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How To Bet the Cannes Film Festival

by Scott Kacsmar
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Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the biggest international film festivals each year. It usually takes place in May in Cannes, a city on the French Riviera. Many films, including those from legendary directors and first-time filmmakers, will make their world premiere at the multi-day event, which is not open to the general public.

There are a series of awards to be won at Cannes, including the Palme d’Or, the most prestigious award that goes to the best film. However, not every film is entered in a competitive event.

With this year’s event coming up soon in May, we wanted to go over some tips on how to bet on the Cannes Film Festival, because there are betting markets at top-rated sportsbooks like BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review to learn more) for it.

Scope Out the Jury Panel

When you hear about an international film festival held in France that is closed to the public, you might assume it’s going to be pretentious, European film critics who decide the big winners like the Palme d’Or winner.

That is not the case. At worst, it’s biased filmmakers and actors who will decide the awards as they make up this year’s Jury for the Main Competition events. If you look into who is on the panel, you might get a sense for which films are going to connect better with them based on their own films and friends/acquaintances in the business.

For example, some of the 9-person panel for the 2024 Cannes Film Festival should be very familiar to you:

  • Greta Gerwig (American actress/director): She is this year’s Jury President, coming off a very successful 2023 for her film Barbie.
  • J.A. Bayona (Spanish director): He is known for his films The Orphanage, A Monster Calls, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Society of the Snow.
  • Ebru Ceylan (Turkish writer/filmmaker): She is known for writing Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Winter Sleep, so slow-paced family dramas are up her alley.
  • Pierfrancesco Favino (Italian actor): He has appeared in many movies and series over the years, including Angels & Demons (2009), Rush (2013), World War Z (2013) and Netflix’s Marco Polo series.
  • Lily Gladstone (American actress): She is the first Native American to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for Killers of the Flower Moon.
  • Eva Green (French actress): She is known for her roles in The Dreamers, Casino Royale, Penny Dreadful and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
  • Hirokazu Kore-eda (Japanese director): One of the most underrated directors today, he is known for his raw, family dramas such as Like Father, Like Son, After the Storm, Shoplifters (2018’s Palme d’Or winner) and Broker.
  • Nadine Labaki (Lebanese actress/director): Her last directed film, Capernaum (2018), won a Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018.
  • Omar Sy (French actor): He is best known for his roles in The Intouchables and the series Lupin.

If you consider some of the dynamics with this group, you might be able to speculate how they will vote on the Palme d’Or where Francis Ford Coppola’s sci-fi epic Megalopolis is the odds-on favorite to win (+400 at BetOnline).

With Kore-eda the senior member of the group at 61, he may definitely prefer a family drama like Bird (+500) with Barry Keoghan instead. Likewise with Ceylan. Gerwig, the Jury President, rose to fame for her dramedy roles and collaborations with her husband Noah Baumbach. She prefers those family dramas (Little Women) and coming-of-age stories (Lady Bird) as well.

Just some food for thought as the panel changes each year.

Which Types of Films Win at Cannes?

As far as Palme d’Or winners go at Cannes, let’s just say genre does matter, and odds are in favor of non-English speaking films as well since that’s what most of the nominees will be.

Different From the Oscars

While the Oscars largely nominate American, English-speaking films, Cannes celebrates international films from all over the world. In fact, you could argue that American films had more success in the 20th century than as of late at Cannes.

For instance, an American film won the Palme d’Or in 4-of-6 years in 1989-94 when Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), Wild at Heart (1990), Barton Fink (1991) and Pulp Fiction (1994) all won.

Since then, a film produced by the United States has won just 3-of-28 Palme d’Or awards at Cannes: Gus Van Sant’s Elephant (2003) about a school shooting, Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) about George Bush and the Iraq War and Terrence Malick’s drama The Tree of Life (2011).

The odds are usually stacked against American films when so many other countries showcase films at this festival. For example, the 2024 festival has 22 films eligible for the award, and only 3 are films produced exclusively by the United States, including the favorite Megalopolis.

However, it would be a trend-breaking win for Megalopolis, since no film produced exclusively by the United States has won the Palme d’Or since The Tree of Life in 2011. Last year’s winner was the French drama Anatomy of a Fall.

That’s the other thing to know about Cannes. Like the Oscars, dramas rule.

Cannes: Drama Is Preferred

Much like most major award shows, drama films dominate at Cannes. That doesn’t mean you can’t showcase comedies or sci-fi stories, but most films are some type of drama, even if it’s a body horror drama like 2021 Palme d’Or winner Titane from France.

That doesn’t mean a comedy is off limits, but it better be something dark and satirical in the vein of 2019 winner Parasite or 2022 winner Triangle of Sadness. Both films held nothing back in takedowns of the rich.

With that in mind, something like Kinds of Kindness (+600 at BetOnline) could be a good pick for the 2024 Palme d’Or as it is sure to have director Yorgos Lanthimos’ dark style of comedy in it. He’s the mind behind Dogtooth and The Favourite.

However, comedies still fare better than sci-fi films at Cannes. In fact, you could say not a single sci-fi film has ever won the Palme d’Or since it was first officially awarded in 1955. You could also say some of the best in the genre did not compete at Cannes, including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien and Blade Runner.

Still, films steeped in fantasy worlds have historically not performed well at the festival where serious dramas are still king.

Hedge Your Bets

With competitive fields for films that are screening for the first time at Cannes, the favorites still offer strong value with odds like +400 or +500 at BetOnline. This also means hedging can be a good way to approach betting on the Cannes Film Festival. Even if you took 3 co-favorites at +500 odds each, as long as one of them won, you would still profit if you bet equally on them.

It’s not something to go crazy on, but there is good value associated with these betting markets for Cannes. Especially when the odds-on favorite (Megalopolis) is firmly against the norms for what usually wins the Palme d’Or.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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