Friday, March 20, 2020

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Actresss 2010

The Contenders:

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

What’s Missing

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.

My Choice

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.

Final Analysis


  1. PO'TMAN MOTHAFUCKA!!!! You goddamn right she deserved to win as that was the correct choice though personally, I would've preferred Juliette Binoche for Certfied Copy while I totally agree with you on Michelle Williams for Meek's Cutoff which I think was the better performance.

    The Kids Are Alright hasn't improved with me on repeat viewings as I hated how it made Mark Ruffalo's character seem like he was a jerk when he was really just a good guy.

    I'm with you on Emma Stone and Melissa Desormeaux-Poulin while I would've made consideration for Yoon Jeong-hee for Poetry by Lee Chang-dong and Catherine Deneuve for Potiche by Francois Ozon.

    1. Portman is just so good in Black Swan. The paranoia, the insanity, the more or less dual personalities--this is exactly what the performance needed, and I can't imagine anyone else in this role. I've always liked her as an actress, but this is what made me understand why--she'd always had this in her and Black Swan let it come out. Okay, I loved her in V for Vendetta as well, and I think that role might have been formative in some ways for this one.

      I really hated The Kids are All Right. I can't get over the fact that the plot we're given would be so much more interesting with a heterosexual couple, but we're supposed to like this one because it's a lesbian couple. And who the fuck names a kid "Laser"?

  2. I'm not a big Jennifer Lawrence fan either but she blew me away in Winter's Bone. It did seem to promise a very exciting and adept new talent but everything after has been a disappointment. She's so good that I'm really torn between choosing her or Natalie Portman. Since Portman has never won otherwise I'm glad she came out on top here even if I find her a variable performer often. She's matched in the film by Barbara Hershey's scary take on her mother, sorry she didn't win for that.

    I also hated Kids Are Alright nor did I care much for Blue Valentine though Michelle Williams was exemplary as is her custom.

    Rabbit Hole is one I haven't seen, I usually avoid Kidman films and this one looked searing and depressing hardly a pull.

    Otherwise I'd sign on strongly for Emma Stone in Easy A, far more than what she ultimately won for. Even though she was nominated in supporting Hailee Steinfeld was the female lead in True Grit and very good, she's be my number five finisher but good enough for a nomination. But someone who would rate much higher would be Rachel Weisz in The Whistleblower. She's be up towards the top along with Lawrence and Portman had she been nominated.

    1. I am a Natalie Portman fan, and I'm very pleased that she won for what is legitimately a deserving performance. Lawrence could have easily won in a year that didn't have that career moment in it--she's really good.

      I'm not a huge Kidman fan, but she is good in Rabbit Hole. You're right, though--it's a very hard sit.

      I thought about Hailee Steinfeld despite her nomination. She is the female lead, but I don't know that it's a lead performance. I like her where she is.

      As for Rachel Weisz, let's be honest--you can always find a performance of hers to nominate. I get the feeling that she's in the very top of your favorites still working.

    2. I'll gladly admit that Rachel Weisz is a one of my favorites of currently working actresses but I can't say I'd be able to find a performance every year to nominate her for.

      Like all successful performers who are willing to take on risky material she's had her misses, Agora was hell to sit through and there are others, and she's wise enough to know that mixed in with the edgier work she needs to do a commercial picture every now and then, not that that always works out either-Dream House is awful but at least she got a happy marriage to Daniel Craig out of that one!-to keep her recognition at a level where she is considered bankable.

      But with all that said she is extraordinarily good in The Whistleblower.

    3. I was being hyperbolic, of course. You just mention Weisz in these wrap-ups pretty frequently, not unlike me mentioning Barbara Stanwyck for every relevant year for which she was not nominated.

      Nothing wrong with having some favorites.

  3. Yeah, pretty much. Lawrence was great, but Portman was greater.

    1. Portman was transcendant. It's a performance for the ages.