Friday, February 22, 2008

Low Res Oscar Week 2008: The Lead Performers

With one or two exceptions, these could have conceivably been the Oscar lineups this year. That they weren't is the greatest tragedy of all. Not an overwhelmingly deep year for these categories, at least not when compared to the embarrassment of riches found in the Supporting categories.

Zodiac and Atonement now share the nomination lead at 6 apiece.

George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
James McAvoy - Atonement
Gordon Pinsent - Away From Her

Matches with Oscar: 3/5. I went for McAvoy and Pinsent, while the Academy liked Viggo and Tommy Lee Jones.

Runners Up: Casey Affleck (Assassination of Jesse James... / Gone Baby Gone); Tommy Lee Jones (In The Valley of Elah); Frank Langella (Starting Out In The Evening); Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Before The Devil Knows You're Dead); Ryan Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl).

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson); 2005: Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain); 2004: Paul Giamatti (Sideways); 2003: Bill Murray (Lost in Translation); 2002: Daniel Day-Lewis (Gangs of New York); 2001: Guy Pearce (Memento); 2000: Ed Harris (Pollock); 1999: Edward Norton (Fight Club); 1998: Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters).

Why These Five? Depp for "You sir! Too sir!"; McAvoy for the grin at "cunt"; Pinsent for "I never wanted to be away from her"; Clooney for "I'm not the guy you kill, I'm the guy you buy!"; and Day-Lewis for everything besides "I drink your milkshake."

Who Wins? Look. I get why Daniel Day-Lewis is going to win the Oscar. Good for him, seriously. He's a phenomenal and frightening actor, he's redefining the Method, and he gives 80% of a killer performance in There Will Be Blood. If I'm at all resentful, it's because the credit he's getting is mostly for that other 20%. I'm going with Clooney, both because it's such a huge leap from what he's been able to do onscreen so far, and because he pulls together such a complete character.

Amy Adams - Enchanted
Julie Christie - Away From Her
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Laura Linney - Jindabyne
Ellen Page - Juno

Matches with Oscar: 2.5/5 -- the Academy liked Linney, but in The Savages instead, and they also went for Marion Cotillard and Cate Blanchett instead of Jolie and Adams.

Runners Up: Keri Russell (Waitress); Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd); Nicole Kidman (Margot At The Wedding); Laura Linney (The Savages); Sarah Michelle Gellar (Southland Tales).

Past Rezzie Winners: 2006: Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal); 2005: Joan Allen (The Upside of Anger); 2004: Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind); 2003: Charlize Theron (Monster); 2002: Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven); 2001: Naomi Watts (Mulholland Dr.); 2000: Laura Linney (You Can Count On Me); 1999: Annette Bening (American Beauty); 1998: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth).

Why These Five? The degree of difficulty in what Amy Adams is able to do in Enchanted is, I think, wholly underappreciated. In a way, I think Jolie suffers from that as well -- the performance she gives doesn't coast on star power or self-regard. She puts the work in. It's tempting to blame Ellen Page for the verbal excesses that spew from her character's mouth in the film's first half (she didn't write it), but I'm more impressed by how she handles Juno's awakening in the second half. Laura Linney was, I thought, much more affecting in Jindabyne, a movie that has more to say about modern-day guilt than, say, Atonement (much as I love it), and didn't get credit for it. And then there's Maude Julie Christie. Who has kind of been dressing like Maude at some of these awards shows lately.

Who Wins? Julie Christie who, like Javier Bardem, is approaching "what can you say?" territory about her performance. I don't think this has been the strongest year for lead actress performances, but hers is the one powerhouse I believe in.

1 comment:

jessica said...

Thank you for recognizing Pinsent, who I honestly thought was the cornerstone performance of a performance-strong film.

Also, I love that you use the little Sly Stallone picture as part of your Oscar week logo. I may be sick, but I love that silly little movie.