The Cannes Film Festival 2016 gets underway today and a whole host of fantastic movies will be battling it out for the Palme d'Or.

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

The Palme d'Or is one of the most prestigious film prizes and is handed out at the festival every year. Over the years, some big movies have triumphed at the festival and the films have gone on to achieve even more success.

We take a look at some of the biggest winners of the last thirty years.

- Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989)

Steven Soderbergh is one of the most successful and respected directors around but it was the Cannes Film Festival that really helped to kick off his career back in 1989.

Soderbergh made his feature film directorial debut that year with Sex, Lies, and Videotape - a movie that competed and then won the Palme d'Or.

As well as being in the director's chair, Soderbergh also penned the screenplay while James Spader, Andie MacDowell, and Peter Gallagher were on the cast list.

An intense, intimate portrait of discord among an unhappily married housewife, her philandering husband, her adulterous sibling and an intriguing out-of-towner with a rather unusual fetish. When the visitor arrives with a trunk-load of videotapes featuring women confessing their sexual secrets on camera, he gradually turns the quartet's lives inside out.

As well as winning the Palme d'Or at the festival, Spade also won Best Actor. Soderbergh went on to pick up a Best Screenplay nomination at the Oscars - the first of his career.

The movie was to influence independent film and has gone on to become somewhat of a cult classic. This is the film that put Soderbergh on the map and, over the coming years, his career soared.

Sex, Lies, and Videotape

- Barton Fink (1991)

Barton Fink is a movie that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1991 and marked the return of Joel and Ethan Coen. This was their fourth feature film and saw the duo also write the project.

The film saw the Coen brothers team up with John Turturro and John Goodman as they took on the central roles of Barton Fink and Charlie Meadows. Michael Lerner, Judy Davis, and John Mahoney were also on board.

The movie followed Barton Fink, a renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood.

The movie was a huge critical success at the festival and went on to win the Palme d'Or as well as Best Actor and Best Director - a feat that is not achieved very often.

Barton Fink went on to be nominated for three Oscars; Best Supporting Actor, Best Art Direction, and Best Costume Design.

Barton Fink is widely regarded as one of Joel and Ethan Coen's best movies. Despite being met with critical acclaim on the festival circuit, the movie struggled at the box office and failed to make back its budget.

Barton Fink

- Pulp Fiction (1994)

While director Quentin Tarantino had enjoyed success with Reservoir Dogs in 1992, it was Pulp Fiction that really made his star rocket two years later.

Pulp Fiction premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that year and went on to be one of the most talked about movies. While Reservoir Dogs had played at Cannes, this was the first film that Tarantino had been in the running for the prestigious Palme d'Or.

The film was toe triumph and cemented Tarantino as a directing talent to sit up and take notice of - he has gone on to have a hugely successful filmmaking career in the twenty years since Pulp Fiction.

The movie revitalised the career of actor John Travolta as he, Samuel L. Jackson and Uma Thurman all picked up Oscar nominations. The movie was also nominated for Best Picture and Best Director and went on to scoop Best Original Screenplay.

Pulp Fiction still remains one of the most commercially successful independent movies as Tarantino once again highlighted the growing interest in this genre of film and it could do well at the box office if marketed successfully.

While the non-linear structure that Tarantino used was nothing new, it really did help reintroduce this type of storytelling - which we have seen many times over the years since the release of Pulp Fiction.

Pulp Fiction

- The Pianist (2002)

We have seen a whole host of high-profile filmmakers scoop the Palme d'Or in the last thirty years... and Roman Polanski is just one of them.

It was back in 2002 when Polanski brought The Pianist to Cannes Film Festival and it was his first feature since The Ninth Gate in 1999.

The Pianist saw Polanski team up with actor Adrien Brody for the first time, as he took on the central and real-life role of Wladyslaw Szpilman. The movie was based on Szpilman's book and was adapted for the big screen by Ronald Harwood.

The movie follows the Jewish musician as he struggles to survive the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto of World War II. His musical ability was to be his saviour when he comes face to face with a German officer.

The Pianist was met with critical acclaim and went on to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year. More awards success followed as it was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture.

Brody, Polanski, and Hardwood would win Best Actor, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for their work on the film.

The Pianist

- Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

A documentary was to triumph in 2004 as Fahrenheit 9/11 scooped the festival's main prize. The movie premiered at the festival, where it received a twenty-minute standing ovation.

