What are the differences between the César Awards and the Academy Awards?

One of the biggest differences between the Academy Awards and the César Awards is that there's little chance that it will snow in Los Angeles on Sunday like it did in Paris last night!

Another major difference is that directors, stars and producers are cheered by adoring fans as they walk down the red carpet in their flowing gowns and tuxedos in Los Angeles. That wasn't the case in Paris, where throngs of cameramen, makeup artists and other members of SPIAC, the Union of Audiovisual and Cinema Professionals, chanted, "Extension, Convention!" and threatened to strike if their demands to receive a living wage aren't met. Amidst the cacophony of whistles, horns and shouts of "Avec nous" at the stars on the red carpet, the union members commented about the metal barriers that restricted them from having access to the people with whom they work on a daily basis. "For once," they demanded, "turn the cameras on us and listen to our demands! We only want to earn enough money to feed our families. You? You're going to have dinner at Fouquet's and the George V after the ceremony!"

Members of SPIAC on the left; stars on the right.

Before working as an extra on Three Days to Kill, I'm ashamed to admit that I would have bemusedly thought, "Ahh, the French, they're never happy, not even with their 35 hour work week." But not last night. My experiences on the set taught me that film industry professionals receive small compensation in return for long, hard days that frequently stretch into the wee hours of the morning. So, in between taking photos of the stars as they arrived, I raised my hand and chanted, "Extension, Convention!".

As only 14% of the French films made a profit this year, it's widely recognized that the industry desperately needs an overhaul. Nonetheless, French producer Vincent Maraval's editorial in Le Monde, "French Actors Are Paid Too Much!", caused quite a stir for asserting that the industry's financial woes are due to the public financing that it receives and the exorbitant salaries of a select group of French film stars, who frequently receive more money for a box office failure in France than for a box office success in America.

American film star Kevin Costner and his wife's arrival at the César Awards.

When American actor Kevin Costner, the recipient of a Life Time Achievement Award, arrived at the César Awards, the protesters adroitly switched to English. "With us, Kevin. With us!", they pleaded. In a hurry to escape the blinding snow flurries, I'm fairly sure that he didn't even hear them as he rushed towards the spotlights and photographers. He did, however, mention in his acceptance speech that making a movie is a cooperative effort and gave thanks to all the people who are a part of the process. Did any of the cameramen, makeup artists or electricians outside the Théâtre du Châtelet hear him? I don't think so because they were probably still standing in the bitter cold rather than snuggled up on a couch like I was watching the ceremony.

Academy Awards: watched by 39.3 million viewers; 2 million tweets with the hashtag #Oscar2012; recurrent theme in the 2013 nominated films is slavery; biggest budget in the best film category was 90 million euros for The Life of Pi; the nominee with the biggest box office sales is Les Misérables; the most nominated film is Lincoln.

César Awards: watched by 3.9 million viewers; 78,000 tweets with the hashtag #Cesar2012; recurrent theme in the 2013 nominated films is euthanasia; biggest budget in the best film category was 15.5 million euros for Rust and Bone; The nominee with the biggest box office sales is What's in a Name; the most nominated film is Camille Rewinds.

While I don't want to gloat, I'm pleased to have accurately predicted that Amour would win Best Film. Now I'm ready to make my predictions for the Academy Awards!

César Awards 2013

Best Picture-Amour

Director-Michael Haneke, Amour

Actress-Emmanuelle Riva, Amour

Actor-Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour

Supporting Actress-Valérie Benguigui, What’s In A Name

Supporting Actor-Guillaume de Tonquedec, What’s In A Name

Original Screenplay-Michael Haneke, Amour

Adapted Screenplay-Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain, Rust & Bone

Newcomer (Female)-Izia Higelin, Mauvaise Fille

Newcomer (Male)-Matthias Schoenaerts, Rust & Bone

Original Score-Alexandre Desplat, Rust & Bone

Sound-Antoine Deflandre, Germaine Boulay, Eric Tisserand, Cloclo

Cinematography-Romain Winding, Farewell, My Queen

Editing-Juliette Welfling, Rust & Bone

Costumes-Christian Gasc, Farewell, My Queen

Art Direction-Katia Wyszkop, Farewell, My Queen

First Film-Louise Wimmer, Cyril Mennegun

Foreign Film-Argo

Animated Film-Ernest Et Célestine, Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar, Stéphane Aubier

Documentary-Les Invisibles, Sébastien Lifshitz

Short Film-Le Cri Du Homard, Nicolas Guiot


  1. Okay, one thing about your figures for comparison: the populations of the countries are very different too. 315 million to 65 million, so let's say 5 times more in the US. Okay, the figures are still low for France, but Hollywood is in the US and Hollywood rules the film world, followed closely by Bollywood.

    And I'm not really sure that people in Hollywood make much money on film sets either. There have been protests in the past, it's just they're never put on television.

  2. I love it that you joined the "masses" in chanting "Extension, Convention!". Priceless.

    We all know the amount of people that work behind the cameras -what in the business is called "below the line"- to make a movie possible. Some are not compensated enough compared to the "above the line" talent but we also know that people most of the times are drawn to watch a movie because of the actors, and this is a business like any other, out to make a profit.

    When I was producing commercials in Hollywood back in the 80's, I started making $300 a day which back then, with 10 days of work a month was more than enough to cover my expenses. And my Exec Producer was making $600/day. Not bad even by today's standards, no?

    As in many other fields, there are many inequalities in showbiz.

    Such is life!

  3. It's a shame that so many people behind the camera have a hard time making a decent living wage. I hope they get a resolution.

    And now, for my Oscar predictions:

    Best Pic- Argo
    Best Director- Steven Spielberg
    Best Actor- Daniel Day Lewis
    Best Actress- Jennifer Lawrence
    Best Supporting Actor- Tommy Lee Jones
    Best Supporting Actress- Anne Hathaway
    Best Original Screenplay- Amour
    Best Adapted Screenplay- Argo
    Best Foreign Film- Amour
    Best Song- Skyfall
    Best Score- Lincoln
    Best Costume: Anna Karenina
    Best Cinematography- Life of Pi
    Best Visual Effects- Life of Pi
    Best Animated Film- uhhh, Wreck It, Ralph. Maybe.

    I'll find out if I'm right in a few of hours!


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