1. The English Patient (1996)

IMDB Rating: 7.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

Storyline: Set against the backdrop of World War II, The English Patient is a sweeping tale of love and loss. Binoche plays Hana, a nurse who takes care of the badly burned “English patient” – a man with no identity who reveals his tragic love story through flashbacks.

Performance: Binoche won her only Academy Award for her portrayal of Hana, a testament to her flawless execution of the complex character who is simultaneously a caregiver, a lover, and a friend. Her seamless transition from a soft-spoken nurse to a determined woman showcases her ability to depict a plethora of human emotions with subtlety and grace.

The film remains one of Binoche’s most iconic performances to date, as she perfectly captures the heartbreak and pain that stem from love and war. Her portrayal of Hana’s journey through love, loss, and self-discovery not only solidifies her status as an internationally acclaimed actress, but also sets the tone for her future roles.

2. Three Colors: Blue (1993)

IMDB Rating: 8/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 98%

Storyline: Binoche stars as Julie, a woman struggling to find new meaning in life after her husband and daughter are killed in a car accident. Filled with poetic symbolism, the film explores concepts of liberty and loss within the backdrop of the French society.

Performance: Binoche’s outstanding performance as the grieving Julie is regarded as one of her finest works. Her depiction of a woman attempting to erase her past while grappling with profound sadness captured the hearts of international audiences, and the potency of her work is evidenced by the film’s enduring critically acclaimed status.

Three Colors: Blue marks the beginning of Binoche’s collaboration with the legendary director Krzysztof Kieślowski. Despite being largely silent and contemplative, her role in the film is incredibly demanding emotionally, and Binoche rises to the challenge, delivering an utterly transformative performance.

3. Certified Copy (2010)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 88%

Storyline: In this intriguing drama, Binoche plays a French antique dealer who spends a day with a British author in Tuscany, and their relationship blurs the line between fiction and reality.

Performance: Binoche’s performance in Certified Copy is arguably her most audacious. She traverses the emotional spectrum, portraying a woman who is both vulnerable and assertive, mysterious and inviting. Her ability to embody the character’s many layers has been recognized by critics and audiences alike, affirming her status as one of the most versatile actresses of her generation.

She won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her role in this film. Her performance is marked by an impressive range of emotions, layered with subtlety and depth that only an actor of Binoche’s caliber could portray, making Certified Copy a remarkable highlight in her already influential filmography.

4. Chocolat (2000)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 63%

Storyline: Binoche stars as Vianne, a single mother who opens a chocolate shop in a conservative French village and shakes up the rigid morality of the community.

Performance: Binoche gives a charismatic and endearing performance that gained her an Academy Award nomination. Her character, Vianne, is bubbly, charming, and compassionate, and it was her portrayal of this vibrant and independent woman that truly brought the film to life.

Binoche’s portrayal of Vianne as an independent woman challenging societal norms with her unconventional lifestyle brought freshness to the film. Her performance in Chocolat further solidified her status as a leading lady in international cinema, exhibiting her ability to bring depth and humanity to her characters.

5. Hidden (Cache) (2005)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 89%

Storyline: In this psychological thriller, Binoche plays Anne, a publisher’s wife who, along with her husband, begins to receive anonymous, surveillance-style videotapes that raise unsettling questions about their lives.

Performance: Binoche gives an intense and gripping performance in this unsettling drama. Her fear, confusion, and paranoia are palpable as Anne struggles to come to terms with the anonymous harassment that threatens her peaceful family life.

Despite having a leading man in the film, Binoche maintains a strong presence throughout the entire movie with her stunning performance. Her poignant portrayal of a woman grappling with an unknown terror earned her critical acclaim, and further cemented her status as one of France’s most celebrated actresses.

6. The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988)

IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

Storyline: In one of her earliest successes, Binoche plays Tereza in a movie about cultural and sexual liberation in Prague just before the Soviet crackdown.

Performance: Despite being one of her early performances, Binoche commands attention as the shy and insecure Tereza navigating a tumultuous relationship with her husband. This is one of the film performances that catapulted her to international stardom.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being offers Binoche the opportunity to show off the depth of her talent. As a woman torn between her love for her husband and her own insecurities, her captivating performance garnered both critical acclaim and audience admiration across the globe.

7. Damage (1992)

IMDB Rating: 6.8/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Storyline: Binoche plays Anna, a complex woman engulfed in an illicit and destructive affair with her father-in-law.

Performance: Binoche’s portrayal of a woman fascinated by forbidden attraction evokes a sense of both allure and disquiet. Her raw performance as a woman trapped in a dark spiral of passion is a testament to her acting prowess.

Binoche’s role as Anna navigates an emotional rollercoaster that showcases her range as an actress. From desire to despair, her portrayal paints a multifaceted picture of human nature that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.

8. Summer Hours (2008)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 94%

Storyline: Binoche portrays Adrienne in a film about three siblings who must decide what to do with their mother’s valuable art collection after she dies.

Performance: Binoche’s nuanced performance as a woman grappling with the nostalgia of her past is engaging and empathetic, earning her praise amongst critics.

Adrienne is an emotionally complex role. Binoche’s execution, striking a balance between being sensitive and assertive, serves as a testament to her versatility as an actress.

9. Let the Sunshine In (2017)

IMDB Rating: 6.0/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

Storyline: Binoche plays Isabelle, a divorced Parisian artist in search of true love, navigating through failed romantic encounters and bitter disappointments.

Performance: Binoche’s interpretation of a woman on a quest for love marks another powerful performance in her filmography. Her ability to bring out the desperation, vulnerability, and hope of her character is nothing short of spectacular.

The film is an intimate exploration of a woman’s journey through love and disappointment. Binoche’s heart-wrenching performance carries the audience along with her every emotion.

10. Mauvais Sang (1986)

IMDB Rating: 7.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes: 91%

Storyline: Binoche plays Anna in this French crime thriller about a virus which kills people having sex without emotional involvement.

Performance: Binoche’s portrayal of Anna is filled with youthful exuberance mixed with an undercurrent of sadness, capturing the complexity of her character perfectly.

In one of her earlier films, Binoche displays veteran skill in her role as Anna. Her performance garnered praise, and showcased her depth and versatility as an actress.