I saw The Blind Side today and spent the train ride home thinking - thanks to Melbourne's glorious public transport system (/sarcasm) I was able to spend a lot longer thinking than I normally would, too! - about the Best Actress race. While I am most definitely one of the few people who thinks Julie & Julia has far more worthy aspects than Meryl Streep (remember, I actually think the Amy Adams parts are a good representation of a blogger's life), I actually I think I'm in the Sandra Bullock camp when it comes to who to give the statue to out of the pair.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think either deserves it - neither would make my final five Best Actress lineup - but I've never particularly seen Streep's "Julia" as being much more than a good performance, and it's hardly the best alternative to Bullock of there must be one. Bullock doesn't exactly knock it outta the park the way that one might be lead to believe after all the last-minute hysteria that's been bandied about, but she is more than acceptable in the role and she feels like a natural for the part. Actually, "more than acceptable" is a backhanded compliment since I think she definitely more than acceptable, but actually quite good. You can bet that if Streep gave the exact same performance then people would be giving her an Oscar nomination and let us not forget that Streep isn't exactly adverse to BROAD acting much like Bullock is doing here.
If I were voting in the Oscars then I would definitely be ticking the box of Carey Mulligan, but I can't help but get a nagging feeling lately that it is Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe from Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire that could pull off a surprise win over Streep and Bullock. However, thinking about the category closer today allowed me to see parallels between this year's Best Actress battle and the one from 2001/2, which saw an African American actress in a gritty movie triumph over an acting legend and a comeback actress.
One could go further and make the comparison between Renee Zellweger in Bridget Jones' Diary and Carey Mulligan in An Education, too. Both are British, starring in what are essentially romantic comedies and look to have big futures on the horizon. And anyone who needs me to tell them the similarities between Helen Mirren, nominated for The Last Station this year, and Judi Dench, nominated for Iris in 2002, clearly has no need to be reading this entry since they obviously don't give two hoots about the Oscars.
Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom feels very similar to Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia. Both had "give them another statue!" momentum, a second for Spacek and a third for Streep, and at the start of each respective awards seasons there was more than enough evidence to support that was going to happen. Of course, both seasons had a "comeback kid" of sorts in the forms of Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. Both had been languishing in years prior and both came back with a vengeance, each starring in two box office hits in the same year, both of which garnered Golden Globe nominations on each side of the Drama/Comedy divide (each won one). Of course, Bullock's one-two punch of The Proposal and The Blind Side buries Kidman's combo of Moulin Rouge! and The Others from a purely box office objective, but Kidman also had the "woman wronged" edge that gave her an extra push since her divorce to Tom Cruise had just finished taking up pages and pages of tabloids.
And then there is Halle Berry and Gabourey Sidibe. Perhaps it's slightly racist to lump these two together, but they share more similarities than just the colour of their skin. How about they both star in movies from the Lee Daniels wheelhouse. Monster's Ball, for which Berry won her Oscar, was produced by Daniels, while Sidibe's film has Daniels' directorial fingers all over it. Both deal with black women who have been wronged by society in many ways and have horrendous things happen to them and their children and both film's feature villainous armchair-bound parental figures who heap abuse upon their children. And in a strange coincidence, both films have a running time of 110minutes.
The obvious differences come in that Berry won several big awards, including the Screen Actor's Guild Award, which this year went to Sandra Bullock. And Bullock has a greater shot at Oscar glory than Kidman probably ever did and all of this basically proves nothing and I am sure that when either Streep or Bullock win the Oscar next month that this will all look like over-thought gobbledygook. I do think this though: No matter what the outcome next month, I am confident in predicting that Sandra Bullock will have an Oscar statue on her mantle within 5 years. It happened to Nicole Kidman one year later when "we really just want her to have an Oscar" sentiment overflowed and she took out the prize for her role in The Hours over the likes of Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven and another comeback kid, Diane Lane in Unfaithful. Bullock has amassed enough goodwill this season to project her to instant-nomination status for the next time she manages to get anywhere near a prestige project.
Unless, of course, she wins a few weeks in which case... umm... that'll be nice, I guess.