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Ranking the 1990s Oscar Best Actress Winners   3 comments

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So I have decided to start another project here which obviously from the title of this post already gives you a clue on what it’s about. Inspired from a poll on a forum, I’ve decided to watch all the 90s Best Actress Oscar champs arranged from the earliest up to the last of the decade in order to revisit, rekindle, and look how these performances stood the test of time. The focus will be on the performances so little to no mentions of Anjelica Huston in The Grifters, Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves, and Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown and how they were all robbed here. Okay I take it back. Will mention them as well but in small doses. Okay let’s begin!

1990

And we begin the decade with that surprise win of Kathy Bates for breathing life to the big fan turned obsessed creep Annie Wilkes in the adaptation of the Stephen King novel “Misery.” While the writing of Annie Wilkes can be a bit one note, Bates brings a certain humanity to the character thus encompassing emotions that show her character’s vulnerability. How Kathy Bates managed to show defeat and hurt of Annie when she spilled the wine on their dinner to bringing in the crazy when the officer visited her house and that composed demeanor she had after she tied Paul Sheldon is a testament of her range given the limitations of the role. And one has to appreciate the humor that Bates has brought to the role that makes the achievement more appreciated such as her rant against the coupon bond issue as for starters.  Of course at this stage, no one knew that Bates would  play another Stephen King character via Dolores Clairborne five years later, and while that one had the better performance, it does not take away the complexity that Kathy brought to the role of Annie Wilkes. It is difficult to laugh and be scared with the same character at the same time, and she does it so well that it’s hard to take this win from her. It’s also quite a special win considering how much the Academy rarely touches anything from the thriller/horror genre (unless one counts that win by Jessica Tandy just a year before) and that then unknown Bates, whose popularity only exists on the four walls of Broadway, managed to beat then it girl Julia Roberts, Hollywood royalty Anjelica Huston, Oscar favorite Meryl Streep, and legendary actress Joanne Woodward. Bittersweet indeed.

1991

Just a year after I commented on how this category rarely touches performances from horror or thriller films, AMPAS then decides to reward them back to back. In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs defied all odds by being released exactly one whole year prior to its Oscar sweep the following year. Of course that includes the win for its lead actress Jodie Foster, who herself was already a recipient of this same exact trophy three years before for The Accused. However, this remains to be an iconic role and performance from Jodie, which is nothing to question about. As for starters, it is very refreshing for a woman to headline a thriller such as this one and gain much critical and commercial success. of course it would be unfair to dismiss the efforts of Anthony Hopkins who churned in an iconic performance himself, but Foster’s Clarice Sterling is basically the heart of the movie. And how it succeeds is definitely a gender bending milestone of how thrillers are associated with only male actors front and center. It also does not hurt that this performance is really great as well. In it, Foster rarely (or none at all) relied to histrionics and made Clarice driven but not totally ambitious, subtle but never forgettable, and complex without being one-sided. This is the same year when both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis were nominated for their team up in Thelma and Louise and part of me thinks that’s also another reason which helped Foster’s road to the podium at all. While one can argue that those two are better than Foster (I belong to that camp to be honest), it is easier to reward this performance than pulling a Sophie’s Choice between the two. But in the end, it must not limit the merits that Jodie has brought into this performance, as it’s probably one of the most respected wins in this category especially for non-Oscar aficionados.

1992

And from one Anthony Hopkins leading lady to another, queen of British period pieces Emma Thompson won the following year for her performance as Margaret Schlugel in Howard’s End. It was one of those easy Oscar calls as she has been the frontrunner all season long, and it’s not difficult to figure out why. Thompson brought a warm touch to a likable human being that isn’t a scene stealing, attention grabbing character. She was the voice of sense and reason, and Emma was quick to figure that her character balances the story in between her hands. Margaret was a sympathetic character but not one who you’d feel pity for, and there’s a certain glow that Thompson just radiates while playing this character. Whether it’s her tea sessions with Vanessa Redgrave or finding out about Anthony Hopkins’ romantic past, she inhabits Margaret’s confidence effortlessly reflecting Emma’s class act performance. 1990 winner Kathy Bates, Emma Thompson would go on and play another period character in another James Ivory film, The Remains of the Day, for which she nabbed another Oscar nomination, but whether it is arguable if she did well better in the former or the latter, the heart of Howard’s End will always belong to Emma Thompson and with that, she is certainly deserving of this Oscar recognition.

