Saturday, February 17, 2007

Oscars 2006: Actress In a Supporting Role

And so we come to the category of Supporting Actress, (Can you tell I'm leaving the competitive categories until the end?) which has generally produced a high level of quality this year -- even if that level is not representative in the Oscar line-up. I'll refrain from saying too much about each particular performance, should my comments be needed for Stinkylulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown for 2006's nominated ladies, but nevertheless, here's my analysis of the race.

Best Actress In a Supporting Role

Adriana Barazza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes On a Scandal
Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine
Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls
Rinko Kikuchi - Babel

Who should win?
In all honesty, only one of these performances really humanly touched me, and that was ten year-old Abigail Breslin's adorable portrayal of a wannabe child beauty queen. It's a mature and honest performance that never feels manipulative or artificial, as child performances sometimes tend to. When she identifiably bursts into tears under the pressure of failure, uttering the words "I don't wanna be a loser", the sincerity is enough to make you melt. The rest of the performances in the category I found either Leading turns misplaced as Supporting (Blanchett, Hudson), or great roles with merely good performances attached to them (Barazza, Kikuchi).

Who will win?
When you get a chance in life, you have to grasp it with both hands. I understand that. Jennifer Hudson will undoubtedly win this Oscar. She puts everything she has into her role as Effie, the forgotten woman and real talent of an aspiring group. Her version of "And I am Telling You" is great, making it her own (if considerably inferior) version of Holliday's showstopping tune.

When is all and said and done though, Jennifer Hudson is not an actress. She's a singer. And it does show. Hudson does very little to push the boundaries of her character, choosing to conserve the vast majority of her energy on the vocal aspect of the role. I think it's valid to question just what level of performance we're happy to accept from a media-endorsed 'product' like Jennifer Hudson. Admittedly, reality television shows like American Idol are not massively respected, but Oscar has a history of embracing media starlets, and they'll certainly embrace this one.

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