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Best Isabelle Huppert Movies, Ranked – MovieWeb

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Isabelle Huppert is a superstar of art house cinema and makes one good film after another. From The Lacemaker to Elle, here are her best performances.
In her five-decade career, legendary French actress Isabelle Huppert has appeared in more than 120 feature films. From the first big breaks (the 1974 controversial French comedy-drama Les Valseuses and her international breakthrough with 1977’s La Dentelliere) and collaborations with top-tier directors including Jean-Luc Godard and Michael Haneke to award-winning performances (1978’s Violette Nozière, 2001’s The Piano Teacher, 2016’s Elle, and others), Huppert challenges herself and audiences.
Fearless and mesmerizing, she freezes the screen and burns it down. Maybe that’s why The New York Times ranked Huppert second on its list of the greatest actors of the 21st century. Here are the essentials of the queen of Cannes’ career.
In South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo’s rom-com In Another Country, Huppert stars in three vignettes, playing three different characters (a charming filmmaker, an adulteress, and a newly divorced spiritual seeker), all named Anne. Every story centers on a French woman who finds herself the only foreigner in a small Korean resort town. It is a breezy, charming, and adventurous film that showcases Huppert’s charisma.
In the Jean-Luc Godard-directed 1980 drama Every Man for Himself, Huppert portrays a soft-spoken country girl Isabelle, who sells herself without remorse to be independent. Her character doesn’t look like what you expect. In the film, Isabelle’s story is intertwined with the experiences of an egotistical television director Paul Godard (a critical version of the director himself), and his ex-lover trying to unload the apartment they shared. Every Man for Himself is a powerful meditation on relationships and freedom.
Related: The Best Movies of the French New Wave, Ranked
François Ozon’s flashy musical 8 Women is a locked-house murder mystery. Based on the 1950s play, this dark comedy follows eight female family members gathering for the holiday season. After the murder of the patriarch, every woman becomes a suspect. For their roles, all eight principal actresses won the 2002 European Film Awards for Best Actress. An ensemble cast of high-profile French actresses delivers stunningly – but Huppert’s uptight and melodramatic Augustine is going through the biggest transformation.
In Claude Chabrol’s intense drama Story of Women, Huppert gives a performance that won her the prize for best actress at the Venice International Film Festival. She steps into the role of Marie, a poor housewife and mother of two, who helps women have abortions in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. Based on the true story of Marie-Louise Giraud, the last woman to be executed in France, Story of Women is a compelling character study that is painful to watch.
Directed by France's master of suspense, Claude Chabrol, this complex crime drama echoes the case of the Papin sisters, two housemaids who brutally murdered their employers in 1933. In La Cérémonie, Huppert is outstanding as the charismatically psychotic postmistress Jeanne, who gets the illiterate maid Sophie (Sandrine Bonnaire) into trouble. Huppert’s performance resulted in her first César. Also, the actress won her second Volpi Cup for Best Actress at Venice Film Festival.
In Claude Goretta’s The Lacemaker, the film that brought Huppert to the forefront of French cinema, she plays an 18-year-old shy Parisian beauty-salon assistant named Béatrice (known as Pomme). Pomme meets and falls in love with the rich, handsome young student (Yves Beneyton) while on holiday at a coastal resort – but their Cinderella-esque relationship is doomed to fail. Huppert’s impressive performance resulted in the most promising newcomer award at the BAFTA ceremony.
For Mia Hansen-Løve’s 2016 post-divorce drama Things to Come, Huppert appears as a middle-aged Parisian philosophy professor Nathalie who we meet at a point of existential crisis. As she loses her mother (Édith Scob) and her husband (André Marcon) leaves her, Nathalie must reinvent herself and rethink an already much-examined life. This plot may seem simple – but Huppert raised Things to Come to a higher level and won several nominations and awards for her gorgeous performance.
Isabelle Huppert is one of only four women (the other three are Vanessa Redgrave, Barbara Hershey, and Helen Mirren) to win Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival twice. The role in Claude Chabrol’s 1978 crime film Violette Nozière resulted in Huppert’s first award in this category. Based on a true French murder case, the movie tells the story of Violette Nozière (Huppert), an 18-year-old girl who poisoned her parents in 1933. Huppert gives an indelible display of the psychology of a murderer.
Related: These Are Some of the Best International or Foreign Movies on Netflix
Directed by Michael Haneke, the 2001 erotic psychological drama The Piano Teacher centers on an alienated middle-aged Vienna Conservatory tutor Erika (Huppert), who has a boundary-pushing sadomasochistic relationship with her young pupil Walter (Benoît Magimel). "It’s a game, to go as far as you want, to show things people have difficulty watching," Huppert said, opening up to The New York Times about the role, for which she won her second prize for best actress at the Cannes Film Festival.
Directed by Dutch provocateur Paul Verhoeven, 2016’s psychological thriller Elle follows Michèle Leblanc, an independent single woman (Huppert) seeking revenge after being raped by a stranger who invades her house. Huppert went on to receive the Academy Award nomination for her jaw-dropping portrayal of a rape victim. She absolutely deserved an Oscar for Elle – but Emma Stone won that year. As Empire noted, "Huppert has always been good, but she’s never been better than this".


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