‘Of Gods and Men’ Leads France’s Cesar Nominations With 11

Marie-Julie Maille / Why Not Productions

Roman Polanski’s 'The Ghost Writer' in joint second place with eight noms.


PARIS -- Trappist monks in Algeria, a French singer, an English writer, American burlesque dancers, and Quentin Tarantino will all share the spotlight at the 36th annual Cesar Awards on Feb 25th, France’s Academy of Technical Arts and Sciences announced at a press conference in Paris on Friday morning.

After a record year at the box office with 206.5 million tickets sold, the French film biz honored its own with nominations in 21 categories.

This year, 3,812 members of the 4,179-member Academy voted for the awards. 2011’s Cesar awards will have a distinctly American flavor with Jodie Foster chosen to preside over the ceremony and Quentin Tarantino expected to attend to accept an honorary Cesar award.

Xavier BeauvoisOf Gods and Men was omnipresent with nominations in 11 categories including best film of the year, best director for Xavier Beauvois, best actor for Lambert Wilson, best supporting actor for Michael Lonsdale and Olivier Rabourdin, best screenplay, sound, cinematography, costumes and set design. The story of Trappist monks stationed in Algeria threatened by fundamentalist terrorists was produced by Why Not Productions’ Pascal Caucheteux and Gregoire Sorlat. The film has been a hit at the French box office with more than 3 million tickets sold and Sony Pictures Classics will release it Feb 25th stateside, the same day of the Cesar Awards ceremony.

It’s no secret – French Academy voters were crazy about Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. The English-language film snagged eight nominations including best film of the year, best director for Polanski, best adapted screenplay, best music by Alexandre Desplat, best sound, best cinematography, best editing and best set design.

Johann Sfar’s biopic Gainsbourg about the famed French singer was also nominated in eight categories including best film, best first film, best sound, best editing, best cinematography, best set design, plus a best actor nod for star, and Gainsbourg lookalike, Eric Elmosnino and a best supporting actress nomination for Laetitia Casta who plays Brigitte Bardot in the film.

Bertrand Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier got the royal treatment from the Academy with seven nominations, and Mathieu Amalric’s On Tour made the trip from the Festival de Cannes to the Cesar Awards with an impressive seven nominations as well. The film about American burlesque dancers in France earned Amalric best director and best film nominations, plus best original screenplay, sound, cinematography, editing and costumes.

Comedy was popular among voters this year with Romain Duris-Vanessa Paradis romantic comedy Heartbreaker and Michel Leclerc’s The Names of Love laughing their way through the competition with nominations in the best film category, plus five nominations for Heartbreaker and four for Names.

Heartbreaker has managed to translate its romcom success across the Atlantic with the film selling 3.6 million tickets in France and a U.S. remake already in the works in Hollywood. The film’s leading man Romain Duris was nominated for best actor. Duris also starred this year in Eric Lartigau’s adaptation of Douglas Kennedy’s novel The Big Picture, which earned nominations for best adapted screenplay and a supporting actor nomination for Niels Arestrup.

Herve Mimran and Geraldine Nakache’s All that Glitters was also a popular comic choice with a nomination for best first film and best female newcomer nominations for stars Leila Bekhti and Audrey Lamy.

Four out of the five actress nominated in the best actress category were nominated for comedic roles.

Kristin Scott Thomas unlocked a nod for her role in Gilles Paquet-Brenner’s Sarah’s Key, the adaptation of Tatiana de Rosnay’s best-selling novel. She’ll compete against Isabelle Carre (Les Emotifs Anonymes), Charlotte Gainsbourg (The Tree), Sara Forestier (The Names of Love) and Catherine Deneuve (Potiche).

Terrorism wasn’t as popular as expected with Olivier AssayasCarlos notably absent from the best film list, but the film managed to score noms for the film’s breakout star Edgar Ramirez, director Olivier Assayas and editing.

