FINALIST: Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos
The Cannes Film Festival made an unprecedented move this year by awarding the Palme d'Or to not only the director of Blue Is the Warmest Color, a romantic drama based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Julie Maroh, but also to its leading actresses: Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. In the year France achieved marriage equality, the jurors’ recognition of actresses who depict two women passionately in love was an act that attracted international attention. Their achievement is remarkable in part because of their age – presently, Seydoux is 28 and Exarchopoulos is 20 years old. They are also now the only women other than Piano director Jane Campion to ever receive the coveted Palme d'Or. Official accolades are likely to continue, with the Golden Globes nominating Blue Is the Warmest Color last week for Best Foreign Film.
While the film has come under fire for its indulgent sex scenes — director Abdellatif Kechiche reportedly spent days filming the young actresses in a nearly nude state — Blue Is the Warmest Color has made an indelible mark in cinema history for the raw honesty of love and loss so intimately captured by Seydoux and Exarchopoulos. Queer women in audiences around the world relate to the story of a French teenager and her sexual awakening, which is sparked by the arrival of a blue-haired artist who helps lead her on a journey of self-discovery. But thanks to the talents of Exarchopoulos and Seydoux, this tale becomes universal, a love story that is remarkable not because it involves two women, but because it shows two people braving the beautiful and brutal vicissitudes of l’amour.
— Daniel Reynolds