‘Sink or Swim,’ ‘Custody’ Lead Race for France’s Cesar Awards

French actor-turned-director Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim” and Xavier Legrand’s feature debut “Custody” lead the race for this year’s Cesar Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, with 10 nominations each, including best picture and best director.

Sink or Swim” (“Le Grand Bain” in France), a star-driven dramedy about a men’s synchronized swimming team, world-premiered at Cannes out of competition and was released by Studiocanal. The ensemble film, which was one of the highest-grossing French films in 2018, picked up a raft of nominations for best supporting actor and actress, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Philippe Katerine, Leila Bekhti and Virginie Efira.

Custody” follows a boy named Julien (Thomas Gioria) who is forced by a court ruling to split his time between his mother (Léa Drucker) and estranged father (Denis Ménochet), whom he regards as a violent monster, amid his parents’ bitter divorce. “Custody” world-premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival, where it won two awards, and went on to play at Toronto in the competitive Platform section. Both Drucker and Menochet were nominated for best actress and actor, respectively.

Both Pierre Salvadori’s comedy “En Liberté” and Jacques Audiard’s Western “The Sisters Brothers,” which stars Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Jake Gyllenhaal, received nine nominations, including for best film. Produced by Paris-based company Why Not, “The Sisters Brothers” world-premiered in Venice, where it earned Audiard a best director award. Audiard and Salvadori both received best director nods.

Emmanuel Finkiel’s “A Memoir of War,” an adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical novel, garnered eight nominations, followed by Jeanne Herry’s “In Safe Hands,” with seven. The latter film charts the long and heart-wrenching journey of a baby boy from his birth to the moment he finally gets adopted. “In Safe Hands”‘s leading actresses, Elodie Bouchez and Sandrine Kiberlain both earned a best actress nomination.

Alex Lutz’s “Guy” and Emmanuel Mouret’s French period drama “Mademoiselle de Joncquières” each earned six nominations, including best actress and actor for Edouard Baer and Cecile de France. Lutz, who stars in his film as journalist who discovers he is the illegitimate son of an aging French pop singer, was also nominated for best actor.

“Mademoiselle de Joncquières” world-premiered at Toronto and was acquired by Netflix for most rights worldwide. The film’s star, Cecile de France will be competing for best actress, along with Kiberlain, Bouchez, ” Virginie Efira for “An Impossible Love,” Melanie Thierry for “A Memoir of War” and Adele Haenel for “En liberté!.”

Along with Lutz (“Guy”) and Baer (“Mademoiselle de Joncquieres”), Menochet (“Custody”), the other best actors nominated are Romain Duris for “Nos Batailles,” Vincent Lacoste for “Amanda,” Pio Marmai for “En Liberté,” and Lellouche for “In Safe Hands.”

More follows.