Ladj Ly's Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize laureate Les Misérables was the big winner at Friday night's 45th annual César Awards, France's equivalent to the Oscars, including taking the top honor of Best Film. The night unfolded, however, under tumultuous conditions owing to controversy surrounding Roman Polanski, whose An Officer and a Spy was the leading nominee going in with 12 mentions.
The filmmaker was not in attendance, but his film won three prizes including Best Director — an occurrence that caused walkouts from the Salle Pleyel, which earlier in the evening had been the site of protests by feminist organizations.
Polanski on Thursday said he would not attend the local industry's biggest night. “Activists are threatening me with a public lynching. Some have called for demonstrations, others are planning to make it a platform,” he said. “This promises to look more like a symposium than a celebration of cinema designed to reward its greatest talents,” the Oscar winner told AFP.
Earlier today, Officer and a Spy producer Alain Goldman told AFP he and the film's team had decided not to attend amid “an escalation of inappropriate and violent language and behavior.” Star Jean Dujardin on Instagram posted a photo from the film whose French title is J'Accuse, a term adopted by protesters against Polanski and wrote, “I'd just like to remind that J'Accuse is the title of a very famous article by Emile Zola, I hope that doesn't bother anyone? Have a good night!”
The Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma is itself in upheaval with the board of its management, the Association for the Promotion of Cinema, having recently announced its intention to resign en masse. That follows upset within the voting membership which has complained of an “elitist and closed” system in which they have “no voice.” A revamp of the Académie is due to begin soon with Amour producer Margaret Menegoz recently named its interim president.
The rest of the evenings nominees included such titles as Ly's Oscar-nominated Les Misérables, Nicolas Bedos' La Belle Epoque and Céline Sciamma's Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The latter included a Best Actress mention for Adèle Haenel, who has made headlines for accusing French director Christophe Ruggia of sexually harassing her from the age of 12, and has been outspoken with regard to the nominations for Polanski.
Here is tonight's full list of winners:
BEST FILMLes Misérables, dir: Ladj Ly
BEST DIRECTORRoman Polanski — An Officer And A Spy
BEST ACTRESSAnais Demoustier — Alice Et Le Maire
BEST ACTORRoschdy Zem — Roubaix, Une Lumière
BEST SUPPORTING ACTORSwann Arlaud — Grace A Dieu
The 2006 Oscars will forever be remembered as the infamous ceremony where “Crash” beat “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture. Ang Lee’s groundbreaking gay romance was the critical favorite and it won three of the eight Oscars it was nominated for that year: Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score. Headlining actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal both earned Oscar nominations for their performances. The actors were asked to present during the 2007 Oscars telecast, but Gyllenhaal revealed in a recent interview with Another Man magazine via NME that Ledger turned down the opportunity because it would mean making jokes at the expense of the gay “Brokeback” love story.
“I mean, I remember they wanted to do an opening for the Academy Awards that year that was sort of joking about it,” Gyllenhaal said. “And Heath refused. I was sort of at the time, 'Oh, okay... whatever.' I'm always like, ‘It's all in good fun.’ And Heath said, 'It's not a joke to me — I don't want to make any jokes about it.’”
Gyllenhaal, “That's the thing I loved about Heath. He would never joke. Someone wanted to make a joke about the story or whatever, he was like, 'No. This is about love. Like, that's it, man. Like, no.'”
Ledger was nominated in the Best Actor category but lost to “Capote” star Philip Seymour Hoffman. Gyllenhaal lost to George Clooney in “Syriana” for Best Supporting Actor. “Brokeback Mountain” marked the first Oscar nominations for both actors. Ledger would go on to be nominated and win his Oscar in the Best Supporting Actor race for his role as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Ledger received the Academy Award posthumously. “Brokeback” remains Gyllenhaal’s sole Oscar nomination to date.
Gyllenhaal has previously spoken about Ledger’s disdain for “Brokeback Mountain” jokes, but this is the first time the actor has revealed his late co-star turned down the Oscars. Gyllenhaal told “Today” in July 2019 that “Brokeback” marked a pivotal moment in his career. “It opened tons of doors,” he said. “It was crazy. It was amazing. It's defined my career in different ways. [But the film] is bigger than me...It has become not ours anymore. It's the world's.”
Read Gyllenhaal’s latest interview in its entirety on the Another Man website.