French film awards snub Oscars
France's pre-eminent film awards, the Cesars, will honour two films that conjure up the charm of a Paris that never existed and totally ignore Oscar.india Updated: Feb 23, 2004 19:08 IST
France's pre-eminent film awards, the Cesars, are likely to heap honours on two films that conjure up the charm of a Paris that never existed when they are held this Saturday -- and almost totally ignore movies bound for Oscar glory a week later.
The quirky animation "The Triplets of Belleville" and a production filled with singing actors, "Pas Sur la Bouche" (Not on the Lips), are seen as the frontrunners for the Cesars' prize for best French-language picture, which is to be handed out in a glitzy ceremony in the French capital hosted by veteran actress Fanny Ardant.
But the Cesars' best foreign film section, which usually generates the most international interest, is most notable this year for the absence of blockbusters which are now tipped for Oscar success.
Among the omissions in the French line-up are Oscar best picture nominees "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" and "Lost in Translation", and best animation contender "Finding Nemo".
Indeed, the only foreign-language contender to appear on both the Cesar and Oscar awards lists is "Mystic River" directed by Clint Eastwood, who enjoys mythic status in France.
The others on the French list are the US movies "Elephant", "Gangs of New York" and "The Hours", and the Russian film "The Return". A separate category for non-French EU films includes Lars von Trier's "Dogville", German comedy "Goodbye Lenin" and British-Irish co-production "The Magdalene Sisters".
The French honours stand in marked contrast to Britain's film awards, the BAFTAs, which were held last Sunday.
That event tacked closer to the Oscar winds by giving "The Return of the King" five prizes, including best film, followed closely by "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" (whose late release in France may explain in part why it, like some others, failed to get a Cesar nomination).
Probably most attention at the Cesars will be on "The Triplets of Belleville", a French-Belgian-Canadian co-production made by 40-year-old French director Sylvain Chomet.
The nearly dialogue-free animation has enjoyed raves from critics around the world -- including many who see it as a serious challenger to "Finding Nemo" in the Oscars, where it, too, has a berth.
"It's cult status among animation fans and critics could cast it in the role of the successful underdog," the US movie industry magazine Variety said, although it added that its near-wordless delivery and "foreign look" may weigh it down.
Within France, "Pas Sur la Bouche" is considered the favourite, at least according to an Ipsos survey published in the movie review magazine Premiere that put it first.
Directed by 81-year-old Alain Resnais, the film offers up an idealised 1920s Paris and features a cast of singing actors -- among them Audrey Tautou, who gained worldwide fame three years ago as the title character of the French hit "Amelie".
The other movies in the Cesars best picture field are "Bon Voyage" by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, "Feelings" by Noemie Lvovsky -- and "The Barbarian Invasions" by Canadian director Denys Arcand, which also has a place at the Oscars as a foreign-language nominee.
The Cesars will be broadcast live on French television on Saturday. The Oscars are to take place February 29.
First Published: Feb 21, 2004 21:49 IST