The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

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The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#1 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:48 pm

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As with our Alternate Best Picture threads, this will be an ongoing discussion and evaluation of the films nominated for and/or awarded the top prize at the César Awards, the César du meilleur film AKA Best Film. Users are encouraged to see all of the films nominated in a given year, weigh in, and then pick their own winner based on their informed viewing. However, given how scarce many of these titles are to those without access to back channels or fluency in French, conversation, discussions, and debate around any of the films nominated is also welcomed. If you have thoughts on a film someone else weighed in on, share them! Have a question? Ask it! Engage with those engaging in the thread and you will also be engaging with the thread and then the whole world smiles and buys you a Coke, or something. Like the Oscar List threads, there is no deadline or submission date, though a transition to a regular mini list at some point in the future is possible.

Below you will find a list of all eligible films. Winners are designated with gold coloring. English-friendly commercial releases are listed next to each film. As of the current update to the first post, the following are the only nominated films not circulating with English subs:

Le Brio (2017) / Le Fils préféré (1994) / Le Sens de la fête (2017) / Pater (2011) / Patients (2017) / Petit paysan (2017) / Saint-Cyr (2000)

All other titles, even those without DVD/Blu-ray/streaming info, are circulating and available with English subs on back channels

1975
Cousin, cousine (Jean Charles Tacchella) RABC Gaumont
Le Vieux fusil (Robert Enrico) R1 MGM MOD (as the Old Gun)
Que la fête commence… (Bertrand Tavernier) R1 Kino (OOP) (as Let Joy Reign Supreme)
Sept morts sur ordonnance (Jacques Rouffio)

1976
Barocco (André Téchiné) R1 Pathfinder
La Meilleure Façon de marcher (Claude Miller)
Le Juge et l'assassin (Bertrand Tavernier) R2 Optimum (as the Judge and the Assassin)
Monsieur Klein (Joseph Losey) R2 Optimum

1977
La Dentellière (Claude Goretta)
Le Crabe-Tambour (Pierre Schoendoerffer)
Nous irons tous au paradis (Yves Robert) RABC Gaumont (NOTE: This is a sequel to Un éléphant ça trompe énormémen, also RABC Gaumont)
Providence (Alain Resnais) R2 Jupiter (France — English-language, no English subs needed)

1978
L’Argent des autres (Christian de Chalonge)
Le Dossier 51 (Michel Deville)
Molière (Ariane Mnouchkine)
Une histoire simple (Claude Sautet) RABC Pathe

1979
Clair de femme (Costa Gavras)
Don Giovanni (Jospeh Losey) RA Olive Films
I... comme Icare (Henri Verneuil)
Tess (Roman Polanski) RA Criterion

1980
Le Dernier Métro (François Truffaut) RA Criterion / RB Artificial Eye (as the Last Metro)
Loulou (Maurice Pialat) RA Cohen Media
Mon oncle d'Amérique (Alain Resnais) R0 Arrow
Sauve qui peut (la vie) (Jean-Luc Godard) RA Criterion (as Every Man For Himself)

1981
Coup de torchon (Bertrand Tavernier) R1 Criterion
Garde à vue (Claude Miller)
La Guerre du feu (Jean-Jacques Annaud) R1 Fox / RB Second Sight (as Quest for Fire - no subs needed)
Les Uns et les autres (Claude Lelouch)

1982
Danton (Andrzej Wajda) R1 Criterion
La Balance (Bob Swaim) R1 hVe (OOP)
Passion (Jean-Luc Godard) R1 Lionsgate
Une chambre en ville (Jacques Demy) RA Criterion

1983
À nos amours (Maurice Pialat) R1 Criterion / R2 Masters of Cinema
Coup de foudre (Diane Kurys) R1 Fox Lorber (OOP) (as Entre nous)
L'Été meurtrier (Jean Becker) RA Bayview (as One Deadly Summer)
Le Bal (Ettore Scola) RABC LCJ (No subs needed)
Tchao pantin (Claude Berri) RB Pathe

1984
Carmen (Francesco Rosi) RA Olive Films
L'Amour à mort (Alain Resnais) R1 Kino
Les Nuits de la pleine lune (Eric Rohmer) RA Film Movement / RB Arrow (as Full Moon in Paris)
Les Ripoux (Claude Zidi)
Un dimanche à la campagne (Bertrand Tavernier)

1985
L'Effrontée (Claude Miller) R1 Wellspring (OOP)
Péril en la demeure (Michel Deville) RABC Gaumont
Sans toit ni loi (Agnes Varda) R1 Criterion / RB Artificial Eye (as Vagabond)
Subway (Luc Besson) R1 Sony / RB Optimum
3 hommes et un couffin (Coline Serreau) R1 hVe (OOP) (as Three Men and a Cradle)

1986
Jean de Florette (Claude Berri) RA Shout Factory
Mélo (Alain Resnais) R1 Kino
Tenue de soirée (Bertrand Blier) R1 Koch (as Menage)
Thérèse (Alain Cavalier) R1 Fox Lorber (OOP)
37°2 le matin (Jean-Jacques Beineix) RA Cinema Libre / RABC Second Sight (as Betty Blue)

1987
Au revoir, les enfants (Louis Malle) RA Criterion / RB Artificial Eye
Le Grand chemin (Jean-Loup Hubert)
Les Innocents (André Téchiné)
Sous le soleil de Satan (Maurice Pialat) RA Cohen Media / R2 Masters of Cinema
Tandem (Patrice Leconte)

1988
Camille Claudel (Bruno Nuytten) R2 StudioCanal (NOTE: All US DVDs are edited)
L'Ours (Jean-Jacques Annaud) RA Shout Factory (as the Bear)
La Lectrice (Michel Deville) R2 Cest La Vie (OOP)
La Vie est un long fleuve tranquille (Étienne Chatiliez) R2 Artificial Eye (OOP) (as Life is a Long Quiet River)
Le Grand Bleu (Luc Besson) RB Optimum

1989
La Vie et rien d'autre (Bertrand Tavernier) R1 Kino (as Life and Nothing But)
Monsieur Hire (Patrice Leconte) R1 Kino
Nocturne indien (Alain Corneau) R1 Koch Vision
Trop belle pour toi (Bertrand Blier) R1 MGM (OOP) (as Too Beautiful For You)
Un monde sans pitié (Eric Rochant)

1990
Cyrano de Bergerac (Jean-Paul Rappeneau) R1 MGM (OOP)
Le Mari de la coiffeuse (Patrice Leconte) R1 Severin (as the Hairdresser’s Husband)
Le Petit criminel (Jacques Doillon) Streaming on MUBI / R4 Universal (as the Little Gangster)
Nikita (Luc Besson) RA Sony (as La Femme Nikita)
Uranus (Claude Berri)

1991
La Belle noiseuse (Jacques Rivette) RA Cohen Media
Merci la vie (Bertrand Blier) R2 Nouveaux (OOP)
Tous les matins du monde (Alain Corneau) RA Entertainment One
Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat) RA Cohen Media / RB Masters of Cinema

1992
Indochine (Régis Wargnier) RB StudioCanal
L.627 (Bertrand Tavernier) R2 Optimum
La Crise (Coline Serreau)
Le Petit Prince a dit (Christine Pascal)
Les nuits fauves (Cyril Collard)
Un cœur en hiver (Claude Sautet) R1 Koch Lorber (OOP)

1993
Germinal (Claude Berri) R2 Fox (UK)
Les Visiteurs (Jean-Marie Poiré) RABC Gaumont
Ma saison préférée (André Téchiné) R1 LionsGate (as My Favorite Season in André Téchiné 4-Film Collector's Edition)
Smoking / No Smoking (Alain Resnais)
Trois couleurs: Bleu (Krzysztof Kieślowski) RA Criterion / RB Artificial Eye (as Blue)

1994
La Reine Margot (Patrice Chéreau) RA Cohen Media (as Queen Margot)
Le Fils préféré (Nicole Garcia)
Léon (Luc Besson) RA Sony
Les Roseaux sauvages (André Téchiné) R1 LionsGate (as Wild Reeds in André Téchiné 4-Film Collector's Edition)
Trois couleurs: Rouge (Krzysztof Kieślowski) RA Criterion / RB Artificial Eye (as Red)

