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"Ooooh, Tomei over Mirren! Scandalous lol. I do think that Tomei is a talented actress, but I sense that so much online love for her stems from a marked defense of her Oscar win, like, look how great she is in comedy and drama, folks! " - Laurence

"Connelly may be the weakest of the nominees but it was still a solid and memorable performance. By no means a Zellweger/"Cold Mountain" travesty." -Jasper

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Entries in Best Actress (594)


Tuesday Top Ten: Actress Psychic ~ The Winners

As faithful readers know, The Film Experience has been doing a little contest called ACTRESS PSYCHIC for the past four years. It goes like this: Readers have to pick their 5 predicted BEST ACTRESSES in the first week of April and those actresses earn points throughout the year through special events, nominations, wins, certain magazine covers, etcetera. In other words, guessing LONG before there is much buzz at all outside of Sundance entries. In 2010 Nathaniel (c'est moi) majorly biffed this contest due to time constraints and a series of unfortunate events. Points were never tallied and the drama of the contest was lost.

And boy would there have been drama. I definitely picked the wrong year to drop this (crystal) ball. The shame, the shame.

BEST ACTRESS was unusually competitive this year and a lot of the women that readers picked would have racked up some points here and there like Julianne Moore (The Kids Are All Right) and Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). The most common guess that didn't pan out was Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs... but NO ONE was psychic enough to say "I bet she won't get traction but will become the next Oscar host!" Whod'a thunk it? Hilary Swank in Betty Anne Waters (that's what Conviction was called a year ago) was also a very popular guess. At least the Swankster got a SAG nomination. Helen Mirren in The Tempest and Carey Mulligan in Never Let Me Go were popular guesses that never caught fire in reality later on. The most frequently cited names for films that didn't show up at all (this happens every year) were Hiam Abbas in Miral and Robin Wright in The Conspirator.

I didn't want to let awards season end without sharing a hearty congratulations to a dozen contestants in particular. 12 READERS GUESSED FOUR OF THE EVENTUAL FIVE ACTRESSES THAT WERE NOMINATED. Well done! You're in the tippity top percentile of Oscar Psychics!  The order of the following over-achievers is estimated since we biffed the contest and point tallying but Portman would have obviously been the highest point earner (wins and celebrity ubiquity) and Williams worth the least points (not an Oscar newbie, low profile and not showing up in each battle.) From the people who were not nominated Hathaway, Moore, Swank, Rapace and the like would have probably been worth the most due to Globes, SAG or BAFTA recognition.


Best Actress 2010: Portman, Williams, Lawrence, Kidman, Bening

10 (3 WAY TIE)  Ryan RM, Ronald R and Chicano1616 guessed 4 of the 5 Actresses correctly but they all chose the wrong film for Annette Bening (Mother and Child which was not an uncommon guess either) and that would have costs them many of the Bening-centric points.

09 DJ guessed everyone but Portman. Whoops: Robin Wright

08 Lucas G guessed everyone but Portman. Whoops: Hathaway

07 Wayne guessed everyone but Portman. Whoops: Hathaway but nailed the tiebreaker by predicting The Kids Are All Right to get 4 nominations.

06 SaveFerris guessed everyone but Williams. Whoops: Jennifer Connelly

05 sasnyder guessed everyone but Lawrence. Whoops: Hathaway

Imagine Canada and US national anthems now.

04 (BRONZE)  SCOTT L guessed everyone but Williams (Whoops on Hathaway) but I am estimating that Williams would have been the lowest point earner of the 5 eventual nominees and Hathaway would have been worth a bit.

02 (SILVER MEDAL TIE) RICH AUNT PENNYBAGS missed only Kidman. (Whoops on Swank).
DEREK in NY missed only Williams. (Whoops on Hathaway) They tied on the tiebreaker going over and under the correct answer.

01 (GOLD MEDAL)  MIKE28 is our winner. He missed only Michelle Williams. (Whoops picked Anne Hathaway though she was still worth some points. Saturday Night Live hosting and more.) And his tiebreaker answer for number of nominations for The Kids Are All Right: 4. Spot on.




Best Actress. Final Notes

My favorite category didn't disappoint this year, offering up the strongest overall lineup in quite some time. In fact, though these 2010 Best Actress roles won't prove as iconic in the long run as 2006's primo batch, I actually think as an entire range of performances, it might be that year's equal. Would you agree?

Should Natalie Portman be nervous about her chief rival? Or is it all in her head?

The question in terms of who will win is whether Natalie Portman's long lead is going to pay off or if a recent arguable passion / mood to finally crown The Bening has grown enough in the industry to yank that shiny gold man away. If that happens, Natalie, not Annette, will be the one yelling "Interloper!"

