The 42th César Awards were 100% like they were expected to be: all the favourites were awarded, acceptance speeches were either tearful or strong and engaging, and diversity was celebrated. The night of French cinema wanted to make history and it did.
It was a brilliant night. Brilliant, like the Divines Oumaya Amamra, Female Rising Star, Houda Benyamina, First film and Déborah Lukumuena, Actress in a Supporting Role. Three women who manage to talk about the blocks in a touching manner, three women whose speeches were very moving.
Brilliant, like Elle, otherwise known as Isabelle Huppert, who scooped —unsurprisingly— best Actress. The film director, Paul Verhoeven, received the Best Film César from the very hands of Mister Pedro Almodovar.
These two awards in their pockets, Isabelle Huppert and Paul Verhoeven are flying to the U.S. to try to finish to win America over with an Oscar. Good luck to them.
Brilliant, like this young director, one of the best of his generation, the Frenchiest Canadian there is, the one and only current prince of Cannes. Xavier Dolan won Best director and Best editing for Just the End of the World. Gaspard Ulliel, who played Louis, won Best Actor.
Brilliant, like the smile of this beloved musician, a magician of notes who’s able to take you anywhere with his saxophone. Darling Ibrahim Maalouf won his first César for the music of Safy Nebbou‘s In the Forests of Siberia.
Brilliant, like the diamond-shaped tears of Niels Schneider, who scooped Male Rising Star for his role in Black Diamond.
Brilliant, like My Life as a Zucchini, which won Best Animated Film and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Brilliant, like the two short-films by Maïmouna Doucouré and Alice Diop that put the light on the experience of (part of) the African diaspora in France. Alice Diop took the time to ask for justice for men in the suburbs who get no love, and therefore less justice than people with a more suitable economic background.
And she wasn’t the only one to shake things a bit with talks that had nothing to do with cinema. Before her, winner of Documentary film François Ruffin brought the heat with a true political speech, lamenting the lack of action of politicians when workers’ work where snatched right under their noses, and dressed an interesting parallel between parliamentary members’ competitiveness in France compared to, say, Poland. Canal + was not exactly happy.
Ken Loach, whose I, Daniel Blake had won a Palme d’Or in Cannes in 2015, had someone read an acceptance speech in which he begged the country to vote for the left and not the right or far-right.
The night also saw two great actors receive a César d’Honneur: George Clooney, whose acceptance speech, translated more or less faithfully by his film set and ad set pal Jean Dujardin, oscillated between a praising of French cinema and a diatribe against Donald Trump. And French icon Jean-Paul Belmondo, who received a very long standing ovation.
A beautiful night.
Photos AFP via Zimbio.