Categories One by One: Best Actress

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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby Big Magilla » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:35 am

The Gwyneth Paltrow comparison works for me, the Audrey Hepburn and Diane Keaton comparisons do not.

Roman Holiday came out in the wake of Queen Elizabeth's ascendency to the British throne. Hepburn was a movie princess playing a fictional princess reminiscent of the real-life Elizabeth in a film with a heavyweight co-star, helmed by a heavyweight director. She was also starring on Broadway in Ondine, for which she would soon win a Tony, at the time of the Oscars. Even Katharine Hepburn referred to her as "the real Miss Hepburn". To give the Oscar to anyone else would have been unthinkable in the moment.

Diane Keaton also had Looking for Mr. Goodbar in 1977, three years after her second outing as Al Pacino's wife in the Godfather films. Without all that going for her, she may not have been such an obvious choice over Jane Fonda in Julia, Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point and Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl.

Paltrow had going for her the fact that she was a second generation star in a very likeable movie that itself was a surprise Best Picture winner. Her competition included Cate Blanchett in a strong dramatic role in Elizabeth, a Best Picture nominee, but film that a lot of people didn't like and Fernanda Montenegro, a rare foreign film nominee in Central Station in a year when the only foreign film winner was going to be Roberto Benigni in Life Is Beautiful. The circumstances are similar this year with Stone in a highly popular light film, Portman playing a real life character in a heavily dramatic film and Huppert in a foreign language film.

Whereas 1998 was considered a two-way race between Paltrow and Blanchett, with the unknown in Hollywood Montenegro a distant third, this year has been a two-way race down to the wire between Stone and Huppert, in part because Portman already has an Oscar and Huppert, unlike Montenegro, is known in Hollywood. They all saw The Piano Teacher and her brief appearance in Amour, if nothing else. Many of them have also seen her in Heaven's Gate, which began and ended her Hollywood career. Fellow nominee Jeff Bridges was one of her co-stars in that.

Stone may be the front-runner, but she's not a sure thing. Two years before Paltrow's win, the front-runner in the supporting actress category, Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall, lost to France's Juliette Binoche. Of course, it helped that Binoche was in the year's Best Picture winner and Bacall was in a dud.

But, yes, in less than 24 hours, it will all be history.
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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:00 am

We can quickly review the bidding -- bumper crop; Adams and Bening deserved better; Portman's quick fade is puzzling -- but right now the only issue is Emma Stone vs. Isabelle Huppert.

I said elsewhere that I thought Huppert had a non-zero chance of winning, and I'll stick to that. It's in the lower echelon of non-zero, but that's better than any of Viola Davis's competitors can say.

Someone elsewhere wrote that Stone's win will be part of an every-20-years-or-so pattern -- that, while best actress prizes (like most Oscars) generally go to grueling dramatic roles, once every two decades a young princess who's part of an immensely popular, seemingly lightweight film gets the crown instead: Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love, now Emma. (It was disheartening to realize this'll be my third such observed cycle -- and I was already in my 20s when Annie Hall happened.) Like many such observations, this is glib and missing some context (like, isn't it somewhat dismissive of Keaton's work -- and wouldn't Helen Hunt/As Good As It Gets also fit the pattern?), but it does feel like it captures the gestalt from which might spring a victory for Stone -- an extremely likable actress who, three years ago, would have been viewed as a deep long shot for such high honors.

Isabelle Huppert's slim lane for the upset is that, with the evident collapse of any support for Natalie Portman, she becomes the main vehicle for those holding the torch for serious art over the seemingly more frivolous. However, if Huppert's performance is her strength, her film is her handicap: Elle is very much out-there in subject matter; clearly not the sort of film that usually wins performance Oscars. (If this film had been in the vein of Amour, it'd be an entirely different story.) The only way I can see her breaking through is if voters feel like they're disregarding the film and honoring her long/legendary career. Sony Classics seems to have come to the same conclusion; their campaign has her out there front and center as living proof of a four-decade career that, dammit, voters should acknowledge. Their success at the Globes, and today at the Spirits, tells me they've made some headway with this strategy. Whether it'll be enough to deny Stone her expected prize...we'll find out about 24 hours from now.

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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby nightwingnova » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:26 pm

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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby nightwingnova » Sat Feb 25, 2017 4:42 pm

According to the Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots, Ruth Negga is the prime alternative to Emma Stone.

I have a problem seeing the Academy choose a very good but unremarkable performance as Stone's.

I'm rooting for Huppert, who was brilliant, but my faith that she could pull an upset is dwindling.
Last edited by nightwingnova on Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby Reza » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:18 pm

OscarGuy wrote:I agree with Reza. Bening isn't an actress I typically love. Many of her performances seem mechanical to me (The Kids Are All Right is a terrific example), but in 20th Century Women, she's extremely human, at least for most of the film. Some of that robotic style is seen in earlier footage, but as she evens out and lets the character take hold as the film goes on, she becomes a stronger performer. I haven't seen all of these nominees, but of the ones I've seen, I'd rank her above Stone, but below Portman who was, far and away, the best performance in this category in a long time.


