Cate Blanchett ... Elizabeth
Fernanda Montengro ... Central Station
Gwyneth Paltrow ... Shakespeare in Love
Meryl Streep ... One True Thing
Emily Watson ... Hilary and Jackie
Katrin Cartlidge … Claire Dolan
Holly Hunter … Living Out Loud
Jessica Lange … Cousin Bette
Emily Watson … Hilary and Jackie
Oprah Winfrey … Beloved
Oscar Winner: Gwyneth Paltrow was romantic, broad and versatile in Shakespeare in Love, and certainly fit the mold of what people expect a “Best Actress” winner to look like: young, crying, wearing a pink ballgown. Paltrow is a formidable actress in the right part, but this win felt perfunctory; the result of an extremely well-mounted awards campaign in a static year where it could have gone to any one of the nominees.
Mazur’s Winner: A tough call. The only actual Academy nominee I include this year is Watson, for her underrated turn as classical cellist Jacqueline du Pré. Veterans Lange and Hunter are in top form in two off-the-beaten-path films/performances, while Winfrey gives a thoughtful, studied performance full of depth and detail in Jonathan Demme’s film of Toni Morrison’s scary Beloved. With a spate of superstar actresses and personalities to compete with, you wouldn’t figure low-key character actress Katrin Cartlidge to even be in the running for Lodge Kerrigan’s slick, small Claire Dolan, but in my mind, the actresses’ intelligent, nuanced performance as a desperate call girl is positively chilling and perfectly-modulated. In a rare leading role, Cartlidge, who died unexpectedly and much too young in 2002, is positively magnetic and my winner in this weird year.