1995
Gazon maudit (Josiane Balasko) R1 Miramax (OOP) / R2 Fox (UK) (as French Twist)
La Cérémonie (Claude Chabrol) R1 hVe (OOP) / RB Artificial Eye (OOP)
La haine (Mathieu Kassovitz) RA Criterion
Le Bonheur est dans le pré (Étienne Chatiliez)
Le Hussard sur le toit (Jean-Paul Rappeneau) R1 Miramax (OOP) (as the Horseman on the Roof)
Nelly et Monsieur Arnaud (Claude Sautet) R1 New Yorker (OOP) / R2 Pathe (UK)

1996
Capitaine Conan (Bertrand Tavernier)
Les Voleurs (André Téchiné)
Microcosmos: Le peuple de l'herbe (Claude Nuridsany & Marie Pérennou) RA Kino Lorber
Ridicule (Patrice Leconte) R1 Miramax (OOP) / R2 Second Sight (OOP)
Pédale douce (Gabriel Aghion)
Un air de famille (Cédric Klapisch) R1 Fox Lorber (OOP)

1997
the Fifth Element (Luc Besson) RA Sony
Le Bossu (Philippe de Broca) RA Cohen Media (as On Guard)
Marius et Jeannette (Robert Guédiguian) R1 New Yorker (OOP)
On connaît la chanson (Alain Resnais)
Western (Manuel Poirier) R1 LionsGate

1998
Ceux qui m'aiment prendront le train (Patrice Chéreau) R1 Kino / R2 Artificial Eye (OOP)
Le Dîner de cons (Francis Veber) R1 LionsGate (as the Dinner Game) / RABC Gaumont
La Vie rêvée des anges (Erick Zonca)
R2 Arrow (OOP) (as the Dreamlife of Angels)
Place Vendôme (Nicole Garcia) R1 Fox Lorber (OOP)
Taxi (Gérard Pirès) RABC ARP Selection

1999
Est - Ouest (Régis Wargnier) Available to rent on Amazon (as East/West)
Jeanne d'Arc (Luc Besson) RA Sony (OOP) (as the Messenger: the Story of Joan of Arc)
La Fille sur le pont (Patrice Leconte) R1 Legend (OOP) / R2 Fox (OOP) (as Girl on the Bridge)
Les Enfants du marais (Jean Becker)
Venus beauté (institut) (Tonie Marshall) R1 Fox Lorber / R2 Bluebell (as Venus Beauty Institute)

2000
Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien (Dominik Moll) R1 Lionsgate (as With a Friend Like Harry)
Le Goût des autres (Agnès Jaoui) R1 Miramax (OOP) (as the Taste of Others) / R2 Fox
Les Blessures assassines (Jean-Pierre Denis) R1 hVe (OOP) / R1 Criterion (50 Years of Janus box exclusive) (as Murderous Maids)
Saint-Cyr (Patricia Mazuy)
Une affaire de goût (Bernard Rapp) R1 Remstar (Canada) (as A Matter of Taste)

2001
Chaos (Coline Serreau) R1 New Yorker (OOP)
La Chambre des officiers (François Dupeyron) R2 StudioCanal (UK) (OOP) (as the Officer’s Ward) / RB ARP (France)
Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) RA LionsGate (as Amelie)
Sous le sable (François Ozon) R2 Artificial Eye (OOP) (as Under the Sand)
Sur mes lèvres (Jacques Audiard) R1 Sony (OOP) (as Read My Lips)

2002
Amen. (Costa-Gavras) RA Cohen Media
8 femmes (François Ozon) R1 Universal (as 8 Women)
Être et avoir (Nicolas Philibert) R1 New Yorker (OOP) (as To Be and To Have) / RB Artificial Eye (OOP)
L'Auberge espagnole (Cédric Klapisch) R1 Fox / RB StudioCanal (France)
the Pianist (Roman Polanski) R1 Focus (OOP) / RB Optimum

2003
Bon voyage (Jean-Paul Rappeneau) R1 Sony (OOP) / RB ARP Selection
Les Invasions barbares (Denys Arcand) R1 Miramax (as the Barbarian Invasions)) / RA Alliance (Canada) (NOTE: This is a sequel to Le Déclin de l'empire américain, available on R1 DVD from Koch Lorber as the Decline of the American Empire [OOP])
Les Sentiments (Noémie Lvovsky)
Les Triplettes de Belleville (Sylvain Chomet) R1 Sony (as the Triplets of Belleville)
Pas sur la bouche (Alain Resnais) R1 Fox Lorber (as Not on the Lips)

2004
L'Esquive (Abdel Kechiche) R1 New Yorker (OOP) (as Games of Love and Chance)
Les Choristes (Christophe Barratier) R1 Miramax (as the Chorus)
Rois et reine (Arnaud Desplechin) R1 Wellspring / R2 Artificial Eye (as Kings and Queen)
36 Quai des Orfèvres (Olivier Marchal) RABC Gaumont
Un long dimanche de fiançailles (Jean-Pierre Jeunet) R1 Warners (as A Very Long Engagement) / RB Warners (France) (OOP)

2005
De battre mon cœur s'est arrêté (Jacques Audiard) R1 Wellspring / RB Artificial Eye (as the Beat That My Heart Skipped)
Joyeux Noël (Christian Carion) R1 Sony / RABC Art Vision Entertainment (as Merry Christmas)
L'Enfant (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne) R1 Sony
Le Petit Lieutenant (Xavier Beauvois) R1 Koch Lorber (OOP)
Va, vis et deviens (Radu Mihaileanu) R1 Menemsha Films (as Live and Become)

2006
Indigènes (Rachid Bouchareb) R1 Weinstein Company / RA AIS (Canada) / RAMC Metrodome Video (UK) (as Days of Glory)
Je vais bien, ne t'en fais pas (Philippe Lioret)
Lady Chatterley (Pascale Ferran) R1 Kino (in separate Theatrical and Extended European editions)
Ne le dis à personne (Guillaume Canet) RA Music Box (as Tell No One)
Quand j'étais chanteur (Xavier Giannoli) R2 Artificial Eye (as the Singer)

2007
La Graine et le mulet (Abdel Kechiche) RA Criterion (as the Secret of the Grain)
La môme (Olivier Dahan) R1 HBO / RB Icon (as La Vie en Rose)
Le Scaphandre et le papillon (Julian Schnabel) RA Ais (Canada) (as the Diving Bell and the Butterfly)
Persepolis (Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi) RA Sony
Un secret (Claude Miller) R1 Strand

2008
Entre les murs (Laurent Cantet) RA Sony (as the Class)
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (Philippe Claudel) RA Sony (as I’ve Loved You So Long)
L'Instinct de mort + L'Ennemi public n°1 (Jean-François Richet) RA Music Box (as separate releases: Mesrine Part 1: Killer Instinct and Mesrine Part 2: Public Enemy #1) / RB Momentum (as Mesrine: Part 1 and 2)
Le Premier Jour du reste de ta vie (Rémi Bezançon) R2 Metrodome (as the First Day of the Rest of Your Life)
Paris (Cedric Klapisch) R1 MPI / RB StudioCanal (France)
Séraphine (Martin Provost) R1 Music Box
Un conte de Noël (Arnaud Desplechin) RA Criterion (as A Christmas Tale)

2009
À l’origine (Xavier Giannoli) R1 Mongrel (Canada) (as In the Beginning)
La Journée de la jupe (Jean-Paul Lilienfeld) R1 Cinema Epoch / Streaming free on Amazon Prime (as Skirt Day)
Le Concert (Radu Mihaileanu) R1 Arc Entertainment (OOP)
Les Herbes folles (Alain Resnais) R1 Sony
Rapt (Lucas Belvaux) RA Kino Lorber
Un prophète (Jacques Audiard) RA Sony (as A Prophet)
Welcome (Philippe Lioret) R1 Film Movement

