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Rolling off an unpredictable and crowded race, Xavier Giannoli’s period piece “Lost Illusions” and Leos Carax’s musical romance “Annette” scooped the top prizes at the 47th Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent to the Oscars, on Friday evening. “Lost Illusions,” which led the nominations, won seven awards, including best film and best male newcomer. “Annette,” which world premiered on opening night at the Cannes Film Festival, won five awards, including best director and original score for Ron Mael and Russell Mael from the rock band Sparks, who performed live during the Cesar ceremony.

The glitzy in-person event took place at the Olympia theater in Paris with prestigious guests including Adam Driver, who was nominated for his performance in “Annette,” and Cate Blanchett, who received the honorary Cesar Award from the hands of Isabelle Huppert. Celebrated by a long and rowdy standing ovation, Blanchett got up on stage and gave a long hug to Huppert. After speaking a few words in French, Blanchett switched to English and made the audience laugh when she said she spoke French like a Spanish Cow. She then acknowledged that it was “difficult to think or speak about anything other what’s happening in Ukraine.”

Blanchett said receiving this honor in France had a particular meaning for her because she has always reveled in the “undeniably profound influence that French cinema had and continues to have on the way that we perceive the possibilities of form and narrative.” She added that she will “never, ever forget the jaw dropping experience at the age of 15, of watching Robert Bresson’s ‘A Man Escaped,'” which she has been “thinking about a lot over the last four or five days.” Blanchett then spoke about the “power of cinema and cinema arts to help propel the conversation forward.” She graced the Cesar stage a second time at the end of the three-and-a-half hour ceremony to present the best director award — in French — to Carax.

Xavier Dolan also attended the ceremony and delivered a tearful homage to late French actor Gaspard Ulliel, who was a close friend and had starred in his 2016 movie “It’s Only the End of the World.” Dolan read a letter he penned about Ulliel and addressed it to his grieving family, saying that “a mother’s love is more powerful than anything, stronger than life, than art even, and surely stronger than death.” He said he had wanted to work with Ulliel since he was a teenager and approached him with several scripts long before they made “It’s Only The End of the World” together.

“I chose to address you this letter, Madam, because I didn’t know how else I could tell you how much I loved and admired him… It’s a whole world that cried for Gaspard, it’s a whole world that still mourns him,” said Dolan in his emotionally charged speech.

The Cesar Awards also paid homage to Jean-Paul Belmondo, the iconic French actor of “Breathless” and “Pierrot le fou,” who died in September at the age of 88.

“The Father,” starring Anthony Hopkins, won best foreign film. In his speech, director Florian Zeller said it was a strange honor to be a French director winning best foreign film at the Cesar Awards. The Oscar-winning film is an adaptation of his critically acclaimed play by the same name. Zeller said he had the desire to shoot “The Father” in English so that he could have a chance of casting Hopkins in the lead role.

Although Driver was beat by Benoit Magimel for his part in Emmanuelle Bercot’s “Living,” it was still a big night for “Annette,” which he co-produced. Being nominated was itself a feast as only two other American actors have been previously nominated at the Cesar Awards — Kristen Stewart for “Clouds of Sils Maria” and Adrien Brody for “The Pianist.”

Audrey Diwan’s Venice Golden Lion-winning “Happening” picked up the award for best female newcomer for Anamaria Vartolomei, while Valerie Lemercier won best actress for her music-filled performance inspired by Celine Dion in “Aline.” Catherine Corsini’s timely social drama “La fracture” won best supporting actress for Aissatou Diallo Sagna. Arthur Harari’s WW2-set “Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle” won best original screenplay.

Other top Cesar contenders included Julia Ducournau’s Cannes winner “Titane,” Jacques Audiard’s contemporary love drama “Paris, 13th District,” Cedric Jimenez’s action-packed cop drama “Bac Nord” and Yann Gozlan’s thriller “Boite noire.”

The Cesar Awards returned after two consecutive years of record-low ratings and scandal-ridden editions. In 2021, actor Corine Masiero covered herself in fake blood and fully undressed in protest against the French government’s pandemic response. This year, the stakes were high for Cesar organizers and their broadcast partner, Canal Plus, to revamp the ceremony’s image.

Playing it safe, organizers tapped Antoine De Caunes, a beloved TV host and journalist, to emcee the event for the 10th time. De Caunes succeeded in delivering an entertaining show with a dash of comedy and nearly no political commentary, although he opened the ceremony saying “The essence of our work is to keep going even if the world around us is collapsing. Tonight, our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine.”

The ceremony appeared to have a significantly higher production value than in recent history, with elaborated sketches, parodic short films and musical numbers. “Lupin” star Omar Sy even performed a dance choreography on stage to mark the 10th anniversary of Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache’s smash hit comedy “Intouchables,” and got the audience to get up and dance with him.

Below is the full list of winners.

Best Film

“Aline,” Valerie Lemercier, produced by Edouard Weil, Alice Girard, Sidonie Dumas
“Annette,” Leos Carax, produced by Charles Gillibert
“Bac Nord,” Cedric Jimenez, produced by Hugo Selignac
“Happening,” Audrey Diwan, produced by Edouard Weil, Alice Girard
“La Fracture,” Catherine Corsini, produced by Elisabeth Perez
“Lost Illusions,” Xavier Giannoli, produced by Olivier Delbosc, Sidonie Dumas (WINNER)
“Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle,” Arthur Harari, produced by Nicolas Anthome, Lionel Guedj

Best Director

Valerie Lemercier, “Aline”
Leos Carax, “Annette” (WINNER) 
Audrey Diwan, “Happening”
Xavier Giannoli, “Lost Illusions”
Arthur Harari, “Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle”
Julia Ducournau, “Titane”

