Oscar Spitballing: Best Actress 2009

by | February 20, 2009 at 9:50 PM | 81st Academy Awards, The Academy Awards, The Movies

This year’s race has seemed like a foregone conclusion ever since Kate Winslet nabbed two Golden Globes in two different categories. It’s “Kate’s year,” and the Academy doesn’t like to deny momentum like that, especially for one of their frequent nominees. Then again, two Globes on the same night might seem like an embarrassment of riches in some voters’ eyes, so there’s a slim chance that we could see an upset. Who are the likely candidates?

Kate Winslet, The Reader
As Ricky Gervais told her, she’s done a Holocaust movie, and now the awards are coming. Her performance as a mesmerizing and enigmatic obsession for a young teenager just forming his very perception of the concept of love, one which endures even after it’s revealed that she has a hidden past as a Nazi, is one that lingers with audiences and illustrates how damaging adults can be when they take sexual advantage of adolescents. It’s a difficult role, but she excelled as she always does. That, plus her knockout performance in Revolutionary Road as well as the general perception that it’s just about damn time that she wins will lock it up for her. It’s a crime that it’s taken us this long to be able to say “Academy Award Winner Kate Winslet.”

Meryl Streep, Doubt
Oscar’s perennial date for the evening, Streep has been nominated an unprecedented 15 times, although surprisingly she has only won twice, and not since Sophie’s Choice in 1982. She’s probably sick of getting gussied up and doing the parade every year only to find her date doesn’t put out. It’s a virtual certainty that she’ll be here again. And again. And again. Her hard-bitten and fiercely stubborn nun, scary as she is, isn’t going to be the one to break through once more. There’s just too much doubt about Doubt.

Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married
It’s her first nomination for a very compellingly abrasive performance as a guilt-ridden and unstable family black sheep, but Jonathan Demme’s verité bare-bones style doesn’t quite have the kind of flavor to woo Academy voters. But Hathaway’s a natural, and she’s got a bright future of fancy gown galas ahead of her. She’ll get her turn.

Angelina Jolie, Changeling
Clint Eastwood directed two movies this year, and the lesser film got the only recognition in the big categories with this nomination. Jolie is a national treasure and all, but the fact that you can create a Changeling Drinking Game wherein you knock back a shot every time she says “I just want my son back” means she’s not gonna win. Besides, I’d rather play the Gran Torino drinking game and knock back some Pabst every time Kowalski barks out a racial slur.

Melissa Leo, Frozen River
If anyone here has a chance of scoring an upset, it will be this long shot. Sometimes, the Academy likes to take an underrated one of their own and give them a gigantic career boost a la Marcia Gay Harden, especially if they’ve given a gritty, grueling, yet little-seen performance like this. Even if she doesn’t win, though, we’ll see a lot more of Leo in the future thanks to this nod, and that’s to be commended.

Who Will Win: Kate Winslet
Who Should Win: Kate Winslet