It is about time. I’ve always loved David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, it is easily one of my favorite movies of all-time, but it failed to get an recognition from the Academy except for a nomination for Best Director. Entertainment Weekly was kind enough to revisit the 2002 Academy Award winners and offer their own insight. Read it, because it is just plain genius and I could not agree more with the final paragraphs.
Don’t Believe the Hype (from http://www.ew.com)
Sissy Spacek: Everett Collection
Halle Berry’s historic Oscar for Monster’s Ball feels a whole lot different from the other side of Gothika and Catwoman. At the time, though, just about everyone seemed to be on board — including the prestigious National Board of Review — no small feat in what was one of the strongest years for women’s roles in recent memory. So strong and so competitive, in fact, that three of the most memorable performances weren’t even nominated.
WINNER: Halle Berry, Monster’s Ball (1st nomination)
Notable recent work: Die Another Day, Gothika, Catwoman
What we said then: ”Her fearless, vanity-free performance as Monster’s Ball‘s widow exhibited unforeseen talent in the former model.”
Judi Dench, Iris (4th nomination)
Notable recent work: Pride & Prejudice, Mrs. Henderson Presents, Notes on a Scandal
What we said then: ”Dench draws us in gently, complicating Murdoch’s fear with dumb rage and hurt pride and letting a flicker of her wasted genius shine in dull eyes.”
Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge! (1st nomination)
Notable recent work: The Hours, Cold Mountain, The Interpreter
What we said then: ”[She plays] the cynical, china-doll courtesan to heartbreaking perfection.”
Sissy Spacek, In the Bedroom (6th nomination)
Notable recent work: Tuck Everlasting, North Country, An American Haunting
What we said then: ”Spacek keeps a cauldron of resentments — against her husband and against her son, who’s involved with a single mother — on a mesmerizing low simmer. Until things shockingly boil over.”
Renée Zellweger, Bridget Jones’s Diary (1st nomination)
Notable recent work: Chicago, Cold Mountain, Cinderella Man
What we said then: ”It was Zellweger’s willingness to leave her ego at the door and transform herself into an occasionally daft lonelyheart that makes her turn as Bridget both heartbreaking and hilarious.”
Upon Further Review: A funny thing happened when I watched Monster’s Ball recently. I giggled. Since Monster’s Ball isn’t really a giggling type of movie — we’re talking suicide, vehicular manslaughter, and the death penalty — I asked myself this question: Is it possible to isolate Berry’s eye-opening performance from her post-Oscar career choices? Of course it is, yet her subsequent roles as a Bond girl and superfeline reinforce, perhaps, why we were so jazzed by her turn in Monster’s in the first place: She was stretching as an artist. Her courage and promise carried the day then, but I can name three other performances that are clearly superior today.
Oscar rules prohibit actors from being nominated more than once in the same category, but Kidman’s finest role in 2001 was as the spooked British mum in Alejandro Amenabar’s ghost story, The Others. Protecting her photo-allergic children from bright light, from a war, from an eerie house, and from a horrible truth, Kidman dials up the icy demeanor she showcased in To Die For and sets it to Gothic.
Laugh if you must, but Gwyneth Paltrow’s performance in the Farrellys’ Shallow Hal is one of the decade’s most underappreciated gems. The Academy has never properly appreciated comedy, so her role as a sweet, obese gal who falls for a brainwashed Jack Black got absolutely no traction. But watching the slender, gorgeous blonde slip into the skin of an awkward wallflower — and no, I’m not referring to the fat suit she dons for a few scenes — is nothing short of remarkable. With a clumsy shuffle, hunched posture, and melancholic smile, her beauty has never been so disarming.
Roll up all seven acting roles cited above, and you still might not equal the depth and versatility that Naomi Watts unleashes in David Lynch’s mind-bending Hollywood mystery, Mulholland Drive. At first, she’s simple Betty, a gee-whiz Canadian who’s come West to make it big in the movies. But as reality is twisted, the wholesome gal becomes a spurned lover. The transformation takes place right before your eyes, in an audition for a scene she had previously rehearsed as a timid victim. But when the director says action, she’s suddenly all whispery seductress, and in that moment, she demonstrates what great acting is all about.