‘Les Misérables’, ‘An Officer And A Spy’ take top awards at France’s Lumières

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Ladj Ly’s Oscar hopeful Les Misérables was the big winner at France’s Lumiere awards in Paris on Monday evening (January 27), winning best film for the explosive drama revolving around a stand-off between youngsters and police officers on a tough Paris housing estate.

The French cinema awards – overseen by the Lumière Academy comprising some 130 international correspondents hailing from 40 countries based in France – are regarded as the country’s equivalent of the Golden Globes.

Ly also won the best screenplay prize for Les Misérables, sharing the prize with co-writers Giordano Gederlini and Alexis Manenti. The latter also won best emerging actor for his performance as one of the police officers. 

The feature, which was feted with the Cannes jury prize last year, is nominated in the Academy Awards’ best international feature film category this year, alongside Parasite, Corpus Christi, Honeyland and Pain And Glory.

It was also awarded the best  European film prize at the Spanish Goyas over the weekend.

Roman Polanski won best director for drama An Officer And A Spy , starring Louis Garrel as French army officer Alfred Dreyfus, whose false conviction as a spy divided France in the late 19th century, opposite Jean Dujardin as a high-ranking military official who fought the conviction. 

The French release of the film, which won the grand jury prize at the Venice Film Festival last September, was rocked by fresh rape allegations against the Polanski last November but this does not appear to have dented its box office performance or the film’s standing in France.

Celine Sciamma’s costume drama Portrait Of A Lady On Fire won two prizes. Noémie Merlant won best actress for her performance as a portrait artist who falls passionately in love with the young woman she has been commissioned to paint.

Director of photography Claire Mathon also won best cinematography on the picture. Mathon, whose other recent credits include Atlantics, has already been feted by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the National Society of Film Critics and the New York Film Critics Circle for her work on Sciamma’s feature.

Roschdy Zem won best actor for his performance in Arnaud Desplechin’s Oh Mercy! as a police captain investigating a murder case involving two marginalised women.

In other awards, best emerging actress went to Nina Meurisse for her performance in Boris Lojkine’s bio-pic Camille about real-life photojournalist Camille Lepage who was killed while covering the conflict in the Central African Republic in 2014.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s drama The Mustang – starring Matthias Schoenaerts as a prisoner involved in a special rehabilitation programme involving taming wild horse – won best first film.

Palestinian director Elia Suleiman won best international co-production for It Must Be Heaven and best animation went to Jérémy Clapin’s I Lost My Body which is also Oscar-nominated in the best animated feature film category. Best documentary went to Yolande Zauberman’s M exploring sexual abuse in the ultra-orthodox community.

Alexandre Desplat won best music for this score for Costa-Gavras’ Adults In The Room, an adaptation of Yanis Varoufakis’s account of the 2015 Greek debt crisis.

Costa-Gavras was also awarded with a special honorary Lumière award celebrating his career and contribution to French cinema as was Italian director Roberto Benigni, who previously won a Lumière for best foreign film for Life Is Beautiful at the fourth edition of the awards in 1999. 

  • Ladj Ly and the ‘Les Misérables’ team on weaving hot weather and a World Cup win into France’s Oscar entry

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