Before Monday’s 39th annual Chaplin Award Gala hosted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center got underway, rumors were swirling over pre-cocktail hour that the French icon and honoree Catherine Deneuve didn’t want to sit through an endless stream of talky tributes. If so, the lady sure got her wish.
The night mostly consisted of scenes from some of her best work (she has over 100 films to her name), peppered by some brief speeches from a small pool of five speakers, two of whom (James Grey and Martin Scorsese) had never even worked with Deneuve (Grey — the filmmaker behind “We Are the Night” and “Two Lovers” is supposedly really big in France, and Scorsese, well he’s Scorsese).
Deneuve’s short and to-the-point acceptance speech was charming and sincere, but the juiciest quips of the night came from those that paid tribute to her. Below, find the best five quotes from the night:
James Grey: “It’s only difficult to be funny about Catherine Deneuve because there is an overwhelming force to her face which, if the light hits correctly in the right place, can look sort of pretty from time to time. Much has been made of her physical appearance, but in truth beauty in cinema is really not skin deep. The camera is ruthless and instantly exposes both the shallow and the callow. But it also embraces the thinkers. Catherine Deneuve is always thinking.”
Susan Sarandon (Acted alongside Deneuve in “The Hunger”): “I think I’m probably the only presenter who has actually slept with Catherine Deneuve. I must say that when we were doing “The Hunger” — this was before I had children — I hosted quite a few magnificent parties. The icon was the only one who showed up the next day to help me clean up.”
Francois Ozon (Directed Deneuve in “8 Women” and “Potiche”): “Your secret is that keep your secret. That is why we want to continue to film you. You’re always there and at the same time somewhere else. Catch me if you can.”
Martin Scorsese: “Catherine Deneuve is French cinema. They are inseparable, and one and the same.”
Chira Mastroianni (Deneuve’s daugher): “I ask you tonight, in front of all these nice people, please stop singing because we’re not as fearless as you are.”