Oscar History

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Throwback Thursday FYC: Felicity Huffman in Transamerica (2005)

Imagine if this came out today.


A lot changes in a decade's time... and I'm not talking about IFC Films no longer ever being in the Oscar conversation (they probably wouldn't even launch a campaign  today).

You can still win Oscars playing transgender characters (see Jared Leto) but now it comes with a chorus of disapproval that a trans actor wasn't selected. And speaking of... love love love Orange is the New Black but when are they going to give Laverne Cox something else to do besides sassy oneliners as she plays with someone's hair? She had like only two scenes of any note this season.

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Reader Comments (24)

It was also the days of big TV stars gaining respectability by doing independent films; nowadays movie stars are getting respect by making the jump to interesting TV.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJJsDiner

...when are they going to give Laverne Cox something else to do besides sassy oneliners as she plays with someone's hair?

The character and the actor is good PR. They are uninterested in the reality of what would happen to this character when they are challenged into a physical altercation with a biologically female inmate. They will be sent away permanently. For now they are best suited to be the color in the background.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Honestly I would guess that Laverne Cox just couldn't commit that much time to the show. She's so in demand right now as an activist, and I could see her wanting to devote more time to that aspect of her work.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

SOOOOOO glad she didn't win.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTyler



June 19, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

She completely deserved to win over Reese Witherspoon. UGH. what a joke.

I re-watched it recently. The film is solid but not amazing. Felicity is fantastic though.

I was disappointed about the lack of Sophia on OITNB too.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

sad man - i've never understood why people are so against Reese that year. I thought she was super in Walk the Line. Way better than Huffman, imho.I liked her best among the nominees BUT i completely agree with the consensus that it was a lame Best Actress field.

JJ's diner -- good point. quite a reversal

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

I haven't seen the movie since 2005 so I should probably re-watch it. From what I remember I wasn't impressed at all. It was a middle ground performance and a middle ground character. Not very memorable. Pretty singing, not much else. Especially when you compare her to Joaquin. I'll be honest though, I wouldn't hate her so much if it wasn't for the Oscar. Very similar to the Sandra Bullock win. They didn't give BAD performances, they were just passable/good.

I did find the "baby baby baby" moment annoying. :p

2005 was a very weak year for lead female performances though. Or maybe I haven't seen the right movies? My line-up:

Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Q’Orianka Kilcher, The New World (my winner but I haven't seen this movie since then)
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof
Evan Rachel Wood, Pretty Persuasion

A special shout out to Emily Mortimer in Dear Frankie, too.

June 19, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

@Sad man - the movie is only so-so in my opinion, but for sheer Actress Power, and yes, that must be capitalized, you must watch Joan Allen in The Upside of Anger, which was released that year. That is the deep shame of that award season, that the magnificent Allen was unable to get any traction whatsoever for a performance that easily trounces all of the nominated ones that year.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterF

2005 actress is all about Saint Joan in "The Upside of Anger." I would say it's the laziest snub Oscar has committed in the category. A very well respected, previously nominated character actress giving a star performance that was funny, dramatic, and touching in a non-genre movie. Add to that a lame year in terms of quality of work from leading actresses. You think, "WTF, Academy?!"

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

@F and BVR: I have seen The Upside of Anger. I actually forgot about it. I do remember loving Allen in it but I don't remember a single thing about the movie other than I found it only ok. Definitely going to my re-watch list. Thanks for reminding me!

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Of the nominees, I think Keira deserved to win. Allen, however, had that year in a walk. No wonder she barely makes movies anymore.

As for TRANSAMERICA. Terrible film. I was annoyed at the casting of Huffman at the time. Not necessarily because she's not transgender, but because her actorly tics felt overplayed.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Felicity Huffman filmed this movie while doing the pilot for "Desperate Housewives", so "Transamerica" doesn't quite fit the mold of TV-star-being-edgy (yes, she had somewhat of a following from "Sports Night", but you can't compare that show to the phenomenon that was DH).

Unlike Jared Leto, Felicity Huffman had an incredibly gracious speech at the Golden Globes (remember? That was the year that all four leads of DH were nominated in the TV category and Mary-Louise Parker won for "Weeds" anyway, and presenter Chris Rock couldn't deny his excitement about it).

I love "The Upside of Anger" and still don't understand why Joan Allen and Kevin Costner didn't get awards love for it. Was it because it was written/directed by a comic performer who gave himself a vanity role that allowed him to make out with Erika Christensen? Damned if I know. It's still a hell of a movie, if not sadly forgotten.

Speaking of forgotten, I still find it amazing that Dolly Parton wrote "Travelin' Thru" with such skill that it can be viewed as a song about BOTH born-again Christianity and being transgendered. To say that takes talent is an understatement.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJakey

Re: Joan Allen's snub in 2005. I agree that she did great work in The Upside of Anger , but I remember really disliking the movie. I thought it was all over the place in terms of tone, so maybe this was a case of the vehicle undermining the performer's award traction?

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Re:Desperate Housewives. Marcia Cross was robbed for the second season. It's the one where Bree becomes an alcoholic. Also, I always found it funny that Felicity Huffman's character in Transamerica decided to call herself Bree. What a coincidence.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Carlos -- yeah, i think that was part of it. But the larger picture was that Joan Allen didn't do any campaigning. And in this day and age if you're movie isn't huge you have to.

June 20, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Careful sir...it's "transgender," not "transgendered."

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Kurtis -- corrected but boy am i sick of the word police on this topic. Everyone is learning.

June 20, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

The correct 2005 lineup:
1. Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
2. Gwyneth Paltrow, Proof
3. Naomi Watts, King Kong
4. Vera Farmiga, Down to the Bone
5. Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

With Zhang (indeed) and Allen right behind. But Huffman was decent, better than Dench and Theron at least.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMYS

It so interesting because the thing I like the most of her performance is what everyone else seems to dislike. It's true that Felicity overplays certain aspects, especially the discomfort with her own body, but I don't see another way of doing it. You can't be subtle with that. All right, she's not Carmen Maura in Law of Desire, but I think she did a really good job.

Reese was very good too, but the role felt too one-dimensional. You know, "stand by your man" and all that crap.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

"I've never understood why people are so against Reese that year. I thought she was super in Walk the Line."

I respect your opinion and agree that it's not a hate-worthy performance, but I thought that Witherspoon was merely adequate in a very clichéd role (and was more supporting, to boot). I also remember Nick Davis writing something about how she wears her wigs like they're wigs, holds her props like they're props, and wears her costumes like they're costumes in the film. He's totally right.

I'm not particularly fond of Huffman's work in 'Transamerica,' but thought she was significantly stronger. Still, all of Oscar nominees pale in comparison to Vera Farmiga in 'Down to the Bone,' the aforementioned Joan Allen, and Helena Bonham Carter in 'Conversations with Other Women.'

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

Laverne Cox isn't that talented.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

Laverne Cox isn't that talented.

"She's" just there.

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

@Mike M. - totally agree with your evaluation of Witherspoon: "merely adequate." She has a warm, likable, accessible presence but doesn't really have a lot to do and the role verges on supporting. People criticized Huffman's "tics" and gracelessness but that's the point of the part. She's not comfortable or graceful in her body yet. Not a strong field but of the nominees I saw that year she was the strongest. (But oh yeah, how I wish Allen was nominated - a great performance in a bad movie still deserves attention.)

June 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

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