Director Michael Haneke reacts after receiving the Palme d'Or award for the film "Amour" (Love) during the awards ceremony of the 65th Cannes Film Festival, May 27, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Yves Herman
This is the second Palme d'Or for the Munich-born Haneke, who is known for the precision and artistry of his cinema. Haneke's The White Ribbon won in 2009. He also won the best director prize in 2005 for Hidden (Cache). Love (Amour) is the heartbreaking story of two lovers in their 80s facing the inevitable end as their bodies betray them.
Haneke's triumph was part of a nearly all-European sweep of major prizes. On the Canadian side, David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis was shut out, although that was expected given the deeply divided feelings the film generated. Only one American film got a prize, and that was the Camera d'Or as best first-time director to Benh Zeitlin. His film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, was not even in the official competition. The Camera d'Or can go to a film in any official selection and Beasts played in Un Certain Regard.
The Grand Prix -- which ranks as second place -- went to Italian Matteo Garrone's Reality, a result that generated jeers from some media (although they could not be heard by the winners or the audience in the main auditorium).
More popular was the Prix Jury -- third place -- for British director Ken Loach's The Angels' Share. Loach used his acceptance speech to make an impassioned plea against widespread cuts in European government funding for the arts, including cinema.
Best actor went to Danish star Mads Mikkelsen, who turns in a stunning performance as a man wrongly accused of sexually abusing a child in Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt.
The best actress prize was shared by Cristina Flutur and Cosmina Stratan. two stars from Romanian director Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills. This was the only film that generated more than one award on the night, when writer-director Mungiu took the best screenplay prize.
Mexican filmmaker Carlos Reygadas won the best director award for his latest effort, Post Tenebras Lux, even though the film has received a mediocre response.
The jury, however, rarely cares much about critical or public response. This year, under jury president Nanni Moretti, they really went their own way except for a couple of popular selections, including the Palme d'Or winner. Other jury members this year included Scottish movie star Ewan McGregor, who made a point of praising Mikkelsen's subtlety in The Hunt at a post-awards press conference.
The Cannes awards are only casually related to other international film awards, including the Oscars. Last year, The Artist earned its star, Jean Dujardin, a best actor prize at Cannes. But nothing else. Yet it went on to win five Oscars, including best film and best actor.
Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life did win the Palme d'Or. But it faded at the Oscars, getting only three noms and winning none.