From pinoyexchange, discussion arose from news that Babae sa Breakwater (Woman of the Breakwater) was accepted into Cannes' Director's Fortnight:
the films in competition have not been screened yet to the general public
The films in both Competition and Director's Fortnight must make their world premieres in Cannes. This rule can be broken, but if I recall not often. Babae sa Breakwater has had its commercial run in Manila.
I can't even remember the last time that the winner of the Palm D' Or also went on to win top prize at the Oscars.
A lot of times it's simply because the film is a foreign film and usually ends up in the Foreign film category. But a Cannes win is not nothing; it carries a lot of weight in the Oscars--if not to win, at least to nominate.
I don't know the numbers, but I'm pretty sure that the number of films which are submitted are significantly less than what the Oscars consider
3,562 feature films and shorts were submitted to Cannes, up from an average of a thousand in the late '90s.
The nominees for Best Foreign Film for the Oscars 2004 were decided from a list of 54 films.
Each country must decide itself which film to send to the Oscars for consideration (different from Cannes, where any producer can send his film); in the case of the Philippines, the Film Academy sent Munting Tinig (Small Voice). Not very, uh, never mind...
I get estimates of 250 to 255 films submitted to the Academy voters each year for consideration for Best Picture, but I can't vouch for the accuracy of that figure (edit--I found out; 254 films were submitted in 2003).
Edit: that's only for Best Picture Oscars, of course, while the above 3,000 plus films (1,325 feature films from 85 countries) are the entire figure for Cannes. And that bit about a screening committee holds--but I don't know that a screening committee is any less valid than the Oscar style of sending 254 names out to its five-thousand-plus members for consideration.
Last year's crop of films in competition was not spectacular
That's true; there was The Brown Bunny. But you should have seen the Oscar Best Picture nominees...