LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If there were an Oscar for the standout star of Sunday's Academy Awards ceremony, it would have to go to France's best actress winner Marion Cotillard.
The 32-year-old won for her portrayal of legendary chanteuse Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose" and she shone throughout the evening with her body-hugging, mermaid-style dress, boundless energy and a farewell song backstage.
Cotillard set the tone from her entrance on the red carpet, where her full-length white and gold Jean Paul Gaultier gown was a refreshing departure from the predominant red.
"I'm totally overwhelmed with joy and sparkles and fireworks and everything that goes like 'boom boom boom'," the bubbly brunette laughed when asked by reporters backstage to describe how she felt after receiving her golden statuette.
In reply to a question about her screen idols, she said: "I'm a very big fan of Peter Sellers. I wanted to marry him when I was a child."
She also gave a short rendition of the famous Piaf number "Padam Padam," prompting loud applause from reporters.
Cotillard was the first French performer since 1960 to win an Oscar in the best actress category. The victory, earned from her first Oscar nomination, will have raised her profile in Hollywood overnight.
Cotillard 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 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").
Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Mary Milliken and John O'Callaghan