best film:  Inception. Marion Cotillard, in her career, has been in four top ten of the year films (and The Immigrant is only locked out because of a crazy deep year in 2013) but Christopher Nolan’s Inception is clearly the greatest of those films. She appears on screen for no more than 10-15 minutes of the film but she packs a wallop as Mal, Leonardo DiCaprio’s (as Cobb) wife/nightmare/femme fatale. This is a mesmerizing turn by Cotillard in what is clearly one of the decade’s best films.



Cotillard gives the best per-minute (about 13 minutes of total time) on screen performance in the film as a modified femme fatale



best performance:  The Immigrant edges out her other stellar work here – which includes strong work in a masterpiece – above, an Academy Award win (La Vie En Rose) and her take on a neo-neo realism performance with the Dardennes (Two Days, One Night). Two Days, One Night is the perfect marriage of this era’s greatest cinematic realists (The Dardenne brothers) and perhaps this generation’s most gifted female actor. This is The Dardenne’s first time working with a star. Ingrid Bergman’s work with Roberto Rossellini comes to mind and perhaps Sophia Loren working with Vittorio De Sica in 1960’s Two Women. Like all of the work from the Dardenne brothers, it has a social conscious, a systemic critique, about the working class, universal. It is shot in long takes – most of Cotillard’s encounters with coworkers are in a single shot, handheld camera at medium close-up – real location shooting, she is wearing the same tank top and jeans for most of it.



in James Gray’s 2013 film The Immigrant, Cotillard impresses next to Joaquin Phoenix



stylistic innovations/traits:  Yet another acting genius born in Paris – Marion Cotillard can play the villain as well as the heroine. Her work with Christopher Nolan is important in this respect (on top of providing Cotillard with her best two films overall). She can play the empathetic victim (Two Days, One Night, The Immigrant) as well as anyone and clearly can oscillate between super hero action blockbuster, to biopic (La Vie En Rose) to realism (Two Days, One Night).  She plays Billie opposite Johnny Depp’s Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies and she is superb – keeping her character from becoming a cliché. Billie is a real person. Cotillard has largely swung and missed since 2014 and that is concerning. If she had continued her torrid pace of brilliant work from 2007 to 2014 (nine (9) archiveable films including her best five (5) performances in this eight (8) year stretch), she would be in the top 25 or so on this list by now.



Cotillard is brilliant and she is in every frame of Two Days, One Night.  She can (and has) been so effective in big films like Nolan’s blockbusters, she can disappear and play known figures like Édith Piaf of course (her Oscar win) but here she is an everywoman, she is so authentic. This is not Julia Roberts going door to door with grit and sass in Erin Brockovich (Roberts is good at that, just description here) – this is a natural performance and Cotillard’s character here is not an extrovert. It is a tribute to Cotillard’s talents that it feels like she underplayed a roll in which a woman pops pills for depression, attempts suicide, cries no less than five times in the first twenty minutes. This could have gone off the rails in the hands of someone else and does not  She carries it physically, too.



directors worked with:   Christopher Nolan (2) – then once with Jean-Pierre Jeunet (1), Woody Allen (1), Steven Soderbergh (1), Michael Mann (1), James Gray (1) and the Dardenne brothers (1)



top five performances:

  1. The Immigrant
  2. Two Days, One Night
  3. Inception
  4. La Vie En Rose
  5. Public Enemies



archiveable films

2004- A Very Long Engagement
2007- La Vie En Rose
2009- Public Enemies
2010- Inception
2011- Midnight in Paris
2011- Contagion
2012- The Dark Knight Rises
2012- Rust and Bone
2013- The Immigrant
2014- Two Days, One Night