Thursday, February 25, 2010

Oscars 2009: Best Actress

We all know the complaints about women in Hollywood: women over 40 don't get good roles, women in general don't get good roles that don't involve them breaking down in tears , women are only leads in romantic comedies, regal dramas or horror films. But believe it or not, there are actually great female roles, and strong, gifted actresses who portray them, as evidenced by this year's Best Actress field.
This year's field is certainly better than last year's (Kate Winslet was horribly miscast in The Reader, and Angelina Jolie was atrocious in the endlessly unbearable Changeling). There's a great variety of roles, too, ranging from a teen mother who's illiterate and abused (Sidibe) to the famous Julia Child (Streep).
The breakdown:
  • I'm not Sandra Bullock's biggest fan, and I don't think she was particularly amazing in The Blind Side. I guess its nomination-worthy, but its certainly the weakest performance in the group.
  • Carey Mulligan was wonderful in An Education. Her beyond-her-years cleverness balanced well with her youthful innocence in a glorious performance.
  • Gabourey Sidibe was the revelation of the year, with her heartbreaking, powerful performance in Precious. I hope she gets superb roles outside her stereotype as the overweight minority in the future.
  • Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren seem to always be reliable. I'm not a huge fan of a good number of Streep's performances (Music of the Heart and Mamma Mia come to mind), but she's been on something of a winning streak lately (The Devil Wears Prada, Doubt, and now Julie & Julia). Mirren has a gift that's hard to ignore, especially when it comes to playing strong women (look no further than The Queen).
It took me a lot of internal debate to formulate my final ballot, particularly amongst the fantastic top three. I finally came to these conclusions:
Best Actress
  1. Gabourey Sidibe, Precious
  2. Helen Mirren, The Last Station
  3. Carey Mulligan, An Education
  4. Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
  5. Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Agree? Disagree? Comment please.

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