2010
Des hommes et des dieux (Xavier Beauvois) RA Sony (as Of Gods and Men)
Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) (Joann Sfar) RA Music Box / RB Optimum
the Ghost Writer (Roman Polanski) RA Summit (censored) / RB Optimum (as the Ghost)
L'Arnacœur (Pascal Chaumeil) R1 MPI DVD/ RB Revolver (as Heartbreaker)
Le Nom des gens (Michel Leclerc) R1 Music Box (as the Names of Love)
Mammuth (Benoît Delépine & Gustave de Kervern) R1 Olive
Tournée (Mathieu Amalric)

2011
the Artist (Michel Hazanavicius) RA Sony
Intouchables (Olivier Nakache & Éric Toledano) RA Sony
L'exercice de l'État (Pierre Schöller)
La Guerre est déclarée (Valérie Donzelli)
Le Havre (Aki Kaurismäki) RA Criterion
Pater (Alain Cavalier)
Polisse (Maïwenn) R1 MPI / RB TFI

2012
Amour (Michael Haneke) RA Sony
Camille redouble (Noémie Lvovsky) R1 Mongrel (Canada)
Dans la maison (François Ozon) RA Cohen Media (OOP) / RB Entertainment One (as In the House)
De rouille et d'os (Jacques Audiard) RA Sony (as Rust and Bone)
Holy Motors (Leos Carax) RA Shout Factory
Le prénom (Alexandre de La Patellière & Matthieu Delaporte) R1 First Run (as What’s In a Name?)
Les Adieux à la reine (Benoît Jacquot) RA Cohen Media (OOP) (as Farewell, My Queen)

2013
Jimmy P.: Psychothérapie d'un Indien des Plaines (Arnaud Desplechin) R1 MPI / RB Gaumont (English-language, no subs needed)
L'Inconnu du lac (Alain Guiraudie) RA Strand (as Stranger by the Lake)
La Vénus à la fourrure (Roman Polanski) RB Artificial Eye (as Venus in Fur)
La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 (Abdellatif Kechiche) RA Criterion / RB Artificial Eye (as Blue is the Warmest Color)
Le Passé (Asghar Farhadi) RA Sony (as the Past)
Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table! (Guillaume Gallienne) RABC Gaumont
Neuf mois ferme (Albert Dupontel) RB Wild Side

2014
Eastern Boys (Robin Campillo) R1 First Run / RB Peccadillo Pictures (UK)
Hippocrate (Thomas Lilti) R2 StudioCanal (UK) (as Hippocrates)
La famille Bélier (Éric Lartigau) R2 Entertainment One (UK)
Les combattants (Thomas Cailley) R1 Strand (as Love at First Fight) / R2 Artificial Eye
Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello) RA Sony
Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas) RA Criterion / RB Artificial Eye (as Clouds of Sils Maria)
Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako) RA Cohen Media

2015
Dheepan (Jacques Audiard) RA Criterion
Fatima (Philippe Faucon) R1 Kino
La Loi du marché (Stéphane Brizé) RA Kino (as the Measure of a Man)
La Tête haute (Emmanuelle Bercot) RA Cohen Media (as Standing Tall)
Marguerite (Xavier Giannoli) RA Cohen Media
Mon roi (Maïwenn) R1 Film Movement / Streaming free on Amazon Prime (as My King)
Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven) RA Cohen Media
Trois souvenirs de ma jeunesse (Arnaud Desplechin) R1 Magnolia / Streaming on Netflix (as My Golden Days)

2016
Divines (Houda Benyamina) Streaming on Netflix
Elle (Paul Verhoeven) RA Sony / RB LionsGate (UK)
Frantz (François Ozon) RA Music Box
Les Innocentes (Anne Fontaine) RA Music Box
Ma Loute (Bruno Dumont) RA Kino (as Slack Bay)
Mal de pierres (Nicole Garcia) R1 StudioCanal (as From the Land of the Moon)
Victoria (Justine Triet) Available to rent on Amazon (as In Bed With Victoria)

2017
Au revoir là-haut (Albert Dupontel) RABC Gaumont
Barbara (Mathieu Amalric)
Le Brio (Yvan Attal)
Le Sens de la fête (Éric Toledano)
120 battements par minute (Robin Campillo) R1 Passion River / RB Artificial Eye (as 120 BPM)
Patients (Grand Corps Malade and Mehdi Idir)
Petit Paysan (Hubert Charuel)


LAST UPDATED: 10/12/2018

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domino harvey
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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#2 Post by domino harvey » Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:49 pm

Image

1975
domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jul 22, 2018 11:59 am
Cousin, cousine (Jean-Charles Tacchella)
Inexplicably popular romantic comedy (Marie-Christine Barrault somehow even ended up getting nommed for Best Actress at the Oscars, presumably for the skill it took in taking off her top?) about two cousins who cheat together on their spouses in response to their spouses cheating together on them. I hated every last character in this movie from the central couple on down, but the majority of the blame has to go on the smug, unbelievably shitty main pair, who end the film by locking themselves in a bedroom for hours at Christmas while their entire family, including spouses and young children, wait for them to finish fucking each other. Many contemporary reviews praised the film for being so nice to all its characters, but I found them all cruel and selfish, and by the end I was glad to see them gone.
Le Vieux fusil (Robert Enrico)
Occupation-set thriller with mild-mannered doctor Philippe Noiret avenging the rape and murder of his family by single-handedly hunting down and killing every last Nazi responsible. This leads to a solid hour of Noiret shooting, smashing, drowning, and immolating every Nazi that crosses his path. The film is so milquetoast in its first half because it wants these later passages to shock, but I just found the later portions tasteless and exploitative. Honestly, once we’re treated to the image of
SpoilerShow
Romy Schneider being gang raped and then burned alive with a flamethrower
I knew the film had nothing but bad intentions. Perhaps without the endless flashbacks to justify the cost of hiring Romy Schneider this may have at least been a leaner narrative. I did not enjoy this much, but I’m surprised some enterprising boutique label hasn’t snatched it up for English-friendly release, since it’s so prurient in its violence and would probably be received as high art from those who find Code Red a connoisseur label.

Que la fête commence… (Bertrand Tavernier)
Philippe Noiret plays another Philippe, the Regent to Louis XV who reigns over a never ending series of debaucheries and jovial villainies committed by his frenemy Jean Rochefort as L'abbé Dubois, a pimp who ascends to the archbishop-ship. The film opens with a group of farmers receiving stern warning from the cloth that they have three days to convert their field mice before the creatures are excommunicated, only to be distracted by a foot-chase after a pederast, who is hunted for the sole reason of using his death to vilify an innocent third party. And that sets the tone: darkly funny, dynamically-shot, indiscriminate in its punches, and covered in the best-tasting candy-coating a would-be stuffy costume drama could hope for. Tavernier treats the assorted grotesqueries and surreal comic moments with great verve and amusement, and the film never topples over into being too grotesque or tiresome— it’s not hard to push buttons, but to do so in a way that doesn’t feel exhausting or obvious takes more skill. The film ends with a hint of the forthcoming French Revolution, and also renewed hope from me that I will discover some new-to-me gems in this viewing project, as I saw this one last of the four nominees and beforehand I was starting to sweat that I’d signed up for another thankless marathon of movies I was right to have not seen!

Sept morts sur ordonnance (Jacques Rouffio)
Michel Piccoli is a small town surgeon who is being pressured by a big wig from the local hospital to stop performing surgeries after he suffers a mild heart attack. Intercut with this current timeline are random flashbacks to the surgeon Piccoli replaced, a hot shot doc played by Gerard Depardieu. Depardieu is introduced about fifteen minutes into the film via a scene that is the first of two grossly ill-imagined mistakes, and unfortunately these scenes are the foundation upon which the entire film is built: Depardieu ascends the staircase in his provincial estate armed with a shot gun. He first shoots his young son in the head, then shoots his daughter, goes into the nursery to shoot his baby asleep in the crib, and then shoots his wife Jane Birkin in the face, her jaw exploding in a thick fountain of blood. All of these murders are explicitly shown, and if you need to see a five year old boy get his head blown off with an arterial spray pouring out, here’s the movie for you. I am well aware that this scene is intended to be shocking, especially since it comes with no explanation before or indeed well-after. But it’s too much, and I could not find sympathy for Depardieu and what his character went through to arrive there because the end result is too ghastly. I’m undecided on whether the erratic editing choices in the film are successful: it literally takes half the movie til we realize why we’re being shown cut-up scenes of Depardieu from various junctures in his career, but with some patience things did eventually become clear. However, I’m unconvinced a more audience-friendly approach to explaining the meaning of these scenes would have hampered their effectiveness.

