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Oscar Watch – Best Actress and Supporting Actress

March 7, 2010

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role – Nominees
Helen Mirren – The Last Station
Meryl Streep - Julie and Julia
Sandra Bullock – The Blind Side
Carey Mulligan – An Education
Gabourey Sidibe – Precious

FIkri’s Take: What, pray tell, would an Oscar year be without the inclusion of either Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep? It seems as if the both of them have a bit of a competition going on between the two, trying to collect as many nominations and awards as possible. How is it possible? I wrote that Clint Eastwood makes directing award-nominated and -winning movies seem easy like lemon squeezy. The same could and should be said for both Mirren and Streep. I say ‘could’ for Mirren, because I failed to catch ‘The Last Station’, the film about Tolstoy’s life, and therefore judgment cannot be passed on that for now.

It can, however, be passed for Meryl Streep in ‘Julie & Julia’. I have to admit, though, as I saw the movie some time ago, it didn’t strike me as the kind of movie that would have its actresses nominated come the awards season. Theirs is a good performance, and Meryl Streep certainly did a very good job, but it was as per expected. Such levels of excellence have become common place whenever she plays a role to her liking, and I fear that I may involuntarily suffer from complacency in this regard. What, then, could be the one performance that would push things back into my consciousness and scream, “Hello, this is a plu-perfect performance from a great actress!” I have no doubt that she has it in her, and while she was one of the good spots in the film, I have to say that I think this is not that performance.

She wonders what to wear for thebig night...

It does, however, make things more interesting for the rest. Who, then, should I pick as the winner? In one corner, we have the veteran who has hit an incredibly hot streak in the past few years or so. Bearing in mind that it was only some time ago that she was written off by many (in fact, I remember wondering out loud to a couple of my friends as to whether Sandra Bullock still has it in her to get back on top of the mountain). I say get back on top, but in truth, her acting career up until now has not been one of stellar awards success. She is beautiful, no doubt, and many of the comedies are very enjoyable. But to play a role the way she did for ‘The Blind Side’? She managed to bring a lot of good vibes to the role, and I have to say that she is probably the best thing I enjoyed about the film. I don’t know, though, if I would classify hers as one that would win an Oscar, but I am very glad to see her performances and career mature into bigger and better things. Long may this continue.  

In the other corner(s), we have two young bucks raring to be let off the leash and bite at the meat in front of them. I should say that out of the two, Carey Mulligan is one young actor to watch out for. Her career seems to be one that is the perfect template to follow; having served her apprenticeship in a number of supporting roles over a number of years, it seems that she is finallyb breaking out and making her own mould. It helps that she is given a rather juicy role to play this time out. Balancing delicately the poise between innocence and maturity, Mulligan gives a rather direct performance that, I feel, is incredibly nice and pleasant to enjoy. There is a clear progression, a nice development, a strong personality that shone forth. More than just her performance itself, I like the little things, the little points along the character development path, that pricks at you. It’s a shy look her, a meaningful glance there, a body language of acceptance of the charming Peter than is pleasant to watch. It felt as if she grew right before your very eyes, a girl becoming a young woman before going back to where she started. ‘An Education’ is a movie that is bigger than just her, one that I feel comments on the state of society just as effectively, but it is a statement that may not be as strong without Mulligan.

Did it hurt when you fell from heaven, Carey?

Unfortunately, while Mulligan pricks our hearts, Gabourey Sidibe’s is a performance to savour, and she batters us with her power. Hers is a God-awful role to play, a difficult character to master, a victim behind whom we could all get behind and support. What must it be like to be able to play this role, and play it so damn well, for a first time actress? How does she channel herself into this role? In fact, I’m keen to know how much of her own real life experiences did she manage to translate into such a powerful performance? I’m not suggesting that she went through the same ordeals as her character did, but I am wondering what reservoirs did she dip into in order to be able to make me feel so much for her character? To finish with a flourish, has there ever been a time when a first-time actress like Sidibe grabbed the highest perceived accolade at the first try?

I think 2010 could be ground-breaking in that regard.

