'Les Miserables' Wins Best Film at Cesar Awards, Polanski Takes Best Director

12:11 PM 2/28/2020

by Scott Roxborough

Feminist protesters disrupted the Friday ceremony, decrying the 12 nominations given to Roman Polanski's 'An Officer and a Spy.'

An Officer And A Spy - J Accuse - Venice Film Festival - Competition - H 2019
Venice Film Festival

Les Misérables, Ladj Ly's blistering look at life in the Parisian banlieues, on Friday won the 2020 Cesar Award for best film, beating out all comers, including Roman Polanski's An Officer and a Spy.

Les Misérables' Alexis Manenti, who plays a racist cop, picked up the best male newcomer Cesar, while the pic also received the public Cesar, voted on by the French film-going audience, and a 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. The controversial filmmaker won the best directing Cesar for An Officer and a Spy. Polanski and co-writer Robert Harris also won the best adapted screenplay prize, while the film's Pascaline Chavanne took the Cesar for best costume design.

Actress Adèle Haenel (Portrait of a Lady on Fire) looked visibly upset when Polanski's name was called as best director. She left the room, and several others followed.

Polanski was not at the gala to accept his honor, having pulled out of attending the ceremony, saying he feared a "public lynching" by feminist protesters if he went. On Friday, An Officer and a Spy producer Alain Goldman and star Jean Dujardin also announced they also wouldn't be attending the Cesars. Goldman told AFP that “an escalation of inappropriate and violent language and behavior" towards Polanski was the reason.

Anaïs Demoustier won the first Cesar of her career, taking best actress honors for her role as a brilliant young philosopher assisting a local politician in crisis in Nicolas Pariser's Alice and the Mayor.

In a surprise win, Roschdy Zem was tapped as best actor for his role as a police captain in Arnaud Desplechin's crime drama Oh Mercy!

Lyna Khoudri took home the best female newcomer prize for Mounia Meddour's Papicha, in which she plays a young student in 1990s Algiers determined to put on a fashion show despite the threat from Islamic extremists to shut it down. Papicha also took the best first film award for Meddour.

Jérémy Clapin and Guillaume Laurant received the best adapted screenplay award for their script to the Netflix animated feature I Lost My Body. ?The film also won best original score honors for Dan Levy, also known as the co-founder, with Olivia Merilahti, of the Finnish-French indie pop band The Dø.

The legendary Fanny Ardant collected another Cesar, this time for best supporting actress for her role in La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos' romantic comedy about a man who tries to escape his life's problems by using a service that allows him to live in the past. The film also earned best production design honors for Stéphane Rosenbaum.

Swann Arlaud was tapped as best supporting actor for his portrayal of a survivor of child sexual abuse in Francois Ozon's By the Grace of God.

Best sound honors went to the Wolf's Call team of Nicolas Cantin, Thomas Desjonquères, Raphaël Mouterde, Olivier Goinard and Randy Thom.

Yolande Zauberman's M, an investigation into sexual abuse in an ultra-orthodox community in Israel, was named best documentary.

This year's Cesars were dogged by controversy, much of it surrounding Polanski, whose An Officer and a Spy received 12 nominations, the most of any film this year.

One of France's leading feminist organizations, Osez le féminisme! (Dare feminism!), held a major protest outside the Salle Pleyel in Paris where the Cesar ceremony was held, calling on demonstrators to attend via a call on its website and Facebook page. It was joined by several other activist groups who are outraged that the French Film Academy honored Polanski, whom they see as a sex criminal. The protesters, who carried banners inscribed with the names of filmmakers suspected of sexual assault or rape, including Polanski and Luc Besson, were dispersed by police.

The 87-year-old director and Oscar winner has been a fugitive from U.S. justice since 1978 for the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. In recent years, a number of other women have come forward accusing Polanski of sexual assault, most involving alleged incidents dating back decades. He has denied all the new allegations against him.

Earlier this month, the French Film Academy's board of directors abruptly announced their collective resignation, complaining about the lack of diversity among this year's nominees and a general lack of transparency, particularly fiscal transparency, within the organization.

The board's resignation was triggered by an open letter to French newspaper Le Monde, signed by some 400 of the country's leading filmmakers, which called the Academy's leadership dysfunctional and "a vestige of an era that we would like to be over, that of an elitist and closed system."

The Academy said it would hold a general assembly of its members after this year's Cesars to elect a new board.

  • Best Film

    La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos
    Grâce à Dieu, François Ozon
    Hors normes, Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
    J'accuse, Roman Polanski
    WINNER: Les Misérables, Ladj Ly
    Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, Céline Sciamma
    Roubaix, une lumière, Arnaud Desplechin

  • Best Director

    La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos
    Grâce à Dieu, François Ozon
    Hors normes, Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
    WINNER: An Officer and A Spy, Roman Polanski?
    Les Misérables, Ladj Ly
    Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, Céline Sciamma
    Roubaix, une lumière, Arnaud Desplechin

  • Best Actress

    WINNER: Anaîs Demoustier, Alice and the Mayor
    ?Eva Green, Proxima
    Adèle Haenel, Portrait de la jeune fille en feu
    Chiara Mastroianni, Chambre 212?
    Noémie Merlant, Portrait de la jeune fille en feu
    Doria Tillier, ?La Belle Époche
    Karin Viard, Chanson Douce

  • Best Actor

    Daniel Auteuil, La Belle Époche
    Damien Bonnard, Les Misérables
    Vincent Cassel, Hors normes
    Jean Dujardin, J'accuse
    Reda Kateb, Hors normes
    Melvil Poupaud, Grâce à Dieu
    WINNER: Roschdy Zem, Oh Mercy!

