'The Artist' Named Best Film at France's Lumiere Awards

"The Artist"
"The Artist"
 Courtesy of the Weinstein Co.

PARIS -- The Artist wasn’t starving for attention at the 17th annual Lumiere Awards when Michel Hazanavicius’ crowd-pleaser was named best film of the year at the ceremony on Friday night in Paris.

The Artist was crowned victorious in a tough race against Bertrand Bonello’s House of Tolerance, Pierre Schoeller’s The Minister, Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre and Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s Untouchable.

The film’s star Berenice Bejo was named best actress for her role in the black and white silent comedy that has been sweeping through awards season stateside. The Weinstein Company release won the Critics Choice award for Best Picture on Thursday night in Hollywood.

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Omar Sy was named best actor for his role as a caretaker in Untouchable, the record-breaking box office hit that is now in the top three most popular films in French history since 1945, following only Titanic and Welcome to the Sticks.

Maiwenn Le Besco was named best director for her ensemble drama Poliss about life in the juvenile unit of the Paris police force. The film won the jury prize at this year’s Festival de Cannes and was an audience favorite at the box office in its home country last year.

Robert Guediguian’s The Snows of Kilimandjaro won the Best Screenplay prize.

Alice Barnole, Adele Haenel and Celine Sallette shared the most promising actress prize for their roles as prostitutes in Bertrand Bonello’s The House of Tolerance. Denis Menochet was named most promising actor for his starring role in actress-turned-director Melanie Laurent’s Les Adoptes.

Denis Villeneuve’s Oscar-nominated Canadian production Incendies won the award for the best Francophone film outside of France.

The Lumiere Awards are France’s equivalent to the Golden Globes voted upon by foreign press correspondents in the territory. The Lumiere Awards kick off the prize season in Gaul and are usually a sign of what is to be expected at February’s prestigious Cesar awards ceremony. 

French actress Catherine Jacob presided over the ceremony that took place at Paris' City Hall the Hotel de Ville with Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe on hand for the festivities. Director, producer and screenwriter Francis Veber was honored with an homage to his long career both in France and abroad. Organizers also gave a “Very Honorable Mention” to the dog in The Artist.

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