Last night, French actress Isabelle Huppert beat out Natalie Portman and Amy Adams for the Best Actress in a Drama award at the Golden Globes for her work in Paul Verhoeven’s thriller Elle. Huppert has never been nominated for an Oscar, and despite being the most nominated actress in the history of France’s César Awards, she has only won once. Which is surprising when you consider that she is a laser-cut diamond amid the dusty coal of common Golden Globes–sanctioned celebrity.
Huppert wore ice blue on Sunday night, befitting her reputation as the coldest bitch in all of French cinema. Her fans know her and love her as the perpetual snow miser, the specter of bitter female perversion come to torment all the lumpy-faced men and supernaturally immaculate women of France. Watching the usually stony-faced Huppert smile and offer standing ovations on Sunday night would have seemed inappropriate if her joy had been reserved for anyone but herself. Huppert is the kind of actress who loves watching herself onscreen — and why shouldn’t she? Even when her characters lose, dying or defeated, Huppert herself wins by inevitably and impeccably unearthing some seed of delicious human misery, every performance a testament to evils usually left unspoken and corners of the human psyche usually left unexplored.
In Elle, Huppert plays a rape survivor who takes her sexual liberation into her own hands following a vicious assault. Over the course of her four decades in cinema, Huppert has played abortion providers and abortion seekers, prostitutes and predatory nuns, sadistic postmistresses and masochistic piano teachers. She’s been an incestuous daughter and an incestuous mother, she’s portrayed Madames Bovary and Brontë. She’s been guillotined, she’s taken arsenic, she’s stabbed herself in the heart. She’s worked with artists from all over the world on stage and in film. She starred in one of the most legendary and most lauded flops in Hollywood history, and she is the Academy Award winner of my heart for her role in the leaked footage of Lily Tomlin and David O. Russell’s on-set spat. She has allegedly entertained a feud with the other Queen Isabelle of French cinema, but she has refused to address it in the press for going on 40 years now. She is the only performer to win Best Actress twice at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, and she’s also won the Silver Bear for acting at the Berlin Film Festival.
Isabelle Huppert is a legend, the only person alive who could allege that Meryl Streep is overrated with any kind of authority ... and she clapped for Meryl on Sunday night anyway. She’s the star of this year’s hottest trend in pins, and watch out, Emma Stone, she might be on her way to Oscar.