  • Best Foreign Film

    Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodovar
    ?Le Jeune Ahmed, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
    Joker, Todd Phillips
    Lola Vers La Mer, Laurent Micheli
    Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Quentin Tarantino
    WINNER: Parasite, Bong Joon-Ho
    The Traitor, Marco Bellocchio

  • Best Documentary Film

    68, Mon Pere et Les Clous,  Samuel Bigiaoui
    La cordillère des songes, Patricio Guzman
    Lourdes, Thierry Demaizière, Alain Teurlai
    WINNER: M, Yolande Zauberman
    Wonder Boy: Olivier Rousteing, né sous X, Anissa Bonnefont

  • Best First Film

    Atlantique, Mati Diop
    Au nom de la terre, Edouard Bergeon
    Le chant du loup, Antonin Baudry
    Les Misérables, Ladj Ly

    WINNER: Papicha, Mounia Meddour

  • Best Original Screenplay

    WINNER: La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos
    Grâce à Dieu, François Ozon
    Hors normes, Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
    Les Misérables, Ladj Ly, Giordano Gederlini, Alexis Manenti
    Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, Céline Sciamma

  • Best Adapted Screenplay

    Costa-Gavras, Adults in the Room?
    WINNER: Roman Polanski, Robert Harris, An Officer and a Spy
    Jérémy Clapin, Guillaume Laurant, I Lost My Body
    Arnaud Desplechin, Léa Mysius, Roubaix, une lumière
    Dominik Moll, Gilles Marchand, Seules les bêtes

  • Best Supporting Actress

    WINNER: Fanny Ardant, La Belle Époque
    Josiane Balasko, Grâce à Dieu?
    Laure Calamy, Seules les bêtes
    Sara Forestier, Roubaix, une lumière
    Hélène Vincent, Hors normes

  • Best Supporting Actor

    WINNER: Swann Arlaud, By the Grace of God
    Grégory Gadebois, J'accuse
    ?Louis Garrel, J'accuse?
    Benjamin Lavernhe, Mon inconnue
    Denis Ménochet, Grâce à Dieu?

  • Best Female Newcomer

    Luàna Bajrami, Portrait de la jeune fille en feu
    Céleste Brunnquell, Les Éblouis
    ?WINNER: Lyna Khoudri, Papicha?
    Nina Meurisse, Camille
    Mama Sané, Atlantique

  • Best Male Newcomer

    Anthony Bajon, Au nom de la terre
    Benjamin Lesieur, Hors normes
    WINNER: Alexis Manenti, Les Misérables?
    Liam Pierron, La vie scolaire
    Djebril Zonga, Les Misérables

  • Best Animated Film

    La fameuse invasion des ours en sicile, Lorenzo Mattotti
    Les hirondelles de kaboul, Zabou Breitman

    WINNER: Jérémy Clapin for I Lost My Body

  • Best Editing

    Anny Danché, Florent Vassault – La Belle Époque
    Laure Gardette – Grâce à Dieu
    Dorian Rigal-Ansous – Hors normes
    ?Hervé de Luze – J'accuse
    WINNER: Flora Volpelière – Les Misérables

  • Best Cinematography

    Nicolas Bolduc – La Belle Époque
    ?Pawel Edelman – J'accuse?
    Julien Poupard – Les Misérables?
    WINNER: Claire Mathon – Portrait of a Lady on Fire
    Irina Lubtchansky – Roubaix, une lumière

  • Best Costumes

    Emmanuelle Youchnovski – La Belle Époque
    Thierry Delettre – Edmond
    WINNER: Pascaline Chavanne – An Officer and A Spy
    Alexandra Charles – Jeanne
    Dorothée Guiraud – Portrait de la jeune fille en feu

  • Best Production Design

    WINNER: Stéphane Rosenbaum – La Belle Époque
    Benoît Barouh Le chant du loup
    Franck Schwarz – Edmond
    Jean Rabasse – J'accuse
    Thomas Grézaud – Portrait de la jeune fille en feu

  • Best Original Score

    Fatima Al Qadiri – Atlantique?
    Alexandre Desplat – J’accuse
    ?WINNER: Dan Levy – I Lost My Body
    Marco Casanova, Kim Chapiron – Les Misérables
    Grégoire Hetzel – Roubaix, une lumière

  • Best Sound

    Rémi Daru, Séverin Favriau, Jean-Paul Hurier – La Belle Époque
    WINNER: Nicolas Cantin, Thomas Desjonquères, Raphaël Mouterde, Olivier Goinard, Randy Thom – Le chant du loup
    Lucian Balibar, Aymeric Devoldère, Cyril Holtz, Niels Barletta – J'accuse
    Arnaud Lavaleix, Jérôme Gonthier, Marco Casanova – Les Misérables
    ?Julien Sicart, Valérie Deloof, Daniel Sobrino – Portrait de la jeune fille en feu