Gay-themed films dominate favourites for France’s César awards
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After a year marked by fierce debate over gay marriage in France, three LGBT-themed movies top the list of nominees for the César Awards, the Gallic version of the Oscars, to be handed out on February 28.
Abdellatif Kechiche’s Palme d’Or-winning lesbian romance, “Blue is the Warmest Colour”, scored eight nominations, including for Best Picture, Director, Actress (for Léa Seydoux) and Most Promising Actress (Adèle Exarchopoulos).
After a much publicised, and exceedingly nasty, spat between leading lady Seydoux and the notoriously demanding Kechiche, many will be looking to see if the two kiss and make up at the ceremony – or politely ignore each other.
Also up for eight awards is Alain Guiraudie’s shivery Hitchcockian thriller “Stranger by the Lake”, a story of lust and murder at a gay cruising spot in rural France. The film, which will vie for prizes in the Best Film and Best Director categories, among others, sparked controversy for its explicit scenes of male-on-male coupling.
But the movie that snagged the most nominations (10) was Guillaume Gallienne’s “Me, Myself and Mum” (“Les Garçons et Guillaume, à Table!”), an autobiographical comedy about a young man whom everyone mistakenly believes is gay. The film, in which writer-director Gallienne plays several roles, including that of his mother, was a critical and commercial sensation in France.
The other works in the running for the top Best Picture award are crowd-pleasing comedy “9 Month Stretch”, Arnaud Desplechin’s US-set psychoanalysis drama “Jimmy P.”, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s French-language début “The Past” and Roman Polanski’s adaptation of stage play “Venus in Fur”.
Aside from Seydoux, one of the frontrunners for the Best Actress award is Bérénice Bejo, who won the equivalent honours at Cannes last May for her role as a harried mother juggling a new lover and a still-present ex-husband in “The Past”.
Big names in the Best Actor category include Mathieu Amalric for “Venus in Fur” and Mads Mikkelsen for his role as a 16th-century horse dealer in “Michael Kohlhaas”.
Hollande’s alleged mistress up for an award
One of the most buzzed-about nominations was for Julie Gayet, French President François Hollande’s alleged mistress, who plays a seductive, back-stabbing Foreign Ministry advisor in Bertrand Tavernier’s “Quai d’Orsay”. If she takes home the Best Supporting Actress award, her acceptance speech will surely be the most attentively watched – and parsed – of the evening.
In the Best Foreign Film category, Paolo Sorrentino’s lush, Rome-set “The Great Beauty” could pick up a statuette on its path to what is expected to be Oscar glory two days later in Los Angeles. In the same category are Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”, Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”.
Even if Tarantino goes home empty-handed, those in attendance will still get a dose of his brash, fast-talking persona when he presents an honourary César to American actress – and part-time Paris resident – Scarlett Johansson.
Apparently, members of the French Academy of Cinema Arts and Technical Sciences took Johansson’s recent remarks about Parisian rudeness with a grain of salt.