Saturday, January 16, 2010

oscar rehash: best supporting actress 2002

Kathy Bates as Roberta Hertzel in About Schmidt
Bates plays the zany mother of Jack Nicholson's future son-in-law who infamously makes a pass at Nicholson's Warren Schmidt in a saucy hot tub scene in About Schmidt. But my dilemma with the movie lies in the troublesome truth that though I love both Bates and Nicholson as actors, the movie was sort of an ode to self-loathing and having a sucky life. And I seem to find those movies a little hard to jump on board with. Particularly when they seem to wander with limited plot. So though I know the film received accolades, it has to be one of my least favorite Nicholson movies. That being said, Bates was easily the best thing about it. Grade: B

Queen Latifah as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago
Latifah had the market cornered on the big-voiced musical diva (pre-Jennifer Hudson, of course) as the cell block warden in Chicago. Her being one of the most likable stars on the screen definitely doesn't hurt her awardworthiness, to be sure. And from Latifah's rendition of "When You're Good to Mama," a spicy, jazzy gem, to her meandering flirtations with her female inmates, Morton is the type of movie musical character that tends to steal scenes with great ease. But Latifah's performance transcends the words and pitches that she's given -- she embodies the character to a tee, something that she hadn't truly proven she was capable of until 2002. Grade: B+

Julianne Moore as Laura Brown in The Hours
Moore is typically flawed and troubled as Laura, the sexually confused housewife whose life is upturned when reading Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway in The Hours. What truly works about this eerie portrayal is Moore's ability to fuel her unevenness that pops up frequently in her film roles into the uneven nature of the character. Laura yearns for all the things she doesn't have and shouldn't want, and though Nicole Kidman snuck away with most of the critical lauding, I hesitate to say that Moore was the standout in the film. From her awkward encounter with her female neighbor (played by Toni Collette) to her painful interactions with her young son, Moore is a risk-taking whiz kid. Grade: A

Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean in Adaptation
I know, I know. Give it a rest with putting Streep in virtually every post on this blog. But, I just can't help but a) love her and b) concede that she just happens to be a part of many great movies. So sue me. And as I've said before, her performance in the twisty-turny wonder that is Adaptation is nothing short of fantastic. Streep plays the author trapped in normalcy (who secretly yearns for the excitement of orchid-hunting) with perfect nuance. So I could sing her praises for eons (and I probably will), but seeing her work is too hard to ignore. Grade: A

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago
Zeta-Jones has never been better than as the villainous, bob-donning, mega-voiced vixen Velma in Chicago. She's easily the stand-out in the film, and her musical scenes (both vocally and choreographically) are electric. From "All that Jazz" to "I Can't Do It Alone," Zeta-Jones deliver one Oscar-worthy note after another throughout the movie. And it also helps that her speaking parts are just as full of the right amounts of sass and character. It's one of the best musical performances of all time, hands down. Grade: A

The Verdict: Alas, I am finally faced with a rather tough decision on an Oscar Rehash. Having given the 'A' recommend to three of the five nominees (way to go Academy!), it's a clincher among Moore, Streep, and Zeta-Jones. Forced to decide, I'd have to opt for Streep's Orlean, with Zeta-Jones' Velma close on her tail.


joe burns said...

I agree with you on Zeta-Jones, Latifah, and Streep, but I disagree with you on Moore and Bates.

Unknown said...

Meryl Streep should've won this one and been nominated as Best Actress for "The Hours"! We've already discussed this before, but it should be repeated as much as we can. Streep was robbed twice that year!

Andrew K. said...

I can't agree with Jose. I DO NOT like Adaptation and wouldn't have even nominated Streep [retreats to corner] add in Morton who was lovely in Minority Report and Richardson who elevated her cameo and take out Bates - granted, Meryl was better than Bates. It's a tough call between Moore and Catherine for me. I Can't Do It Alone is my favourite part of Chicago, but Laura Brown...divine.

I will say though Meryl SHOULD have been nominated for The Hours, she and Nicole should have been battling it for the win.