Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Oscar Watch: The Actresses

Oscar hype is now at fever pitch with all of the precursors being announced; from the Critic's Choice, to the Golden Globes. This week, the Oscar Watch topics are the two categories Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Let's get a move on with Best Supporting Actress.

The Supporting categories tend to be weak compared to that of the leads. Very often you find actors or actresses nominated for the sole reason because they've: a.) never won an Oscar, or b.) are just so popular it's a filler nomination. This year, while there looks to be some of that going on with the guys in Supporting, I think the women are shaping up to be a strong list of some of the years better underrated Supporting performances.

One of the big ones in contention is Mo'Nique for her role in Precious. While I haven't seen the film, she is considered to be the frontrunner by a great many folk. Then there is the duo from Up in the Air, which comes to theaters in my hometown tomorrow! Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick are both strong contenders in this category for Up in the Air, some might even put them up there alongside Mo'Nique as frontrunners. These three performances are all critic's favorites, and I think are the shoo-ins at this point, but what about the rest of the field?

Julianne Moore is getting a lot of buzz for her performance in A Single Man, where as the women from Nine are getting a lot talk as well. Only one woman from Nine will be able to make it in, but the question is, who? Out of Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, and Judi Dench, I'm putting my money on the Dame Judi Dench, she's Oscar bait if there ever has been, plus it's said she probably has the most to her role out of all the women in the film. Though, the true dark horse to look out for in this category is Emma Thompson for An Education. She is always brilliant, but she does the most with the small amount of time that she has in this film, and I think she definitely should get the recognition she deserves, plus I think the vote might be split between the three frontunners allowing either Dench, Thompson, or Moore to slip in there and win. Now, changing gears a bit, onto Best Actress.

For me, there is really only one name in contention that matters, Carey Mulligan for her star-making performance in An Education. Mulligan was brilliant, and to me, it's probably the finest female performance of the year, hands down, and one of the best of the decade at that. While many are presenting a case for Gabourey Sidibe for Precious, I think Mulligan deserves the award a touch more, cause she truly was brilliant.

Really, when you get right down to it, this category is one of the most boring this year. Sandra Bullock is pretty much almost all but guaranteed after the Globes nomination to get in for her role in The Blind Side, and Meryl Streep, as usual, is another shoo-in for Julie & Julia. Out of Streep's two films, It's Complicated and this, I think the Academy will recognize her for where the credit is really due. Rounding out the category with Helen Mirren for The Last Station, and you see what I mean. With the exceptions of Mulligan and Sidibe, quite a boring and unadventurous slate, though it is possible for say Zoe Saldana or Abbie Cornish to ride in on their dark horse unexpectedly for both Avatar and Bright Star, respectively. Or, perhaps Saoirse Ronan for The Lovely Bones? That would be a real kick.

So what do I see these categories looking like at this point. Well, Best Supporting Actress:

Judi Dench, Nine
Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
Emma Thompson, An Education
Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire

As for Best Actress:

Carey Mulligan, An Education
Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' By Sapphire
Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

And that's it for this week. Tune in next Tuesday as I take a look at the Writers in contention. Till then.

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