French actor and director Guillaume Gallienne was the big winner at the 39th ceremony of the César Awards in Paris, where he took home a total of five trophies, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Adaptation, Best First Film and Best Editing for Me, Myself and Mum. Michael Kohlhaas by Arnaud des Pallières and 9 Month Stretch by Albert Dupontel were also among the big winners, while Quentin Tarantino presented a lifetime achievement award to a young American actress.
Hosted by Cécile de France, who starred in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter in 2010 and whose own mantelpiece includes two Césars – she didn’t lose the opportunity to remind the audience in one of her many shameless self-elevating moments – this year’s edition of the French film awards was rather bland and short on humor. The jokes lacked edge, the writers had forgotten to include punch lines, and their delivery by Cécile de France amplified all of that. One sketch was meant to parody the alleged ill treatment that actresses Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux suffered on the set of Blue Is The Warmest Color. It was sloppy and I’m not sure the ladies laughed. Except when the film won the first award of the evening. More after the jump.
Winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2013, Blue Is The Warmest Color was expected to win big. Yet to everyone’s surprise, the movie that had taken the country and its box-office by storm only earned one trophy. And director Abdellatif Kechiche was a no-show at the event. “Thanks Abdel, I don’t know why you’re not here, but I owe it all to you,” said a visibly moved and nervous Exarchopoulos as she accepted her César for Most Promising Actress. She also thanked her co-star: “Léa, you’re my biggest love story… on film!”
France’s relationship with “the seventh art” is one of its biggest love stories.
“France is the most cinephile country in the world,” Quentin Tarantino said as he presented Scarlett Johansson with this year’s Honorary César, celebrating her career in film. She may be too young to receive a lifetime achievement award, but perhaps the César academy wanted to show her that the French can be forgiving despite her recent complaints on the David Letterman Show about “rude” Parisians. After thanking Tarantino “for saving us from mediocrity,” she addressed the audience: “I’d like to thank France and the city of Paris,” paying homage to the people and beauty of her new home city. Johansson closed her speech by dedicating her award to her grandmother: “She is half of who I am and half of who I want to be.”
Tarantino was also up for an award. Django Unchained was nominated for Best Foreign Film, alongside Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty and Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. But the trophy went to one of my favorite films of 2013, The Broken Circle Breakdown by Belgian director Felix van Groeningen.
At age 80, Roman Polanski was named Best Director for La Vénus à la fourrure, starring his wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, nominated for Best Actress. The award went to Sandrine Kiberlain for 9 Month Stretch, handed to her by Jeremy Irons.
The British actor wasn’t the only foreign presenter. Beth Ditto (yes, the Gossip singer) panted, “I can do this,” as she ran through the aisles and presented, in French, the award for Best Original Score to British composer Martin Wheeler for Michael Kohlhaa. The film also picked up the César for Best Sound.
Adèle Haenel had an Ellen Page moment, minus the standing ovation, as she came out at the end of her acceptance speech for her Best Supporting Actress trophy for Suzanne, declaring her love for writer/director Céline Sciamma.
It was to be a night of tributes, from declarations of love to homages. Before presenting the César for Best Original Screenplay to Albert Dupontel for 9 Month Stretch, Jean-Hugues Anglade paid tribute to the late Patrice Chéreau, who had directed him in 1994’s epic La Reine Margot, starring Isabelle Adjani: “I went to see Patrice yesterday and read him my speech. He said it’s good, but keep it brief for the nominees.” Too bad Chéreau didn’t warn him about Cécile de France.
Yet the evening had started out with a promise of excitement as the most unexpected guest showed up on the red carpet. French president François Hollande’s new squeeze Julie Gayet, nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for Quai d’Orsay, posed for the photographers but avoided the press and quickly made her way inside the Théâtre du Châtelet. Throughout the ceremony, the camera kept cutting to the woman who caused the break-up between the president and first lady. She did not look amused despite her brave face, almost as if she would rather not have been there but came anyway just to prove everyone wrong. Or because she knew she wasn’t going to win and give an awkward speech, although that would’ve added some spice to a rather boring evening.
The full list of winners of the 39th Cesar Awards:
- Best Picture: Me, Myself and Mum
- Honorary Cesar: Scarlett Johansson
- Best Director: Roman Polanski for La Vénus à la fourrure
- Best Actor: Guillaume Gallienne for Me, Myself and Mum
- Best Actress: Sandrine Kiberlain for 9 Month Stretch
- Best Supporting Actor: Niels Arestrup for Quai d’Orsay
- Best Supporting Actress: Adèle Haenel for Suzanne
- Most Promising Actress (Newcomer): Adèle Exarchopoulos for Blue Is The Warmest Color
- Most Promising Actor (Newcomer): Pierre Deladonchamps for Stranger by the Lake
- Best Original Screenplay: Albert Dupontel for 9 Month Stretch
- Best Foreign Film: The Broken Circle Breakdown by Felix van Groeningen
- Best First Film: Me, Myself and Mum by Guillaume Gallienne
- Best Costume: Pascaline Chavanne for Renoir
- Best Original Score: Martin Wheeler for Michael Kohlhaas
- Best Production Design: Stephane Rozenbaum for L’Ecume des Jours
- Best Sound: Jean-Pierre Duret, Jean Mallet and Melissa Petitjean for Michael Kohlhaas
- Best Documentary: Sur le Chemin de l’Ecole by Pascal Plisson
- Best Adapted Screenplay: Me, Myself and Mum by Guillaume Gallienne
- Best Animated Feature Film: Loulou l’Incroyable Secret by Eric Omond
- Best Animated Short Film: Mademoiselle Kiki et les Montparnos by Amelie Harrault
- Best Editing: Valerie Deseine for Me, Myself and Mum
- Best Cinematography: Thomas Hardmeier for The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
- Best Short Film: Avant Que de Tout Perdre by Xavier Legrand
Here’s the trailer for Me, Myself and Mum: