the great big academy awards project: BEST LEAD ACTRESS of 2009, revisited

Once upon a time, The Great Big Academy Awards Project talk it out with the Best Actress nominees of the aughts. (NOTE: The 90s and 80s soon followed, and the 70s are just around the corner – that’s a promise!) And since 2009, at the time, offered up at least one performance I couldn’t track down – pesky release schedules and all that – let’s revisit 2009, with Helen Mirren added into the mix for portraying the emotional wife of Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station.
 
The Winner: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)
 
State of the Category: A disclaimer before we begin this one – that pesky Last Station was in about 1 or 2 theaters it seems, and the DVD is nowhere to be found anytime soon, so an additional supplemental post will have to be posted later to talk about Mirren’s performance. As for Helen Mirren, while her subsequent filmography has proven far more popcorn, this was more in the vein of her prestige work. It’s not perfect, to be sure – she tows that fine line between high drama and melodrama – but the lush music and set design around her elevate her performance from potentially histrionic to grandiose entertainment. Now, on to the other four. First, as any reader of this blog knows, I have nothing against Bullock. In fact, I think her Leigh Ann Touhy was better than average. It was very clearly not even close to being one of the five best performances of the year, but c’est la vie. Mulligan was well-suited to her role in An Education. Though I didn’t slobber over it as much as pretty much everyone else, she’s definitely a promising performer as shown by this flick. Sidibe was wonderful in Precious. I’ll just say it. Particularly after seeing her in interviews and realizing she’s bubbly and peppy – you truly learn how much of a stretch Claireece was for the actress. It’s probably one of the best debut performances ever put on the big-screen. And finally, Streep was nothing short of delightful as Julia Child. Much like Keaton in 2003, perhaps it doesn’t scream “Oscar” because of its light demeanor, but the performance is right-on, and for once it seems less like a good impression and more like an embodiment.
 
Report Card
Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) – B
Helen Mirren (The Last Station) – B+
Carey Mulligan (An Education) – B+
Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) – A
Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) – A
(Still) My Choice: Gabourey Sidibe

 

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