'Seraphine' shines at France's Cesars

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Martin Provost's "Seraphine" brushed through a colorful 34th annual Cesar Awards, taking the prize for best film.

The film took home seven awards Friday night, including best actress for star Yolande Moreau and wins for original screenplay, costumes, sound, photography and decor.

"Milk" Oscar winner Sean Penn and Dustin Hoffman added Hollywood star power to the ceremony at the Chatelet theater in Paris. The evening was presided over by actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and hosted by TV personality/actor/ director Antoine de Caunes.

De Caunes followed Hugh Jackman's Oscars sing-along with his own opening musical number, complete with an onstage shower as he sang "Singin' in the Rain."

More predictable than De Caunes' onstage antics was the best actor prize given to Vincent Cassel for his role in "Public Enemy Number One," Jean-Francois Richet's eponymous "Mesrine" film. Richet was named best director for the two-part biopic about the French criminal.

Elsa Zylberstein took the best supporting actress prize for "I've Loved You So Long." Philippe Claudel's Kristin Scott Thomas starrer also won the best first film award. An absent Jean-Paul Roussillon took the supporting actor nod for Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale."

Ari Folman's animated documentary "Waltz With Bashir" was named best foreign film.

The celebratory evening was bittersweet as the Academy honored recently deceased Cesars founder Georges Cravenne and producers Claude Berri and Christian Fechner with tributes. The night opened with a special dedication to Cravenne.

The running joke of the night was continuing the tradition of thanking Berri despite the ubiquitous producer's notable absence. "Welcome to the Sticks" director and star Dany Boon made a surprise appearance in pajama pants and a tuxedo jacket after publicly expressing plans to boycott the awards when "Sticks" was snubbed in almost every category.

Emma Thompson presented Hoffman with his honorary Cesar award — in French, no less. The ceremony was broadcast live on pay TV network Canal Plus and followed by a gala dinner at Fouquet's restaurant and afterparty along the Champs-Elysees. (partialdiff)
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