Quentin Dupieux's 2014 French film of the same name.)

9. AMOUR (2012)

Where to watch it: Amazon/iTunes

Michael Haneke's films are famous for being cold and unsettling (see Funny Games and The White Ribbon). But this one—about an elderly man caring for his beloved wife after a debilitating stroke—is compassionate and contemplative. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, plus nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actress, and Original Screenplay. If you've had a parent or spouse die, it will wreck you. But you'll notice the movie is called Love, not Death. 


Where to watch it: Amazon/Hulu/iTunes

Slapped with an NC-17 rating when it was released theatrically, this three-hour-long, coming-of-age drama from France was famous for its graphic eight-minute lesbian sex scene. But the Cannes jury was (presumably) more impressed by the authentic, vulnerable performances by the two leads, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. When it won the Palme d'Or, the jury (headed by Steven Spielberg that year) took the unprecedented step of giving the actresses the award, too, along with the director, Abdellatif Kechiche.