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2008 Academy Award Analysis: Best Actress Oscar

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La Vie en Rose movie posterThe Academy Awards are only a week away, which means I better get cranking on my Oscar predictions. Having just watched La Vie en Rose, I have now seen four of the five movies with Oscar-nominated actresses. I have yet to see Laura Linney in The Savages, but I’d be quite surprised if she is considered a real contender; I haven’t heard much buzz about her and the movie, and may have been nominated simply because Oscar voters like her work and they needed someone for that fifth spot.

In 2007, there was a real lack of stiff competition among the women, and this tends to be a trend from year to year. What does that mean? It simply goes to prove that men generally get more and meatier roles than the women. If you ever want to make the argument that men and women get an equal chance when it comes to movie stardom, think again: almost every year, there are several lead actors who don’t get nominated simply because there can be only five; with the women, there are usually two or three strong performances and a couple more who were included because five nominations are needed.

Anyway, on with the Oscar analysis for Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Away From Her – Julie Christie
    This movie sat on my shelf for months literally collecting dust before I realized that it featured a performance that had been nominated for an Oscar. Julie Christie is oustanding as a woman who is descending into the grips of Alzheimer’s, though I would argue that her role is more of a supporting one than a lead. Christie has turned in what is probably a performance of a life time, and has a good chance at winning Oscar Gold; after all, she already won a Golden Globe for the performance. That being said, the movie itself, while it has been out on DVD for months, is not very well known at all, and not particularly memorable in spite of Christie’s involvement. I would also argue that Gordon Pinsent upstages her as her troubled husband.
    All that being said, Julie Christie will likely win the Oscar for Best Actress.
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age – Cate Blanchett
    It seems like every time Cate Blanchett takes on a new movie, she gets nominated for her performance. While that probably won’t hold true for the upcoming Indiana Jones movie, she is the very definition of a golden child: an Oscar winner with multiple nominations and the talent to back it up. There is no denying that she is very skilled and can take on any role (including playing a man in I’m Not There), but this performance has several things going against her:

    • She already was nominated for an Oscar for the same role several years back, in a movie that received much higher praise than this sequel.
    • This sequel didn’t get very good reviews, was essentially a box office thud and really wasn’t all that spectacular.
    • She is nominated for and likely to win for Best Supporting Actress for her role in I’m Not There, which is a thousand times more amazing and memorable.
    • She’s already won, so why give her another award?
  • Juno – Ellen Page
    In my opinion the best runner-up of the group, Ellen Page already showed that she could headline a film in Hard Candy, but few people saw or remember that movie. Juno, however, is one of the biggest box office successes; it has made over $100 million on a budget of only $7.5 million, and has been in the Top 10 for nine straight weeks. Page is incredible in the movie, playing off Diablo Cody’s Oscar-nominated screenplay with ease. The only things she has going against her: she’s young, and Oscar voters may view that she is far from peaking, and there is at least one even stronger performer in the bunch, in a more serious movie.
  • La Vie en Rose – Marion Cotillard
    I just watched this movie, and Marion Cotillard blew me away. When I looked her name up after the end of the film, I realized that she had played the beautiful love interest in A Good Year; I didn’t even recognize her in La Vie en Rose. Her performance and transformation into a hunchbacked, hobbling, high pitched singer is simply stunning, and on merit alone, she definitely deserves the Oscar. The fact that La Vie en Rose is a foreign film is a strike against her simply because fewer voters will have seen the movie, but she is my pick and black horse prediction to win.
  • Savages, The – Laura Linney
    I haven’t seen Linney in The Savages, but I’m sure she’s very good. That being said, I’ve never found Linney to be dominating in her performances, and while I respect that is a very talented actress, I don’t quite get why everyone likes her so much. This is her third Oscar nomination, but I haven’t heard any discussions about her chances to win, which pretty much means that she has no chance to win.

You can see all of the Oscar nominees, my picks and predictions on my 2008 Oscar nominations page. You can also read other Oscar analysis in my Oscar blog.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Awards & Oscars
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