'The Intouchables' star Omar Sy voted France's favourite

French actor and comedian Omar Sy, who shot to international fame in the hit film "The Intouchables" was declared the darling of France on Sunday in a poll rating the country’s most popular people.


If reputations are to be believed, then the French do not give praise freely, least of all to other people. For example, instead of describing something as ‘good’, the French often opt for a less enthusiastic, ‘it wasn’t bad’ (‘pas mal’). Which may explain all the brouhaha surrounding a poll published on Sunday of France’s 50 most beloved people. And the winner is (drum roll please)….

Actor and comedian Omar Sy came in at the top of the list, dethroning former tennis pro Yannick Noah for the first time in almost five years. Sy surged to international celebrity in early 2012 after lighting up screens in the French film The Intouchables (Les Intouchables). The actor charmed audiences and critics with his broad smile and breakaway performance, to become the country’s first black male to be awarded a César for Best Actor. Betting that The Intouchables, and by extension Sy’s turn in it, was the stuff of Oscars, France has picked the film as its submission for the 2013 Academy Award’s foreign language category. If there was any doubt before, then there’s none now: Yes, Omar, they like you. They really do.

While at first glance, the survey may seem like a high school popularity contest taken to a national level, it also offers some interesting insights into French society. In the past couple of years, the poll, which is conducted by French polling centre Ifop and weekly newspaper the Journal du Dimanche, has been largely dominated by celebrity athletes, musicians and actors. But it looks as though this year, the French just really needed a good laugh. The top 10 was littered with comedic actors like Sy and The Artist star Jean Dujardin, whose films have kept the country clutching at their sides, so to speak.

Politicians, however, did not fare so well on France’s hot or not list. Earlier this year, President François Hollande was a pretty popular guy, stealing 15th place in the last poll, published in July. He has since plummeted a whopping 30 positions, barely making it onto the list at all.

The top five most popular people in France

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