ⓘ César Award for Best Actress


ⓘ Cesar Award for Best Actress

The Cesar Award for Best Actress is one of the Cesar Awards, presented annually by the Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema to recognize the outstanding performance in a leading role of an actress who has worked within the French film industry during the year preceding the ceremony. Nominees and winner are selected via a run-off voting by all the members of the Academie.


1.1. History Superlatives

As of 2019, 82 actresses have been nominated in the category, with a total of 34 different winners. The average age at first nomination is 36 and the average age of winners at first win is 39.

With five wins 1982, 1984, 1989, 1995, 2010, Isabelle Adjani has more Cesar Award for Best Actress than any other woman. Six actresses have won two Best Actress Cesar: Romy Schneider 1976, 1979, Sabine Azema 1985, 1987, Catherine Deneuve 1981, 1993, Nathalie Baye 1983, 2006, Yolande Moreau 2005, 2009 and Isabelle Huppert 1996, 2017.

Adjani also holds the record of most Cesar Award in an acting category and of most Cesar in a single artistic category. She is followed with 4 Cesar by Dominique Blanc 1 Best Actress Cesar and 3 Best Supporting Actress Cesar and Nathalie Baye 2 Best Actress Cesar and 2 Best Supporting Actress Cesar.

Isabelle Huppert holds the record of most nominations with 14. Including Best Supporting Actress, Huppert has been nominated a total of 16 times, which makes her the overall most-nominated female performer.

Four actresses share the record of most consecutive nominations with 3: Juliette Binoche 1992, 1993, 1994, Isabelle Huppert 2001, 2002, 2003, Kristin Scott Thomas 2009, 2010, 2011 and Catherine Deneuve 2014, 2015, 2016.

Cecile de France is the only actress to have been nominated for two different roles the same year, in 2007 for Avenue Montaigne and for When I Was a Singer. The Academie has since modified the nomination rules to ensure that no one could receive more than one individual nomination by category.

Eight women have won both the Cesar Award for Best Actress and the Cesar Award for Best Supporting Actress:

  • Catherine Frot Best Supporting Actress in 1997, Best Actress in 2016.
  • Dominique Blanc,
  • Annie Girardot Best Actress in 1977, Best Supporting Actress in 1996 and 2002,
  • Karin Viard Best Actress in 2000, Best Supporting Actress in 2003 and 2019,
  • Adele Haenel Best Supporting Actress in 2014, Best Actress in 2015,
  • Emmanuelle Devos Best Actress in 2002, Best Supporting Actress in 2010,
  • Marion Cotillard Best Supporting Actress in 2005, Best Actress in 2008,
  • Nathalie Baye Best Supporting Actress in 1981 and 1982, Best Actress in 1983 and 2006

Nathalie Baye is the only actress with multiple wins in both categories. She is also the only performer to have won an acting Cesar in three consecutive years, in 1981, 1982 and 1983.

Three films have received both accolades: One Deadly Summer in 1984 Best Actress to Isabelle Adjani, Best Supporting Actress to Suzanne Flon, Indochine in 1993 Best Actress to Catherine Deneuve, Best Supporting Actress to Dominique Blanc and Queen Margot in 1995 Best Actress to Isabelle Adjani, Best Supporting Actress to Virna Lisi.

Five women have won the Cesar Award for Best Actress after previously winning the Cesar Award for Most Promising Actress:

  • Sandrine Bonnaire Most Promising Actress in 1984, Best Actress in 1986,
  • Sylvie Testud Most Promising Actress in 2001, Best Actress in 2004,
  • Elodie Bouchez Most Promising Actress in 1995, Best Actress in 1999,
  • Sandrine Kiberlain Most Promising Actress in 1996, Best Actress in 2014.
  • Sara Forestier Most Promising Actress in 2004, Best Actress in 2011,

Only one film has received both accolades: The Dreamlife of Angels in 1999 Best Actress to Elodie Bouchez, Most Promising Actress to Natacha Regnier.

Thirteen women have received nominations in the three competitive acting categories: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Most Promising Actress. They are Emmanuelle Beart, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dominique Blanc, Anne Brochet, Karin Viard, Sandrine Kiberlain, Emmanuelle Devos, Cecile de France, Marion Cotillard, Sylvie Testud, Emilie Dequenne, Sara Forestier and Adele Haenel. So far, no actress has achieved to win the three awards.

To date, the longest-living winner is Emmanuelle Riva, who died at 89, and the most short-lived is Romy Schneider, who died at 43. The oldest alive winner is Catherine Deneuve, aged 75, and the earliest alive winner is Miou-Miou Memoirs of a French Whore, 1980.


1.2. History Posthumous nominations

There have been only two posthumous nominations for any acting Cesar and both occurred in the Best Actress category. Romy Schneider was nominated in 1983 for The Passerby, seven months after her death possibly by suicide. Pascale Ogier died of a drug overdose at 25, three months before receiving a nomination for Full Moon in Paris in 1985.

Romy Schneider is the only actress to have been presented a posthumous Honorary Cesar, in 2008. Actor Alain Delon presented the Cesar, as the date also corresponded to the forty years of the iconic film La Piscine in which they starred together. During the standing ovation, he turned towards a giant portrait of the actress and declared in German that she was the love of his life.


1.3. History International presence

As the Cesar Awards are centered on the French Cinema, the majority of recipients are French and performed in French language. The only non-French winner of the Best Actress Cesar is Belgian actress Yolande Moreau 2005, 2009. Romy Schneider was born German and Berenice Bejo Argentine, but both had become French naturalized citizens by the time of their wins.

International actresses who have received nominations are:

  • Hong Kong: Maggie Cheung,
  • Algeria: Soria Zeroual,
  • United Kingdom: Jane Birkin, Charlotte Rampling, Tilda Swinton, Kristin Scott Thomas she holds dual British-French citizenship,
  • Germany: Nastassja Kinski,
  • Switzerland: Irene Jacob,
  • Morocco: Loubna Abidar,
  • India: Sanaya Irani,
  • United States: Julia Migenes.
  • Denmark: Sidse Babett Knudsen,
  • Belgium: Cecile de France, Marie Gillain, Yolande Moreau, Emilie Dequenne, Virginie Efira she holds dual Belgian-French citizenship,

The Best Actress Cesar has been awarded twice for a foreign-language performance: to Isabelle Adjani for her English-language performance in Possession 1982 and to Sylvie Testud for her Japanese-language performance in Fear and Trembing 2004. In addition, Berenice Bejo is the only performer in the history of the Cesar to receive an award for a silent role, in The Artist 2012.


2. Winners and nominees

Following the Academie des Arts et Techniques du Cinema AATCs practice, the films below are listed by year of ceremony, which corresponds to the year following the films year of release. For example, the Cesar for Best Actress of 2010 was awarded on February 27, 2010 for a performance in a film released between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009.

Actresses are selected via a two-round vote: first round to choose the nominees, second round to designate the winner. All the members of the Academie, without regard to their branch, are eligible to vote on both rounds. The number of nominees, initially set to four, was expanded to five in 1984 and then to seven in 2012.

Winners are listed first in bold, followed by the other nominees in alphabetic order.