The 63rd Annual Cannes Film Festival came to a close Sunday with a couple of pedigreed Oscar winners—Javier Bardem and Juliette Binoche—among the top acting prizes.
No shocker there.
But despite a slew of all-star vehicles stirring up buzz, when it came to the fest's top trophy, the Palm d'Or, the result was a jaw-dropper...
Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives, by little-known Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, beat out of the 19 films in competition, including entries by such international cinema titans as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mike Leigh, Ken Loach and Abbas Kiarostami.
"This is like another world for me...this is surreal. Its a very important history for Thai cinema, for Thailand," said Weerasethakul, who goes by the name "Joe" to make it easy on people.
Uncle Boonme, about a man dying of kidney failure who meets the ghost of his wife and child, was the first Asian flick to take the top prize since 1997 when Shohei Imamura shared it with Kiarostami's The Taste of Cherry.
Speaking of ties, the jury headed by Tim Burton and including actors Kate Beckinsale, Benicio del Toro and Elizabeth helmer Shekhar Kapur, split the Best Actor award between Bardem, for his performance as a cancer-stricken father in Iñárritu's Biutiful, and Elio Germano for Daniele Luchetti's Our Life.
"Thanks to the jury for this beautiful award," said Bardem from the podium. "This award is a recognition to my work which would not exist if it weren't for the extraordinary movie Alejandro Iñárritu has made."
The 41-year-old Oscar winner also paid tribute to girlfriend Penélope Cruz, saying in Spanish that he wanted to share it with "my love Penélope, whom I love so much, and to whom I owe so much."
Binoche won Best Actress for her turn as a French art gallery owner who pretends to be married to an academic writer in Kiarostami's Certified Copy.
Mathieu Amalric, best known to audiences stateside for playing James Bond's nemesis in Quantum of Solace and his riveting performance in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, won Best Director for his French burlesque comedy, On Tour.
Taking home the Grand Prix, or runner-up prize, was French filmmaker Xavier Beauvois for Of God and Men, a searing drama starring Lambert Wilson about the beheading of seven French monks by Islamic fundamentalists in Algeria.
The Jury Prize went to Chad filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Horound for his meditative drama A Screaming Man. Winning the Un Certain Regard sidebar competition was another Asian entry, South Korean helmer Hong Sangsoo's Hahaha, while Serge Avedikian picked up Best Short for Barking Island.
The 2010 edition wound down with a screening of The Tree, a French-Australian coproduction starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as a widowed mother whose young daughter believes her dead father is talking to her through a bay fig.