Bening was also quite hilarious in that travesty directed by her husband in 2016.

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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby OscarGuy » Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:27 am

I agree with Reza. Bening isn't an actress I typically love. Many of her performances seem mechanical to me (The Kids Are All Right is a terrific example), but in 20th Century Women, she's extremely human, at least for most of the film. Some of that robotic style is seen in earlier footage, but as she evens out and lets the character take hold as the film goes on, she becomes a stronger performer. I haven't seen all of these nominees, but of the ones I've seen, I'd rank her above Stone, but below Portman who was, far and away, the best performance in this category in a long time.
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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby Reza » Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:41 am

Okri wrote:The nominees are

Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Amy Adams, Taraji P. Henson and (to a lesser extent) Annette Benning must look at a year like 2014 and just sigh, knowing how easily they could have slid in there. Oh well…


More than Adams, Henson or for that matter Streep and Negga the one actress who deserved to be on the final list was Annette Bening. It is a performance of great depth. A great actress at the top of her game.

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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby criddic3 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 1:35 am

Stone wins because Academy acting members will feel a connection to that role.
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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Feb 21, 2017 3:50 pm

To me, Emma Stone is an also-ran, strong enough for a nomination, but not a win over Portman or Huppert.

If Portman hadn't been a recent former winner, she would certainly be in the conversation until the opening of the envelope. Huppert should win on the basis of performance but has two things going against her - she's foreign and she's old. The only two actresses to have previously won for foreign language performances were the young and glamorous Sophia Loren and Marion Cottilard.

Ruth Negga gave a quietly effective performance in Loving, but no big scenes to place her in strong competition.

Meryl Streep's nomination over Amy Adams in Arrival was head-scratching enough without her being taken seriously for a fourth win for a performance that any actress of a certain age could have given in their sleep.

If Stone wins, it will be because they don't want to give it to former winner Portman or foreigner Huppert, not because she does anything in La La Land that is better than their work.
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Re: Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby nightwingnova » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:48 pm

Emma is very good actress and she's very in La La Land; nevertheless, it's not for the ages and is comparable to any number of charming yet commonplace performances by good actresses. Her favored status in this category perplexes me.

I'm rooting for Isabelle Huppert for a unique and complex human characterization - steadfastly tough (cold) and maternal; traumatized but not neurotic; moral and with integrity yet without compunction breaking society's norms for her benefit. Fascinating creation.

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Categories One by One: Best Actress

Postby Okri » Tue Feb 21, 2017 9:42 am

The nominees are

Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Amy Adams, Taraji P. Henson and (to a lesser extent) Annette Benning must look at a year like 2014 and just sigh, knowing how easily they could have slid in there. Oh well…

Ruth Negga’s nomination is a tribute to a long lead time. People have been talking about her since Cannes. I can’t imagine any other scenario in which someone of her critical profile (newcomer, nothing film) gets recognized. She’ll make a nice entrant on the red carpet lists and promptly go back to British television and minor stardom at best

As Jared Leto stated, Meryl Streep’s nomination is mandated by California state law. But I think it’s a good one. Indeed, if she hadn’t won for The Iron Lady, I could see her being further out in front here. But she’s a comfortable fourth. Or maybe third? It was really hard to read Natalie Portman’s profile this year. Despite rave reviews for her work, she only showed up in the echo-chamber awards. All the bigger prizes eluded her, despite not winning them for her work in Black Swan. Even if she had won them, I don’t think she’s at the place where she’d get a second Oscar and not for something that faltered the way Jackie did.

After the LA film critics awards, Tee pointed out how clearly complicit the group was in promoting it’s “oscar” candidates, boosting and protecting those that needed it. This year, I think we saw the clearest acceptance of how much critics want to participate in the Oscar race with the boosting of Isabelle Huppert. Now, make no mistake, she’s absolutely terrific and deserves every recognition. But in a tough year, she routed the field. I’ve gotta presume that’s down to trying to boost her to the Oscar race and knowing she needed all the help she could get. I’ve ragged on SPC for their Oscar campaigns of the past, but this was a superbly run campaign that hit all the right notes. Now, could she upset the apple cart? Who knows. I think she could. Heck, if she were nominated for the BAFTA (perhaps the one misstep this season) and won, I think she’d be a co-frontrunner as opposed to a possible darkhorse.

But she remains a dark horse, thanks to Emma Stone. I did wonder if Stone would ever return after Birdman because I felt, that as a comedienne, she’d struggle more. I didn’t view her Oscar prospects any more positively than I did someone like Anna Farris. But she certainly proved me wrong. It’s a star boosting performance in a huge best picture frontrunner and she swept the TV awards with ease. The only scenario I envision where she loses is one where voters actively decide La La Land is overrated and look elsewhere, but come on, we know that ain’t happening.


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