Oscar’s 10 Fair Ladies

Starting a new decade could either be exciting or tiring (to even start thinking about another 10 years on something). What’s sure to be nothing but fun, though, is looking back at the highlights of the previous 10 years which, whether we believe it or not, we survived.

I will go straight to the category of arts and sciences – films – Hollywood – Oscar contenders and winners – in the 2000’s. Onto the more specific one, the Best Actress category in the past decade. As we prepare ourselves and trim down our list to FIVE, let’s look back at how these previous queens won.

Circa 2000’s, 10 Years, 9 Best Actress winners.

The Oscars gave recognition to these following characters- 3 fictional, and 7 real people:

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In 2000, there was the trans man- raped, and murdered. (True story)

Hilary Swank as Teena Brandon/ Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry

“I’m scared of what’s ahead,

but when I think of you I know I’ll be able to go on.”

She starred in this independent film which she did not get paid enough for, at first. Then, the minor awards, the film festivals, and the heavies. Winning over Annette Bening (American Beauty), Meryl Streep (Music Of The Heart), and Julianne Moore (The End Of The Affair), newcomer Hilary Swank, in her first Oscar win in the past decade still makes critics consider her win as the most deserving in a long time. Or, not so. 2, 3 years back, Frances McDormand and Helen Hunt won their much deserved ones. It was, though, a total downfall in Oscars 1999 as Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love) won a very underwhelming Oscar over Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth). BOYS DON’T CRY has got to be one of my favorite films of all time. It’s timely take on what could be the love affair of a lesbian nomad and a young woman in Nebraska, early 90’s. The film also starred Peter Sarsgaard and Chloe Sevigny who scored a Best Supporting Actress nomination for playing Brandon’s girlfriend.

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 In 2001, there was the single mother who brought a small town to its feet,

and a huge company to its knees. (True story)

Julia Roberts as Erin Brockovich in Erin Brockovich

“Well as long as I have one ass instead of two

I’ll wear what I like if that’s all right with you.”

Critics voted her Oscar gown the best an actress has worn as she accepted her Oscar, while her Oscar speech was voted the second best acceptance speech by a Best Actress, the first being Sally Field’s as she won in 1985. Julia Roberts may not be my pick for that year’s Oscar, for I thought Ellen Burstyn (Requiem For A Dream) was that year’s queen playing the unintentionally addictive mother Sara Goldfarb. However, the combination of her laugh and seriousness, and the authenticity she brought to the screen, Erin Brockovich has been played alive by the Pretty Woman herself.

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In 2002, there was the woman who fell in love with who assisted in the killing of her husband.

(Not a true story)

Halle Berry as Leticia Musgrove in Monster’s Ball

“What’s gonna happen now?”

She made history as the FIRST black actress to win the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Was it pushed too hard by the Academy to already make history in 2002? If you’re going to base it on the other nominees’ credentials in that year’s race, Halle Berry stands a good 3rd place to Sissy Spacek (In The Bedroom) and Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge!). With not much win for playing the black girl who lost her obese son and convicted husband (played by P. Diddy or Diddy or Sean “Puffy” Combs), and later on falls in love with the correctional officer who assisted in the killing of her late husband, a heavy one, you see, she took over the Oscar stage in her unforgettable wine gown, screaming, thanking the black women who have come before her.

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In 2003, Virginia Woolf was reborn. And so was Mrs. Dalloway.

(Real-life character [Woolf] in a fictional novel)

Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf in The Hours

“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”

Fresh from an Oscar loss (seriously, everyone thought Nicole Kidman was ultimately deserving of the Oscar in the previous year for playing Satine in Moulin Rouge!, but she lost to Halle Berry), she worked with the three most amazing women of the time- Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore in the star-studded, heavy drama, Golden Globe Best Picture- Drama, The Hours. Russell Crowe, who won Best Actor in the previous year for Gladiator, joked as he awarded Kidman the Oscar trophy that she won “by a nose,” for it was all over the news that she had to wear a fake one to give life to Virginia Woolf. Everyone, mostly everyone did not fall for Kidman’s Oscar trap. Critics, up to now, still believe that it should have been given to Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven) or Diane Lane (Unfaithful). I agree with them. Lane, playing the unfaithful wife Connie Sumner, should have been awarded this prestige. Nicole Kidman is listed in the 10 Worst Wins By An Actress, with Gwyneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love) at the top spot. Nonetheless, with her empirical beauty, Kidman slowly convinces the viewers that she is worthy of an Oscar title. She has a long list to brag anyway. I love you, Nicole Kidman. Dr. Chase Merridian forever!

