Two of Us: Winner of First Best Picture at Cesar (French Oscars) Award


Two of Us
Courtesy TIFF

Martine Chevallier and Barbara Sukowa in ‘Two of Us.’

French Oscar contender ‘Two of Us’ won the Cesar for best first film for debut director Filippo Meneghetti.

The biggest night on the French film calendar has begun. The 46th César Awards, France’s top film honor, kicked off its mostly virtual ceremony Friday night. French actress Marina Fois (Polisse) and actor  Roschdy Zem (The Cold Light of Day) are hosting the event before a small, masked audience in Paris, and the show is being broadcast live on French network Canal Plus.

The first award of the night, for best female newcomer, went to Fathia Youssouf for her debut performance in Maïmouna Doucouré’s Cuties, the Netflix film which became controversial after it was targeted by online trolls.

The 14-year-old Youssouf received her trophy from French cinema legend Isabelle Huppert.

Jean-Pascal Zadi took the best male newcomer honor for Tout Simplement Noir, a satire about race relations in France, in which he stars, and which Zadi directed together with John Wax.

France’s Oscar contender, Two of Us, which made it onto the Oscar shortlist for Best International Feature this year, picked up the César for best first film from debut director Filippo Meneghetti.

The film’s two leads, Martine Chevallier and Barbara Sukowa, are both nominated in the best actress category.

Meneghetti is also up for Césars for best first film and best original screenplay, together with co-screenwriter Malysone Bovorashy, for the drama, about two older women who have secretly been lovers for decades.

Carlos Conti won the César for best production design for Bye Bye Morons, a comedy from director Albert Dupontel. The film also picked up the César des lycéens, a people’s choice award, voted on by French high school students.

Josep, directed by French cartoonist Aurel, won for best-animated film. The 2D feature tells the story of Spanish illustrator  Josep Bartolí.

Emmanuel Mouret’s Love Affair(s) (The Things We Say, The Things We Do) is the César frontrunner this year, with 13 nominations. The film, which features an ensemble cast and is made of a series of romantic tales, was part of the Cannes 2020 official selection.

Francois Ozon’s Summer of 85, another Cannes 2020 selection, picked up 12 César noms, as did Dupontel’s Bye Bye Morons.

Les Misérables, Ladj Ly’s look at life in the Parisian banlieues, won the Cesar at last year’s event, beating out all comers, including Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a SpyLes Misérables‘ Alexis Manenti, who plays a racist cop, picked up the best male newcomer César, while the pic also received the public Cesar, voted on by the French film-going audience, and the best editing honor for Flora Volpelière. But the French Film Academy ignored a street full of protesters and a furious army of online critics to give Polanski its top directing honor.

A scandal of another sort, concerning the award’s operating model and corporate leadership, led to an industry-wide revolt last year that resulted in the resignation of long-time César Academy president Alain Terzian, along with the rest of the 21-member board of governors.

This year’s ceremony is the first Césars since the overhaul.  One of the new management’s greatest accomplishments has been to achieve gender parity within the administration board of the Association for the Promotion of Cinema (APC), the organization that oversees the Cesar Academy.