Top 5 Oscar Nominations for French Acting
May 5, 2012
With its five Oscars, the silent, black-and-white film The Artist made French history. Jean Dujardin’s Oscar for Best Actor was a first for France; although Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer garnered two and four nominations respectively, neither ever won. And Dujardin won for a silent film. Oscar nominations for actors in foreign language films are rare. When Claudette Colbert (It Happened One Night), Simone Signoret (Room at the Top) and Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) won their statuettes, it was for English-speaking roles. In 2008, Marion Cotillard became the first to win a Best Actress Oscar for a French-speaking role (La Môme/La Vie en Rose). Here are five other French stars nominated for roles performed in French.
Un Homme et une Femme (A Man and a Woman)
Claude Lelouch, 1966
In the romantic drama Un Homme et une Femme, Anouk Aimée is Anne, a young widow haunted by the memories of her late husband. She meets a widower (Jean-Louis Trintignant) at the boarding school their children attend. Will the attraction between them be strong enough to transcend the past? The film, which made Lelouch famous, won Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay. Aimée lost to Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Jean- Charles Tacchella, 1976
A decade after Anouk Aimée broke the ice, the delicate blonde Marie-Christine Barrault received a Best Actress nomination for her role in the romantic comedy Cousin Cousine. Marthe (Barrault) and Ludovic (Victor Lanoux), cousins by marriage, meet at a wedding, become fast friends and start seeing a lot of each other. Their platonic friendship disturbs their spouses, who are convinced they are having an affair. The film was a surprising hit in the United States, and was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. (It was remade in English as Cousins in 1989 by Joel Schumacher with Isabella Rossellini.) Barrault lost to Faye Dunaway in Network.
L’Histoire d’Adèle H. (The Story of Adele H.) François Truffaut, 1975
Camille Claudel Bruno Nuytten, 1989
Adjani was only 20 when she received her first Oscar nomination for her breakthrough role in L’Histoire d’Adèle H., based on the real-life story of Victor Hugo’s daughter Adèle, whose obsessive, unrequited love for a British officer spiraled into insanity. Adèle was the first of many unstable and passionate female characters brought to life by Adjani. She was nominated a second time in 1990 for Camille Claudel, an intense drama recounting the true story of Claudel, the pupil and mistress of sculptor Auguste Rodin (Gérard Depardieu) and an accomplished artist in her own right, who spent the last 30 years of her life in a psychiatric hospital. In 1976 Adjani lost to Louise Fletcher in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In 1990, Camille Claudel was also nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but Adjani lost to Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 1990
The most famous of all contemporary French actors, Gérard Depardieu is the only actor ever nominated for a French-speaking role. (The Artist is almost entirely silent; Dujardin utters only two words at the end, which are in English.) Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Cyrano de Bergerac was adapted from the renowned 1897 French play by Edmond Rostand, loosely based on the life of 17th-century writer Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano (Depardieu), a sensitive poet but an ugly man, is hopelessly in love with his cousin Roxane, who loves Christian de Neuvillette, a handsome officer completely lacking in wit. Depardieu lost to Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune.
Régis Wargnier, 1992
France’s ultimate contemporary star, Catherine Deneuve, has received only one Oscar nomination in her long career. The historical melodrama Indochine follows a family of French colonists, headed by heiress Eliane (Deneuve), from 1930 to Indochina’s independence in 1954. Within the historical saga the love triangle between Eliane, navy officer Jean-Baptiste Le Guen and Camille, a Vietnamese princess who is Eliane’s adopted daughter, heats up the screen. Indochine won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but Deneuve lost to Emma Thompson in Howards End.
Originally published in the April 2012 issue of France Today
France Today magazine. A unique insider’s perspective on French travel,
culture, real estate and much more. Subscribe today.