As the buzz has it, Best Actress nominee Angelina Jolie (The Changeling) will have to settle for looking gorgeous with Brad on the red carpet. Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) might have won if two words didn’t destroy her chances — Bride Wars. There has been some talk in the countdown to Sunday’s Big Event that Melissa Leo (Frozen River) has been gaining momentum. Oscar voters have finally watched her movie, which they ignored at the multiplex, on freebie Academy screeners, and they like what they see. Much the way they caught up late last year with Marion Cotillard playing Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. And Cotillard scored a surprise win. Will Leo win in an upset and caress the golden dildo? Though a shock would be nice, don’t count on it. The race has come down to two contenders — Kate Winslet for The Reader and Meryl Streep for Doubt. The funny thing is most of the comment about each actress has barely focused on their acting in these films. It’s been about their entire careers. Let me explain:
Kate Winslet should win for The Reader. Why? Not because she was excellent (she was) as the former SS guard who feels guilty about her illiteracy as a metaphor for her guilt about aiding in the murder of Jews. But because The Reader represents her sixth acting nomination with no wins. That’s right. Winslet scored nods for Sense and Sensibility, Titanic, Iris, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children and now The Reader. At 33, she’s the youngest actress to pull off that record. So the reasoning goes that Winslet deserves the Oscar as a career achievement award. At 33? I mean, isn’t this a bit early to worry that Winslet won’t get another (and better) movie to take to victory? For those (like me) who think Winslet is nominated this year for the wrong movie — I much preferred her risky work in Revolutionary Road — the argument seems specious. Al Pacino, the mad genius of The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico and Glengarry Glen Ross, wins for Scent of a Woman. Please!
Meryl Streep should win for Doubt. Why? Not because she was great (she was) as the nun who suspects a priest of child abuse. But because Doubt represents Streep’s 15th acting nomination — a record. That’s right. Streep scored nods for The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Sophie’s Choice, Silkwood, Out of Africa, Ironweed, A Cry in the Dark, Postcards from the Edge, The Bridges of Madison County, One True Thing, Music of the Heart, Adaptation, The Devil Wears Prada, and now Doubt. Unlike Winslet, Streep — 59 — has two Oscars on her shelf, for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie’s Choice. But that last one was in 1983, practically the Stone Age. So the reasoning goes that Streep should win because it’s been 26 years since she hit the podium. And, really, didn’t you want her to win for The Devil Wears Prada? WTF?
So I’m asking you, based purely on the quality of the individual performance, who do you think should win?
Reasons, please. A simple Yea or Nay won’t cut it.