Note to writers: Spend a little more time with the motivations and lives of female characters. If you don't know what that means without thinking "chick flick," go see a Noah Baumbach movie. Only one of the following 5 nominees even got a last name, and two didn't get one at all. Geez!
Markéta Irglová - Once
I assume everyone else falls instantly in love with female characters in movies. I hope so, anyway, because it would take a hardened heart not to go silly over Irglova's "Girl," the piano playing half of the songwriting duo. She is of course gorgeous, but also does mirthful and troubled in a character both more deep and shallow than Glen Hansard's "Guy." While Hansard's Irish troubadour suffers the sort of existentialist angst of most Western white guys, Irglova has to still deal with tangible poverty and suffering (how odd to see the Irish as the well-off!). What's especially nice about "the Girl" is that she is neither Hansard's saviour or reclamation project, but an equal. To wish that more female characters had this complexity rather then the Garden Sate/Lonesome Jim cliches.
Stella Malucchi - Tears of the Black Tiger
Sean may do a double take on the selection of Maluchhi for her role as Rumpoey in Tears of the Black Tiger. Yes, Black Tiger may have been the worst movie I sat through all year, but that was mostly due to the ADD cinematography and hoary writing, not the leads. As a sort of idol rather than actual person, Malucchi is stunning in pale makeup and red lipstick. Director Wisit Sasanatieng was obviously looking for a classic Hollywood pin-up for the role, and Malucchi had the looks (and ability to basically just look worried the entire time) to pull off the role. While playing a simple object of obsession is not necessarily very challenging, Malucchi plays this shallowly written part for everything it has.
Maria Schneider - The Passenger
According to Sean, after Schneider's exposure in Last Tango in Paris, she refused an extended love scene with Jack Nicholson in The Passanger. Too bad, after just seeing some of the women in Blow-Up, I would have liked to see her team up with Antonioni. This wasn't the most challenging role, but it is always tough to be "the girl" (yes, that's her character's name too) as the sidekick. I imagine Scheider doesn't come up too often in Awards mentions, so I thought it would be nice to put her in here. But a warning for all those aspirant cuties without acting chops: after those pairings with Brando and Nicholson she was last seen in a voice-over for Phil's wife on Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Rachel Weisz - The Fountain
Yes, Sean, I wasn't the biggest fan of this movie, but I did like the acting quite a bit. Maybe even if you removed 2/3 of the plots in that jumble of a movie, there could have been a real heartbreaking story underneath. As it is, Weisz and Jackman do their best in the "real" world scenes where they have real hair and costumes, as a couple who are being torn apart by her chronic illness. Their chemistry, especially in the bathtub scene, was powerful, and I didn't even mind seeing the scene where Weisz runs in the snow 25 times because she looked so damn cute in that hat. Looking at the list, Weisz is also the actress here with the chance to carry her own movie, a point driven home by her being the only remotely good part of Wong Kar Wai's recent disaster, My Blueberry Nights. She should be a star.
And the Winner is...
- Funny Ha Ha
If you were around me anytime last spring, I probably mentioned Kate Dollenmayer's brilliant turn as the bored, depressed, beat and luckless Marnie, who fucks up all the chances at the good guys and is forced to deal with the dweebs of the world like director Andrew Bujualaski's Mitchell. I was pretty crazy about the girl for a while, not only because she looks stunning in a t-shirt, sweatpants, and unwashed hair, but because she stood out in a cast of pretty poor actors, who seemed capable of only portraying two states of being: awkward or drunk. In Marnie rambling search for meaning, she undercuts the traditional idea of "hipster" in that while over-educated, a slacker, and a binge drinker, she is decidedly uncool. From the opening sequence when she sits slumped in the tattoo parlor in a ratty green t-shirt, she has "generational icon" written all over her. In some unintentional irony, a friend of mine captured her portrayal perfectly: "I didn't really like her, she was just like me."
Next up...Best Screenplay