Here’s Part 3 of my 127 part Special Report on this year’s Academy Awards…
The nominees are…
AMY ADAMS in AMERICAN HUSTLE
FOR HER: An undeniable Academy darling. This is now her fifth nomination and many would agree she’s quite overdue for some Oscar love. Here, she appears in a well-regarded, acclaimed performance as a con artist juggling two players in a tight scheme. She won the Golden Globe for her effort. Momentum is with her… big time.
AGAINST HER: Some have ceded that the part is somewhat underdeveloped and that scene for scene, it’s really a supporting role. It’s also a relatively lightweight performance amidst her formidable competition. She’ll undoubtedly have other chances.
CATE BLANCHETT in BLUE JASMINE
FOR HER: A heavy favorite to take this prize since the film opened last summer, Blanchett’s turn as a delusional, fallen socialite in Woody Allen’s latest has been heralded as perhaps her finest hour on screen. Add to the fact that she’s been sweeping up a never ending flurry of critics awards including big wins from BFCA, Golden Globes, and SAG. She looks like a dead set lock here and no one would object from whom many feel is one of the best actresses working in the business today.
AGAINST HER: Though an Academy favorite, she has actually already won an Oscar before (for Supporting Actress for 2004’s “The Aviator”). That and any (ridiculous) backlash that might (though likely not) have sullied the film due to the Woody Allen/Dylan Farrow drama. But, I doubt this will hurt Blanchett ultimately.
SANDRA BULLOCK in GRAVITY
FOR HER: As a rookie astronaut left adrift in space, Bullock has received rave reviews for many are calling her best performance to date. She’s immensely popular in Hollywood and appearing in “Gravity”, an acclaimed mega-hit up for 10 Oscars doesn’t hurt. Being (almost) the only actor on screen, she truly drives the film’s emotional core.
AGAINST HER: She has already won an Oscar (in 2009 for “The Blind Side”) so there probably isn’t a great need to give her another. Plus, the fact that this is a science fiction role (which has been pretty much ignored by the Academy) must be noted. Then, there are those who gripe about the fact that “Oh, what’s the big deal? She was just floating in space.” Feh! To them, I say! But these factors do indeed weigh in.
JUDI DENCH in PHILOMENA
FOR HER: A true dame of acting, the 79 year old legend has scored her seventh nomination playing an elderly Irish woman in search of her son who has forcibly taken from her by nuns in her youth. The emotional impact of this role paired with her vibrant brilliance will likely sit very well with many voters. Those who say Dench can only pull off feisty, dominant women can honestly look closer.
AGAINST HER: Despite her history with Oscar, it must be said that she already has one (for 1998’s “Shakespeare in Love”, for which she was onscreen eight dazzling minutes). Therefore, the demand to give her another may not play strongly here. And even though she’s lovely as “Philomena”, it might be fair to suggest that it’s not the strongest work of her brilliant career.
MERYL STREEP in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
FOR HER: The Queen of the Oscars has broken her own record yet again by scoring her eighteenth nomination. Is anyone surprised? Of course not! And here, she chews up the scenery playing Violet Weston, the matriarch of a severely dysfunctional Oklahoma family battling cancer and her husband’s suicide. Does this scream Oscar or what? “August: Osage County” was a huge success on stage and this role in particular has been highly praised.
AGAINST HER: Well, she has 3 Oscars already, so let’s start there. Then, there’s the fact that there’s a lot of people in the acting community familiar with the stage version who were left rather unhappy with the film. Overall, the film has garnered mixed reviews and some even say she was either miscast or too over the top. Plus, it’s Meryl Streep… she’s not showing any signs of slowing down, so we can probably expect her to get to nomination #20 before long.
THE LOWDOWN: Arguably the most sewn up of all the major races, it looks as though Cate Blanchett will score her second (and well-deserved) Oscar for “Blue Jasmine”. If anyone (dares) to surprise, it will be Amy Adams running high on the “American Hustle” traction. Bullock, Dench, and Streep are just happy to be here.
MY PERSONAL PICK: CATE BLANCHETT
I’m going to have to go with the bandwagon on this one. Blanchett’s turn is the most memorable and finely crafted performance of the lot. As far as the nominees go, I’m in agreement with Bullock, Dench, and Streep’s nominations. I would have left out Amy Adams as much as I love her and the work she did (though that fake British accent she pulled did grate on me). Emma Thompson was certainly worthy of consideration for her acrid turn in “Saving Mr. Banks”, but the one who really should have been in the mix was Brie Larson for her equal parts vulnerable and commanding performance as group home counselor in “Short Term 12”. The was a little seen film and that’s a shame. It was a worthy performance.