Cesars keep it very real


A legendary bandit will battle it out with a forgotten painter at next month's Cesar Awards as Jean-Francois Richet's "Mesrine" (aka "Public Enemy No. 1") and Martin Provost's "Seraphine" compete for France's top film prize.

The two biopics, which led Friday's list of nominees, will compete for French film of the year alongside Remi Bezancon's "The First Day of the Rest of Your Life," Arnaud Desplechin's "A Christmas Tale," Cedric Klapisch's "Paris" and Laurent Cantet's foreign-language Oscar contender "The Class."

Desplechin, Richet, Provost, Cantet and Bezancon also will compete for the crown of best director.

"Mesrine," a two-part pic starring Vincent Cassel as France's infamous 1970s criminal, scored 10 noms. "Seraphine" followed with nine, ahead of "The First Day" and "Christmas Tale," with eight noms each.

Philippe Claudel's "I've Loved You So Long" held its own with five mentions, including best actress and supporting actress noms for Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zyberstein, respectively.

Thomas will compete against Tilda Swinton ("Julia"), Catherine Frot ("Le Crime est Notre Affaire"), Yolande Moreau ("Seraphine") and Sylvie Testud ("Sagan") in the best actress category.

Actor Antoine de Caunes will host the 34th annual Cesar Awards ceremony Feb. 27 at Paris' Theatre du Chatelet, with actress Charlotte Gainsbourg serving as the event's honorary president. The ceremony will air live on Canal Plus. (partialdiff)