1993

1993 was all about talking (or lack thereof). With Whoopi Goldberg hosting the Oscars — being the first black woman (and up to now still remains the only one) to do so, this was also the last previous bid for a black actress to win the coveted Best Actress Oscar prior to Halle Berry’s historic win in 2001. The person in talks was Angela Bassett for portraying iconic performer Tina Turner in What’s Love Got To Do With It? And the talks are loud, perhaps really loud, that this is still the subject of some debates years after. But the woman who ended up with the Oscar needs no talking in her film, at least. The Piano‘s Holly Hunter became the seventh person in Academy history to win an Oscar for not uttering a word on screen (except the narration at the beginning and the end). In hindsight, why people argue Holly Hunter’s win years after is beyond me. In a really strong field that includes Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation and last year’s winner Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day, Hunter towered above the rest of the field with her performance. The mute aspect isn’t gimmicky nor calculated for me, as she was able to translate a performance that started as a mail ordered bride who was cold but willing to open up, just given the opportunity to do so. Hunter has always been praised for her delivery and the energy she inserts into the role she plays, but she managed to overcome all that and give an equally impressive one stripped off her usual assets. The stares, the body language, and the actions are far from a stunt performance and on top of that, the emotions that she just poured in it. I doubt performances like this could win an Oscar in this period now where showy OMG acting in this category seemed to be the key to be considered an “actress.” It’s a performance that stood well the test of the time, and it’s one of the times when Oscar go against the norm and ultimately get it right.

1994

There is such a stigma being labeled to the 1994 Best Actress line up to be one of the weakest in this category’s history. After all, this was the year when Linda Fiorentino should have swept all the awards if only The Last Seduction wasn’t shown briefly on HBO, thus making her ineligible for the rest of the season. But while there’s a hint of truthfulness with that, you can all spare Jessica Lange’s winning performance in it. Say what you want about her weak ass nominees, but Lange is nowhere a weak winner this year. Playing a mentally unstable wife of a military man and causing troubles to his career, Jessica was able to amp up the physical, emotional, and mental requirements of the role effectively that it’s definitely one of the underrated wins in this category’s history. Much of the talks about this performance and film was how it was dumped in the shelf three years after its completion, when in fact we should be talking about Jessica Lange slaying the hell out of this role. It’s a very complex performance which suited a woman of her age as she oozes her sexuality and shifts to calm to showy in a snap. While some performances get carried along the strength of their overall films, the opposite can be said about here as Blue Sky ended up as inferior to what Jessica brought to the role. Besides, her only Oscar until this year was a thank you for a great year supporting win in 1982, and if someone fits the narrative of a multiple Oscar winning actress, her name would definitely be up on that list. So this one albeit a weak year is an inspired win and one who should overcome, if anything else, the weak field she’s been grouped with.

1995

After a weak 1994 line up, we’re bound to have a strong one no? But to say the 1995 Best Actress line up is a strong one is even an understatement if we are to look past the performances that were left off that year (Nicole Kidman in To Die For, Julianne Moore in Safe, Kathy Bates in Dolores Clairborne among others). Now if we are to look at those actual nominated performances, then it makes the case even stronger with Elisabeth Shue acting opposite the eventual Best Actor winner and Meryl Streep in the second best performance of her career are unrewarded with Oscars. But then, it’s all about Susan Sarandon. Sure, her overdue status would have pushed her the win that year especially since she was nominated four times the last five years, but to consider that as a demerit to her performance is reaching it. Playing real life nuin Helen Prejean, Sarandon would always be on the odd side of the film. On the outer, you have to act opposite Sean Penn’s more interesting and showy character as Susan is relegated to facial reactions to what his character is saying. To act with such a very complex character and not be overshadowed is a feat itself, but Sarandon perfectly crosses the line of being receptive but not totally eaten and distinct without overshadowing her co-star. If anything, it was a perfectly arranged harmony that she has showed here. And beyond that, she plays the character of a nun. It’s hard to play a character who is morally good and be believable in it, but Sarandon’s Prejean’s cling in her “faith” does not only resonate to Matthew Poncelet but to humanity is an acting accomplishment that is deserving to be honored with an Oscar.

