Festival de Cannes 70: Isabelle Huppert, 1978

A sunny shout-out to 70 winners at the Cannes Film Festival to celebrate the 70th event which is just around the corner – in no particular order.

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Sharing the Best Actress prize with the then more universally well-known Jill Clayburgh for An Unmarried Woman, was fresh-faced, 25 year-old Isabelle Huppert, playing a young woman hiding her taboo profession from her parents in Claude Chabrol’s magnetic Violette Nozière. Huppert was no stranger to French audiences, an up-and-coming star in the making. What we know now, in a filmography crammed with performances of the highest order, is that Huppert deserves mention alongside the American greats a la Meryl Streep, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn – though fans of the French actress could understandably be perturbed by such comparisons as she warrants incredible merit on her own terms. In Violette Nozière, Huppert balances the clandestine, the wry gaze, the seductive poise, with the boiling emotion, impressive outbursts, elements of her acting we’ve long since come accustomed to and in admiration of. A regular it seems at Cannes, Huppert would win again in 2002, and feature in many, many films in and out of competition – but it took 40 years for AMPAS to finally nominate her. Oh dear.

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