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Halfway House 2012. Lead Actress (Thus Far)

Don't you love to take stock every six months? At the very least it's a good excuse for list-making. Lists! Wheeee. If all Academy members did this before they sent in their nominee ballots in January, we might end up with a spread of nominees that wasn't so December slanted. I never decide who to vote for this early but I do draw up lists of performances I enjoyed /  respected to consider again later in the year when all the advertising rushes in an effort to shape the highly malleable collective subconscious and thus, votes.

If I had to draw up a ballot right now:

Oscar thoughts and other fine performances after the jump...

You could argue that Judi Dench leads an entirely supporting cast in Marigold Hotel but for now I'm viewing her as the lead. Maybe I'll change my mind. Perhaps she'll campaign supporting for the Oscars. I'm definitely curious to see what happens with the Oscar campaign for Wallis. She was 6 years old during filming. Oscar traction would never happen for a little boy (and this role was a little boy's role in its first incarnation as the play "Juicy & Delicious") because Oscar voters never deprive their respected industry kings of a nomination for a tiny tot... or even a 20something! But Oscar is notoriously less likely to shout "respect your elders!" when it comes to adult actresses who have regularly had to step aside for first timers. So we'll see. But eight is awfully young!

Honorable Mention? Greta Gerwig from Damsels in Distress is someone I can't help thinking about. Her stylistically odd performance cadences were a smart match for Whit Stillman's alternate reality college comedy; naturalism would've never worked. 

Queens of the Dance: Greta Gerwig and Oksana Akinshina in "Damsels in Distress" and "Hipsters" respectively.

I'd also like to give a shout out to Oksana Akinshina in the Russian cold war musical Hipsters. (I saw it two years ago but it recently got a miniscule US release.) Some of you will remember her as the title character in the über depressing critical darling Lilja 4-Ever (2002) in which she played a young teen forced into sexual slavery. I'm happy to report that she's grown into a very beautiful young woman and hasn't lost her effortless screen presence in the process. In a better world she'd be an international star.

Who did "Team Experience" Love Most? 
I polled them. Keep in mind that not all of our contributors live in LA or NY or even the US so release dates vary... 

Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz. Nathaniel hasn't seen this one yet.Craig ("Take Three"): Charlize Theron plays Mavis in Young Adult with shades of sharp spite and glimpses of delicate vulnerability beneath. One of today's best working actresses.

Alexandra ("Curio"): Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz. I loved this naturalistic performance.  She managed to convey vulnerability, lust, wistfulness and joy in a single look.

Jose: Jennifer Lawrence may be tired of being the heroine, but she was impressive in The Hunger Games. Can not wait for the sequels. Take note K-Stew...

Beau: Noomi Rapace, Prometheus. Distancing herself from Lisbeth and Ripley, commanding attention in a lightly written role and for being the best cinematic embodiment of pure horror I've seen in years.

Michael ("Burning Questions"): Rachel Weisz did her best work to date in Deep Blue Sea. In a performance of enormous subtlety, she manages to make this desperate woman relatable even as romantic obsession pushes her to the edge.

Glenn (various posts): Am I allowed to say Lana Del Rey in her 8-minute music video for "National Anthem", wherein she plays Marilyn Monroe and a post-Obama Jackie Kennedy? She's the next Cher, I swear. Barring her, more in the realm of actual cinema, let me go to stumps for Sara Paxton in The Innkeepers. She's like the anti-Deschanel: completely adorable and funny and a great actress, but also one I'd like to see more of.

So many different opinions. I know you want to add yours to the list.
Are you on Team Katniss, Team Hushpuppy, Team Michelle (again)? Or does your BEST ACTRESS (SO FAR) vote go somewhere unexpected? Do tell.

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Reader Comments (16)

My ballot would look something along the lines of
Dench - Just so warm and loving, you want to know her in this.
Wallis - i just love her - so powerful
Theron - Just for stealing the show in SWATH and being the perfect sibling (SPOILER) foil to Fassbender, I love how Pearce's real child is more of a robot than his created one :D
Lawrence - She actually was Katniss.
AAAND Eva Green for having such a blast, way more fun than I had watching it, in Dark Shadows, she knows she's the show-stopper and I love her for it.

July 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermorganisaqt

My top five at the moment (bearing in mind I have not seen "Marigold" + "Miss Bala" and "Beasts" have not been released in Australia yet) would be Sara Paxton ("The Innkeepers"), Valerie Donzelli ("Declaration of War"), Nadezhda Markina ("Elena"), Felcity Price ("Wish You Were Here") and Rachel Weisz ("The Deep Blue Sea"). But, really, I just want to live inside that video for "National Anthem".

July 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Fuck the Oscars.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter4rtful

Emmanuelle Riva - Amour (Incredible!)
Juno Temple - Killer Joe
Sarah Snook - Not Suitable For Children
Jennifer Lawrence - Hunger Games
Alicia Vikander - A Royal Affair

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoFo

Judi Dench bitcheeeeees!! :p

Thanks to the filmexperience team for sharing your favorites. Of all the movies listed I've only seen one: Young Adult

I'm really not very cinematic this year..

