Dolan impressed audiences at the Cannes and Toronto film festivals with his film about a devoted couple whose relationship is put to the test when the male partner wants to change sex. Laurence Anyways won the best Canadian film prize at TIFF.
Just 23, Dolan has already screened three films at Cannes, including his debut J'ai tué ma mère and second feature film Les Amours Imaginaires.
In the foreign film category, he faces tough competition, including Danish director Nikolaj Arcel’s A Royal Affair and Argo, Ben Affleck's film about the CIA operation that helped six Americans slip out of Iran during the 1979 hostage crisis.
The other nominees for best foreign film:
- Bullhead, directed by Michael R. Roskam (Belgium).
- Oslo, August 31st, directed by Joachim Trier (Norway).
- The Angels' Share, directed by Ken Loach (Britain).
- Our Children, directed by Joachim Lafosse (Belgium).
The race for the Césars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, was led by Noèmie Lvovsky's Camille Rewinds (Camille Redouble) with 13 nominations and Michael Haneke's Amour with 10 nominations.
Amour, a moving depiction of love between an elderly couple, is also a leading contender for Academy Awards for both best foreign film and best actors. Its stars Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are in the running for best actor and best actress Césars, with a supporting actress nomination for Isabelle Huppert.
The nominees for best film:
- Farewell My Queen
- Camille Rewinds
- In the House
- Rust and Bone
- Holy Motors
- What's in a Name
Last year's César winner, The Artist, went on to win the best picture Oscar.
The César winners will be named on Feb. 22 in Paris, just two days before the Academy Awards in Los Angeles.