America isn't the only country to boast lavish, self-congratulatory, end-of-the-year awards ceremonies celebrating the year in motion pictures, but it was, as with everything America does, the first. The Academy Awards commenced in 1929, while the BAFTAs, the British equivalent (though, like the Golden Globes, they fête TV as well), launched in 1946. It took the French till 1976 to kickstart the Césars, their version, which this year decided to upstage the Oscars by holding their ceremony on Friday, two days before the one in Los Angeles.
Though obviously French-centric, there is some overlap between the Césars and the Oscars. The big winner Friday night was, perhaps inevitably, "Amour," Michael Haneke's celebrated study of an elderly man tending to his dying wife. The film won five awards out of the ten for which it was nominated, including Picture, Director and Screenplay (both Haneke), Actor (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Actress (Emannuelle Riva). Of these, only Trintignant isn't an Oscar nominee [ed. which is a shame]. [embed tag="movies" limit=5]
Also winning was Matthias Schoenaerts for "Rust and Bone" as Best Newcomer, an award the Oscars do not have because the ceremony is already much too long.
The Césars also named "Argo" as Best Foreign-Language Film, which was likely both a treat for its director, Ben Affleck, and more salt in his already salted wounds, seeing as he was "snubbed" a Best Director nomination at the Oscars. Traditionally, the lack of that nomination means it has little chance of taking home the Best Picture trophy. The last film to win Best Picture without its director even nominated for an award was "Driving Miss Daisy" in 1989.
The Césars also gave an Honorary Award to "Swing State" star Kevin Costner.