I can understand all this talk about a possible nomination for Isabelle Huppert. She is probably the greatest, most celebrated living actor who's never been Oscar-nominated, and lately they usually find a spot for iconic foreign stars; and while in Elle she plays one of her famously extreme, daring characters (one which was rejected by several American actresses), the movie is actually very accessible, "shocking" in form but not really in substance - it was directed by Paul Verhoeven, not Michael Haneke - so even Americans could find it bearable. She's in every single scene, and plays a role which could sound like a parody of Great Contemporary Parts for Actresses - a middle-age (Huppert is 63 but convincing as a woman at least fifteen years younger), successful divorced woman and mother, daughter of a former mass murderer (of children), whose mother is going to marry a much-younger toy boy she (Huppert) despises, and - finally, but this is the first scene - gets assaulted, beaten and raped by a mysterious masked man whose identity she tries to discover for two thirds of the movie, and sort-of perversely likes it. I know, this will never be Big Magilla's favorite movie - and to be honest, despite the truly puzzling raves it got at Cannes (some even compared it to much more ground-breaking, provocative masterpieces of the past), it's a far from memorable effort. It's saved by Huppert's subtle, almost, I'd say, "tongue-in-cheek" performance - she clearly knows that the material isn't that deep (I guess - hope - that Verhoeven knows it, too), and find an interesting distance from it, an act of balance which is probably as difficult as walking on a rope. A more committed, method-style actress would have miserably failed - but Huppert has a grace and an intelligence which make her performance here (if not the movie itself, which isn't more than rather entertaining) fascinating to watch.
But will the Academy appreciate this kind of sublety? I frankly don't think so.