Cannes -- The jury threw us a valenzuela-sized screwball on closing night by awarding Ken Loach 's Irish Troubles film, The Wind That Shakes The Barley (pictured), the Palme d'Or at the 59th Cannes Film Festival, perhaps the most buzz-free Palme winner since Rosetta in 1999.
My theory is that what jury president Wong Kar-wai meant when he said the jury was unanimous was that Loach, a perpetual Prix du Jury and FIPRESCI prizewinner, was everyone's third choice. Those must have been some interesting jury meetings.
They also, rightly I think, pulled a fast one by making both the acting prizes ensemble awards: for the female cast of Pedro Almod&oactue;var 's Volver and the all-male cast of Rachid Bouchareb 's Franco-Algerian war film Indigénes .
The awards are the icing, so how was the cake?
After a year away, I felt like the festival was physically bigger, with the sprawling international village away to the east by the old harbour and the beach screenings extending in the other direction.
At the same time, it seemed smaller in terms of the product; there was very little work that excited people. You got very few arguments if you said your favourites were Volver, Alejandro Iárittu 's Babel , Guillermo Del Toro 's Pan's Labyrinth and Andrea Arnold 's Red Road , which won the Jury Prize.
Look for all these films when they arrive in Toronto, most of them probably at the film festival.
Of course, you could easily get into a fight with a French critic over the merits, or lack thereof, of Bruno Dumont 's Flandres , Dumont being one of those brutalists the French love because they show life as an ugly world of random pain and thoughtless cruelty. (See Gaspar Noé, of Irreversible fame.)
Cannes remains one of the most contradictory events in the world of cinema.
You sit through 90 minutes of war crimes and gang rape, then exit into a beautiful soft twilight as the sun sinks below the mountains, casting a red glow against the perfectly arrayed clouds.
Hundreds of film sellers pack the market each year, all the while complaining that no one's buying their films. And journalists who go to late-night parties complain about lack of sleep at the 8:30 am screening as if last night's alcohol intake were somehow someone else's fault.
Twelve days, 30-plus films, a surprise Palme d'Or winner and I'm back in my hotel room thinking, "I don't have to climb that goddamned hill again for another year."