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Nicole & The Noise

Last week, I started prepping the 2012 "film bitch" awards pages and while staring at the rough draft of the acting awards which will be posted the week before the Oscar nominations, I kept thinking "something is wrong here." I slept on it. The next morning I realized with complete horrror that I had left Nicole Kidman off of my rough draft nominee list for The Paperboy. I, a self-described Kidmaniac, had forgotten "Charlotte Bless." If *I*  was able to forget Nicole, how could I rage at the non-adventurous critics and staid Oscar voters a month and a half from now when they presumably forget her in their year-end polling.

The Thanksgiving to Christmas movie season is filled with "Best of" Noise: big glitzy openings, highbrow movies, lists everywhere you look, forum discussions, critics org announcement. They're all reflecting "Oscar Buzz" whether or not they mean to. Oscar buzz is noisy and the noise can, paradoxically, drown out actual conversations and thoughtful consideration of who might qualify for the word "best"... not who is in the best movie or who is most likely to be nominated. It's understandable human error. Fact: it's easier to remember names you hear every day than names you don't. 

This past week while staring hard at the Supporting Actress Chart  (since revived), I kept staring at Nicole Kidman's photo and cursing the world that this amazing actress's about-face work as a trashy convict-loving beautician wasn't more firmly entrenched in the discussion.

Then a miracle occured...

Nicole Kidman as "Charlotte Bless"... add that to the (long) list of her masterful performances

People started talking about Nicole Kidman's work again. Undoubtedly because Kidman herself starting talking. (And this, dear reader, is why Oscar campaigns happen.) I was lucky enough to be one of the people she talked to. "Nathaniel, it's Nicole!" she said with a hearty Aussie laugh earlier today on the telephone when she called me an hour ahead of schedule. The interview will be published next week but I can't tell you how sky high I felt talking to one of the true greats.

Luckily I'm not the only voice screaming for her nomination. Amy Nicholson at MovieLine likes The Paperboy far less than I do but she writes beautifully about why Nicole should be nominated and how blasé the Oscar lists can get when voters only draw from the 'prestige' pool:

...And people, this is why the Oscar season is boring. This formula guarantees a chase to the middlebrow, and it's why every Best Picture Oscar winner since Silence of the Lambs is something your grandma would see at an arthouse matinee.

There's only one thing we can do to save the Academy Awards: nominate Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy.


It's so true. And it's always been true. If you remove the movies that are intensely problematic, super weird or just terrible and then, on top of that, you remove all of the genre movies from the discussion because they aren't "serious" you lose half of the performances that should be in the discussion of BEST.

Names being talked up: Who is here because of their film? And who really deserves to be?

Because let's face it, Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables aside, if all the expected-to-be-nominated characters were to walk into a room with Kidman's "Charlotte Bless" sauntering around in her too high heels, she'd be the only one you could look at. Frankly, Kidman is just working on a much higher level than the bulk of the actresses being talked up. Hell, you'd have to bring Daniel Day-Lewis's Honest Abe into the room to give her a worthy opponent for impossible commitment to the role.

So before you cast your own ballots, whether official or un, really consider the work that's out there. Sometimes Oscar buzz is just so much noise. Shut out the noise. Vote for the best even if they're under the radar. Vote for the best even if the character is off their rocker. Charlotte Bless, people. Charlotte Bless. 


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Reader Comments (39)

Hear, hear! I disliked the film, but Nicole Kidman was aces.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

This is easily up there with some of her best work (Birth, To Die For, Dogville). I'm assuming (and hoping!) you'll have her high in your BFCA ballot Nat, and that many other voters follow suit. Incredibly excited (/ jealous haha) that you got the opportunity to talk with her and can't wait to read the piece you write up on the momentous occasion. Would be great to see the awards bodies this year make a more inspired choice and give her fearless, uninhibited performance its dues.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

@Nathaniel: I haven't seen "The Paperboy." Is Nicole Kidman supporting or leading? From what I've perceived about the film, she feels like those types of leads with small screen time but is SO central to the plot that she IS undoubtedly a lead. You seem to be thinking it's supporting but would you reconsider?

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Nathaniel, this is wht I love you so much and why I always check your website at least once a day. Man, you have TASTE. Need to know if it's the 1st time you speak with her. How lucky bastard you are!!

