43.9% of the film
An easy to watch TV-movie turned gold by overzealous Christian audience and die hard Sandy fans. But in the end: what the hell is it with the Best Picture nom?! Nothing special, nothing new.
In this true story, Sandra plays Leigh Anne, the ex Southern belle, devoted Christian, interior decorator, stubborn wife and mother who becomes the foster parent of an almost illiterate black teenager. Why? Because that’s how Leign Anne felt like it and whatever she wants, she’s gonna get it. And the whole character is mostly based on this characteristic: the well intentioned woman trying to bring good (by force) into a young man’s life.
I’ve seen interviews with Sandra talking about the part. Despite what you see on screen, she has said many times how uncomfortable the character felt for her and the effort in trying to really project (and understand) the actions and drive force Leigh Anne has. If what she says is true, then I have to give credit to Sandra: she made it look so easy, natural, she seemed comfortable in this character and it allowed her to crack a joke once in a while and give us the only memorable moments of this film.
The very bad parts of the screenplay seemed to avoid Sandra, or she just refused to go for the cliché lines or too cheesy situations. There are a lot of roll-your-eyes moments even in her scenes, but Sandra knows her craft so well that she spins it around, either with a sad look or terrific comedy timing, depending on what the scene can handle. The supporting actors cannot fight the mediocrity of the screenplay, but Sandra knows best and when words don’t help, charisma itself and conviction will do it.
Her presence on screen is always nice and her way of talking down to people creates some funny situations and pleasant scenes: roughly explaining Michael what football is all about, adequately manipulating her husband, proving to Michael’s coach that she knows best… All these are good scenes in which Sandra does her forever routine: put a smile on my face.
I believed the Southern accent and I actually imagined she felt very comfortable in the shoes of the character (the hair, the clothes, all looked natural on her); but it’s more than looking pretty! Sandra also delivers plenty of scenes in which we see the softer side of Leigh Ann, and not just the shield of the tough Southern woman. She is very protective, and doesn’t run away from the obvious: if you have the possibility to do good, why not just do it?!
This movie would be nothing without Sandra. SHE makes it believable, easy to watch and gives us the only moments of joy throughout the movie! And I always felt like she understands the character and I admire how easy she makes it look! But is this Best Actress material? Is the role consistent enough? Hasn’t Sandra been doing this work for quite some time now? I would not call this a bad performance! No way! But it doesn’t have the difficulty level to put in competition with Gaby or Carey or Meryl. I’ve enjoyed the role 200% more than the movie itself… ***I was just about to give Sandra a 2, but what the hell: I LIKED her performance. It’s a , because what she does is done very well. ***
Editor note: June 12th, before posting final conclusions: I am editing this post and changing the rating to a . It's the first time I'm doing such, and I believe a 2 is more representative of my feelings towards the performance.