France's newly anointed best actress thanks director for "changing her life"

By Peter Mikelbank
Updated February 23, 2008 11:20 AM
Credit: Maxppp /Landov

The French raised the Oscar stakes on Friday night – sending La Vie en Rose‘s Marion Cotillard off to L.A. with a best actress win at the 33rd Annual César Awards ceremony.

Cotillard’s incarnation of singer Edith Piaf has won her Golden Globe and BAFTA awards this season, and placed the 32-year-old as a frontrunner against Oscar veteran Julie Christie Sunday night.

Announcing Cotillard’s win, French screen legend Alain Delon championed it onstage, playfully extending the long-anticipated moment before finally revealing. “And the César goes to … The kid Marion!”

An emotional Cotillard thanked Piaf friends and family who shared with her and the film’s director/writer Oliver Dahan. “You changed my life as an actress. You’ve changed my life. Period,” she said. “You have written the most beautiful role in the world.”

Nominated for three Oscars, La Vie En Rose was nominated for 11 Césars and received a total of five wins at the televised event held at Paris’ Theatre de Chatelet. It fared better than France’s other Oscar runners: The Diving Bell and The Butterfly (up for four Oscars including Best Director) salvaged only two awards and the animated film Persepolis took three of its six categories.

Up Next: Oscar Night

Though wildly popular, La Vie En Rose (French title: La Mome meaning The Kid) has been snubbed by France’s cinema establishment who chose not to even submit the film’ for consideration in Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film category.

Only the second Frenchwoman ever nominated for Oscar’s Best Actress, Cotillard flew from Paris to Los Angeles Saturday morning with boyfriend Guilliame Canet. And whether she wins Sunday or not, the actress intends to remain in the U.S. for a while.

Slated to start filming alongside Johnny Depp in Chicago Tuesday on Michael Mann’s Public Enemies, she’s also signed on to work opposite Javiar Bardem in August in Rob Morrow’s production of the musical Nine.

And that, as the French say, is la vie en rose.