Special occasions always provoke unrealistic expectations but Cannes rose to the challenge of a landmark 60th festival with a programme that had distinction in abundance.
Opening with Wong Kar Wai's underwhelming My Blueberry Nights was still a statement of intent, underlining the belief that auteur-cinema matters and that the festival was taking its anniversary responsibilities very seriously.
The competition selection eschewed the Brown Bunny faux pas and provided titles like Cristian Mungui's uncompromisingly downbeat, utterly compelling abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days, which won the Palme d'Or; Julian Schabel's deeply moving adaptation of Jean-Dominque Bauby's memoir The Diving Bell And The Butterfly, which took best director honours; and the Coen Brothers flinty version of Cormac McCarthy's bleak No Country For Old Men that achieved a rare combination of critical acclaim and the promise of commercial success.
James Gray's depressingly predictable B-movie thriller We Own The Night and Raphael Nadjari's desperately slight Tehilim were among the few titles who failed to justify their place at the top table of competition contenders.
The battle for the Palme d'Or may exercise the mind of most critics but the riches at Cannes were spread among all the sections. If it had been in competition Michael Moore's provocative, funny and heartrending Sicko might well have been a contender for the top prize.
Director's Fortnight titles of note included Anton Corbjin's beautifully modulated and expertly acted Control, Pen-ek Ratanaruang's darkly poetic Ploy and Lenny Abrahamson's ultra-minimalist Garage.
Critics Week stand out was Lucia Puenzo's delicately handled XXY and Un Certain Regard had one of its strongest years in recent memory with a long list of impressive works that included the triumphant deadpan comedy The Band's Visit; the wry, acid-tipped El Bano Del Papa; Barbet Schroeder's weighty documentary L'Avocat De La Terreur; Daniele Luchetti's spirited Italian drama My Brother Is An Only Child; and Un Certain Regard winner California Dreamin', from the late Cristian Nemescu which, combined with 4 Months, 3 Weeks And 2 Days and recent Cannes works like The Death Of Mr Lazarescu and Bucharest 12.08: East of Bucharest, confirm the amazing intensity and accomplishment of current Romanian film-making.
George Clooney, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt may have provided the red carpet glamour that makes Cannes front page news around the world but in the final reckoning it may be the quality and diversity of the films at the 60th Cannes that secures all the headlines.
When even the ensemble festival celebration of Chacun Son Cinema turns out to be witty, touching and heartfelt you know it has been a Cannes to remember.