For the second time in his career, Michael Douglas was honored at the César Awards – and took the opportunity to audition for French films. The 41st edition of the French Oscars also awarded Mark Osborne’s adaptation of The Little Prince, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman and Warren Ellis for his score in Mustang, one of the big winners of the night. But the top prize went to Philippe Fauchon’s Fatima.
The ceremony kicked off with Zita Hanrot winning the breakthrough actress trophy for her role as Fatima. The movie also won the awards for best adaptation, best editing and best picture.
Marguerite, directed by Xavier Giannoli, also took home four trophies, namely for best set decoration, best sound, best costume design (Pierre-Jean Larroque: “It’s nice to win an award “especially when you never win anything”) and best actress for Catherine Frot.
Another four trophies went to Oscar-nominated Mustang, including best first film for director Deniz Gamze Ergüven, best screenplay for Alice Winocour, best editing and best original score. Australian composer Warren Ellis, who is one of the Bad Seeds in Nick Cave’s band, thanked his illustrious bandmate: “He believed in me as much as my wife.”
Another winner to thank his wife was Mark Osborne, who won the best animated feature category for The Little Prince, a French production. “Merci tout le monde (thank you everyone),” he started off in French before continuing in English. “This is a spectacular honor. I want to thank first and foremost Antoine de St. Exupéry who created this work of art. I want to thank the St. Exupéry family.” But he mainly credited his wife Kim: “She gave me the book over 25 years ago and I wouldn’t have done the movie if it weren’t for her.”
Presenters included James Bond girl Carole Bouquet (For Your Eyes Only), Hippolyte Girardot (“Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in cartoons?” he said when presenting the award for best animated film), Audrey Lamy who sang a tune before presenting the award for Best Sound, Matthias Schoenaerts, Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott-Thomas, who presented the trophy for best foreign film, won by Inarritu’s Birdman. It beat movies like Paulo Sorrentino’s Youth and Nanny Moretti’s Mia Madre.
As for Emmanuelle Bercot, her Cannes Film Festival opener La Tête Haute (Standing Tall) earned its two male leads the best actor and best breakthrough awards for Benoît Magimel and Rob Paradot respectively. The 18-year-old, who played the lead role in Cannes opener La Tête Haute, was very emotional as he accepted his award. Paradot was styling carpentry when he was cast in the film that earned its director Emmanuelle Bercot the best actress Palme in Cannes for her role in Maïwenn’s Mon Roi.
Maïwenn was one of the three female filmmakers nominated for best director. But the winner was a man: Arnaud Desplechin for Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Years). Despite being nominated three times, this was his first win.
Another first-time winner was Vincent Lindon, who won his very first best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival in 2015 for Stephane Brizé’s La Loi du marché. The role also earned him his first best actor César. “Now I know what it’s like to see you from here,” he said.
But if there were an award for best host, Florence Foresti would not win it.
The comedienne mistook her role tonight for one of her standup shows. Her presentation style was exhausting and her jokes rather lacking in the humor department (or maybe I just don’t get French jokes), and she took the opportunity to take digs at the movie industry. As for her running joke, “Where is Vincent Cassel?”, it soon got tiresome. The actor, nominated in he best actor category for his role in La Tête Haute, was not in attendance.
Foresti’s sketch “Bloquées” (Blocked), alongside Vanessa Paradis, about two women talking about real life as opposed to life onscreen, was a bit more fun, especially if one is familiar with Paradis’s first hit song at age 14, “Joe le taxi.” But that was about it…
And while one of the César presenters Jonathan Cohen was rambling on with his unfunny jokes (just present the award, dude), Michael Douglas’s translator was probably apologizing in the name of France. Or perhaps he didn’t need a translator as the actor spoke in perfect French during his acceptance speech for his honorary award.
After an introduction by Oscar-winning director and president of this 41st edition Claude Lelouch as well as a montage of his films, Michael Douglas showed off his French language skills, thanking his parents “for allowing me to get a taste of French cinema… When I saw the magnificent montage [of my movies], I wondered ‘Who is that young guy?’” He also shared his vision of good filmmaking. “For me, cinema is like French cuisine. To make a good dish, you need good ingredients. I’ve always been lucky enough to have been surrounded by good ingredients in films.” And since he hadn’t been “lucky enough” to taste this particular brand of French gastronomy, referring to cinema, he proceeded to offer his services as an actor in a French film, calling it an “audition.”
The Césars also paid a discreet homage to David Bowie by peppering some sequences with his tracks, including the In Memoriam sequence, without ever paying tribute to the late musician and actor.
- Best Picture: Fatima by Philippe Faucon
- Best Director: Arnaud Desplechin for My Golden Years
- Best Actor: Vincent Lindon for La Loi du marché
- Best Actress: Catherine Frot for Marguerite
- Best Supporting Actor: Benoît Magimel for La Tête Haute
- Best Supporting Actress: Sidse Babette Knudsen for L’Hermine
- Breakthrough Actor: Rob Paradot in La Tête Haute
- Breakthrough Actress: Zita Hanrot in Fatima
- Best Screenplay: Alice Winocour for Mustang
- Best Foreign Film: Birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Best First Film: Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven
- Best Adaptation: Fatima
- Best Short Film: La Contre-allée by Cécile Ducrocq
- Best Animated Feature Film: The Little Prince by Mark Osborne
- Best Animated Short Film: Le Repas dominical by Céline Devaux
Best Original Score: Warren Ellis for Mustang
- Best Costume Design: Pierre-Jean Laroque for Marguerite
- Best Cinematography: Christophe Offenstein for Valley of Love by Guillaume Nicloux
- Best Editing: Mathilde Van de Moortel for Mustang
- Best Documentary: Demain by Cyril Dion & Mélanie Laurent
- Best Sound: François Musy and Gabriel Hafner for Marguerite
- Best Set Decoration: Martin Kurel for Marguerite