10 Performances from the First Half that Oscar® Must Remember

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Michelle Rodriguez in Fast and Furious 6 (Best Supporting Actress):

I’m not sure if most people know this, but Michelle Rodriguez has always been a personal favorite of mine. Yes, she’s notoriously typecast as the “tough chick/bad ass female”, but with so few empowering roles like that offered to women in Hollywood, can you really blame her for jumping at the chance to consistently subvert the offensive “damsel in distress” stereotype? Rodriguez broke out in a huge way with her knockout performance (literally) in 2000’s indie film Girlfight, a role many consider to be her finest to date. Since then, Rodriguez has been kicking butt side-by-side with the men, proving that women can in fact hold their own when the bullets are flying and the fists are incoming. One of Rodriguez’s most popular film characters is Leticia “Letty” Ortiz from the Fast and Furious franchise, but for the longest time I felt Letty was underwritten and Rodriguez herself wasn’t able to capitalize on the potential for greatness her strong-willed yet empathetic role offered. However, everything changed with Letty’s resurrection of sorts in Fast and Furious 6, which is easily Rodriguez’s most stunning turn next to Diana Guzman in Girlfight and Ana Lucia in LOST.

As a woman with no memory of her former life, Rodriguez adds a human touch to her amnesia-stricken Letty. Rodriguez shows us a softer side, one that is cautious and slightly mistrustful but receptive to kindness and extensions of friendship. Even though Letty finds herself on the wrong side of the law, in opposition to former boyfriend Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Rodriguez lets her eyes do most of the acting. With a subtle flicker of recognition and humanity, you can see the old Letty pop up in Rodriguez’s gaze. As Letty, Rodriguez wonderfully grapples with the moral decisions her character must make in light of of her new life. Does she ditch those who embraced her after she came out of her coma, or does she instead follow her heart and moral compass by reteaming up with Toretto and crew? What’s so fantastic about Rodriguez here is the dynamic range of emotion she evinces. We don’t get the one-note badassery she’s most associated with. In Fast and Furious 6, we see a kinder, gentler, softer, more humane Rodriguez who still manages to keep her endearing edge intact. I’ve yet to see a finer display of subtlety in 2013, as well as witness such palpable growth in acting ability. Plus, if Michelle Rodriguez can convince the audience that she can hold her own against the truly deadly Gina Carano, how can you not reward her in some capacity? Truthfully, Rodriguez’s turn in Fast and Furious 6 might be a career best for the always delightful actress. AMPAS, don’t let the film’s chaotic degree of fun distract you from Michelle Rodriguez’s spectacular work here.