Categories One-by-One: Best Actress

Okri
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Postby Okri » Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:59 am

I'm with Eric. I can't imagine hating Bullock more than hating Crash. Won't get me to see the film, though.

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Postby ITALIANO » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:26 pm

There are probably several antecedents one can find for a Bullock win as for a Streep win; the reason why none really fully apply is, honestly, because the quality of Bullock's performance, and of the movie she's in, are so low that Ginger Rogers, Loretta Young, Halle Berry even, suddenly seem too deserving to be compared. But if we analyze the situation coldly, rationally, well, especially in recent years, "pretty, popular star" (in this case in a box office hit, too) vs "respected, previously awarded veteran" almost always ends the way we know even too well.

The exception this year is that the popular star gave a truly forgettable performance in an embarassing movie (which still is up for Best Picture, though), and that the veteran actress is VERY respected and is Meryl Streep. Will this make a difference - THE difference? I certainly hope so, but I can't deny that wishful thinking plays a role. Also, most of those who think Streep will get it in the end are, like me, not exactly teenagers anymore. We grew up with a kind of respect for the Academy Awards which, while not blind, wasnt completely undeserved either. We saw the mistakes of course - plenty of them - yet most of these mistakes were at least understandable, and there were compensations - after all, the unknown, unglamorous but talented British actress could, did triumph over the beautiful American starlet in the box office hit of the year.

We cling to those Academy Awards, but times have changed I'm afraid; this is why precedents dont mean much in this new phase of the Oscars - and Bullock's victory will really mean that a new phase this is. It hasn't started right now of course, it's going on for some time now, but never as obviously as it will be if what we fear will happen. Don't get me wrong, quality will probably, hopefully always mean something - and had it been the Meryl Streep of Sophie's Choice nobody would have denied her the Oscar even today. But sadly this year Meryl Streep doesnt compete with one of her best performances, so basically what she can count on are her (very high) reputation and the admiration most feel for her, and the fact that she won her last Oscar long time ago. I hope it's enough; otherwise her antecedents will be Bette Davis, Ellen Burstyn and Sissy Spacek.

As for The Blind Side being loathed, I don't know. Here it certainly is, but this board - I've learned - doesnt really represent a certain, let's say, general American culture; and this is why, of course, I feel more confortable here than in other American boards. And even on this board you can glimpse that some liked the movie alot. Not just glimpse actually - I got a very direct private message threatening me to be exhiled forever if I go on trashing this movie (interestingly, I received two similar warnings in the past - the movies were The Color Purple and Dreamgirls). No, I'd say that this movie, strange as it may seem (to me), says the things that a certain part of America wants to hear. I wouldnt be completely surprised if a good number of Academy members belonged to this part.




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Postby Big Magilla » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:36 am

Damien wrote:Throwing out another antecedent for Sandra Bullock: Loretta Young in The Farmer's Daughter.

Pleasantly likable actress who's been around two decades does an accent in a light movie with some vaguely serious social overtones.

Yes, but Loretta was a surprise winner over Rosalind Russell.

The idea of going against the expected and voting for the lovable Sandy was what I had in mind when I first predicted a Bullock win, but now that she is the supposed front-runner, methinks a lot of sober judgments will kick in and turn the tide against her.

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Postby Mister Tee » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:15 am

To respond to BJ about whether The Blind Side is as loathed elsewhere as it is here...wasn't it in that NY Magazine article you posted that, when the list was first laid out for those putting the presentation together, there was a massive groan at the film's best picture nomination? But the producers were delighted, so both strains exist (which is why I think it's a close race). I wouldn't take the entertainment press's enthusiasm as necessarily representing the Academy's view; ET and Access Hollywood et al. see Bullock and they see copy/ratings, so they'll flog her regardless of her overall level of support.

One last time: you may have personally not approved of Julia Roberts' win for Erin Brockovich, but she dominated the critics' groups that year, including the very legit LA. Bullock was NOWHERE before the Broadcasters thrust her forward; her candidacy is strictly a creation of the least-respected organizations. There's no comparison.

And I don't see what relevance Hillary Swank over Annette Bening has -- both of Swank's winning performances were more higly praised than Bening's. Hometown girl Bening, if anyone, would have been the Bullock in those races. (In fact, I'd bet Imelda Staunton came closer than Bening in '04 -- fanboys' insistence Bening's candidacy was so strong has always baffled me)

BJ, the closest I've come to your Oscar night dilemma came the night of the 1982 awards -- a night I dreaded in advance as likely to reward Gandhi, with Meryl Steep being the only saving grace. My roommates at the time LOVED Gandhi (for strictly political reasons) and hated Streep with a bitchy passion. So...I got myself invited to another party, where rooting ran in different directions. Obviously this is a tougher thing to do when you're hosting the party. Perhaps you can step away to the loo when best actress comes along?

