'Pianist,' 'Amen,' up for best French pic, best director

PARIS — Francois Ozon’s “8 women” received 12 nominations for the Cesars, the French film awards, on Friday.

From the U.S. “Minority Report,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and Michael Moore’s docu “Bowling for Columbine” received noms for foreign film.

Spike Lee will get an honorary Cesar, along with Gallic New Wave actress Bernadette Lafont, at the Awards ceremony on February 22.

Like “Amelie” last year, which received 13 noms (and scooped four prizes including film and director), Ozon’s “8 women” features in all major categories.

But whereas the recent European Film Awards gave actress honors jointly to Ozon’s eight leading ladies, France’s Academy of Cinema Arts and Techniques has singled out individual actresses for noms.

Fanny Ardant and Isabelle Huppert will slug it out for actress; Danielle Darrieux will compete for supporting actress and Ludivine Sagnier for female newcomer, while Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart, Virgine Ledoyen and Firmine Richard are not in the running.

Announcing the nominations, Academy prexy Daniel Toscan du Plantier said he found it “astonishing” that the European Film Awards had lumped the actresses together.

“It’s not a package, a vote is about choosing,” he said, suggesting that the European Film Academy had not strictly adhered to traditional voting procedure.

“I’d like to see the nomination form where eight names were given. Nobody did that for us.”

But that wasn’t the only whiff of controversy as the nominations were announced at Paris showbiz haunt Le Fouquet’s.

Eyebrows also raised about French picture noms for two English-lingo films in this year’s line-up — Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist” and Constantin Costa Gavras’ “Amen,” which received ten and seven noms respectively.

“The Pianist” lead Adrien Brody will also be up against “Amen’s” Mathieu Kassovitz in the actor category.

If either pic won the Cesar for film, it wouldn’t be the first time that an English-lingo movie earned that distinction — Alain Resnais’s “Providence” won in 1977 and Polanski’s “Tess” in 1980.

But on Friday there were discontented mutterings from some of those present.

“What would people say if the Goncourt (France’s most prestigious literary prize) went to a book that wasn’t in the French language?” commented one journalist.

Another pointed out that at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Polanski said the Palme d’Or winning “The Pianist” was a Polish film.

Toscan du Plantier replied that France’s Centre National de la Cinematographie was the arbiter in deciding a film’s nationality.

“It’s a complex legal definition, it is not subjective. Language is no longer the criteria for nationality,” said Toscan, adding it was a “healthy evolution towards an international market.”

The academy will also give an award this year to best European Union film, an initiative that will be repeated at Spain’s Goyas and Italy’s Donatello awards. The Cesar nominees include Pedro Almodovar’s “Talk to Her.”

The Cesars ceremony at Paris’ Theatre du Chatelet will be hosted by actress Geraldine Pailhas and broadcast by Canal Plus.

And the nominees are…

Best French Film
“Women” — Francois Ozon
“Amen” — Constantin Costa-Gavras
“Etre Et Avoir” — Nicolas Philibert
“Europudding” — Cedric Klapisch
“The Pianist” — Roman Polanski

Best Director
Constantin Costa-Gavras – “Amen”
Cedric Klapisch – “Europudding”
Francois Ozon – “8 Women”
Nicolas Philibert – “Etre Et avoir”
Roman Polanski – “The Pianist”

Best Actor
Daniel Auteuil – “The Adversary”
Francois Berleand – “My Idol”
Adrien Brody – “The Pianist”
Bernard Campan – “Se Souvenir Des Belles Choses”
Mathieu Kassovitz – “Amen”

Best Actress
Fanny Ardant – “8 Women”
Ariane Ascaride – “Marie-Jo And Her Two Lovers”
Juliette Binoche – “Jet-Lag”
Isabelle Carre – “Se Souvenir Des Belles Choses”
Isabelle Huppert – “8 Women”

Best Supporting Actor
Francois Cluzet – “The Adversary”
Gerard Darmon – “Asterix And Obelix: Mission Cleopatra”
Jamel Debbouze – “Asterix And Obelix: Mission Cleopatra”
Bernard Le Coq – “Se Souvenir Des Belles Choses”
Denis Podalydes – “Embrassez Qui Vous Voudrez”

Best Supporting Actress
Dominique Blanc – “C’est Le Bouquet!”
Danielle Darrieux – “8 Women”
Emmanuelle Devos – “The Adversary”
Judith Godreche – “Europudding”
Karin Viard – “Embrassez Qui Vous Voudrez”

Male Newcomer
Lorant Deutsch – “3 Zeros”
Morgan Marinne – “The Son”
Jean-Paul Rouve – “Monsieur Batignole”
Gaspard Ulliel – “Embrassez Qui Vous Voudrez”
Malik Zidi – “Un Moment De Bonheur”

Female newcomer
Emilie Dequenne – “Une Femme De Menage”
Melanie Doutey – “The Warrior’s Brother”
Marina Foïs – “Filles Perdues, Cheveux Gras”
Cecile de France – “Europudding”
Ludivine Sagnier – “8 Women”

Best Original Screenplay
Michel Blanc - “Embrassez Qui Vous Voudrez”
Constantin Costa-Gavras and Jean-Claude Grumberg
– “Amen”
Ronald Harwood
- “The Pianist”
Cedric Klapisch
– “Europudding”
Francois Ozon and Marina de Van
– “8 Women”

Best Foreign Film
“Bowling For Columbine” — Michael Moore (U.S.)
“Drunk On Women And Painting” — Im Kwon-taek (South Korea)
“Chihiro’s Voyage” — Hayao Miyazaki (Japan)
“Minority Report” — Steven Spielbergh (U.S.)
“Ocean’s Eleven” — Steven Soderbergh (U.S.)

Best European Film
“11’09’01 September 11″ — Youssef Chahine, Amos Gitai, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Shohei Imamura, Claude Lelouch, Ken Loach, Samira Makhmalbaf, Mira Nair, Idrissa Ouedraogo, Sean Penn, Danis Tanovic
“Gosford Park” — Robert Altman (U.K.)
“The Man Without A Past” — Aki Kaurismaki (Finland)
“Talk To Her” — Pedro Almodovar (Spain)
“Sweet Sixteen” — Ken Loach (U.K.)

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more