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Roman Polanski Draws Protests, Wins Prizes at Stormy Cesar Awards

Polanski’s ”An Officer and a Spy“ wins the directing, screenplay and costume awards, while the Cesar for best film goes to ”Les Miserables“


The stormiest and most beleaguered Cesar Awards ever took place in Paris on Friday, with “Les Miserables” being named 2019’s best French film while protesters lined the streets outside the Salle Pleyel protesting the nominations for Roman Polanski’s “J’accuse,” which is known as “An Officer and a Spy” outside France.

Despite the furor, Polanski won two Cesar awards, one for best director and another for adapted screenplay, which he shared with his co-writer Robert Harris. His film also won for its costumes. After Polanski’s best-director award was announced, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actress Adele Haenel and director Celine Sciamma walked out of the theater.

It was Polanski’s fifth Cesar in the directing category, the most of any director. His previous awards were for “Tess,” “The Pianist,” “The Ghost Writer” and “Venus in Fur.”

Despite all the attention on Polanski, the Oscar-nominated “Les Miserables” was the big winner of the night, taking home four awards. In addition to the best-film prize, director Ladj Ly’s taut drama also won for most promising actor (Alexis Manenti) and best editing, as well as taking the audience award, the one category that is chosen by members of the public rather than the 4,000-plus voters in the Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences.

The best actor prize went to Roschdy Zem for “Oh Mercy!” and best actress to Anais Demoustier for “Alice and the Mayor,” while the supporting actor and actress awards were given to Swann Arlaud for “By the Grace of God” and Fanny Ardant for “La Belle Epoque,” respectively.

The awards for the most promising actor and actress went to Alexis Manenti for “Les Miserables” and Lyna Khoudri for “Papicha,” respectively.

Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy,” which dramatizes the Dreyfus affair in which a 19th-century French officer was unfairly convicted of treason, led all films with 12 nominations from the Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences. The nominations for Polanski, who has been subject to multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, caused widespread protests not just about the nominations but about the organization itself.

Earlier in February, more than 400 members of the French Academy signed an open letter calling for a “complete overhaul” of the organization, which is run by an unelected board of directors. In response, the entire board resigned, effective after the ceremony, and asked that a mediator oversee reforms.

This week, Polanski announced that he would not attend the ceremony because he anticipated it would turn into a “public lynching.” None of the nominees from his film attended the show, which did not stop women’s groups from organizing protests outside the venue.

Other films that went into the show with multiple nominations included “Les Miserables” and “La Belle Epoque” with 11, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” with 10 and “By the Grace of God” and “The Specials” with eight.

Other winners on Friday included “Papicha” for best first feature film, “M” for documentary and “I Lost My Body” for animated film.

“La Belle Epoque” won for its original screenplay and production design, while craft awards went to “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” for cinematography, “I Lost My Body” for music and “Le Chant du Loup” for sound.

The first non-English film to win Best Picture at the Oscars, Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite,” beat “Joker,” “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “Pain and Glory” in the Best Foreign Film category.

The Cesars normally take place just before the Oscars — but while the Academy scheduled this year’s show on Feb. 9, the earliest date ever, the Cesars retained its typical late-February slot.

This is the complete list of Cesar nominees. Winners are indicated by *WINNER.

Best Film
“La Belle Epoque”
“By the Grace of God”
“Les Miserables” *WINNER
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
“Oh Mercy!”
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
“The Specials”

Best Director
Nicolas Bedos, “La Belle epoque”
Arnaud Desplechin, “Oh Mercy!”
Ladj Ly, “Les Miserables”
Francois Ozon, “By The Grace Of God”
Roman Polanski, “An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”) *WINNER
Celine Sciamma, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, “The Specials”

Best First Feature Film
“Le Chant du Loup”
“Les Miserables”
“Nom de la Terre”
“Papicha” *WINNER

Best Actress
Anais Demoustier, “Alice and the Mayor” *WINNER
Eva Green, “Proxima”
Adele Haenel, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Chiara Mastrianni, “Chambre 212”
Noemie Merlant, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Doria Tillier, “La Belle epoque”
Karin Viard, “The Perfect Nanny”

Best Actor
Daneil Auteuil, “La Belle epoque”
Damien Bonnard, “Les Miserables”
Vincent Cassel, “The Specials”
Jean Dujardin, “An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
Reda Kateb, “The Specials”
Melvil Poupaud, “By The Grace Of God”
Roschdy Zem, “Oh Mercy!” *WINNER

Best Supporting Actress
Fanny Ardant, “La Belle epoque” *WINNER
Josaine Balasko, “By The Grace Of God”
Laure Calamy, “Only the Animals”
Sara Forestier, “Oh Mercy!”
Helene Vincent, “The Specials”

Best Supporting Actor
Swann Arlaud, “By The Grace Of God” *WINNER
Gregory Gadebois, “An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
Louis Garrel, “An Officer and a Spy”
Benjamin Lavernhe, “Love At Second Sight”
Denis Menochet, “By The Grace Of God”

Most Promising Actress
Luana Bajriani, “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
Mame Bineta Sane, “Atlantics”
Celeste Brnquentuell, “The Dazzled”
Lyna Khoudri, “Papicha” *WINNER
Nina Meurisse, “Camille”

Most Promising Actor
Anthony Bajon, “In The Name of The Land”
Benjamin Lessieur, “The Specials”
Alexis Manenti, “Les Miserables” *WINNER
Liam Pierron, “School Life”
Djibril Zonga, “Les Miserables”

Best Original Screenplay
“La Belle Epoque” *WINNER
“By the Grace of God”
“Les Miserables”
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
“The Specials”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Adults in the Room”
“I Lost My Body”
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”) *WINNER
“Oh Mercy!”
“Seules les Betes”

Best Cinematography
“La Belle Epoque”
“Les Miserables”
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
“Oh Mercy!”
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” *WINNER

Best Editing
“La Belle Epoque”
“By the Grace of God”
“Les Miserables” *WINNER
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
“The Specials”

Best Costume Design
“La Belle Epoque”
“Le Chant du Loup”
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”) *WINNER
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

Best Production Design
“La Belle Epoque” *WINNER
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”
“The Wolf’s Call”

Best Sound
“La Belle Epoque”
“Le Chant du Loup” *WINNER
“Les Miserables”
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

Best Original Music
“I Lost My Body” *WINNER
“Les Miserables”
“An Officer and a Spy” (“J’accuse”)
“Oh Mercy!”

Best Documentary Film
“The Cordirella of Dreams”
“68, Mon Pere et les Chous”
“Wonder Boy”

Best Animated Feature Film
“The Bear’s Famous Invasion of Sicily”
“I Lost My Body” *WINNER
“The Swallows of Kabul”

Best Animated Short Film
“Ce magnifique gateau!”
“Je sors acheter des cigarettes”
“La nuit des sacs plastiques” *WINNER
“Make It Soul”

Best Short Film
“Beautiful Loser”
“Pile Poil” *WINNER
“Le Chant d’Ahmed”
“Le Chien bleu”
“Nefta Football Club”

Best Foreign Film
“Lola Vers la Mer”
“Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood”
“Pain and Glory”
“Parasite” *WINNER
“The Traitor”
“Young Ahmed”

Audience Award
“Qu’est-ce qu’on a encore fait au Bon Dieu?”
“Nous finirons ensemble”
“The Specials”
“Au nom de la terre”
“Les Miserables” *WINNER