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Why Agnès Varda Is the Coolest Oscar Nominee

Director Agnès Varda became the oldest Academy Award nominee this year when her documentary, Faces Places, about street artist JR, was nominated in Best Documentary Feature category. This is just one of the many reasons that Varda is one of––if not THE––coolest Oscar nominee of all time. More thoughts below. 

Image: Agnès Varda on a film set, 1960 Credit: Edouard BOUBAT, Gamma Rapho, Getty Images

Agnès Varda, the 89-year-old Oscar nominee, sent a cardboard cut-out to the Academy Award lunch.

On Monday, February 5, a luncheon to unveil the 2018 Oscar nominees offered some of the greatest living Hollywood artists and industry members the opportunity to take a “class photo" together. Agnès Varda, however, who in January became the oldest Oscar nominee in history when she was shortlisted in the Oscars Documentary Feature category, said she was too tired to travel to the event. Instead, she sent a collection of cardboard cut-outs of herself with JR, co-director of Faces Places. Varda's replacement lightened the somewhat formal atmosphere, especially when it came to inserting the cutout in the group photograph, where it was positioned next to Greta Gerwig and Meryl Streep.

Image: Getty Images

She was the first woman to ever receive an honorary Academy Award. 

Famously, only one woman has ever won a competitive Oscar for directing––Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker in 2010. Last November, Agnès Varda received one of the highest of such awards: the Academy Honorary Award. Thus, she became the first female director to receive this honor.

Image: Courtesy of the Consulate General of France

She is a trailblazer of the French New Wave. 

The exhilarating work and achievements of French filmmaker Agnès Varda are well-known to cinephiles. Her 1955 film, La Pointe Courte, is credited as the first film of the New Wave. Her real-time 1962 masterpiece, Cléo from 5 to 7, is considered one of the era's high points.

Her wide-ranging talents have led to an unusually rich and varied career.

A renaissance woman of sorts, Agnès Varda’s work includes photography, nonfiction and fiction shorts and features, and, more recently, multimedia installations at museums and galleries around the world. Her voluminous body of work, influences, and approach to filmmaking are genuinely unique.

She's been a feminist from the start.

Agnès Varda has long been an inspirational, pioneering figure for female directors. When she began making movies in the 1950’s, she estimates there were three women filmmakers in France. "When I started, my point was not to be a woman. I wanted to [create] radical cinema," said Varda. "Now, France is a country where 25 percent of the filmmakers are women.”

And, of course, she has the most iconic haircut in the industry.

She's small in stature but her dual-toned bowl-cut hairstyle is, like her movies, immediately identifiable as her own. “It’s different! It’s like an ice cream of chocolate and vanilla!" The coolest, we said.

Image: Agnès Varda portrait - Photography by Benni Valsson