UPDATED: The Artist was the big winner at the 37th César Awards tonight in Paris with prizes for best picture, director, cinematography, score, art direction and actress for Bérénice Bejo, who accepted her prize in one of the evening’s most moving moments. Best Actor Oscar-tipped Jean Dujardin, however, lost out to Untouchable‘s Omar Sy, who starred in the feel-good film that was 2011’s biggest hit in France and is now the third-biggest grosser of all time here.

I watched the ceremony at a viewing party thrown by Wild Bunch, the international sales company behind such winners and nominees as Artist, Poliss and Declaration Of War. Some of the industry-laden crowd were unsurprised by Sy’s win over Dujardin, saying they sensed that even the somewhat staid French Académie was reticent to let the tireless Sy go without recognition. The soirée was held in Wild Bunch’s movie theater-cum-lounge near the Pantheon with the sales teams, distributors and production folk who worked on their films plus other industry types — and filmmaker Gaspar Noe, too. The gathering had several horses in the various races but took it all in Gallic stride, cheering each other on, catcalling and yawning at the boring parts (and there were quite a few — the show tried to pull a Billy Crystal at the outset, inserting host Antoine de Caunes into the nominated films to a pretty muted reaction).

Among the other surprises of the night were a win in the best original screenplay category for L’Exercice De L’Etat‘s Pierre Schoeller, who beat out Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist as well as other favored nominees. Among the highlights was Honorary César winner Kate Winslet, who had been charming the local press in the past days saying it was so much better to receive an award she knew she was going to win. Roman Polanski had been expected to bestow the honor but it was her Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind director Michel Gondry who was on hand — after host de Caunes congratulated Winslet for being against plastic surgery via her “message”, which according to him is “Don’t fuck with Mother Nature.” In accepting, Winslet made a note to particularly thank her Carnage director Roman Polanski; she later accepted the adapted screenplay prize for Polanski for Carnage. With the kudos pretty well spread out, one attendee this evening told me it wasn’t such a big deal if The Artist didn’t win every prize at home: “It’s more imortant it wins at the Oscars. It’s good for the Césars to pull a rabbit out of the hat sometimes.” Following is a full list of the winners:

Best Picture
The Artist, producer: Thomas Langmann

Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist

Bérénice Bejo, The Artist

Omar Sy, Untouchable

Supporting Actress
Carmen Maura, Les Femmes Du 6e Etage

Supporting Actor
Michel Blanc, L’Exercice De L’Etat

Original Screenplay
Pierre Schoeller – L’Exercice De L’Etat

Adapted Screenplay
Yasmina Reza, Roman Polanski – Carnage

Newcomer (Female) – TIE
Naidra Ayadi, Polisse
Clotilde Hesme, Angèle Et Tony

Newcomer (Male)
Grégory Gadebois, Angèle Et Tony

Original Score
Ludovic Bource – The Artist

Olivier Hespel, Julie Brenta, Jean-Pierre Laforce – L’Exercice De L’Etat

Guillaume Schiffman – The Artist

Laure Gardette, Yann Dedet – Polisse

Anaïs Romand – House Of Tolerance

Art Direction
Laurence Bennett – The Artist

First Film
Le Cochon De Gaza, director: Sylvain Estibal

Foreign Film
A Separation, director: Asghar Farhadi

Animated Film
Le Chat Du Rabbin, directors: Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux

Tous Au Larzac, director: Christian Rouaud

Short Film

L’Accordeur, director: Olivier Treiner

(Winslet photo: Getty Images)