×

Resnais seizes 7 Cesars

'Chanson' big winner at top French kudos show

PARIS — Alain Resnais’ musical comedy “On Connait la Chanson (Same Old Song)” was the big winner at the 23rd Cesar awards, the French equivalent of the Oscars.

The pic, which has taken in over $12 million at the French box office, walked off with seven Cesars, including best film and best actor for Andre Dussollier.

This was the third time that a Resnais pic has won France’s top film prize, following from “Providence” in 1978 and “Smoking/No Smoking” in 1994. But the 75-year-old helmer missed out on the coveted director nod, which went to Luc Besson, for his megabuck sci-fi adventurer “The Fifth Element.”

Besson, who spends much of his time in the U.S., was on hand to lift the trophy, remarking wryly that it was pleasant to fi-nally get the prize having been nominated unsuccessfully for best film on four occasions (“Subway” in 1986, “The Big Blue” in 1989, “Nikita” in 1991 and “Leon” in 1995.) Last year, Besson won the best director Lumiere de Paris (the French Golden Globe) for “The Fifth Element.”

Popular on Variety

Saturday’s awards turned out to be a personal triumph for writing and acting partners Jean-Pierre Bacri and Agnes Jaoui. They won the supporting actor and supporting actress Cesars as well as script for “On Connait la Chanson.” Ironically, the duo were the presenters of the script prize, and so simply handed their Cesar to themselves. The writing pair now has three Cesars, having won for their penmanship on “Un Air de Famille” last year and “Smoking/No Smoking” in 1994.

Best actress Cesar provided a crumb of consolation for Robert Guediguian and the team that brought “Marius et Jeannette” to the screen. Despite seven nominations and a run at the box office which has seen this $1 million Marseille-based love story gross $11 million, only actress Ariane Ascaride got rewarded — a decision that brought the only tears of the evening from the respected cinema and legit thesp.

Best first film proved a popular choice as comic Alain Chabat strode onto the stage to pick up his Cesar for “Didier,” which Chabat is to remake in English for Miramax.

Biggest hand of the evening went to Michael Douglas, who brought the house to its feet with a no-notes French speech thanking the locals for his Cesar d’Honneur. Clint Eastwood got a similar award, handed to him by veteran Nouvelle Vague director Jean-Luc Godard; but Eastwood’s carefully prepared and written Gallic speech lost some of its effect when the actor/director failed to locate his glasses.

Never afraid to use a big media moment to fight its corner, the film industry took time out from the awards to give the floor to an impassioned plea form Brigitte Fossey for France to stand its ground and defend culture in the on-going Multilateral Invest-ment Agreement, which is being prepped by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

British brass-band movie “Brassed Off” added best foreign film Cesar to the Lumiere it won last December in the same category.

CESAR 1998 MAIN WINNERS

Film — “On Connait la Chanson,” Alain Resnais.

Director — Luc Besson, “The Fifth Element.”

Actor — Andre Dussollier, “On Connait La Chanson.”

Actress — Ariane Ascaride, “Marius et Jeannette.”

Supporting Actor — Jean-Pierre Bacri, “On Connait la Chanson.”

Supporting Actress — Agnes Jaoui, “On Connait la Chanson.”

Young Actor — Stanislas Merhar, “Nettoyage a Sec.”

Young Actress — Emma de Caunes, “Frere.”

First Film — “Didier,” Alain Chabat.

Script — Jean-Pierre Bacri and Agnes Jaoui, “On Connait la Chanson.”

Foreign Film — “Brassed Off,” Mark Harman.

More Film

  • Emerald Run

    'Emerald Run': Film Review

    “Emerald Run” is one of the weirdest hodgepodges to make its way to theater screens and digital platforms in quite some time. Unfortunately, oddness is just about the only thing this muddled little indie has going for it. Despite the game efforts of lead actor David Chokachi and attractive lensing by DP Michael Caradonna, the [...]

  • The Call of the Wild

    Box Office: 'Call of the Wild' in Surprisingly Tight Race With 'Sonic the Hedgehog'

    “The Call of the Wild” and “Sonic the Hedgehog” are in a tight race for first place at North American multiplexes, with as much as $27 million each, early estimates showed on Friday. Disney-20th Century’s launch of Harrison Ford’s “The Call of the Wild” is coming in well above pre-release forecasts, which had been in [...]

  • Hidden Away

    'Hidden Away': Film Review

    Antonio Ligabue holds an unusual place in the annals of mid-20th-century Italian art, championed by those who feel his boldly-colored, largely naive paintings are the product of a self-taught artist whose mental incapacities prove that natural spirit transcends training and intellect when wielding a paint brush. Wherever one falls on Ligabue’s talents, making a film [...]

  • The Intruder

    'The Intruder': Film Review

    Take two parts De Palma, one part Zulawski, four parts “Berberian Sound Studio” and dissolve the whole in about a million parts water, and the resultant dilute solution might approximate “The Intruder,” an oddly flavorless supernatural psycho-thriller from sophomore Argentinian director Natalia Meta. The claustrophobically close-up tale of a woman’s mental unraveling in the wake [...]

  • Matthew A Cherry Hair Love NAACP

    Lead Category in NAACP Image Awards Reflects Spike in Diversity and Artistic Caliber

    To best appreciate the competitiveness and quality of the outstanding motion picture nominees for the 51st NAACP Image Awards, which takes place on Feb. 22, check the numbers. All five of this year’s nominees — “Dolemite Is My Name” “Just Mercy” “Harriet” “Queen & Slim” and “Us” — scored well on Rotten Tomatoes. To wit, [...]

  • Mogul Mowgli

    'Mogul Mowgli': Film Review

    The last time festival audiences saw Riz Ahmed on screen, he was tearing it up on stage as a hedonistic hard-rocker before being plunged into emotional freefall by disability. As an American drummer slowly accepting the loss of his hearing in “Sound of Metal,” the British-Pakistani actor elucidated that painful arc with such furious, void-staring [...]

  • Mimamata

    'Minamata': Film Review

    If it weren’t for the work he’d done in the Japanese fishing village of Minamata, W. Eugene Smith’s legacy would likely be that of a war photographer, or else as one of the leading contributors to Life magazine, whose immersive approach to his subjects helped pioneer the concept of the photo essay. But Smith did [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content