Unheard of in the history of Caesar. Since their creation in 1976, we had become accustomed to always seeing at least one American film present in the category of Best Foreign Film. For the first time, in 2023, this will not be the case. This Wednesday, January 25, the Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques unveiled its list of nominations for the 48th Cesar ceremony which will take place on February 25 in the mythical hall of the Olympia.
Whereas The Innocent by Louis Garrel topped the nominations with nearly 11 citations, the César category for best foreign film has decided to highlight five European films: As Bestas by Spaniard Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Close Belgian Lukas Dhont, The Cairo Conspiracy and Without filter Sweden’s Tarik Saleh and Ruben Östlund as well as EO Polish veteran Jerzy Skolimowski.
Until then, American cinema had received 104 nominations in this category. In some years, notably in 1992, 2000 and 2002, up to four films produced in the United States were able to appear in the selection of nominated films, attesting to a form of cultural hegemony. 15 American feature films have already won this famous statuette. Among them, Amadeus by Milos Forman Gran Torino by Clint Eastwood, birdman by Alejandro González Iñárritu or The Social Network by David Fincher, who this year will receive an honorary Cesar from the hands of the ceremonial president Tahar Rahim.
A triumph for the Cannes Film Festival
What does the absence of American films at the Césars in 2023 tell us? If Hollywood cinema is still popular in France (12 million admissions for Avatar: The Waterway and 6.7 million for Top Gun: Maverick), European productions are also in very good shape — and especially those from the Cannes film festival.
Without Filter by Ruben Östlund not only pocketed the Palme d’or last year but also brought together nearly 556,000 spectators in dark rooms. Left the Croisette with the Grand Prix, Close by Lukas Dhont seduced 200,000 moviegoers. Winner of the Screenplay Prize, The Cairo Conspiracy recently crossed the half-million admissions mark with a re-release during the Télérama Festival. The formidable EO by Jerzy Skolimowski, winner of the Jury Prize, attracted nearly 130,000 onlookers. Also presented at the Cannes Film Festival and carried by a dithyrambic critic, As Bestas with Denis Menochet and Marina Foïs has accumulated just over 320,000 admissions.
The Cannes Film Festival has always been very well represented in the César category for Best Foreign Film. Over the past 10 years, 6 films from the Cannes selection have won this award — the latest being Drunk by Thomas Vinterberg in 2021, also winner of the Oscar for best foreign film. Before him, Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho had had an extraordinary destiny by rising to the Oscar for best film in 2020. 2023 seems to mean that “the most famous festival in the world” still has a considerable aura within the ceremonies of awards. At a time of the omnipotence of streaming platforms and American studios, we want to say to ourselves that this is good news.