Back to the other mistake of a scene— and folks if you Google this movie it’s depicted right there on the French Blu-ray cover, which I thankfully didn’t see beforehand, so beware—
SpoilerShow
I do not understand this concept of killing your family and yourself to preserve honor. Is this a French cultural thing? Because I was slowly warming up to this movie and its depiction of oppression from a small town dictator, and then Piccoli pulls out the gun from the flower-box and kills his wife and himself and I literally swore a blue streak at the TV.
This goes up there with Nymph()maniac as one of the worst, most disastrous endings to any movie I’ve ever seen in that all it achieved was making me feel like I wasted nearly two hours of my life so the director could jerk me around. If this is indeed based on true events as alleged in the end credits, I’d like some hard evidence, though it wouldn’t be the first time real life was also stupid. [P]

MY VOTE: Que la fête commence…

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tenia
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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#3 Post by tenia » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:58 am

To me, it wasn't so much honor that desperation from psychological harassment. They both end up trapped by Vanel in places they can't keep anymore, ending up useless and cut from their main passion. What is left for them once they understand they can't do that anymore ? When they understand they might get disbarred because of that.
To me it's desperation.
But I agree with you, especially for Piccoli's character to repeat the same scheme : it is ham-fisted. I liked the movie, but these conclusions felt ham-fisted. It seemed to miss some better progression towards them.

But yes, it is inspired from true events that happened in France in Reims in the early 60s, though I don't know if the conclusions and explanations offered by the movie arr what explains the true events.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#4 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:33 pm

I thought the film only stared to explore those arenas with respect to Piccoli in the back end of the film, but then he does what he does and I couldn't help thinking that the film exerted a lot of energy to make a doddering old man into a puppetmaster villain who nevertheless I ended up liking better than either Piccoli or Depardieu because, well,
SpoilerShow
he didn't murder his entire family.
I know, the film wants us to sympathize with the doctors since the rumor campaign causes at least one patient to allegedly die of fright on the operating table (I don't think that's how medical science works), but again, be it for honor or as the exasperated outburst of characters pushed to their limits, it is impossible to advocate for characters who do what these two do. Depardieu calls his actions honor killings when he calls the detective, which is why I was placing emphasis on this reading versus being backed into a corner. Perhaps these moments may have been able to work in the abstract if we were not shown them in gory detail, but they definitely don't work as is.

I have a lot of negative things to say because of these two scenes, but I did like some of the touches of the film, such as when one character is being courted to turn on Piccoli and he unexpectedly shows that despite what's happened to him, he's not an idiot. I also think Depardieu does a good job of being charismatic and sexy in his arrogant coolness, showing how patients would be drawn to his rock star ways and how this would rub against the status quo keepers. It's really a testament to how good Depardieu is at this kind of thing that he's able to generate any interest at all in his character after we're first shown his actions. I like Piccoli in just about anything, but he was capable of phoning it in with the best of them, and I think that's what's up here, and Jane Birkin and Marina Vlady are merely in this to do three days work and get more names to put on the poster, so Depardieu probably also shines brightest as a matter of default!

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#5 Post by tojoed » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:19 pm

There is an English friendly dvd release of Blier's "Tenue de Soiree". It is under the title "Menage" from Koch Lorber, USA.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#6 Post by knives » Tue Sep 04, 2018 3:28 pm

Given the fairly mainstream vibe this has it's a little surprising that Godard slips in so often during the '80s. It's not like either film is super light by his standards either with a few from the era seeming to be more audience friendly on first blush.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#7 Post by BenoitRouilly » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:13 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:48 pm
As of the current update to the first post, the following are the only nominated films not circulating with English subs:

Le Brio (2017) / Le Fils préféré (1994) / Le Sens de la fête (2017) / Pater (2011) / Patients (2017) / Pédale douce (1996) / Petit paysan (2017) / Saint-Cyr (2000)
Of those, I can recommend strongly Alain Cavalier's Pater and Hubert Charuel's debut film Petit Paysan (or Bloody Milk in English). Hopefully they will get a release by the end of this thread.
Tough to beat The Artist in 2011, but Pater or Kaurismaki's Le Havre would have my vote (if I had seen all nominees).
Pater is makeshift mockumentary, shot on a dime, on a President of France (Alain Cavalier himself) who is looking to end his mandate on a bang by nominating a new prime minister (Vincent Lindon) in order to pass a law on high salary caps. The whole film is made of discussions between them, at home, at the president's office, almost always improvised. A great insight on French political system and landscape.
Petit Paysan is a thriller at the farm, where Pierre, young farmer who took over his parents farm (who live in the house nextdoor), and has a phobia of one kind of a "mad cow" disease that would mean the extermination of the whole herd if only one was found to be sick. A matter of zero risk prevention. And the tensed mystery unfolds from there... Few actors, beautifully shot cows, twists and turns, quite a riche debut film.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#8 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:18 pm

Thanks tojoed, I've added that release. I spent about eight long hours yesterday tracking down each of these movies in three different regions plus back channels, so it wouldn't surprise me if I missed a few somewhere along the way!

Knives, from what I've seen so far (and I started watching a lot of these piecemeal this summer, which is why I'll be just quoting some of my recent and previously posted thoughts from other threads), I think there's a surprising mix of popular audience favorites, critics favorites, and choices made to foster inclusion. This makes for a lot of intriguing potpourri bundles of titles each year, and while we shall soon see if overall this methodology is more or less valid than Hollywood voting on how it sees itself, it ensures a nice cross-section of French cinema. But it is shocking how many auteurs who are relatively well-known outside of France don't factor much into the top category-- One film from Haneke, one from Rohmer, one from Rivette, two from Godard. And yet some directors I wouldn't have pegged first as being "hometown heroes" are very well represented: Desplechin, Ozon, Assayas. And of course Resnais and Audiard look like France's answer to Spielberg and Wyler!

BenoitRouilly, thanks for those notes on some of the non-circulating films. Pater indeed looks fascinating, hopefully someone takes mercy on us-- I'm a decent reader of French, but mediocre at translating aurally, so I'm still working on being good enough to go without any subs, especially for what appears to be a dialog-heavy film. Hopefully Petit Paysan shows up for rental somewhere at least if the back channels can't lend a hand-- Amazon does have a decent selection of recent French movies with subs to rent in HD for like five bucks, and it is a recent film, so perhaps it will surface. I was surprised that Saint-Cyr had no circulating subs, official or fan-made, given its cast-- you'd think this coming out at the tail-end of everything getting released on DVD would have meant someone would have released an English-friendly version!

Also, just as a side note, I thought this kind of thread was the least-likely to win when I put it up for voting, but now I have to actually watch a lot of the movies I had no intention of seeing so I can post write-ups for all the years, just like the Oscar threads! But I had a lot of fun doing that project over the several year span it took, and hope we get some more brave souls to try this out with me. Unless I strongly remember a film, I'm going to re-watch anything I haven't seen within the last year before writing it up, so thank God I vividly recall Smoking/No Smoking!

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#9 Post by knives » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:27 pm

Resnais also seems quite the home town hero are well speaking of him. There's a few films just because of my oscar induced expectations I'm surprised aren't here such as The Intouchables. I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to do this given availability and time (the '30s list is really engrossing right now), but I figure at least I'll try to match each years nominees plus one.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#10 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:29 pm

Ha, you just missed my edit, re: Resnais! And Intouchables actually is here, it's in 2011's slate

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#11 Post by zedz » Tue Sep 04, 2018 5:37 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Mon Sep 03, 2018 10:48 pm
As of the current update to the first post, the following are the only nominated films not circulating with English subs:

Le Brio (2017) / Le Fils préféré (1994) / Le Sens de la fête (2017) / Pater (2011) / Patients (2017) / Pédale douce (1996) / Petit paysan (2017) / Saint-Cyr (2000)
My wife absolutely loved Saint Cyr and regularly asks me to try and find it on DVD, so that's depressing news - but helpful, so I can stop looking for it!

