Oscar Moment: “Easy A”

21 12 2010

In honor of “Easy A” hitting video today, I’m writing this Oscar Moment specifically in regards to Emma Stone’s performance.  As Olive Penderghast, the 2010 model of Hester Prynne from “The Scarlet Letter,” she got some very deserved attention for her breakout role.  Here’s what I wrote back in September:

“Emma Stone is hardly a new sight for anyone that’s been seeing good movies recently; she has been scene-stealing as the heartbreaking Jules in ‘Superbad’ and the zombie-killing Wichita in ‘Zombieland.’  This, however, is the movie that will bring her into the mainstream consciousness.  ‘Easy A’ gives her all the material for a breakout role, and Stone seizes every moment to create a character that will shoot her into stardom.”

The movie was very well received by critics upon release (an 88% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) yet still somehow managed to miss a Best Picture (Musical/Comedy) nomination from the Golden Globes.  In its place: “Alice in Wonderland.”  Big mistake.  Huge.  However, Stone did get her recognition in the form of a Best Actress nomination.  There’s hardly a chance for a win against the two “The Kids Are All Right” actresses and an even further shot at an Oscar nomination thanks to an impressive dramatic faction headlined by Natalie Portman.  But what’s with our bias against comedic actresses?  Why does the Academy only feel the need to honor actors dealing strictly in serious fare, perhaps dabbling in comedy but keeping their heart in drama?

A lot of Stone’s fans have raised this concern for months now.  Why not Emma Stone?  She’s as deserving as most of the actresses in the predicted five at the moment.  While she may not have an illustrious career under her belt or have undergone a massive physical transformation, Stone goes above and beyond what a movie like “Easy A” requires from its leading lady.

Castor over at Anomalous Material elaborated on Guy Lodge’s article at In Contention making a case for Stone, listing five reasons he came up with that might be the reason why comedy is so constantly overlooked by the Academy.

  1. Western audiences are conditioned to enjoy flashy and bombastic dramatic performances, such as Daniel Day Lewis’ in There Will Be Blood, over more subtle or seemingly “effortless” portrayals.
  2. Giving a good performance in a great movie is harder and hence more deserving of recognition than shining in a mediocre/good movie.
  3. Comedic actors are generally less talented than dramatic actors.
  4. Comedies are generally not as good, serious and important as dramas.
  5. Drama is harder than comedy.

As an actor myself, I’ll argue that comedy is every bit as hard as drama – there are just those for whom comedy comes naturally.  You can’t fake comedy because it takes total commitment.  Drama can be passably done with half a heart, and a well-liked actor can often do this to great acclaim.

For my money, Emma Stone gave one of the best performances of the year.  But according to Academy standards, her Golden Globe nomination is her highest reward.  Is this right?  Should comedic actresses get their due?  Is a performance like Stone’s deserving to stand next to Natalie Portman’s come Oscar night?

BEST BET FOR NOMINATION: Best Actress

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