The actresses in Nine, Rob Marshall's musical drama based on Federico Fellini's 8½, come alive when they sing. Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren and (wow) Fergie all lend their solo turns knowing eroticism and high snazz. But Cotillard, as the wife of a desperate filmmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) is in command of her character whether she's singing, speaking or just staring darts at her philandering mate. Pain rarely seemed so proud, or hurt so regal, as in Cotillard's rendition of the ballad "My Husband Makes Movies." The actress's showy turn as Edith Piaf in La vie en rose earned her an Oscar. Here, she's simpler, deeper, better.