Friday, 28 October 2011

Kate Winslet: Oscar Winner, times five

This entry is part of CS’ feature for the Large Association of Movie Blogs – LAMB Acting School, this week focusing on Kate Winslet.
I couldn’t think of an idea for a new article on Kate’s ability as actress, and I just didn’t feel like reviewing an entry from her filmography. Instead, I opted for an entry that’s sort of absurd, but bear with me. For an actor who’s so esteemed Kate gets a bit of flak for her Oscar winning work in The Reader. I know that more than a few would agree that she’s one of those great actors who win for the wrong roles. Sure, she’s not quite as chameleonic as, for example, Cate Blanchett but she’s is an eclectic actress and there are so many different parts she seems to fit into like a glove. So, I’m replacing her actual winning turn in The Reader for a slew of five Oscar winning Best Actress roles she could fit into to showcase her range. And, is it possible I’m just itching to mention these five performances ranging from good to phenomenal? Probable.

Incidentally, I’ve always said that Bergman’s Paula in Cukor’s Gaslight often makes me think of Nicole Kidman. There’s a striking ethereal beauty to her, and at first glance Kate doesn’t quite emanate that same fragility. Still, taking into account two of her underrated (and non-nominated performances) in Quills and Finding Neverland there is a delicacy to some of her characterisations which is not often exploited. I could surely imagine Cukor framing her delicately in the forties, and indeed she’d have been stunning with the cinematography.

The Heiress
This was actually the first Oscar winning performance which I thought of injecting Kate into. I wouldn’t say that she and de Havilland are similar actors, but the transformation of Catherine from trusting girl to decisive woman strikes me as very Winslettian (Winsletesque? Winsletic?). And, true, in Titanic Rose doesn’t quite undergo that sort of transformation in Titanic but there’s something about the not insignificant juxtaposition of the end of the film having her stare up at The Statue of Liberty, and it’s that same sort of decisiveness necessary for Catherine. Albeit, augmented to the max. But, we know Kate has the ultimate bitch-face.

A Touch of Class
I have compared Glenda Jackson’s technical skills (and photogenic, too) to Cate Blanchett which is sort of a reason why I chose this specific performance for Kate to find a kindred Oscar spirit. In the oeuvre of Kate’s nominated performances the one I remember last is always Little Children, and the performance is a bit of anomaly as is the film – somewhere between tragicomedy, melodrama and tragedy. A Touch of Class is progressively comedic but in watching the machinations of Wilson and Winslet, there’s a prominent sense that you could pluck that same relationship into the 1973 pseudo-comedy. Just like Jackson, I suppose that the easiness of the performance in contrast to her general work would have been significant.

Sophie’s Choice
It’s a stretch, certainly, because there are two specific reasons I made this connection. So many, erroneously I believe, consider The Reader to be a prototypical holocaust movie complete with the lead actress using a different accent and secondly so many often speak of Winslet as the successor to Streep’s throne – I’m neither here nor there on that, either. Nonetheless, I do like the idea of Kate replacing Meryl mother in Sophie’s Choice. Kate’s adept at projecting inner turmoil outwards, and like The Reader the crux of the drama in Sophie’s Choice is internal.

A Streetcar Named Desire
Rereading Streetcar recently, for scholastic purposes this time, I was specifically attracted this time around to the eclectic nature of Blanche’s personality – which lends potential credence to readings of the play’s delineating the psychological battle within her. Clementine lacks the poetry and the guile of Blanche, but in imagining Kate in the role Clementine is a fine paradigm to work on – what will all the rash changes in temperament. And, Kate’s always worked well with monologues.
So, using my abilities to inject Kate into these Oscar winning performances in history – which of them do you think she’d have actually been able to pull off?


Mette said...

Haha, I have no idea because I haven't seen any of these classics, but I'm sure Kate won the Oscar for the wrong performance - and I love your post.

Nick Prigge said...

Kate in "The Heiress"? Oh, heavenly father. I'd probably die from happiness. No, not probably. I would. I would die from happiness. A human can only stand so much happiness.

Also, Kate did NOT win for the wrong performance and I will - not to get all over-dramatic - square off with anyone in a steel cage match who disagrees.

Rich said...

Kate could totally do Catherine in 'The Heiress,' but I'd have a hard time imagining her as the plain-jane character she's supposed to be (at least up until the end). Kate as Blanche in 'Streetcar' is a way better call.