MCN Columnists
Other Voices

By Other Voices

Where Have All the Cowgirls Gone?

Has anyone else noticed how thin this year’s crop of Best Actress hopefuls has turned out to be? It seems as if you could count on both hands the ladies left in the hunt and, beyond that, it’s rather difficult to find a full and healthy list of five predicted nominees.

At this point, it can be assumed that Judi Dench andReese Witherspoon are well on their way to nominations in Mrs. Henderson Presents and Walk the Linerespectively. In fact, it looks as though the race for the win may end up coming down to these two.

Beyond that, the only other contender I’d put money on isZiyi Zhang in Memoirs of a Geisha, who really comes into her own opposite Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh in one of the only satisfying films of the awards season thus far.

So what have we got beyond that?

North Country opened to little to no business and has pretty much fallen off the map, with only Charlize Theronclinging to the hope of survival. Not that any other aspect of the picture – beyond perhaps Frances McDormand – ever had a real fighting chance. Most would have considered Theron, already an Oscar-winning actress, a sure bet until the box office news came down the pike. Now, who knows if she’ll cross the finish line?

Felicity Huffman’s pre-operative transgender character in the wretched Transamerica gets consideration on uniqueness alone. Add famous hubby William H. Macyand her status as a prime time television starlet to the mix, she’s got a few factors going for her even if quality of the film is not one of them.

Those would be my five predictions if pressed today, but it’s a very weak category to say the least. A number of other actresses who were once regarded as likely also-rans may end up popping back into contention. Others still will step up to the empty plate as a few more films are revealed and attempt to fill the void.

Keira Knightly’s buzz is on the rise with stellar reviews flooding in for the Jane Austenadaptation, Pride & Prejudice. She’s got October release Domino keeping her on radar this year as well.

Gwyneth Paltrow has a likely nomination coming at the Golden Globes for her performance in Proof, given the HFPA’s penchant for loving their stars. This is a film that sat on the shelf the entire year after getting the scoot from last season’s awards hopeful-heavy Miramax slate, and it is now a part of Jake Gyllenhaal’s breakout year to boot. But will members actually see it?

Q’Orianka Kilcher is potentially in the situation of being the “discovery” of the group, much like Catalina Sandino Moreno last year and Keisha Castle Hughes in 2003. The New World starts screening in a couple of weeks, so we’ll know then if the title is applicable or not.

Disney has been pulling out all the stops in the campaign for Claire Danes in Shopgirl since the Toronto Film Festival. Reviews have been mixed for the film, but Danes has been singled out by almost every critic, no matter how they felt about the film. She has never had the feel of a sure thing, but she could certainly creep into serious contention.

Finally, all of this gives credence to any notions that Joan Allen can make a comeback for her performance in The Upside of Anger, released all the way back in March. Kate Winsletremained a critical favorite throughout the year in 2004 for her performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and she held on for a nomination nearly a year after her film’s release. Allen’s is still one of the most critically praised lead actress performances of 2005.

In a race this thin, even HFPA relegated turns like Sarah Jessica Parker’s in The Family Stone and Meryl Streep’s in Prime have the semblance of a fighting chance. And it makes one wonder if Amy Adams could find a nomination here if Sony Pictures Classics were to bump her campaign up to a leading one. That would surely be a smarter bet than putting a lot of ammunition behind Natasha Richardson in The White Countess, a film generating no buzz of considerable note.

Meanwhile, it’s almost time for the country to discover Walk the Line. The buzz needle will spike heavily in Reese Witherspoon’s favor in the coming weeks, and for quite a while, it will look like we’ve got a frontrunner. Mrs. Henderson Presents and Memoirs of a Geisha will open in late December, and it’ll be a healthy three-way race that could potentially be one of the most competitive of the season. But what will be forgotten entirely is that empty road to Oscar night.

Let’s hope that next year there are stronger roles for women.

November 15, 2005

E-mail Kris Tapley
Visit Kris’ blog. In Contention

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon