France’s Oscars. The ceremony is happening tomorrow night. The full list of nominees is here. Leading with eleven nominations is Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (My Golden Years) and Marguerite, followed by Dheepan and Mustang with nine, La Tête haute (Standing Tall) and Mon roi with eight, and ‘Fatima’ and ‘Les Cowboys’ with four. As usual, there were several films in the top categories I hadn’t seen when the nominations were announced on January 28th but have managed to catch all of them since (which is not hard to do if you live in Paris and have a flexible work schedule). I have blog posts on most of the nominees and will eventually on the others. For those that won’t get a post, here’s a brief mention.
Les Bêtises (The Cocktail Party), by Rose and Alice Philippon. A short (>80 minutes) light comedy set in Strasbourg and the Alsatian hinterland, about a clumsy, klutzy 30-year-old named François (Jérémie Elkaïm), who’s always tripping, falling down, knocking things over and that sets off chain reactions, and making a mess of everything. He was given up for adoption at birth—the pic starts with that scene, before fast-forwarding three decades—and sets out on a quest to find his birth mother, which is really hard to do in France but, in one of his clumsy mishaps, he serendipitously manages to get the secret information. He thus locates her sumptuous villa in a picturesque village, shows up on a Sunday when, as it happens, a garden party is just underway, and surreptitiously makes his way in, disguised as the hired help. The subsequent sequence, which is most of the film, recalls Blake Edwards’s ‘The Party’, with François the Peter Sellers. The pic has its moments and with a host of goofy, offbeat characters, one being Sonia (Sara Giraudeau, Most Promising Actress nominee), his colleague on the hired staff. As a light comedy, it naturally has a happy ending. It’s not bad and may be seen, though is hardly essential.
Connasse, princesse des cœurs (The Parisian Bitch, Princess of Hearts), by Eloïse Lang and Noémie Saglio. This feature-length film that came out last April—of which I blissfully knew nothing until the César nominations were announced—is an extended version of a series of two-minute TV sketches (on Canal+) of the same name—that I had never heard of—on the antics of Camilla (Camille Cottin, Most Promising Actress nominee), a French female Borat with attitude. Thus la connasse, i.e. the bitch. It’s a comedy, for persons at least two generations below mine and with a rather different sense of humor. At 1 hour 20 minutes the film is way too long. The two-minute sketches will do (and even then). Anyone reading this does not need to see it. Many who did clearly appreciated it though, as it bagged over one million entrées in its cinematic run. C’est dingue.
Voilà my ballot:
BEST FILM: La Loi du marché (The Measure of a Man).
This was the best French film of 2015. If ‘Fatima’ or ‘Mustang’ win, it will have to be seen as a political choice. ‘Marguerite’ and ‘Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse’ are credible winners, though are not the best French pics of last year IMO. ‘Dheepan’ already won the Palme d’or at Cannes. If ‘Mon roi’ wins, I will seek to have the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma hauled out and shot.
BEST DIRECTOR: Xavier Giannoli for ‘Marguerite’.
He edges out Jacques Audiard (‘Dheepan’).
BEST ACTOR: Jean-Pierre Bacri in La vie privée de Monsieur Sim.
No hesitation on this one. Antonythasan Jesuthasan in ‘Dheepan’ is runner-up. Vincent Lindon in ‘La Loi du marché and Fabrice Luchini in L’Hermine are totally credible choices but they’re almost always great in their roles (and you can’t win all the time). UPDATE: Lindon has actually not won all the time—I was in error here—having been nominated for best actor five times in the past but never getting it. As he’s popular—with cinema people and the public—he likely will this time (et tant mieux, though I still vote for Bacri). As for Luchini, the only César he’s ever won is best supporting actor back in 1994.
BEST ACTRESS: Catherine Frot in ‘Marguerite’.
A no-brainer. Catherine Deneuve in ‘La Tête haute’ is runner-up. Soria Zeroual in ‘Fatima’ would be a political choice, as would Loubna Abidar in ‘Much Loved’ (a Moroccan film, not French).
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Benoît Magimel in ‘La Tête haute’.
Why not? Vincent Rottiers in ‘Dheepan’ would be okay too.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Noémie Lvovsky in La Belle saison (Summertime).
Faute de mieux. Not a particularly strong category this year IMO.
MOST PROMISING ACTOR: Rod Paradot in ‘La Tête haute’.
I gave this one to Quentin Dolmaire in my post on ‘Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse’ but now think that Paradot really deserves it for his role.
MOST PROMISING ACTRESS: Lou Roy-Lecollinet in ‘Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse’.
BEST FIRST FILM: Mustang.
This is actually not a French film; it’s Turkish. The only thing that makes it French is that it was French co-produced and the director is a naturalized French citizen. But as it’s on the list, it’s my choice.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: L’Image manquante (The Missing Picture).
I’ve only seen two of the five on the list but this so obviously deserves to win.
BEST FOREIGN FILM: Son of Saul.
I’ve seen but three of the seven nominees. I imagine that if I were to see all seven, this one would still be it.
UPDATE: ‘Fatima’ won Best Film. A political choice, as I said it would be. Now I wholeheartedly approve of the politics here and thought it a good film, but, objectively speaking, it was not the best French film of 2015. I was right in all my other choices, save Arnaud Desplechin for Best Director, Vincent Lindon for Best Actor, Sidse Babett Knudsen for Best Supporting Actress (‘L’Hermine’), Zita Hanrot for Most Promising Actress (‘Fatima’), Demain for Best Documentary, and ‘Birdman’ for Best Foreign Film.