Abdellatif Kechiche, Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos win the Palme d'Or for "Blue is the Warmest Color."
Abdellatif Kechiche, Léa Seydoux, Adèle Exarchopoulos win the Palme d'Or for "Blue is the Warmest Color."

In a twist in Cannes Sunday evening, director Abdellatif Kechiche's "Blue is the Warmest Color" not only won the Palme d'Or, but the jury, headed by Steven Spielberg, made the extraordinary gesture of also giving its actresses Adele Exarcholpoulos and Lea Seydoux honorary scrolls for their bravery in the film. The three-hour feature had received terrific word-of-mouth after its initial screening though some speculated its heavy and explicit sexual content, which is based on the French graphic novel Le Bleu est une couleur chaude by Julie Maroh, would possibly hinder a Palme d'Or win. (Our review round-up is here.)

Cannes Palais
Brian Brooks

In other major prizes, the Coen Bros.' "Inside Llewyn Davis" won the festival's Grand Prize of the Jury. Ethan and Joel Coen were in town for the premiere during the week but were not present to accept the prize; its star Oscar Isaac, who earned raves here for his role as a struggling folk artist, accepted. (TOH review here, interviews here.)

Singapore director Anthony Chen took the festival's Camera d'Or prize for "Ilo Ilo." The award recognizes a first-time filmmaker. Last year's winner, "Beasts of the Southern Wild," went on to receive multiple Oscar nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture. 

"This is a big honor because this is the first award that my country Singapore has won in Cannes," said Chen who politely asked that he be allowed to finish his statement as the music began playing.

Berenice Bejo
Berenice Bejo

Amat Escalante won Best Director for his Mexican drug war drama "Heli." Clearly surprised by the award, Escalante, whose film depicts some of the horrors the drug cartels have inflicted south of the border said, "Thank you to this brave jury. To Mexico, I hope we never get used to suffering."(Our interview with him is here.)

In other prizes, "The Past"'s Berenice Bejo won Best Actress. Clearly emotional on stage, she gave a shoutout to Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi ("A Separation"). "Asghar, I love you so much and what I've done on this movie is really because of you. I've had an amazing journey on this. I was not expecting this, thank you so much." With that, she almost left the stage without grabbing her award. (TOH Farhadi interview here).

'Like Father, Like Son' director Hirokazu Kore-Eda
'Like Father, Like Son' director Hirokazu Kore-Eda

Best actor went to veteran Bruce Dern for "Nebraska," whose director Alexander Payne accepted the prize. ("Nebraska" review here.)

Winning the jury prize was Hirokazu Kore-eda's heart-tugger “Like Father, Like Son" (Indiewire review here).

Unlike last year, when Michael Haneke's "Amour" was widely considered the frontrunner--and indeed collected the Palme d'Or--a half-dozen films were vying for the top prizes. Among those going home empty-handed are Paolo Sorrentino's “The Great Beauty” and star Tony Servillo (The Playlist review here), Steven Soderbergh's “Behind the Candelabra,” which debuts on HBO Sunday night, and actor Michael Douglas (TOH review here), Jim Jarmusch's "Only Lovers Left Alive," and James Gray's “The Immigrant” and actress Marion Cotillard (TOH's review here and interviews here).

The list of 2012 Cannes Film Festival winners:

Palme d’Or: "Blue is the Warmest Color," directed by Abdellatif Kechiche

Grand Prix of the Jury: "Inside Llewyn Davis," directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Prix de la Mise en Scene (Best Director): Amat Escalante for "Heli"

Prix du Scenario (Best Screenplay): Jia Zhangke for "A Touch Of Sin"

Camera d’Or (Best First Feature): "Ilo Ilo," directed by Anthony Chen

Prix du Jury (Jury Prize): "Like Father, Like Son," directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu

Prix d’interpretation feminine (Best Actress): Berenice Bejo for "Le Passe" by Asghar Farhadi

Prix d’interpretation masculine (Best Actor): Bruce Dern in "Nebraska" by Alexander Payne

Palme d’Or (Short Film): "Safe," directed by Moon Byoung-Gon

The full list of Cannes awards is below: