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France's Cesar Awards on Friday crowned Custody the best film of the year. Filled with long speeches and no commercial breaks, the ceremony clocked in at three hours and 10 minutes, with Robert Redford as the guest of honor and Diane Kruger leading a tribute to late Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld.
In accepting his honor, Redford recalled his teen travels to Paris and Cannes, joking that he bought a beret before his trip to blend in, but it made him stand out. He said that returning reminds him of how as he gets older, the years seem to get shorter. It was a touching speech, even if the audience might have expected some political words from the normally outspoken Sundance founder.
Redford, who has said he has retired from acting after declaring The Old Man and the Gun his last film, fleetingly told press the world needs to fight climate change but shied away from questions backstage at Paris' Salle Pleyel.
His Horse Whisperer co-star Kristin Scott Thomas presided over the ceremony, with Monica Bellucci, Guillaume Canet and Lily Rose Depp among those in the audience.
Kruger, a longtime friend and fan of Lagerfeld, paid tribute to the designer, who died Wednesday. "It's impossible to imagine climbing the steps in Cannes or an Oscar ceremony without one of his mythical creations," the actress said, calling him an icon. "His sense of humor and worldview, often hilarious, will be missed. I miss him, I miss him terribly."
Xavier Legrand's domestic-violence drama Custody was, if not a total surprise, an unexpected winner for best film. The pic had been nominated for 10 awards and had already won three in the best editing, screenplay and actress categories, but the Oscar-nominated director had been tipped for best first film honors, having won the Louis Delluc prize in that category in December.
Legrand urged the audience to pay heed to incidents of domestic violence, citing some somber statistics from the stage. "I think it's time to think of these victims on days other than Nov. 25 [International Women's Day] ," he said.
Prize winners for the films Little Tickles and Wicked Girl, who took home best adapted screenplay and best animated short honors, respectively, also called attention to the frequency of child sexual abuse in their acceptance speeches.
Gilles Lellouche's mid-life crisis comedy Sink or Swim was also nominated for 10 prizes, but despite being a box office hit, it only received one trophy, the best supporting actor prize for Philippe Katerine.
Jacques Audiard could be considered the biggest winner of the night, with The Sisters Brothers taking home four awards. That the English-language Western had nine nominations was already a coup, and Audiard snagged the best director prize as well.
Hirokazu Kore-eda's Palme d'Or winner Shoplifters won in the best foreign-language category over fellow Oscar nominees Cold War, from Poland's Pawel Pawlikowski, and Capernaum, from Lebanon's Nadine Labaki; and Netflix's Girl, the Cannes Camera d'Or winner from Lukas Dhont. The three will be have another chance again on Sunday, though this year there is no French film in competition.
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