The countdown to the Oscars is on, and I am so excited for the fashion, (Cate Blanchett, Jane Fonda and Charlize Theron never disappoint, and now we can add Lupita Wyong’o, and Alicia Vikander to that list of style champions), the clips of classic movies, the Red Carpet glamour, the awkward moments, Chris Rock as host, the whole shebang.
This year, the Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees are:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
I didn’t see. Wouldn’t see it. Didn’t want to see it. I heard enough about the level of violence, and as much as I hate to avoid a nominated performance, I don’t want to see that much violence. In The New York Times’ A. O. Scott’s review of the film, he says that Jason Leigh’s character, Daisy, is a “scapegoat and punching bag” – ’nuff said.
Rooney Mara, Carol
This is a lusciously filmed movie set in the early 1950’s about Therese, a young aspiring photographer, working in a fine department store during the Christmas season, who meets Carol, a sophisticated, wealthy, beautiful married woman. The two share a deep connection and quickly fall in love with each other, something that could prove disastrous in that era. My problem with this performance is that I never believed it. I didn’t believe these two women – Therese, played by Mara Rooney, and Carol, played by Cate Blanchett – shared any real connection, or understanding or passion. The dialogue is sparse and the drama is understated, and I know the movie is attempting to show us how the lovers were forced to conceal their feelings, but it was so concealed for me as to make it opaque.
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
This quiet, but powerful movie is basically a solid procedural, showing the Boston Globe’s team of investigative journalists, the “Spotlight” team, doing the slow dogged work of uncovering the Catholic church’s knowledge of and mishandling of scores of sexual abuse cases by priests. McAdams plays Sacha, a member of the Spotlight team who in addition to doing the tedious work of pouring over documents, also uses her keen listening skills to interview many of the now-grown male, often blue-collar victims. Sacha is also a Catholic from Boston, who still takes her grandmother to church every Sunday. Her performance made me believe in and root for this curious, smart, tenacious, professional journalist.
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Based on a true story, artist Einar Wegener (played by last year’s best actor Academy Award winner, Eddie Redmayne) undergoes one of the first-ever sex-change operations with support from his loving wife and fellow-artist, Alicia Vikander’s Gerda. Her performance is beautiful. She shows the anger Gerda feels as she has to sublimate her own desires and the pain she suffers as she learns to set her husband free to pursue the life he feels he was born to live. I felt Vikander’s performance grounded this film. She is earthy, sensual, angry, loving, sad, terrified and strong.
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Marketing guru at Apple and Next, Joanna Hoffman, played by Kate Winslet, was also one of Steve Jobs’ confidants and one of the very few who could speak her truth to his power. The films tells the story of the hypothetical run up to three product launches over several years, so the scenes are pressure cookers of emotions and deadlines. Winslet is flawless, as always. Huffman grew up in Poland and the Soviet Union, and she nails a believable Eastern European accent. She is exasperated by Jobs (played by the fantastic Michael Fassbender) and his inability to compromise either in his close personal relationships, or in his desire to change the world, but she loves him and his unique genius. Winslet and Fassbender are electric together and she gives her character the brilliance, compassion, rage and camaraderie needed to make the role true.
Of course, I’d change the nominations a bit, and I’d nominate Alicia Vikander for her performance in Ex-Machina instead of The Danish Girl. Given the existing group, I have an extremely difficult time picking one over the other. This dilemma seems to be true for the Academy as well, as press reports this category as the most hotly contested of the group. Ultimately, I’d select Winslet.
Have you seen the films? What did you think of the performances? Did you see Hateful Eight? Your thoughts?
It’s nearly 70 degrees here, way, way too warm, but it is gorgeous. My miniature peach tree is bursting with buds and blossoms.
What’s it like where you are?
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