Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I THINK SHE KNOWS WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN. SHE DOESN'T APPEAR TO BEAR US ANY GRUDGE: Noah Forrest implores the Academy not to give Kate Winslet her overdue Oscar this year. After noting the domino effect of Jack Lemmon's Oscar win being delayed until Save the Tiger (1974), leading to Al Pacino (Serpico that year) not winning until Scent of a Woman (1992), which in turn prevented Denzel Washington for winning for Malcolm X that year and waiting until Training Day, with also-nominated-in-1992 leads RDJ (Chaplin) and Eastwood (Unforgiven) still yet to win an acting Oscar, Forrest argues:

In my estimation, Kate Winslet should have four more nominations (which would bring her total to ten) and at least two wins for films she actually has been nominated for (which would put her on a par, in the Academy’s mind, with Hilary Swank). The three extra nominations would have been for her devastating performance in Quills, her tragic Ophelia in Hamlet, her insane turn in Holy Smoke and one of her best performances yet in this past year’s Revolutionary Road.

Her first win should have come for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which she inexplicably lost to Hilary Swank’s paragon of blue-collar heroism in Million Dollar Baby. Her Clementine lights up the screen in Michel Gondry’s film and not just because of her bright orange hair; within a fantastical world where memories can be erased, she crafts a character that is so true and so real that it grounds the entire film in a similar reality. She breathes life into an off-kilter character, making her odd behavior not only reasonable but also endearing. We fall in love with her spirit in the same way that Jim Carrey’s character does. [Skipping paragraphs on Little Children and Revolutionary Road, in order to get to ...]

The role of Hanna Schmitz is simply not a good role because the film doesn’t know what to make of her. She’s an illiterate ex-Nazi who doesn’t make any excuses for her role in the Holocaust, which is definitely interesting in theory. But in execution, the film wants me to have sympathy for her because she’s illiterate – as if being illiterate makes someone unable to know that killing is wrong. And Winslet’s performance is okay, as I said earlier, but I don’t really know what other way she could have played the role. I appreciate that she doesn’t resort to histrionics in any of the scenes, but that’s not the way the character is written anyway. She is understated and confounding and she does her job well enough.

But it’s not on the same level as Meryl Streep’s distressing turn in Doubt or Anne Hathaway’s ball of emotion in Rachel Getting Married or Melissa Leo’s soul-crushing portrayal in Frozen River or Angelina Jolie’s quiet strength in Changeling. I’m sorry, but of these five performances, Winslet’s is the least worthy of an award. It actually pains me to say that because I think she’s so wonderful and I desperately want to give her an award too, but it would mean snubbing somebody more deserving. It would mean that in future years, we would look back at this as a make-up Oscar rather than something won on merit alone.

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