Daniel: It’s been said for every acting category this year other than Best Actor, but this is the worst of them all. Where are the actresses this year? Here we’ve got two legitimate supporting actresses, one who barely qualifies as a cameo, one who’s nominated as a courtesy, and a frontrunner who’s really a leading role. Hopefully years like this will show the need for more and better roles for women.
Daniel: The easy winner this year. Arquette benefits from a large, meaty role and a lack of contenders. That’s not to say she doesn’t deserve the award, because I think she does. It’s not a traditional Oscar role, and probably not as good as most Oscar winners, but it’s still good. Playing the role over twelve years, Arquette manages to grow with the role, staying consistent in character but changing as the character would over time. Hawke is definitely better in his role than Arquette, but I think she plays it well overall here.
Tyler: Patricia Arquette is not my favorite actress. I can’t help but see her as a screamer in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series. If this was a stronger field of actresses, I don’t think she would win, but she’ll take it for sure this year. What this movie did was showcase Arquette’s growth as an actress. She began as a weaker actress, much like her character’s kids. However, over the twelve year filmmaking process, she got noticeably better, and in the end holds her own quite well. For that on screen growth, I would accept her as the winner.
LAURA DERN, Wild
Daniel: How did she end up here? This is our cameo nomination. Sure, short performances have been nominated, and even won, at the Oscars before, but Dern’s performance hardly deserves the spot here. She’s fine in the role, even good at some moments (I was going to say scenes, but she’s hardly there enough). Wild just doesn’t have the intended effect on me. It’s an okay film, but the themes didn’t hit me quite right. Perhaps if they had, Dern’s role would’ve also had more impact.
Tyler: I heartily agree with Daniel here. What happened? I like Laura Dern. She’s a fine actress. Maybe this is “her time” to be nominated. But really, this is a headscratcher, much like Wild itself. Although I can understand Witherspoon’s nomination, even if I didn’t love the film. This one, not so much.
Daniel: I feel the same about Knightley’s performance as I do about the film itself: good craft in an average film. She’s good here. I’ve always liked Knightley, and I think she does a nice job in her role. She’s strong, funny at times, and solid. Her character doesn’t have a lot to do other than support Alan, which she does well throughout. There’s not much more to say, as her character has little to make her stand out. Good, truly supporting performance.
Tyler: Once again, I’m echoing Daniel’s thoughts. Cumberbatch tidily deserves the Oscar nod as the tragic, brilliant, misunderstood, scientist. Knightley, like the film, is good but not exceedingly amazing.
Tyler: Emma Stone, like Edward Norton, gives a memorable performance in Birdman as Riggan Thomson’s recovering addict-daughter. She’s subtle in how she delivers it, not trying to steal the show or fall into the background. Rather, she plays the all-too-often seen screw-up daughter of a famous person who spends her life trying to blame her dad. She has a great character arc in the film and ultimately, quietly, she finds a bit of reconciliation with her father. She does a nice job.
Daniel: Now here’s a performance. Emma Stone is destined to win an Oscar one day. I think in any other year she’d have this in the bag, but Arquette got the ball rolling too quickly for her to catch up. Stone’s ex-addict, slightly depressed yet hilarious performance is completely spot on. She’s flawless here. Stone delivers her lines with piercing effect. When she gets her time to shine, she does exactly that. A great role in a great film.
Daniel: It’s a showy, flamboyant performance, Streep’s Witch. She sings well, she acts with conviction. A good role yes, but let’s ask the real question: if this was any other actress, would she be nominated? The answer is a resounding and decided NO. Streep racks up a 19th nomination (breaking her own record help since 2003). There’s not much new here. Solid, funny performance in a decent if fluffy film. Streep is one of the greatest actors of all time, but that doesn’t mean we should nominate unworthy performances. Save it for the truly Oscar-caliber roles. I’m sure she’ll have one next year.
Tyler: Come on, Academy. Just get a room already. We know you love Meryl Streep. We all do. Let’s move on now. Let’s put this next to last year’s astounding performance in August: Osage County. Streep is amazing actress. She’s truly gifted and stands far above the rest, but sometimes a fun movie is just a fun movie. This isn’t Sophie’s Choice. I truly think that the Academy just doesn’t know what to do with her anymore because she has set the bar so high. Let’s just think before we nominate.
Daniel: Patricia Arquette
Tyler: Patricia Arquette
Daniel: Emma Stone
Tyler: Patricia Arquette
Should’ve Been Here:
Daniel: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year. This was a tough call, considering the lack of options, but her performance is certainly better, and more valuable, than Rene Russo in Nightcrawler (many people’s second choice).
Tyler: Oddly, I’m going with Jessica Chastain, but for Interstellar. She did an amazing job as Matthew McConaughey’s abandoned daughter.