( dpa )- Oscar-nominated Marion Cotillard and the film La Graine et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain) were the big winners late Friday at the Cesars, the French equivalent of the Academy Awards.
As had been widely expected, Cotillard won the Cesar for best actress for her performance as the legendary French chanson singer Edith Piaf in the film La Mome (known internationally as La Vie en Rose or, in some English-language markets, The Passionate Life of Edith Piaf).
The 32-year-old Cotillard had already swept the Golden Globes and a host of other international film awards for her performance, and she is considered a co-favourite, with Julie Christie, to bag an Oscar on Sunday.
The Secret of the Grain, which is about dysfunctional Maghreb families in the southern French fishing port of Sete, received four Cesars: for best film; for best director and best screenplay, both to Abdel Kechiche; and for most promising actress to 21-year-old novice Hafsia Herzi.
The film had been awarded the Special Jury Prize at the 2007 Venice Film Festival, and Herzi, who had no acting experience before being cast by Kechiche, was named the festival's best young actress.
French-Iranian Marjane Satrapi picked up two Cesars for her adaptation of her graphic novel Persepolis, for best first film and for best adaptation. The film has been nominated for an Oscar for best animated film.
The German movie Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others), which won last year's Academy Award for best foreign film, received the Cesar in the same category.
Other winners included Matthieu Almaric, for best actor for his performance as an almost totally paralyzed man in Julian Schnabel's The Diving Bell and the Butterfly; Julie Depardieu for best supporting actress in Claude Miller's Un Secret (A Secret); and Sami Bouajila as best supporting actor in The Witnesses by Andre Techine.