50 Greatest Cannes Breakthroughs

Gary Oldman and Kathy Burke

The Breakthrough: 1996’s Nil By Mouth saw Hollywood A-lister Oldman moonlight as a director of British realism, and his star Burke (usually Harry Enfield’s sparring partner on telly) win Best Actress for her scorching dramatic role as a battered wife.

Post-Cannes: Back to the day job for both. Oldman hasn’t directed since; Burke’s new TV comedy series, Walking And Talking , premieres next month. That said, the two reunited for a lovely scene in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy .

Adrien Brody

The Breakthrough: Brody had impressed in ensemble pieces The Thin Red Line and Summer Of Sam , but 2002 Palme D’Or winner The Pianist proved he had the mettle to carry a film, although he missed out on Best Actor to Olivier Gourmet in The Son .

Post-Cannes: Brody became the youngest ever winner of the Best Actor Oscar for The Pianist . His subsequent career has seen a return to ensembles, both blockbuster ( King Kong ) and indie ( The Darjeeling Limited ).

Anton Corbijn

The Breakthrough: Dutch photographer and music promo maker Corbijn stuck to what he knew for debut film Control , a biopic of one-time friend and subject Ian Curtis. At Cannes 2007, the film took a fistful of prizes in the Directors’ Fortnight strand.

Post-Cannes: Corbijn’s second film, George Clooney vehicle The American , met a mixed review. Much rests on his forthcoming John Le Carre adaptation A Most Wanted Man .

Bille August

The Breakthrough: The Danish director had previously visited Cannes with 1983’s Zappa , but it wasn’t until 1988 that he achieved worldwide success with Palme D’Or winner Pelle The Conqueror .

Post-Cannes: A brief spell of success (an Oscar for Pelle The Conqueror and a second Palme D’Or for 1992 follow-up The Best Intentions ) was ended after poorly-received Hollywood ventures The House Of The Spirits and Smilla’s Sense Of Snow .

Dean Stockwell

The Breakthrough: Child actor Stockwell made the tricky transition to adult star by winning Best Actor (along with co-stars Bradford Dillman and Orson Welles) for 1959’s Compulsion .

Post-Cannes: Stockwell joined a rare elite of double Cannes Best Actor winners with 1962’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night , and then achieved television immortality as Al in Quantum Leap .

James Schamus

The Breakthrough: Ang Lee’s writing and producing partner was very much in the director’s shadow until he bagged the Best Screenplay Award at the 1997 Festival for The Ice Storm .

Post-Cannes: When not working with Lee, Schamus is CEO of Focus Features, and therefore a major figure in the American indie scene. The company’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom , opened this year’s Festival.

Jan vankmajer

The Breakthrough: Cannes isn’t usually a hotbed for animation, but Czech filmmaker Švankmajer achieved his first major success at Cannes 1965 when short Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasy in G minor won a Jury Prize.

Post-Cannes: Now in his 70s, Švankmajer is a legend amongst avant-garde animators thanks to feature films like Alice and Little Otik .

Thomas Vinterberg

The Breakthrough: Dogme 95 co-founder Vinterberg was still in his 20s when he won the 1998 Jury Prize for the first Dogme feature, Festen .

Post-Cannes: Very much in Lars Von Trier’s shadow, Vinterberg has struggled to recapture his debut’s era-defining success, but his latest – Mads Mikkelsen vehicle The Hunt – is in competition at this year’s Festival.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

The Breakthrough: “Joe” to his friends, Weerasethakul became the figurehead of Thai art-house cinema when Blissfully Yours won Un Certain Regard at the 2002 Festival.

Post-Cannes: Weerasethakul is a classic case of how Cannes rewards consistent directors – he returned in 2004 to win the Jury Prize for Tropical Malady , and captured the Palme D’Or in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives .

Bjrk Gumundsdttir

The Breakthrough: Already a major music star, Björk “did a Cher” by winning Best Actress for her suitably off-kilter performance in Lars Von Trier’s Dancer In The Dark .

Post-Cannes: Björk was reportedly so drained by playing such a tragic character she’s decided to stick to the day job since.

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