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

i've only seen a few, but i would pick:

michelle williams, take this waltz. jennifer lawrence, the hunger games. rachel weisz, the deep blue sea.

errr. can't think of more.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Papa

I LOVE the National Anthem video...it looks like Instagram sponsored the whole thing. So beautiful.

Anyway, I do think Jennifer Lawrence has a shot. $400 million domestic, great reviews...not counting her out.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBia

I say let's pretend Theron and Olsen might be contenders again this year.

P.S. Yes, Dench is the lead and Wilkinson is best in show.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

To the ones you've mentioned I'd like to add Teresa Madruga, for TABU.

Impeccable performance.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

I haven't seen that many films this year, but if I have to go with what I've seen, here are my top 5 Lead Actress performances so far:

1. Emily Blunt, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
2. Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
3. Queen Latifah, Joyful Noise (that elevator confrontation scene w/Keke Palmer was just amazing and makes up for the rest of the movie!)
4. Halle Berry, Dark Tide
5. Rachel McAdams, The Vow

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge P.

I haven't seen a ton so I'll just mention my Top 3:

-Eugene Domingo, The Woman in the Septic Tank: Nathaniel, you would LOVE her... she's a famous Filipina actress playing a caricatured version of herself.
-Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild: Team Hushpuppy all the way.
-Emily Blunt, Your Sister's Sister: heart-felt and real.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Ariane Ascaride - The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Judy Davis - The Eye of the Storm
Judi Dench - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Angeliki Papoulia - Alps
Rachel Weisz - The Deep Blue Sea

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterManolis

Definitely the one-two punch of Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt in Your Sister's Sister.

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz

Nathaniel, you predict Maggie Smith as a possible best actress nominee. What do you think about the trailer for 'Quartet', which just premiered? I hope the movie is good (with such a cast I hope it to be at least witty and feel-good), but is it just me or is that an awful trailer?!

July 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

My 5 favorites halfway actresses in 2012:

-jennifer lawrence - the hunger games
-stephanie sigman - miss bala
-quvenzhané wallis - beasts of the southern wild (WINNER)
-rachel weisz - the deep blue sea
-michelle williams - take this waltz

About Wallis' Oscar chances:

I understand what you say, Nathaniel, but I think Wallis is in an unique position where not other child actress was before -Maybe Victoire Thivisol, but her performance was in french and the film wasn't promoted in the US by 1997-. Wallis is the real protagonist of the film and commands evry scene with real talent and force. If you read every review for the film, most of them were surprised by Wallis calling her "A magnificent talent", "A force" or even "A new star who overshadow many eldery actresses in her debut performance".

Also if you check most of the child-young actors nominated by the Oscar, most of them were acting alongside adult actors, so the supporting category is expected:

-Jackie Cooper, Skippie
-Justin Henry, Kramer vs. Kramer
-Mary Badham, To Kill a Mockinbird
-Tatum O'Neal, Paper Moon
-Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
-Quinn Cummings, The Goodbye Girl
-Anna Paquin, The Piano
-Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense
-Brandon De Wilde, Shane
-Patty McCormack, The Bad Seed
-Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider
-Saoirse Ronan, Atonement
-Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
-Jodie Foster, Taxi Driver
-Patty Duke, The Miracle Worker
-Jack Wild, Oliver!
-Sal Mineo, Rebel Without a Cause
-River Phoenix, Running on Empty
-Mickey Rooney, Meet me in St. Louis
-Mickey Rooney, Babes in Arms

The only comparable situation with Wallis is... Keisha Castle-Hughes. Both starring in art films who gained success by the festival circuits. Both are the real protagonists of their respecting films -With not an adult actor oveshadow them- and both came with excellent reviews. Right now, Wallis has an excellent reception by the media -Check the interview in "The View"- and maybe like Castle-Hughes, powerful actors in Hollywood will support hr performance. Even when Newmarket promoted her as supporting actress, Castle-hughes was nominated as leading actress... Also, the best part of Wallis campaign, Fox Searchlight is promoting the film.

IMy July predictions:

-marion cotillard, rust & bone
-penelope cruz, twice born -I need to check the language of the film-
-laura linney, hyde park on hudson
-maggie smith, quartet
-quvenzhané wallis, beasts of the southern wild

alt: jessica chastain, zero dark thirty // amy adams, trouble with the curve

I think Wallis is the most likely for a nomination. The response of the film in Sundance and Cannes was wonderful and her raves are great. But I believe, in this lineup, Linney will be the clear winner. If not Cruz, Chastain or Adams could take the fifth spot. At least, in July :P

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterleon

Carlos, I agree. It starts abruptly, is extremely dry, and doesn't seem to explain itself well.

July 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan
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