Although I complained about Black Swan‘s girl-on-girl trailer and the meat-headed press coverage it received a few months back, I actually enjoyed the film itself when saw it earlier this week.
Not only did Natalie Portman get a complex, interesting and, apparently, “inspiring” role, but the mainly female cast – comprised of Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder – also had plenty to work with. What was especially nice was that the story wasn’t exclusive to a woman’s experience – themes like ambition, greed, talent, revenge and paranoia made this more than a movie about girls in tutus. As I’ve already said, it’s not that I hate chick flicks, it’s that I want to see more female-centric films that are about people.
And, to a large extent, 2010 delivered. I’ve been perusing several different Oscar Prediction blogs and sites the past few days, and while some of the same names keep popping up – Natalie Portman, Carey Mulligan, Julianne Moore, Annette Benning, among others – the race still seems wide open.
Iconcinema‘s list is divided into Long Shots, Dark Horses and Likely Nominations, the …
… last list consisting of Hilary Swank for Betty Anne Waters, Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine, Naomi Watts for Fair Game, Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole and Helen Mirren for Whichever of the Four Movies She Was in This Year.
Oscar Frenzy’s list guarantees Natalie Portman a nomination, says Carey Mulligan for Never Let Me Go is a possibility, but ultimately argues that a more “established” actress will probably win – in this case, Naomi Watts for Fair Game. Not quite sure what that means, given that Portman and Watts have been acting in films for about the same amount of time and, arguably, Portman has been in the spotlight for longer, but there you have it.
Film Misery, meanwhile, thinks that Annette Benning and Julianne Moore are long overdue for Oscar gold, and the fact that both starred in the same controversial film about lesbian mothers gives them both a strong chance at a nomination. Meanwhile, the author thinks that Hilary Swank (whose Conviction role strikes him as “Oscar bait,” and Jennifer Lawrence – “this year’s Gabourey Sidibe” – also stand a chance, and then tosses in Hathaway, Watts, Mulligan, Mirren, Kidman and Adams as possibilities as well.
Finally, the blog Times Like Those has created a color-coded, number-crunched spreadsheet of the many possibilities for Best Actress, placing Benning, Portman, Lawrence, Kidman and Leslie Manville as the top 5.
Personally, I think this is Portman’s year. Not just because Black Swan was good and Portman was good in it, but also because Natalie has been churning out decent performances for nearly two decades and has only been nominated for 2004′s Closer in which she played an enigmatic stripper (ugh).
The film is high-profile enough to get the nomination, but also artsy enough to merit the votes. But, as I’ve already said – or at least hinted at – this was a good year for varied, complex roles for women. I’m happy that the majority of the names being mentioned were not cast in the “wife/girlfriend/lover/interest of lead character” role.
Just please, for the love of God, not Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong. We don’t need another Blind Side win this year.