Who will get the gold from Steven Spielberg and his fellow jurors?
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Will win: Adèle Exarchopoulos, "Blue is the Warmest Color"
Should win: Adèle Exarchopoulos, "Blue is the Warmest Color"
Other possibilities: Léa Seydoux, "Blue is the Warmest Color" (only in a tie with Exarchopoulos), Marion Cotillard, "The Immigrant," Bérénice Bejo, "The Past," Kristin Scott Thomas, "Only God Forgives," Emmanuelle Seigner, "Venus in Fur," Marine Vacth, "Young and Beautiful"
Our reasoning: Unlike its masculine counterpart, the Best Actress category is positively stacked with worthy contenders -- and it's a very Gallic affair, with seven French actress (plus honorary Frenchwoman Kristin Scott Thomas) all having earned heavy praise for their star turns. One name, however, stands above the others in terms of acclaim, and its the freshest one of the lot: 19-year-old Exarchopoulos, who is transfixing in virtually every frame of Abdellatif Kechiche's lesbian coming-of-age drama, is the breakout story of the fest. (She could feasibly share the award with her fine co-star Lea Seydoux -- two young Romanian actresses shared the award last year -- but this is really Exarchopoulos's showcase.) The film's extended, explicit sex scenes may earn her extra "bravery" points from the jury -- Cannes juries and Oscar voters aren't always so different -- but she hardly needs them. Unfairly, her stumbling block could be the popularity of the film itself: recent Cannes rules prevent the Palme d'Or winner taking additional prizes. So if the jury is really hot for "Warmest Color," ironically, it's Cotillard or Bejo who might benefit.