Current Oscar Track Record: Never Nominated
In our inauguration of the new “In Line” series, an examination of 365 talented actors, directors, craftsman in Hollywood that may or may not be in line for an Oscar, I thought nothing better but to begin with one of the stars of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables Amanda Seyfried.
I was first introduced to the comedic likes of Seyfried in Mark Waters’ Mean Girls (2004) as the lovable Karen, the simple-minded teenager with an “innate” sense that it’s raining. In a film that featured the talents of Tina Fey, Rachel McAdams, and what was left of Lindsay Lohan, Seyfried is a memorable cause. Seyfried followed her role with a small part in Rodrigo Garcia’s Nine Lives and a few other notable TV appearances and small films. Her first starring role would come in the critically pulverized Mamma Mia! (2008) opposite Academy Award Winner Meryl Streep. She would follow-up with roles in Chloe (2009), Dear John (2010), Letters to Juliet (2010), and Red Riding Hood (2011). All her films received either mixed-to-negative reviews or were ultimately forgettable.
In the role of Cosette in Hooper’s film, Seyfried exemplifies a beautiful singing voice once again in a role that some feel may have been either underdeveloped or misguided. In the film’s near finale during Valjean’s final number, a glimpse of what I like to call the “Oscar Cry”. There are a few sure-fire ways to get yourself on Oscar’s radar, and during this year-long series, I’ll be examining many of them along the way.
Oscar Trait: “The Oscar Cry”
We’ve seen it in movies lots of times, even in comedic performances like Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder (2008) when an actor becomes overwhelmed with emotion to the point of being inconsolable but pulls back just enough to have their sentences understood. It can be a soft, sympathetic out pour of tears or a fierce, powerful commanding emotion full of weeping that allows the audience connect with the character and film.
Three prime examples of the “The Oscar Cry” (some may contain spoilers):
In the scene after her daughter, Emma (Debra Winger) wakes on her death-bed just to look at her mother one last time, Aurora and Flap (Jeff Daniels) run to her bedside where Aurora says “there’s nothing harder…” is one of the prime examples where the actor and director allow the audience member to share in the devastation of loss. You can easily throw the scene about the pain meds in the same category but this scene nails it.
In Berry’s Oscar-winning performance, and the scene that was shown for her clip during the ceremony, Berry powerfully exhibits loss and regret for a child she didn’t treat right and loses tragically. As you will see in the clip below, you can’t take your eyes off her as she pounds away at the glass that separates her from what is left of her and her chance at a normal life. She lets the emotion completely take over but in this case, it clearly works.
Even though Hudson didn’t win the Oscar, Seyfried should take notes on how the element of surprise in a film can put you in the forefront and land you right in Oscar’s good graces. In the scene where William Miller (Patrick Fugit) reveals to Penny that Russell sold her for $50 and a case of beer. Chalk this up to Cameron Crowe’s impressive writing or Hudson’s understanding of her character inside and out, but what could be pushed over-the-top with a devastating feeling of use and regret turns into a moment of clarity and relentless humor.
In 2013, Ms. Seyfried has four scheduled films to be released. She will be seen in the title role of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Freidman’s Lovelace with Peter Sarsgaard and Sharon Stone. Next, she has a role in Justin Zackham’s The Big Wedding with Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. Later this year, she will also lend her voice in the upcoming animated film, Epic.
Based on her past efforts and how they have been received, there doesn’t seem to be any voting body that is coming to her aid during her time of need. All her critical citations thus far have been as part of an ensemble or as a role model for the young teens at the MTV Movie Awards and Teen Choice Awards. Unless otherwise proved, Seyfried may be a minor household name that sprinkles her presence on larger, more talented ensembles. At least for now.
ADVICE: Play up the young, awkwardly hot, and sweetly fine actress while you still can. Find a script, that’s off-the-cuff (you were in the right direction with Chloe), but make sure there’s balance of drama and humor that allows you to connect. For Oscar, playing the “brave” performance works but Ms. Seyfried, I think you may be above that. You have enough talent to let your words be your star. As of right now, not enough diversity suggests that Oscar has even noticed you yet. But you still have time…
*All verdicts are subject to change