10 Performances from the First Half that Oscar® Must Remember

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selena gomez spring breakers

Selena Gomez in Spring Breakers (Best Supporting Actress):

2013 might be remembered as the year Selena Gomez began taking over the world. Gomez’s extremely addictive single “Come & Get It” recently became the pop star’s first #1 Billboard topper of her career. I guess she’s better off without the Biebs, eh? But before I start scaring away much of this movie-centric readership, we really have to congratulate Selena Gomez for her outstanding performance in the soon-to-be cult classic Spring Breakers earlier this, well, spring. Not many Disney kids make it past the boozing, partying, sex, drugs, and ballad-inspiring exes to get to a point in their life where they can make the leap to serious actor. But Selena Gomez has done it. Thanks to a career-changing opportunity by director Harmony Korine, Gomez doesn’t let this gesture of faith go to waste. Instead, while every actor in Spring Breakers is performing a character, Gomez is being a person. I know, I’ve heard it: How dare you discredit James Franco’s award-worthy performance as gangsta, Alien! Look, would we all be making a huge deal of Franco’s against-type turn if he wasn’t a white guy playing a “G” with a giant, hilarious grill over his teeth? I’m not saying it isn’t an effective performance — I just don’t get the hyperbolic praise when Gomez is RIGHT THERE doing much better work. I feel like Franco’s Alien is Alan Arkin’s Lester Siegel all over again just because he spouts out the best quotables. Never once did I ever stop seeing Franco’s “performance” as just that — a performance.

Meanwhile, Gomez brings total authenticity to her role as Faith, a girl raised to abide by the law of God and the morals instilled into her psyche by her Catholic family. But like any young teenager surrounded by their peers, the pressure of friendship weighs heavier than any religiously symbolic jewelry ever could. Faith’s inner turmoil is palpable all throughout Spring Breakers thanks to Gomez, coalescing into one of the most realistic on-screen breakdowns I’ve seen in ages. When Franco’s Alien pushes his face right up to Faith’s as she stands there sobbing, she can smell the filth of his breath and the warning of violence that emanates from it. Gomez knows what must be done and acts accordingly. In that moment, we realize Faith might be the only human being in the entire film. And as such, Gomez herself delivers the most humanistic, relatable and truthful performance of any of the zany, what-planet-are-they-from players involved in Korine’s dreamy indie. Unlike Franco, Gomez’s SHEEIT don’t stink. I seriously hope The Academy prioritizes naturalness above mimicry, even if the mimicry is indisputably entertaining. Regardless, as long as Gomez keeps churning out stellar work like in Spring Breakers, she’s got a promising film career ahead of her.