Jury head Robert De Niro announced Terence Malick's The Tree of Life took the gold

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated May 22, 2011 02:30 PM
Credit: Sipa

As the 64th Cannes Film Festival came to a close Sunday, its jury awarded the top prize to a movie that split the critics: director Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.

Jury president Robert De Niro made the announcement, while the reclusive Malick was not in the French town to accept his Palme d’Or (Golden Palm).

Other winners Sunday evening included Kirsten Dunst as best actress for controversial director Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia. Earlier this week, the Danish filmmaker had been banned from the festival for rambling remarks he made at a press conference about how he sympathized with Hitler.

Dunst alluded to her director’s outburst during her acceptance speech Sunday, saying, “What a week this has been.”

French actor Jean Dujardin was named best actor for a popular silent, black-and-white comedy, The Artist – to be seen in the U.S. later this year. Best director was Nicolas Winding Refn, for Drive, which stars Ryan Gosling.

Other members of the Cannes jury included Jude Law and Uma Thurman.