Friday, January 26, 2024

Oscar Got It Wrong!: Best Actress 2022

The Contenders:

Ana de Armas: Blonde
Michelle Yeoh: Everything Everywhere All at Once (winner)
Michelle Williams: The Fabelmans
Cate Blanchett: TÁR
Andrea Riseborough: To Leslie

What’s Missing

2022 feels like a down year for Best Actress, at least based on what I have seen so far; there’s still a long list of 2022 movies I need to catch up on. Crimes of the Future seems to offer possibilities for both Kristen Stewart and Léa Seydoux, but both may be closer to supporting, and horror isn’t an Oscar-approved genre in general. This is also why we’re not talking about Gabby Beans and her role in Andy Mitton’s The Harbinger and Jessie Buckley, the best part of the lackluster Men. I love Gwendoline Christie, but Flux Gourmet is probably too weird for the Academy. Women Talking was almost certainly too ensemble (and based on recent history, it’s a bit of surprise that no men were nominated for it). While I don’t love Daisy Edgar-Jones’s performance in Where the Crawdads Sing, I’m a little surprised she didn’t get more build up. But let’s talk about the real snubs from 2022. There was a great deal of controversy over Andrea Riseborough’s nomination for the little-seen To Leslie, which prevented a nomination for Viola Davis in The Woman King. Davis should have been nominated, to be sure; we’ll get to that. Another snub was Aubrey Plaza—an actress I am ambivalent toward—doing excellent work in Emily the Criminal. I could say the same about Mia Goth; I don’t love her, but she’s great in X, and from what I’ve heard, she’s equally great in Pearl. Tilda Swinton should have gotten some love for Three Thousand Years of Longing, which was criminally overlooked in general. Finally, the biggest miss for me was the tremendous work of Anna Taylor-Joy in The Menu.

Weeding through the Nominees

5. I said we’d get to the Viola Davis snub, and we’re going to talk about it here. It was the big snub for this year, but it’s not Andrea Riseborough who should be dumped; it’s Ana de Armas in Blonde. This was a dumpster fire of a movie to begin with, and while de Armas does her best with the role, she’s inappropriate for it. Marilyn Monroe had an incredibly distinctive voice. So why give that role to someone who not only can’t do the voice, but can’t do it without her own distinctive accent? I like de Armas on screen, but she shouldn’t have been in the conversation, let alone on the docket.

4. I like Michelle Williams as an actress as well, and I tend to enjoy seeing her on screen—and ironically (kind of), I liked her as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. In The Fabelmans, there’s nothing wrong or bad about her performance, but aside from a moment or two, there’s also nothing particularly memorable about it, either. And, this seems almost like category fraud to me. This feels like a performance that is more supporting. Her story is the driving force of the film, but it’s not seen through her eyes. She seems secondary, since the actual story is about the reaction to her, not her.

3. More and more, it feels like Cate Blanchett is the new Meryl Streep when it comes to award shows. It’s not an award season unless she’s named somewhere for something she did in the previous year. Her work in TÁR is very good, but in a year with great work from Davis, Taylor-Joy, and Plaza, she should be on the also-ran stage rather than sitting in third place. In an open field, I don’t nominate her, but I at least think about nominating her. This feels like a nomination based on reputation and film content more than the performance itself.

2. So let’s talk about Andrea Riseborough. The controversy over her nomination was based on the fact that the movie was underseen and underknown, so the nomination seemed to come more from a media campaign than from merit. Is that possible? Sure—and based on that, she probably didn’t deserve a nomination. But based on the performance, she absolutely did. This is amazing work, and one of the best of the last 10 years overall. I love that she was nominated because she deserved it regardless of how many people saw the film. This blog’s position has often been one of boosting little-seen work, and to have To Leslie in the conversation is a legitimate win.

My Choice

1. But, ultimately, there could be no other choice. Michelle Yeoh has deserved more acclaim for the last few decades or more, and I love that she has finally gotten some deserved recognition. Better, this is not anything like a career Oscar in the guise of a competitive one. Yeoh is fantastic on the screen, and in a film that is genuinely complicated and could leave the audience gasping for understanding, it is Yeoh who consistently keeps us grounded in the story and understanding of where in the multiverse we are. She’s the right choice.

Final Analysis


  1. I'm one of those that actually liked Blonde and thought Ana de Armas put in the best work of her career. Still, the Oscars got it right that year.

    1. I can't get past the accent, and I absolutely hated the movie.

  2. I hated Williams' performance in The Fabelmans so much, and I usually love her in everything. I agree Oscar got it right with Yeoh winning.

    1. I don't think she should have been here. I didn't hate her in The Fabelmans, but I also didn't think much of her at all.

  3. I enjoyed Blonde and thought Ana de Armas did really well. Others well worth mentioning (from what I've seen) are Emma Thompson in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande (probably in my top two with Blanchett) and both Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan in She Said. I thought EEAAO was a bit of an overrated mess for the attention deficit crowd, not really worth any award considerations.

    1. I should really get to She Said, but I haven't really heard much about it after it came out--it appeared and disappereared and I think you might be the first person to ever mention it to me.