As the glittering cinematic celebration of Venice Film Festival came to a close on Saturday, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett received top gongs for acting talent.

Hollywood hunk Brad, whose camera-friendly looks have often overshadowed his acting prowess, was named best actor for his role in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford. Ben Affleck's younger brother Casey had been widely tipped to land the honour in recognition of his portrayal of the killer Ford, but at the end of the day it was his 43-year-old Tinseltown peer, who'd already moved on to the Toronto film fest, who scooped the trophy.

Best actress winner Cate was also elsewhere when her accolade, awarded for her role in Bob Dylan bio-pic I’m Not There, was announced. Unable to make the ceremony, the Lord Of The Rings star, whose performance has already attracted Oscar buzz, sent a note of thanks.

In the film, her blonde locks covered by a curly wig, the elfin-faced beauty is barely recognisable as one of six actors playing Dylan at different points in his career.

Other Festival winners included Ang Lee, whose Se Jie (Lust, Caution) took the Golden Lion for best film. It’s the second time the director has won the best film trophy; in 2005 he was earned it for cowboy love story, Brokeback Mountain.

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Brad, who stopped by the festival earlier in the week with partner Angelina Jolie at his side, scooped the best actor gong for his role as Jesse James in a new flick about the outlaw Photo: © Getty ImagesClick on photos for gallery
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Cate's I'm Not There co-star Heath Ledger collected her best actress award for her. He's among the six actors who play folk legend Bob Dylan at different stages in his life in the bio-picPhoto: © Getty Images