Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Best Actress 2011

Since I’ve made my first predictions for 2011 back in April 2011, I guess you can say it was a 9 months journey till the nominations were announced. This sounds silly, but what can I do: I am devoted to Oscar. And for Best Actress 2011 we have big names competing, but we’ll get to the nominees in a moment. As of now, I’ve only seen 3 of the 5 nominated films and so far I am impressed (with the performances, not so much with the films). I’m anxious to see The Iron Lady and My Week with Marilyn, so I have now idea who my winner will be.

Let’s talk a bit about them. The 5 ladies that Oscar had chosen for 2011, in alphabetical order:

Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs, in Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark, in The Help

Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, in The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe, in My Week with Marilyn

Let’s analyze a bit how these ladies got nominated, starting with the 3 performances we knew for sure will show up in the line-up. Viola Davis receives her 2nd Oscar nomination for her performance in The Help; she was previously nominated as Supporting Actress for Doubt. In the spring, when most of us started doing very early predictions, there was a bit of confusion in what category will Viola be nominated, so for a couple of months people predicted her in Supporting Actress, next to Octavia. As it became clearer that she gives the best performance in the film, they started her campaign for Leading Actress. For this performance she has been nominated for the Golden Globe and BAFTA and she’s won the Critics Choice Award and the SAG. Her film is the only one from this line-up that’s nominated also for Best Picture and the SAG win makes her the front-runner to win on Oscar night.

Meryl Streep received a record-breaking 17th Oscar nomination, 14 of which are for Leading Actress, for her performance as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. For playing this controversial character, Meryl has already won the Golden Globe, is nominated for a BAFTA (which she’ll probably win), won the award from the New York Film Critics Circle and received nominations from Critics Choice Award and SAG. This is the performance that will give Viola a competition for the win, as Meryl is trying to get her 3rd Oscar (she’s been previously rewarded for Kramer vs Kramer and Sophie’s Choice). She hasn’t won in 29 years and she’s been the obvious runner-up for all of her 4 previous nominations. This nomination was a lock, but a future win could be harmed by the bad reviews The Iron Lady has received.

Michelle Williams started the season on the right foot, as a sure thing for a nomination and a serious threat for the win. For her performance as icon Marilyn Monroe she’s won awards from plenty of critics’ groups: Boston, Dallas, Florida, Chicago, Toronto, Washington and Las Vegas. She’s also won the Golden Globe (strangely enough, for the Comedy/Musical category), and was nominated for Critics Choice Award, BAFTA and SAG. Lately nobody seems to be talking about this performance, which has probably dropped to an unthreatening 3rd place. This is Michelle’s 3rd Oscar nomination, she was previously nominated in Supporting for Brokeback Mountain and in Leading for Blue Valentine.

These 2 performances had a harder time getting here:

Glenn Close receives her 6th Oscar nomination, and her first one in 23 years; so it’s safe to call it a comeback. She has also co-written and produced Albert Nobbs, a small independent film that few people seem to like. This nomination (and the 2 others than Albert Nobbs received) are due to a very strategic & efficient campaigning and because actors know and respect Glenn’s efforts in making this happen. Prior to the Oscar nomination, Glenn Close only received nominations for the Golden Globe and for the SAG. She’s never won an Oscar, and it won’t happen now, given how few people have seen/enjoyed her film.

Rooney Mara was the real surprise of this category, managing to steal Tilda Swinton’s nomination. This is Rooney’s first Oscar nomination, which confirms my theory that you always need a newcomer in the Best Actress category. She plays the very popular character Lisbeth Salander in Fincher’s version of Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Prior to the nomination, she had only received a Breakthrough Award from the National Board of Review and a Golden Globe nomination.

Let’s throw in some names of other actresses that competed for a nomination. There were only 2 or 3 bigger threats, but plenty of potential dark horses:

Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin (the clear runner-up and a surprising snub. She had won awards from the prestigious National Board of Review, Online Film Critics, San Francisco Film Critics and was nominated for Golden Globe, SAG, Critics Choice Award and BAFTA).

