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THE ARTIST Wins, Jean Dujardin Loses: César Awards 2012

The Artist Jean Dujardin Berenice Bejo
Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Jean Dujardin can’t win ’em all. For his (in my humble opinion brilliant) performance as a fading silent film star in Michel HazanaviciusThe Artist, he was voted Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival, the British Academy Awards, the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Australian Film Institute Awards (as Best International Actor). He was also chosen as the Best Actor of 2011 by both the London Film Critics Circle and the Academy of French Film Journalists. [List of César winners.]

Earlier this evening, however, Dujardin lost the Best Actor César du Cinéma. The 2012 French equivalent of the Oscars went instead to comedian Omar Sy, who co-stars with François Cluzet in the feel-good box office blockbuster The Intouchables / The Intouchables. Perhaps enough members of the French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Crafts were envious of Dujardin’s international success and/or felt he had already won too many awards. Or perhaps they decided it was time to give a Best Actor César to a black man — Sy is the first to win in that category. Or it could even be that enough French Academy members felt Sy, who interrupted his acceptance speech to offer a quick onstage dance (?) performance, was more deserving.

In any case, Sy’s victory was the only one for The Intouchables. The Artist, on the other hand, won a total of six Césars: Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress (Bérénice Bejo as ascending dawn-of-the-sound era star Peppy Miller), Best Cinematography (Guillaume Schiffman), Best Art Direction (Laurence Bennett), and Best Music (Ludovic Bource).

Among this year’s other César winners were veteran Michel Blanc for The Minister, which also won awards for Best Sound and Best Original Screenplay for writer-director Pierre Schöller (defeating The Artist’s Hazanavicius); former Pedro Almodóvar muse Carmen Maura for Philippe Le Guay’s comedy The Women on the 6th Floor; and Christian Rouaud and Clémence Latour’s documentary Tous au Larzac / Leader-Sheep, about how a group of farmers took on the French government in the ’70s.

For co-writing with playwright Yasmina Reza the movie adaptation of Gods of Carnage, more concisely retitled as Carnage, Roman Polanski won his sixth César — his first in the writing categories. Polanski had previously won as Best Director for Tess (1979), The Pianist (2002), and The Ghost Writer (2010), besides taking home Best Picture Césars for the aforementioned first two films. One of Carnage’s stars, Kate Winslet, was this year’s Honorary César recipient.

And finally, out of its 13 nods — seven of which in the acting categories — Maïwenn’s Polisse won a single César: Best Film Editing for Laure Gardette and Yann Dedet.

Jean Dujardin/Bérénice Bejo/The Artist pic: The Weinstein Company.

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