Natalie Portman: Black Swan (winner)
Michelle Williams: Blue Valentine
Annette Bening: The Kids are All Right
Nicole Kidman: Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence: Winter’s Bone
It appears that 2010 is one of those years that is weaker in one set of nominations than the other, at least from the standpoint of my viewing history. We don’t have a foreign language performance here, so I’d like to bring in Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin in Incendies as a viable candidate. Michelle Williams in Meek’s Cutoff might be a fascinating addition as well, although it would replace her in Blue Valentine. I could see Emma Stone for Easy A as a longshot nomination based on genre. Finally, while science fiction has started getting a little more play in recent years, it was the genre problem that left out Whitney Able in Monsters.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. I really hated The Kids are All Right in almost every aspect of the movie. I thought the plot was potentially interesting, but far more interesting if we had had a heterosexual couple as the main focus than the couple we’re given. I disliked the characters top to bottom for the most part. None of them were that interesting and most were, in fact, the opposite of interesting. I have no real issue with Annette Bening in this role, aside from the fact that it’s a dumb role in a dumb movie. She shouldn’t be here. Pass.
4. I said in my review of Blue Valentine that I’m not sure Michelle Williams didn’t earn her Oscar nomination, but in retrospect, I might have preferred her to be nominated for Meek’s Cutoff. I didn’t hate this movie, but it is an unpleasant one and she is an unpleasant character. That’s always going to be a hard sell for me unless the performance is a staggering one. This one, good as it might be, is not anything more than that. More importantly, though, I think it’s Ryan Gosling’s movie, and he dominates their scenes.
3. Rabbit Hole is another movie that I have issues watching and will probably not watch again, at least in the near future. I’m not a fan of movies that involve the loss of a child for whatever reason, and that’s at the heart of this one. Nicole Kidman is good in this role, even great in it, and I do ultimately like her nomination. The reason she’s winding up third is that I like the other two nominations for this year more than I do hers. She should definitely be in the conversation, but not higher than here.
2. I am not a Jennifer Lawrence fan, and I’m quite happy that her being the flavor of the month appears to be over. That said, Winter’s Bone is more or less the film that made the Academy notice that she existed, and it’s that for some very good reasons. This is an incredibly mature performance, and one that could not have been easy to do. Lawrence, for as much as I think she’s been given Streep treatment in later years, projects a rawness here that is difficult to fake. She might have been destined for stardom with this as a starting point.
1. But ultimately, I’m sticking with the winner. Natalie Portman deserved every inch of that statue for her work in Black Swan. This is a difficult film in a lot of ways, and Portman was asked in many senses to perform a double role. She handles this as well as can be imagined. She is also incredibly visceral in every moment she is on screen. It’s not a film I go back to that often, but it’s also one that is indelibly stamped with the performance Portman brings to it. It’s absolutely her movie. Oscar did this one right.