But I don't think it's going to happen. The Bening can console herself with the knowledge that she is one of my 33 all time favorite actresses. ;)

includesPOLL "Who Should Win?" and the reader requested "how they got nominated? silliness. Which is actually not ever entirely silly even though it's meant for fun. We all know Oscar is not only about the performances. And if you don't know that, you must have slept through Sandra Bullock's win last year.


The Interviews, Goddesses and Craftsmen Alike

A big "thank you" to readers who commented on the recent spate of interviews here at The Film Experience. We don't do too many of them but you've been quite complimentary about the ones you do get. If time allows and other variables improve this year we'll do more for 2011. But in case you missed any of the interviews covering the 2010 film year, here's the rundown:


Jenny Beavan, Costume Designer, (The King's Speech)
Roger Deakins
, Cinematographer (True Grit)
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, Editors (The Social Network)
Eve Stewart, Production Designer (The King's Speech)
Jacki Weaver, Actress (Animal Kingdom)

...FROM THE OLD BLOG: Four of Nathaniel's 100 favorite actresses in one calendar year? Too rich! And a couple of talented men for good measure.

Kirsten Dunst, Actress (All Good Things)
Alexander Desplat, Composer (The Ghost Writer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Javier Fuentes-Leon, Director (Contracorriente aka Undertow)
Juliette Lewis, Actress (Conviction)
Patricia Clarkson, Actress (Cairo Time)
Julianne Moore, Actress (The Kids Are All Right)

Beloveds: Juliette, Patty, God and Kiki

Who should we pursue relentlessly in 2011 until they're on the phone or grabbing a cup of joe?

Which Old Hollywood legend would you like to hear from?


About That Best Actress Oscar Curse...

I've noticed a raft of articles popping up about the infamous Best Actress Oscar curse which states that your marriage will fall apart if you win Best Actress.

Recent Oscar-Winning Divorcees

This is undoubtedly on the brain because of the whole Sandra Bullock Brouhaha last year (and because people have run out of things to talk about Oscar-wise?). ABC says scientists have proven it statistically and one of said scientists offers up this unscientific theory.

Winning an Oscar can be construed as a big jump in professional status that an actor or actress has in their world and in the eyes of the broader audience… The general social norm kind of requires a man to have higher professional and economic status over the wife. So whenever that social norm is violated, both husband and wife may feel discomfort.

We do still live in a patriarchal society so this is probably true. It would be especially true for men or women who buy into the patriarchy without having questioned its value system thoroughly (most people don't). This problem of separate status might just be acerbated by Hollywood itself which knows from hierarchies. Who's hot, who's not, etcetera. Star actors undoubtedly have egos.

But here's another happier detail they didn't think to look at. What of the women who win only after they shed their troubled relationships? Perhaps break-ups prompt creative renewal.

Jane Wyman won her Oscar for Johnny Belinda shortly just after dumping Ronald Reagan. Nicole Kidman won her first nomination (Moulin Rouge!) and then her first win (The Hours) back-to-back in the year that followed her high-profile split with Tom Cruise. That's just the two I can think of off the top of my head but I'd be willing to bet that there's more. Julia Roberts and Benjamin Bratt's break-up was already brewing before she won for Erin Brockovich. Julia's case could theoretically be part of the aforementioned curse or part of this bizarre blessing in disguise; lose a handsome man, get a naked gold one to replace him.

As for actresses who married or will marry their man after they've already achieved major star status (I'm thinking of Amy Adams actor man and Natalie Portman's acclaimed ballet star fiance in this year's Oscar race), I don't think they should worry too much. These men have undoubtedly already evolved or acclimated themselves to their "societal-norm" breaking coupledom.

Then you have women who crossover these categories, defying it. Emma Thompson's marriage to frequent collaborator Kenneth Branagh ended two years after her Oscar win but her relationship with Greg Wise (her Sense & Sensibility co-star) didn't suffer when she won her second Oscar.

His & Hers BAFTAs (Spring 1993); Emma's Oscars (March 1993 and March 1996)

And where does marriage-crazy two-time Oscar winner Elizabeth Taylor fit into all of this?

If you have the answers or just theories to these wedded bliss / wedded miss questions, have at it in the comments.



Best Actress. My Ballot and Time Capsule.

Time is a funny thing. It shifts our feelings, sorts them out. Awards are a product of time, a time capsule. They're equally funny. If you'd told me back in January 2010 when I first saw Blue Valentine that it would end the year as my 4th favorite picture and that Michelle Williams would be in my best actress list, I wouldn't have believed you. I liked her and the movie quite a lot back then but now come February 2011, I love them. The Williams/Gosling duet yields richer rewards each viewing, little intricacies thrown into sharper relief while other ideas you held about the characters get foggier with mystery.

