Director Jacques Audiard's bleak prison drama A Prophet swept France's Cesar cinema awards, winning a total of nine prizes including best film and best actor.
The film, nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar to be awarded in Hollywood on March 7, was up for a total of 13 Cesars. Relative unknown Tahar Rahim, 28, won best actor for his role as a jailed French-Arab youth, as well as the award for Most Promising Male Newcomer, while veteran Isabelle Adjani won Best Actress for the school drama Skirt Day.
A Prophet was a favourite to win the Cannes Palme d'Or last year but instead scooped the runner-up Grand Prix award for director Audiard.
The drama follows an illiterate French-Arab youth as he rises through the criminal ranks in a grim prison, forging violent alliances and double-crossing his friends as he rises to the top.
The film was hailed by critics, with The Times declaring that it "instantly takes its place alongside the greats of the crime movie genre".
The movie about a six-year jail sentence that turns into an education in crime, "is a straightforward genre piece, brilliantly made in all aspects", said The Hollywood Reporter's Kirk Honeycutt.
New York Times critic Manohla Dargis called it "a sensational prison film and moral history ... a story of one person that eventually becomes a story of an entire world ordered by violence".