abstew here. Only 15 women in the 87 year history of the Academy have scored a Best Actress nomination for a foreign language performance. In contrast, British actresses have won Best Actress 14 times. While the Academy has always warmed to Brits, their European neighbors have had to struggle to breakthrough with recognition in the acting races. (There has still never been a Best Actress nominee for a performance in any language outside of a European origin.) The first actress to even score a nomination for a foreign language performance was Melina Mercouri for Never on a Sunday in 1960, over 30 years into the Academy's history. Only two women have actually won Best Actress for a foreign language performance and both those women have the even rarer distinction of being honored twice with nominations for foreign language performances. The first was Sophia Loren who won for 1961's Two Women and was nominated again for Marriage Italian Style (1964). The other is this year's nominee for Two Days, One Night, Marion Cotillard, who won Best Actress for La Vie en Rose (2007).
With her second nomination, Cotillard joins a small but prestigious group of actresses that in addition to Loren includes Liv Ullmann and Isabelle Adjani. Three actresses in three separate languages (Italian, Swedish, and French) that proved their talent was able to transcend language barriers not once, but twice with the Academy. To receive an Oscar nomination is an honor, to do so a second time shows that you've earned the respect of the Academy, and to do it both times for performances not even in English, well, that's a feat reserved only for iconic women like these.
To celebrate Cotillard's place alongside these international legends, for the next few days we'll look back at the three previous foreign language, double-nominated Best Actress contenders. First up, the beauty from Italy that made Oscar history with her first nomination...
after the jump