Michael Haneke's drama about love and death, Amour, won five César Awards (out of ten nominations) earlier this evening at a ceremony held at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris: Best Film, Best Actress for Emmanuelle Riva, Best Actor for Jean-Louis Trintignant, Best Director for Michael Haneke, and Best Original Screenplay (also Haneke). [Photo: Best Actress César winner Emmanuelle Riva.]
“I'm very lucky at this stage in my life to experience such a wonder,” said a radiant-looking Emmanuelle Riva, who became an international name following the release of Alain Resnais' epoch-making Hiroshima Mon Amour back in 1959. This was not only Riva's first César win, but also her first nomination ever.
Michael Haneke was absent from the César Awards ceremony, as, according to one report, he's currently working on a production of the opera Cosi Fan Tutte, which opens on Saturday in Madrid. (According to other reports, Haneke is already in Los Angeles for the Oscars.) Veteran producer Margaret Ménégoz (Danton, Europa Europa, The White Ribbon) accepted the César on both Haneke's and her own behalf, telling the crowd that she was “happy to be the film's producer,” as “producers are rarely in the spotlight.” Haneke had been previously nominated for directing and writing the Daniel Auteuil / Juliette Binoche thriller Hidden / Caché (1995); additionally, The White Ribbon was a Best Foreign Language Film César nominee three years ago.
Jean-Louis Trintignant was another absentee, as he's currently appearing on stage in Brussels. Trintignant did, however, express his gratitude over the telephone. His son, Vincent, was on hand to pick up the statuette. (Daughter Marie Trintignant was killed days after being repeatedly beaten by her boyfriend, rocker Bertrand Cantat, in August 2003.) Trintignant had four previous César nods: Best Actor for Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red / Trois couleurs: Rouge and Pierre Boutron's Fiesta (1995), and Best Supporting Actor for Régis Wargnier's The Woman of My Life / La Femme de ma vie (1986) and Patrice Chéreau's Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train / Ceux qui m'aiment prendront le train (1998).
Amour (in both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film categories), Riva, and Haneke (as both director and screenwriter) are all in the running for the Academy Awards next Sunday. Absurdly, veteran Trintignant was left out of the running. Also worth noting is that Amour, director Haneke, Riva, and Trintignant were honored with European Film Awards last December. Additionally, Amour received the Palme d'Or at Cannes last spring.
Rust and Bone wins four Césars
After Amour, Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone / De Rouille et d'os was the most honored film at the 2013 César Awards. A love story featuring two physically handicapped characters, Rust and Bone earned Césars for Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts as Best Male Newcomer (Schoenaerts is reportedly the first Belgian to win in this particular category), Juliette Welfling for Best Editing, Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain for Best Adapted Screenplay (the duo, along with two other collaborators, had won a César for A Prophet three years ago), and frequent Audiard collaborator Alexandre Desplat for Best Music. Rust and Bone's leading lady, Marion Cotillard, was a Best Actress nominee.
Argo takes home César Award
Alexandre Desplat is also in the running for the Best Original Score Oscar, but for Ben Affleck's political thriller Argo, the winner of the César Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Whether Argo won because French Film Academy members really admired the generally well-received movie or because they're as susceptible to awards-season buzz and groupthink as their Hollywood counterparts is – and likely will remain – a mystery. Needless to say, Ben Affleck, getting ready for the American César Awards – a.k.a. The Oscars – was absent from the César ceremony.
Emmanuelle Riva César Awards image via Francetvinfo.com (Charles Platiau / Reuters).
Kevin Costner 'Fabulous Contribution' to Film: César Awards
Speaking of Hollywood, the French Academy of Film Arts and Sciences has oftentimes handed out its Honorary César / Lifetime Achievement Award to a curious assortment of Hollywood personages, e.g., Kate Winslet (36 at the time), Jude Law (35), Johnny Depp (36), Quentin Tarantino, Hugh Grant, Will Smith, Spike Lee, Andie McDowell, and Sylvester Stallone. This year, they've made another curious choice: Kevin Costner, whose Honorary César was the result of his “fabulous contribution to cinematic history.” Costner, among whose films as actor and/or director are Dances with Wolves, Bull Durham, JFK, The Bodyguard, The Postman, and Waterworld, thanked the French Academy for accepting him “for who I am.” Costner will next be seen in Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill and Amy Adams.
Other César Awards 2013 winners
Among the other César Awards 2013 winners were Best Supporting Actress Valérie Benguigui and Best Supporting Actor Guillaume de Tonquédec for Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patelliere's comedy-drama What's in a Name? / Le Prénom (literally, “The First Name”), about a dinner party gone amok.
Benoît Jacquot's Farewell, My Queen / Les Adieux à la reine won three trophies: Best Cinematography for Romain Winding, Best Costume Design for Christian Gasc, and Best Production Design for Katia Wyszkop. Gasc dedicated his César to “his love,” actress Marie-France Pisier, who (apparently) committed suicide in 2011. Wyszkop, for her part, thanked the late director Maurice Pialat, with whom she worked on Under the Sun of Satan and Van Gogh at the beginning of her career.
Sébastien Lifshitz's The Invisible Ones / Les Invisibles won the Best Documentary César. The Invisible Ones tells the story of French gay men and women who chose to live openly at a time when things were considerably more difficult for them than they are now.
Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar, and Stéphane Aubier's Ernest and Celestine / Ernest et Célestine, about the unlikely friendship between a bear and a mouse and featuring the voices of Lambert Wilson and Pauline Brunner, was the Best Animated Feature; Cyril Mennegun's Louise Wimmer, about a middle-aged homeless woman (Corinne Masiero) inspired by Nina Simone's music, was the Best First Film; and Cloclo, starring Jérémie Renier as '70s pop icon Claude François, won for Best Sound (Antoine Deflandre, Germain Boulay, Eric Tisserand).
Also: Nicolas Guiotand's Le Cri du homard (“The Cry of the Lobster”), about a six-year-old Russian girl living in France while waiting for her brother to return from the war in Chechnya, was the Best Short Film; and rocker Izia Higelin was the Best Female Newcomer for Bad Daughter / Mauvaise fille, in which she plays a young woman who discovers she's pregnant right when her mother dies of cancer.
Of note: Noémie Lvovsky's Camille Rewinds / Camille redouble , a sort of revamped, French-language Peggy Sue Got Married about a woman (Lvovsky) who returns to her schooldays in the '80s, failed to win a single César out of its 13 nominations. Leos Carax's Holy Motors, which boasted nine nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor (Denis Lavant), also went home empty-handed.
Minister Gérard Depardieu
Actor and comedian Jamel Debbouze hosted the 2013 César ceremony, inevitably poking fun at Gérard Depardieu (now a Russian citizen?), whom Debbouze referred to as the new “Minister of Foreign Affairs and Tourism.” Outside the Théâtre du Châtelet, 250 French cinema technical personnel reportedly hissed at and booed the arrivals, protesting the “relocation” of French productions. Amour producer Margaret Ménégoz answered them in her acceptance speech, when she thanked “our German and Austrian co-producers who allowed us to complete the film's financing without demanding any sort of relocation.”
Valérie Benguigui in What's in a Name? image: Pathé Films.