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Oscar Analysis: The Ladies

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For performances by an actress, supporting and leading, it seems to be the year of fresh faces and younger stars who have not been nominated previously by the Academy and are receiving acting credit and attention pretty much for the first time. Except for Oscar winners Judi Dench and Charlize Theron that is, who of course have both been nominated before and even honored with an award. In general though it’s a lot of former teen/twenty-something stars being nominated for their serious roles this year. It also seems to be the year where normally TV regulated actresses are being nominated for their film performances, IE Dawson Creek‘s Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain and Desperate Housewife Felicity Huffman for Transamerica.


Overall, I’m pleased with this year’s picks, since all of the above actresses gave very strong performances. Charlize Theron was as strong as ever for her role in North Country portraying the courageous and victimized woman in the first ever sexual harassment case in America. Reese was charming and vibrant as June Carter, distinctively capturing the country singer’s voice and persona as well as her chemistry with Johnny. Judi Dench was impressive and aloof as ever, but really that is expected of her, so her nominations never come as much of a surprise. Felicity Huffman, meanwhile, completely blew me away and pulled me in, and not just because she had the challenge of playing a man pretending to be woman while taking on the deep voice and masculine look, but the emotions she seemed to suppress yet show were very powerful.[ADBLOCKHERE]

Given the content of the film, Huffman’s performance could have been played tawdry or over the top like in Connie and Carla; instead Huffman treats the role sensitively and makes the part believable. Keira Knightley, though, shouldn’t be up on this list in comparison of the other performances mentioned. She did a good job, sure, but I didn’t walk away going ‘wow, that’s Katharine Hepburn Oscar-worthy.’ I might be biased here, because I liked the A&E version and am annoyed by Knightley’s whiney acting in general.

Now who will win? Well, Reese won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, but then so did Felicity for the drama category of Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture. So, most likely it’s really going to be down to these two women.

WHO SHOULD WIN: Felicity Huffman

WHO WILL PROBABLY WIN: Reese Witherspoon


Although I agree with the Academy on everyone who is being nominated for the female supporting roles, I’m pretty indifferent as to who should win. Like Judi Dench, Frances McDormand is good in anything she does and once again delivers a strong supporting role in North Country. I actually found her character more compelling than Theron’s. Then there is Amy Adams who helps make a mediocre independent film stand out and be memorable, due to her energetic and genuine performance in Junebug as a young pregnant girl in a rural North Carolina town. She was also Ebert and Roeper’s pick.

The biggest contender is Rachel Weisz, who played a strong, mysterious and passionate woman trying to take on the pharmaceutical world in the political love story that is The Constant Gardener. She even outshone her costar and the well acclaimed acting veteran Ralph Fiennes. Catherine Keener, who went to my alma mater (Wheaton College, MA) and also appeared this year in the comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin, takes on a more serious supporting role in Capote as Harper Lee, Capote’s Southern childhood friend and the famous To Kill a Mockingbird author. And finally, Michelle Williams was able to prove that she is more than just a former TV teeny bopper while playing the dejected wife to a homosexual husband.

The reason for my indifference is because although all of the nominees did a great job, I just can’t seem to distinguish who outshined the others. Again, if you believe in looking towards the Golden Globes to see who will win the Oscars, Rachel Weisz already beat Frances McDormand and Michelle Williams who were also nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture. Just remember the Academy likes to be different then that Golden Globes though and there are often a few upsets and political choices going on.



Tara Settembre is a Staff Writer for Film School Rejects.

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