The 68th Cannes Film Festival came to a surprising close on Sunday night when the Palme d’Or was awarded to “Dheepan,” Jacques Audiard’s tense drama about three Sri Lankan refugees struggling to assimilate in a violent French ghetto only to end up in a pastoral British backyard. The movie was well received by critics if far from a passionate favorite.
The Grand Prize, in effect the Palme runner-up, went to the widely praised Hungarian movie “Son of Saul,” a first feature from Laszlo Nemes. Set almost entirely in Auschwitz-Birkenau, it follows a Sonderkommando, one of those Jewish prisoners who were forced to help run the Nazi extermination camps, as he attempts to bury a child and locate a rabbi to recite a funeral prayer.
The Jury Prize went to “The Lobster,” an absurdist comedy from the Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos, about a world in which people who remain unmated are turned into animals. The Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-Hsien won best director for “The Assassin,” a glorious martial arts film.
The French actor Lambert Wilson again served as the host for the awards, which took place in the grand Lumière Theater in the festival’s headquarters and this year included dance and musical numbers that gave the ceremony a distinctly Oscar-ized feel. The American filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen presided over a main competition jury that included the Mexican director Guillermo del Toro and the Malian singer Rokia Traoré.
The Caméra d’Or, for best first feature, went to “La Tierra y la Sombra,” from the Colombian director César Augusto Acevedo; the film was shown in a parallel section and was inexplicably preceded by a performance of “I Ain’t Got Nobody” sung by a tuneless John C. Reilly. Mr. Wilson followed this by singing “Happy Birthday” to Mr. Reilly. After another musical number, the trailblazing French filmmaker Agnès Varda, who will turn 87 on Saturday and whose films include classics like “Cléo From 5 to 7,” received a much-deserved honorary Palme d’Or.
The Mexican director Michel Franco won the screenwriting award for the English-language drama “Chronic,” about a nurse (Tim Roth) who draws intense emotional and psychological sustenance from his terminally ill patients. In another surprise, Rooney Mara, one of the stars with Cate Blanchett of “Carol,” Todd Haynes’s much-admired lesbian romance, shared the best actress award with Emmanuelle Bercot for “Mon Roi,” a less-loved melodrama from the French director Maïwenn about a woman recovering from a skiing accident and a terrible marriage.
Vincent Lindon won best actor as a middle-age factory worker who, after being laid off, ends up taking a job as a security guard in the French film “The Measure of a Man,” directed by Stéphane Brizé.
Un Certain Regard, a section that showcases younger filmmakers and somewhat riskier work than in the main slate, was won by “Rams,” a moving comedy turned tragedy from the Icelandic director Grimur Hakonarson that centers on two sheep-herding brothers who break their 40-year silence when their herds descend into crisis.
The Palme for the best short film was given to “Waves ’98,” from the Lebanese director Ely Dagher.