Thursday, February 24, 2011

Countdown to the Oscars: Best Actress

the nominees for best actress are:

annette bening, the kids are all right
nicole kidman, rabbit hole
jennifer lawrence, winter's bone
natalie portman, black swan
michelle williams, blue valentine

poor annette bening. poor, always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride, annette bening.

sorry, i'm getting ahead of myself.

best actress appears to be another two-way race with an obvious front runner. could there be an upset? perhaps? but at this point it seems unlikely. unless... well, again. i'm getting ahead of myself.

let's start again with who will not win:

nicole kidman already has an oscar for the hours.... it's an award she didn't really deserve but it was to recognize a larger, overlooked body of work. (keep this in mind.) an award for a body of work does happen from time to time. (but it used to happen much more often than it does now.) rabbit hole was a quiet little film that nobody saw and kidman will not win again for this film. nobody saw the amazing performance michelle williams delivered in blue valentine either. both kidman and williams delivered layered, heartbreaking performances in both of these films and deserve the nominations.... but they will not win.

jennifer lawrence carried winter's bone and her performance at such a young age promises many great things from her in the future. winter's bone was feared to be overlooked come the oscar nods - but it did very well scoring three very big nominations. the film was not widely seen but critically adored. lawrence, in particular. some might say she's a dark horse but i see this more as a nod to her talent and encouragement to continue.

no... the race comes down to bening and portman. poor, unrewarded annette bening.

bening has three previous nominations under her belt: 2004's being julia, 1999's american beauty and 1990's the grifters. the grifters (a movie i adore... check it out) was her only supporting nod. the other two previous nominations were in the lead category. both years bening appeared to be a lock for best actress. then hillary swank came along and delivered performances in million dollar baby and boys don't cry that not only deserved to win the oscar.... but did. upsetting bening both times.

now we have the young natalie portman delivering a tour de force performance in black swan. portman is so very good in swan. her metamorphosis is haunting and terrifying... it doesn't hurt that she spent a year training for the role.... losing weight, toning a dancer's body, learning ballet itself. the academy eats up this shit. (think of bobby deniro packing on the weight for raging bull.) pushing your body for a performance is highly regarded and often rewarded. especially if the performance is worthy.

having said all this.... there is a moment in the kids are all right when annette bening slowly sits down at a dinner table after the "revelation" of the film. the full understanding of everything that has proceeded this moment washes over her face and registers in her eyes, her mouth, her skin. without saying a word... bening delivers a moment more powerful than the entire portman performance in black swan. and i should point out... i'm not a huge fan of the kids are all right. but bening is perfection.

bening is pitch perfect and at the height of her craft in kids. she deserves to win this year. not like those other years when she was really, really great.... but not as good as..... this year should be her year.

but she will most likely lose to another young actress, ms. portman. portman’s role is simply more showy, more dramatic, more the academy’s speed (despite the bizarre nature of the film).

portman has picked up awards from the boston, chicago, dallas-fort worth, florida and kansas city critics. she has also picked up the golden globe and the biggie: the screen actor's guild. bening, of course, also picked up a globe but in the comedy/musical category. rarely as highly regarded as winning in the dramatic category.

the academy could decide bening has delivered over 20 years of incredible, indelible performances. perhaps an acknowledgement of her body of work will catapult her to a victory? i hold my breath with anticipation.

but i'm also allowing myself to gasp for air from time to time because, well.... i'm a realist.

will win: natalie portman, black swan
should win: annette bening, the kids are all right


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