Women In Cinema: The “Oscarettes” (2009)

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It’s that time of the month, so it’s time to talk about the “Oscarettes”. If you missed last month’s edition, here is a little recap of what this segment is all about.

At the start of each month, we will travel back a year at a time and discuss the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actresses of that year. I will recognize who was nominated and who won, and I will share my opinions about them, but I want yours. I want to know who you thought deserved to win and be nominated those particular years.

Last month we discussed the 82nd Academy Awards, this month we will look back on the 81st Oscars. So, here we go:

81st Academy Awards (2009)

Best Actress:

Anne Hathaway- Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie- Changeling
Melissa Leo- Frozen River
Meryl Streep- Doubt
Kate Winslet- The Reader*

This was the year that everybody seemed to want Kate Winslet to win an Academy Award. At the start of the awards season, Winslet was placed in the leading actress category for Revolutionary Road and supporting for The Reader. That order seemed to make sense, then at the last minute, she was placed in the leading category for The Reader and Revolutionary Road was ignored. Things were sort of messed up. Many of the Critics circles chose Hathaway or Streep as their lead actresses, the Foreign Press Society chose Winslet for Revolutionary Road and the Actors Guild chose Streep. It was a year where the winner was up in the air, but we all knew, whichever category Winslet was in, she was going to win.

Rachel Getting Married was the needed serious turn in Anne Hathaway’s career. She had always been considered an ok actress after starring in, The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, but she needed something huge to have her be considered a serious leading actress and this was the role. The movie itself is awful and terribly shot, but Hathaway stood out with a powerful performance as Kym, a former junkie/alcoholic. Kym is such an unlikeable character and Hathaway really milks it. The character is a pathological liar who is beyond self absorbed and for the first time I hated Anne Hathaway when I normally love all of her characters, and that is what made me love her performance. I believe Hathaway gave an Oscar winning performance but because the movie was so bad and Winslet was hot that year, she got lost in the shuffle.

I have said since Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt both got nominated that year that it was only for publicity, even if her performance was deserving of a nomination. Jolie finally took a break from being the bad ass action star and worked with legend, Clint Eastwood to make a disturbing film about a mother desperately wanting the truth about her child. This role worked so well for Jolie because, as well all know, she is a mother herself. I find when actresses who are mothers do roles like this, such as Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole, they can relate better to the character therefore giving a more realistic and emotional performance. You can read the pain in her eyes when she not only loses track of her son but is given a boy who is not her son while screaming to the world for help when nobody is listening. It’s a wonderful performance deserving of the nomination but not the win.

Melissa Leo is an actress who has worked very hard to get to where she is right now. This is another performance about the desperation of a single mother who will do what she has to, to get what she wants. Leo gives the performance of her career but this was the nomination to open the doors for future roles and nominations.

When does Meryl Streep ever do wrong? Never. Well, maybe that’s not true as many of you will debate till the death about it, but Doubt was another fine performance given by the great Meryl Streep. Streep was my choice to win this year, and not because she is Meryl Streep but because her mesmerizing intensity with this role was outstanding. During the whole movie you see this nun doing what she needs to protect the children and you don’t see her break until the last 5 minutes of the movie, when she is disgustingly heartbroken when she reveals what the truth really is. What makes that last scene so powerful is, her character is cut off from any emotion throughout the whole film and the idea that she has to step away from God to find out the truth, breaks her. Tell me, who could have taken on that role and made it better than Streep did?

Ok, we all know that Winslet was misplaced in this category. I will stand by my opinion that Winslet should have been nominated for Revolutionary Road. It seemed this year; the Oscar was being given out as a career Oscar,because if this Award was based on performance, Winslet should have lost. A role based on using a German accent,getting naked, drastic make up and making “woe is me” facial expressions throughout, is not worth getting an Oscar.Winslet has proven herself to be a wonderful top notch actress, but this was not the role she deserved to win for.

