Friday, October 23, 2020

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Actress 2018

The Contenders:

Melissa McCarthy: Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Olivia Colman: The Favourite (winner)
Yalitza Aparicio: Roma
Lady Gaga: A Star is Born
Glenn Close: The Wife

What’s Missing

There are a lot of potentially great nominations that were ignored for Best Actress 2018, which shouldn’t surprise anyone. Naturally, genre was the reason for many of these snubs, even as Oscar becomes more and more comfortable with science fiction and horror. Both Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh could be argued for Annihilation, I think, in a movie that straddles those two categories. Jamie Lee Curtis went back to her roots for the re-imagined Halloween, and I think a strong case can be made for Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place as well as Claire Foy in the more thriller-based Unsane. Widows managed to be ignored by Oscar in general, which left out a worthy Viola Davis. If Beale Street Could Talk was similarly offered merely token representation at the Oscars, ignoring the work of Kiki Layne. For a film that channels classics as well as Bad Time at the El Royale did, it was similarly ignored, which left out Cynthia Erivo. Amandla Stenberg was similarly overlooked for The Hate U Give. Both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone were on screen more than Olivia Colman in The Favourite. I don’t like kids in adult acting competition, but I’ve proposed a juvenile acting Oscar. For 2018, Lexy Kolker (Freaks) and Storm Reid (A Wrinkle in Time) can fight it out. Finally, did you really think I was going to forget Toni Collette in Hereditary? I’m still both shocked and pissed off that she wasn’t nominated.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I want to preface this by saying that I am an Olivia Colman fan. I’ve liked her work for years. Putting her last here is 100% based on the fact that I find this to be category fraud of the highest order. Colman’s character is in many ways the one who drives the film, but she’s the McGuffin here. Both Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are on screen more and are more central to the actual story. You want to talk about Olivia Colman for Best Supporting Actress, you have my vote, but she shouldn’t be in this category.

4. I don’t have a real issue with Yalitza Aparicio, but I don’t really understand her nomination. I think this is very much a case where the nomination came from the role and the movie rather than coming from the actor on the screen. This isn’t to take anything away from her, but I’m still honestly wondering why so many people were so bent out of shape about Roma in the first place. In a world where Toni Collette is on the sidelines, I don’t understand why Aparicio is anywhere close to the podium. This was more for optics (“Look! We’re not racist!”) than anything else.

3. Giving the role in A Star is Born to Lady Gaga was probably the best choice in that entire production. That role requires someone who is supremely talented, and that’s her. So what a completely wasted opportunity it was to have this massive talent available to you and give her almost nothing to do for the length of the film. Look back at the 1950s version of this with Judy Garland, who had so much opportunity to make that role indelible. Now look at what opportunities Lady Gaga was given. With a better screenplay, she’d have much more opportunity to show just how much she could have earned this.

2. Experience shows that serious actors often have a problem with doing comedy, but comic actors often excel in drama. That’s certainly the case with Melissa McCarthy and Can You Ever Forgive Me? It’s no longer worth pointing at a comic actor and being surprised that they can produce a clinic in dramatic acting. McCarthy so fully inhabits this role that, if you didn’t know she got famous for comedy, you wouldn’t believe it. This is the best and most compelling she’s been on screen, and in a different year, I’d have no problem with her winning.

My Choice

1. How the hell do we live in a world where Glenn Close has no Oscar but Hillary Swank has two? Close has earned multiple Oscars in her career, and she’s always compelling on screen, but I don’t know if she’s ever been any better than she was in The Wife. This is a complex role that required her to be a fully realized person on the screen, and it’s absolutely there. Close fires off lines that come with years of lived experience behind them, a depth in the character that cannot be faked. She’s been robbed before and she was robbed here, and I’m still angry about it.

Final Analysis


  1. I'm almost done weeding my way through 2018, but I've still only seen The Favourite and A Star is Born from the nominees. Of those two, I'm going with Lady Gaga. Colman is definitely supporting. Truthfully, there can be an argument made that Gaga is supporting too, because the movie is much more about Cooper's character.

    I have seen every movie mentioned in your opening paragraph, save for Unsane and Freaks, and I agree with all of that. In an open field, I'm going with Collette, hands down.

    A few more on my radar:

    Regina Hall in Support the Girls
    Gugu Mbatha Raw in Fast Color
    Charlize Theron in Tully
    Elsie Fisher in Eighth Grade (I know, juvenile)
    Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Kindegarten Teacher

    1. Toni Collette is one of my favorite actors on screen, and she'd be my #2, possibly argued into #1.

      I'd love to hear your opinion on Freaks.

  2. Poor Glenn was picked up, tossed about and thoroughly cheated out of her deserved prize!! I'll never understand why she keeps finishing out of the money, some of her nominations aren't deserving (The Natural most egregiously) but there are at several that should have landed her in the winner's circle. She seems to be madly admired so it's baffling. And yes it's crazy that she has none and limited performers like Swank and Zellweger have two!

    I didn't care much for The Favourite but if any of those women should have competed in lead it was Rachel Weisz. I wouldn't have objected to Olivia Colman winning in supporting but lead is just wrong.

    Don't get me started on all the ways they screwed up this version of A Star is Born.

    1. The problem with Lady Gaga's character in the re-re-remake of A Star is Born is that they didn't do a damn thing with her. This is a role filled by Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland in the past, and Gaga is in that rarified field of people who have the level of talent that could really do this role. And she's given almost nothing to do.

      I agree on Weisz. If someone is going to be nominated for Best Actress from The Favourite, she would have been the right choice.

      For what it's worth, I don't object to Swank's win for Boys Don't Cry, but she had no business winning for Million Dollar Baby.

  3. As is often the case, I don't know the movies you've mentioned.

    Close is brilliant in The Wife, but she should have won for Dangerous Liaisons years before this.

  4. Worth checking out: Sienna Miller in American Woman.