Cannes 2011 is a thing of the past, and the festival has wrapped up by doling out its traditional honors, which include the most prestigious of cinema awards- the Palm d’Or.

The big news here is that the one American film, Tree of Life, took home the big prize, despite a fairly mixed buzz from the film. No one I’ve read has dismissed the film by any stretch, but there’s a general consensus that the impressionistic film may not be as thematically cohesive as such a free-form experience ought to be (I pretty much loved it). Regardless, it won over the jury enough to merit the first grand prize for a Malick film just before it begins a platform release in America. I can’t imagine anyone expects it to be a truly commercial film, but this may help give it enough heat to do maintain strong per-theater averages and build up art house momentum.

This also means CHUD was on the cutting edge, spoofing the film well before its big Cannes victory. You saw it here first folks (or at least, almost 800 of you did).

Second place went to the Dardenne Brothers, who are among the very few to have won multiple prizes from the festival.

Also noteworthy is Kirsten Dunst’s best actress win for Melancholia. While the festival took swift action to condemn Von Trier’s silly bullshit comments, no one has been shy about praising the film, and Dunst’s work in it. This will only help raise the profile of the movie, which has not screened stateside yet (unlike Tree of Life).

Best Director went to Nicolas Refn, the possibly brilliant director of Bronson and the Pusher trilogy. His film Driver also accumulated great praise for its apparently great action and infectious score, though I saw a lot of twitter comments that were left puzzled by the film. I know it’s high on my list of films to see this year, and I’m definitely sold on what we’ve seen so far.

Surprisingly, no top honors went to a film I put a little spotlight on last week, We Need To Talk About Kevin. It’s a bummer because the film sounds like a difficult sell (especially stateside) and anything that might have improved its chances of getting in front of my eyeballs soon would have been quite welcome. A Best Actor award for Jean Dujardin in The Artist should do a lot to raise the profile of that currently under-the-radar film though.

All of these choices are actually fairly mainstream, as far as the festival’s tastes usually go, and do keep in mind that any single film is only able to win one prize (which I think is a pretty interesting method of giving awards). Robert DeNiro heads the festival jury and fielded many questions after the awards, but virtually all of his explanations boiled won to “we had to make a choice, these are the choices we made.” Fair enough. The full list of winners is below (via Deadline).

Official Competition
Palme d’Or: The Tree Of Life (dir: Terrence Malick)
Grand Prix (Runner-up to main award): (tie) Kid With A Bike (dir: Dardenne brothers), Once Upon A Time In Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Mise en Scene (Best Director): Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive)
Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia)
Prix du Scenario (Screenplay): Joseph Cedar, Footnote (Israel)
Prix Du Jury: Poliss (dir: Maiwenn)

Palme d’Or Court Metrage: Cross Country (dir: Maryna Vroda)
Camera d’Or (Best First Film): Las Acasias (dir: Pablo Giorgelli)

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