Primary prediction: Gabourey Sidibe – Precious
Secondary prediction: Carey Mulligan – An Education
Personal favourite: Gabourey Sidibe – Precious

Fazil’s Take:“See what happens when you do something different, Sandra?” I must have heard that line many times during the course of a month. Sandra Bullock’s performance in ‘The Blind Side’ is one of those performances by a non-drama actor/actress, where they break away from their usual romantic comedies or action films and does something serious. Sandra must have just gotten this tip from someone. With a thick Southern accent that separates her role here than her previous ones, Sandra gave a powerhouse performance as a family woman who decides to adopt an African-American boy into her home. I don’t know how to say it but its how she carries her role with her head held high up no matter what the situation is, to clearly send a message to everyone to not mess with her. And when the scene demands it, she knows how to show her softer side as the caring woman who is willing to sacrifice her life to ensure that this future NFL star has a place to call home. Kudos to you Sandra and because I’ve always loved your performances, especially in last year’s ‘The Proposal’, you are my personal favorite to win. Now run along and prep yourself up for ‘Miss Congeniality 3′.

Sorry, Fazil. Macam orang Melayu kata, takde jodoh. :)

I am not familiar with Carey Mulligan prior to this film but for an actress her age, she played her role well as a teenager destined for greatness, only to find herself in ruins after her little escapade with a crooked man. She can appear sweet, cute, troubled, angry or sad whenever she has to and she does it with great gusto all the time, while maintaining the naivety nature of her character. I could say that I have fallen in love with her in this movie. Having said that however, I don’t think that she should win like what many are saying is going to happen. Firstly, she’s still young and new, so the same rule that applies to Jeremy Renner applies to her as well. Secondly, I can’t say if she is just being herself as I have no other previous work to compare with. Thirdly, I just don’t think her performance was that incredible, especially if compared to past winners. Lastly, she should be penalized for currently dating the douche bag named Shia Labeouf. That last reason is the one that matters most.

Gabourey Sidibe is an underdog here. I don’t want to sound prejudiced, but most people may have a problem with her overall appearance. This is sad. She gave a truly remarkable performance in ‘Precious’ as the troubled 16 year old that is going through her second pregnancy. Just because she is not as cute as Carey Mulligan, nobody is rooting for her. In ‘Precious’, she pushed herself to the limit to give one of the most sadden characters in recent memory and her facial expression shows it the best. I truly feel for her.

"Man, she's a knockout. As in, she can really knock us out..."

I have not seen ‘The Last Station’ and could not comment on Helen Mirren. All I could say is that she is a great actress and has proven herself in her Oscar-winning performance in ‘The Queen’ just three years ago. Therefore, this time is someone else’s turn. And the same applies for Meryl Streep. Although her last win was ages ago, Meryl is the absolute best actress out there and does not need a naked golden man to prove that she could act. The name Meryl Streep is synonymous with acting. Although she transformed herself in ‘Julie & Julia’, this is not one of her more memorable roles. She should have won 3 years ago as the devilish Miranda Priestley in ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. That was simply unforgettable.

I would have also loved seeing Emily Blunt getting a nod here for her performance in ‘The Young Victoria’. I guess that is just not to be L

Primary Prediction Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side
Secondary Prediction: Carey Mulligan - An Education
Personal Favorite: Sandra Bullock - The Blind Side

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Nominees
Penelope Cruz – Nine
Vera Farmiga – Up in the Air
Anna Kendrick – Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhall – Crazy Heart
Mo’Nique – Precious

"Who you callin' Queen Latifah?!"

Fikri’s Take: To be honest, I am tempted to be done with this and just cut straight to the point. That point is that Mo’Nique may well win the award as the best supporting actress at this year’s Oscars, making it a double-swoop for the Precious team. Nevertheless, I’ll have to explain why I think this is the case, even though I feel that, out of all the performances I have seen, there appears to be little contest (apart from the one put up by Maggie Gyllenhaal). In some ways, it was like witnessing a force of nature unleashed. She was wild, filled with rage, as she practically ends whatever hope Precious may have had for life. It was a scary performance, and not one I expected from her. I didn’t know she had it in her, but out it goes, and, hopefully, on to the top podium she’ll stand.”Who you callin’ Queen Latifah?!”

I was suprised at Penelope’s inclusion for this year’s Oscar’s. I suppose in some ways, it’s the female equivalent of the Matt Damon nomination. In truth, I actually enjoyed her performance in ‘Nine’. She had spunk, she had character, and she was someone who did stand out amongst the bevy of beautiful ladies there. Nevertheless, aside from her sexy little dance routine, I doubt whether there was anything else too memorable about her performance beyond her “I’ll be waiting here for you, with my legs spread open.” I popped big time for that, because it was so unexpected, and so funny, but a few moments does not an Oscar award-winner make.

