CANNES, France — Jonathan Glazer, who won the runner-up prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival on Saturday for his Holocaust drama “The Zone of Interest,” has made just a handful of films in 20 years.
But each one has been unique, drawing highly memorable performances from stars such as Nicole Kidman, Ben Kingsley and, in his latest feature, Sandra Hueller.
The Cannes-winning film comes a decade on from the enigmatic British Jewish director’s last film, “Under the Skin,” the ultra-bizarre alien flick starring Scarlett Johansson.
Here’s a quick summary of the man and his work:
Ads and music videos
London-born Glazer, 58, began in the theater before moving into adverts and music videos.
He made memorable ads for Guinness, Stella Artois and Levi’s in the 1990s and several videos for Radiohead, as well as Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” which won the MTV video of the year award in 1997.
‘Sexy Beast’ (2000)
Glazer caused a sensation with his first film starring Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley, putting a bravura spin on the tired British gangster genre with the sort of searing images that characterized his ads and music videos.
It gave the world one of the most unforgettably insane characters ever committed to celluloid in Kingsley’s motor-mouthed psycho Don Logan — as distant as it’s possible to be from his best-known role as Gandhi — earning the actor an Oscar nomination.
Radically switching genres, Glazer turned next to this eerie New York tale about a widow (Nicole Kidman) confronted by a 10-year-old who claims to be her reincarnated dead husband.
The film confounded and scandalized critics at the time and was booed at its Venice Film Festival premiere, with many disturbed by the sexual overtones of the central relationship, but its reputation has grown over the years and earned comparisons with legendary director Stanley Kubrick.
‘Under the Skin’ (2013)
Glazer’s mysterious sci-fi set in a remote coastal Scottish town drew a stand-out performance from Scarlett Johansson, playing an alien in human form who roams the beaches and streets, picking up random men and luring them to an abandoned house.
Mixing highly stylized abstract scenes with gritty Glasgow realism, Glazer’s film was both baffling and mesmerizing, but this time the critics were won over, with the film topping multiple film-of-the-year lists.
‘The Zone of Interest’ (2023)
After a decade in which he only made a couple of short films, Glazer has returned with another unique offering — looking at the disturbing ordinary private life of a Nazi officer at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
It never shows the horrors of the camp directly, but the audience knows full well what the background noises — trains, incinerators, gunshots and screams — signify.
On Saturday, the jury at Cannes awarded the film the Grand Prix after critics had been near-unanimous in their praise following the premiere at the festival.