“A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.” So goes the biblical dictum. Well, not any longer, because Jacques Audiard’s Un Prophète has just received the ultimate accolade in its own country, the award of the César for best film, along with another eight awards, including best director, best actor (for newcomer Tahar Rahim), best supporting actor (Niels Arestrup) and best screenplay.
The cascade of prizes and nominations that has been bestowed on this hard-hitting prison drama, including the award for best foreign film at the recent BAFTAS (the British version of the Oscars) and its nomination for best foreign film at the forthcoming Oscars, raises the question of why there should be separate categories for English-language and non-English-language films. Un Prophète clearly deserves to be judged on its own merits, and there is little doubt that, if the Oscar competition were a genuinely level playing field, it would beat the likes of Avatar.
However, not to be outshone on the isolationist front, the French Césars have their own award for best foreign movie, and this year it was given to Clint Eastwood’s wonderful Gran Torino, which itself was scandalously overlooked at last year’s Oscars. As at the BAFTAS, where another American movie, The Hurt Locker, won the top prize, Avatar has been snubbed by all major European cinematic ceremonies.
Of the other Césars bestowed on Sunday night, perhaps the most ludicrous decision was the best actress prize, which went to Isabelle Adjani for La Journée de la Jupe. Admittedly, it was a thin year for great female cinematic roles, but Adjani’s performance was simply embarrassing; such overacting should be rewarded with a stern telling-off and not France’s highest cinematic acting accolade!
On a more positive note, it was good to see Riad Sattouf’s Les Beaux Gosses (reviewed favorably by Paris Update) winning the César for best first film. And I was thrilled that the fascinating movie, L’Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot, won the best documentary award.
A full list of the awards can be found here.Favorite