Jean Dujardin kissing Oscar statuette
Best Actor Oscar winner Jean Dujardin kisses his Oscar statuette at the Governors Ball 2012. For his performance as a fading silent film star in Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist, Dujardin became the first Frenchman to win an Oscar in the acting categories: Charles Boyer, Maurice Chevalier, and Gérard Depardieu had all been nominated before, but none of them had ever won. (Photo: © A.M.P.A.S.)
The list of Frenchwomen who either won or were nominated for Oscars in the acting categories is much more extensive. The French-born, American-raised Claudette Colbert was the Best Actress of 1934 for Frank Capra’s comedy It Happened One Night. The other French Best Actress Oscar winners are Simone Signoret for Jack Clayton’s 1959 British drama Room at the Top and Marion Cotillard for Olivier Dahan’s French-language Edith Piaf biopic La Vie en Rose.
Additionally, Juliette Binoche was a surprise Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner for Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient. Hollywood veteran Lauren Bacall was the favorite that year. (Much like The Artist, The English Patient was distributed in North America by a Harvey Weinstein company — at that time, Miramax.)
Other French nominees in the acting categories were Leslie Caron for Charles Walters’ Lili (1953) and Bryan Forbes’ The L-Shaped Room (1963); Anouk Aimée for Claude Lelouch’s A Man and a Woman (1966); Isabelle Adjani for François Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H. (1975) and Bruno Nuytten’s Camille Claudel (1989); Marie-Christine Barrault for Jean-Charles Tacchella’s Cousin, Cousine (1976); Catherine Deneuve for Régis Wargnier’s Indochine (1992); in addition to Binoche for Lasse Hallström’s Chocolat (2000), and Colbert for Gregory La Cava’s Private Worlds (1935) and John Cromwell’s Since You Went Away (1944).
Besides Binoche, there have been only two other French nominees for Best Supporting Actress: Colette Marchand for John Huston’s Moulin Rouge (1952) and the Argentinean-born Bérénice Bejo for The Artist (2011). Valentina Cortese was nominated for Truffaut’s French-made Day for Night (Oscar 1974), but Cortese is Italian.