Sunday, June 7, 2009

2008 Diva Cup Awards: Best Actress

Anna Faris
The House Bunny

One of my biggest frustrations concerning Anna Faris's performance in The House Bunny was obviously not the performance itself, but, rather, other people's hypocritical reaction to my (and at least one other person) claiming it as one of the year's best. Anytime I mentioned on some various Oscar blog that Faris was utterly fantastic in The House Bunny, there were usually at least one or two people who would say something along the lines of, "An Oscar nomination for The House Bunny?! Let's be serious." What killed me was that these are the same people always complaining that Oscar never nominates comedic performances. What more do you want out of a comedic performance? Faris elevates the cheap jokes of this film to the point that the performance reminded me of Groucho Marx in Duck Soup (my favorite comedic performance ever) in that the zingers just kept coming and coming, one right after another, and they all had my convulsing with laughter. Sure, this may not have been acting in the traditional sense of the word, but Anna Faris is one of the most fearless comediennes around and her talent needs to be rewarded ever chance you get.

Anne Hathaway
Rachel Getting Married
Oh Annie. How far you've come in eight years from when we first met you as the Princess of Genovia. You went through your "I'm gonna show my breasts!" phase in both Brokeback and Havoc (a seriously fearless and edgy performance in an otherwise craptacular film), played the straight-woman to Meryl Streep (and Emily Blunt for that matter), dabbled in the British prestige picture (please, let's never try that one again, hmmm?) and even worked your budding star mojo in a middling action comedy blockbuster. But then came Rachel Getting Married, which provided you with your strongest role yet--a recovering drug addict returning from rehab just in time for her older sister's wedding--and your greatest performance to date. Finally, after a couple of years of being on the brink of being a "legitimate" actress, you proved you have what it takes to tear Hollywood apart. After your darkly comic, awkwardly (in a good way) self-centered and all-around magnetic performance in Rachel Getting Married, I seriously can not wait to see what you have in store for us in the (many) years to come (Here's hoping you hit it out of the park with this one). Congrats Annie, you've truly made it and no one deserves it more than you!

Sally Hawkins
Poppy should have been too much to handle. I should have wanted to punch her in the face from the third minute and not wanted to stop until the whole movie was over. I know that if I met someone like Poppy in real life, I don't think I would be able to listen to her endless cheeriness and eternal optimism. Considering all of these prejudices, you have to give Sally Hawkins major credit for creating a character like this that you actually want to spend hours and hours with in the cinematic world. Her spirit is infectious and, for awhile, I actually wanted to be more like her instead of the constant cynic that I am. That feeling eventually subsided, but the brilliance and hilarity of this performance never did.

Melissa Leo
Frozen River
It's always a joy seeing reliable character actors finally enjoying a lead role in a film because it often feels like they realize they only have one chance to get it right and they throw themselves into the part. We already saw Richard Jenkins do just that with The Visitor and now Melissa Leo, a prolific character actress whom I warmly remember as Benicio Del Toro's long-suffering wife in 21 Grams. Playing a hard-as-nails, desperately broke mother slaving away at a dead-end, minimum wage job only to have it gambled away by her good-for-nothing husband, Leo's haggard, world-weary face could have done most of the work for her. Leave it to her, however, to dig deep and provide a refreshing spin on the maternal sacrifice story we've seen since Oscar's beginning. I'm most surprised at how honest and true to life Leo's Ray feels. There are no emotional meltdowns or smashing plates against the wall to show how PISSED she is; it's all quiet and tender and some of the most heartwrenching stuff you're likely to see (especially if you've ever experienced the direness of poverty and living paycheck to paycheck).

Brittany Snow
Finding Amanda
From my review of Finding Amanda and Snow's performance in particular: "You may find it suprising, however, to see that Snow ignores the usual crutches of this [hooker with a heart of gold] archetype and crafts a visibly unique spin on it. From the moment that we meet Amanda, enticing dirty old men by the elevators at a seedy motel with a sweet, bubbly demeanor, we can tell that something just isn't right. She's too happy, too obsessed with keeping her apartment pristine and free from anything that will soil it (she tells her uncle to take off his shoes as soon as he enters the doorway). Snow is smart enough to only hint at the darkness of her past and the unhappiness in her present- she doesn't lay all of the cards on table right away and allow you to read her so easily. When she confesses to her uncle about being sexually abused by a member of the family, she tosses the information out there like it was nothing extraordinary, much to her uncle's incredulation. Snow's Amanda thinks she has moved on from this experience, even if her actions say otherwise."

If Only There Were Six: Julianne Moore, Blindness and Savage Grace

Rest of the Top 10: Meryl Streep, Doubt...Natalie Portman, The Other Boleyn Girl...Kristin Scott Thomas, Il y a longtemps que je t'aime [I've Loved You So Long]...Nicole Kidman, Australia

And the Diva Cup Goes to: Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married


Anonymous said...

Yeah! (I'm clapping) Woooo Anne Hathaway!

I was rooting for her ever since I scrolled far enough to see that she was nominated. Rachel Getting Married was phenomenal.

Glenn Dunks said...

Apart from Snow we have the same line-up! Mine includes Penelope Cruz from Elegy though.