Thursday, March 13, 2008

One Category at a Time - Part 10 - Leading Actress

There's a whole slew of leading ladies who'll be competing for the best leading actress of 2008. I'm eagerly anticipating much more than just the five listed here, but this will have to do for now.



Meryl Streep for “Doubt”
Quite possibly THE actress of her age, Meryl Streep takes on the part of Sister Aloysius, a nun who suspects a priest (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of nefarious misdeeds in a 1964 Catholic school. This looks to be one of those “what's the right thing to do?” kind of roles, full of complicated emotions, conflicting ideals, and, as the title indicates, doubt. There is a slim chance that Streep could instead be noticed for her song-and-dance performance the summer musical Mamma Mia!, but that role is likely too lightweight to make an impression on the grim-faced Academy.

Angelina Jolie for “Changeling”
This period mystery may not seem like standard Oscar fare (of course no one knows what it's really about yet), but as I mentioned in my post for original screenplay, there's the “Clint Eastwood factor” to consider. Clint has directed nine actors to nominations (including himself twice!), five of whom went on to win. Voters may also feel bad about snubbing Jolie for her strong performance in A Mighty Heart this past year, which may prompt them to let her have a slot in the final five. But as I've said, competition for lead actress looks tough this year, and if they don't like the movie, it'll be hard for her to make the cut. I'll keep her on my list for the time being.

Anne Hathaway for “Dancing with Shiva”
Since her days of “playing princess” in such movies as Ella Enchanted and The Princess Diaries films, Anne Hathaway has shown promising maturation as an actor, performing in more adult fare like Brokeback Mountain and The Devil Wears Prada. In Dancing with Shiva she'll play an erstwhile model and rehabilitating drug addict who faces her family when she comes back home for her sister's wedding. Jonathan Demme, who's directed quite a few actors to Oscar nods (including Jodie Foster's and Anthony Hopkins' wins for The Silence of the Lambs), will try to do the same for a quickly improving Hathaway.

Kate Winslet for “Revolutionary Road” (or “The Reader”?)
What to do about this one? Revolutionary Road is certainly a lead role for her, but is The Reader a co-leading part or a big supporting part? If she gets billed as lead for both she may be in trouble, not unlike Leonardo DiCaprio's problem with Blood Diamond and The Departed last year (although he would have lost to Forrest Whitaker anyway). For now, I'm assuming the marketers will do the smart thing and advertise The Reader for supporting so she'll have a chance in both categories. As for Revolutionary Road, having your spouse (in this case, husband Sam Mendes) direct you can either be hugely beneficial or severely detrimental to one's performance. We'll just have to wait and see.

Julianne Moore for “Blindness” (or “Savage Grace”)
Both projects show a lot of potential for Julianne Moore. In Blindness she plays a character who watches everyone else in the world (including her husband) go blind as a result of a worldwide epidemic. This part will give her a great opportunity to delve into deep, heart-wrenching, emotional isolation. Savage Grace has her playing Barbara Daly Baekeland, whose ill-fated marriage leads her to a tragic consequence. They both sound like so much fun, don't they? All sarcasm aside, I can't decide which one to pick. If it weren't against Academy rules, I'd predict her to be nominated for both. But alas, I'll have to live with my coin-flip decision for the moment.



Which actresses are in your top five? Be sure to enter Nathaniel R.'s Actress Psychic Contest at The Film Experience.


Coming up, best cinematography.

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