Every time an Oscar norm is broken, for a bit, people assume that it might set a precedent of things to come…
OMG, Halle Berry won Best Actress…here come Oscars for Angela Bassett and Viola Davis!
OMG, ten Best Picture nominees! All the superheroes will get nominated!
OMG, Sandra Bullock won an Oscar!
OMG Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig got Oscar nominations!
OMG the Oscars love comedy!
Last year, it seemed as if the Oscars had finally embraced a genre they’ve never taken seriously (no pun intended) when Bridesmaids earned nominations for its screenplay and for the scene-stealing McCarthy in the Best Supporting Actress categories. Coincidentally the winners in both categories were also comedic as Woody Allen took home the screenplay award and Octavia Spencer, who gave The Help some much needed comedic relief, won the acting award.
Even if the Best Supporting Actress category has always been friendlier to comedy (8 out of the previous 12 winners have had funny elements of some sort and last year’s nominees went 4 out of 5 with Béjo, Chastain, McCarthy and Spencer all providing their films with the biggest/only laughs) this year when judging all the frontrunners and projected candidates it seems awards’ love for drama is back.
This results strange, not only because last year fooled us into thinking all group voters would keep a more open mind this time around, but also because 2012 has proved to be quite rich in terms of supporting comedic female performances.
In Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette, which went slightly off radar after people mistook it for a Bridesmaids redux or a spinoff of the reality show, the writer director delivered the rare movie that could be outrageously funny without losing its humanity. With superb performances from a predominantly female cast, Isla Fisher stood out as the seemingly dim witted Katie, who at first glance seems to be barely there. Katie begins as a shallow party girl who does cocaine whenever she’s bored and uses men in the way they’ve used her. However the film reaches a crucial point where we realize who she really is and Fisher - who has never been better - achieves this without ever making it an abrupt shift. She gets some of the film’s greatest one liners but it’s in her scenes with Kyle Bornheimer, as an unlikely love interest, that allow her to shine as an actress. She’s been funny in the past, but she had never proved she also had the soul and heart to go with it.
Fisher’s Bachelorette co-star Rebel Wilson, gives an equally scene stealing performance in the aca-awesome Pitch Perfect. In it, the Australian actress plays a young woman so confident about her body image that she goes by the name of Fat Amy. After joining an all female acapella singing group, Fat Amy becomes the most honest character in the movie, line after line proving people why the group would feel incomplete without her. She might not have a dramatic twist that makes one instantly think awards, but she supports the ensemble and the movie just wouldn’t be the same without her, she’s the one you think about and quote weeks after watching the film.
When the trailer for Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love first arrived in theaters, it seemed as if he had given Penélope Cruz the character that would get her another Oscar by playing another of Woody’s unforgettable female creations. She plays Anna, a prostitute who accidentally ends up spending her day with a man whose wife has disappeared. After the man asks her to pretend to be his wife in front of his relatives all hell breaks loose. In Vicky Cristina Barcelona Cruz proved she could deliver Woody’s dialogues with the kind of fire they hadn’t seen in decades and in Spanish! In Rome she does the same in Italian! The movie is shaped after the delicious Italian sex comedies of the 1960s and Cruz seems possessed by the spirit of Gina Lollobrigida, Sandra Milo or Anita Ekberg. Sadly the movie wasn’t as well received as Woody’s 2011 entry, otherwise Cruz would most likely be more mentioned during this season.
Perhaps the most surprising comedic entry this year was Emma Watson’s turn as the melancholy infused Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Out of all the Harry Potter kids, Watson always seemed to be like the one who would make it farthest and her sensitive turn here proves why. She infuses her character with a beautiful, earthy quality the likes of which made Molly Ringwald the princess of rom-coms during the 1980s. Watson’s chemistry with her co-stars is delicious and she becomes the kind of elusive romantic heroine we believe we too would fall for. That she also happens to be hilarious in the part is just a plus. An unexpected one granted, but a plus nonetheless.
Don’t you think all of these ladies should be more mentioned in the conversation? Who were some of your favorite funny women this year?
// Notes from the Road
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