Best Actress

Leila Bekhti, “The Restless”
Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, “La fracture”
Laure Calamy, “Une femme du monde
Virginie Efira, “Benedeta”
Vicky Krieps, “Serre moi fort”
Valerie Lemercier, “Aline” (WINNER)
Lea Seydoux, “France”

Best Actor

Damien Bonnard, “The Restless”
Adam Driver, “Annette”
Gilles Lellouche, “Bac Nord”
Vincent Macaigne, “Medecin de nuit”
Benoit Magimel, “Living” (WINNER)
Pio Marmai, “La fracture”
Pierre Niney, “Boite noire”

Best Cinematography

Caroline Champetier, “Annette”
Christophe Beaucarne, “Lost Illusions” (WINNER)
Paul Guilhaume, “Paris, 13th District”
Tom Harari, “Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle”
Ruben Impens, “Titane”

Best Supporting Actress

Jeanne Balibar, “Lost Illusions”
Celine de France, “Lost Illusions”
Aissatou Diallo Sagna, “La fracture” (WINNER)
Adele Exarchopoulos, “Mandibules”
Danielle Fichaud, “Aline”

Best Supporting Actor

Francois Civil, “Bac Nord”
Xavier Dolan, “Lost Illusions”
Vincent Lacoste, “Lost Illusions” (WINNER)
Karin Leklou, “Bac Nord”
Sylvain Marcel, “Aline”

Best Female Newcomer

Noee Abita, “Slalom”
Salome Dewaels, “Lost Illusions”
Agathe Rousselle, “Titane”
Anamaria Vartolomei, “Happening” (WINNER)
Lucie Zhang, “Paris, 13th District”

Best Male Newcomer

Sandor Funtek, “Supremes”
Sami Outalbadi, “Une histoire d’amour et de desir”
Thimothee Robart, “Magnetic Beats”
Matika Samba, “Paris, 13th District”
Benjamin Voisin, “Lost Illusions”

Best First Film

“Gagarine,” Fanny Liatard, Jeremy Trouilh
“Magnetic Beats,” Vincent Mael Cardona (WINNER)
“La Nuee,” Just Philippot
“La panthere des neiges,” Marie Amiguet, Vincent Munier
“Slalom,” Charlene Favier

Best Foreign Film

“Compartment n. 6,” Juho Kuho Kuosmanen
“Drive My War,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi
“First Cow,” Kelly Reichardt
“The Worst Person in the World,” Joachim Trier
“Parallel Mothers,” Pedro Almodovar
“The Father,” Florian Zeller (WINNER)

Best Original Screenplay

Valerie Lemercier, Brigitte Buc, “Aline”
Leos Carax, Ron Mael, Russel Mael, “Annette”
Yann Gozlan, Simon Moutaïrou, Nicolas Bouvet-Levrard, “Boite Noire”
Catherine Corsini, Laurette Polmanss, Agnes Feuvre, “La fracture”
Arthur Harari, Vincent Poymiro, “Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle” (WINNER)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Yael Langmann, Yvan Attal, “Les choses humaines”
Audrey Diwan, Marcia Romano, “Happening”
Xavier Giannoli, Jacques Fieschi, “Lost Illusions” (WINNER)
Celine Sciamma, Lea Mysius, Jacques Audiard, “Paris, 13th District”
Mathieu Amalric, “Serre moi fort”

Best Animated Film

“Even Mice Belong in Heaven,” Denisa Grimmova, Jan Bubenicek
“The Summit of Gods,” Patrick Imbert (WINNER)
“La traversée,” Florence Miailhe

Best Documentary

“Animal,” Cyril Dion
“Bigger Than Us,” Flore Vasseur
“Debout les femmes!” Gilles Perret, Francois Ruffin
“Indes Galantes,” Philippe Beziat
“La panthere des neiges,” Marie Amiguet (WINNER)

Best Original Score

Ron Mael, Russell Mael, “Annette” (WINNER)
Guillaume Roussel, “Bac Nord
Philippe Rombi, “Boite Noire”
Rone, “Paris, 13th District”
Warren Ellis, Nick Cave, “La panthere des neiges”

Best Sound Editing

Olivier Mauvezin, Arnaud Rolland, Edouard Morin, Daniel Sobrino, “Aline
Erwan Kerzanet, Kaita Boutin, Mawence Dussere, Paul Haymans, Thomas Gauder, “Annette” (WINNER)
Nicolas Provost, Nicolas Bouvet-Levrard, Marc Doisne, “Boite Noire”
Francois Musy, Renaud Musy, Didier Lozahic, “Lost Illusions”
Mathieu Descamps, Pierre Bariaud, Samuel Aïchoun, “Magnetic Beats”

Best Editing

Nelly Quettier, “Annette” (WINNER)
Simon Jacquet, “Bac Nord”
Fredric Baillehaiche, La fracture”
Cyril Nakache, “Lost Illusions”

Best Costumes

Catherine Leterrier, “Aline”
Pascaline Chavanne, “Annette”
Madeline Fontaine, “Delicieux”
Thierry Deletre, “Eiffel”
Pierre-Jean Laroque, “Lost Illusions” (WINNER)

Best Set Design

Emmanuelle Duplay, “Aline”
Florian Sanson, “Annette”
Bertrand Seitz, “Delicieux”
Stephane Taillasson, “Eiffel”
Riton Dupire-Clement, “Lost Illusions” (WINNER)

Best Visual Effects

Sebastien Rame, “Aline”
Guillaume Pondard, “Annette” (WINNER)
Olivier Cauwet, “Eiffel”
Arnaud Fouquet, Julien Meesters, “Lost Illusions”
Martial Vallanchon, “Titane”