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César Awards: 'Fatima' Scoops Surprise Best Picture Win; 'Mustang' Best Debut, Screenplay

UPDATE, 4:14 PM PT: The César Awards were a mixed bag this evening, spreading prizes amongst a handful of titles and ending with a surprise Best Picture win for Philippe Faucon’s drama Fatima. Kino Lorber last week acquired U.S. rights to the portrait of an immigrant cleaning woman and her relationship with her daughters that’s based on the experiences and poetry of North African writer Fatima Elayoubi. This was a Directors’ Fortnight selection at Cannes in May and recently won France’s prestigious Prix Louis Delluc. It had four nominations coming into this evening and won three of its categories.

But there was much love for another Fortnight title, Mustang, which had appeared to have the momentum throughout the evening to take it to the final win. The film by Deniz Gamze Erguven has an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday and tonight won four of its nine categories including Best Debut Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Music and Best Editing.

Xavier Giannoli’s Venice charmer Marguerite also scooped four prizes including Best Actress for Catherine Frot. It had tied Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days for the most nominations heading into the evening, but that film was almost shut out, advancing in only the Best Director race. Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or winner Dheepan was entirely shut out.

The ceremony itself was typically over-long with too many gags and banter that fell somewhat flat. It ran for three full hours with no commercial breaks. Contrary to other awards shows, winners are given a full two minutes to make acceptance speeches and don’t really get played off. In many cases, though, it’s the presenters who run longer than the laureates. Still, props to comedian and actress Florence Foresti who brought some new blood to the proceedings as host.

A highlight was Michael Douglas who was given a César d’honneur for his career. He spent the evening in the front row flanked by Juliette Binoche and Kristin Scott Thomas before being introduced by Claude Lelouch. Douglas delivered his acceptance entirely in French, thanking his parents for having shown him French movies from a young age. He said he had been “fascinated by the work of people behind the camera like Lelouch, Truffaut, Malle and Godard.” And in front of the camera, he cited Jean-Paul Belmondo, Alain Delon and Jeanne Moreau. “That’s why this prize is so important to me. I’m receiving it in a country that gave birth to my idols, a country that gave birth to cinema.” He also laughed that filmmakers in the audience could consider his speech an audition, saying he’d be happy to do a French film. He concluded with “Thank you for your friendship all these years, for me, my family and the United States. Vive la France.”

Other notable wins included Vincent Lindon as Best Actor for La Loi Du Marché for which he had previously taken the same honor in Cannes. Mark Osborne’s Le Petit Prince, now France’s biggest animated export ever, won in the Animated Film category. Paramount has a domestic release set for March 18. Danish actress and star of Borgen, Sidse Babett Knudsen, took Best Supporting Actress for Venice competition pic L’Hermine.

Also, for those keeping score at home: last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner, Kristen Stewart, did not turn up as a presenter.

PREVIOUS: France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma is handing out its annual César Awards tonight in Paris. Leading the pack of contenders for the local equivalent to the Oscars are Arnaud Desplechin’s My Golden Days and Xavier Giannoli’s Marguerite with 11 nominations each. Also here is Deniz Gamze Erguven’s Mustang with nine. That film is also competing for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar on Sunday. The last time France had a nomination in that category was with Jacques Audiard’s prison drama A Prophet in 2010 which won nine out of 13 possible Césars that year. He’s here tonight with nine nods for Dheepan which scooped the Palme d’Or in Cannes. We’re waiting to see if Kristen Stewart, who made history as the first American to ever win a Best Supporting Actress César last year, is in the house as presenter. Michael Douglas is the recipient of the career achievement César d’Honneur; he charmed speaking French in his red carpet interview. The winners will be updated live below. Check back for updates:

BEST FILM
Fatima, dir: Philippe Faucon

BEST ACTOR
Vincent Lindon, La Loi Du Marché

BEST DIRECTOR
Arnaud Desplechin, My Golden Days

BEST ACTRESS
Catherine Frot, Marguerite

BEST FOREIGN FILM
Birdman, dir: Alejandro G Inarritu

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Alice Winocour, Mustang

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Benoit Magimel, La Tête Haute

BEST ORIGINAL MUSIC
Warren Ellis, Mustang

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Philippe Faucon, Fatima

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sidse Babett Knudsen, L’Hermine

BEST SET DECORATION
Martin Kurel, Marguerite

BEST FIRST FILM
Mustang, dir: Deniz Gamze Erguven

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Tomorrow, dirs: Cyril Dion, Mélanie Laurent

BEST EDITING
Mathilde Van De Moortel, Mustang

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Christophe Offenstein, Valley Of Love

BEST SOUND
François Musy and Gabriel Hafner, Marguerite

BEST ANIMATED FILM
Le Petit Prince, dir: Mark Osborne

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Le Repas Dominical, dir: Céline Devaux

BEST NEWCOMER (MALE)
Rod Paradot, La Tête Haute

BEST COSTUMES
Pierre-Jean Larroque, Marguerite

BEST SHORT FILM
La Contre Allée, dir: Cécile Ducrocq

BEST NEWCOMER (FEMALE)
Zita Hanrot, Fatima