After almost a year out of the limelight and following her high profile roles in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Rust and Bone (2012), French Oscar winner Marion Cotillard returns to our screens with three movies this year. Cotillard is one of the best actresses on the planet and it is shameful that two of her most recent movies in Blood Ties (2013) and The Immigrant (2013) are only just finding a wider audience outside of her native France.

The trailer for the Dardenne brothers directed Two Days, One Night (2014) was released last week and she's currently shooting an adaptation of Macbeth with Michael Fassbender. Now that Cotillard has returned I decided to revisit the movie she won an Oscar for: The Edith Piaf biopic, La Vie en Rose (2008).

The movie is a biopic of the legendary French singer Edith Piaf, and what follows is one of the most immersive performances from a lead actress ever committed to screen. At the time the movie was released it was widely criticised for missing out key parts of Piaf's life, namely her actions during the fascist German occupation of France during World War 2. This period is a widely debated and analysed part of the singer's life, so I can appreciate and respect what Piaf scholars disliked about the picture at the time. I would like to add that many aspects of Piaf's life could have been abandoned by the script writers and the integrity of this portrayal of an individual would not have been compromised.

The main success of the movie is the fact that it manages to humanise an icon while also offering a telling statement on the paradoxically intimate relationship that consumers of popular culture have with actors, musicians, painters, the theatre and of course cinema. Because we are stimulated on an emotional level by a great movie or piece of music or culture it means that our connection to the creative teams behind these works and what they have created is based on a subjectively intimate and personal response. This is why when an actor or musician passes so many people feel the loss so deeply.

What this movie manages to do is to project that idea onto screen, the script is designed to create a fully rounded and flawed individual while also humanising an extremely lionised popular culture figure. All of the scenes in the movie tentatively blur the lines between the events in our own lives and the supposedly out of reach existences of what would now be perceived as the so called celebrity culture that is widely criticized by bored liberal hacks in hipster bars.

What Cotillard does is immerse herself in the role completely, and while her singing vocals are dubbed, any complaints about this facet of the presentation are a misnomer because of the brutally intimate sense of Cotillard's performance.

As the movie concludes and Piaf looks back at her life a moment of pure human loss and sadness is brought to a prominent fruition of emotional vulnerability and poise by the French actress. As Cotillard's eyes look toward the skies in sadness while Piaf ponders the metaphysical failures of her heart and life, we are in no doubt about who this woman is - quite simply she is no longer a celebrity to us. She is ultimately a human being whose life has been transposed with a sense of beautiful melody and drama. While there are prosthetics at play in the movie Cotillard is allowed through the makeup (unlike Leonardo DiCaprio in Clint Eastwood's J Edgar).

What also shines through is the cinematography from director of photography, P Tetsuo Nagata. The colour palette used here is similar in its look to Gordon Willis's work on The Godfather (1972). Deep reds and blacks are used to project the melodramatically operatic tone of the picture in a similar way to Francis Ford Coppola's crime epic. The score wonderfully compliments the iconic soundtrack and adds emotional layers of depth to the story.

As Marion Cotillard returns to our cinema screens this year it is worth remembering just how good the movie that christened her to a worldwide audience (after a career that had many worthwhile French hits, and continues to do so). With Marion Cotillard I think the first thing I said to a friend after seeing this picture was that she was a 'female Bobby De Niro'. The movie she won an Oscar for is also worthy of her skills, and it also is a beautifully intimate portrayal of a musical icon.