Xavier Beauvois' pic leads the race

Xavier Beauvois’ “Of Gods and Men” leads the race for Gaul’s Cesar Awards, announced Friday by the French Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A tale of Christian monks’ passive resistance to Algerian fundamentalists, “Men,” already a Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner, grabbed 11 noms, including picture, director, screenplay and actor for Lambert Wilson.

A box office sleeper in France, grossing $24.7 million, “Men” failed to make the foreign-language Oscar longlist.

Beauvois faces stiff competition from Roman Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer,” recognized in eight categories, including picture, director and adapted screenplay (Robert Harris, Polanski).

At last week’s Lumieres Awards, France’s equivalent to the Golden Globes, “Men” nabbed film while Polanski took director.

Though traditionally prizing art films, the Cesars’ best film noms skew more mainstream this year, encompassing Pascal Chaumeil’s romantic comedy “Heartbreaker”; Benoit Delepine and Gustave Kervern’s oddball “Mammuth,” a breakout in France; and Joann Sfar’s bio debut “Gainsbourg,” in the running for seven awards, including first film and actor (Eric Elmosnino).

“Heartbreaker” and “Gainsbourg” are the first films co-produced and distributed by UPI in France.

Despite a mixed Croisette reception, thesp Mathieu Amalric’s Cannes Competition player “On Tour” has seven noms, including film, director and screenplay.

Political satire “The Names of Love” also made the best film cut.

Notable exceptions in the best film race are Olivier Assayas’ “Carlos,” about terrorist Carlos the Jackal, although it did land a director nom; and Guillaume Canet’s “Little White Lies,” the runaway 2010 local B.O. champ, which was locked out of all major categories.

Nominees for the new Animated Film category feature Luc Besson’s “Arthur and the War of Two Worlds,” Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” and “Logorama,” also up for short film kudos.

The Cesars’ seven foreign film contenders underscore France’s admiration for Hollywood helmers and include Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus” and David Fincher’s “The Social Network.” The 36th Cesars ceremony takes place Feb. 25 at Paris’ Chatelet Theater. Jody Foster officiates as ceremony president.And the nominations are:

FILM

“Heartbreaker,” Pascal Chaumeil

“Of Gods and Men,” Xavier Beauvois

“Gainsbourg,” Joann Sfar

“Mammuth,” Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern

“The Names of Love,” Michel Leclerc

The Ghost Writer,” Roman Polanski

“On Tour,” Mathieu Amalric

DIRECTOR

Mathieu Amalric, “On Tour”

Olivier Assayas, “Carlos”

Xavier Beauvois, “Of Gods and Men”

Bertrand Blier, “The Clink of Ice”

Roman Polanski, “The Ghost Writer”

ACTOR

Gerard Depardieu, “Mammuth”

Romain Duris, “Heartbreaker”

Eric Elmosnino, “Gainsbourg”

Jacques Gamblin, “The Names of Love”

Lambert Wilson, “Of Gods and Men”

ACTRESS

Isabelle Carre, “Romantics Anonymous”

Catherine Deneuve, “Potiche”

Sara Forestier, “The Names of Love”

Charlotte Gainsbourg, “The Tree”

Kristin Scott Thomas, “Sarah’s Key”

SUPPORTING ACTOR

Niels Arestrup, “The Big Picture”

Francois Damiens, “Heartbreaker”

Gilles Lellouche, “Little White Lies”

Michael Lonsdale, “Of Gods and Men”

Olivier Rabourdin, “Of Gods and Men”

SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Anne Alvaro, “The Clink of Ice”

Valerie Bonneton, “Little White Lies”

Laetitia Casta, “Gainsbourg”

Julie Ferrier, “Heartbreaker”

Karin Viard, “Potiche”

NEWCOMER, ACTOR

Arthur Dupont, “Bus Palladium”

Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, “The Princess of Montpensier”

Pio Marmai, “Living on Love Alone”

Raphael Personnaz, “The Princess of Montpensier”

Edgar Ramirez, “Carlos”

NEWCOMER, ACTRESS

Leila Bekhti, “All That Glitters

Anais Demoustier, “Living on Love Alone”

Audrey Lamy, “All That Glitters”

Lea Seydoux, “Belle epine”

Yahima Torres, “Black Venus”

FIRST FILM

Pascal Chaumeil, “Heartbreaker”

Joann Sfar, “Gainsbourg”

Fabrice Gobert, “Lights Out”

Pascal Elbe, “Turk’s Head”

Geraldine Nakache, Herve Mimran, “All That Glitters”

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Mathieu Amalric, Philippe Di Folco, Marcelo Novais Teles, Raphaelle Valbrune, “On Tour”

Bertrand Blier, “The Clink of Ice”

Etienne Comar, Xavier Beauvois, “Of Gods and Men”

Benoit Delepine, Gustave Kervern, “Mammuth”

Baya Kasmi, Michel Leclerc, “The Names of Love”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Julie Bertuccelli, “The Tree”

Jean Cosmos, Francois-Olivier Rousseau, Bertrand Tavernier, “The Princess of Montpensier”

Robert Harris, Roman Polanski, “The Ghost Writer”

Eric Lartigau, Laurent de Bartillat, “The Big Picture”

Francois Ozon, “Potiche”

FOREIGN FILM

“Heartbeats, “Xavier Dolan

“Bright Star,” Jane Campion

“The Secret in Their Eyes,” Juan Jose Campanella

“Illegal,” Olivier Masset-Depasse

“Inception,” Christopher Nolan

“Invictus,” Clint Eastwood

“The Social Network,” David Fincher

ANIMATED FILM

“Arthur and the War of Two Worlds,” Luc Besson

“The Man in the Blue Gordini,” Jean-Christophe Lie

“The Illusionist,” Sylvain Chomet

“Logorama,” Francois Alaux, Herve de Crecy, Ludovic Houplain

“A Cat in Paris,” Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“Benda Bilili!,” Florent de la Tullaye, Renaud Barret

“Cleveland Versus Wall Street,” Jean-Stephane Bron

“Into Our Hands,” Mariana Otero

“Oceans,” Jacques Perrin, Jacques Cluzaud

“L’Amour fou,” Pierre Thoretton

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