Oscars 2010: Best Actress


Oscar veterans vs. newbies. That always seems to be the feel of the Academy Awards every year in the Best Leading Actress category, especially when you have 12-time nominee Meryl Streep as a perennial contender. Last year, Streep was nominated for Doubt while Anne Hathaway earned her first nomination as did Melissa Leo and Angelina Jolie (first time nominated for leading role, as she won supporting in 2000), but it was Kate Winslet’s chance to finally win an Oscar.

The year before it was veterans Cate Blanchett, Laura Linney and Julie Christie with 12 nominations and two wins between them against newcomers Ellen Page and winner Marion Cotillard. The year before, newcomer Penelope Cruz up against Winslet, Streep Judi Dench and winner Helen Mirren.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

  • Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side
  • Meryl Streep for Julie & Julia
  • Carey Mulligan for An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe for Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire
  • Helen Mirren for The Last Station

This time, you have much of the same thing. Nominees Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan are young stars, the latter of which will definitely be back at the Kodak in the future. Streep takes her seat as usual and so does Mirren. The wild card is Sandra Bullock. Long-time star, first-time nominee. We don’t often see that.

I bet I’ve already cued your moaning and groaning. Let me now address the idea of Sandra Bullock as Oscar nominee (and potential winner). I don’t like it either, but popularity is a powerful thing in the movies and when a popular actress turns out the best performance  of her career and it gets noticed because a movie did incredibly well, there you have it. Between 10 nominees for Best Picture, Avatar and Sandra Bullock, the ceremony could have the highest ratings in years.

And another thing: Most of us hip urban movie-connoseiurs living in Chicago, LA, New York and Austin or wherever don’t realize that there’s a huge part of the USA to the south and east that went to this film in droves. They’re the ones who probably loved Bullock’s performance the most. They might not otherwise care about the Academy Awards.

But the question is still, does she have a shot? Does Sandra Bullock command enough of the respect of her Academy-voting peers, or do they turn to a safe and terrific choice in Streep as Julia Child. Will it come into play that The Blind Side has a best picture nomination but Julie & Julia does not (despite being more worthy)?

We can write off Sidibe, Mulligan and Mirren. I thought the performances of the first two were above the bar (haven’t seen The Last Station), but neither had a moment on screen that made me say “this is an Oscar-winning performance.” Mirren was just kind of a freebie.

So who will be rewarded? Streep created a portrait of America’s TV cook, Julia Child, that instead of settling for quirkiness went so much deeper into this woman than anyone expected. Sandra Bullock played a strong thick-skinned woman who was as selfless as she was a stickler and turned The Blind Side into a film about her when it was supposed to be about football player Michael Oher. She also gave a performance that will likely go down as the best of her career.

I think there will be resistance toward Sandra Bullock from a number of voters, but I think somewhere there are a lot of voters that know or like her, that will see her performance as being one-of-a-kind and will know that not only did Streep not win for roles that were better than Julia Child, but also that she’ll be there again. It’s been a long time since Meryl hoisted the trophy, but I think her day to do it has still yet to come. She’s more deserving — and it will definitely be close, maybe the closest race after Best Picture — but Bullock is likeliest to win.

Prediction: Sandra Bullock for The Blind Side


  1. Hilma Reddrick says:

    Cheers for the post, your blog looks great! I have been falling behind keeping up with the Oscar nominees this past year but this definitely helped. The show on Sunday was great!

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