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PARIS – Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men was immortalized on Friday night with the award for best film of the year at the 36th annual Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris.
The film’s star Michael Lonsdale was named best supporting actor. Gods was omnipresent with nominations in 11 categories and also took home a prize for best cinematography.
“Thank you infinitely,” Beauvois said.
The ceremony’s president Jodie Foster presented the prize to Beauvois.
“I don’t entirely understand what ‘president’ means. I know I go on stage at the beginning and at the end of the ceremony,” Foster said in an interview, adding: “I’d never been to the Cesar awards before tonight. As a kid, I watched the ceremony from my apartment in France, and, as a director, French movies have always been a big part of my life so I’m thrilled to be here.”
The red carpet sparkled with star power as Foster joined Quentin Tarantino, Roman Polanski, Nathalie Baye, Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart, Jean Rochefort and other A-list Gallic talent starred in France’s increasingly glamorous yet traditionally intimate version of the Oscars.
Foster is currently shooting Polanski’s God of Carnage in Paris.
Polanski himself came out of the shadows to collect his award for best director for The Ghost Writer.
“I’m not used to making speeches,” Polanski said before thanking first his wife and children then his production and artistic team, ending with a simple “merci, merci, merci.”
Polanski and Robert Harris took home the prize for adapted screenplay for the film marking the first award for Polanski in the category.
Alexandre Desplat took home the award for best original score for and The Ghost Writer also earned a prize for editing.
“I regret that Robert Harris isn’t here tonight, he deserved this, but I promise he’ll have it tomorrow,” Polanski said of his co-writer. He awarded the prize for first film to Joann Sfar’s Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life.
The film’s star Eric Elmosnino was named best actor for his role in the biopic. Gainsbourg also earned an award for sound.
The film was co-produced by UPI whose other recent French co-production Heartbreaker was nominated for five awards.
Sara Forestier was crowned best actress for her starring role in Michel Leclerc’s comedy The Names of Love. The award for original Screenplay went to Leclerc and his co-screenwriter Baya Kasmi for that film.
Inglourious Basterds stars Diane Kruger and Christoph Waltz presented an honorary Cesar to Tarantino.
Host Antoine de Caunes went for laughs with a play on words for the French word for seal, “phoque.”
“Dear Quentin, I want to thank you for your wonderful movies filled with sexy girls and rude language,” De Caunes began, then added: “I give you a big f–ing phoque,” before a seal walked onto center stage.
He finished the skit with: “Don’t worry, the phoque will be delivered to your room tonight after the party.”
Edgar Ramirez was named most promising male newcomer for his breakout role in Olivier Assayas’ Carlos.
The prize for supporting actress went to Anne Alvaro for her role in Bertrand Blier’s Le Bruit des glacons.
Jacques Perrin’s Oceans was named documentary of the year.
Bertrand Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier won the award for costumes.
The Cesar Academy checked “like” on their ballots as the foreign film prize went to David Fincher’s The Social Network.
Leila Bekhti was named most promising female newcomer for her role in Geraldine Nakache’s All that Glitters.
This year’s inaugural prize for animated film went to Sylvain Chomet for “The Illusionist.”
Luc Besson’s The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec earned a set design award.
The star-spangled ceremony was overflowing with Americans as Foster and Tarantino were joined by presenters the Burlesque dancers from Mathieu Amalric’s “On Tour” which was nominated for seven awards.
This year, 3,812 members of the 4,179-member Academy voted for the awards.
The Cesar Awards were broadcast live and unencrypted on pay TV powerhouse Canal Plus. The ceremony was followed by the traditional post-awards dinner at legendary Paris restaurant Fouquet’s then La Party soirée to fete the winners at l’Arc Paris all night long.
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