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Two Oscar nominees took home big prizes at France's Lumiere Awards, with Isabelle Huppert winning the best actress prize for her role in Elle and My Life as a Zucchini scoring a best animated film win, as the French foreign press academy handed out prizes during a ceremony held at the Madeleine Theater in Paris.
Huppert, fresh from an overnight flight returning from Sunday's SAG Awards, thanked the academy and said she was "surprised and very touched" by the recognition. She also said director Paul Verhoeven was "extraordinary" to work with.
Verhoeven's Elle was the big winner with three trophies, including best film, best director and Huppert's actress nod. It had been nominated in four categories, tied with Albert Serra's The Death of Louis XIV, Alain Guiraudie’s Staying Vertical and Stephane Brize’s A Woman’s Life.
Verhoeven was still in Los Angeles and spoke via video message, in whcich he thanked Huppert for the "audacity" of her performance and delighted the crowd with a promise to return. "I hope to do my next movie in France," he said. "This film is a miracle," he added when he next accepted the award for best film.
Jean-Pierre Leaud won the best actor prize for his role as the titular king in The Death of Louis XIV, and the film also won in the best cinematography category.
Zucchini also won in the best screenplay category for Celine Sciamma, who won a special prize for her Girlhood from the academy in 2015.
The ceremony also paid hommage to a very pregnant Marion Cottilard, who thanked the academy and the French film community which supports independent film. "I share this with all of French cinema," she said.
Cannes Film Festival artistic director Thierry Fremaux was also honored by the academy, which he noted recognized many films that have been in competiton over the years. He went on to thank former film festival president Gilles Jacob, as well as director Bertrand Tavernier, who won in the best documentary category.
Fremaux sat with Huppert and presented the best film category.
While the awards — often referred to as the France's equivalent of the Golden Globes, though the 100-strong academy is made up of a wide swath of foreign journalists from 20 countries — were founded in 1995, they have been growing quickly both in scope and prestige in the last few years.
Divines, which was nominated for a Golden Globe in the best foreign-language category, won in the best first film category for director Houda Benyamina’s first feature, and young actresses Oulaya Amamra and Deborah Lukumuena were recognized for their "Revelation" performances.
When Benyamina took to the stage she noted that her speech would be "short, concise, and classy" to the laughter of the audience, alluding to her much-criticized Cannes speech in which she defiantly shouted about being brave and "having clitoris."
A full list of winners is follows.
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