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CÉSAR 2020

The César for Best Film goes to Les Misérables

by 

- Taking home 4 trophies, Ladj Ly’s first feature dominates the winners’ list, while Anaïs Demoustier and Roschdy Zem are crowned best actors and Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy walks away with 3 gongs

The César for Best Film goes to Les Misérables
Les Misérables by Ladj Ly

The evening of the 45th César Awards ceremony already promised to be an electrifying event, what with the prior resignation of the Academy’s board and its president, Alain Terzian (who’d helmed the event since 2003 and has been provisionally replaced by Margaret Menegoz), in reaction to an open letter signed by over 400 professionals from the French film industry demanding reform, a change in governance and an end to the opaqueness surrounding a number of its practices. This end-of-an-era climate was further clouded by the media controversy surrounding the 12 nominations garnered by Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
. So when the latter (who wasn’t in attendance, much like his team) won the Best Director César after also triumphing in the categories of Best Adaptation and Best Costume, director Céline Sciamma and Adèle Haenel, her actress from Portrait of a Lady on Fire [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Céline Sciamma
film profile
]
(which only walked away with the Best Photography César, entrusted to Claire Mathon) decided to leave the room (followed by a few other professionals) before the title of Best French Film had even been announced.

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It was a rocky moment, but it shouldn’t overshadow the triumph of the truly diverse French film that is Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ladj Ly
film profile
]
, which racked up four wins: Best Film, Best New Actor (Alexis Manenti), Best Editing (Flora Volpelière) and the César Audience Award. It’s a result which marks a particularly victorious end to the incredible journey this first feature film has enjoyed; a work whose achievements include a Jury Award from Cannes and a Best International Film Oscar nomination. It’s worth pointing out that this is the seventh time in the history of the Césars that a debut feature film has walked away with the top award (and the second consecutive year, after Custody [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Xavier Legrand
film profile
]
last year, signalling a very clear desire for change) and that this victory likewise reflects on producers Toufik Ayadi and Christophe Barral (SRAB Films), co-producers Rectangle Productions and Lyly Films, the film’s distributer in France (Le Pacte) and international sales agency Wild Bunch.

A desire for change could also be read into the first ever César wins for Anaïs Demoustier as best actress (via Nicolas Pariser’s Alice and the Mayor [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nicolas Pariser
film profile
]
) and Roschdy Zem as best actor (via Arnaud Desplechin’s Oh Mercy! [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Arnaud Desplechin
film profile
]
).

La Belle Époque [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nicolas Bedos
film profile
]
by Nicolas Bedos, meanwhile, was honoured with three awards (for the screenplay written by the filmmaker himself, for Fanny Ardant as Best Supporting Actress and for the set design offered up by Stéphane Rozenbaum) while two films scored a double: Jérémy Clapin’s I Lost My Body [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jérémy Clapin
film profile
]
(crowned Best Animated Film, and likewise acclaimed for Dan Lévy’s music) and Mounia Meddour’s Papicha [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mounia Meddour
film profile
]
(named Best First Film and winning the title of Best New Actress for Lyna Khoudri).

This year’s edition, which also bestowed a trophy upon By The Grace of God [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: François Ozon
film profile
]
by François Ozon (for Swann Arlaud, named Best Supporting Actor) and handed a technical award for sound to The Wolf’s Call [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
 by Antonin Baudry, likewise distinguished M [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
 by Yolande Zauberman in the category of Best Documentary Film, and Parasite by South Korea’s Bong Joon-ho as Best Foreign Film.

The full list of winners is as follows:

Best Film
Les Misérables [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ladj Ly
film profile
]
- Ladj Ly

Best Director
Roman Polanski – An Officer and a Spy [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
(France/Italy)

Best Actress
Anaïs Demoustier – Alice and the Mayor [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nicolas Pariser
film profile
]
(France/Belgium)

Best Actor
Roschdy Zem – Oh Mercy! [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Arnaud Desplechin
film profile
]

Best Supporting Actress
Fanny Ardant - La Belle Époque [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Nicolas Bedos
film profile
]

Best Supporting Actor
Swann Arlaud – By The Grace of God [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: François Ozon
film profile
]
(France/Belgium)

Best New Actress
Lyna Khoudri – Papicha [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mounia Meddour
film profile
]
(France/Algeria/Belgium)

Best New Actor
Alexis Manenti - Les Misérables

Best Original Screenplay
Nicolas Bedos - La Belle Époque

Best Adaptation
Roman Polanski et Robert Harris – An Officer and a Spy

Best First Film
Papicha – Mounia Meddour

Best Documentary Film
M [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
– Yolande Zauberman

Best Feature-Length Animated Film
I Lost My Body [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Jérémy Clapin
film profile
]
- Jérémy Clapin

Best Photography
Claire Mathon – Portrait of a Lady on Fire [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Céline Sciamma
film profile
]

Best Editing
Flora Volpelière – Les Misérables

Best Original Score
Dan Lévy – I Lost My Body

Best Sound
Nicolas Cantin, Thomas Desjonquères, Raphaël Mouterde, Olivier Goinard, Randy Thom – The Wolf’s Call [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]


Best Costumes

Pascaline Chavanne – An Officer and a Spy

Best Set Design
Stéphane Rozenbaum - La Belle Époque

Best Short Film
By A Hair – Lauriane Escaffre and Yvonnick Muller

Best Short Animated Film
The Night of the Plastic Bags - Gabriel Harel

Audience Award
Les Misérables - Ladj Ly

Best Foreign Film
Parasite - Bong Joon-ho (South Korea)

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(Translated from French)

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