This win marked the first time an actress had won for a role in a French-language film. Cotillard seemed as surprised as everyone else; she held her face in her hands on the whole walk up to the stage.
When she accepted her award, she said, "I am speechless. It is true that there must be some angels in this city."
This year, Cotillard starred alongside Penelope Cruz and Daniel Day-Lewis in "Nine." The movie was not well received by critics, but her role earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Cotillard will also star with Leonardo Dicaprio in the upcoming Christopher Nolan picture "Inception."
She was up against some of the best female actresses of her time, including Rosie Perez for "Fearless;" Winona Ryder, who had already won a Golden Globe for "The Age of Innocence;" and Emma Thompson for "In the Name of the Father." The fifth actress in the category was Holly Hunter, who was nominated for her role in "The Firm," and would go on to win best actress for her role opposite Paquin in "The Piano."