Film & Television

Oscar’s Women: This Year’s Best of the Best

Brie Larson and Jacob Trembley in a scene from Room (A24, 2015)

Although I loved Brooklyn — and particularly Ronan in it — my money is on Brie Larson. Her performance in Room is nothing less than a revelation. The movie is much harder to watch than Brooklyn; it’s a saga pulled from sensational headlines and every parent’s worst nightmare. But Room is also tremendously rewarding. It somehow weaves together horror, redemption and the intimate joys of the everyday. Larson delivers one of the truest portrayals of mother-love I’ve ever seen. It is a career-defining piece of work that deserves every possible prize.

The Best Actress category also includes an older nominee, a dark horse who might upset the race. At age 70, Charlotte Rampling has many more years — and many more movies — behind her than current favorites Larson and Ronan. Born in England, but residing in France, she has transitioned from a 1960s “it girl” to a 1980s Woody Allen heroine (Stardust Memories) to the elegant costar of Paul Newman (The Verdict) and Robert Redford (Spy Game). Her most notorious role was in 1974’s The Night Porter, in which she played a Holocaust survivor who willingly renews her masochistic relationship with a Nazi guard ten years after liberation. This year, Rampling has been recognized for 45 Years, a deeply disturbing story about a husband and wife and the devastating secrets between them. Rampling’s performance has been described as “mesmerizing.”

A third nominee is Cate Blanchett for Carol, a 1950s love story that happens to be about lesbians. Like her American friend and colleague Meryl Streep, Blanchett deserves an Oscar pretty much whenever she shows up. But, the problem is we’ve been there, she’s done that (and fairly recently with Blue Jasmine). So, while her fine work in Carol is certainly to be praised, I don’t expect her to take home another statuette. Read More »


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