2009: Best Actress

4 03 2010

Best Actress – it’s considered by many to be the most unpredictable of the major races at the 82nd Academy Awards.  Five very deserving and adored candidates are vying for the industries top prize.

But before they were candidates, they were performances.  And even before that, they were characters that existed on a page.  Each of these are just stages, and to move from one to the other, a fantastic actor is crucial.

Here, I intend to celebrate the actresses for their work in turning that character into a performance, work that was so excellent that it turned them into candidates.

Sandra Bullock in “The Blind Side”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “Sandra Bullock’s spirited and spunky performance (which was good enough to overcome her dreadful accent) atones for some of the errors the film makes with her story.”

She’s here because … she is a popular actress playing a likable character in the box office surprise of the year.

Helen Mirren in “The Last Station”

She’s here because … she’s Helen Mirren and the Academy loves her; who cares if no one in America had seen her movie when the ballots were due?

Carey Mulligan in “An Education”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “The understated grace and poise that Mulligan gives to Jenny is what evoked Hepburn’s resemblance, but the real marvel of Mulligan’s acting is that the old-fashioned spirit does not make her character some kind of antique.”

She’s here because … she is a brilliant rising star who dazzles in one of the year’s most agreeable movies.

Meryl Streep in “Julie & Julia”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “[Streep] completely masters the persona of the larger-than-life personality and woman – but to anyone that has seen Streep’s work, this is hardly a surprise.”

She’s here because … this is yet another fantastic Meryl Streep performance, and the Academy can’t not nominate one of those.

Gabourey Sidibe in “Precious”

IN MY OWN WORDS: “[Sidibe] makes us feel great concern about her character from the instant we see her trudging through her school.  As Precious gains confidence, our concern develops into genuine care and affection.”

She’s here because … in her first role, she commands the screen with the presence of a veteran.

Marshall’s Oscars

I haven’t seen “The Last Station,” but three of the four nominated performances that I have seen made my Best Actress list.  The exception is Sandra Bullock, who I think has a great story this year, but not one of the best performances.

One spot goes to Zooey Deschanel for her fantastic work on “(500) Days of Summer.”  Her performance has stuck with me all year, and its beautiful subtleties are astounding.  In one of my first reviews on this blog, I raved of Deschanel:

Summer [Deschanel’s character] also has a deep need to be love, but she makes this yearning ever so subtle. Deschanel is able to play this crucial undertone quite skillfully … Deschanel, who most audiences will remember as Will Ferrell’s love interest in “Elf,” plays Summer with the right balance of warmth and bitterness. She plays hard-to-get but also projects Summer’s need to be loved at the same time.

I’ve always been hesitant about giving acting awards to foreign language performances (not that it really matters), but the more I have thought about Melanie Laurent’s performance in “Inglourious Basterds,” the more remarkable it has become for me.  I didn’t say anything other than her being “poignant” in my review, yet her virtuoso work is actually quite astounding.  Obviously Waltz reigns supreme in the film, but she’s crucial to the movie’s success in her own right.

At my prestigious ceremony, the nominees read as followed:

Zooey Deschanel, “(500) Days of Summer”
Melanie Laurent, “Inglourious Basterds”
Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Gabourey Sidibe, “Precious”

Predictions

Should win: Carey Mulligan, “An Education”
Could win: Meryl Streep, “Julie & Julia”
Will win: Sandra Bullock, “The Blind Side”

The race is between Streep and Bullock, with Mulligan and Sidibe as the major dark horses.  Ultimately, I think the fact that Meryl already has two statues on her mantle coupled with the popularity of “The Blind Side” is enough to propel Bullock to the win.


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2 responses

4 03 2010
James D.

Deschanel? I thought she mailed it in.

I too would go with Mulligan from the pack, though. The more I think about the performance, the more I realize how subtle some of the brilliance is. Everything great about Streep and Sidibe hit you right away, but Mulligan takes more time to materialize.

5 03 2010
Dreher Bear (...Where The Buffalo Roam)

As long as Sandra Bullock doesn’t win, I’ll be happy.

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