Robert De Niro and his Cannes jury team have awarded the Palme d'Or to Terrence Malick's completely uneven Tree of Life - deeming the excessive, overly ambitious, one-note and pretentious meditative movie to be the Best Picture of the 64th edition of the festival. Of course Malick had better things to do yesterday and it was up to producers Bill Pohlad and Dede Gardner to accept the award on his behalf but they did say the director would be 'delighted' by the win and he would have thanked his family if he had been there. De Niro said at the awards press conference;
"Most of us felt very clearly it was the movie, the size of it, the importance seemed to fit the prize. Other movies were good also. It's a difficult process, and it's never quite 100%, but most of us thought it was terrific. There were some intense debates over a number of films, three in particular: Pater, Sleeping Beauty, and Le Havre. But Habemus Papam, and The Skin I Live In, also stimulated discussion.De Niro's comments don't make for a particularly strong argument for why Tree of Life won but there you go. Also it's somewhat troubling that no love was given to Michael Hazanavicius experimental and inventive black and white silent movie The Artist or Lynne Ramsey's harrowing We Need To Talk About Kevin - neither of which clearly were in serious discussion for the top prize. More commentary and a look at the rest of the winners after the jump... Deadline's Pete Hammond writes that Tree of Life had been the talk of the past two Cannes Film Festivals and the top prize was possibly a little preordained in some ways (he is right... in the run up to Cannes 2010 myself and Simon Gallagher spoke a great deal about how we figured it would play at that year's edition of the festival) and it's true that with the exception of Von Trier's shenanigans, few topics generated as much discussion on the Croisette either before or after it's screening. Presumably Fox Searchlight may believe they have an Oscar contender on their hands with Tree of Life but what the younger Academy members will make of such a challenging movie to engage with will be interesting and when approximately three people in the U.S. see this film on limited release, we think that'll be something of a stretch and there's a danger discussion on Tree of Life could be completely non-existent by the end of the year. Put it this way, it would have to be a pretty awful second half to 2011 for Tree of Life to hit one of the 10 Best Picture slots. Plus, Searchlight will likely pin their hopes on Alexander Payne's The Descendants with George Clooney that has a high profile December awards season release. The aforementioned The Artist, Pedro Almodovar's excellent The Skin I Live In, Lars Von Trier's interesting Melancholia and We Need To Talk About Kevin (in particular this movie is forgotten about, perhaps as it played on the second day of the festival) would all be more worthy. On our last day on the Croisette, the OWF Cannes team all came to the collective consensus that Jean Dujardin's spirited and winning performance in The Artist was the best of the male bunch we've seen (only the three kids from We Need To Talk About Kevin came close) and he is well deserving of the Best Actor nod. Oh, how I would love that movie to get some real Oscar traction next year and I hope The Weinsteins live up to their usual awards push in the fall and don't dismiss it too much for the other movies on their slate like The Iron Lady. In the female category, well it's difficult to argue against that Kirsten Dunst gives her career best performance in Melancholia and if nothing else she should be given kudos for her recent career change in direction which is seeing her take on serious and challenging movies such as this. She took home the Best Actress award. HOWEVER, this doesn't change my opinion that Kirsten Dunst was terribly mis-cast in the movie and the fundamental flaw with the apocalyptic drama is our inability to really care about her plight. Hell, even her character doesn't care about her plight and it's tough performance that never truly satisfies. Melancholia's better story is the second half dedicated to Charlotte Gainsbourg's character and she goes through the ringer of emotions and I'm surprised more critics didn't side with her performance over Dunst's. We Need To Talk About Kevin (because somebody has to) and Tilda Swinton's multi-layered turn compared to Dunst's one note depressive was clearly on another level to Dunst but maybe people have simply grown tired of praising Swinton. Maybe she has hit the Meryl Streep syndrome of 'yeah, we get it... you are a God'. Dunst won for Melancholia despite her director Lars Von Trier being dubbed 'person non grata' on Thursday after being banned from the festival for his Nazi comments. Best Director went to Nicolas Winding Refn for his movie Drive which is cool... but I just wish he had reigned it in for the final 25 minutes and kept up with his 70's direction and 80's style of the opening. No doubt he is a supreme talent however and I really hope he and star Ryan Gosling get to make that Logan's Run movie together and soon. The Grand Jury Prize was a tie between the Brothers Dardenne for their drama The Kid With A Bike and for Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, the latter a surprise simply because it played on the Saturday after most had already gone home. The Jury prize went to Polisse... a movie I highly regret not seeing but sometimes schedules just don't match up. Full list of winners below, including the Un Certain Regard section that was released a little earlier in the week; Best Picture, the The Palme dOr winner: Terrence Malick, The Tree Of Life The Grand Prix: (tie): Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Kid with a Bike and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn - Drive Best Actor: Jean Dujardin, The Artist Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst, Melancholia Best Screenplay Joseph Cedar, Footnote The Jury Prize: Maïwenn, Poliss Camera dOr: Pablo Giorgelli, Las Acacias Short Film Palme dOr: Maryna Vroda, Cross-Country Un Certain Regard Prize: (tie) Arirang by Kim Ki-duk; Stopped on Track by Andreas Dresen Special Jury Prize: Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev Best Director: Mohammad Rasoulof, Au Revoir FIPRESCI Prize (Competition): Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki FIPRESCI Prize (Un Certain Regard): The Minister, Pierre Schoeller FIPRESCI Prize (Critics Week): Take Shelter, Jeff Nichols Prize of the Ecumenical Jury: This Must Be the Place, Paolo Sorrentino Special Mentions: Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki; Where Do We Go Now?, Nadine Labaki Queer Palme: Skoonheid, Oliver Hermanus Bring the festival experience home this year on Blu-ray Disc keep up to date with all the latest Blu-ray news at the Blu-ray Disc Reporter.