Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’ wins Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival

A smiling director poses with an award.
Director Sean Baker won the Palme d’Or for his film “Anora” at the awards ceremony of the 77th Cannes Film Festival.
(Scott A Garfitt / Invision / Associated Press)

“Anora,” a widely admired knockabout comedy about a New York strip-club dancer (Mikey Madison) and her impulsive affair with a Russian oligarch’s wealthy son (Mark Eydelshteyn), has won the Palme d’Or, the most prestigious award granted by the Cannes Film Festival.

Directed by Sean Baker, whose prior two features, 2017’s “The Florida Project” and 2021’s “Red Rocket,” also debuted at Cannes, “Anora” represents the first Palme victory by an American filmmaker since Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” took the prize in 2011.

Writing about “Anora” from the festival, Times deputy entertainment & arts editor Matt Brennan described the movie as “so electric, it’s liable to leave you levitating.”


Accepting the award, Baker was forthright in his love of the theatrical experience and scathing in his appraisal of “half-paying attention” on streaming, which he called “just not the way, although some tech companies would like us to think so.” He added, “The future of cinema is where it started — in a movie theater.”

We stuffed as many movies into our Cannes schedules as possible during the last two weeks. Though there was much competition, here’s what stayed with us.

May 25, 2024

This year’s Cannes jury was headed by “Barbie” and “Lady Bird” filmmaker Greta Gerwig, a proud cinephile who was anticipated to spread the wealth generously. She did so, in collaboration with her jury, a group that included the actors Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Eva Green (“Casino Royale”) and directors Hirokazu Kore-eda and Spain’s Juan Antonio Bayona.

The Grand Prix, Cannes’ runner-up award, went to Payal Kapadia’s “All We Imagine as Light,” India’s first film to compete in three decades. A special prize was created for Iran’s Mohammad Rasoulof, whose political thriller “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” a daring effort made in secret, was predicted to prevail in many quarters. “Grand Tour,” an evocative period drama set in several Asian countries, took the directing prize for Portugal’s Miguel Gomes.

Cannes’ acting awards, which don’t typically honor supporting performances, were also bestowed generously this year. The best actress prize went to the women of “Emilia Pérez,” co-starring Selena Gomez, Zoe Saldaña and trans lead Karla Sofía Gascón, who shared the honor jointly. The best actor prize was won by Jesse Plemons for his work in Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Kinds of Kindness.”

Demi Moore, a strong acting contender for her nightmarish Hollywood aging fantasia “The Substance,” did not prevail, although her film, a festival-rousing standout, won the screenwriting prize for its director and writer, France’s Coralie Fargeat.