I'm getting severely sick of the lack of activity on this site, mostly on my own part. It's just that nothing's been happening enough to talk about. It's not until November that things are truly set in motion, though I admit that things seemed to get going a lot sooner last year than they are currently. I guess it's a contrast that's telling of this year, at least in my own opinion. So I decided to get back in the game of guessing, though I've still neglected posting up a full predictions page. There's just so little confidence in the pot, it feels too facetious to make locked in guesses, especially with so much still likely to change, as candidates fall in and out of the race.
However, at least the way things are stacking up currently, the Best Actress race seems to be banal and dismal. One of the new writers at Film Misery, Casey Chapman, recently did his own sizing up of the field, which really drowned my spirits. The field is dominated by performances in films I have little to no interest in seeing. I admit to being delightfully surprised by "The Help", but I hardly feel like Viola Davis is either the strongest performance of the piece or the main focus. She'd have a stronger campaign for Supp. Actress, but it looks like they're pushing the far less likely Octavia Spencer for that field. Don't get me wrong, as I like both performances really well, but they do not belong in shortlist.
And then there's those who don't need to show anything necessarily strong in their films to be considered candidates, those being Meryl Streep and Glenn Close. I think I've earned the right to be more than just skeptical of their films' merits and strengths, not just in terms of their performances. In the first trailer for "The Iron Lady", I was frankly annoyed by Steep's overly fantastical impersonation of Margaret Thatcher. On any given year, I'm railing against her automatic nomination. And Glenn Close has been away for a while now, taking great confidence in this "Albert Nobbs" of hers. Yet her work just seems cold, uninteresting, plain, and dull.
And as much as I'd truly like to give Michelle Williams yet another nod for her career, her work in "My Week with Marilyn" looks severely like she's just playing an obvious portrayal of a star. Never mind the inherit sentimentality of the film that threatens to suffocate the audience investing in the film. I'm not about to turn on Williams, as I'm sure she'll be the best thing about the film. That's still not saying much, and I much prefer her far less likely to be nominated turn in "Meek's Cutoff". Yet as little as I'm willing to concede a nomination to any of these performances, they're still in the more massive likelihood.
That fifth slot, assuming that all four of the above actresses make it in, could go a number of ways. Having only seen one of the performances in question, I can certainly vouch that Tilda Swinton would be an exceptional choice for her performance in "We Need to Talk About Kevin". She's had positive word going out since Cannes, so that could help her in getting that nod. Another Cannes darling with a chance in this category, though certainly much more of an outside chance given the director's reputation, is Kirsten Dunst for "Melancholia". I was absolutely stunned that she had that sort of reserve in her, but she's likely to go on through the season in the sidelines.
As for what I haven't seen, there are plenty of performances I'm waiting to see that have inspired confidence from numerous markets. Olivia Colman has been picking up speed for her performance in "Tyrannosaur", widely considered a lead role as opposed to the supporting saddling that some are giving her. It's all too much like Hailee Steinfeld's performance in "True Grit" last year splitting people decisively between lead and supporting. In the end, she might be brought down to the supporting race like an afterthought, where she may have a stronger chance. I'll have to wait till I see the film to settle on a decision, but I'd hate to see a lead performance denounced by clocking it as supporting.
And then there's Elizabeth Olsen's performance in "Martha Marcy May Marlene", which continues to garner support from nearly all areas. The short portions of Olsen's performance that I've seen have been absolute dynamite, not just waltzing on the scene. She's coming out hard and strong, but there's the worry that the Academy will be too occupied with the old to give space for the performance. And there's another performance that's yet to be seen by anyone and has little to no chance, but that's Charlize Theron for "Young Adult". She's playing a total bitch, and as such I totally love her! But the film doesn't look like Oscar material, and yet it makes it all the more attractive a feature. I enjoy it when a filmmaker decides to just say "Fuck the Academy! I'm gonna go fucking nuts with this!"
Speaking of that sort of anti-Academy film, there's word going about for Rooney Mara's performance in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", which is bound to put her ridiculously on the map. I remember loving her small work in "The Social Network" and her buried gem in the mess that was that "Nightmare on Elm Street" remake. This is basically her telling everyone who wasn't in the know that she's amazing. I've never thought this was an Oscar play, but the field is desperately lacking darkness and depth. Maybe this will be that splash of flavor. Hell, these performances would make for one hell of a more interesting field than those four "frontrunners". Well, next post's on Tuesday, when I'll be analyzing the Supporting Actor race, and the Supporting Actress race on Thursday.