Patrice Leconte's La Fille Sur Le Pont and Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story Of Joan Of Arc are joint favourites in the nominations for this year's Cesars - the French equivalent of the Academy Awards.

Leconte's black-and-white romantic drama has racked up eight nods, including best movie, best director, best actor (Daniel Auteuil) and best actress (Vanessa Paradis). Besson's historical extravaganza has also picked up eight nominations - including best film, best director and nods for musical score, photography, set design and sound.

Three sleeper hits of 1999, Jean Becker's Les Enfants Du Marais, which has racked up more than 2m admissions, Tonie Marshall's Venus Beaute Institut and Pierre Jolivet's Ma Petite Entreprise share a large proportion of the remaining nominations. Venus Beaute garners seven nods, including best actress and best actress in a supporting role (Bulle Ogier) and best female hopeful (Audrey Tautou). Les Enfants Du Marais and Ma Petite Entreprise both picked up five nominations.

Regis Wargnier's Russia-set historical drama Est-Ouest, France's entry for the upcoming Oscars, picked up four nominations, including best director and best actress (Sandrine Bonnaire).

Nominations in the best foreign film category unsurprisingly include Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut as

well as Terence Malik's The Thin Red Line, Spike Jonze's Being John

Malkovich and Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way Of The Samurai.