French actress Isabelle Huppert is turning 64 today. She made her debut in 1971 on French television and her film debut a year later. Two of her early successes were in the 1975 film Aloïse, for which she received the first of sixteen Cesar Award nominations (more than any other actress has received), and the 1978 film Violette Nozière, the first of seven collaborations with director Claude Chabrol, for which she received another Cesar nominatoin and the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival.
Huppert has won the Cesar for Best actress twice, and been nominated seven times for a Moliere Award, the French equivalent of a Tony. She has appeared in a small number of American films over the years—Michael Cimino’s infamous bomb Heaven’s Gate, the thriller The Bedroom Window, David O. Russell’s I Heart Huckabees, and a few others. However, she probably more American attention in the past year than ever before thanks to her starring role in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, for which she won a Golden Globe and her second Cesar, and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress.
While there have definitely been years in which the Academy appeared to be having trouble filling out this category, this was definitely not one of them. Probably the most talked-about exclusion of the Oscar year was Amy Adams’ lead performance in Arrival, which managed to grab eight other nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and in several technical categories without likewise honoring Adams. It has been suggested that perhaps she split the vote with her equally fine work in Tom Ford’s entrancing Nocturnal Animals. Still more onlookers favored Annette Bening’s turn in 20th Century Women or Taraji P Henson as mathematician Katherine Goble Johnson in Hidden Figures. Clearly none of these women would have looked out of place on the final list of nominees. This is a good sign for actresses in general, but maybe not a great one for those hoping to take home an Oscar. The competition appears to be getting even more fierce.
That could also be demonstrated by how much trouble I had deciding on my own rankings in this category.
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