PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Jacques Audiard's powerful crime drama "A Prophet," one of the outstanding films of last year's Cannes film festival, headed the nominations for the "Cesar" awards, France's annual version of the Oscars.
The dark thriller, which won the runners-up "Grand Prix" award at Cannes, was named in 13 categories for the ceremony on February 27, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor for newcomer Tahar Rahim.
Another entrant at Cannes last year, Xavier Giannoli's "A l'Origine" ("At the Beginning"), about a conman who passes himself off as a road builder, took 11 nominations, including one of two Best Actor nominations for its star Francois Cluzet.
The Cesars, notorious in France for their regular mix of gushing tributes and embarrassing onstage gaffes, provide one of the industry's annual highlights and come this year after an unusually strong12 months for the industry.
With over 200 million entries, cinema attendance in France last year was at its highest level since 1982, with French films accounting for 37 percent of the market.
As well as A Prophet and At the Beginning, several other films received multiple nominations, including "Le concert," about a Soviet-era conductor forced to work as a cleaner and the refugee drama "Welcome."
The other Best Film nominations were "Les herbes folles" ("Wild Grass"), by New Wave veteran Alain Resnais, "Rapt," about a kidnapped industrialist and "La journee de la jupe" ("Skirt Day"), starring Isabelle Adjani as a teacher on the edge.
Reporting by James Mackenzie, editing by Paul Casciato