Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Incoherent Oscar: Best Actress

A rambling look as we navigate through the women whose names might me heard when the nominations are announced next month.
Every year there’s the suggestion that there are not enough strong roles for women, and yet almost every year there’s a slew of fine female performances. This year, not only do we get a slew of fine performances but the performances that seem to be on the precursors’ radar seems just as inundated. There seems to be a list of five who seem assured of a nod, which makes me immediately think that as the precursors’ begin making their decisions we shall begin to see some surprising snubs, and inclusions. I know that my projected list is liable to change soon, but here’s what I’m betting on at the moment.
MY GUESS: Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs; Viola Davis in The Help; Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady; Charlize Theron in Young Adult; Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn

THEN AGAIN, PERHAPS: Felicty Jones in Like Crazy; Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method; Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin; Elizabeth Olsen in Martha Marcy May Marlene

MORE POSSIBILITIES: Rooney Mara in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia

The Iron Lady is still for the most part unseen but the response from those who have seen it seems as split down the middle as I’d anticipated. Is it a fine performance in a fair film or simply a fair performance in a terrible film? And, are voters really that hung up giving Meryl that third Oscar? She does have one of each and has had such a difficult chance of cinching it in weaker years and just looking at this group there are a number of women who could be a spoiler. Close, for example, should in theory be the major spoiler in terms of sentimentality at the very least. But, the inability of the audience to love her character is a crutch but if the voters love her involvement in such a passion project they might be sympathetic. Still, as impressed as I am with her work in Albert Nobbs I am not wholly convinced that she will get the sentimentality vote.

Now, Michelle Williams could easily trump both ladies when it comes to the goodwill factor. There’s an overflow of largesse surrounding Marilyn which might, perhaps, never fade. Moreover, Michelle Williams is enjoying something of an upswing in goodwill fresh off her nominated turn in Blue Valentine and a starkly different performance in the critically well-received Meek’s Cutoff. Still, the reviews of the film aren’t that good and the sort of appreciation such a win demands necessitates at least appreciation for the film which helms the performance and My Week with Marilyn doesn’t seem that lucky. Charlize is someone I’m particularly doubtful of, she’s only just hanging on to my top 5. The thing is sometimes Oscar loves when its women go comedic, especially when they’re not usually known for it. And then, sometimes they don’t love their women unless their overflowing with sincerity.

That leaves us with Viola, and really I don’t see her taking the Oscar for this performance and yet she seems to be the most likely candidate. Of the five her film seems to be the most appreciated, her character is the most sympathetic but then if we’re looking at who’s due she is not particularly so and she does not emerge as the single significant player in the film which has been something of a trend with recent winners. Which makes me return to Meryl, and I don’t think she will and I sort of hope she doesn’t…but for now it’s the choice I’m sticking with.

Below the belt we’ve got Felicity Jones who is against all odds getting citations left and right, and then we’ve got Keira who I think needs just a Golden Globe citation to return to the fold. It’s such an obvious performance to reward, and Keira is ripe for the picking in terms of a second nod. Then, there’s Tilda who just recently nabbed a win from the NBR and I think if there is a potential winner who we haven’t considered it’s her. It’d be unlikely, but just suppose the SAG and FPA latch on to this…wouldn’t she be untouchable? And, even though her buzz seems to be evaporating as Jones’ rises we can’t count out Elizabeth Olsen. And, who knows what will happen when the embargo on Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lifts? What a kerfuffle this category could become. I love it.
Previously: Screenplays / Coming Soon: Technical Awards, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
Do you think the race is as uncertain as I make it out to be? Who’d you be casting your bets on? Who do you hope pulls out for a win?


dinasztie said...

Wow, you perfectly summed up my thoughts. I totally agree with you on Meryl: she's a safety pick but I don't think she will win and I also kind of hope she doesn't.

I still believe that Glenn can take the Oscar if she starts a crazy campaign. I hope she does. :)

Amir said...

Although I've heard negative murmurs here and there about the film, I have a feeling Mara still has a higher chance of getting nominated that Knightley.
I actually realized that I haven't seen any of your predictions (or mine) other than Olsen (who is terrific).

Also, one thing I've realized about this category, given that every year there are a lot of fine female performances in less than stellar films, is that a weak film doesn't hurt women (especially for a nomination but also for a win) as badly as it does men. If Bullock could win it for The Blind Side, Streep and Williams can definitely win it despite their films.

MrJeffery said...

i kind of feel like it will be davis, mara, streep, swinton & williams

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

daniel well, i mean anything is possible and if for some reason voters latch on to glenn and she plays up the campaigning it's not impossible.

amir it's so funny that you say that because i was thinking that even though us bloggers and critics didn't like the blind side it WAS loved by some people - hence the oscar nomination. it was family friendly, and nice and that's something neither my week with marilyn nor the iron lady has going for it. the critics aren't forthcoming and i don't think audiences will be either.

jeffrey i do think mara has a shot, but i don't want to go overboard with blind predictions, not that these predictions aren't already blind...but, you know what i mean.

Rich said...

Davis has (at least) one major factor in her favor: 'The Help' will probably get nominated for Best Picture. 'Iron Lady' won't (nor will 'My Week with Marilyn'). If you think that doesn't make a difference, then just ask Sandra Bullock.

Amir said...

That's true Andrew. The box office receipts for The Blind Side are out of reach of either film this year. But yeah, the critical response is not relevant I guess, as long as the public (of which Academy members are a part of) likes a film.