by Jason Adams
When was the first time you took note of Annette Bening? I had probably seen her play Dan Ackroyd's wife in the John Candy comedy The Great Outdoors in 1988 but it was the next couple of years after that made a movie star out of her, coming to a head when she coupled up with Mr. Beatty for Bugsy. That film was released in theaters on this very day in 1991, meaning she's more or less been "a name" for precisely 25 years to the day.
And coincidentally five years after that - to the day! - Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks! came out, in which Annette gave what was up until this year my favorite performance of hers. As the space-cadet Barbara Sand she's a comic riot, tapping into the sometimes flightniess of her voice - Bening's voice has always been her secret weapon, switching between high and low registers with ease; one second she's confused, the next she's deep-throated with determination.
I wish that 20th Century Women was coming out today not only because I would love to go see it a third (and a fourth, and a fifth) time right this minute, but because it'd be a swell coincidence, making December 13th a lucky charm for the actress. 20CW isn't out until Christmas Day. But we'll sing its praises anyway! Nathaniel ain't alone in adoring the movie - I cannot get enough of it, and The Bening's performance as Dorothea has already in my mind shoved all of her other work out of the way and taken the acting crown. May Oscar feel the same!