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#12 Post by knives » Tue Sep 04, 2018 6:26 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:29 pm
Ha, you just missed my edit, re: Resnais! And Intouchables actually is here, it's in 2011's slate
Ha, funny.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#13 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 06, 2018 12:22 pm

Image

2013

Jimmy P. Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian (Arnaud Desplechin)
Unusually straight-forward true story tale from Desplechin about Benecio del Toro’s Blackfoot seeking treatment for psychosomatic headaches in a veterans hospital in 1948. Mathieu Amalric arrives at the Topeka clinic and begins treating del Toro via psychoanalysis, and the film becomes a slow series of conversations between the two. While it lacks the manic energy and ambition of most of Desplechin’s films, the movie is interesting in the same way a conversation between two people can be thrilling, but I don’t think this ever became the great film it could have due to Desplechin holding back. Imagine a version of this that ran an hour longer and in Desplechin style let us follow Larry Pine’s doctor and other characters into their lives, rather than relegating them to unknown archetypes. As is, the film is enjoyable, but a minor work for the director.

L'Inconnu du lac (Alain Guiraudie)
A young man participates in foolishly dangerous behaviors at a cruising spot— yes, those, but also others involving a possible murderer. Movies like this make me want to outlaw people ascribing “Hitchcockian” to any movie where characters deceive each other, as that’s about where the comparison ends. Three of the films nominated for the top award this year explicitly deal with non-heteronormative gender roles (and a forth has plenty to say about negative heterosexual ones), but this was easily the weakest of the lot for me.

La Vénus à la fourrure (Roman Polanski)
Emmanuelle Seigner auditions for playwright Mathieu Amalric in this spirited two-hander that plays out in an approximation of real time as Seigner gradually adjusts the power dynamics of the scenario. I haven’t read the play this is based on, but I’ve read Venus in Furs, which is the basis of the play within the play, and at three levels deep of interpretation at some point it just became fun to watch the various layers play out like the Locket. I think some of the narrative usurpations are a bit much, and the sexual politics are on the nose, but it hardly matters when a sure and steady hand like Polanski has two great actors like these and all are working in congress with each other on the same wavelength.

La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2 (Abdellatif Kechiche)
Several years in the life of Adèle Exarchopoulos’ youth, mostly shown via her relationship with Léa Seydoux as her older girlfriend, are depicted in this leisurely but involving three hour study. There has been much controversy then and now with regards to the working conditions Kechiche allegedly fostered, and to be sure his petulant response to being awarded the Palme d’Or in conjunction with his stars makes him an easy target for derision even apart from these accusations. But it is undeniable that what ended up on screen is tremendously engaging and moving and proof against the current climate that argues that we should only support or watch art made by those we agree with. Folks, assholes quite often make great films, and this is one of them.

Le Passé (Asghar Farhadi)

An Iranian man comes back to Paris to finalize his divorce to a French woman so that she may marry an Arab laundromat owner whose wife is in a coma. Farhadi's followup to A Separation quickly outpaces its predecessor as a conventional domestic triangle unfurls into something deeper and more impressive as this masterful film unfolds. Though the performances are uniformly strong from Bérénice Bejo, Ali Mosaffa, and Tahar Rahim as the trio at the center of this drama, it is really Farhadi’s script that shines brightest here. This is an impressively intelligent screenplay, one that metes out information and revelations in the spirit of the best plays (I was not surprised to learn Farhadi received inspiration from Tennessee Williams) so that the film constantly provides us with deeper understandings of situations we assumed we understood, but in a way that doesn’t just feel like the author holding things back to score cheap points via twists. This is harder to do than it may seem, which is why it’s so lovely to see it done and done well here. My pick for this year is close between this and La Vie d'Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2, but I’ll give this the slight edge in voting. Ask me tomorrow and it might change. Ask me the day after that and I may change back.

Les Garçons et Guillaume, à table! (Guillaume Gallienne)
Writer/director/star Gallienne adapts his autobiographical one man play for the screen. At first, it has all the miserable attributes of endless other narcissistic one man plays, such as introducing a family member and then exaggeratedly impersonating them, &c. And the film takes this one step further and has Gallienne plays both himself and his mother in drag. However, what at the outset seems to be a rather traditional tale of growing up gay evolves into something more compelling, as Gallienne struggles with issues that are perhaps closer to body dysmorphia as he considers himself a woman and, upon being assumed to be gay because of this, tries being gay to alternately humorous and mortifying results. I admired how the film undermined traditional interpretations of Gallienne as it starts to color in the depth of his struggles. I was also quite impressed at how dynamic and filmic Gallienne’s directing is— nothing stagebound or blocky here, the movie’s action is fast-paced and inventive. As of now this is his only movie as director, but I’d like to see Gallienne helm another film in a different vein to see how he approaches it.

A side note about disastrous English-language title translations: this film was renamed Me, Myself and Mum for non-French audiences. While not an inaccurate title for this material, it removes what I found to be quite a moving and insightful meaning in the original French: Gallienne first recognizes how he differs from other boys by his mother always calling for him separate from his brothers, ie she doesn’t call all of her boys in to eat, she calls her boys and Guillaume. This is used at the beginning and end of the film to make some cogent points and shows Gallienne’s separation from those around him. Me, Myself and Mum just sounds like a Chuck Lorre sitcom pitch.

This movie was a popular hit in France and won the top Cesar prize against strong competition (I’d rank it somewhere in the middle of this slate of nominated films). I am fascinated that French audiences turned out in droves for such a complicated look at gender— for as progressive as many of us are in the states, it is impossible for me to imagine American audiences showing up in the numbers that French audiences did for a film like this. The movie also features an unexpected big name cameo from
SpoilerShow
Diane Kruger, who quite explicitly administers an enema to Gallienne,
so perhaps the raincoat brigade also accounted for some of that box office take?

Neuf mois ferme (Albert Dupontel)
An officious judge lets loose on New Year’s Eve and winds up pregnant by a man who is later accused of a horrific crime. He escapes and hides out with the judge while prodding her to prove his innocence. This is a weird comedy that, with one big exception, isn’t funny, with a script that is moronic at-best, and a lead perf by Sandrine Kiberlain that I didn’t much like, though she won Best Actress so I guess the French disagree. That said, I thought the film was marvelously filmed, and it reminded me of this year’s Game Night in being far more dynamic and visually-interesting in how it’s shot than a mainstream comedy really needs to be. I didn’t much like this movie, but I’d definitely be interested in seeing another Dupontel film. Dupontel wrote the script and stars as the criminal, but I think his instincts behind the camera serve him best.

Back to that one funny exception: this movie is mostly laugh free until the film arrives on a sequence of inspired lunacy: Dupontel works with Kiberlain to come up with alternate theories for how the crime he’s accused of could have occurred. I’ll spoiler the rest of this for those intending to see it, because the first mention of the crime itself provides the first chuckle of the movie and the outrageousness of this later sequence is due to it going sooo much further than you’d expect
SpoilerShow
An old man Dupontel robbed was also attacked, had his arms and legs sawn off, and then his eyes were eaten. Dupontel argues he wouldn’t have committed violence and would have just ran, and then cycles through explanations that are then acted out on-screen by the old man. My favorites were the old man seeing his image in the mirror and realizing that youth has passed him by, so he plucks the eyes from his head so as to no longer be reminded of this, and the one that starts with the old man taking his first piss in three months and soaking his kitchen like a firehose before the whole mess ends with a hand mixer gouging out his eyes. Really, more (or any other) mainstream comedies need more scenes of old men sawing off their own limbs on-screen and playing it for laughs. A truly bizarre and laugh out loud funny segment in an oasis of similarly inspired ideas.
I wonder if Dupontel is the French John Landis, as the film has a few director cameos, including Terry Gilliam as a cannibal, and Jean Dujardin also briefly pops up to give an inaccurate preview of the next year’s La famille Bélier. [P]

MY VOTE: Le Passé

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#14 Post by knives » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:52 pm

What is the [p] for?

