`The Artist` shines at French film awards

Paris: Silent movie ‘The Artist’ shone at home, netting best film and a string of other awards at France`s annual Cesars, held two days before the Oscars in which the black-and-white film is a top favourite. Michel Hazanavicius won both best film and best director for his tribute to Hollywood`s golden age, about a silent movie star struggling after the arrival of the "talkies", at the 37th Cesars ceremony at the Chatelet Theatre in Paris.

His partner the actress Berenice Bejo was visibly moved to accept the best actress Cesar for her part as an up-and-coming starlet in the movie, two days before competing for the best supporting actress Oscar in Hollywood. ‘The Artist’ also picked up best score for the 1920s and 30s-inspired soundtrack by composer Ludovic Bource, as well as best set design and best cinematography.

Already crowned with awards at the Golden Globes, the British BAFTAS and the Spanish Goyas, the film is contending for a whopping 10 Oscars at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. Film lead Jean Dujardin, acclaimed for his role as a fading silent film star, left the Cesars empty handed but heads to Hollywood this weekend with a chance to become the first Frenchman to win a best actor Oscar.

French cinema has had a bumper year both artistically and commercially, with a whopping 215.6 million cinema tickets sold last year in the country of 65 million. Omar Sy, co-star of ‘Intouchables’ (Untouchables), a box office hit about a quadriplegic aristocrat and his home-help from the melting-pot Paris suburbs, was named best actor. Rewarded for his role as a wisecracking male nurse in the feel-good comedy, Sy becomes the first black actor to scoop a Cesar since the French answer to the Oscars was created in 1976. By comparison five African-American actors and one actress have picked up an Academy Award, starting with Sidney Poitier in 1963. Twenty five have been nominated including Viola Davis, running for best actress Sunday for ‘The Help’.