Charlotte Rampling: 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan: Brooklyn
Cate Blanchett: Carol
Jennifer Lawrence: Joy
Brie Larson: Room (winner)
2015 was a fine year for Best Actress and I like the nominations well enough, but as usual, there’s room for improvement. Oscar has never really loved the Star Wars franchise, but I think we can talk about Daisy Ridley in The Force Awakens. Horror is another almost-always ignored genre, which will leave out Mia Wasikowska in Crimson Peak, Imogen Poots in Green Room, Anya Taylor-Joy in The VVitch, and Abigail Breslin in Maggie. I could see Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl here, but she won in a supporting role. Rachel Weisz would be an interesting choice in The Lobster, and I can make a strong case for Laia Costa in Victoria. For me, though, the miss that I cannot understand is Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Let’s start by getting rid of Jennifer Lawrence in Joy right off the bat. I don’t have a lot of problems with Lawrence in general except for the fact that I’m just tired of her, or was by this point in 2015. I get that people become the flavor of the month and are suddenly in everything. It happens to a lot of people. I seem to get bored of them more quickly than everyone else. Lawrence is fine in Joy, but she’s been better (Winter’s Bone for a start), and she really didn’t need to be here.
4. I like, Cate Blanchett and I liked Carol well enough, but compared with the other nominations, I’m not sure she deserves to be here. Oh, I don’t hate the performance, but this was a very political nomination, it seems to me. Rooney Mara was nominated for a supporting role, and I think she could easily be argued for the lead as much as Blanchett. I find this sort of nomination extremely frustrating because of these shenanigans—Blanchett got the “better” nomination because she’s who she is, not specifically because she was better in the film.
3. Now things get a lot harder. There is a small twinge of guilt putting Brie Larson in third place for Room, especially because I think her performance is a very good one, and because I don’t really dislike the win. I think my problems might be more with the movie in general than with Larson herself, which is probably unfair to her. She gets a lot of assistance in this one, though, and while she is very good, I’m not sure she gives the dominant performance this Oscar really needs. I don’t hate her win, but she wouldn’t be my pick.
2. As has been mentioned several times on this blog in the past, I am a fan of Saoirse Ronan, and I think it’s a matter of time (and not much time) until she wins an Oscar she’s already deserved a couple of times. She comes damn close with Brooklyn. She’s absolutely the centerpiece of this film, and while it does slow down when the plot shifts to Ireland, that’s not at all her fault. As with Brie Larson, I wouldn’t have hated it if she had won, but while she was excellent in this, she’s not going to be my pick.
1. I’m going with Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years. This is such an oddball film in so many ways, and while it could be argued that Rampling is matched in every scene by Tom Courtenay, the film is absolutely hers in every moment. This is a masterclass of acting, and in many cases acting entirely on her own without speaking. There are moments in this film when all we have to focus on is her face, and it’s more than enough to carry the story for us. In a very good field and year (in an open field, Charlize Theron is my #2), Rampling was head and shoulders above everyone else.