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#15 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:57 pm

To identify which movie is screencapped at the top of each post

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#16 Post by BenoitRouilly » Thu Sep 06, 2018 5:40 pm

So in this case, it's Neuf Mois Ferme and not La Famille Bélier, as we could guess...
domino harvey wrote:
Tue Sep 04, 2018 4:18 pm
I spent about eight long hours yesterday tracking down each of these movies in three different regions plus back channels
This first post looks like a lot of work! Labor of love.

As for 2013, there is a three way tie between Jimmy, Adèle and Le Passé for me.
I'm a great fan of Farhadi, but Le Passé is the least of his films, not bad though.
Jimmy is a bit complicated. But La vie d'Adèle is the strongest film about humanity.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#17 Post by domino harvey » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:19 pm

Image

2014

Eastern Boys (Robin Campillo)
A middle aged man sets up a paid date with a teenager he cruises at the train station. The boy shows up along with all his friends, a gang of recent immigrants who proceed to file into the man's apartment and throw a going away party for all of his stuff. The first third of the film is taken with these plot points, and they’re the strongest part of the film by far as the scenario plays out not with dread or suspense but curiosity— why is this man not objecting more strongly? Is he in danger? Where does the film go from here? Unfortunately, I didn’t think the film’s answers to these questions were nearly as compelling as they could have been, and I really don’t buy the central relationship that forms. To some degree the film is trying to equate how the French see and interact with Chechen immigrants using this romantic relationship, but oh boy these sections just don’t work on any level. The last act turns into a thriller of sorts involving the commercial hotel where social services has housed some of the immigrants, and I became aware that the film was trying to be three different movies by this point instead of being credible on a single front. A lot of squandered potential here, especially since the set-up seemed to promise great things the film never delivered.

Hippocrate (Thomas Lilti)

Vincente Lacoste is a new medical intern at a failing French hospital who is blessed with having a father on staff, ensuring his costly mistakes get covered up. Less fortunate is Reda Kateb’s Algerian immigrant who was a practicing doctor in his home country but must lower himself with the interns in France in order to get his license. Late in the film, the unfairness of Kateb’s arrogant but qualified doctor getting punished and Lacoste’s worse mistake excused eventually boils over into the best scene of the movie in which the stress of the entire medical staff explodes in an intense confrontation with the hospital heads who continue to maintain an air of ignorance and excuses. This isn’t particularly well-made (the camera work is often annoyingly hand-held) or written, but there are moments like this that make it at least of some interest. However, I couldn’t help but think that nothing here was all that far removed from something we might see on an episode of whatever the French equivalent of House would be (although, tellingly, the American import is shown on TV several times in this film).

La famille Bélier (Éric Lartigau)

A teenager hopes to achieve admission into a prestigious French music college. With the help of her eccentric choral coach, amusingly played by Éric Elmosnino of Gainsbourg, she overcomes her family’s objections to her plan and leaves the farm to go to the big city. Pretty rote, right? One thing, though: The teen’s parents and brother are all deaf and she isn’t. Louane Emera carries this movie as Paula, the would-be singer, and it is an incredible performance, perhaps even more impressive after learning she’s not even an actress and was known to French audiences primarily for coming in as runner-up on France’s version of the Voice. She has an incredible voice, sure, but my mind boggles at any neophyte teenage actress being called upon to carry a movie in which she has to do everything twice via simultaneously signing all her lines and constantly being aware of both her body language and her physicality in relation to her family members' line of sight. If this indeed ends up being Emera’s only onscreen credit, it’s a shame for the movies at-large. That she won the César for Most Promising Actress is the biggest no-brainer award wins of anything ever.

Obviously the film is tweaking the standard-issue family dramedy, and I won’t pretend anything here is revolutionary. But a well-made crowd pleaser like this is worth applauding and advocating for. However, unlike as in the similar but far superior Le premier jour du reste de ta vie, wherein the entire family was fully-fleshed and vibrantly real, I never really felt like I got to know any of the titular family members here apart from Emera. I suspect so much time and energy was spent on making sure Emera came off well that everything else got sidelined, While the gambit paid off since she’s terrific, it would be even better for her to be but one cog in a fully-formed mechanism rather than the sole attraction.

That said, I liked the little touches the film allots in exploring the deaf angle, as when two characters have an intimate conversation at shouting distance since they can both see each others' hands, or how teen rebelliousness manifests via a willful refusal to properly translate for others (calling to mind past board debates about accurate subtitling practices). All the aspects you’d expect to be covered here surely are— no screenwriting 101 bell is left unrung. But I thought the movie did a good job balancing the cliches (Emera gets her period at an inopportune time and her mom responds by waving her blood-soaked pants in the face of the boy she likes— dear God, how can a scene this bad happen in a movie this good?) with some more enjoyable surprises and variations on the coming of age themes (Rather than meekly submit to the taunting she receives for the period incident as the put-upon victim, Emera goes up to the boy she likes and smacks the shit out of him in front of everyone for telling). As far as I can tell, this movie never even got limited distribution in America, and once more I’m at a loss. Do we have so little faith in American audiences that we can’t expect them to show up for any foreign titles unless they’re self-serious art house fare or auteur-driven critical darlings?

Les combattants (Thomas Cailley)

A young carpenter takes a shine to an amateur doomsday prepper who is planning to enlist in the army so as to learn survival skills for the apocalypse in this uneven variation on the teen romcom. There’s a lot here I liked, including the basic three act structure which provides an opportunity for the boy to follow the girl into a basic training pre-camp before arriving on a real-life survival course. But I thought either of the latter two would have been better served by a story that focused solely on developing new ideas or depth in these disparate sections. The third act fares best, and there’s some unexpected beats, including an inevitable sex scene that is nevertheless surprisingly erotic (this film struggles with consistency of tone, but it hits more than it misses by swinging in so many directions), and a big special effect sequence that is suitably eerie.

Adèle Haenel won the Cesar award for Best Actress for her work here, but I think the character as-presented is disappointingly under-realized by the screenplay. The film does not hide that for most of the movie Hanel plays a sullen, ill-tempered, and unappealingly negative character. I’d say it’s hard to understand why the protagonist falls for her, but no it’s not, she’s a fucking knockout, of course he still likes her regardless. However, a better film would have done one of two things: fleshed out the Haenel character to give her more positive traits (for most of the movie her sole act of non-shittiness is her bringing a tray full of frozen dead baby chicks to the protagonist’s house as a gift, which is a great example of how the film could have integrated more positive traits while remaining true to its vision of her as outsider) or acknowledge that the protagonist (who is boring beyond belief and has no discernible traits other than his lust for Haenel) is attracted to this character despite her surliness precisely because she is hott and then comment on this in some way that shows insight or awareness of an all too common human tendency. [P]

Saint Laurent (Bertrand Bonello)

Not to be confused with the movie Yves Saint Laurent, also released this year in France and also nominated for a ton of Cesars (indeed, that one won Best Actor), this unfortunately is the film you have to sit through if you, like me, get the strange compulsion to complete this project. Coming in at an inhuman 150 minutes, this “biopic” of the influential French fashion designer is astonishing: never have I sat through a biopic less interested in its subject than this movie. Scene after scene comes and goes without any attempt at characterization or insight, with everything presented in a flat glossiness that becomes trite and tired almost immediately. Bonello’s film has a fatal misconception with regards to fashion. Fashion is like any aesthetic-driven art form: it relies on audience connection. Good aesthetics generate a response, which is why we notice and are drawn to them. Fashion is only empty and meaningless to those who cannot examine their own immediate responses to it. This film, though, is a void. Apart from the odd moment in which Helmut Berger as YSL watches himself in the Damned on TV, there is not a single thought or idea present in this movie. You may think I’m exaggerating. Fine, go spend two and a half hours with this movie to prove me wrong.

Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas)

Actress Juliette Binoche leans heavily on her personal assistant Kristen Stewart until she L’avventuras out of the movie. Before that, the play Binoche is prepping and the real-life dynamic between the two women begins to bleed together in a far less interesting way than the previous year’s La Vénus à la fourrure. This reminded me a lot of Personal Shopper (though that film is more successful), in that it’s all very slick and well-made, but at the end I just don’t care. Nothing done well here isn’t done better somewhere else, and I thought some of the attempts at engaging and understanding youth culture were tone deaf. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to get out of Stewart almost willfully misreading the intent and motivations of every work of art she encounters, but I imagine Cahiers du Cinema would hire her! I picked this year to tackle early on because it was one of the few years in which I had actually not seen a single nominated movie beforehand, and going in I assumed I’d like this one best. Having now seen it, I think it one of the least successful of the seven nominated films— though of course it’s still the nominee more non-French viewers have probably seen!

Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako)

A look at life in Mali during a period of Sharia law, this movie mopped up awards, including the top Cesar prize and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film, and I can understand why— it conforms to what an audience critical of the subject matter expects to see with regards to the material. The film presents a collection of vignettes showing the day-to-day life of many occupants of the titular area during extremist occupation coupled with a thin running narrative about a herdsman who kills a fisherman and the fallout that results. Timbuktu works best when it gives us freestanding peeks at the insanity of the oppressive rules and ever-changing policies, many of which have to be shouted out via bullhorn in the streets. The most memorable image of the film is of a collection of young men playing soccer without a ball. Why the oppressive forces wouldn’t have also taken the goalposts is not asked or answered… Still, the film could have used more of that, as many of the points made here and narrative elements hit are no less manipulative or predictable than those found in an audience-pleasing mainstream film like La famille Bélier. I think Timbuktu is the kind of film that flatters film critics and enlightened audiences into thinking it is elevated art house fare, but in many ways it is less creative and novel than the aforementioned La famille Bélier, even though I suspect the Venn diagram of those who enjoyed and advocated for both would not yield many returns in the middle. I by no means disliked Timbuktu, but I was afforded few opportunities by the movie to have my expectations upended with novelty.

MY VOTE: La famille Bélier

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#18 Post by tenia » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:16 am

I second Petit paysan. It's a tremendous tragic movie and a thrilling one too. I'd also add a good word on Patients, first movie from French slam singer Grand Corps Malade (and an adaptation of his autobiographic book).

I've spent 2h30 in front of St Laurent and confirms : it's nicely shot but totally empty and dispassionate.

I hated La famille Bélier, which is as bland and made-for-TV looking that French comedies can get. It's unfortunate that Damiens' role is left a bit behind, because his mayor's campaign probably is the finest part of the movie, but judging by how it's fam-fistedly handed in the end, it might actually be best this way.


As for Les garçons et Guillaume : France has something very particular with this kind of comedies. It's partly a complicated take on gender, but the jokes actually arent : "oh, look, he's getting an enema", "oh, he's ending up in a weird gay date and they joke about butt sex", "oh he's in drag playing his mom". We just love that, especially when it ends on a parisian rooftop with friends drinking wine and the guy ends up just being straight.


As a whole, I can't state how brave you are to go through these, because you'll probably end up being appalled by many of these movies (though at least, you don't have to watch the Awards ceremonies), especially the most recent years (roughly after 1998).

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#19 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:29 am

Brave or foolish or both. But as I said elsewhere when proposing this, I'm mainly interested in doing this because it creates a regular yearly sample size of French Cinema that doesn't necessarily fit into the usual categories of films on my radar and allows for new insights as an American into French Cinema at-large. I appreciate the thoughts so far from you and BenoitRouilly as (I believe) locals-- one downside of this project is that until more people participate, many of these films just don't appear to be known by our membership and so a long post can go without a response, which can be disheartening

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#20 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:16 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 10:29 am
Brave or foolish or both. But as I said elsewhere when proposing this, I'm mainly interested in doing this because it creates a regular yearly sample size of French Cinema that doesn't necessarily fit into the usual categories of films on my radar and allows for new insights as an American into French Cinema at-large. I appreciate the thoughts so far from you and BenoitRouilly as (I believe) locals-- one downside of this project is that until more people participate, many of these films just don't appear to be known by our membership and so a long post can go without a response, which can be disheartening
As a French resident whose main interests and viewing habits centre on French cinema I'd be interested in your take on Le sens de la fête because I find Jean-Pierre Bacri a wonderfully lugubrious character out of a Gallic Walter Matthau mould which elevates fare such as this rather standard comedy of errors to a higher plane. Whether it is César worthy I can't really make a case for but this and his work over the years with Agnès Jaoui has certainly sustained amusement in this household , certainly more than Emmanuel Mouret who I find superior TV soap material but nothing more. I am also with Tenia re La Famille Bélier in finding it a harmless TV spin off which naturally did gangbusters at the box office as would any such endeavour and am glad you saw a depth in it that passed me by possibly because of a deep-grained antipathy to its source material.
If I may be indulged with a little story that should be in the cinema audience experience thread by rights I give you a little insight into provincial French cinema going. At the height of the Bélier success I went with my wife and some friends to see Night Crawler at the local . We tipped up a couple of hours before the start time so we could book our seats and get a bite in the nearby restaurant beforehand. Entering the cinema foyer was like entering a morgue. Deadly quiet and abandoned . After some loud coughing and coucou-ing eventually a lady appeared wearing a bib, munching her supper and holding a glass of vin rouge. We asked if we could book tickets for 9 o'clock and she asked which film as there were two showing at that time. We said the American one 'Night crawler' which was called rather inexplicably Night Call, but anyway she said fine she' d put the tickets to one side for us as the booth was closed at present. We returned 2 hours later to find the foyer jam packed and bedlam reigning. Mostly it was young teens and a fair number of what looks like adult carers for some. Over the din I caught the eye of our Lady and she shouted something over the noise from which I only caught 'Famille' as she motioned to our little group. I grabbed the tickets thinking it a tad odd she had taken us for an extended family but filed into the Salle and arranged ourselves before the onslaught of the hordes outside. My wife is confined in a wheelchair and we weren't taken by the positions on offer for handicapped spaces being almost at the foot of the screen so we carried her up bodily into a mid-section and parked the wheelchair below, took off our winter clothes piled them up next to us and dug into the Maltesers. After what seemed like an interminable preview and ad break the place was heaving with not an empty seat to be had. The film started up and within seconds we realised that the rural French family conversing in sign-language on screen bore little relevance to the trailer we had seen for Night Crawler. Bowing and scraping apologetically along the packed aisles I made my way back to front of house and explained that we were in the wrong theatre. Instead of the expected shrug of indifference and a lips to lemon eyes to heaven reaction she sprung immediately into action and pounded on a huge Roadrunner style red button and said hurry and move out into the other Salle; I ran back inside to find the audience mesmerised staring at a frozen image on the screen which remained so during our prolonged de-camp with armfuls of clothes ,carrying my wife past the rows of people now standing to allow passage and re-assembling the wheelchair on the run. Rushing along the corridor we burst into the other cinema to find an equally confounded audience staring at a frozen image of Jake Gyllenhall. Once settled the door opened and our lady gave us a thumbs up and ran back presumably to hit the big red button again as moments later the film whirled back into action.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#21 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:14 pm

Thanks for the thoughts. I've seen three of the films Bacri wrote with Jaoui, of which I thought On connaît la chanson was the strongest. I have some issues with how Jaoui's film Le Goût des autres presents Bacri, but I guess he's as much to blame here since he co-wrote it. And I hated Smoking/No Smoking. You can find my thoughts on all three in the Musicals, Women Directors, and Theatrical Adaptations list project threads, and these will be quoted into this thread for the respective years. And there's another film they wrote that was nominated for the top Cesar prize, so I will obviously be seeing at least one more. While not bowled over by Bacri (though I did find him amusing as the bartender in one of the Michel Serrault noir throwbacks I recently watched), I could see myself enjoying him in a film that worked better for me, and hopefully I like his work in either Un air de famille or Les sentiments since they're on the docket, and ideally someone makes Le sens de la fête available with English subs soon

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#22 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:45 pm

Re Bacri - I think / hope you will like the stage-iness of Un Air de Famille in which Catherine Frot came to prominence and perhaps try the Bacri -Jaoui vehicle Let's talk bout the rain with Bacri as the hapless documentary maker dogging Jaoui's politician. I also think he saves Cherchez Hortense from the seemingly omni-present Kristin Scott Thomas who seems to be delivered by the props van in many recent French films. It's by Rivette cohort Pascal Bonitzer which may or may not swing it in terms of attraction for you. Like yourself I loathe Smoking / Non Smoking and am bewildered by Renais' attraction to Ayckbourn's material. On connait la chanson I love to bits and could watch it multiple times in particular for Dussollier on horseback crooning Alain Bashung and beats Dennis Potter at his own game .

