Friday, September 11, 2020

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Actress 2017

The Contenders:

Margot Robbie: I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan: Lady Bird
Meryl Streep: The Post
Sally Hawkins: The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (winner)

What’s Missing

So let’s talk about the possible snubs for Best Actress 2017. This is actually a solid collection of nominations, so I’m not terribly bent out of shape by it. I’ll drop the three that I think might get some mention from others that I don’t quite agree with here first. Ella Hunt inAnna and the Apocalypse would be a very interesting choice, but not one I think is warranted. The same is true for Zoe Kazan in The Big Sick, who is probably supporting. Also likely supporting is Dafne Keen in Logan. I would possibly consider Emily Mortimer in The Bookshop, but not as much as I might consider Jennifer Lawrence in mother! Emma Stone is worth considering as the best part of Battle of the Sexes, and Charlize Theron was the beating heart of Atomic Blonde. A Ghost Story is absolutely Rooney Mara’s film, and she could easily be here. But it’s Jessica Chastain in Molly’s Game who I think was snubbed the most.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. It seems of late that I have been putting Meryl Streep in last place more than I like. This makes it seem like I don’t like Meryl Streep, when this is absolutely not the case. It seems, though, that the Academy simply sees her name on something and decides that it’s time to nominate her once again because she’s Meryl Streep. There’s no reason that a good but relatively forgettable performance in a good but relatively forgettable movie like The Post should be here when Jessica Chastain, Rooney Mara, and Charlize Theron are not.

4. I’m not terribly surprised that Frances McDormand won for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, but I’m not sure I would nominate her. I am a huge McDormand fan—her win for Fargo is one of Oscar’s best moments (or one that would have sparked riots had it gone a different way). But this is a fine performance in a movie that is problematic in a lot of ways. In a year where there were much better performances in much better movies, I don’t really understand the reasoning behind her getting a second win.

3. If I was voting entirely based on heart, I would go with Sally Hawkins, who I think is a talented actress who is frequently overlooked. Oddly, since men often win for roles that involve physical or mental limitations, had this role been for an actor, she might have had a much better chance of winning. Hawkins plays this role very well and is sympathetic over and above the fact that the character is mute. I love the performance, but in a year this good, she’s relegated to third in the nominations and barely nominated if I make my own list of five.

2. I have only recently become more and more a member of the Margot Robbie fan club. I, Tonya is not a pleasant movie, and not one I would look forward to watching again, but Robbie is excellent in every frame of this movie. This is one of those rare cases where the fact that the main character of the film and the story being told is terribly disagreeable, but the performance itself is so good that it transcends the problems I would normally have. Robbie is a talent, and I have no doubt she’ll be holding an Oscar soon enough.

My Choice

1. But this should have been Saoirse Ronan’s win for Lady Bird. Ronan is all of 26 years old and has already been nominated for four Oscars. She is, at least in my opinion, the best actor right now, and she has probably earned more than one Oscar already in her career. One of those is for Lady Bird, a rare instance of a nearly-perfect combination of screenplay and casting. No one else could handle this role as well or make it so real. Ronan will have a shelf full of gold statues one day, but she should have this one already.

Final Analysis


  1. I haven't seen Lady Bird but my answer to who should win this out of this lineup is none of the above even though I think all of the other four women, and Ronan too for that matter, are fine actresses.

    I enjoyed The Post the most of all of these films but Meryl's performance while up to her usual standard is neither impactful nor fleshed out enough to rate her being here.

    Emma Stone was good in Battle of the Sexes but the movie was so messy it hurt her ability to build her take on Billie Jean King into someone with enough clarity to remain in voter's memories.

    Speaking of messy movies I can't even begin to state how deeply I detested mother! It was such a vile piece of swill any performance in it was instantly wiped from my memory. I wish I could say the same for the whole thing.

    I agree that Jessica Chastain is a big miss, and one that I think shows that her time in the Academy's good graces may have passed unless she does something really extraordinary.

    My vote would have gone to another Oscar bridesmaid Annette Bening for her portrait of Gloria Grahame nearing the end of her life in Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool.

    1. Honestly, I would reserve judgment until you see Lady Bird. Ronan is perfect in every moment of that movie.

      Watch it and come back to this post. I have very little doubt she'd be your clear choice of the nominees at the very least.

  2. Jessica Chastain not being nominated is bullshit. She was great in Molly's Game though I probably would've voted for Saoirse Ronan as well as she just killed it. Nothing against Frances McDormand but I would've gone with Ronan or Sally Hawkins. What about Vicky Krieps for Phantom Thread, Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke for Thoroughbreds, Salma Hayek for Beatriz at Dinner, Margaret Qualley for Novitiate, Danielle MacDonald for Patti Cake$, and Jessica Rothe for Happy Death Day? I would've put them in consideration along with Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, and Rooney Mara.

    1. Chastain is probably my number 2, but Margot Robbie is awfully good. That said, first place is always going to be Ronan--it's one of those moments where the casting is so good that I can't imagine it any other way.

      I like the Sally Hawkins nomination a lot, although the movie she was really robbed on was Happy-Go-Lucky.

  3. I was fine with Frances' win but I was definitely rooting for Saoirse. I wanted her to win for Brooklyn too.

    1. She's earned at least one Oscar at this point, and probably more. I'd have loved for her to have this one.

  4. Chastain is probably a miss. So is Lawrence for mother! Another name I'll throw out was in a movie way too small for Oscar - Carla Gugino in Gerald's Game. The noms were all good, though.

    1. I should track down Gerald's Game one of these days.

  5. I have another "I, Tonya" actress winning the gold, Mckenna Grace. Only she should have won for "Gifted." And unlike 2nd place, Saoirse, Mckenna will not only have a few Oscars in her future, she's going to have a few Emmys as well as she's already been robbed for "The Haunting of Hill House" and stealing every scene she's in in her "Young Sheldon" guest spots.

    1. It's not a film I know. I'll keep an eye out for it.