French Film Critics Name 'Elle' Best Movie of the Year

Elle - Still 2 - Isabelle Huppert - H 2016
Guy Ferrandis/SBS Productions, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Kleber Mendonca Filho's Cannes cometition entry 'Aquarius' received best foreign film.

The French Union of Film Critics (Syndicat Francais de la Critique Cinema), which runs the Critics’ Week sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival, handed out their annual awards this evening at the Cinematheque Francaise in Paris.

Paul Verhoeven’s Elle was awarded Best French Film, marking one of the only times in the Union’s history that a movie directed by a non-Frenchmen has received the prize. Elle has also received 11 Cesar nominations in France, including a 16th career nom for star Isabelle Huppert, to go along with Oscar nominations for best actress and best foreign-language film.

Best foreign film went to Kleber Mendonca Filho’s Aquarius, a Brazilian drama starring Sonia Braga that premiered in competition at Cannes and was Brazil’s official submission for the best foreign-language film Oscar. Aquarius was released stateside in October by Vitagraph.

Best first french film went to Arthur Harari’s Dark Inclusion (Diamant Noir), an Antwerp-set thriller that premiered in the U.S. at the annual Rendez-Vous With French Cinema at Lincoln Center. The best first foreign film award went to Romanian director Bogdan Mirica’s Dogs (Caini), which premiered last year in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section and received the FIPRESCI prize.

TV awards were given to Canal Plus’ Mathieu Kassovitz starrer The Bureau nabbed best series for the second year in a row, and Dante Desarthe’s TV movie Le Passe-Muraille, adapted from the famous short story by Marcel Ayme. DVD awards went to Wild Side for their release of Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle and to Blaq Out for the third volume of the Frederick Wiseman collection.

The French Union of Film Critics is composed of over 250 critics and journalists. It is currently presided over by Premiere critic Isabelle Danel.