Thursday, September 5, 2013

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Varying Volumes: Actress, 1993

The Oscars chose two flawless performances; one powerhouse bio; a rich curiosity; and Debra Winger, which is a shame, because there was a lot to choose from this year.

Holly Hunter SWEPT the season for The Piano
It's an embarrassment of riches, the ladies of 1993! I wish they had made room for Golden Globe nominees Juliette Binoche (Three Colors: Blue - oh my god you guys!) and Diane Keaton (Manhattan Murder Mystery), or Indie Spirit winner Ashley Judd (Ruby in Paradise), or one of the ladies from Addams Family Values, but I can't decide who's the lead between Anjelica Huston and Christina Ricci. Both? That's a worthy line-up, right there. And yet I'm still not sure if any of them are my pick for the year.

But, alas, we cannot have twelve nominees, not even in Best Picture (anymore). My thoughts on the Chosen Five:

Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do with It?
Impressively embodies both modest Anna May and fierce Tina Turner, especially how one transforms into the other when on stage. She never loses the potential for strength, even when during the cycle of denial/enabling/defeat that is her marriage. 

Stockard Channing in Six Degrees of Separation
Stockard Channing has an incredible ability to be simultaneously funny and revelatory, using every whip-smart line or bit of business to build her character and the arc. Her growing awareness that the fake junior Poitier may be the most significant thing to happen to her is almost imperceptible, yet so seamless is the performance that her outburst in the last scene is credible. It's not easy, I think, to transform a high society pseudo-intellectual into an open woman well aware that her journey is just beginning. It's a powerful performance. 

Holly Hunter in The Piano
Playing a mute, Hunter must use her face and hands to express everything -- frustration, bullheadedness, longing, heartache, whimsy, ecstasy. I think she misses some beats that would lead credence to some of the film's developments, but overall, not too shabby.

Emma Thompson in The Remains of the Day
Screentime-wise, you may be tempted to call it a Supporting performance. Yet the story begins with her letter, the bulk of the film centered around her time at Darlington. And Thompson, because she's infallible, takes it on magnificently, bringing her trademark warmth and dignity to the role of Miss Kenton. Affection is never directly declared, but you see it in her carriage. And you know she's not into Mr. Bell (at first), but oh, baby, it's what she needs! I love Emma Thompson. I love Miss Kenton, too.

Debra Winger in Shadowlands
Fun enough in the lighter moments of the first half, she's too rough with the role. Where is the warmth, the affection? Not here, that's for sure.


Hunter won, obviously for the wrong category. Me, I think it's a race between Thompson and Channing. And between the two...I'm gonna buy American:

how much of your life can you account for?

Wrapping things up with Best Picture tomorrow: The Fugitive, In the Name of the Father, The Piano, The Remains of the Day and Schindler's List.

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Fritz said...

To be honest, I have only seen Hunter so far but I find it hard to believe that anyone could top her...

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Even when she WAS the only one here I'd seen, I didn't get it. I want to, I just don't see what everyone sees.