The 30th anniversary of France's Cesar awards proved to be an evening full of surprises with Abdellatif Kechiche's L'Esquive taking four prizes, including best picture and best director.
The awards were an upset for favoured films: The Chorus and A Very Long Engagement which were both up for two Oscars each yesterday. The Chorus, France's highest grossing film of 2004, did take best music and best sound.
Engagement, the subject of much controversy last year regarding its French status, was honoured with five awards including best supporting actress for Marion Cotillard and best male newcomer for Gaspard Ulliel. Echoing his recent ACE win, Bruno Delbonnel was crowned best cinematographer. He is also up for an Oscar in the same category.
Best actress went to Yolande Moreau for Quand La Mer Monte which she also co-directed with Gilles Porte and which was voted best first feature. Mathieu Almaric was named best actor for his role in Arnaud Desplechin's Kings And Queen. That film has won many critics' prizes as well as the prestigious Prix Louis Delluc.
Clovis Cornillac won the best supporting actor award for his comedic turn in Laurent Tirard's debut film Mensonges Et Trahisons Et Plus Si Affinites'
Best film from the European Union, a recently created award, went to Ken Loach's Ae Fond Kiss and Emir Kusturica's Life Is A Miracle in a tie. Sofia Coppola was on hand to pick up the prize for best foreign film for Lost In Translation. Other Americans on hand included Will Smith who came to pick up an honorary Cesar.
The ceremony went off with hardly a hitch - though revellers at the after-party at Fouquet's restaurant on the Champs Elysees complained of ennui. And unlike last year, France's disgruntled showbiz workers - who have been fighting changes to their benefits system - were relatively subdued. Actor Lambert Wilson read a prepared statement outlining their plight and urged culture minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres to take action.
Best French film: L'Esquive by Abdellatif Kechiche
Best Director: Abdellatif Kechiche for L'Esquive
Best Actress: Yolande Moreau for Quand La Mer Monte
Best Actor: Mathieu Amalric for Kings And Queen
Best Supporting Actress: Marion Cotillard for A Very Long Engagement
Best Supporting Actor: Clovis Cornillac for Mensonges Et Trahisons Et Plus Si Affinites...
Best Female Newcomer: Sara Forestier for L'Esquive
Best Male Newcomer: Gaspard Ulliel for A Very Long Engagement
Best Film From The European Union: Ae Fond Kiss by Ken Loach and Life Is A Miracle by Emir Kusturica
Best Foreign Film: Lost In Translation by Sofia Coppola
Best First Film: Quand La Mer Monte by Gilles Porte and Yolande Moreau
Best Original or Adapted Screenplay: Abdellatif Kechiche and Ghalya Lacroix for L'Esquive
Best Music: Bruno Coulais for The Chorus
Best Short Film: Cousines by Lyes Salem
Best Cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel for A Very Long Engagement
Best Art Direction: Aline Bonetto for A Very Long Engagement
Best Sound: Daniel Sobrino, Nicolas Cantin and Nicolas Naegelen for The Chorus
Best Costumes : Madeline Fontaine for A Very Long Engagement
Best Editing: Noelle Boisson for Two Brothers
Honorary Cesars: Will Smith and Jacques Dutronc.