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#23 Post by tenia » Thu Sep 13, 2018 4:27 pm

Le sens de la fête is fun and harmless, but also quite well done, but it heavily suffers from its high number of characters, many of them coming in and going away from the movie for no good reason. Macaigne's character especially, while probably the most interesting one, probably is the most useless one too, and could be totally cut from the movie to save some 20 minutes (probably) for a much tighter movie. As it is currently, clocking at 2 hours, it's just way too long.

However, having seen (without really especially wanting to) all of Toledano/Nakache movies, I recommend their first two : Je préfère qu'on reste amis (with Jean Paul Rouve and Gégé Depardiou) and Nos jours heureux (again with Rouve but also with Omar Sy and Marylou Berry - daughter of Richard Berry and Josiane Balasko). Nos jours heureux probably is my favourite one from the duo : it's fresh, fun, breezy, and just very cool. It's very light though, but it makes for a nice viewing.

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#24 Post by domino harvey » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:39 am

For any NYC-adjacent participants and would-be participants:
domino harvey wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:32 am
Petit Paysan, which is not circulating with any English subs and came recommended by some native French viewers in our Cesar Awards thread, is screening (with subs) for free next week at Cultural Center of the Lycée Francais de New York

EDIT: And Le Brio, another non-circulating recent Cesar winner, is screening in December

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Re: The Alternate César Awards: César du meilleur film (Best Film)

#25 Post by domino harvey » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:17 pm

Image

1997

the Fifth Element (Luc Besson)
Milla Jovovich, dressed solely in Ace Bandages, is the key to saving all of humanity from some kind of sentient evil ball and Bruce Willis lends her a hand, usually gripping a gun, in this action sci-fi blockbuster. I don’t think I’ve seen this since it premiered on HBO twenty years ago, and I liked it again now on revisit about as much I remembered liking it then, which is not much. Gary Oldman and Chris Tucker cross the line in their colorful supporting roles from a lively distraction to just distracting a few times too often, though they are still preferable to Willis phoning it in and the charmless Jovovich’s inability to carry a movie like this. The action is of the PG-13 variety, with lots of bullets but no blood and no real consequences to the mayhem other than contributing more noise. Futuristic production design of the sort found here is too standard issue to praise, especially since the film is uninterested in world building, but there are some (occasionally nonsensical) details present that are mildly diverting. Whatever song plays over the end credits did a good job leaving behind the mediocrity of the rest of the film by being truly awful, so props for coming through at the end there to Besson. Besson won Best Director, and in a year when de Broca wasn’t even nominated for the clear best film (recognized by the Cesars, at least) it makes sense: when you’re already making a mistake, might as well make a big one.
domino harvey wrote:
Sun May 20, 2018 11:51 am
Le bossu (Philippe de Broca)
As someone who’s enjoyed none of de Broca’s output from the sixties, I can’t even begin to tell you how little I wanted to see a swashbuckler made well over thirty years after his prime. Imagine my surprise when I found myself entertained throughout by this enjoyable lark about an avenging swordsman seeking revenge against the villain who felled his mentor. While it remains an absolute truth that in the wake of George Sidney’s Scaramouche, there is no need for another swashbuckler, if we must, this is the best we could hope for. I loved all the cheesy extravagances, such as the entirely unlikely sequence in which the “daughter” our protagonist has raised as his own enacts a complicated fencing move against a would-be rapist solely by reciting the instructions to herself. The film even makes the creepy conceit that a girl raised as a daughter would fall in romantic love with her father seem acceptable— this isn’t in the spirit of that Decalogue episode, but it does show what a less complicated happy ending there would have felt like!
As a post-script to my original thoughts from a few months ago quoted above, I'd like to point out two things: that it's not even close how much better a film Le bossu is than all the other nominees this year; and that I've since seen Le Roi de cœur and liked it very much, so my opening lob is no longer accurate.

Marius et Jeanette (Robert Guédiguian)
It’s no coincidence that this romantic slice of life takes place in Marseilles and features a titular Marius who abandons a relationship, as even beyond these explicit references the film desperately wants to be Pagnol. It never quite gets in spitting distance, but there are some small charms here and there in its depiction of the locals. A better film would have jettisoned the protagonist and her beau all together and worked to beef up the supporting players into an Altman-esque ensemble piece. The low-key and laid back tone helps stop the film from overreaching, but of course as a result it doesn’t add up to much either. [P]
domino harvey wrote:
Fri Jul 20, 2018 12:37 am
On connaît la chanson (Alain Resnais)
Resnais’ usual suspects gather for a romantic comedy in which characters sporadically break out into song. So, a musical, but here everyone just lip-syncs to recordings of French pop songs that last anywhere from five to thirty seconds. The gag here is that the songs are not gender-matched, and indeed the first joke of the film is a flashback to a Nazi officer singing along to Josephine Baker. As a rom com, this isn’t half bad— the characters are standard-issue, but the performers are all game. As a musical, I have some larger issues, as I could never tell what the film was going for in its gimmick. Is this a commentary on how pop songs, like quotes from movies and TV shows, stay with us and provide us guidance in our real lives? Is it an ironic distancing tool to make the conventions of the musical ordinary and unadorned by making them conversational and without dance or presentational obfuscation? The title means “We know the song,” and there is a clear “Aha” factor being played with in the often unexpected choices. One problem: I’m American and have no prior exposure to nearly all of these songs, so there is an unsurpassable obstacle for me “getting” this one on the level it operated on for French audiences on first release (it was, indeed, hugely popular and was by far Resnais’ highest grossing film) by not being able to recognize the baggage many of the song choices carry. As a weird kind of Dennis Potter-esque jukebox musical variation, it’s interesting, but I feel like it’s a movie I may never be able to meet on its referential level. But it has the rare distinction of being one of the few post-Muriel Resnais films I didn’t hate, so there’s that.
Western (Manuel Poirier)
A rather improbable friendship develops between a shoe salesman and the vagabond who steals his car in this road movie that won the Grand Prix at Cannes. The film is way, way too long, and the majority of plot points are as contrived as the set-up itself. However, the film does arrive on a few enjoyable vignettes that hint at a better film: in one such scene, the diminutive loser of the pair disintegrates at a wedding reception and rails against all of the women present in a raw long take that starts to look like something out of a Dogme film; in another, a nice slice of life is presented when the hitchhiking duo meet a man at a bar who teaches them “Bonjour France,” one of those dumb everyday games real people come up with within their friend groups, and we see a couple rounds play out. These moments are blissfully free of the heavy hand that guides the rest of the movie, especially when it comes to women. This movie has a low opinion of women and reinforces every well-known male ego stroking notion of females as willing sexual objects, or worse— the scene where the loser finally beds an unbelievably beautiful woman who melts down in bed because she feels she is unworthy of someone as “cool” as the loser is a jaw-droppingly tasteless joke that fares all the worse for requiring the actress to be completely naked and on display during the entire thing. Road movies are so commonplace that an effective one needs to work twice as hard to convince the audience to even bother. This one doesn’t even manage to conjure up an ending, so you can imagine how much attention the component parts to get there received…

MY VOTE: Le bossu

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