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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

March 2, 2010 at 11:22 AM

So, who should win Best Actress?

Three of this year’s four acting categories are remarkably snoozy — really, the likelihood of seeing anyone other than Jeff Bridges, Christoph Waltz and Mo’Nique on the podium for actor, supporting actor and supporting actress is right up there with “District 9” winning best picture. But there’s one real race in the acting categories, and the Los Angeles Times reports today that a recent poll of about 250 Academy voters (conducted by a studio who didn’t have a candidate in the category, so they’re probably not fudging the results) showed that Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, Gabourey Sidibe and Carey Mulligan were in a dead heat. (Helen Mirren, though beloved, has little support — she’s won the category recently, and few have seen her busily smashing china in “The Last Station,” more’s the pity.)
So we’ve got ourselves a contest here. My vote, if I had one, would go to Streep: I can’t imagine any other performer doing what she did in “Julie & Julia,” with a role that could so easily have slipped into comic caricature. Her Julia was a unique creation: a creature made up of equal parts joy, wit and wisdom. (Streep had her so perfectly calibrated, she often didn’t need words; just meaningless burbles.) And yes, she’s overdue for a win. For Bullock, I think the nomination is the honor; she’s wonderfully likable and shrewd in “The Blind Side,” but the underwritten role doesn’t seem the type from which Oscars are made. She’s got momentum — much of it springing from her beloved offscreen persona, and the sense that she’s worked hard to overcome some career obstacles — but if you’re simply looking at the performances side-by-side, Bullock just doesn’t have as much to work with as the other nominees. (We never really know Leigh Ann in “The Blind Side,” and why she does what she does isn’t always clear — which isn’t Bullock’s fault, but the screenplay’s.)
Sidibe or Mulligan could surprise — they’re like Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry,” fresh new faces popping up to startle us with their talent. Both are playing teenagers (though both are in their mid-20s): Sidibe as an abused, mumbling girl almost afraid to be noticed; Mulligan as a teen longing for sophistication and almost — but not quite — pulling it off. Though their movies weren’t box-office hits like Streep’s and Bullock’s, it’s hard to imagine anyone seeing either performance and not being moved. Though I’m rooting for Streep, I’d be delighted to see either of them on the podium, in recognition of a remarkable talent that might lead into a Streep-like career.
It’s fun that at least one acting category has the potential for real surprise. Who would you like to see accepting this Oscar?

Who gets your vote for Best Actresspolls

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