Marion Cotillard wins Oscar for best actress

Actress Marion Cotillard, nominated for an Oscar for best actress for "La Vie en Rose," arrives at the 80th annual Academy Awards in Hollywood February 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marion Cotillard won the Academy Award as best actress for her portrayal of legendary chanteuse Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” to become the first French performer since 1960 to earn an Oscar in the category.

It was the first nomination for Cotillard, who was a favorite coming into Sunday’s award show in Hollywood.

The 32-year-old actress stunned audiences and critics at home and abroad with her physical transformation in the film that traces the life of Piaf, who achieved international fame after being raised by her grandmother in a brothel but saw her life cut short by drug and alcohol abuse.

The win comes just days after Paris-born Cotillard took home the French film industry’s coveted Cesar award for best actress for “La Mome,” as the Piaf biopic is called in her homeland. She also picked up both a British BAFTA and a Golden Globe for her role.

Simone Signoret won the best actress Oscar in 1960 for her leading role in “Room at the Top” and was the last French woman to do so, although several others, including Catherine Deneuve and Isabelle Adjani, have been nominated.

In the best actress category, Cotillard competed with Julie Christie (“Away From Her”), newcomer Ellen Page (“Juno”), Laura Linney (“The Savages”) and Cate Blanchett (“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”).

Reporting by Lisa Baertlein, editing by Peter Henderson