Terrence Malick's expansive drama The Tree Of Life - starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn - has won the top honour at the Cannes Film Festival.
The Palme d'Or prize was accepted by two Tree Of Life producers, Sarah Green and Bill Pohlad. Malick is "infamously shy and low profile ... (but) I know he would be thrilled with this," Pohlad said.
The Tree Of Life, which opens on Friday in the United States, stars Brad, Sean and Jessica Chastain in a story of family life that plays out against a cosmic backdrop.
Actress Kirsten Dunst took the best-actress prize for the apocalyptic saga Melancholia.
Its director, Denmark's Lars von Trier, was banned from the festival after making sympathetic remarks for Adolf Hitler at a press conference.
"Wow, what a week it's been," said Kirsten, who plays a deeply depressed woman coping with her family's foibles as a rogue planet bears down on a possible collision course with Earth.
Jean Dujardin claimed the best-actor prize for the silent film The Artist, in which he plays a 1920s Hollywood star whose career crumbles as talking pictures become the norm.
Prizes were awarded by a nine-member jury headed by Robert De Niro. The panel included actors Uma Thurman and Jude Law.
De Niro told reporters that choosing the top winner was difficult because of the range and "great qualities" among the 20 competing titles but that The Tree Of Life ultimately fit the bill. "It had the size, the importance, the intention, whatever you want to call it, that seemed to fit the prize," De Niro said. "Most of us felt the movie was terrific."
Danish filmmaker, Nicolas Winding Refn, won the directing award for Drive, his action thriller starring Ryan Gosling.