Monday, January 26, 2009

Best actress in a leading role: Oh please don’t let it be Angelina

Okay, that’s a little mean, I admit, especially because Changeling is the one movie, among this group, that I didn’t see. I couldn’t. The previews were so unbearable I knew I couldn’t stand two hours of it. I think Angelina Jolie can be good. But this movie just smacked of the same kind of Hollywood drivel that afflicted Benjamin Button. (I guess she and Brad were in lightweight mode this year.) So, what am I looking for here? Nothing less than a whole-hearted lunge into the character.

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married. At times, I thought Hathaway was brilliant. The toast scene, in which Hathaway, an unpredictable recovering addict takes the microphone at a pre-wedding dinner and proceeds to deliver a toast that made me want to crawl under my seat, is a tour de force. It was wonderfully written, and Hathaway ran with it. There were other times, though, were I was thinking, “eh, princess-y Hollywood pet is trying to be ugly.” That’s not what you should be thinking in the presence of an Oscar-worthy performance. So…I don’t think so. (But I suspect the academy might vote differently.)

Angelina Jolie, Changeling. Didn’t see it. Don’t want to see it. Please don’t make me see it. To quote my two-year-old: “No, no, NO!”

Melissa Leo, Frozen River. Leo is so convincing as a down-and-out woman living on the edge that I was shocked to see her looking considerably less stressed out in a photo in the NYT. I loved her in this. It’s one of those movies that almost didn’t get made, finally got funding and eked its way out. Which is to say, it was a labor of love for the director and Leo, who was attached to the project for a long time. And it shows. I adore the beginning, in which we see Leo, sitting in her beat up car, realizing she’s been ripped off by her husband (and from this, all the action ensues), and the end—which manages to side step the usual movie clichés.

Meryl Streep, Doubt. You know, I enjoyed this performance, but…I don’t know. It doesn’t feel BIG enough, somehow, for the little gold guy. Yes, we have Meryl Streep in a nun’s habit. (I heard her, on The View, saying she loved the habit—covered all kinds of body issues.) Yes, we have her with a slight Brooklyn accent. Yes, we have her being kind of a bitch, which is kind of fun. But…Streep, at this point in her career, faces an extra challenge—can she be good enough to make you stop thinking, Oh, there’s Meryl Streep in a nun’s habit? Not quite, for me, at least. And I think Leo’s performance was gutsier.

Kate Winslet, The Reader. What can I say? I have yet to see Winslet be anything but 1,000% in character. I love her taste, and the fact that she’s deliberately circled around the kinds of movies that make me quote my two-year-old. She’s getting a bit of Meryl Streep syndrome, i.e. hey look, there’s Kate Winslet dressed like a dowdy haus frau! This is accentuated by the fact that she’s in two big movies this season (loved Revolutionary Road). I actually liked her a little better, in RR, I think. But also thought she was great as the brusque and slightly tender Hannah Schmitz, ex-Nazi prison guard with a bit of a heart—albeit one we will never understand.

My vote goes for Leo, but I don’t think she’ll actually get it. That’s because I doubt anyone in the academy owes her a favor or wants her in their next blockbuster, etc etc….I’m betting it’s going to go to Hathaway or Winslet…probably Winslet. And, honestly, she’s earned it. I would be disappointed for Leo, but happy to see it go to Winslet.


Paul Raeburn said...

Ditto: I vote Leo. The one thing that might help her chances is this glowing profile last year in the New York Times, which talked about what a consummate actor she is. Let's wish her luck.

Wesley said...

Don't think it will happen, though. The movie is too - matte, if you know what I mean - not glossy - Wendy and Lucy is also matte, and Silent Light, despite it's visual beauty - for the Academy. (Happy go Lucky, on the other hand, though serious and about important things, is glossy. This could probably actually be analysed, if one wanted to do it.) And also - may I say at the risk of being pummeled with popcorn tubs - Frozen River had several thin spots in its plot and some dodgy supporting acting, which never fails to take me right out of a movie. For God's sake, just take the time to make ALL of your plot consistent and make sense! Or make a nod to the inconsistencies, so the audience knows you know, and doesn't think you're trying to snow them!

Elizabeth said...

no, it's not going to happen. i'm glad she got nominated. though i'm puzzled that she got nominated and sally hawkins didn't. i checked out silent light at the ff--it's being held over, so i have a shot at seeing it, though the times are a little difficult for me, babysitting wise. i may try for a thursday afternoon looks cool, btw. you have a better memory than i do...i can't remember the thin spots, i was pretty taken in by the atmosphere they created. care to elaborate the thin spots? i'd truly love to hear...and i totally agree with you re: casting an entire movie well, and ironing out the details. it matters, in the end. in fact, one thing i really didn't like about wendy and lucy was that the acting, in the tiny supporting roles, was not great. actually michelle williams was pretty one note, too.

Wesley said...

I don't remember it well enough to be specific now. But there was this sense, as I recall, that somehow everything was coming down on this one night, and the police somehow hadn't stopped her before but were going to now, and somehow the Indian police did or didn't have jurisdiction, and, and - to me, it really gave the feeling of a writer trying to MAKE things happen rather than ALLOWING them to, showing HOW they, happen(ed). But I'd have to see it again to be more specific.