Isabelle Huppert won her first Golden Globe award on Sunday night, topping expected winner Natalie Portman in the best actress in a motion picture drama category.
The veteran French actress won for her critically acclaimed turn in Elle., which also won the award for best foreign language film.
“I think both Paul [Verhoeven, director,] and myself, this is what we expect from doing movies — being adventurous in certain subject matters,” Huppert told reporters backstage after her win. “Not being scared of exploring anything, even if it is disturbing, even if it is sometimes difficult to listen to or to understand, but exploring the human psyche. That’s what makes cinema the most invaluable and worthwhile thing being done.”
In Verhoeven’s thriller, Huppert plays a successful video game developer who is raped in the very beginning of the film. Michèle plots her revenge on her attacker, never seeking help and putting the onus for closure on herself.
“She’s a prototype,” Huppert told EW in November. “You have no reference with her. She’s not a victim. She doesn’t react like a victim. But she also doesn’t react as a predictable avenger kind of a woman. She is somewhere else.”
Verhoeven credited Huppert with “saving” the film. After the film won best foreign feature, he told reporters backstage, “The book was sent to me and I liked the book, and it was clear that Isabelle Huppert was the girl to do this, and had to do this, because there is really nobody else in the world that could have done this.”
He continued, “When you start an adventure like that, you don’t know where it’s going, you’re not so clear about things, but after finishing the movie and seeing the result, I feel that what Isabelle did was so audacious and so authentic that it saves the movie.”
Huppert took home the hardware after beating out Natalie Portman’s portrayal an iconic First Lady in Jackie; Amy Adams’ turn as a linguist tasked with communicating with aliens in Arrival; Loving star Ruth Negga, whose real-life character fought for love without racial confinements; and Jessica Chastain as anti-gun lobbyist Miss Sloane.
Despite acting since 1971, this was Huppert’s first Golden Globe nomination. The Amour actress has never been nominated for an Oscar.