The Cesar nominations were announced on January 26 by the Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma.
France's biggest night in film is due to take place February 25 and will be hosted by Antoine de Caunes.
The race remains open to succeed 'Adieu les Cons' by Albert Dupontel, which triumphed last year with seven statuettes.
Front runners this year include a lively adaptation of Balzac's 19th-century novel, Xavier Giannoli's 'Lost Illusions' ('Illusions perdues'), which topped the list with 15 nominations.
The vivid drama stars Xavier Dolan and Benjamin Voisin, who broke into the French film scene with coming-of-age feature 'Summer of 85' in 2020, bagging himself his second 'Best Actor' nomination at the age of 25.
Rock-opera 'Annette' has been nominated for 11 awards and also came up trumps at the 2021 Cannes Festival, with director Leos Carax taking home the Best Director award for his English-language debut.
All eyes were on Adam Driver in the US last year for his role in Ridley Scott's 'House of Gucci', but the French Academy has spotlighted him for fronting this project as Henry McHenry, a provocative stand-up comedian.
To complete the ceremony's top three "ones to watch", 'Aline', Valérie Lemercier's biopic dedicated to Céline Dion, won ten nominations. Lemercier wrote, directed, and starred in the film, which received criticisms from Dion's family ahead of its Canadian debut last year.
An opportunity for redemption
For all these films, Cesars could serve as a consolation prize after a year in which French cinema was able to shine at festivals but suffered in cinemas due to the pandemic and the closure of picture houses until May.
Beyond the films, the 47th official ceremony should make people forget the controversies and complications of previous editions.
In 2020, Roman Polanski – who fled to Paris in 1978 after being arrested and charged with drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl – was crowned best director for 'J'accuse', causing the departure of actress Adèle Haenel from the ceremony.
The image has become one of the symbols of the fight against sexual violence and for equality in the cinema world.
Last year's ceremony was marked by the nude on-stage protest of actress Corinne Masiero and low viewing figures of 1.6 million. A decade ago the ceremony could expect to draw in 4 million people.
This year, the organisers are counting on screenwriter and director Danièle Thompson to rejuvenate the spectacle.
But Thompson and his team will have a lot to do as the lack of love for major ceremonies seems to be growing, like the Golden Globes, ousted from American TV.
A fate which the Césars escape until at least 2025 – the expiry date of French premium television channel Canal+'s renewed partnership with the Academy.
Here are the contenders for each key category:
- Aline (dir. Valerie Lemercier)
- Annette (dir. Leos Carax)
- BAC Nord (dir. Cédric Jimenez)
- The Event (dir. Audrey Diwan)
- The Fracture (dir. Catherine Corsini)
- Lost Illusions (dir. Xavier Giannoli)
- Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (dir. Arthur Harari)
- Valérie Lemercier (Aline)
- Leos Carax for (Annette)
- Cedric Jimenez (BAC Nord)
- Audrey Diwan (The Event)
- Xavier Giannoli for (Lost Illusions)
- Arthur Harari for (Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle)
- Julia Ducournau for (Titanium)
- Leïla Bekhti (Les Intranquilles)
- Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (The Fracture)
- Laure Calamy (A Woman of the World)
- Virginie Efira (Benedetta)
- Vicky Krieps (Hold Me Tight)
- Valerie Lemercier (Aline)
- Léa Seydoux (France)
- Damien Bonnard (Les Intranquilles)
- Adam Driver (Annette)
- Gilles Lellouche (BAC Nord)
- Vincent Macaigne (Night Doctor)
- Benoît Magimel (In his lifetime)
- Pio Marmaï (The Fracture)
- Pierre Niney (Black Box)
Best Supporting Actress
- Jeanne Balibar (Lost Illusions)
- Cécile de France (Lost Illusions)
- Aissatou Diallo Sagna (The Fracture)
- Adele Exarchopoulos (Mandibles)
- Danielle Fichaud (Aline)
Best Supporting Actor
- François Civil (BAC Nord)
- Xavier Dolan (Lost Illusions)
- Vincent Lacoste (Lost Illusions)
- Karim Leklou (BAC Nord)
- Sylvain Marcel (Aline)
Best First Film
- Gagarin (dir. Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh)
- Magnetics (dir. Vincent Maël Cardona)
- The Cloud (dir. Just Philippot)
- The Snow Panther (dir. Marie Amiguet and Vincent Munier)
- Slalom (dir. Charlene Favier)
Best Female Newcomer
- Noee Abita (Slalom)
- Salomé Dewaels (Lost Illusions)
- Agathe Rousselle (Titanium)
- Anamaria Vartolomei (The Event)
- Lucie Zhang (The Olympiads)
Best Male Newcomer
- Sandor Funtek (Supreme)
- Sami Outalbali (A story of love and desire)
- Timothée Robart (Les Magnétiques)
- Makita Samba (The Olympiads)
- Benjamin Voisin (Lost Illusions)
Best Foreign Film
- Compartment no. 6 (dir. Juho Kuho Kuosmanen)
- Drive My Car (dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
- First Cow (dir. Kelly Reichardt)
- The Worst Person in the World (dir. Joachim Trier)
- Parallel Mothers (dir. Pedro Almodovar)
- The Father (dir. Florian Zeller)
Best Original Screenplay
- Aline (Valerie Lemercier, Brigitte Buc)
- Annette (Leos Carax, Ron Mael, Russel Mael)
- Black Box (Yann Gozlan, Simon Moutaïrou, Nicolas Bouvet-Levrard)
- The Divide (Catherine Corsini, Laurette Polmanss, Agnes Feuvre)
- Onoda, 10,000 Nights in the Jungle (Arthur Harari, Vincent Poymiro)
Best Adapted Screenplay
- The Accusation (Yael Langmann, Yvan Attal)
- Happening (Audrey Diwan, Marcia Romano)
- Lost Illusions (Xavier Giannoli, Jacques Fieschi)
- Paris, 13th District (Celine Sciamma, Lea Mysius, Jacques Audiard)
- Hold Me Right (Mathieu Amalric)
Nominations for categories spanning Sound, Editing, and Cinematography can be found here.
The 47th Cesar ceremony will be held on February 25 at the Olympia and televised via Canal+.