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Postby Damien » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:35 am

Throwing out another antecedent for Sandra Bullock: Loretta Young in The Farmer's Daughter.

Pleasantly likable actress who's been around two decades does an accent in a light movie with some vaguely serious social overtones.
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Postby mashari » Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:53 am

One thing to be certain about the Academy today is that they don't like being bullied into a vote. All this talk about how dare they skip over Meryl again will only make voters do just that. Remember Sony's tasteless Shoreh Agdashloo ad which had no qualms in making eventual winner Renee seem unworthy? Backfired!

Contrary to the popular notion on this board, they don't loathe TBS and the same members who selected Crash aren't remorseful and would most likely do it again if given the chance. In awarding Hilary Swank a second win over Annette they were clearly making a statement--we do what we want. And if they really like a heavily touted performer(Sandra, Julia), they'll go for them even if the nominated performance isn't deemed the best.

Wes, I agree that Gwennie & Hunt's wins were far more alarming and Ali McGraw was shockingly bad. All things considered, Sandra would still be a safe choice.




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Postby Hustler » Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:50 pm

It reminds me the Julia Roberts case who defeated in 2001 (unjustifiably, IMO) the more deserving Ellen Burstyn

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Postby Greg » Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:25 pm

The Original BJ wrote:For me, this whole situation has even put a strange damper on my Oscar night plans. My annual Oscar party will be full of a number of people who personally KNOW Sandra Bullock. Some have worked with her on numerous films, and they love her. And, as much as I don't want to be a spoil sport, part of me is really feeling this: if I have to endure a Bullock Best Actress win, how much do I want to be surrounded by a bunch of people who are happy about it?

Just ask anyone rooting for Bullock to win bring some expensive food. That way, you can also literally eat your heart out if you have to watch them cheering on Bullock winning Best Actress.

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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:12 pm

Damien wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:After losing two of her greatest stage roles to Rosalind Russell and Eve Arden in Picnic and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Heckart was determined not to be replaced by a higher profile movie star and, in fact, beat out just about every middle-aged actress in Hollywood for the right to reprise her Tony winning role this time.

Heckert didn't win the Tony for Butterflies Are Free. She was nominated but lost to the play's leading lady, Blythe Danner (back in the days when Tony category placement was based upon above- or below-the-title billing).

You're right.

Danner and Heckart were both nominated in the featured category. Tammy Grimes won in lead for a revival of Private Lives over Helen Hayes in a revival of Harvey.

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Postby Eric » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:55 pm

Given the Academy didn't see fit to nominate a any of the year's best female performances in this category, I'm totally at ease with them awarding the worst.

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Postby The Original BJ » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:44 pm

Let me first say that I've continued to doubt Bullock's chances, though I must admit that I'm preparing for the worst, and think there's definitely more than a good chance she wins.

But I'm with Mister Tee -- a Bullock Best Actress victory would be one of the most godawful Oscar wins ever, far below what I typically think of as Oscar outrages. I've said this before, but I'd have to go back to Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 to find a Best Actress choice as revolting as Bullock.

The problem is, I don't see that many people, except here, crying that such a win would be outrageous. The press has been cheering for a Bullock victory for weeks now -- did you hear the applause for her name on Oscar nom morning? -- and industry insiders seemed to be swept up by what Mark Harris called Bullock's "who'd a thunk?" narrative. Plus, I'd imagine Bullock's likability among those voting is a key factor as well, and I don't just mean her likability as a performer; she's genuinely supposed to be wonderful to work with, a really sweet woman. Didn't Ron Howard grab an Oscar for similar reasons? Cause he knows everyone and everyone likes him? (Granted, A Beautiful Mind was a MUCH better film than Blind Side, but, still.)

Furthermore, even as I've advocated this logic myself, I'm starting to wonder how far the "Meryl won SAG last year" argument really goes. I know everyone here could tell you the last ten SAG Best Actress winners, but does the average SAG voter even remember who won last year? Is "I want Meryl to win the Oscar, but she won the SAG last year, so I'm voting for Bullock here" really the thought process of many voters? (What I will accept, though, is the argument that SAG and Oscar differ in membership, and the former group is more likely to lean Bullock than the latter.)

What's really depressing about all of this is that, while this wasn't a banner year for Actresses, it's not like there's a lack of viable candidates. Sidibe had an effective breakthrough in a Best Picture nominee recognized across the board, Mulligan sparkled in a role with real range, and, above all, Meryl Streep, long seen as overdue, had a critics-award winning role in a hit movie where she imitated a famous person.

