Thursday, October 3, 2013

Best Actress: Is Someone Becoming a Multiple Winner?

I was thinking about the upcoming Best Actress race, and something caught my attention.  All the women who are in serious contention for a nomination are previous winners.  Yes, it's October.  Yes, we could have five completely different people up for the Oscar.  Just an observation. 

Cate Blanchett's performance in Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine is one of the most layered I've ever seen.  Jasmine is guarded and open at the same time, endlessly talking to strangers (and whoever will listen) about her financial woes.  She is receiving most of the notice from Allen's latest, and, right now, it's hers to lose.  Blanchett won in 2005 for Best Supporting Actress for Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.  Trivia!  Her performance as Katharine Hepburn marks the only time an actor won for playing an actor. 

But in all seriousness, find Blue Jasmine, because it's one of the year's best so far.  I hope Allen receives a screenplay nomination.

I think Sandra Bullock is closest behind Blanchett.  Her performance as an adrift astronaut in Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity has been receiving raves since the Venice Film Festival.  It will also help Bullock that Gravity is becoming of the of the best reviewed films of the year, and it will more than likely be nominated in the technical categories and in Best Picture. 

Bullock's Oscar-winning performance in The Blind Side was all right.  If you watch clips of her winning at awards shows you will see she received standing ovation after standing ovation.  She was awarded for being a beloved and respected actress in the industry, and I don't really begrudge her for that.  No one should really. 

Another year, another Meryl Streep performance.  I've heard wonderful things about her performance as the pill-popping matriarch in August: Osage County.  Theater geeks on message boards are proclaiming that she could win another Best Actress Oscar for the film.  It would be her fourth.  It took her 29 years for her to win her third (for The Iron Lady), so I highly doubt that she will win again.

But never count out Meryl.  That's stupid.  I don't really have much more to say on the matter.

Judi Dench walked away with a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for 1998's Shakespeare in Love.  She was on screen for less than ten minutes, but it feels like she should have another Oscar for something more substantial.

In Philomena, she plays an older Irish woman on the hunt for the son she gave up for adoption.  It is supposed to be a truly heartbreaking performance, and it could gain more momentum as the season races onward.  The film won a screenplay award at the Venice Film Festival, and it was a runner-up for the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival.  

Dench should have won Best Actress for Notes on a Scandal, but there was no stopping Helen Mirren that year.    

Emma Thompson has won two Oscars already (one for Best Actress for Howard's End and her second for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sense & Sensibility), and those were both before my Oscar-watching time.  I would love to be able to see her win her third.

Thompson plays prickly British author P. L. Travers in John Lee Hancock's Saving Mr. BanksBanks is one of the few films that no one has seen yet, so who knows how it will be received.  I imagine the film itself will receive a Best Picture nomination, and Thompson will get swept up in the fray.  Travers was notoriously difficult when Disney adapted her Mary Poppins for the big screen, and Thompson is such a charming actress that I think she will land with another nomination. 

So who can knock these women out of the way?  Let's see.

Amy Adams has been nominated four times (Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter and last year's The Master), and she's never been nominated for lead.  David O. Russell's American Hustle seems to give her tons to chew on, and I would love for her to be nominated again.  She has the best bet to take out of of the above mentioned ladies, and Hustle's late release date will surely place her into the conversation later in the year.

I've missed Kate Winslet!  She returns for the Best Actress conversation with Jason Reitman's Labor Day.  Winslet has been noticeably absent from the Oscars since winning Best Actress for The Reader.  I have a feeling the less than stellar response from Telluride may be the only roadblock facing Winslet.  Labor Day sounds like a movie that a lot of people are quick to judge.  Sasha Stone over at AwardsDaily really praised the film as Reitman's most mature work to day.  Winslet was only 33 by the time she had her sixth Oscar nomination--a record.  Will she be heralded back?  

Julie Delpy in Before Midnight is one of my favorite performances of the year.  She's stubborn and argumentative, but she also shines with her chemistry with on-screen husband Ethan Hawke.  It might be too unlikable of a performance to get nominated, but why is that bad?  The actors nominated should have to be saints or likable.  Delpy was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Midnight's predecessor, Before Sunset.

Might this happen?  Could Julia Roberts be poised to gain her fourth nomination alongside Meryl?  Or instead of Meryl?  I think The Weinstein Company will campaign her for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Meryl's daughter in August: Osage County.  Amy Morton originated the role on Broadway and received a Tony nomination alongside her stage mother, Deanna Dunagan, but Dunagan walked away with the Tony that night.  Could happen.  

Brie Larson's work in Short Term 12 is my other favorite female performance of the year (Blanchett being the other).  In a movie that was here in Pittsburgh for a split second of a split second, Larson's beautiful work might be the best reviewed performance in a movie that no one has heard of.  It's natural and honest and just beautiful.  I would love to see this happen a la Ryan Gosling getting nominated for Half Nelson.  I am trying not to get my hopes up.  Larson getting nominated would at least get people to see the movie.  Larson has never been nominated. 

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