Kristen Stewart, Catherine Deneuve make César Award history
Kristen Stewart and Catherine Deneuve are two 2015 César Award nominees making history. The French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Crafts announced the nominations on Jan. 28, ’15; the César Awards ceremony will take place on Feb. 20, ’15, at Paris’ Théâtre du Châtelet.
Kristen Stewart is in the running in the Best Supporting Actress category for Clouds of Sils Maria / Sils Maria. Catherine Deneuve has been shortlisted as Best Actress for In the Courtyard / Dans la cour.
So, how are Stewart and Deneuve making César history? Well, let’s begin with “the expected one”: Catherine Deneuve.
Catherine Deneuve: Best Actress César record-tying feat
One of the biggest film icons ever, Catherine Deneuve is one of those relatively rare international film superstars who has never bothered with – or needed – a Hollywood career. Deneuve, who turned 71 last Oct. 22, has been making films for nearly six decades.
To be exact, her career began in 1957, with a small role – billed as Catherine Dorléac – in André Hunebelle’s The Twilight Girls. No, this has nothing to do with vampires, so the Kristen Stewart connection is coincidental rather than cosmic.
Ten years later, Catharine Deneuve was already a renowned international superstar. Among her major ’60s hits were Jacques Demy’s Palme d’Or-winning musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg / Les parapluies de Cherbourg (1964); Roman Polanski’s psychological thriller Repulsion (1965); and Luis Buñuel’s kinky, Golden Lion-winning social commentary Belle de Jour (1967) – the sort of attack on bourgeois values that still drives puritans (including some feminists) purple with rage.
12 Best Actress César nominations
As the French Academy’s César Awards were created in 1975, some of Catherine Deneuve’s most remarkable early performances went nominationless. But the French film industry doesn’t quite work like the American film industry.
In other words, not infrequently women get important acting gigs even after they turn 30, 40, 50, and so on. Considering her importance in French cinema in the last (almost) six decades, it should come as no surprise that Catherine Deneuve has been consistently shortlisted for the César du Cinéma.
From 1976 (the year the first César nominations were announced) to 2015, Deneuve has garnered no less than 12 Best Actress nominations. This year, she has made history by tying with record-holder Isabelle Huppert as the performer with the most César nods in that particular category.
I should add that overall Isabelle Huppert remains the actress with the most César nods, 14 in all. With 16 nominations, Gérard Depardieu holds the overall record in the acting categories. For more details, see follow-up post “Catherine Deneuve Ties César Award Record.”
‘In the Courtyard,’ Best Actress competition
In Pierre Salvatori’s comedy-drama In the Courtyard, Catherine Deneuve plays Mathilde, an elderly resident of an old Parisian apartment building. Not long after her retirement, she is befriended by the new caretaker (Gustave Kervern), a former member of a rock band. Their relationship evolves even as the mental acuity of Deneuve’s character starts showing signs of deterioration.
Catherine Deneuve’s competition for the 2015 Best Actress César consists of the following (there are seven nominees this year):
- Juliette Binoche for Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria.
- Best Actress Oscar nominee Marion Cotillard for Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night / Deux jours, une nuit.
- Émilie Dequenne for Lucas Belvaux’s Not My Type / Pas son genre.
- Adèle Haenel for Thomas Cailley’s Fighters / Love at First Fight / Les Combattants.
- Sandrine Kiberlain for Jeanne Herry’s Elle l’adore.
- Karin Viard for Eric Lartigau’s The Bélier Family / La famille Bélier.
Kristen Stewart: First César-nominated American ‘film actress’
As explained above, Catherine Deneuve’s record-tying César Award feat wasn’t exactly a major surprise. But the fact that an actress best known for her connection with the Twilight movie franchise would make César history likely left many astonished.
The issue here is less Kristen Stewart’s talent as an actress than the fact that, apart from Catherine Hardwicke’s indie-ish 2008 Twilight, the Twilight Saga movies are made-to-order Hollywood product. And that the César Awards almost invariably honor French – or at least Francophone – performers.
As a result of her Best Supporting Actress nomination for Clouds of Sils Maria, Stewart has become the first female American performer to land a César nomination in three decades and the first ever in that particular category. One might add that she also happens to be the very first American film actress to be nominated for a César.
César-nominated opera star
Back in early 1985, Julia Migenes (a.k.a. Julia Migenes-Johnson) was shortlisted for the Best Actress César for her performance in Francesco Rosi’s film version of Bizet’s opera Carmen, co-starring Plácido Domingo as Don José.
But unlike opera (or operetta or musical theater) singers of years past – e.g., Grace Moore, Geraldine Farrar, Jeanette MacDonald, Irene Dunne, Kathryn Grayson – Migenes was no film star. Instead, she was an opera and musical theater star who happened to be featured in a handful of films: seven in all. (That includes a cameo as Judy Garland in The Krays and the female lead in the 1984 sci-fier L’unique, co-written by Clouds of Sils Maria filmmaker Olivier Assayas.)
Carmen was Migenes’ second film appearance – and her first in a decade. In 1974, she had been featured in Václav Kaslík’s filmization of Friedrich Zell and Richard Genée’s operetta A Night in Venice / Eine Nacht in Venedig.
This may sound like splitting hairs, but Kristen Stewart is undeniably a movie star. At age 24, Stewart has more than 30 movies to her credit, while her Bella Swan in the Twilight Saga movie franchise has made her world famous.
And to date, no other American film actress has been shortlisted for a César. Stewart is the very first one.
In fact, Kristen Stewart, who hadn’t even been born at the time of Julia Migenes’ César nomination, is one of the rare Anglophone performers to have been shortlisted for a César.
