A stunning surprise Palme D’Or winner: Ken Loach‘s The Wind That Shakes the Barley has taken the big prize, despite a nearly unanimous press consensus in recent days that the winner would be either Pedro Almodovar‘s Volver or Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu‘s Babel.

Best Director winner Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu

Loach’s was the first ’06 Cannes competition film I genuinely admired (I said something about it being Loach’s best in a long while, etc.) so there’s no argument from this quarter. (The N.Y. Times‘ Manohla Dargis, noting that Barley was the 13th time Loach had brought a film to Cannes, is saying “this year he got lucky.”) Loach in his acceptance speech called the film and the award “a little step in the British confronting their imperial history…maybe if we tell the truth about the past, we can tell the truth about the present.” I would have been a tiny bit happier about Babel taking the Palme D’Or, but that’s water under the bridge. The Cannes jury, indicating the strong degree of Babel support among them, handed the Best Director prize to Innaritu, as well as a special Superior Editing Award to Babel‘s Stephen Mirrione. The entire female cast of Volver (Penelope Cruz, Carmen Maura, Lola Duenas, Blanca Portillo, Yohana Cobo and Chus Lampreave) won an esemble Best Actress award, and nearly the entire male cast of Rachid Bouchareb‘s Indigenes (Jamel Debbouze, Samy Naceri, Roschdy Zem, Samy Bouajila and Bernard Blancan) won the Best Actor award. The Best Screenplay award went to Almodovar’s Volver, the Grand Prix award was handed to Bruno Dumont‘s Flandres, and the Jury Prize went to Andrea Arnold‘s Red Road.