After yesterday’s text about supporting actresses today I wrote about the leading ones. All performances in this category are great and this is the first of all the chapters were my choice will be entirely different than most predictions. Julianne Moore is favorite if you look at predictions today, but for me her performance wasn’t good enough in this competition. Almost all of the other nominees have stronger roles in stronger movies and her performance here just isn’t good enough to win the award. “Still Alice” is an average movie, her acting was superb, worth of the nomination, but I can’t see her as a clear favorite for the award. Let’s analyze why that is and why I think that Marion Cotillard, Reese Witherspoon and Rosamund Pike were better in 2015 awards season.
Felicity Jones: In “Theory of Everything” Felicity Jones played the Hawking’s wife and the spotlight was about her not on her genius husband. She gave a wonderful and convincing performance, worthy of the nomination, but I can’t see her win the award in this year’s competition. She was great, but other actresses gave something more in their roles. Something more emotional and more personal. I enjoyed Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking, but her performance in this category doesn’t stand out as some of the others. Because of that she is for me the least likely candidate for winning the award.
Julianne Moore: Performances which include diseases are tough acting roles, but they’re often Academy’s favorites. Since “Philadelphia” and “My Left Foot” and “Rain Man” almost every year huge physical transformations and life plunged with disease is among the mentioned or the nominated movies. Critics argue that “Theory of Everything” and “Still Alice” prove that rule, making this year no exception to it. However, in “Theory of Everything” we have balanced movie with strong performances of two main actors and a story which has hit the spot on so many levels. “Still Alice” failed that exam. Crafted about Alzheimer’s disease the movie is true to its title. It shows us how Alice is still Alice in spite of her illness. Her performance was strong and in the pivotal scene of suicide attempt all strength of her acting comes to the surface. It’s easy to see why that performance should appeal to the Academy voters. Minus in my opinion, about winning the award is that the movie doesn’t have anything else to offer. It’s a simple indie-like movie about fighting Alzheimer while keeping the last pieces of self together, but it lacks the shades and strength of other nominated performances. For me, all three other nominees gave stronger performances, with much more dramatic conflict and shades of character. Julianne Moore maybe is the main favorite for the award, but I can’t see her as the winner. Not in my eyes. I am shocked with the consensus everywhere saying that she should win. For some earlier movies I would agree, but in this one she’s not as good. Pity, I like her acting in general. But here, it’s a movie for the lazy Sunday afternoon and not performance worthy of the award. I was impressed, but I wasn’t swept off my feet.
Reese Witherspoon: Reese Witherspoon was the greatest choice for the role of Cheryl Strayed. In her quest for oneself while hiking the Pacific Crest she found a lot of great acting and empathy in the process. Reciting poetry, finding her own limits and in parallel timelines finding errors of her ways in the past was enjoyable to see. We can see her pushing herself to the extent of sadism, but at the same time “Wild” shows us her character wilderness in the timeline prior of her hiking trip. We can see her connection to her mother and family, her lover and fiancée, her spiral down into the drug addiction and her shock after her mother died. We can see all that in her flashbacks to the times past, and we can see how all that reflects to her quest now. Her actions and her madness are presented as a kind of walking poetry spiced with slices of reality. Her fuck in the beginning resonates as a message to life and her fuck-ups in the movie are the traces of that resonating. Performance of Reese Witherspoon was a powerful one. She managed to act convincingly in all portions of the movie and she could be the “dark horse” of this category.
Rosamund Pike: One film that is underrated in this year’s “Oscars” is really Fincher’s “Gone Girl”. In the category of the “best director” and the one of the “best adapted screenplay” it should’ve been nominated, but the only nomination this movie did get was that of Rosamund Pike for her “Amazing Amy” in that movie. Adjective Amazing is reserved for “Spiderman” in the collective mind of popular culture, but it’s kind of ironic how Amy threw her spider web on us as on her husband in the “Gone Girl”. She played all aspects of the character with brilliance, pulled into film with excellent Fincher’s direction we could see her as a successful city girl, unhappy housewife and a manipulative psychotic bitch. First and last scene of the movie focuses on her head and the rest of it leads us on a fascinating journey into it. All that rewired and psychotic thoughts she has portrayed wonderfully by Rosamund Pike. I was impressed with her acting and she’s my second choice in this category.
Marion Cotillard: One of the biggest illogicalities in the “Oscars” is the nomination of Cotillard in this category, while the movie is totally ignored in the “foreign film” category. She has already won the “Oscar” in this category for “La vie en rose” and that could make winning it this year a bit harder. Her performance in “Two Days, One Night” was the best this year in the category of the leading actress. She made me feel compassionate to her quest of convincing her working colleagues to refuse their bonus and keep her on the job. She was wonderful even with a minimum of make-up and she acted the role of Sandra so convincingly that all the other candidates felt under-whelming in comparison to her insecurities and dramatic moments in this wonderful movie of Dardenne brothers.
In the end, I would like to point out that all the actresses in this category did a great job. This category is even more equal in quality than its male counterpart and I really think that Cotillard should win the main award. Wishes are one thing and reality another. Julianne Moore, even if I don’t think so, is the most likely candidate to win, but Reese, Marion and Rosamund should be before her if the Academy doesn’t honor the past performances.