My hope, like many, is that this last bit (Meryl Streep's strong credentials) will be enough to surpass Bullock's ridiculous momentum. But lately, the arguments I made months ago for why I didn't want Streep to trump Mulligan ("this isn't top-tier Meryl," "Meryl will certainly have more chances") seem to have taken hold in the public consciousness in Bullock's favor.

For me, this whole situation has even put a strange damper on my Oscar night plans. My annual Oscar party will be full of a number of people who personally KNOW Sandra Bullock. Some have worked with her on numerous films, and they love her. And, as much as I don't want to be a spoil sport, part of me is really feeling this: if I have to endure a Bullock Best Actress win, how much do I want to be surrounded by a bunch of people who are happy about it?




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Postby Damien » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:45 pm

Big Magilla wrote:After losing two of her greatest stage roles to Rosalind Russell and Eve Arden in Picnic and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Heckart was determined not to be replaced by a higher profile movie star and, in fact, beat out just about every middle-aged actress in Hollywood for the right to reprise her Tony winning role this time.

Heckert didn't win the Tony for Butterflies Are Free. She was nominated but lost to the play's leading lady, Blythe Danner (back in the days when Tony category placement was based upon above- or below-the-title billing).
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Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 22, 2010 3:08 pm

Crash is not a bad movie, it's just a mediocre one given momentary import by the one-two punch of Roger Ebert and Oprah Winfrey which ultimately resulted its surprise win over Brokeback Mountain.

The film may not be "generally despised" as I hastily wrote, but its win certainly is and not just on this board.

I agree with Tee's assessment of the threshold below which the Academy will not go, though I'm not sure I agree with his examples.

I personally thought Ali MacGraw was shockingly bad in Love Story as was John Marley as her father. Those characters were highly sympathetic on the written page, which everyone at the time read, but their on-screen depictions of them were not. It raised my suspicions about whether people supporting those nominations had actually seen the film or were voting for the characters as portrayed in Erich Segal's novel based on his screenplay.

I actually thought Jackson would win, that the same Academy which voted for Maggie Smith over Jane Fonda and Liza Minnelli the year before would certainly vote for Jackson who was by the time of the Oscars very well known. The Music Lovers in which she starred opposite Richard Chamberlain had opened in January and the acclaimed mini-series, Elizabeth R, which contained her greatest performance in any medium, had already aired its first two episodes by the time the nominations were announced on February 22, 1971.

As or Eileen Heckart in Butterflies Are Free, that is not only one of my all-time favorite performances, the story behind it is also one of Hollywood's great casting coups.

After losing two of her greatest stage roles to Rosalind Russell and Eve Arden in Picnic and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs, Heckart was determined not to be replaced by a higher profile movie star and, in fact, beat out just about every middle-aged actress in Hollywood for the right to reprise her Tony winning role this time.

The property was given a sad poignancy when Brando de Wilde, en route to a Denver performance of the play opposite Ann Sothern, died in a car accident the day the film opened at Radio City Music Hall.

Despite Jennie Berlin's critics awards and Shelley Winters' Globe win, this was an Oscar I, at least, saw coming.

What amuses me is the level of certainty here of a win for Bullock by people who should know better.

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Postby OscarGuy » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:58 pm

I think your analysis is sound, Tee, and I'm certainly not saying Bullock is a guaranteed winner, but I think the Ali MacGraw argument, although fitting, has a few flaws. Love Story was only MacGraw's third film. She had not been given an appropriate time period to create a long list of credits, even objectionable ones, and prove herself as someone who Hollywood trusted. Bullock, on the other hand, has more than 40 credits under her belt, has proven herself to be a box office draw and is exceedingly well liked personally among her peers.

And although we here may not like her work in The Blind Side, I'll bet there are plenty of Academy members who do. This isn't a performance for the ages by any stretch of the imagination and, as I've said before, I don't think it's nearly one of the year's best performances, but I feel about Bullock in The Blind Side much the same way as you feel about Crash. I don't despise the choice like so many others. I don't think it's deserving, but I also don't think it would be the worst performance to win...Gwyneth Paltrow and Helen Hunt are far more egregious in my mind.
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Postby Eric » Mon Feb 22, 2010 2:48 pm

I hate it with the passion I usually reserve for ex-gay ministries. Both teach their willing victims a ruinous behavior I know to be (as per Italiano) objectively wrong wrong wrong.

I'm aware I may be irrational on the matter, but I regard anything more favorable than the desire to completely obliterate the film from existence to be a minor character flaw.

Bullock would have to reach out from the screen and literally start choking me to death for me to comprehend anyone regarding it as an affront whereas Crash is to be regarded as merely tepid.




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