Academy of One: Best Actress 2018

These are my opinions and feelings. I do not represent the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and I have no power to revoke or award Academy Awards. Consider this an alternate universe, where everything is the same except which movies get recognition and which should fade out. Also, SPOILER ALERT! I may be spilling major details about several films.

Let me just state up top that one of my goals for this series is to eliminate category fraud. That is to unshift performances from the positions they've been pigeon holed into because of politics or a better chance at winning.

I feel that the actresses of The Favourite share an equal leading status. Though, I will say that to keep it uncomplicated, and in order to highlight a year of spectacular women in leading roles in 2018, I won't be shifting Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz into this category with their cast mate Olivia Colman.

If you take the narrative of the film into the equation as well, then it makes even more sense. The two subordinates who spend the film attempting to woo the Queen's favor would relish the thought of not competing against her, but only each other.

So, now that I have justified the breaking of my credo, let's see if the originally nominated performances will fare any better than in my previous two posts where I tore apart the original lists. Here are the nominees as they stand.

  • Yalitza Aparicio - Roma

  • Glenn Close - The Wife

  • Olivia Colman - The Favourite

  • Lady Gaga - A Star is Born

  • Melissa McCarthy - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

These actresses are very worthy of the spots they've earned, but I feel there are some weak spots and I have a list of actresses that could easily slip onto the list and take their rightful places there. Here's my list of potential candidates.

  • Toni Collette - Hereditary

  • Viola Davis - Widows

  • Elsie Fisher - Eighth Grade

  • Nicole Kidman - Destroyer

  • Thomasin McKenzie - Leave No Trace

  • Charlize Theron - Tully

Horror rarely gets recognized for anything at the Oscars. Yet, horror has produced some of the most iconic performances and images of the last century. Toni Collette's unhinged, rage, fear and grief fueled performance is just spectacular to watch in a terrifying and inventive film.

Viola Davis is just magnificent. She's able to balance the confidence needed to run a crew for a heist with the vulnerability of losing her husband coupled to the vulnerability caused by the intimidating forces that want her to fail. It's a layered and taut performance that stands out in the best ways within a deep bench of great actors.

It's hard to find naturalism in a film where a child is the lead, but Elsie Fisher is just incredible. She finds the voice of the character so easily and imbues the performance with a dynamic reality. She's able to slip into that confidently unconfident mode of a budding teenager so well.

We've seen so many hard boiled male cops on screen that another film that purports to do that could be stale, but it's so rare that a woman gets to take on the role that it's a breath of fresh air into the genre. Nicole Kidman is an actor who's not afraid of getting deeply invested into a character and in Destroyer she fully transforms with incredible toughness and a no nonsense attitude.

Thomasin McKenzie is another young actor who just knocks us off our feet with her ability to bring a character to life. She portrays an innocence that lacks the naive tendencies of someone without her life experiences. The character is fully capable and it comes through in McKenzie's every movement.

Charlize Theron is an actor with no fear. She attacks every role and disappears better than most into the realities of her character. In Tully, she pulls off the stress and intense pressure of motherhood with ease. She really can do no wrong.

O.K., I'm very excited by my list of potential usurpers and I am ready to go back to the original list of nominees and take off two of them to make room for two of my own. Yeah, I like the actresses this year better than the actors. Here's that list of nominees again.

  • Yalitza Aparicio - Roma

  • Glenn Close - The Wife

  • Olivia Colman - The Favourite

  • Lady Gaga - A Star is Born

  • Melissa McCarthy - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

I'm going to start with the one you're expecting. Yeah, I'm taking off Lady Gaga. She is an incredible singer. Let me just put that out there for you all to see so you know it's not a music bias that this decision is based on. I like her voice a lot, just, when her voice is paired with this character it doesn't do it for me.

As I mentioned with Bradley Cooper's performance, he's acting in his own movie and it feels like all the other actors are constantly on their heels attempting to catch up. I just feel Lady Gaga never catches up. Her lack of understanding where Cooper's going makes her performance suffer. I just don't feel that the superb singing is enough here.

The next person to go is likely someone you wouldn't suspect. I'm removing Glenn Close from the list. I have described other cases where a performance in a mediocre film has been elevated. I don't believe in that. If the movie itself is less than stellar, the acting doesn't matter all that much because it is a part of that whole not something on its own. While I don't doubt Glenn Close's talent, I cannot pull her performance out of this film as something above the rest of the mediocrity. She has her moments, but until the twist comes, she's just doing the work we expect. There are moments of inspiration, but they're just moments and not the whole of the performance, so I will take her off the list.

Well, this category is not as bloody as the male categories turned out to be, but I do have two open slots. Here are the two performances I'm elevating to the original list.

  • Toni Collette - Hereditary

  • Viola Davis - Widows

With those additions, here is what the field looks like now.

  • Yalitza Aparicio - Roma

  • Toni Collette - Hereditary

  • Olivia Colman - The Favourite

  • Viola Davis - Widows

  • Melissa McCarthy - Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Will our queen be deposed an another actress take her crown? Short answer, no.

The Queen Anne role in The Favourite could have been broad. It could have been a background, supporting role with no meat to it, but Olivia Colman gives the role its teeth.

Colman has the knack for comedy and drama and the uncanny ability to flit between the two with an unparalleled ease. She can be screaming bloody murder for comedic effect and several scenes later shed real tears as she describes the loss of her children and how her rabbits fill that void. She has that ability to notice and adapt to the nuance of each with ease.

Her charmingly un-charming graces and her superb timing culminate into several fantastic bits of physical comedy. My favorite of them is as she falters while giving a speech to Parliament. She looks out on the crowd, realizes how much she doesn't want to be there and really has no idea what's going on, so she gets out of it. She falls down and feigns some kind of injury stopping the proceedings and thus her obligation to it. Her paranoia and suspicions are then calmed by her closest advisors after the incident, but that relief of not actually having to perform the duties of statecraft are all over her face.

Olivia Colman is superior in all aspects of the film and is definitely the best of the leading performers this year.

All right, it looks like they’ve started the music. That wraps us up for this edition. So, between now and next time you can find me on Twitter @zyoungs108, you can like my Facebook page @zachyoungswrites, and visit the links on this site to where you can buy my self-published works.

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