African American Best Actress nominees

Oscarmetrics: Iron Meryl and Other Best Actress Nominee Predictions - Hollywood Prospectus Blog  February 17, 2015 – 10:13 pm
African-American actress becomes youngest ever Best Actress Oscar

Best Actress

Some years, it’s a stretch to come up with five decent candidates for Best Actress; such are the seemingly permanent inequities of the movie business. So it’s a pleasure to report that, despite a deeply problematic set of films, this year’s field is actually stronger than the roster of Best Actor candidates — the women contending for nominations this year did more with less. (But why should they have to? That’s another story.)

The field: Three actresses are in, and three more are vying for the final two spots. First, the sure bets: Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, and Michelle Williams. Down the road, it’ll be fun to talk about who’s the front-runner and why, but for now, let’s simply note that each of these women is working at a level of excellence that is edging them toward the Oscar record books. Streep, of course, is already in there — her expected nomination for The Iron Lady will be her 17th, and perhaps even more impressively for a 62-year-old actress, her fourth in the last six years. Even if the movie never showed us Thatcher in action as prime minister (and it barely does), just the scenes of Streep playing an octogenarian suffering from dementia would guarantee her a spot (and let’s give credit to Iron Lady’s makeup and hair team for doing right everything that J. Edgar did wrong).

With a nomination for The Help, Davis will become only the second African-American actress in history (following Whoopi Goldberg) to be nominated twice; as many critics have noted, one of the most brilliant elements of her work is that while she’s on-screen, she seems to be acting in the tougher, sadder, more serious and heartbreaking movie that The Help should have been — yet she never feels like she’s working against it.

As for Williams, who has actually won a greater number of preliminary awards than either of her two main competitors, but still feels like she’s in third place right now, her work in My Week With Marilyn is a beautifully layered depiction not just of Monroe, but of Monroe trying to play “Marilyn” both on-screen and off. It’s a good thing voting ended when it did, since the movie itself is fading from the conversation perilously fast, but Williams is still likely to become the first actress in 30 years (since Jessica Lange did it for Frances) to win a Best Actress nomination for playing another famous actress. And if she does, she’ll become the first American actress since Jodie Foster to score her third Oscar nomination before turning 32.

The apparent favorites for the final two slots are a pair of past nominees in movies that almost nobody has seen. I’ve written before about the importance of personal narratives in getting a nomination, but it’s always dangerous when the narrative outweighs the movie itself, and that may be the case with Glenn Close. Her Albert Nobbs campaign comes with a great backstory — she first played the role of a repressed woman who spends her life disguised as a man 30 years ago onstage, then strove for the last 15 years to get a movie made; on top of that, she’s an immensely respected five-time nominee who has never won and hasn’t had a nomination in 23 years. But the movie itself (which isn’t in theaters) is a drab piece of work, and part of the integrity of Close’s performance is that it contains not a single flashy “Oscar” moment; she moves her facial muscles less than Ryan Gosling in Drive, and that could be a problem.

Source: www.grantland.com


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