It says a lot about the quality of this year's Best Actress field that Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham didn't even make the finalist list. She does expert work revealing how ordinary courage and moral outrage properly channeled, can transform even the meekest of people. It says a lot about the quality of this year's Actress field that Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone didn't even make the semi-finalist list. She does fine work embodying the cold small range of feeling that this life might allow for and she gives the hard film just the right amount of heart as a resilient eldest sibling acting as parent. In the end though, despite Lawrence's absence, my own ballot is the closest its come to Oscar's Actress list 1987. [Trivia: that's the only year from the past three decades that my own choices for Best Actress line up 5/5 with Oscar.]

Needless to say I was quite pleased with Oscar's nominations. It's my favorite Best Actress Oscar list in recent memory with the exception of 2006... maybe.

Needless to say part two: It was such a toss up for spots 4-8 that I'm sure I'll regret my choices tomorrow. If anyone in tier 2 had come out in 2009 or 2008 or 2007 or even 2006, they would've knocked someone out of the 5th spot. And if they'd ALL been released in 2005, my awards would have been radically different. Such is the arbitrary nature of awards, chained to calendars as they are.

Favorite Dozen Lead Actresses 2010 (in alpha order). If only I could nominate 12 people!

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
  • Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
  • Kim Hye-Ja, Mother
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Lesley Manville, Another Year
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Ruth Sheen, Another Year
  • Paprika Steen, Applause
  • Emma Stone, Easy A
  • Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

My nominees with write-ups

This will undoubtedly feel anti-climactic as my own nominees are usually more off Oscar's path -- who knew they'd have such good taste this year ;) -- and I usually finish before Oscar nominations and here I am wrapping up the first half of the Film Bitch Awards (medals and all) a week late.

I think the year produced two true masterpieces I Am Love and The Social Network so I split on Picture/Director, Picture going to the one I've remained most possessed by but I think both will stand the test of time. And yes, Nicole Kidman finally gets her Gold Medal after many years of near-misses. She's just transcendent in Rabbit Hole nailing the insatiable hunger of grief for more and more of itself and doing so with the barest minimum of histrionics and more humor than you'd think was possible. She also brilliantly foreshadows Becca's escape route through her thicket of pain, a path cleared by her curiousity, compassion, and capacity for stillness on a park bench, feeling whatever it is she needs to feel.



Will Natalie Portman be this year's Eddie Murphy?

No strings, NorbitKurt here from Your Movie Buddy, not happy to have found a link between two otherwise un-linkable actors. The more promo material I see for Natalie Portman's considerable 2011 output – trailers for Your Highness and Thor, posters for The Other Woman, constant TV spots for No Strings Attached (not to be confused with fellow ballerina Mila Kunis's Friends with Benefits) – the more my heart sinks. It takes you back to 2006, when Eddie Murphy all but had the Supporting Actor Oscar on his mantle for his work in Dreamgirls, then saw his dreams shattered by the inescapable marketing campaign for Norbit.

 Some may argue that Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin, with his endearing character and veteran status, had the upset in the bag, but comeback kid Murphy was the frontrunner. I'm of the firm belief that he did himself in by putting the awful taste of Norbit in voter's mouths. Portman's upcoming offerings can't rival the, shall we say, uncouthness of Murphy in a scantily-clad female fat suit, but none of them look too promising, either, least of all No Strings Attached. Is it such a stretch to think the Best Actress hopeful may become the victim of her own Norbit effect?

After all, Portman finds herself in a much more precarious position than Murphy did...

Her category's field of contenders (and eventual nominees) is leagues stronger than Murphy's was, and she also faces a far more formidable and voter-friendly vet than he did. Unless I'm mistaken, and have misread the mood in the air, Portman's precursor lead – and additional off-screen attractors like pregnancy – have done little to change the fact that she's in a head-to-head with Annette Bening. Despite the awesome power of her Swan performance, an unappealing 2011 slate could be just the thing to sway voters to select her long-overdue rival.

one of many Swan premieres

Or, maybe not.

Maybe Portman's 2011 ubiquity is instead just another thing to give her yet more of an edge. As an educated, gifted and especially comely actress whom Hollywood has loved since childhood, she may only benefit from flashing her pretty face all over the place. Rather than recoiling, voters may just smile and say, “ah, yes, there she is again...sweet girl.”

What, if anything, do you make of this? Could Portman have clipped her own wings?

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