Another year, another incredible group of nominees for Best Actress. However, with all accolades worth winning there can only every be one winner. This year, Cate Blanchett took home the oscar for Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Our contributors write about each of this years nominees performance and who they think should have won.
WINNER – Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
Seemingly perpetually perched on the second tier of Hollywood fame alongside esteemed company such as Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett has in her time played a surprising array of roles; from the heroic, award-baiting Queen Elizabeth to one of the most irredeemably selfish characters in all of film history (Benjamin Button) – not to mention the decidedly offbeat (Nazi alien-skull hunter, Bob Dylan) – but this is a watershed moment. While undoubtedly varied, none are as intriguing, affecting or complex as Jasmine. Blanchett’s performance is a fantastic mess of contrary emotions and intentions, effortlessly converting between snobbery and suffering with the utmost control, sympathetic but never pitiable or pitiful. Unfortunately the recently renewed Woody Allen accusations have soured both the director and a lot of his work in the eyes of audience. However, it looks like this didn’t jeopardise her chances of winning the second, more deserved little gold man.
Amy Adams – American Hustle
The complexities of this role are founded in the insecurities of Adam’s character Sydney Prosser, who reinvents herself with an English lady alter-ego. In keeping with the exaggerated style of everything from big hair to big money in the film, the character is a comical caricature. The accent is not correct, but in keeping with her character, Prosser’s enthusiasm for her alter-ego role it is over-pronounced and perfectly represents the overcompensation for her vulnerabilities. Often actors and actresses neglect that throughout the film process, their character is a changing and developing entity that does not simply have a set of personality traits that remain the same. Adam’s however, is constantly re-assessing Prosser’s emotions and changing character form from her first scene, right up until her final scene. The role is out of the comfort zone that Adam’s has previously remained and the step out into the realm of Hollywood’s top actors, Bale, Cooper and Lawrence pushed her to her best performance to date.
Sandra Bullock – Gravity
After a lot of hard grafting, Sandra Bullock finally had a break in Hollywood as the CIA agent turned beauty queen in Miss Congeniality. She dappled with the rom-com thing with The Proposal working her way up the ladder, landing more serious roles and finally critical acclaim in The Blind Side. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is characterised by lengthy silences and vast openness, the use of vocalisation is replaced with visualisation. The majority of actresses in a position where their vocal presence is removed as a tool to stimulate interest in their character, would lead viewers to lose interest in their performance. Bullock’s charisma and raw pain, mourning for the senseless death of her young child on Earth however, crashes loudly through the silence and creates a vacuum that sucks the viewer into her isolation. The challenges that accompanied this role were immense. Bullock literally spent up to 11 hours in a capsule, each day during filming. She spoke about the loneliness of the role. Whilst we often downplay method acting, arguing that if the actor is feeling the role, they aren’t actually acting. Bullock living the reality of her character’s isolation translated her fear to the screen in a raw and tangible performance that it impossible to simply drift away from.
Judi Dench – Philomena
Dame Judi Dench is a revelation in Philomena. The film follows the true story of the titular character’s journey, alongside an investigative journalist, to find her son fifty years after he was taken away from her. Both wracked by longing, yet still able to appreciate the little pleasures in life (especially in one scene where she is unleashed on an American hotel’s breakfast buffet), she plays a blinder here. However, her blazingly powerful performance is, perhaps more so than those of the other Best Actress nominees at this year’s Oscars, one that we can identify with. Through that universal thing, family, we understand her pain on a very human level, and it is Dench’s grounded, and yet at times hilarious turn, which drives this brilliant film. Philomena is worth it for Dench’s Irish accent alone, and she runs the gamut of emotions with such ease here that she would be a worthy award winner. I’m not attempting to put down any of this year’s other performances, but I think it is simply Dench’s humanity as Philomena Lee which warranted her the Acadamy Award this year for Best Actress.
Meryl Streep – August: Osage County
‘What could have she possibly done this time that she has not done before?’ Apparently, Meryl Streep cannot only do things that she’s not done before, but also things that we never even imagined to be possible. This is exactly what we see from her in August: Osage County. As Violet, Meryl gives us an outstanding performance by portraying a sick (both physically and mentally) woman. We usually know an outstanding actress when we can feel what’s going through her mind even when she’s not speaking, and this is what Streep achieves. As Violet, she is able to express dark feelings of complexity solely with body language, and sometimes you catch yourself hearing her saying something malicious in your mind even when she’s not speaking. Meryl Streep’s Academy Award nomination is warranted by her ability to elicit loathing and contempt merely with a glance, in John Wells’ superb black comedy-drama.
Tatiane De Paula E Silva