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

She is definitely supporting but on the high side of screentime. She soaks up the attention of the film, but she is a firm supporting character. However, she is what needs to be in this category. Outside of Hathaway, Hunt, and Field, there is no real consensus and Adams is falling back. I think if people start campaigning hard she could get in. I wish more great performances from less than stellar movies were considered because Nicole is in rare form in Paperboy (and I even really liked Paperboy)

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMovieman92

Too bad no photo of Jacki Weaver is featured.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

The actress who most deserves to be nominated this year would be Diane Kruger in "Farewell, My Queen." When she was not present, the film was deadly dull; when she appeared, the film became a master class in acting.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

I'm guessing the "eliminate genre" thing is also why Ruffalo isn't in the running for The Avengers?

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I have no problem voting for the off your rocker characters. I'm trying to squeeze in Erin Way for The Collection in my list of nominees. There's typical horror crazy, and then there's Erin Way's version of horror crazy: realistic, incredibly fragile, and ultimately heart breaking. You try putting that much humanity into a performance on a set that probably had to be hosed down between takes thanks to bloodshed.

I'm also trying to find room for Susan Sarandon in John, Who Lives At Home (a 90 minute film about her character would have been fantastic) and Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect (so funny and well-developed), but both of them might get dropped so I can include Sarah Gordon in Cosmopolis (or maybe even Juliette Binoche in Cosmopolis) and Gina Montana in Beasts of the Southern Wild (that opening scene where she's teaching the children about meat is magic).

That's not counting films like I haven't seen yet like Django Unchained, Lincoln, Les Miserables, and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I missed out on Paperboy, as well, because I missed the turn off to even get on the road to the only theater playing it in the area three times in a row. It's also not counting "pry them from my cold dead hands" nominees Elizabeth Banks in The Hunger Games and Charlize Theron in Prometheus.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Joseph, I agree! I loved Farewell, My Queen and Diane was magnetic (I think better than Kirsten's MA), as well as Lea Seydoux.

Anyway, I'm excited you got the chance to walk to Nicole, Nat! Can't wait to read the interview...I just read the one she did at HitFix. It seems like she's really out there working it for the movie.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBia

@Nathaniel: You could really make this happen for Nicole. You are instrumental. I hope you can convince your peers. I hope you stay faithful to Kidman.

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

Follow @NicoleKidman143 on Twitter!

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony


I hate to admit it but my eyes literally teared up because i was so happy for you when i read that. lol. I'm happy (and incredibly jealous). I would've probably been completely unintelligible if she called an hour before i was expecting her and said my name. Can't wait for the interview!

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

This blog post makes the world right again. NICOOOOOOOOLEEEEEE!!!!!

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSad man


December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpencer

Check your site everyday and I'm always glad I did. Keep up the good - no make that great - work. I loved "The Paperboy" - best movie of the 20 or so new ones I've seen this year. Really disappointed that it made so few ripples popularity-wise. Immediately read the novel (also excellent). It was interesting to see the changes from bookl to screen. I'd call it an adventurous adaptation that really worked. Certainly, with Nicole Kidman on board, they gave screen Charlotte a lot more of a spotlight than she had on the page.. I was impressed with Kidman's fearless commitment, though I thought the performance, while compellingly watchable, was a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes she breathed intoxicating life into Charlotte; other times it seemed a little like a stunt. No reservations at all, though about McConaughey and Cusack. I'd give them both supporting nominations - and hand the award to MM. Definitely his top achievement in a year of terrific McConaughey performances. If he snags that widely predicted nomination for "Magic Mike", I'll quietly pretend it's for "The Paperboy".

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterken

NICOLE for Supporting Actress, yes!
I know Hathaway will win that prize, but Nicole deserves to be one of the nominees. Masterful is the right word. Please, voters!

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJones

The fact that we're even measuring Nicole Kidman's chances as an actual contender is pretty telling of just how strange, yet fascinating, Supporting Actress is this year. There's no way that Kidman, who's absolutely dynamite and is probably my current Best Supporting Actress, would even be discussed in any other year. I feel like if there's a big (and I mean big) push for her from her diehards, she could definitely get in amongst this weirdly weak field. It'd be great if she got an A-list friend of hers to do what Julia Roberts did for Javier Bardem two years ago, and get people buzzing about a sort of lackluster film that contains one insanely enjoyable, deliciously electric performance from easily Hollywood's most fearless actress.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Oh god... you had a call from La Kidman? as you do, right? If I could ask for anything for Christmas that'd definitely be my choice, over the "violent jolt of the capital" and everything

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

@Matthew: And she isn't even the best thing in the movie. Cusack should be this year's Best Supporting Actor story.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

This is 1 of the best pieces on the oscars i have read lately,honest and unbiased.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermark

"There's only one thing we can do to save the Academy Awards: nominate Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy."

