The Cannes Film Festival has a long and distinguished track record of spotlighting landmark works in the history of cinema with its highest honor, the Palme d’or.
The festival first gave out its highest honor in 1939, but the award hasn’t always been called the Palme d’or, nor has it always been given to just one film.
Originally, the award was dubbed the “Grand Prix du Festival Internationale du Film,” a mouthful of a moniker with a little less luster than “Palme d’or.”
In the decades since the award’s inception, Cannes has bounced back and forth between the two designations. The top award was called the Palme d’or in 1955, when Delbert Mann’s Marty took the honor. Then, in 1964, it became the Grand Prix again before finally settling in as the Palme d’or, which has been its name for the past 45 years.
While the fest’s top award was first given out 84 years ago, there are not an even 84 recipients. Some years, like 2020, the event was canceled, and so no top honor was handed out. The reasons for canceling the fest have varied through the decades, from a pandemic (in 2020), to WWII (1940-1945), to the May 68 movement (1968), to internal budgetary woes (1948 & 1950).
Other years, the jury’s votes ended in a tie, resulting in more than one film receiving the award. Still other years, the jury gave out the top trophy in different categories, such as Disney’s Dumbo for Best Animation Design in 1947. Multiple top awards were also handed out in 1946 — 11, to be exact — after the fest had been dark during the war.
Click on the photo above for a chronological gallery of all 99 films that have received Cannes’ highest honor.