All 18 Grand Prix Award Winners from The 21st Century, Ranked

9. Of Gods and Men (dir. Xavier Beauvois)

Of Gods and Men

Directed by Xavier Beauvois, “Of Gods and Men” is a great drama that follows the story of a group of monks that is threatened during the Algerian Civil War by terrorists and, instead of going back to France, decide to stay in the country.

With powerful cinematography and strong dialogue, “Of Gods and Men” is a film with a great script that explores the contrast between war and peace in a very intriguing way. Definitely worth checking out.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. In 2010 the award went to the film “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives,” directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, one of the greatest films of this century so far.


8. Uzak (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)


In the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan won the Grand Prix with his film “Uzak,” about a successful photographer who has an existential crisis after being left by his wife, who travels to the big city after a local factory closes down and visits his cousin.

The slow-paced atmosphere of the film and the great use of silence and the space in the few locations we see at the movie make “Uzak” a very unique experience if you go along with it. Another great film directed by Ceylan and a movie that every cinephile should definitely check out.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. The award that year went to Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant,” which definitely deserved the award.


7. The Mourning Forest (dir. Naomi Kawase)

The Mourning Forest_

Naomi Kawase is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. With movies such as “Sweet Bean” (2015), “Still the Water” (2014) and “Suzaku” (1997), she definitely became one of the best directors of her generation.

In 2007, she competed for the Palme d’Or with the film “The Mourning Forest,” one of the best of her career. The movie follows the story of a woman who works at a small retirement home, who finds herself lost in the woods with one of her patients.

With a very slow-paced atmosphere that is full of symbolism, and with amazing directing and great performances, “The Mourning Forest” is another great work by Kawase that should definitely be checked out by any cinephile.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. In a year that had in competition movies like Julian Schnabel’s “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Joel and Ethan Coen’s “No Country for Old Men,” Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s “Persepolis,” James Gray’s “We Own the Night” and David Fincher’s “Zodiac,” it is very difficult to say which one is the best film. Still, the winner of the Palme d’Or that year was Cristian Mungiu’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” a masterpiece that truly deserved the award.


6. BPM (dir. Robin Campillo)

One of the best movies from 2017, “BPM” was directed by Robin Campillo and follows the story of the members of the group ACT UP, who in the early 1990s demanded action by the pharmaceutical companies and by the government to fight AIDS.

With truly great performances, “BPM” has an amazing script and amazing characters and is able to show the story of ACT UP as it shows us the personal story of the leading characters. An amazing film that definitely should be checked out.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? Yes. Even though “The Square” has interesting thoughts about art, “BPM” is a superior film.


5. Son of Saul (dir. László Nemes)

Directed by László Nemes, “Son of Saul” follows the story of an Auschwitz prisoner in 1944 who is forced to burns corpses, and when he takes the body of a boy for his son, he decides to try to save the boy’s body from the flames.

With very powerful directing, “Son of Saul” can definitely be considered among the best movies of this century and, for the powerful story and impressive long shots, is a film that definitely should be watched.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? Yes. Although the competition had great movies that year such as Todd Haynes’ “Carol,” Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicario” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Lobster,” “Son of Saul” was the best one. The Palme d’Or went to “Dheepan,” directed by Jacques Audiard.


4. The Piano Teacher (dir. Michael Haneke)


In “The Piano Teacher,” Isabelle Huppert delivers one of the best performances in cinema history.

The movie follows the story of a pianist who is approaching middle age and who lives with her autocratic mother. She meets a young man, a piano student, who becomes attracted to her and after some time, she invites him to her fantasies.

With very complex characters and relationships, “The Piano Teacher” is an amazing movie with powerful performances and strong directing, and is another great Michael Haneke film that is definitely worth checking out.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. The winner that year was Nanni Moretti’s “The Son’s Room,” but the Palme d’Or should have gone to David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive.”


3. Oldboy (dir. Park Chan-wook)

Oldboy movie

The second part of Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, “Oldboy” is a movie that follows the story of Oh Dae-Su, a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned without knowing the reason for 15 years. When he leaves the prison, he needs to find the one that captured him as he seeks revenge.

With an amazing performance by Min-sik Choi in the leading role and very powerful directing (just take a look at the iconic corridor fight scene), “Oldboy” is definitely a movie worth checking out. Without a doubt one of the best Grand Prix winners of this century.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. Although the Palme d’Or was given to Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the award should have gone to the masterpiece “Tropical Malady,” directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul.


2. Inside Llewyn Davis (dir. Joel and Ethan Coen)

Directed by the Coen brothers and starring Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis” follows a week in the life of a folk singer during the 1960s.

Llewyn Davis is struggling to make it as a musician and we can see his relationships with his friends and family and the mistakes he made. With a very intriguing lead character and a great performance by Isaac, and also with an amazing soundtrack and script, “Inside Llewyn Davis” is definitely one of the Coen brothers’ greatest films.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. The award that year went to “Blue is the Warmest Color,” a movie that deserved the award.


1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan)


Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan is one of the most interesting filmmakers working today.

In “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” we follow the story of a group of men that searches for a dead body in the Anatolian steppes after two brothers confess the assassination. Although it might have seemed like an easy mission at first, this search becomes more complicated than they thought.

With amazing dialogue and cinematography, the slow-paced atmosphere we can normally see in Ceylan’s films, and strong characters, “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is the best Grand Prix winner of this century so far. A great film that should definitely be checked out by anyone that loves cinema.

Should it have won the Palme d’Or? No. Even though “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is probably better than most of the winners of the award in this century, in that year it was competing with “The Tree of Life,” a masterpiece by Terrence Malick and a movie that definitely deserved to win the Palme d’Or.

Author Bio: Vítor Guima is a filmmaker, writer and musician. Every day he watches a movie, reads a few pages from a book, listens to an album and freaks out with the feeling of not having enough time to see everything. You can follow him on Instagram on @ovitorguima.