best film: The 400 Blows is the answer here because the main competition for Leaud is Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou and Leaud is no more than a cameo in that film. Day for Night, Last Tango, and Two English Girls are excellent films but can’t touch Truffaut’s debut and the ground-breaking landmark of the French New Wave that is The 400 Blows.

best performance:   The 400 Blows. He’s 15 when The 400 Blows comes out but it’s a supreme work of acting for any age. The freeze-frame final shot is, justly, iconic and part of cinema history but it’s much more than that. Leaud’s Antoine Doinel is one of the better characters in the history of French (which puts it up there with anywhere) cinema. His adolescence is the cinematic equivalent of Holden Caulfield—sympathetic, roguish, complex.

stylistic innovations/traits: Leaud worked with Godard, Bertolucci and others but it’s his 6 films with Truffaut (4 times playing Antoine Doinel) that put him on this list. It’s not hard to see the resemblance and I think it’s more than fair to call him Truffaut’s doppelganger.  Leaud had a knack for improvisation (both as a child actor and adult). He’s remained a solid actor since the passing of Truffaut (working with Kaurismaki and Assayas and others) but he’s not on this list without the titans of the French new wave, specifically Truffaut, and more specifically, The 400 Blows.

directors worked with:   Truffaut (6) and Godard (4) though three of the four with Godard are most accurately described as cameos. His one real hefty performance with Godard is Masculin Feminin and he’s wonderful in it. Leaud also worked with Bertolucci and Kaurismaki once.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. The 400 Blows
  2. Masculin Feminin
  3. Stolen Kisses
  4. Love on the Run
  5. Two English Girls

Archiveable films

1959- The 400 Blows
1960- The Testament of Orpheus
1965- Alphaville
1965- Pierrot Le Fou
1966- Masculine/Feminine
1967- Weekend
1968- Stolen Kisses
1970- Bed and Board
1971- Two English Girls
1972- The Last Tango in Paris
1973- Day For Night
1979- Love on the Run
1996- Irma vep
2011- Le Havre