The Artist triumphs at Cesar Awards as Oscars loom

The Oscar favourite claimed the Best French Film of the Year, while moviemaker Michel Hazanavicius was honoured with the night’s Best Director prize.

His wife Berenice Bejo was named Best Actress for her role as Peppy Miller in the film, but co-star Jean Dujardin lost the Best Actor honour to Untouchable’s Omar Sy.

Going into Sunday’s (26Feb12) Oscars, The Artist has picked up more than 70 accolades around the world to become the most awarded French film in history, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Composer Ludovic Bource was also honoured at the Cesars for his The Artist score and the film’s cinematographer Guillame Schiffman was also a winner.

Others taking home trophies on Friday included Nadira Ayadi and Clotilde Hesme, who shared the prize for Most Promising Actress, Gregory Gadebois, who was named Most Promising Actor and Michel Blanc (Best Supporting Actor).

Tous au Larzac took home the night’s Best Documentary prize, while Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian film A Separation was named Best Foreign Film.

British actress Kate Winslet also came away a big winner after she was presented with an Honorary Cesar for her body of work by filmmaker Michel Gondry, who stepped in for her absent Carnage director Roman Polanski.

Winslet addressed the crowd in French, gushing, “You could have given it (award) to somebody else but you gave it to me, so thank you.”

Winslet returned to the stage a little later to accept Polanski’s Best Adapted Screenplay award for Carnage.

The 37th annual ceremony was held at the Chatelet Theater in Paris.