1996

On one hand, it would be a waste to hate on Frances McDormand’s win here especially since she’s a very talented actress whose charisma really transcends through her works. On the other, this was the year when the revelation that is named Emily Watson brought one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on screen via Breaking the Waves, that even if I know Oscar won’t touch it, I still feel like my hopes were dashed. But since I’ve let that one out of the way, let’s go back to our 96 champ Frances McDormand. Playing police officer Marge Gunderson, McDormand certainly made the most of all of her scenes in Joel Coen’s Fargo. It is very hard to root for a character as lovable and likable as Marge, and like Thompson’s Margaret, there’s a certain amount of rooting for that you feel with the character. Much of Marge’s magic — if I may call it that — can be attributed to Frances McDormand’s own wit and charisma. Her confident personality seems to play a factor with the end result of Marge’s character and that it will make you want to see more of her (granted she’s only in the film half of the time). There is a reason why Marge, despite limited screentime and borderline supporting appearance, is an iconic character and Frances is the main reason why. On a totally unrelated note, I would just like to share that I am amazed with Alison Tollman’s portrayal of such role in the FX adaptation series of Fargo because even if she wisely did not copy the same approach that McDormand did in her character, you can see the influences and nuances that McDormand indelibly left in her portrayal 18 years before.

1997

Before we start the 1997 discussion, let’s get this one out of the way: Nope, Helen Hunt did not win just because she’s battling against four British actresses in here. If anything, Helena Bonham Carter and Dame Judi Dench are in British period pieces, Julie Christie has been rewarded an Oscar already, and Kate Winslet is the reason why Leonardo di Caprio died  serviceable but in no way awards worthy in Titanic. There’s a certain level of vitriol spawn on Helen Hunt’s Oscar win and that’s probably because her post-Oscar career sizzled or that like any others, she was perceived as the darling of that year’s awards season. In As Good As It Gets, Helen plays the longer version of what makes her a prominent American that time: a big TV star sweeping off Emmys for her show Mad About You. But that is not to say that Hunt wasn’t good in what she did in the film. As waitress Caroline who found love in the most unusual way, Hunt was pleasantly and delightfully sweet that it charms the Oscar voters to give her that trophy. It’s a performance where she’s acting off one of Hollywood’s finest Jack Nicholson, and how he did not swallow her in their scenes together must be credited to the both of them. I still don’t think Helen Hunt had any business winning an Oscar that year, but she was convincing for the most part, albeit sitcom-ish as well, in her performance in the film.

1998

Now think of the vitriol that Helen Hunt received in 1997 and double it to come up with the reception that Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar win had earned over the years especially from fans of the performances of co-nominees Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth and Fernanda Montenegro in The Central Station. But then I think it is unfair to simply attach Paltrow’s competition to the performance that she has given in Shakespeare in Love. This is not the same case as that of the previous year’s winner since Shakespeare in Love is mighty ahead in terms of being the better film. As a matter of fact, Paltrow and the film itself carried the same burden with regards to their Oscar legacy — she and the film are perceived to tackle lighter subjects; thus they are easier to dispose. This is not to say that both her and the movie are rightfully and every inch deserving of their wins but more of an underestimation with the accomplishments that they have achieved. Focusing back on Gwyneth, her gender bending role as Viola de Lesseps provides the perfect heroine accessory to the film. Given that great screenplay and lavish production of the movie, it does not need an actress that will overshadow all of that but instead one that will understand the circumstances and just go with it, which she did in the movie. It is not easy to be charming and delightful as your film’s heroine and she possesses both of that in her performance. So while I understand that this leans on the lighter fare of stuff as compared to playing a queen, it does not warrant the notorious image that it has since then received.

