Existing Cannes Festival rules preclude the possibility of one film winning multiple awards. Hence, Amour won only one single award at Cannes 2012, the Palme D'or, in spite of the jury deeming it worthy of other awards as well. Jury President Nanni Moretti later told director Michael Haneke that had it only been up to him, he would have awarded the film not just the Palme D'or, but Best Actor for Jean-Louis Trintignant, Best Actress for Emmanuelle Riva and Best Director and Best Screenplay to Michael Haneke. Ironically, Michael Haneke himself was responsible for getting the rules changes allowing one film to win only one major award when in 2001, his film The Piano Teacher (2001) won 3 major awards at the Cannes Film Festival of that year - the Grand Jury Prize, Best Actress and Best Actor.
Emmanuelle Riva auditioned along with many other older French actresses for the role of Anne. The scene used during the audition was the first breakfast scene when Anne has her first attack. Michael Haneke said that he found Riva most realistic and moving during that scene and cast her in the film.
The film was previously titled "These Two" and then "The Music Stops" before one day at lunch, the film's star Jean-Louis Trintignant suggested to director Michael Haneke that since the subject of the film was love, why not call it Amour (French for Love). Michael Haneke thought that the title made sense and worked beautifully so the film was then named Amour.
The film was shot digitally at the insistence of Director of Photography Darius Khondji but Michael Haneke hated the look and said he spent a year in post production trying to correct the look and getting the film to look exactly as he wanted.
Emmanuelle Riva was very uncomfortable about her nude scene in the film, but finally agreed to do it because she thought it was extremely important for the story and that she would do it as Anne, the character she was playing, and not as herself.
Anne's former piano student Alexandre is played by actual concert pianist Alexandre Tharaud in his first acting job. Michael Haneke wanted a real pianist for the role. Tharaud also contributed to the film's soundtrack. Eva's husband Geoff is played by professional opera singer William Shimell (who, like his character, is British). Actress Isabelle Huppert, who plays the daughter Eva, also plays piano.
Michael Haneke said that with this film and its story and setting, he wanted to achieve the three classical unities of space, time and action. The movie thus has an extremely tightly constructed elliptical structure and the entire story takes place within a single house over a limited period of time.
At the Cannes Film Festival in 2012 where the movie premiered, Nanni Moretti was the Jury President. The film's producers were worried about the chances of Amour at winning the Palme D'Or because in 1997, when Michael Haneke had competed for the Palme D'Or with his controversial Funny Games (1997), Nanni Moretti was a jury member and had strongly disliked the film going so far as to say that if Michael Haneke won a single prize, he would walk off the jury. The producers fears were laid to rest when Michael Haneke indeed won the Palme D'or for Amour.
With the announcement of the 2012 Academy Award (Oscar) nominations on January 10, 2013, Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest person ever nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (at age 84). She broke the record of the previous oldest-ever Best Actress nominee (and winner), Jessica Tandy, who was nominated for Driving Miss Daisy (1989) at age 80. The same day that Riva became the oldest-ever Best Actress nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis (age 9) became the youngest-ever Best Actress nominee for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012).
For the first time in the history of BAFTA, two french-language performances were nominated for the Best Actress category: Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone (2012) and Emmanuelle Riva for "Amour". The award went to Riva.
Jean-Louis Trintignant, who had unofficially retired from film acting to focus on stage work, agreed to play the male lead (a role that was written specifically for him) because of his admiration for Michael Haneke.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The scene where Georges smothers Anne was difficult for both actors. Jean-Louis Trintignant had broken his hand during physical therapy, and Emmanuelle Riva was terrified of actually being smothered. A trick mattress was used that lowered Riva's head and allowed her breathing room. Michael Haneke first performed the scene himself to show Riva that it was safe.