The film leads categories including Best Picture and Best Director, for Jacques Audiard, as well as garnering nods for its star Tahar Rahim, who is up for Best Actor and Best Newcomer.
Philippe Lioret's immigrant drama Welcome scored nine nominations and will go up against A Prophet in the Best Picture category, and Vincent Lindon will compete with Rahim for the Best Actor prize.
Fashion biopic Coco Before Chanel also received five nods, with Audrey Tautou named in the Best Actress category.
The nominations for Best Foreign Film include James Cameron's Avatar, Milk, Gran Torino and Slumdog Millionaire.
The 35th Cesar Awards will take place on 27 February (10).