1999

Now after three comedic performances in a row, the decade closed with one of its closest and most infamous Oscar rivals. In 1999, Annette Bening, one half of the power couple with Hollywood legend Warren Beatty, is up for her performance as part of eventual Best Picture winner American Beauty. Prior to the Oscars, she has won the SAG and there’s a really great chance that the film will join the elite few of winning the four major awards (Picture, Director, Actor and Actress). Then there’s up and coming actress Hilary Swank, whose probably known for her remake of Karate Kid sometime in the mid 90s, playing the role of real life transgender Teena Brandon in the small indie film Boys Don’t Cry. And in a Cinderella moment, David beats G0liath as Hilary Swank became the last winner of the decade. That is probably one of the boldest moves made by the Academy and one of the best upsets if I may say. In one of the best breakthrough performances by an actress here, she was raw, heartbreaking, and every inch convincing in this performance. Swank never made the movie about her tics or her adjustments, but she assured that it will be about Brandon’s journey, and it is within this fearlessness that she made this character and performance remarkable. If anything, I think it’s even braver that she denied the easily to use sentimentality nor trademarks that in the hands of a lesser actress would rely to, and instead let it breathe and parade it with so much clarity and confidence. Whatever Hilary Swank did for the remaining of her career after this is hers to celebrate or to blame, but in this one particular performance, she made it clear that she would be remembered.

The 90s Best Actress winners line up in general have been less receptive to biopics (with only two out of the ten winners were for playing real persons) and more to poetic costume pieces films. There’s also a stage where humor works best (even three in a row from 96-98) and if you’d even include, Kathy Bates in Misery. Ranking this is difficult since there’s a lot of performance here that I admire and the ones I appreciate and respect aren’t even totally deserving of a low ranking. That said, I guess I’m gonna go with…

01. 1993 (Holly Hunter, The Piano)
02. 1999 (Hilary Swank, Boys Don’t Cry)
03. 1995 (Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking)
04. 1992 (Emma Thompson, Howard’s End)
05. 1991 (Jodie Foster, The Silence of the Lambs)
06. 1996 (Frances McDormand, Fargo)
07. 1994 (Jessica Lange, Blue Sky)
08. 1990 (Kathy Bates, Misery)
09. 1998 (Gwyneth Paltrow, Shakespeare in Love)
10. 1997 (Helen Hunt, As Good As It Gets)

So who is your favorite 1990s Best Actress winner? Who would you consider as the best of the decade? And how many of those performances have stood the test of the time? Chime in the Comments section below and let’s converse! 🙂

You can also follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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85th Academy Awards: Best Supporting Actress Rankings   6 comments

suppactress

Hi everyone! It’s been a week since I last did any blog post here, and I’m kinda swamped with work. But enough about that, I guess. First up, I’m so happy because I’m already done seeing the 20 nominated acting performances for this year’s Oscars. So to continue the rankings special that I did the past few weeks (I’m already done with Picture, Animated Feature, and Original Song), here comes the first acting category for this season. If I’m an Oscar voter, here’s how I’ll rank the five female supporting performances for 2012 (according to the Academy).

05. JACKIE WEAVER, “Silver Linings Playbook”

While I’m already past the stage of heartbreak over those who weren’t nominated (Legend Kidman! Ann Dowd! Dame Dench!), I still don’t see anything special with Jackie Weaver’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook. It’s pretty clear that she was just carried along the Silver Linings Playbook love train seeing that she did not get any major precursor prior to the Oscar nod. Don’t get me wrong, as I’m not hating on Jackie Weaver. As a matter of fact, she’s my personal winner from 2010 (her Animal Kingdom performance is still a tour de force show), and it’s amazing that she received a follow up nod when everyone quickly labeled her as a one hit wonder just two years ago. But I still don’t see how many thought of this performance as anywhere Oscar worthy. I’d say that she cracks me up though every time she mentions crabby snacks in the film.

