PARIS — The 39th Cesar film awards spread the wealth wide at the ceremony emceed with panache by Belgian actress Cecile de France at the Chatelet Theater in Paris on Friday.
Discovered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, Gaumont’s “Me, Myself and Mum,” the directorial debut of Comedie Francaise-trained actor Guillaume Gallienne, led the race, winning five awards: best film, actor, first film, adapted screenplay and editing.
Gallienne’s pic – produced by Jean-Baptiste Dupont and Cyril Colbeau-Justin at LGM and Edouard Weil at Rectangle — has already won two prizes at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight and broke out to a more than 2 million ticket sales at the French box office, making it one of France’s only considerable hits of last year.
Co-produced, distributed and repped by French major Gaumont, “Mum” is the first comedy to win a Cesar award for best film since Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Amelie.” It’s also the sole feature debut to have won five Cesar trophies.
The bigscreen makeover of Gallienne’s eponymous stage show, “Mum” portrays the director’s childhood overshadowed by a cherished mother who assumes that he’s gay. Gallienne plays himself as a child and schoolboy as well as limning his mother.
Gallienne said he never considered casting an actress to play his mother’s role. “I knew from the start I was the only person who could play her and express her latent schizophrenia,” Gallienne said backstage.
Nominated in eight categories, Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or-winning Lesbian romance “Blue Is the Warmest Color” only nabbed the best newcomer award for its star Adele Exarchopoulos, who’s now repped by CAA.
The Cesar prize marks Exarchopoulos’s 10th award earned for her role opposite onscreen lover Lea Seydoux in the Palme d’Or-winning film, which was vying for eight Cesar nods. Thesp told journos in the press room that she’ll next star in the feature debut of actress-turned-helmer Sara Forestier (who’s also nominated this year for her acting perf in “Suzanne”).
Exarchopoulos won over such critically-acclaimed emerging talent as Marine Vacth, who broke through in Francois Ozon’s Cannes-preeming “Young And Beautiful” and Iranian thesp Golshifteh Faharani.
Among the Cesar night’s biggest surprises: Roman Polanski won best director for “Venus in Fur,” while Sandrine Kiberlain nabbed the actress nod for her performance as a psychologically rigid judge who has a baby with a criminal in Albert Dupontel’s left-of-field comedy “Nine Month Stretch.” Kiberlain won over Catherine Deneuve and Lea Seydoux.
Abdellatif Kechiche (for “Blue Is The Warmest Color”), who was a no-show at the ceremony, and Guillaume Gallienne (for “Me, Myself and Mum”) were the two frontrunners for the director prize.
The French press noted “Blue Is The Warmest Color” was probably snubbed by the Academy voters because of the controversy stirred by Seydoux as well as the pic’s technicians over the shooting conditions and Kechiche’s directing methods.
Félix Van Groeningen’s Flemish romance drama “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” which is nominated for an Oscar, won best foreign film, beating Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” Pablo Berger’s “Biancanieves,” Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” Patrick Ridremont’s “Dead Man Talking,” Paolo Sorrentino’s “La Grande Bellezza” and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.”
Pierre Deladonchamps, the lead of Alain Guiraudie’s “Stranger by the Lake,” won best newcomer. ” The pic’s producer, Sylvie Pialat (founder of Les Films du Worso), nabbed the Prix Toscan du Plantier for France’s best producer. The daring homoerotic thriller world-preemed at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, where it earned Guiraudie a best director award. Deladonchamps will next star in Philippe Claudel’s “Une Enfance,” produced by Les Films du Losange.
Niels Arestrup (“A Prophet”) won best supporting actor for his part in Bertrand Tavernier’s “The French Minister,” while Adele Haenel won supporting actress for her role in Katell Quillevere’s “Suzanne.”
Albert Dupontel’s comedy “Nine-Month Stretch” won original script, beating out Philippe Le Guay’s “Cycling With Moliere,” Alain Guiraudie’s “Stranger by the Lake,” Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past,” and Katell Quillevere and Mariette Desert’s “Suzanne.”
Scarlett Johansson was on hand to pick up an honorary award from Quentin Tarantino, whom she thanked for saving (them) from “mediocrity” — a comment that raised some eyebrows among journos sitting in the press room. The 29-year-old said she was looking for work and thanked France for welcoming her as yet another “cultural refugee” from the U.S. The actress wrapped the shoot of Luc Besson’s actioner “Lucy” in December and said the movie will be released in the summer.
Here is a list of Cesar winners:
“Me, Myself and Mum,” Guillaume Gallienne
BEST FIRST FILM
“Me, Myself And Mum,” Guillaume Gallienne
Roman Polanski, “Venus in Fur”
BEST FOREIGN FILM
“The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Felix Van Groeningen
Sandrine Kiberlain, “Nine-Month Stretch”
Guillaume Gallienne, “Me, Myself and Mum”
BEST FEMALE NEWCOMER
Adele Exarchopoulos, “Blue Is the Warmest Color”
BEST MALE NEWCOMER
Pierre Deladonchamps, “Stranger by the Lake”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Niels Arestrup, “The French Minister”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Adele Haenel, “Suzanne”
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Albert Dupontel, “Nine-Month Stretch”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Guilaume Gallienne, “Me, Myself and Mum”
Thomas Hardmeier, “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet”
Valerie Deseine,”Me, Myself and Mum”
Pascaline Chavanne, “Renoir”
Stephane Rozenbaum, “Mood Indigo”
BEST ANIMATED FILM
“Loulou l’incroyable secret,” Eric Omond