Gustave Kerven and Benoit Delepine’s Mammuth also made it to the best film category in addition to nods for best original screenplay and a best actor award for Cesar veteran, legendary actor Gerard Depardieu.

Surprisingly absent from the nominees list was Guillaume Canet’s ensemble drama Little White Lies, a box office hit in Gaul with more than 5.3 million tickets sold making it the top French title of the year among the French public, but not among Academy voters.

“If the films nominated for Cesar awards were simply a list of the films at top of the box office, there would be nothing to talk about,” Academy president Alain Terzian pointed out in an interview.

New to the competition this year is the best animated film category where Luc Besson’s Arthur 3: The War of the Two Worlds, Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist, Jean-Loup Felicioli’s Une Vie de Chat, H5’s Logorama and Jean-Christophe Lie’s L’Homme a la Gordini will vie for the first ever prize.

The French Academy liked David Fincher’s The Social Network which will compete in the best foreign film category alongside Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Olivier Masset-Depasse’s Belgian immigration drama Illegal, Jane Campion’s Bright StarXavier Dolan’s Quebecois dramedy Heartbeats and Juan Jose Campanella’s The Secret in their Eyes

“I’m fascinated by the diversity of French cinema. There’s an incredible eclecticism,” Terzian said. He added: “Awards are always unjust -- they’re never what we expect, but that’s what the founding fathers of the Cesar awards wanted.”The 36th annual Cesar Awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 25th at Paris’ Chatelet Theater, hosted by Antoine de Caunes for the seventh time. 

Will De Caunes provide Ricky Gervais-style acerbic humor? “I could never do that in France, I’d be killed. I wish I could,” the host said in an interview.

He added: “We’re in a country where the cinema is considered to be a 7th art before its considered entertainment. My work is to bring lightness to the evening, but with a French sensibility.” The ceremony will be broadcast live and unencrypted on pay TV network Canal Plus.

Cesar nominations in full:


Best Film
Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur), dir: Pascal Chaumeil
Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieu), dir: Xavier Beauvois
Gainsbourg (Vie Heroique), dir: Joann Sfar
Mammuth, dir: Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern
Le Nom Des Gens, dir: Michel Leclerc
The Ghost Writer, dir : Roman Polanski
On Tour, dir: Mathieu Almaric

Best Foreign Film
Les Amours Imaginaires, dir: Xavier Dolan
Bright Star, dir: Jane Campion
The Secret In Their Eyes, dir: Juan Jose Campanella
Illegal, dir: Olivier Masset-Depasse
Inception, dir: Christopher Nolan
Invictus, dir: Clint Eastwood
The Social Network, dir: David Fincher


Best First Film
Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur), dir: Pascal Chaumeil
Gainsbourg (Vie Heroique), dir: Joann Sfar
Simon Werner A Disparu, dir: Fabrice Gobert
Tete De Turc, dir: Pascal Elbe
Tout Ce Qui Brille, dir: Geraldine Nakache


Best Documentary
Benda Bilili!, dir: Florent de la Tullaye, Renaud Barret
Cleveland Contre Wall Street, dir: Jean-Stephane Bron
Entre Nos Mains, dir: Mariana Otero
Oceans, dir : Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud
Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Berge, L'Amour Fou, dir: Pierre Thoretton


Best Animated Film
Arthur 3 Et La Guerre Des Deux Mondes, dir: Luc Besson
L'Homme A La Gordini, dir : Jean-Christophe Lie
L'Illusioniste, dir : Sylvain Chomet
Logorama, dir : H5
Une Vie De Chat, dir : Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol


Best Actor
Gerard Depardieu, Mammuth
Romain Duris, Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur)
Eric Elmosnino, Gainsbourg
Jacques Gamblin, Le Nom Des Gens
Lambert Wilson, Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieux)


Best Actress
Isabelle Carre, Les Emotifs Anonymes
Catherine Deneuve, Potiche
Sara Forestier, Le Nom Des Gens
Charlotte Gainsbourg, L'Arbre
Kristin Scott Thomas, Sarah's Key