Suggested Oscar clip: a montage of crabby snacks would have been perfect, but “You lied to me Pat! Danny’s not allowed to come.”

04. SALLY FIELD, “Lincoln”

It’s nice to see that the fruits of Sally Field’s labor has finally been recognized. Back from the fighting of this role up to her consistent Oscar snubs since her infamous speech 27 years ago, it’s probably bittersweet for Mama Gump to finally be back in awards traction for her movie performances (remember Legally Blonde 2? barf!). As for her turn in Lincoln, I like that she toned it down a bit, especially since most of her performances suffer from criticisms of going too over the top. Her Mary Todd was indeed a supporting presence above anything else, though most of her scenes involved her just sitting and watching in court. Field was able to capture Mary in a way that she knows her boundaries in the film. She knows when to limit it as per usual, but she also knows how to push all buttons when the scene calls for it. It’s a controlled performance that does not go beyond that, but in Sally’s case, that’s also how her performance reaches its greatest heights.

Suggested Oscar clip: I’ll show what heartbreak. Real heartbreak looks like…”

03. AMY ADAMS, “The Master”

Amy Adams is probably one of the actresses that the Academy loves to nominate, but not give the win to. Among her four nominations, the closest she was in terms of chances was back in her first nom for Junebug where she was clearly third in line after Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. All the succeeding noms were pretty much filler (Doubt) to no chance at all (sadly, The Fighter). The same can be said for her performance in The Master. But it’s also noteworthy that she got two major critics wins for this performance. Truth be told, I don’t see this as an Oscar winning performance as well, let alone a nominated one. But what I like about her in this was that despite not being given too much to work on (she was clearly the third best in show in terms of screen time and in storyline too), she made her presence felt. Most of her scenes required her to play second fiddle to on screen husband Philip Seymour Hoffman, but her presence was clearly there despite just sitting down or standing behind him. It’s also one of the times where she used her doe eyes feature to her advantage, as it’s a perfect fit especially during the times when she’s not talking (which is most of the time). Also, just props for giving Philip Seymour Hoffman a “hand.” What a daunting task. LOL.

Suggested Oscar clip: And this is where we’re at! At the lowest level. To have to explain ourselves. For what!?!?”

02. HELEN HUNT, “The Sessions

15 years after her first nomination (and win), Best Actress Helen Hunt comes back for a second nomination to prove her win is no fluke via The Sessions. Hunt takes the award for most number of nude scenes in a long time among all Oscar nominees, and in any other year, this could have been a bonafide frontrunner. After seeing the film, I’ve always felt that Hunt is one of those that can go either lead or supporting, but I think she was much better in Lead. With that said, this is one of the surprise performances of the season, as I don’t think that I will like it that much, only to take it back because I actually did! As Cheryl, she already made it clear that she is a sex therapist and not a prostitute, but either way, she gets to take all of her clothes off for the most part in the film. However, thanks to Hunt’s astonishing performance, it is clear that a woman (or in this case, a sex therapist) does not need to take away her dignity with her when she takes her clothes off. Hunt made it pretty transparent how much what we want to  know about Cheryl, and she answered all of this with this vulnerability that made her, like all other else, a person that is not devoid of attachments and emotions. And I find this as one of the better acting nominations of the year.

Suggested Oscar clip: Car scene in the end after the last session

01. ANNE HATHAWAY, “Les Miserables”

While this win was already bestowed to her the moment she was announced to play this role, Anne Hathaway definitely delivered to all the expectations with her performance in Best Picture nominee Les Miserables. As Fantine, Anne is definitely one of the few bright spots in this mess of a movie, and the one who benefits from the live singing as well. But before that, let’s clear some facts first. Anne Hathaway is not the best singer in the world, and I’m certain that even she is aware of that. But she is a more capable one. And she only needs one song to nail this performance, and she definitely crushed it! Her I Dreamed a Dream is one of the standout moments of the film, as she was able to make the most out of her limited screentime. In this number, she puts all these emotional gravitas of Fantine’s suffering and bursts it out in a heartbreaking and highly emotional manner that will put most viewers to tears (guilty as charged). Yes, it was brief, and yes, she disappears for most part in the film, but she already built enough momentum and impact that by the end,hers is one of the moments you’d remember the most. So regardless if you felt that Hathaway is self absorbed and narcissistic and self entitled, I’d give her a free pass with this performance as she gave justice to it, and than an Oscar is really warranted.

