Cousin, Cousine (1976): Best Foreign Language Oscar Nominee

Marie-Christine Barrault received a Best Actress nomination for the French comedy “Cousin, Cousine,” directed by Jean-Charles Tacchella, whose co-penned script was also nominated.   Representing France, the comedy was also nominated for the Best Foreign-Language Oscar.

The nomination of Barrault, who is niece of the famed French actor-mime, Jean-Louis Barrault, had less to do with her acting, which was fine, than with the immense popularity of the movie in big cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, and the fact that it was a very poor year for American actresses.

Recounting in a nonjudgmental way the open adulterous affair between two cousins, the nominated screenplay, by Jean-Charles Tachella and Daniele Thompson, deserved recognition for being funny, witty, and original.  The new angle was that the two lovers meet randomly at a wedding, in which they realize that their respected spouses are having an affair.   At first, they are reluctant to jump into bed together, but it doesn’t take long before they do it—openly.

In 1976, the 21th year of the foreign-language Oscar category, the five nominees were:  Black and White in Color from the Ivory Coast, which won, Cousin, Cousine from France, Jacob, the Liar from the Federal Republic of Germany, Nights and Days from Poland, and Seven Beauties from Italy.

Transplanted to an American locale, the movie was remade under the same title by Joel Schumacher, with Isabella Rossellini and Ted Danson playing the reluctant cousin-lovers.

 

Oscar Nominations: 3

Best Foreign-Language Picture

Actress: Marie Christine Barraut

Screenplay (Original): Jean Charles Tachella and Danielle Thompson

Oscar Context

The winner of the Best Actress was Faye Dunaway for “Network,” which also won the Original Screenplay (by Paddy Chayefsky).