Best Supporting Actor
Niels Arestrup, L'Homme Qui Voulait Vivre Sa Vie
Francois Damiens, Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur)
Gilles Lellouche, Les Petits Mouchoirs
Michael Lonsdale, Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieux)
Olivier Rabourdin, Of Gods and Men (Des Hommes Et Des Dieux)


Best Supporting Actress
Anne Alvaro, Le Bruit Des Glacons
Valerie Bonneton, Les Petits Mouchoirs
Julie Ferrier, Heartbreaker (L'Arnacoeur)
Karin Viard, Potiche


Best Director
Mathieu Amalric, On Tour
Olivier Assayas, Carlos
Xavier Beauvois, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Bertrand Blier, Le Bruit Des Glacons
Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer


Best Newcomer (Female)
Leila Bekhti, Tout Ce Qui Brille
Anais Demoustier, D'Amour Et D'Eau Fraiche
Audrey Lamy, Tout Ce Qui Brille
Lea Seydoux, Belle Epine
Yahima Torres, Venus Noire


Best Newcomer (Male)
Arthur Dupont, Bus Palladium
Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, La Princesse De Montpensier
Pio Marmai, D'Amour Et D'Eau Fraiche
Raphael Personnaz, La Princesse De Montpensier
Edgar Ramirez, Carlos


Best Original Screenplay
Mathieu Almaric, Philippe Di Folco, Marcelo Novias Teles, Raphaelle Valbrune, On Tour
Bertrand Blier, Le Bruit Des Glacons
Etienne Comar, Xavier Beauvois, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern, Mammuth
Baya Kasmi, Michel Leclerc, Le Nom Des Gens


Best Adapted Screenplay
Julie Bertuccelli, L'Arbre
Jean Cosmos, Francois-Olivier Rousseau, Bertrand Tavernier, La Princesse De Montpensier
Robert Harris, Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer
Eric Lartigau, Laurent De Bartillat, L'Homme Qui Voilait Vivre Sa Vie
Francois Ozon, Potiche


Best Original Score
Bruno Coulais, Oceans
Alexandre Desplat, The Ghost Writer
Gregoire Hetzel, L'Arbre
Delphine Mantoulet, Tony Gatfil, Liberte
Yarol Poupaud, Bus Palladium
Philippe Sarde, La Princesse De Montpensier


Best Sound
Philippe Barbeau, Jerome Wiciak, Florent Lavallee, Oceans
Jean-Marie Blondel, Thomas Desjonquieres, Dean Humphreys, The Ghost Writer
Jean-Jacques Ferran, Vincent Guillon, Eric Bonnard, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Daniel Sobrino, Jean Goudier, Cyril Holtz, Gainsbourg


Best Cinematography
Christophe Beaucarne, On Tour
Caroline Champetier, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Pawel Edelman, The Ghost Writer
Bruno De Keyzer, La Princesse De Montpensier
Guillaume Schiffman, Gainsbourg


Best Editing
Luc Barnier, Carlos
Annette Dutertre, On Tour
Herve de Luz, The Ghost Writer
Marie-Julie Maille, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Marilyne Monthieux, Gainsbourg


Best Costume Design
Olivier Beriot, Adele Blanc-Sec
Pascaline Chavanne, Potiche
Alexia Crisp-Jones, On Tour
Marielle Robaut, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Caroline De Vivaise, La Princesse De Montpensier


Best Art Direction
Michel Barthelemy, Des Hommes Et Des Dieux
Guy-Claude Francois, La Princesse De Montpensier
Albrecht Konrad, The Ghost Writer
Christian Marti, Gainsbourg
Hugues Tissandier, Adele Blanc-Sec


Best Short Film
Logorama, dir: H5
Monsieur L'Abbe, dir: Blandine Lenoir
Petit Tailleur, dir : Louis Garrel
Un Transport En Commun, dir : Dyana Gaye
Une Pute Et Un Poussin, dir : Clement Michel