Isabelle Huppert, whose work in Elle landed her a well-deserved Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination, sat, perfectly underwhelmed, at the Academy Awards last evening. The French thespian looked uninspired by the floating menagerie of treats, released from the rafters of the Dolby Theater, by famed huckster and Oscars host Jimmy Kimmel. Flummoxed, Huppert was probably using an abacus to count down the minutes until the ceremony had concluded. Having had won the Golden Globe for Elle, only a month earlier, Huppert’s expression was of restrained and collected resignation. La La Land was the homogenized torch of middle America; the pirouette of the unencumbered. Emma Stone was going to win the golden boy, no questions asked, because of La La Land’s carbonated wanderlust. Stone represented accessibility, a vessel for audiences to experience dreams through. The character was a tall glass of Darigold milk on a cloudless morning. Boring. Predictable. But escapist.
Huppert’s performance in Elle, meanwhile, represented an elaborate, biting, and acerbic character study. By the time Stone lovingly clutched her Oscar, Huppert was wryly smiling, unaffected and unconcerned. What was all of this live Tweeting at the show about? Why was Kimmel letting randoms peck at Nicole Kidman’s hands? It’s easy to imagine Huppert wanting to escape to her hotel and sigh into a gold leaf Chinoiserie mirror for an hour. No more parachuting Twizzlers and maligned Mel Gibson’s expressions.
It’s important to note that foreign films rarely succeed, modernly, with American audiences. And so Huppert had a marginal chance, all along, to bring home any hardware from the prestigious ceremony last evening. Still, it was heartbreaking to see the Parisian performer ousted by an Emma Stone role that was effervescent and fun, but ultimately cloying and full of empty calories. But, then again, the Oscars are always divisive and rarely right. A combination that is, for better or worse, venerable and hardwired for conversation.
Who wants to watch La Ceremonie with me?