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'Elle' wins at France's Cesar Awards, Clooney clobbers the Donald

French thriller "Elle" took the best film accolade at the Cesar Awards in Paris, while its star Isabelle Huppert won best actress. George Clooney, honorary Cesar winner, helped Hollywood meet its Trump-trolling quota.

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'Elle' wins best film at Cesar Awards

At the 42nd Cesar Awards ceremony in Paris on Friday, sometimes dubbed the "French Oscars," the home favorite "Elle" took both best picture and best actress. 

The subversive thriller tells the tale of a woman who not only seeks out and takes revenge on her rapist, but then manages to hold him in her power. Its star, 63-year-old Isabelle Hupert, is also nominated for the best actress Oscar at Sunday's award ceremony in Los Angeles. But in that contest, she will go up against Emma Stone from the musical "La La Land" with its record haul of nominations.

French-Canadian Xavier Dolan won best director for "It's Only the End of the World." Gaspard Ulliel scooped best actor for his starring role in the film; he plays a dying author who returns to his home town after more than a decade away. 

The social drama "I, Daniel Blake" - by renowned left-wing British director Ken Loach - took the best foreign film award. 

The presiding official's place at the awards was empty, following director Roman Polanski's withdrawal last month. The decision to invite the Polish director had caused uproar in France owing to his conviction in the US for statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in 1977. 

Clooney invokes McCarthy in Trump jab

Just two days before the Oscars, honorary Cesar Award winner George Clooney gave Paris a taster of what's liable to be a seven-course banquet of Trump criticisms in LA on Sunday. 

"Courage trumps fear. Right always trumps might," Clooney said, with his wife Amal watching on, before quoting famous war reporter Edward F. Morrow's critique of the communist witch hunts under US Senator Joseph McCarthy. 

"Let's not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must not walk in fear of one another, we must not be driven by fear into an age of unreason," Clooney told the audience. "We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home." 

Clooney, like the majority of Hollywood's heavy-hitters, was a supporter of Hillary Clinton during the US election campaign. The Oscars have a tradition of spilling over into the political sphere even during less turbulent times in the US.

msh/tj (AFP, dpa)

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