Film life after ‘Twilight’: Upcoming Kristen Stewart movies
Is there film life after Twilight? Yes, there is. Quite a bit.
At least for the franchise’s three leads. That’s Kristen Stewart (Bella Swan), Robert Pattinson (Edward Cullen), and Taylor Lautner (Jacob Black).
Following a year away from the screen, Kristen Stewart returned in 2014 with no less than three productions:
- Clouds of Sils Maria, which opens in the United States (via IFC Films) on April 10, ’15. For those into early Academy Award predictions, Stewart should already be listed as a potential Best Supporting Actress contender.
- Peter Sattler’s little-seen (at least on the big screen), Guantanamo-set Camp X-Ray. In the Sundance Film Festival entry, Stewart plays a U.S. soldier who befriends prisoner of war Peyman Moaadi (a.k.a. Peyman Maadi), who finds himself stuck in the legal-political limbo of the United States’ brutal concentration camp.
- Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s Still Alice, in which Stewart plays the daughter of the Alzheimer’s disease-suffering title character. Likely Best Actress Oscar winner Julianne Moore plays Alice.
In 2015, Kristen Stewart has three movies awaiting release. They are:
- Tim Blake Nelson’s Anesthesia, an ensemble piece also featuring director Nelson, Gretchen Mol, Corey Stoll, Sam Waterston, and Glenn Close.
- Nima Nourizadeh’s action-comedy American Ultra, co-starring Jesse Eisenberg.
- Drake Doremus’ sci-fier Equals, with Nicholas Hoult, Guy Pearce, and Jacki Weaver.
So far, there are no officially announced Kristen Stewart movie projects for 2016, despite rumors about her participation in Akira and Captain America: Civil War (or some other upcoming Captain America, or variation thereof).
Upcoming Robert Pattinson movies
Stewart’s Twilight romantic interest, Robert Pattinson, 28, has also kept himself busy following a break away from films in 2013. Coincidentally, Pattinson was featured opposite Still Alice star Julianne Moore in David Cronenberg’s 2014 release Maps to the Stars.
And he has received the best notices of his career to date for David Michôd’s The Rover, co-starring Guy Pearce. For his efforts, Pattinson was shortlisted for this year’s Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Award in the Best Supporting Actor category.
There are two upcoming Robert Pattinson movies:
- Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert, in which Pattinson plays Col. T.E. Lawrence; that’s the Peter O’Toole character in David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. Also in the cast: Nicole Kidman as Middle-East slicer Gertrude Bell, and James Franco as army officer-turned-conservative politician Henry Cadogan.
- Anton Corbijn’s Life, starring Pattinson as photographer Dennis Stock and Dane DeHaan as James Dean. In the supporting cast, Ben Kingsley will portray Warner Bros. mogul Jack Warner.
And there are three Robert Pattinson movies in the works:
- James Gray’s The Lost City of Z, with Benedict Cumberbatch (2015 Best Actor Oscar nominee for The Imitation Game) as British explorer Percival Fawcett, and Sienna Miller.
- Brady Corbet’s horror-mystery The Childhood of a Leader, also featuring Tim Roth and Bérénice Bejo.
- James Marsh’s thriller Hold on to Me, with Carey Mulligan.
Upcoming Taylor Lautner movies
Apart from a cameo in Adam Sandler’s braindead 2013 comedy Grown Ups 2, Taylor Lautner has been featured in only one movie: Daniel Benmayor’s actioner Tracers, co-starring Marie Avgeropoulos. The action drama is scheduled to open in the U.S. on March 20, ’15.
According to the IMDb, Soham Mehta’s Run to the Tide is currently in the post-production stages. In the family drama / road movie, Lautner stars as a young man who kidnaps his younger brother so they can both escape from their dysfunctional family.
Frank Coraci’s The Ridiculous 6 is currently in the pre-production stages. Co-written by Adam Sandler, the comedy Western also features Sandler and Terry Crews. Any similarities to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and/or The Magnificent Seven and/or any spaghetti Western Tarantino decides to rehash will in all likelihood be no coincidence.
And here’s hoping that Taylor Lautner, who will be turning 23 next Feb. 11, will one day join forces with Gus Van Sant. After all, one never knows when Van Sant may come up with another Mala Noche or My Own Private Idaho or To Die For. (Instead of another Good Will Hunting or Psycho or Finding Forrester.)
Thus far, the rumored Taylor Lautner-Gus Van Sant project seems to have gone nowhere.
‘The Twilight Girls’
 In fact, The Twilight Girls’ original French title is Les collégiennes, or “The School Girls.” Its teens in heat have nothing to do with vampires, werewolves, or Stephenie Meyer. Think instead of the saucy 1936 Danielle Darrieux star vehicle Club de femmes, which ran into serious trouble with American censors.
Probably not a coincidence: the Jacques Deval-directed Club de femmes – based on Deval’s own story – was remade by Ralph Habib the year before The Twilight Girls came out. Nicole Courcel was cast in the old Danielle Darrieux role.
 Initially, there were four César nominees in the acting categories. Beginning at the 1984 Césars (covering the previous year), that number was upped to five. Since 2012, there have been seven César nominees in the Best Actress and Best Actor categories.
Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria photo: CG Cinéma / IFC Films.
Gustave Kervern, Michèle Moretti, and Catherine Deneuve In the Courtyard / Dans la cour image: Wild Bunch, via AlloCine.
Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart Equals image: A24 Films.
Julia Migenes Bizet’s Carmen image: Columbia / TriStar.
French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website.