Charlize Theron for Young Adult
Elizabeth Olsen for
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Kirsten Dunst for
Felicity Jones for
Like Crazy
Kristen Wiig for
Olivia Colman for

Also, why not:
Saoirse Ronan for
Keira Knightley for
A Dangerous Method
Kristin Scott Thomas for
Sarah’s Key
Mia Wasikowska for
Jane Eyre
Michelle Yeoh for
The Lady
Juliette Binoche for
Certified Copy
Rachel Weisz for
The Whistleblower
Anne Hathaway for
One Day
Vera Farmiga for
Higher Ground

I’ll start writing about the 5 nominees, though no hurry, given I still have to find two of the movies. I might start with Glenn Close...


Fritz said...

I haven't seen any of them so I am really looking forward to your thoughts on them!

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I'm curious to see your thoughts, I'm almost certainly we'll disagree but, of course, that's part of what makes these things interesting.

Anonymous said...

I only hope Michelle wins it! Or Viola! Third Oscar should not be given to Meryl! Her filmography is much weaker than Nicholson's, Hepburn's or Bergman's and she doesn't belong to that group. Many say she's overdue when in fact no one is. NO ONE IS DUE TO AN REGULAR OSCAR. That is misinterpretation of an award. Honorary Oscar is award for people academy thinks are overdue.

Alex in Movieland said...

@Fritz & Andrew,

I expect to be kind with all of them. It seems to be a good line-up, at least from what I've seen.

this blog loves Meryl & her filmography. :) Move along, if ur a hater.
I agree that we should judge based on performance alone, and as I haven't seen Iron Lady yet, I can't and won't give a verdict.
That being said, when you've won only ONCE EVERY 8 NOMINATIONS (2x8=16), it does look like it's time for a third.

dinasztie said...

It is time for Meryl's third. :) You will probably pick her or Michelle. I hope you'll love Viola as well - she's so great. Although I'm not exactly rooting for her, I would be happy if she won. Great Glenn is no chance but if she by a 100000% miracle won the Oscar, I would be ecstatic. Now SHE is overdue. :)

I also have to see the two ladies. But I only have to wait two/three days for Meryl. :) I'm kinda worried that I'm gonna pay so much money for a movie that might be really shitty. :D

Alex in Movieland said...


well, lately you seem to like everything (ex: Dragon Tattoo which I so didn't)... I am sure you'll be captivated by Meryl, enough so that you ignore the rest of the film.

Anonymous said...

@Alex I'm not a hater, i like her, but Scorsese is more overdue for second oscar than Meryl, he makes better films than her and yet i don't see people go crazy for him to win. Faye Dunaway, Jodie Foster and Diane Keaton all have better filmographies than Meryl neither of them has more than 2 Oscars. Not to mention De Niro, Pacino, O'Toole, Duvall, Brando. She has two Oscars and 17 noms. Academy is too kind to her and she is well rewarded. You know, Liv Ullmann and Alfred Hitchcock have zero Oscars...

Alex in Movieland said...


I have been shouting for Liv Ullmann to get an Honorary Oscar for years now... I don't think it will happen unfortunately.

"Faye Dunaway, Jodie Foster and Diane Keaton all have better filmographies" - nice joke.

Let's drop it.

Anonymous said...

Chinatown, Godfather part1,2, Network, Bonnie and Clyde, Taxi Driver, Annie Hall, The silence of the lambs are masterpieces of American cinema. 95% of actresses would drop all their nominations and awards to have those films in their filmographies. Those movies are much bigger classics than anything Streep did in her career(except maybe The Deer Hunter which is really DeNiro's and Walken's films). Many Meryl's films are mediocre to bad. Look at Greer Garson, she had 7 Oscar noms, but her films are not aged well and there are mediocre. Many Streep's films will have same faith. This is a joke article(Streep didn't wrote it itself LOL), but it is accurate.,11490/

Alex in Movieland said...

I did say I DON'T wanna continue this debate.