France's Cesars hail "Seraphine" best film

Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:30pm EST
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By Rebecca Leffler

PARIS (Hollywood Reporter) - - Martin Provost's "Seraphine" brushed through a very colorful 34th annual Cesar Awards, taking the prize for best film at the Friday night ceremony in Paris.

At France's top movie honors, the film took home seven awards, including a best actress statue for star Yolande Moreau and wins for original screenplay, costumes, sound, photography and decor.

"Milk" Oscar winner Sean Penn and Dustin Hoffman added Hollywood star power to the 34th annual Cesars ceremony. Held at the Chatelet theater, the evening was presided over by actress Charlotte Gainsbourg -- named most promising actress 23 years ago -- and hosted by TV personality/actor/director Antoine de Caunes.

De Caunes followed Hugh Jackman's Oscars sing-along with his own opening musical number, complete with an onstage shower as he sang "Singin' in the Rain."

More predictable than De Caunes' onstage antics was the best actor prize given to Vincent Cassel for his role as Public Enemy No. 1 in Jean-Francois Richet's "Mesrine." Richet was named best director for the two-part biopic about France's most famous criminal.

Elsa Zylberstein took the best supporting actress prize for "I've Loved You So Long." Philippe Claudel's Kristin Scott Thomas starrer also won the best first film award. An absent Jean-Paul Roussillon took the supporting actor nod for Arnaud Desplechin's family saga "A Christmas Tale."

Ari Folman's animated documentary "Waltz With Bashir" was named best foreign film.

The celebratory evening was bittersweet as the academy honored recently deceased Cesars founder Georges Cravenne and producers Claude Berri and Christian Fechner with homages. The night opened with a special dedication to Cravenne.   Continued...