Who I wanted to win: Anne Hathaway
Who I feel deserved to win: Meryl Streep

Snubs: Kate Beckinsale- Nothing but the Truth, Cate Blanchett- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Rebecca Hall-
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Sally Hawkins- Happy-Go-Lucky, Frances McDormand- Burn After Reading, Kristen Scott
Thomas- I’ve Loved You So Long, Michelle Williams- Wendy & Lucy, Kate Winslet- Revolutionary Road

Best Supporting Actress:

Amy Adams- Doubt
Penelope Cruz- Vicky Cristina Barcelona*
Viola Davis- Doubt
Taraji P. Henson- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei- The Wrestler

As I said previously, this was the category Kate Winslet had locked up, until she was switched to lead actress that is. After that it was anybodies game, but one name stood out. Penelope Cruz . There was a lot of talk about if she was going to join the list of Woody Allen’s women to win an Oscar. While Cruz may have been the frontrunner in this
category, many were talking about Viola Davis’ small but powerful performance in Doubt as well as Maris Tomei causing an upset, as she did when she won in the same category for My Cousin Vinny, which to me wasn’t an upset but a very deserving win. Just sayin’.

Amy Adams had the least showy role in Doubt, as Sister James, the nun who makes Meryl Streep’s character aware of what she thinks may be going on. Adams character represents the audience and what we see and believe. She knows what she has seen, but to believe it would mean that bad/sick things do happen. I didn’t think much of Adams performance. I usually feel that she’s the best in any movie she is in, but I found her annoying in this role. Actually, I think I found the character more annoying but in the end, you really have to work hard to stand out next to Meryl Streep.

I’ve watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona quite a few times; the first was a nice viewing experience, the second time I fell asleep and was bored. Any time I have viewed the movie since has been bits and pieces and then I turn it off. But what kept my attention were the moments Penelope Cruz was on screen. I have a love/hate relationship with the character of Maria Elena; there are days when I watch the movie and absolutely love that Cruz made her performance live up to the talk the character was getting in the beginning of the film, but then there are times when I watch it and don’t understand why her performance was made into such a big deal. We all know that if Winslet had been nominated, Cruz wouldn’t have won. But, did she win to live up to the hype of Woody Allen and the pattern that his supporting actresses always win or because her performance was really worth it? As you can see, I’m still on the fence about how I feel towards her role and the movie itself.

Viola Davis, a woman who had all of 10 minutes of screen time, was one of the most memorable actors in the film along with her scene. She plays the mother of the boy who is victim to the Priest. I had stated earlier, when you are standing next to Meryl Streep, it’s tough to stand out, but Viola Davis took that dialogue and made it one of the most powerful scenes in the movie. The scene is so hard to watch, because you could never imagine that being you and she made it so emotional and real. She was beyond a doubt, deserving the nomination as well as the Oscar. In the end, it was Viola Davis who I wanted to win. Her performance was a great example of why supporting performances are so important.

I never saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; I don’t like Brad Pitt. So, I can’t exactly comment on the performance done by Taraji P. Henson. What I will say though, this was a nomination that was going to stay a nomination. I like Henson as an actress; she’s feisty and humorous. From what I’ve heard about her performance, she made it very personable, making the audience feel the warmth and compassion of what a mother’s love should be.

I don’t think I will ever have a bad thing to say about Marisa Tomei. She is a wonderful, talented, and beautiful actress and damn, she knows how to act. During the film, she was two different people; the stripper working to support her family, and then the regular kind hearted person. During the scenes she was stripping she was sexy but desperate, yet when she was just out in the real world, her sweetness and humor was so real and nice to watch. I would have loved for her to win like she did for My Cousin Vinny, but the year was filled with too many other performances overshadowing hers. I feel if the movie had been made into more of a big deal, she would have had a chance to win.

Who I wanted to win: Viola Davis
Who I felt deserved to win: Viola Davis

Snubs: Rosmarie DeWitt- Rachel Getting Married, Vera Farmiga- Nothing but the Truth, Debra Winger- Rachel
Getting Married, Kate Winslet- The Reader, Evan Rachel Wood- The Wrestler

Well there you have it folks. Some of you may disagree with my opinions, but tell me how you feel about these women who were nominated, who got left out and who won. The first week of August we will look back at the 80th Academy Awards, so be prepared to hit me with your opinions. Hope you enjoyed this edition of Oscarettes!!