Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best Actress Oscar 2010: A Crowded Race

A good five or so months away from the 83rd Academy Awards, the season for prognostication is already in full swing, what with many of the year's touted "Oscar films" having come out in various film festivals. Foremost among these are the ones of Cannes, Venice, and Toronto. Films like The King's Speech, 127 Hours, Black Swan, and The Social Network have been seen and widely praised, making this year's Best Picture race potentially one of the most exciting in recent years (especially with holdovers Toy Story 3, Inception, and The Kids are All Right still strong and other prestige pics still unseen). But other than the films themselves, the actresses have also come in force. This could be the most crowded and unpredictably exciting Best Actress race in many years (the decision to move Robert Redford's The Conspirator to 2011 may have been a wise one; Robin Wright would have had a difficult time getting in despite the mostly strong reviews). Here are 12 women who seem to have the strongest chances for getting one of the five slots. In my opinion, ten of them (with asterisks) will ultimately battle it out at the end, and any of them could get in.

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)*

Current buzz status: Definitely one of the front runners.

Pros: Loved by Oscar voters, though never enough for an actual win. She's way overdue. It's a great performance that many love.

Cons: Lead or supporting? Internal competition with Julianne Moore.

Anne Hathaway (Love and Other Drugs)*

Current buzz status: Perceived as one of the potential front runners...

Pros: ...given buzz on the performance, the role (she has an illness), and her reputation (we just know she'll be a regular nominee soon).

Cons: The film (romantic drama) isn't exactly Oscar material.

Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham)*

Current buzz status: Could easily sneak into the top five; her performance is getting a lot of notices.

Pros: The Academy owes her for that snub of a great performance in Happy-Go-Lucky. The film is well loved and she's playing a Norma Rae-ish character.

Cons: Maybe the Academy voters just don't get her. The film has to be big when released in the US.

Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)*

Current buzz status: Early reviews have been glowing. They say it's a return to form for this former Oscar winner.

Pros: Haven't they snubbed her long enough? We all know she's a formidable actress. This is a prime role for drama (she loses a child).

Cons: Will this film even be released this year? No distributor yet. UPDATE: Lionsgate has picked it and will release it this year. The only con now is that the film is really dark and despairing.

Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone)*

Current buzz status: One of the front runners until the recent slew of praised performances from more established stars in bigger films displaced her.

Pros: Sheer talent. She's amazing in the film. She may be the ingenue in the mix.

Cons: The film may be too small or too bleak for the voters and may easily get lost in the shuffle.

Lesley Manville (Another Year)*

Current buzz status: One of the front runners, as per many prognosticators' lists.

Pros: Also talent and buzz. Since critics and audiences first saw the film in Cannes, she's been wowing them and the buzz never really went away.

Cons: Too much competition, and she's virtually unknown. That works more for young actresses. If the film gets traction in the Best Picture race then she's likely in.

Julianne Moore (The Kids are All Right)*

Current buzz status: Not very much for this category.

Pros: That can easily change if she gets campaigned in this category and Bening goes to supporting. She has more screentime in the film and is just as good. She's also due at least another nom.

Cons: The category confusion and internal competition, just like Bening.

Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go)

Current buzz status: Just a bit; there's more buzz for her co-stars.

Pros: Across the board, the acting in the film has been praised. As has been the film itself.

Cons: Has Keira Knightley stolen the show? And Mulligan was just nominated last year. Too soon, maybe, much more so for a film that has a sci-fi bent.

Natalie Portman (Black Swan)*

Current buzz status: It's all hers right now. Fresh off Venice.

Pros: Superlatives in her honor. Challenging physical role for a well respected young actress.

Cons: The film is dark and not the Academy's typical Best Picture fare.

Hilary Swank (Conviction)*

Current buzz status: Building up, but she always had it from the start.

Pros: Two-time Oscar winner. The voters definitely love her, and this one's a plum role. She's getting great reviews for it so far. The film could be this year's The Blind Side. A third Bening-Swank showdown might prove too irresistible.

Cons: The film itself isn't being praised as much as it could be. Co-star Sam Worthington, a highly likely nominee in the Supporting Actor category, may hog the spotlight in the end.

Naomi Watts (Fair Game)

Current buzz status: Not so much.

Pros: It's a good role, and gritty enough to get a good number of votes.

Cons: The competition is just too intense. And hasn't Vera Farmiga played this role before (in Nothing But the Truth)?

Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)*

Current buzz status: Slowly fading since the huge amount of praise in Sundance.

Pros: Williams is an excellent actress who has been building up cred with her fine performances in indie films. She was widely praised when critics and audiences first saw this film.

Cons: Where's the buzz now? The film may get lost in the onslaught of all these critically acclaimed prestige films.

A 13th possibility, based on current buzz, is Diane Lane for Secretariat. Further down are Gwyneth Paltrow for Country Strong, Keira Knightley for London Boulevard, Rachel McAdams for Morning Glory, and Kristen Stewart for Welcome to the Rileys.

The National Board of Review might go for both Bening and Moore. Critics groups will be split among Bening, Lawrence, Manville, maybe Kidman and Portman. Here's how I see the SAG going as of now:


As for the Golden Globes:

Hawkins (right category?)
Manville (ditto)
*If Moore or Bening goes supporting, maybe McAdams or Julia Roberts (Eat, Pray, Love)

*Or maybe Stewart instead of Williams

My current predicted five for Oscar (likely to change a bit next month):

1. Bening
2. Portman
3. Hathaway
4. Lawrence
5. Swank

Monday, September 13, 2010

Winners of the 67th Venice Film Festival

GOLDEN LION for Best Film:
SILVER LION for Best Director to:
Álex de la Iglesia for the film BALADA TRISTE DE TROMPETA
(Spain, France)
(Poland, Norway, Hungary, Ireland)
for Best Actor:
Vincent GALLO
(Poland, Norway, Hungary, Ireland)
for Best Actress:
Ariane LABED
in the film ATTENBERG by Athina Rachel TSANGARI (Greece)
for Best Young Actor or Actress:
in the film BLACK SWAN by Darren ARONOFSKY (USA)
OSELLA for Best Cinematography to:
for the film SILENT SOULS (OVSYANKI) by Aleksei FEDORCHENKO (Russia)
OSELLA for Best Screenplay to:
Álex de la Iglesia
for the film BALADA TRISTE DE TROMPETA by Álex de la Iglesia
(Spain, France)
‘Monte Hellman is a great cinema artist and minimalistic poet.
His work has inspired this jury and it’s our honour to honor him’