Renee Zellweger: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Sissy Spacek: In the Bedroom
Judi Dench: Iris
Halle Berry: Monster’s Ball (winner)
Nicole Kidman: Moulin Rouge!
This is one of those years where it feels like I could make a complete new set of nominees that would be better top to bottom than the actual nominees we got. Let’s start with the fact that Nicole Kidman should have been nominated for The Others rather than for Moulin Rouge! On the foreign front, we’ve got a solid trio: Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher, Vasundhara Das in Monsoon Wedding, and most especially Audrey Tautou in Amelie. Mulholland Drive was probably too crazy to earn Naomi Watts a spot, though she probably deserved it. And what about Thora Birch in Ghost World? I might also mention Carrie Anne Moss in Memento, although that’s much more a supporting role, so probably doesn’t qualify.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. In truth, Nicole Kidman probably doesn’t belong in fifth place, but I genuinely dislike Moulin Rouge! intensely. The movie feels like an assault on all of my senses at a constant clip. I’m putting her in fifth, though, because she really should have been nominated for The Others. It’s a better role and a harder role, and she is far better and more memorable in it. This is evidence of Oscar’s constant bias against almost anything remotely scary, and Kidman ends up paying the price for it.
4. It’s kind of the same situation with Halle Berry and Monster’s Ball. Berry isn’t bad in the role, but it’s not a role that I think is that great, a performance I think is that exceptional, or a film that I enjoyed watching in the least. Once again, this is a case where I simply don’t understand the nomination given the other performances that were available. My guess is that a lot of people will put her fifth. I can’t really say I disagree completely.
3. I have a mental block when it comes to Renee Zellweger, and it’s one that I have consciously tried to get over. I actually like her in Bridget Jones’s Diary, but this is one of those cases where I wonder if she wasn’t at least slightly miscast. They couldn’t find a British actress to handle the role? Zellweger isn’t bad in this, and it’s clear that my objection to her is entirely personal, but once again, I’m not fully sure I understand the nomination. She’s fine in the role, but Best Actress worthy? I don’t really see it.
2. When Judi Dench is nominated, she’s always a competitor. With Iris, she had the challenge of playing a woman slowly descending into Alzheimer’s, and she had to pull this off without descending into melodrama or being maudlin. She manages this as well as you might expect from Dame Judi. This isn’t a happy movie, but it’s a damn fine one, and this is the first of the nominations I actually understand.
1. In the Bedroom is one of those movies that absolutely knocked me sideways. I watched it expecting nothing more than a checked box and discovered a movie of surprising depth and excellent performances all the way around. While Sissy Spacek isn’t the heart of the drama, she is in many ways the emotional heart of the film, a woman who has had her world turned terribly upside down. It’s a brutal performance and one of her best. She’s my choice of the nominees, but not my actual choice.
There are simply too many great performances this year for me to stick with any of the nominees. In a perfect world, Nicole Kidman would have been nominated for The Others, and if she had, I think she’d be my choice. There’s so much nuance in what she does, so much that she has to deal with mentally and show only to the audience; I think it’s her best performance in her career. My heart, though, sides with Audrey Tautou for a performance that makes virtually everyone who sees the film fall in love with her just a little. Either would be a better choice than any of the five we’ve been given.