Okay, that's a bit hyperbole much? I mean, as interesting as Kidman's choices are, every year actresses like Tilda Swinton ("Julia", "I am Love", "We Need to Talk about Kevin"), Julianne Moore ("Savage Grace", "Blindness", "Chloe"), Juliette Binoche ("Certified Copy", "Le voyage du ballon rouge") or Isabelle Huppert (everything she does?) are omitted from the Academy list for breathtaking performances is risky, small, difficult, controversial movies. Kidman is a 3-time-nominee and Academy Award winner, I think she'll be fine. Also, she'll be back in the game next year with "Grace", "The Railway Man" and "Stoker", films that look much better than "The Paperboy".

Also, I don't think that being the only character "you could look at" in a room with other movie characters is necessarily the criteria for the strength of the performance, since it's often the quiet, unimposing, mousy, outsider figures that we WOULDN'T look at in real life that get their deserved attention in movies by great actors bringing them to life and giving them a voice. (However, I think Mary Todd Lincoln would get the maximum attention in the room of this year's supporting characters anyway...)

And where is Helen Hunt on that list for her fearless performance in "The Sessions"? (Mavbe in lead? Though she is campaigned in supporting.)

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercinephile

cinephile -- i just realized i left Helen Hunt out of that picture of the current "talked up" I keep forgetting that that performance is considered supporting because... LOL.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

For me Nicole gives us the standout supporting performance of the year, she has more raves from critics than any other supporting actress. After watching the film you feel like a truck just ran over you, it doesnt make you feel great but it makes you feel something most of the other films that are in contention fail to do.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCanary

(what about last year Film Bitch Awards?)

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I don't have a problem calling Helen Hunt supporting in The Sessions. It's Mark's story. Everything that happens happens because of Mark. Her character only exists in this story because John Hawkes' character pulls her into the story. The scenes she has without Mark are there to further develop Mark's character. She has the largest female role, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a leading role.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Robert G -- I'd buy that if she didn't also have her own story, but she does.

December 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel I can't wait for the interview, I hope it's indepth and it covers her career as a whole, I'm always dissapointed when I read interviews with her because the quesitons asked are really shallow, I hope with a Kidmaniac asking quesitons it'll be different.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLittle MY

I hope Birth is discuused and THAT close up.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermark

I'm kind of upset Emily Blunt has no chance for Looper.

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDevil Shark

wow . . .

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVince Smetana

If an actress called me, I,too< would push her for a nomination... i like Kidman, but a nom for "The Paperboy"? Come on!!!

December 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I think Kidman is definitely worthy of a nomination, but the film is a royal mess. I'm a big Kidman fan, and I doubt I'll be revisiting this one, since the movie really flies off the rails.

Some of the praise for her is rather over-the-top, but I agree that it is a rather weak field this year. I've seen likely nominees Helen Hunt and Amy Adams ... both good performances, but I do think Kidman is more deserving.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Nathaniel, you are amazing! Thanks for supporting Nicole's nomination!
she gaves in my humble opinion the best performance this year by far, and one of the best (if not the best) of her career!
I do hope academy makes some justice and gives her a nomination, but we all know how unfair the academy was to Nicole in recent years, so.....let's hope this time will be different

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

She's amazing in "The Paperboy" but she won't be nominated. She has been ignored by the Academy so many times. The fact that she has only been nominated three times is absolutely ridiculous. She should have at least six or seven nominations by now (for "To Die For", "Moulin Rouge", "The Others", "The Hours", "Dogville", "Birth" and "Rabbit Hole").

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLouis

Rick -- but her phone call has nothing to do with me pushing for it. I know it may look like i push the people who i get meetings with but the truth is the interviews that happen on the site are a mix of people I say yes to because the PR people are pushing them and "why not?", people i am introduced to because they're campaigning hard, and people whose accomplishments I want to champion so i myself hound the PR people until I get the interview. ;) === with NIcole this is obviously the third category.:)

Little MY -- I did my best. I hope you like.

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Nathaniel ..... Got it !!!

December 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I finally saw Dogville this past weekend. Nicole was incredible. Mind-blowing.

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

You may like this then sir. I too am an Nicole Kidman mark :)

December 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSan

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