Best Actress Rewind


by Matt Mazur

14 July 2011

Best Actress Rewind is back! Oscar-watcher Matt Mazur challenges the Academy's choices in his favorite category, comparing the Academy nominees with his own (frequently better) nominees!

Oscar Nominees:

Joan Allen ... The Contender
Ellen Burstyn ... Requiem for a Dream
Juliette Binoche ... Chocolat
Laura Linney ... You Can Count on Me
Julia Roberts ... Erin Brockovich

Mazur Nominees:

Gillian Anderson … House of Mirth


Björk … Dancer in the Dark



Ellen Burstyn … Requiem for a Dream



Lena Endre … Faithless



Laura Linney … You Can Count on Me



Oscar Winner: Julia Roberts, who swept the big prizes as crusader Erin Brockovich. For a big, starry turn Roberts’ work is solid, and it is not surprise that she won for this perfectly-suited role that takes advantage of her movie star charisma and works with her limited range. Steven Soderbergh should be commended for his brilliant casting choice, and Roberts gives it her all in the kind of performance audiences and Academy members always respond to. Still is this really a turn that is memorable for the acting?

Mazur Winner: What makes Roberts’ win sting just that much more is that 2000 is that there are multiple superior performances in this year. Burstyn and Linney were deservedly nominated at the Oscars for their superlative work, while Gillian Anderson, known at the time mainly for The X-Files reached into a deep reserve of refined power for Terence Davies’ Edith Wharton adaptation The House of Mirth. Lena Endre was directed by Liv Ullmann in an Ingmar Bergman script, bringing a fresh audacity to the screen that had been missing since… well, since Liv Ullmann starred for Bergman in Scenes from a Marriage.

But the winner for me this year, hands-down, is singer and composer Björk for her riveting performance in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. While the diminutive chanteuse obviously aced the musical requirements of the piece (and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for “I’ve Seen it All), pay close attention to her non-musical scenes, where her dramatic chops are on full display. This is a full, intuitive performance by a brilliant woman. I consider Björk’s turn to be the finest acting performance by a musician ever captured on screen. She lives in this character. Björk accesses Selma’s emotions through her own musical compositions and then miraculously inhabits the skin an original, moving character. Let’s see Madonna do that. Or, well… any singer other than Björk.

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