'Vie en Rose' wins big at Cesars, 'Grain' earns best pic


PARIS -- "La Vie en Rose" starlette Marion Cotillard continued to sing her way through the international awards season with the Oscar hopeful nabbing the best actress prize in her home country at the 33rd Cesar Awards ceremony Friday night in Paris. Olivier Dahan's Edith Piaf biopic was the big winner of the night with five prizes including best sound, cinematography, art direction and costume design.

The pretty in pink and teary-eyed Cotillard thanked Dahan as she accepted her award: "You have changed my career as an actress, you have simply changed my life. You have written the most beautiful role in the world."

France's Academy of Film Arts and Sciences gave its top prize for best French film of the year to Abdellatif Kechiche's "The Secret of the Grain," which continued its romp through the Gallic awards season starting with the Louis Delluc Prize in December and followed by statues at the Lumiere Awards, the Globes du Cristal, the Jacques Prevert awards, the Daniel Toscan du Plantier producer's prize and the Golden Star Awards.

Kechiche was awarded the Cesar for both best director and best original screenplay and saw his leading lady Hafsia Herzi go home with the prize for best female newcomer. Kechiche was no stranger to the stage at Paris' Chatelet theater where the awards were held: the director followed his 2005 Cesar winning streak for "L'Esquive" which also won four Cesars that year.

The Academy raised its eyelids for Mathieu Amalric who was named best actor for his role as paralyzed Elle editor Dominique Bauby in Julian Schnabel's "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." The absent Amalric, off shooting the next Bond film, sent a speech for master of ceremonies Antoine de Caunes to read aloud. "Butterfly" also won the prize for Best Editing.

The famous Depardieu name was given a new face as the ubiquitous Julie Depardieu took home the best supporting actress award, but not before shoving her co-star and co-nominee Ludivine Sagnier on stage to share her prize.

"Days of Glory" actor Sami Bouajila won the Best Supporting Actor category for his more recent role in Andre Techine's "The Witnesses." Fellow nominee Laurent Stocker was named Best Male Newcomer for his role in Claude Berri's "Hunting and Gathering."

Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud took the Cesar stage twice, nabbing awards for best first film and best adapted screenplay for their black and white animated tale based on the Iranian-born Satrapi's bestselling book "Persepolis."

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others" won the Cesar for foreign film, following its best foreign language Oscar win last year.

The second annual best documentary prize went to Barbet Schroeder for his Jacques Verges portrait "Terror's Advocate."

Actors Jean-Paul Rouve and Gilles Lellouche provided a humorous interlude, donning guitars and singing one of Carla Bruni's hit songs to present the award for musical score to Alex Beaupain for Christophe Honore's musical "Love Songs."

The relatively uneventful ceremony hosted by actor and TV personality Antoine de Caunes was a dull follow-up to last year's wild performance by host Valerie Lemercier, but the creme de la creme of the Gallic film industry all came out for the occasion.

Actress Fanny Ardant presented Roberto Benigni with his honorary foreign Cesar award. The Italian filmmaker gave a prolific, emotionally-charged speech thanking France for the honor, complete with many a "merci beaucoup" in his thick Italian accent.

The academy also paid homage to Jeanne Moreau with a special tribute spanning the French actress' 60-year movie career. Actor Melvil Poupaud, who shared screen time with Moreau in Francois Ozon's "Time to Leave," said a few kind words about the actress before Moreau invited Celine Sciamma and the cast of "Waterlilies" on stage to share in her honor. Veteran thespian Alain Delon also paid tribute to the late Romy Schneider.

Jean Rochefort presided over the ceremony that was broadcast live – and available to nonsubscribers – on French pay TV network Canal Plus. Canal Plus' "Monsieur Cinema' aka TV personality Laurent Weil, hosted the network's signature Cesar pre-show, after-show and red carpet coverage.

The Cesar ceremony was followed by a swanky gourmet dinner at Fouquet's restaurant for the nominees and select VIPs. Famous faces including surprise guest Jean-Claude van Damme showed off their swag from Nathalie Dubois' Hollywood-influenced Cesar Gift Suite the day before featuring Pucci sunglasses, jewelry and Tahitian getaways before being greeted at the main event by a media-frenzied red carpet and on-site camera-crazy press room.

The night's big winner Marion Cotillard joined hundreds of partygoers for the apres-Cesar to sip Tsarine champagne and dance late into the night at an after-party at Mimi Pinson.

"It's THE big celebration of the excellence of French cinema," Academy President Alain Terzian told The Hollywood Reporter of the Cesar.

A full list of winners follows.

Abdellatif Kechiche, "The Secret of the Grain"
Marion Cotillard, "La Vie en rose"
Mathieu Amalric, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Abdellatif Kechiche, "The Secret of the Grain"
Abdellatif Kechiche, "The Secret of the Grain"
Marjane Satrapi  and Vincent Paronnaud, "Persepolis"
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, "Persepolis"
Julie Depardieu, "A Secret"
Sami Bouajila, "The Witnesses"
Hafsia Herzi, "The Secret of the Grain"
Laurent Stocker, "Hunting and Gathering"
Laurent Zellig, Pascal Villard and Jean-Paul Hurier, "La Vie en rose"
Alex Beaupain, "Les chansons d'amour"
Tetsuo Nagata, "La Vie en rose"
Olivier Raoux, "La Vie en rose"
Marit Allen, "La Vie en rose"
Juliette Welfing, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
"Le Mozart des pickpockets," Philippe Pollet-Villard
"The Lives of Others,"  Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck  (Germany)
"Terror's Advocat," Barbet Schroeder