Suggested Oscar clip: I Dreamed a Dream. Duh.

How will you rank these performances? Who would you have voted in this category? And do you think Jackie Weaver really deserve her nod?

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

 

The Race for the 86th Oscar Best Actress   1 comment

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The race for this year’s Oscar Best Actress has just turned into an interesting state. Still frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence’s Saturday Night Live monologue gave her negative press when she jokingly slammed her Oscar co-nominees to address the “I beat Meryl!” quip she had during last week’s Golden Globes. Some of the lines she said during the controversial monologue were “Jessica Chastain? More of Jessica Chas-ain’t winning an Oscar on my watch!” and “Naomi Watts in The Impossible. You know what’s impossible? You beating me at the Oscars!” Granted, she wasn’t the one who wrote the lines (it was the terrible writing from the SNL staff that hurt her), but this Oscar season has been the dirtiest in a long time. If voters respond negatively, they might throw their vote to Jessica Chastain who’s more regarded as an actor’s actor and the only person who pulled off the feat of having the top two movies in US box office TWICE.

Speaking of dirty, for a moment, let’s move fast forward and shift to next year’s Best Actress race. And as early as now, boy I’m telling you it’s gonna be a bloodbath. Internet forums will feast on this one, as it has almost every single actress (with cult followings ) with an Oscar bait movie next year. And if it does not excite you yet, almost all recent past Best Actress winners since 2000 is in contention spare for Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Hilary Swank, Natalie Portman, and Helen Mirren. Here’s a rundown of who can you expect to get nominated next awards season:

Best Actress 2000 Julia Roberts and Best Actress 1982 and 2011 Meryl Streep are co-starring in the movie adaptation of August: Osage County. This has literally Oscar bait all over it, especially since prior to Streep winning last year, this was perceived as the Oscar vehicle that will give her her third Oscar. Now Team Meryl is pushing her for a fourth win for an all time tie with Katharine Hepburn (who’s vocal of her dislike towards Meryl). Julia, on the other hand, hasn’t been invited back as a nominee since her Erin Brockovich win 12 years ago, and it might be her next comeback. You have to remember though that the last time that two actresses were nominated for Best Actress in the same film was way back in 1991 when both Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis got nommed for Thelma and Louise. And if there’s a pair of actresses who can pull that feat off, it’ll definitely be Roberts and Streep.

Speaking of Roberts, her rival, box office sweetheart Sandra Bullock aka Best Actress 2009 is also in the hunt next year via Alfonoso Cuaron’s Gravity. This one stars her opposite George Clooney, and while sci-fi doesn’t work well with the Academy unless you’re Sigourney Weaver, she also has a comedy coming out in March with Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy. So, a comedy in March then a drama in October? Doesn’t it sound familiar? It’s circa 2009 all over again when Sandy pulled that one-two punch of The Proposal and The Blind Side.

Let’s move on to a pair of celebrity bestfriends. Best Actress 2002 Nicole Kidman is doing a biopic this time, and by playing a real person, it reminds us when she won for playing author Virginia Woolf in The Hours. This time though, it’s Oscar winner slash Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco. This biopic is helmed by Olivier Dahan which was responsible for Marion Cotillard’s Oscar winning vehicle La Vie En Rose. Kidman is on a streak the past few years gaining momentum post-Rabbit Hole and she came close this year with The Paperboy, so she can finally snatch a fourth nomination. Her bestfriend, Best Actress nominee 2003 and 2012 Naomi Watts is playing Princess Diana in the biopic which was surprisingly entitled Diana. If good will is prevalent next year, then she can shoo-in an instant nomination just like how Michelle Williams did when she gained one for My Week with Marilyn the year after her Oscar comeback via Blue Valentine.

