Dany Boon, the director, writer and star of comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Sticks), has announced that he will this year boycott the Cesars, the French Oscars, after his film, now the largest grossing film in the domestic market, was only nominated for one award. It has to be noted that this is a massively successful film, selling 20m tickets and attracting enough attention to warrant a remake from Will Smith.
Boon’s move has been disputed somewhat by both Luc Besson and French acting legend Alain Delon, but the awards itself has tried to placate Boon by saying that his suggestions that a best comedy category should be created will be considered for the awards next year.
Boon’s criticism brings up again the spectre of award-worthiness, something which dominated Oscar talk this year after the snub given to The Dark Knight for both picture and director. This will probably remain the case until the cows come home but I don’t think you will speak to too many people who would argue that awards ceremonies often fail to recognise the achievement of more ‘commercial’ movies, opting instead to choose those films which engage with more lofty socio-political issues. I also don’t think you would find too many folks who wouldn’t argue that Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and The Reader could/should have been replaced by The Wrestler, Wall-E and The Dark Knight.
This case in France will likely have no impact on the Oscars, but the debate deserves to be elevated further, even if, as Besson and Delon suggested, Boon’s film was not actually worthy of such prizes.