PARIS– Michael Haneke’s “Amour” swept the 38th Cesar Awards Friday, taking home wins for film, director, actress (Emmanuelle Riva), actor (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and original screenplay.
“Amour” beat out other best film contenders Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone,” Leos Carax’s “Holy Motors,” Francois Ozon’s “In the House” and “What’s in a Name,” the feature debut of Alexandre de la Patelliere and Matthieu Delaporte.
“Rust and Bone,” which was vying for nine nods, was the night’s other big winner. The drama earned breakthrough thesp for Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts, adapted screenplay (for Audiard and Thomas Bigedain), score (Alexandre Desplat) and editing (Juliette Welfling). Bigedain also co-wrote Audiard’s last film, “A Prophet,” which took nine prizes in 2009.
Ben Affleck’s “Argo,” set to compete for 12 Oscars on Sunday, won best film over Michael R. Roskam’s “Bullhead,” Xavier Dolan’s “Laurence Anyways,” Joachim Trier’s “Oslo, August 31st,” Ken Loach’s “The Angels’ Share” and Nikolaj Arcel’s “A Royal Affair.”
“Argo,” a Warner Bros. release, has grossed an estimated 7.8 million Euros in France since its Nov. 7 bow.
Cyril Mennegun’s social drama “Louise Wimmer” won best first film. Pic had also drawn a best thesp nomination for Corinne Masiero, among other noms.
Haneke wasn’t on hand to receive his nods but his longtime collaborator Margaret Menegoz, who lead-producer via Les Films du Losange, was there to receive the kudos.
“It’s such an honor to be rewarded by the Cesar Academy which nurtures the world’s most inventive and diverse cinema and to see Haneke finally recognized as one of France’s bests,” said Menegoz, who lead-produced “Amour” via Les Films du Losange.
An austrian-born auteur, Haneke had never won a Cesar before, although he was nommed for “The White Ribbon” and “Cache (Hidden).”
Riva beat out “Rust and Bone” star Marion Cotillard, along with Lea Seydoux (“Farewell, My Queen”), Corinne Masiero (“Louise Wimmer”), Catherine Frot (“Haute Cuisine”), Helene Vincent (“A Few Hours of Spring”) and Helene Vincent (“A Few Hours of Spring”).
Picking up her prize, Riva said she regretted neither Trintignant, who was in Brussels, and Haneke, who was in Madrid, were there on stage with her to share her emotion.
“I worked with such passion and I feel so grateful to have meet Michael Haneke, and been offered such a powerful role in film that tackles a subject matter which concerns all of us,” said Riva, best-known for her performance in 1959′s “Hiroshima, mon amour.”
Trintignant won over Denis Lavant (“Holy Motors”), Vincent Lindon (“A Few Hours of Spring”), Fabrice Luchini (“In the House”) and Jeremie Renier (“My Way”).
“Amour” marked the comeback of Trintignant, an actor whose career took off in the 1960’s during in the 60′s with such pics as “A Man and a Woman,” ”Z” and “The Man Who Lies.” His last important role goes back to Patrice Chereau’s 1998’s “Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train.
“What’s In A Name,” one of 2012′s highest-grossing French film which is based on a critically-acclaimed stage play, didn’t leave empty-handed, picking up supporting actor and actress for Guillaume De Tonquedec and Valerie Benguigui, respectively.
The Cesar had its Hollywood moment when Kevin Costner took the stage before a standing ovation to accept his nod from the hands of “The Artist”‘s helmer, Michel Hazanavicius.
“Every actor should get this at least once in a lifetime (…). And my career would not have been complete without making a film here in France,” said Costner, in a moving acceptance speech. Thesp is currently on the shoot of McG’s “Three Days to Kill,” penned by Luc Besson and Adi Hasak.
The ceremony was hosted by thesp-helmer Antoine de Caunes and popular comic Jamel Debbouze, who kept the mood light, merely hinting to recent controversies surrounding Wild Bunch co-topper Vincent Maraval’s editorial slamming the French star system, and Gerard Depardieu’s Russian-citizenship episode. Outside of the Chatelet theater, however, more than 200 technicians were protesting to demand higher wages and call for the government to clamp down runaway shoots, among other concerns.