She's been called France's Meryl Streep. Now Isabelle Huppert, France's most regarded actress, will battle Streep and three others for the best actress Oscar, in her first — and very overdue — nomination. The Academy tapped Huppert, 63, for her role in Paul Verhoeven's film Elle, a movie that didn't make it into the foreign language race but has intrigued audiences with its disturbing tale about a successful business woman who is raped and the unusual methods she employs to find her rapist.

"It's amazing for me, amazing for a French-speaking film, amazing for Verhoeven," she says during a break from a new movie she is working on with director Benoit Jacquot (Farewell, My Queen). "All of that makes it exceptionable and particularly worthwhile to be happy about."

Huppert believes Elle, which first debuted at the Cannes Film Festival to raves, has connected to U.S. audiences in ways that so many of her other films haven't precisely because it centers on this unique, complex woman.

"We step into this woman's life and no matter how unpredictable her reactions are, they are all complex," she says. "I think the film is very daring in the way it analyzes this woman's reaction. It doesn't show a woman as people think she should be. It shows a woman who is true to herself. That is important."

Her character's actions prompted her to bring up the Women's March from the past weekend.

"I wish I could have been at the Women's March some days ago," says Huppert. "I think these things are very important. It gives voice to women: who they are, what they think, what they fight for." <iframe height="511" width="100%" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" src="//" class="" allowfullscreen="" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>ëgúñ×µogÚïÆûﶟ}¾ºu§ýõçŸçmôknv

She believes her director Verhoeven (Basic Instinct) was able to generate this reaction because of his layered approach to this character. "This film has this depth and integrity that people are relating to," she adds. "Verhoeven disturbs you, in the good sense, but he makes you think. There is a lot of integrity in his manner and he takes people beyond that. You may be scared but you think about something too."

Come Oscar Sunday, the Academy may just be thinking about Huppert too.

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