Next, we have the K/C-ates. Oscar Best Actress 2008 Kate Winslet is doing an Oscar comeback after her victory five years ago for The Reader. In Jason Reitman’s Labor Day, Winslet plays the role of a depressed single mother who offered a man a ride only to identify the identity of the man she helped. Baity, indeed. Then we’d have Best Supporting Actress 2004 Cate Blanchett who’s probably having a major comeback this 2013 with a plethora of films under her belt. Her best shot for a gold though is via Woody Allen’s drama(!) Blue Jasmine where she stars opposite Oscar nominee Alec Baldwin.

Then we also have past winners from the last decade gunning for their first nomination since their win. Best Actress 2007 Marion Cotillard came close this year via Rust and Bone, but if foreign language nature of the film hurt her chances, then her role in James Gray’s Lowlife as a burlesque woman can finally snatch her a comeback nomination. The same can be said for Best Actress 2005 Reese Witherspoon who stars in Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot playing the role of a mother whose child went missing.

And then we also have winners from the 90s coming back. First is Best Actress 1992 Emma Thompson playing opposite Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks. This film is directed by Jonny Lee Hancock who was responsible for Sandra Bullock’s Oscar. The second is current nominee and Best Actress 1997 Helen Hunt in Decoding Annie Parker. In the said movie, Hunt plays the role of the doctor who’s responsible for the almost discovery for cancer. What an Oscar bait that is!

As for the youngesters, we have two actresses playing the title roles in their film. In case she won’t win the Oscar this year, two time nominee Jennifer Lawrence is again with Bradley Cooper next year via Susanne Bier’s Serena as the wife of a timber empire owner who cannot give her husband a child. On the other side, we have Elizabeth Olsen giving another shot at the Oscar territory via Therese which is also Jessica Lange’s comeback movie.

Then Brit love can push two of their contenders next year: Best Supporting Actress 1998 Judi Dench can find herself with a seventh career nomination for her performance in Philomena as a woman trying to find her missing son who was forcefully taken from her when she lived in a convent. Then taking a break from all these period dramas is Keira Knightley who’s trying something new this time as a young singer-songwriter who befriends a music executive in Can a Song Save Your Life?

A comeback nomination can also be possible for last year’s nominee Rooney Mara who stars in Steven Soderbergh’s Side Effects. The last time someone got a nomination for a Soderbergh work was Julia Roberts in 2000, and we all know how that turned out. There’s also the possibility of Mia Wasikowska finally breaking through as the disturbed daughter of Nicole Kidman in Park Chan Wook’s English debut Stoker.

Lastly, there’s Sundance hit Julie Delpy who can add another Oscar nomination to her name, this time for acting in the third part of her Richard Linklater series Before Midnight. Midnight has been getting unanimously positive praise at Sundance, and if buzz translates, then she can even be a two time nominee next year.

Of course, those are all just possibilities. If this year’s nominations taught us something, there’s always the possibility of a Quvenzhane Wallis or an Emmanuelle Riva who can suddenly sneak in. But for the moment, this is gonna be a really long catfight. Which race are you looking forward to? The possibilities are endless with the line up. There’s a match up of J.Law vs. Meryl, or America’s Sweetheart Julia vs. America’s Sweetheart Reese vs. America’s Sweetheart Sandy. Then there’s Nicole vs. Naomi, Cate vs. Kate, Dame Judi vs. Cate, Mia vs. Elizabeth, and the only one whose gonna be having a field day with this one are the internet forums mainstays.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

2012 Independent Spirit Awards Nominees   Leave a comment

Here we go. Oscar season is definitely in the air, and as always, the first to announce (but the second to the last to reward) their nominees is the Independent Spirit Awards. There’s  a lot of surprises among the nominees, but as a reference, here are those who got a nod:

Best Feature

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Bernie”
“Keep the Lights On”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Silver Linings Playbook”

Best Screenplay

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola (“Moonrise Kingdom”)
Zoe Kazan (“Ruby Sparks”)
Martin McDonagh (“7 Psychopaths”)
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”)

Best Director

Wes Anderson (“Moonrise Kingdom”)
Julia Loktev (“The Loneliest Planet”)
David O. Russell (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Ira Sachs (“Keep the Lights On”)
Benh Zeitlin (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”).

