UPDATE, WRITETHRU: Paul Verhoeven’s psychological drama Elle triumphed at the César Awards tonight in Paris, scooping Best Film and Best Actress for Isabelle Huppert. The wins come despite Elle not having made the Foreign Lanuguage Oscar shortlist but as Huppert heads to Los Angeles for tomorrow’s Indie Spirit Awards and Sunday’s Academy Awards where she is also nominated.
Verhoeven spoke only briefly on taking the big prize, reiterating his love for Huppert and turning the mic over to producer Saïd Ben Saïd who said the film wouldn’t have been what it was “without a great filmmaker and an extraordinary actress.” Huppert during her earlier turn on stage credited Verhoeven for making a movie so “audaciously, beautifully and maliciously.”
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Elle was not the major winner, however, as two other films brought in three prizes each. Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only The End Of The World, the Grand Prize winner in Cannes, took Best Actor for Gaspard Ulliel as well as Best Director and Editing, both for Dolan.
Houda Benyamina’s Divines, which won the Camera d’Or in Cannes last May, was named Best Debut Feature by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma, and won the Supporting Actress prize for Deborah Lukumuena as well as the Best Female Newcomer honor for Oulaya Amamra.
Other winners included the Oscar-nominated My Life As A Zucchini in both Best Animated Feature and Best Adapted Screenplay; as well as Chocolat for Set Design and Best Supporting Actor which went to James Thiérrée, a grandson of Charlie Chaplin.
Leading the nominees alongside Elle tonight, François Ozon’s Frantz took just one prize, for Pascal Marti’s cinematography.
Politics took center stage a few times, notably during a funny riff in which George Clooney accepted the Honorary César with an enhanced translation by Jean Dujardin; and with Best Documentary winner Merci Patron! That film, which looks at the plight of factory workers, is directed by François Ruffin who sported an I Heart Vincent Bolloré t-shirt at the ceremony — Bolloré is the chief of Vivendi which owns Canal Plus, the network airing the Césars — although Ruffin made no direct comments regarding those companies. Instead, he spoke of the continued flight out of France of factories and urged President François Hollande to work on the issues before he leaves office.
Speaking of the upcoming French election, Ken Loach, whose I, Daniel Blake won Best Foreign Language Film, urged the French to “make a choice to reject the bitterness of the right,” in a message delivered through his local producer.
In other notable moments of an otherwise typically over-long ceremony, Jean-Paul Belmondo was greeted with a hearty standing ovation and a series of film clips from his legendary career. Afterwards, he said the films would not have been possible without his mother who encouraged him to “be courageous” like his father.
The Césars had made its fair share of headlines in the past few months as controversy swirled around the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma’s selection of Roman Polanski as president of the event. Polanski ultimately withdrew from the ceremonial role after local women’s groups threatened to protest tonight’s show.
Here is the full list of winners:
Elle, produced by Saïd Ben Saïd, Michel Merkt
Gaspard Ulliel, It’s Only The End Of The World
Xavier Dolan, It’s Only The End Of The World
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Solveig Anspach, Jean-Luc Gaget, L’Effet Aquatique
BEST FOREIGN FILM
I, Daniel Blake, dir: Ken Loach
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Deborah Lukumuena, Divines
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Céline Sciamma, Ma Vie De Courgette
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
James Thierrée, Chocolat
BEST SHORT FILM – Tie
Maman(s), dir: Maïmouna Duocouré
Vers La Tendresse, dir: Alice Diop
Pascal Marti, Frantz
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Ma Vie De Courgette, dir: Claude Barras
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Celui Qui A Deux Ames, dir: Fabrice Luang-Vija
Xavier Dolan, It’s Only The End Of The World
BEST DEBUT FEATURE
Divines, dir: Houda Benyamina
Ibrahim Maalouf, Dans Les Forêts De Sibérie
Merci Patron!, dir: François Ruffin
BEST SET DESIGN
Jérémie D Lignol, Chocolat
BEST NEWCOMER, MALE
Niels Schneider, Diamant Noir
Marc Engels, Fred Demolder, Sylvain Réty, Jean-Paul Hurier, L’Odyssée
Anaïs Romand, The Dancer
BEST NEWCOMER, FEMALE
Oulaya Amamra, Divines
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