The wisest and most exciting choice to receive the Palme d’Or this evening would be Lars von Trier‘s Melancholia. It would be an artistically respectable decision on its own, but perhaps more importantly the jury would be saying “it’s the work that counts, and not the odd press conference remark.”

Will De Niro, Thurman, Assayas, Law, To and their jury brethren do this? Of course not. They’d be too afraid that such a decision would be seen as a rebuke to the Cannes Film Festival’s decision to excommunicate Von Trier, which of course it wouldn’t be. It would be the ultimate non-political award gesture.

The best guess, apparently, is that Michel HazanaviciusThe Artist will take the prize. If that happens I would respectfully call it a cop-out to conventional popularity rather than going with a more substantial film that will seem worth the prize and then some down the road.

As I noted in my initial review, The Artist “is a “highly diverting, sometimes stirring thing…and a job well done.” But it’s not prize-winning good, if there is such a quality. As likable and well-done as it is, it’s not entirely its own unique-DNA, self-realized creation, and the story doesn’t really resolve itself in a way that”means” anything particularly, other than its sunshine reversal of the Star Is Born third-act scheme.