Best Female Lead

Linda Cardellini (“Return”)
Emayatzy Corinealdi (“Middle of Nowhere”)
Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Smashed”)

Best Male Lead

Jack Black (“Bernie”)
Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Playbook”)
John Hawkes (“The Sessions”)
Thure Lindhardt (“Keep the Lights On”)
Matthew McConaughey (“Killer Joe”)
Wendell Pierce (“Four”)

Best Supporting Female

Rosemarie DeWitt (“Your Sister’s Sister”)
Ann Dowd (“Compliance”)
Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”)
Brit Marling (“Sound of My Voice”)
Lorraine Toussaint (“Middle of Nowhere”)

Best Supporting Male

Matthew McConaughey (“Magic Mike”)
David Oyelowo (“Middle of Nowhere”)
Michael Pena (“End of Watch”)
Sam Rockwell (“7 Psychopaths”)
Bruce Willis (“Moonrise Kingdom”)

Best Documentary

“How to Survive a Plague”
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”
“The Central Park Five”
“The Invisible War”
“The Waiting Room”

Best International Film

“Amour” (France)
“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (Turkey)
“Rust and Bone” (France)
“Sister” (Switzerland)
“War Witch” (DR Congo)

Best First Feature

“Fill the Void”
“Gimme the Loot”
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
“Safety Not Guaranteed”
“Sound of My Voice”

Best First Screenplay

Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”)
Rashida Jones and Will McCormack (“Celeste and Jesse Forever”)
Jonathan Lisecki (“Gayby”)
Derek Connolly (“Safety Not Guaranteed”)
Christopher Ford (“Robot & Frank”)

Anyway, the biggest buzz so far comes from the eligibility of The Silver Linings Playbook which was supposed to be ineligible due to its post 20 million budget (which is the only rule for your film to qualify as indie). However, inside talks say much of the credit goes to Harvey Weinstein who did his magic tricks in order for the film to make it here. It has been said that he is also the one responsible for The Artist being eligible in all categories here last year when it should have contended in the Foreign Language Film category. Oh well. If there’s one lesson you must learn, it’s that you should never underestimate the powers of Harvey Weinstein.

Here are other reactions:

* Surprising to see the outpour of love for Matt McCounaghey. Does this mean he’ll go all the way to an Oscar nod? Not sure yet, but this increases his buzz. On the other hand, the Dwight Henry snub is perplexing. He badly needs this especially since he is ineligible for the SAG and definitely miss the Globes. He’s already near DOA territory.

* Aside from Dwight Henry, some notable snubs include Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch), Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha), Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon (Arbitrage), Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller (Perks of Being a Wallflower), Robert de Niro (The Silver Linings Playbook), and Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy).

* It’s gonna be an easy feat for Jennifer Lawrence to sweep all the way to the Oscars. I was really pushing for at least one Quvenzhane Wallis speech. Damn you, Harvey.

* Yay for the nods of Michael Pena, Rosemarie Dewitt, Ann Dowd, Bruce Willis, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Rust and Bone, and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia! Yayyy. All well deserved. Moonrise Kingdom also gets a good showing here. I wonder if it’s enough to keep momentum all the way to the Oscars. A Screenplay nod is almost assured though.

* Linda Cardellini’s self campaign paid off. Though we’ll see if she gets to cross over at the SAG voters. Usually, it’s the end for too good performances in too little indie films, so enjoy the moment Ann Dowd and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

*Lastly, for the wins, I’d say Silver Linings Playbook, David Russell, John Hawkes, Jennifer Lawrence, Matthew McConaughey, and Helen Hunt will easily take the trophies a day before the Oscars.