Night of awards coming soon, Cannes you feel it

Cannes, May 25 | Updated: May 26 2007, 05:30am hrs
The Cannes festival unspooled some of its last films today as it prepared for its weekend climaxan awards night that will reward one of 22 competition films with the prestigious Palme dOr.

A celebrity-rich crowd is expected for the close Sunday in this French Riviera resort, intensifying celebrations for what was the 60th anniversary of the worlds biggest cinema event.

George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Jude Law, Martin Scorsese, U2, Norah Jones, Gong Li and Maggie Cheung are among the stars who have already put in appearances on the red carpet over the course of the festival.

With only a couple of movies left, critics have already been giving their opinion on the line-up.

Most agree that the unusually large number of veteran directors, several of whom have already won the Palme, had lifted the official selection.

Given the big anniversary, 2007 proved to be quite a lively year, and mostly in a good way, the chief reviewer for Variety, Todd McCarthy, said.

Pundits polls printed in the trade press gave the most number of thumbs-up to No Country for Old Menan existential modern cowboy tale filmed with noir panache by the Coen brothers. 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a Romanian film that looks at the repression of personal liberty via a tale about a womans backstreet abortion, scored almost as highly.

Zodiac, a Hollywood film about a serial killer who terrorised California in the 1970s and 1980s also impressed for its solid characterisations by Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr. The movie was made by David Fincher, the director behind the gripping thriller Seven.

My Blueberry Nights, a beautifully filmed if inconsequential romance by Hong Kongs Wong Kar-wai and starring Jude Law and singer Norah Jones, found a warm reception when it opened the 12-day festival on May 16.

Quentin Tarantino divided the theatre with his Death Proof, a rollicking homage to 1970s car-crazy flicks whose actresses wore hotpants slightly less substantial than the story.

The last competition film to screen will be Promise Me This by twice-Palmed Serbian director Emir Kusturica.

But the Cannes jury, this year headed by Stephen Frears - director of the award-winning movie The Queenis an unpredictable beast when it comes to giving away the Palme dOr.

In 2004, for instance, the panelstacked with several US memberswent political rather than artistic by handing the trophy to Michael Moores Fahrenheit 9/11, possibly in a vain hope of sabotaging US President George W Bushs re-election. This year, Moore was back with his new documentary, Sicko, a lacerating look at the failings of the US health system that also makes jabs at Bush, and other politicians.