Paris-born Marion Cotillard, a virtual unknown in the U.S. a year ago, seems destined to escape anonymity now that she has earned an Oscar nomination.
But while the honor might raise the stature of Cotillard, will it dramatically increase her opportunities to work on American films?
It seems that way. The French thesp has just been cast alongside Johnny Depp and Christian Bale in Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies” for Universal.
Mexican native Adriana Barazza, who earned a supporting actress nom last year for “Babel” (as did Japanese co-star Rinko Kikuchi), also offers an emphatic yes.
“My career has changed 100%,” Barazza says. “I’m getting several offers for American projects that before my nomination seemed a world away. I think this nomination will change things forever.”
That seems like something Javier Bardem can relate to. Nominated this year for a supporting performance in “No Country for Old Men” after previously being tapped for “Before Night Falls” (2000), Bardem clearly benefited from Oscar’s attention, as have others:
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- Iranian actress Shohreh Aghdashloo followed a supporting actress nom for “House of Sand and Fog” in 2004 with appearances in as “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “The Lake House.”
- Japanese thesp Ken Watanabe parlayed his supporting actor nom for “The Last Samurai” (2003) into parts in “Batman Begins,” “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.”
- Though she’s yet to receive her big Hollywood break, Colombian-born Catalina Sandino Moreno — nommed as lead actress for “Maria Full of Grace” (2004) — capitalized on her renown by taking roles in “Fast Food Nation” and “Love in the Time of Cholera.”
Foreign actors can experience real gain even when they are older and already well known outside America. German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl, who recently gave a highly praised perf in David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises,” was 66 when nommed for Scott Hicks’ “Shine” (1996). Though he had already appeared in major American films — Costa-Gavras’ “Music Box,” Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” — he suggests the supporting actor nom for “Shine” gave his career a boost.
“It’s tricky to say, but I think yes,” Mueller-Stahl muses. “People say, he’s got a nomination. It works this way. I was still a European actor then. Now I’m an American, too — even with my stubborn English.”
Conversely, it’s fair to say that sometimes an Oscar nom comes too late in a foreign thesp’s career to have much effect. Take Swedish actor Max von Sydow or two Gallic stars, Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. All three received their initial (and, to date, only) Oscar noms well into their careers — von Sydow in 1989 for “Pelle the Conqueror,” Depardieu in 1991 for “Cyrano de Bergerac” and Deneuve in 1993 for “Indochine.”
“I don’t recall thinking, ‘Thank you very much for this — it will really boost my career,'” von Sydow says. “But I was very pleased to get it.”
The great Yiddish stage star Ida Kaminska, 67 when nommed for actress in the Oscar-winning Czech film “The Shop on Main Street,” subsequently appeared in only one American pic. Jocelyne LaGarde, nommed for best supporting actress in “Hawaii” (1966), never made another movie. And though Haing S. Ngor won for supporting actor in his first role, “The Killing Fields” (1984), that was his sole big movie.
And then there’s Juliette Binoche. Winning an Oscar for supporting actress in “The English Patient” (1996) while in her early 30s barely affected her career: She mostly made arty European films before the win and continued to do so afterward. Even following her second nom, as best actress in Lasse Hallstrom’s “Chocolat” (2000), no real shift occurred. Her role in this past year’s American comedy “Dan in Real Life” represents an exception, not the rule.
As she mulls her future prospects, Cotillard might consider the musings of someone who’s been there, done that: France’s Anouk Aimee, nommed as best actress for Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman” (1966).
“I suppose the nomination brought me something,” Aimee says, “but I cannot tell you what, because I don’t know how it would be without it. It was nice, and I’d like it again. If you’re in the film business, I think it’s the top — what do you want, the Nobel Prize?”