Welcome to the eleventh entry in our Six Spot series!
This week we are looking at the 2007 Best Actress race. This category was notable for a few different reasons. Marion Cotillard’s win over Julie Christie yielded one of the most authentically joyous acceptance speeches in recent memory. Additionally, with no major precursors, Laura Linney’s nomination for “The Savages” continues to be one of the best head-scratchers. Add on Cate Blanchett earning a nomination for the Elizabeth sequel and you have a really off-beat category that was far from settled. So who came in sixth place this year? Let’s first look at who was nominated.
THE NOMINEES WERE:
- Cate Blanchett: “Elizabeth: The Golden Age”
- Julie Christie: “Away From Her”
- Marion Cotillard: “La Vie En Rose” – WINNER
- Laura Linney: “The Savages”
- Ellen Page: “Juno”
Marion Cotillard’s squeals upon winning were not fake. Cotillard was not favored to win this year. Heading into the night, most were predicting Julie Christie to take the win, making it her second. Her performance in “Away From Her” won SAG, Golden Globes and Critics Choice. However, Oscar voters love a good transformation and Cotillard portrayed Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” from her teen years until her death. This, plus a Golden Globes and BAFTA win, helped get Cotillard her surprise Oscar. Elsewhere in the category, Ellen Page had a small shot and winning the prize. Her film, “Juno” was the lone Best Picture nominee in the category. However, she was still nominated for a high school romantic comedy, which put her at a disadvantage for the win.
The last two slots were both far from assured. Cate Blanchett had plenty of precursors for “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” and was reprising her Oscar-nominated role as Queen Elizabeth. However, the film had poor reviews, poor box office and little passion for her performance. Yet, Blanchett was on a role this year, also earning a Supporting Actress nomination for “I’m Not There,” which pushed her ahead in this category. Lastly, Laura Linney looked like an indie performance one champion that never gets within a stone’s throw of Oscar. She had missed the Indie Spirits and Golden Globes, really only showing up at critics prizes. However, the small film had pockets of love, which helped it in the screenplay as well. This helped push her to one of the most wonderfully shocking nominations.
THE SIX SPOT CONTENDERS ARE:
- Amy Adams, “Enchanted” – Critics Choice Nominee, Golden Globes Nominee
- Nikki Blonsky, “Hairspray” – Golden Globes Nominee
- Helena Bonham Carter, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” – Golden Globes Nominee
- Jodie Foster, “The Brave One” – Golden Globes Nominee
- Angelina Jolie, “A Mighty Heart” – Online Film Critics Nominee, Critics Choice Nominee, Golden Globes Nominee, SAG Nominee, Indie Spirits Nominee
- Keira Knightley, “Atonement” – Best Picture Nominee, BAFTA Nominee, Golden Globes Nominee
The year 2007 gave us many musical performances, only for none of them to make the Oscar five. The one most poised to crack the lineup was “Enchanted” lead Amy Adams. Though Adams is now a notorious six-time Oscar also-ran, at this point she only had one nomination to her name (“Junebug”). Adams plays Giselle, a Disney princess who gets transported to the real world of New York City. Her commitment to the genre conventions of the princess mold won raves and made the film a hit. Additionally, Adams received nominations at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. However, neither of those groups share any Oscar overlap. As we learned again with Emily Blunt for “Mary Poppins Returns,” it’s harder for Oscar to reward performances in family movies.
Another PG-rated musical had their leading lady in the Oscar hunt, albeit a little farther back. Nikki Blonsky went from Cold Stone employee to star of “Hairspray” overnight after being chosen at a casting call. The musical was a $100 million-plus summer hit that won critics and audiences over. Blonksy had an infectious narrative and managed to nab a Golden Globes nomination. Yes, Golden Globe nominations alone don’t necessarily make an Oscar nominee, particularly in lead. However, the film “Hairspray” did receive a surprise SAG ensemble nomination.
It may seem crazy now, but Helena Bonham Carter also had the buzz for a musical this year. Today, her performance in “Sweeney Todd” gets more jeers than cheers. However, the actress snuck into the Golden Globes lineup, where “Sweeney Todd” won Best Picture. For a moment, people thought “Sweeney Todd” could’ve been a major player in all Oscar categories. Had it made it into Picture, Director and other above the line categories, perhaps Carter could have ridden the film’s coattails to a nomination.
FORMER OSCAR WINNERS
Though Angelina Jolie was one of the biggest movie stars, she still only had one Oscar nomination (and win) to her name. At this point, it had been eight years since her “Girl, Interrupted” Best Supporting Actress win and people were wondering when she would nab a lead actress nomination. “A Mighty Heart” opened to strong reviews, but quiet box office in the summer. However, Sony Pictures Classics ran quite an aggressive campaign touting Jolie’s transformative portrayal of Mariane Pearl, the widow of a murdered Wall Street Journal journalist. Jolie racked up the high profile nominations, including SAG Awards, Golden Globes, Critics Choice, Online Film Critics and Indie Spirits. However, the movie must not have been high profile enough to do it for Jolie. Plus it came out in the summer. Still, Jolie would only have to wait one more year to reap her lead actress Oscar nomination for “Changeling.”
Angelina Jolie wasn’t the only former Oscar winner making an Oscar run this year. Many had thought two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster would make a triumphant return to the Oscars this year. Her film “The Brave One” puts Foster in the badass mode as a woman who enacts revenge on the men that attacked her and murdered her husband. This seemed to fit within the same vein of her Oscar-winning performances (“The Accused,” “The Silence of the Lambs”). However, the movie bombed upon release. Still, name recognition nabbed her a Golden Globes nomination. Could that have taken her all the way?
BEST PICTURE HEAT
Keira Knightley’s star was on the rise in 2007. She had received her first nomination two years prior for “Pride & Prejudice.” Just this year, Knightley took an even larger role in the trilogy-closing chapter of “The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” which grossed nearly a billion dollars. Then came Best Picture nominee “Atonement.” Knightley stars as Cecilia, a wealthy woman who falls for a servant boy and finds him ripped out of her life by her jealous sister (Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan). Knightley was the cover girl for Entertainment Weekly’s Oscar edition and was nominated for the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards. In addition, her green dress was the most iconic image of the year. Though she was the lead, the real lead was Ronan’s character, who was played by three different actresses. Had the role been a bit larger, Knightley may have been nominated.
At first glance, it would seem like this lineup was light on actresses from Best Picture nominees. Could this have opened up a slot for Knightley? Only Ellen Page from “Juno” starred in a Best Picture nominee this year. However, looking at the final 20 year period of five Best Picture nominees (1989 – 2008), 65% of the Best Actress lineups only one or no Best Picture nominee among them. Yes, the Best Picture heat for “Atonement” definitely helped Keira Knightley get into the conversation. However, it did not guarantee her a slot, especially with many more voters talking about Ellen Page as the lead of Best Picture nominee “Juno”