The time is upon us. That’s right, we’re getting further into Awards season. Now, I’ve never been huge into the whole Oscars race. Something about is just too blatantly political for my taste, but that’s not to say that there aren’t some actors and actresses out there who deserve recognition for the phenomenal work that they do. The only problem is, we once again return to the political. The category that’s most frequently plagued by this (or at least in my opinion) is the Best Actress race. Let’s take a look at some examples, past and present, of good ol’ Oscar showing favoritism.
5. Jennifer Lawrence Vs. Natalie Portman
I know it’s supposed to be “too early to tell” but if you think Portman’s not gonna snag the Oscar for her turn in Black Swan you’re pretty naive. This is one of the most painful instances in the Best Actress race because both actresses are certainly deserving of praise for their work. Portman was compelling, but Jennifer Lawrence showcased just as much talent in her hard-hitting turn as Ree in Winter’s Bone.
Logic for the win: Portman’s put more time in. Sure, Winter’s Bone isn’t Lawrence’s first movie, but she’s still relatively new at this, whereas Natalie Portman has consistently blown audiences away since her feature film debut in The Professional. It’s pretty much the Oscars telling Jennifer Lawrence “try back again in a couple of years.”
4. Anne Hathaway Vs. Kate Winslet
Kate Winslet’s win for The Reader was both exhilarating and utterly devastating. I mean, sure, she was good, but then again, she’s always good. Hell, she even made me want to see The Holiday because it was Kate Winslet. The fact of the matter is that honor should have belonged to Hathaway’s heartbreaking and troubling turn as Kym in Rachel Getting Married. But then again, if the Oscars have taught me anything it’s that things don’t always work out as they should.
Logic for the win: Winslet deserved her Oscar a long time ago. There are almost too many performances to choose from to say which one she truly deserved it for, but for the record, I’ll go with Little Children. Regardless, this was like one of those gifts that you get as a consolation prize for being asked to wait so damn long. A well-deserved win, but in my mind, I always pretend it was for a different movie, as it should have been.
3. Sissy Spacek Vs. Halle Berry
Sissy Spacek is the type of actress that commands the scene in just about every one of her performances. She has an elegance, but also a strength to her roles that make her so magnetic, at least for me. Halle Berry has… her moments. Truth be told, I watched Monster’s Ball years ago so I should probably re-watch it before officially commenting on it, but it was very underwhelming for me. Berry proved she was talented when she tackled the role, but nothing about it jumps out at me.
Logic for the win: This is where the Oscars get really political. Berry didn’t even win the Golden Globe for her performance in Monster’s Ball, which is usually a good indication about the outcome of the Oscars. Not always, but sometimes. Spacek won the Golden Globe, so for me (and maybe I’m just paranoid) that type of “upset” screams of a ratings grab. I may just be cynical, but I will outright say that Berry’s win was the closest case of an undeserved Oscar in many years.
2. Carey Mulligan Vs. Sandra Bullock Now I know that this one is gonna cause a bit of a stir, because people love to lose their cool over Sandra Bullock, but I was not a fan of The Blind Side. It was condescending, the teensiest bit racist, and all in all, the type of feel good story that makes a good fluff piece on the evening news, but doesn’t deserve an entire movie. Moving on to Mulligan, who was powerful in her transformation from a naive young school girl into a fully realized woman. Mulligan’s performance was unforgettable and showed a type of maturity that proved her an actress worth watching.
Logic for the win: The Blind Side is Oscar bait. It always seems to float to one extreme or the other, sappy and happy or melodramatic and tragic. Bullock’s performance was alright, but it was more of a re-affirmation of the oscars looking down on younger performers who haven’t yet paid their dues in Hollywood.
1. Felicity Huffman Vs. Reese Witherspoon It’s been a while since I’ve seen Walk the Line. Truth of the matter is I couldn’t even watch it now if I wanted to because Reese Witherspoon’s Oscar win upsets me that much. Sure, she was believable, but she was slapping on a banjo and sporting a terrible Southern accent. Huffman’s performance required her to exist completely outside of herself. She had to literally become someone that she was not and she sold it. It was heartbreaking and humorous, showing Huffman’s impressive range.
Logic for the win: Hollywood will never admit it, but they’re sorta homophobic. Oh sure, if a straight man or woman is playing a gay man or a lesbian woman they throw Oscars around like it’s nobody’s business. But when you get a level of complexity, such as trans issues, they can only be expected to care so much. It’s too confusing for them to try to make sense of the gender rather than just give the award to someone else. Enjoy your oscar, Reese!