Isabelle Huppert is having a pretty great year. Which is saying something, because it's hard to imagine her having a bad one. Between her raves for Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come and Paul Verhoeven’s instantly infamous Elle, a sexual assault thriller that’s accrued steady word of mouth since its Cannes debut earlier this year, Huppert continues to sit pretty upon her throne of breathtaking unconventionalism. But while her oeuvre of compelling, challenging performances has garnered her a red-hot reputation across the globe as one of the best and bravest actresses of her generation, her domain of awards acclaim has rested largely in her home country of France. She holds the record for the most César nominations by an actress and yet Oscar has never paid her mind. With the news that AFI Fest plans to fête Huppert with a Tribute and matching Gala screening of Elle this November, perhaps she’ll push her way into the hearts and minds of Angeleno Academy voters in attendance before ballots go out.
If Huppert’s awards record of European cries and American crickets sounds familiar in this Oscar race, you’d be forgiven: we’ve already had a similar discussion a couple times this decade about under recognized actresses from the other side of the Atlantic. Last year, AFI Fest hosted a similar Tribute for Charlotte Rampling with a screening of 45 Years and then a scant few months later, Rampling was back in LA for the Oscars as a first-time Best Actress nominee. Emmanuelle Riva – iconic in Hiroshima, Mon Amour but mostly unknown to mainstream American audiences – found herself in the thick of the Best Actress race for Amour and became the oldest nominee in history for the prize. For my money, she should’ve been the oldest winner too. Couple this with the statistic that a European actress from a foreign language title has landed a Best Actress nomination three of the past five Oscar ceremonies (the third being Marion Cotillard for the Dardennes’ Two Days, One Night) and a precedent emerges that may give hope for Huppert landing that first Oscar nomination this year.
Although, as has been oft discussed in the infancy of this season, this is an usually competitive year in Best Actress. Do you think Huppert will make the cut, or it simply too tight a year for a performance in such a provocative film to squeeze in?