If she had that moment to back her up, then Vera Farmiga isn’t too far behind. “Just think of myself as the female version of you, but with a vagina.” Not quite as outrageous, and in truth, hers is a performance that is a lot more measure compared to Penelope’s. Nevertheless, I do think that she did a good enough job. She maintained a strong enough presence for a long enough period to just about, I think, squeak in here deservedly. She first came to my attention in ‘The Departed’, but she moved a few notches up here in ‘Up in the Air’. Having said that, despite the progression, though I think she deserves to be nominated, I doubt whether she’ll be bringing home the big prize.

Excuse me, Anna. I lost my number, can I have yours?

The same could be said for Anna Kendrick’s performance. The fact that two women from the same film were nominated for the same award says something about…well, the director, for one thing. He directed all three of his main actors (so to speak) to award nominations galore, but the problems I had with Vera Farmiga is the same ones I have with Anna Kendrick. In fact, out of all the performances here, I’m sorry to say that I think her’s is the weakest link. She did well, but well enough to win? Well enough to be nominated? Her role as Natalie Keener in ‘Up in the Air’ was a fine stint, a good notch on her CV, and, during the moments that she did go toe-to-toe with Ryan Bingham, even enjoyable at times. But I really doubt whether she can bring the bacon home either, let alone eat it.

Maggie Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, fought the good fight. She was rather alluring, but then again, she always is. Not like this, though. She made being a single mother and a working journalist seem like…well, not an easy thing to do, particularly, but a situation that I feel I could relate to, somehow. Perhaps that is the big key to answering this question here: why Maggie, and not the rest? I suppose it’s the ability of hers to play whatever character she does and still maintain a certain innocence, a certain sweetness, that is so realistic you feel as if you could reach out and touch her. It’s nice, it’s sweet, but unfortunately…

…force of nature. And all that jazz.

Wondered what would've happened if Bridges was amongst the jury...

Primary prediction: Mo’Nique – Precious
Secondary prediction: Maggie Gyllenhaal – Crazy Heart
Personal favourite: Mo’Nique – Precious

Fazil’s Take: This award belongs to Mo’Nique. She was clearly the best among the five as her character was the most complex among the nominees. Penelope Cruz was just Penelope Cruz in ‘Nine’ and with a win for her supporting role in ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ just last year, its just too soon for her to win again this year. She should be aiming instead for Best Actress in the future. The women of ‘Up in the Air’ were great but that movie was really George Clooney’s. Anna Kendrick did try to prove that she could act after her miserable performance in ‘Twilight’ and Vera Farmiga serves more as an eye candy in this movie. Neither are roles one should win an Oscar for. Maggie Gylenhaal was easily forgettable in ‘Crazy Heart’ as it was Jeff Bridges’ movie. She is just there to give a purpose for Bridges to push his acting further but that’s all that she did. I really can’t see why she is nominated but she has her group of supporters, mainly because not many people want to root for a large black woman whose filmography includes ridiculous films such as ‘Soul Plane’ and ‘Phat Girls’. Maggie’s spot could have and should have been replaced with Melanie Laurent from ‘Inglourious Basterds’, or even Diane Kruger for that matter. But there’s no point talking further here. Just get your tissues ready by the time Mo’Nique goes up on stage to accept her award, as she is known to give an emotional speech. *sob*

Primary Prediction: Mo’Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
Secondary Prediction: None
Personal Favorite: Mo’Nique for Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire

Fikri can’t believe that Fazil fell in love with Carey Mulligan as well. This means war.

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3 comments

  1. Dude, you can have Carey. Anna is mine, or Emily for that matter. haha


  2. Just don’t break up with Anna via SMS, though. :)

    Fikri


  3. [...] Is it a reflection of the hyper-femininity that is on display within Korean society itself? Perhaps, perhaps not. What I’m trying to say here is that many people play up to the role that is expected of them, rather than being precisely what it is that they want to do. Eun-mo does neither of that; her foray into a nightclub, early on in the film, suggest someone who does what she wants, rather that what others necessarily want her to do. As she grows up, however, she had to maintain a facade of reserve, a certain coolness and maturity. She was more than just a little emotional when she had to go over her sister’s death once again for insurance purposes, but she maintains her cool and keeps her emotions in check. Then again, when you think about it, this could also be seen as a form of display, an insistence to do what society deems to be mature, rather than to actually stay true to one’s instincts. Look at it in whatever way you will, but ultimately the performance of the actors here is one that is greatly differentiated from a lot of other movies I have seen. That balance between maturity and innocence is a difficult one to achieve, and I think she did a fine job here. It reminds me of ‘An Education’s Carey Mulligan, and I’m emboldened enough to claim that had this film been an American one, it may well have shot Seo Woo into the Oscar territory. [...]



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