Fahrenheit 9/11 was written and directed by filmmaker Michael Moore in what was his first feature-length documentary since the success of Bowling for Columbine in 2002.

The movie took a very critical look at George W. Bush and his reaction to the events of 9/11, which lead to what many believed to be an unjust war in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

On the whole, the movie was met well by the critics but - as you may expect with a film like this - it had its fair share of controversies along the way.

But that only drove more people into cinemas to see it and it is still the most financially successful documentary at the box office of all time. Moore has gone on to enjoy further success with Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story.

Fahrenheit 9/11

- The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)

The Wind That Shakes the Barley was one of the best films to hit the big screen back in 2006 and it marked the return of Ken Loach to the director's chair.

Written by Paul Laverty, The Wind That Shakes The Barley is set against the backdrop of the Irish War of Independence, two brothers fight a guerrilla war against British forces.

Cillian Murphy and Pádraic Delaney play brothers Damien and Teddy O'Donovan, who join the IRA to fight against the British. They are joined on the cast list by Liam Cunningham, Orla Fitzgerald, Mary O'Riordan, and Mary Murphy.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley went on to win the Palme d'Or and was the first triumph for the filmmaker at the festival.

Cannes proved to be a great platform for the movie and it remains Loach's biggest box office success. The movie went on to become the highest-grossing Irish made independent film - it has since been surpassed by The Guard.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

- The Class (2008)

Laurent Cantet returned to the director's chair in 2008 with his latest film The Class, which was his first feature film since Heading South back in 2005.

The Class is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by François Bégaudeau and was turned into a screenplay by Bégaudeau, Cantet, and Robin Campillo.

The book is semi-autobiographical and follows Bégaudeau's experiences as a middle school teacher. He plays a version of himself in the film as he negotiates a year with his racially mixed students from a tough Parisian neighbourhood.

The Class was one of a handful of French films that were on the Cannes Film Festival programme that year but it was one of the most praised and talked about.

The film went on to scoop the Palme d'Or and went on to receive critical acclaim when it opened in cinemas around the world.

The Class went on to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar but lost out to Japanese movie Departures. The Baader Meinhof Complex, Waltz With Bashir and Revanche were also nominated.

The Class

- The Tree of Life (2011)

Terrence Malick is a filmmaker who has brought just seven films to the big screen during his forty-plus years in the business. The Tree of Life, which was released in 2011, was film number five.

The Tree of Life was the first feature for Malick since The New World back in 2005 and saw him team up with actor Brad Pitt for the first time and reunite with Sean Penn - the pair had previously worked together on The Thin Red Line.

As well as being in the director's chair, Malick also penned the film's screenplay. The movie explores the theme of the meaning of life by chronicling the memories of a middle-aged man. The movie looks back at his childhood in Texas in the 1950s and his struggles with his parents' conflicting teachings.

Sean Penn took on the role of Jack while Pitt and Jessica Chastain played his parents. Hunter McCracken and Tye Sheridan were also on board.

Early reviews at Cannes were polarising but the film went on to win the Palme d'Or. As The Tree of Life went on to be released in cinemas, it was to receive critical acclaim and was looked on more favourably.

The Tree of Life was to be nominated for three Oscars; Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography.

The Tree of Life

- Amour (2012)

Very few filmmakers have won the Palme d'Or more than once... but Michael Haneke is one of them and his second triumph came in 2012 with Amour. He had won back in 2009 with The White Ribbon.

Amour was one of the most acclaimed films of the year and played extensively on the festival circuit. But it was Cannes where it really did triumph - winning over critics, audiences and winning the Palme d'Or.

As well as being in the director's chair, Haneke also penned the film's screenplay, while followed elderly couple Georges and Anne. But when Anne has a stroke and Georges is left to care for her, their bond of love is put to the test.

Amour really was one of the most touching films of the year and it is not hard to understand why it enjoyed so much critical and award success.

After triumphing at Cannes, the movie went on to be nominated five Oscars; including Best Picture and Best Actress for Emmanuelle Riva.

On the night, the movie won Best Foreign Language Film. It lost out on Best Picture to Ben Affleck's Argo.


Other big winners include Wild at Heart (1990), The Piano (1993), Dancer in the Dark (2000), The White Ribbon (2009), Blue Is the Warmest Colour (2013), and Deephan (2015).

The Cannes Film Festival runs from 11th - 22nd May.

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