This year, the Best Actress in a Leading Role race is filled with decidedly somber and dark roles. Although I haven’t seen “Rabbit Hole” yet, I have read some of the reviews and from the sound of it, it is decidedly somber. Given the performances she is being judged against, I’m certainly looking forward to the film and I’m sure she gave the performance of a lifetime. There hasn’t really been much buzz about its chances, though, so I’m guessing it’s a long shot.
I finally got around to seeing “The Kids Are Alright,” and although it doesn’t change my opinion on Ruffalo’s chances, I was greatly pleased with the film. Annette Bening’s portrayal of the wounded but responsible half of a lesbian couple was stunning. I was chatting with someone at The Moose the other day that argued Julianne Moore’s performance was the stand-out work in the film. I agree that it was stellar as well, but I think Bening had to work a lot harder to effectively communicate to the audience all of the emotions she was dealing with and that is why she got the nomination. Unfortunately for her, it was too nuanced for the Academy and I think that will cost her the gold.
Michelle Williams performed wonderfully in “Blue Valentine” as a young nurse dealing with the disintegration of her family. Many people thought Ryan Gosling was going to get a nomination for this film as well, but he was passed over for Franco and Bardem. While Williams did an exceptional job conveying emotion, the film was overall too small and personal a work to drive her to the finish.
There is talk about Jennifer Lawrence scoring a huge upset with “Winter’s Bone.” Her gritty, desperate Osark’s youth was as spot-on as any performance I’ve ever seen. She wore the role on her like a second skin and there is no wonder why she is getting so much attention. The problem with the role is that it wasn’t as in-your-face as it could be. Jennifer Lawrence made the role work because she was able to make people see what she was feeling, while still bottling it up while she pursued her goals. Subdued work doesn’t come to the forefront of a voter’s mind when they’re staring at a ballot.
“Black Swan”‘s Natalie Portman was anything but subdued. The emotional deconstruction her character goes through is easily the most talked about performance of the year. It’s also the most powerful performance of the year and that is why I, and the Academy, will give it the win.