CANNES CATFIGHT, PART DEUX

So: just as I told you in the last day or so, the presentation of the final awards at Cannes on Sunday night was a scandal, as the French would say.

Head juror Isabelle Huppert did refuse to allow popular star Isabelle Adjani on the stage with her. Adjani gave an early award, the Camera d’or, by herself, and before Huppert appeared. Then she left. Adjani did not attend the dinner after the show, but headed home in a private plane.

Willem Dafoe, the star of the festival’s most hated film, “Antichrist,” substituted for Adjani. And just to be difficult, the jury awarded Charlotte Gainsbourg for Best Actress honors for “Antichrist.” The audience at the closing ceremony was pretty shocked. Trust me, this is one award that won’t translate into any others when the film is released in the U.S.

The rest of the closing-night ceremony was fairly dull. Veteran director Alain Resnais tottered forward to get his special prize. He’s going to be 87 next week. His film this year, “Wild Grass,” was not well received. His greatest film, really, was in 1959: “Hiroshima, Mon Amour.” That’s what he should be remembered for.

Otherwise, the closing was notable for no attendance by Quentin Tarantino. He was up at the Hotel du Cap. But when he learned he didn’t win, he skipped the show. This was not the case for Terry Gilliam, who presented an award even though he knew he hadn’t won for “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” He was very funny, too, as he mockingly accepted the award first before the emcee (it was scripted) came over and advised him otherwise.

The emcee, whose name I do not know, was the same guy from the opening night ceremony. You have no idea what he’s saying because the whole thing is in French. The Festival refuses to translate or have a dual-language ceremony, so many in the audience just sit there with a glazed look until something obvious happens.

The big loser last night was the Coco Chanel movie, which was having its debut after the ceremony. Most people left before that screening. You had to feel bad for that director, Jan Kounen. It’s like his movie was an afterthought.

CANNES OVERNIGHT OSCAR-READY STAR IS 53

Christoph Waltz won Best Actor last night at the Cannes Film Festival for Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.” He told the crowd he thanked Tarantino for giving him back his vocation.

christoph 233x300 CANNES CATFIGHT, PT. DEUX; CANNES STAR HEADS FOR OSCARWaltz is no spring chicken. He will be 53 years old this fall. He has three children including a grown daughter who lives in New York.

He himself lived in New York about 30 years ago when he was a starving actor trying to make a go of it in the Big Apple. He tried his luck with classes at Lee Strasberg. He had no success.

Waltz, who is Austrian by birth but lives in London now, told me the other night that he first lived on the Upper West Side, then in Hell’s Kitchen.

Did he get any work at all?

“Nothing,” he says, shaking his head. He can laugh about it now. But it was not a happy time. He returned to Europe, where he’s worked steadily in German TV.

Waltz is going to be nominated for, and possibly win, the Oscar next March for Best Supporting Actor. His portrayal of Col. Hans Landa, the Nazi officer who snakes his way through “Basterds,” is just amazing. Don’t worry, there’s no sympathy for his character, a gleeful Nazi who’s known as the “Jew Hunter.” The audience knows he is crazy. But Waltz plays him deliciously. We are always waiting for him to return.

Now, his life — I’ll say it just this once–is going from a Waltz to a foxtrot. And several faster dances. Because he’s matinee-idol good looking, and younger looking than his age, Waltz will not have to play any more Nazis. The selection of roles should be varied.

You will hear this over and over again: Tarantino cast him last, because he couldn’t find an actor fluent in English, French, and German to play this role. He almost couldn’t make the movie. For a week, all the production did was see actors for Col. Landa. When they saw Waltz, they knew instantly they had their man. Now they also have a Best Actor.

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