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In 2004, there was the monster. A prostitute, a serial killer, a lover. (True story)

Charlize Theron as Aileen Wuornos in Monster

“I’m not a bad person. I’m a real good person.”

From Monster’s Ball to Monster. From the first black to win Best Actress to the FIRST South African to win the same prestigious award. That year in Oscar was all about prosthetics and blatant campaign for wearing so. Critics thought that the total change in looks of this regal queen was Oscar-worthy, so she won several good awards that year; however, many still think that Australian actress Naomi Watts (21 Grams) should have won that year. I am with the first set of people who thought Aileen Wuornos was alive in Theron. As a kid, I watched this film all by myself and was left with tears as Christina Ricci’s character brought her own lover to her death. Not a good Oscar experience for the young boy that I was.

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In 2005, there was the female boxer, a trainer’s million dollar baby. (Not a true story)

Hilary Swank as Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby

“Don’t you say that if it ain’t true. I want a trainer.

I don’t want charity, and I don’t want  favors.”

Her second Oscar nomination and win in five years. Yet again, for the second time, she triumphed over Annette Bening (Being Julia) who she won side-by-side with at the Globes. Hilary Swank is the ONLY Best Actress winner in the 2000’s to have starred in a film that won the Best Picture at the Oscars the same year. And again, critics agreed that it was one of the most deserving Oscar wins of all time. On her bio on the True Hollywood Story, Hilary Swank, after winning her second Oscar went to a Hamburger chain in her hometown in her Oscar gown with her husband, crew, and trophy, and opted to celebrate her win there for she promised the chain that she “shall be back.” With such talent in acting and a beautiful attitude, she has the makings of a true Hollywood queen. She remains to be my favorite Oscar winner EVER.

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In 2006, there was the woman who only loved 2 things: her husband and country music.

(True story)

Reese Witherspoon as June Carter-Cash in Walk The Line

“John, you are a mean man!

You’re a mean man, and I knew it… I knew it all along.”

She remains to be my least favorite Best Actress winner (bordering the worst win of the decade) only because I still think that Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman (TransAmerica) should have won for playing a transvestite man with a son. Country star Witherspoon must’ve given life to the late June Carter-Cash, but she fell flat on reaching the hype of the film as it was more focused on Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of country music icon Johnny Cash. She sang good, though. Other than that, her acting was as flat as some of her notes. I still love her. Of course, the Oscars had to give an award to a youthful actress who’s been in the industry for quite sometime. And it was not Sarah Michelle Gellar who they were thinking of giving it to.

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In 2007, there was THE QUEEN! (True story)

Dame Helen Mirren as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen

“Diana’s no longer a member of the Royal Family,

she’s not an HRH, this is a private matter!”

Robin Williams awarded Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare In Love) in 1999 with the prologue, “There’s nothing like a dame!” Now, I say the same thing. There is indeed nothing like a dame. At the same time, there has got to be no other actress who was born to play the role of Queen Elizabeth II. A biopic which focused on the royal family during the sudden death of Lady Diana, Princess of Wales. There’s this one scene in the film which struck me the most, it was when Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Mother (Sylvia Syms) were talking about the royal family’s political influence, and that if you think the people don’t want to believe in you anymore, make them realize what you’re there for. With such authority, Dame Helen Mirren still streaks goosebumps as she walks a stage after every stage. She was listed as one of the TOP FIVE most deserving Best Actress wins of all time, with Vivien Leigh (Gone With The Wind) and Holly Hunter (The Piano) on the first two spots.

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In 2008, there was the french chanteuse whose life was in… pink! (True story)

Marion Cotillard as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose (La Mome)

“You are my champion. I want you to be mine for life.

Nothing existed before you. It’s all gone.”

An international win for French actress Marion Cotillard at the 2008 Oscars for playing a legendary French singer whose life and love inspired her the most, Edith Piaf. In an all-French language film, Cotillard managed to spread the passion of someone to the audiences of the world through her music and sarcastic comments on whathaveyous. That’s the life of Piaf. It may be as horrible as the prosthetics worn by Charlize Theron (Monster), still, Cotillard proved that even without it, she’s going to be one fine leading lady. A totally unexpected win over Julie Christie (Away From Her), Cotillard’s speech remains to be one of my favorites, as she concluded it by saying, “Thank you life, thank you love! It is true there is some angels (sic) in this city.”

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In 2009, there was the illiterate woman who has been loved by… the reader.

(Not a true story)

Kate Winslet as Hannah Schmitz in The Reader

“You don’t have the power to upset me.

You don’t matter enough to upset me.”

The most awaited moment by audiences worldwide, the Oscar win of Kate Winslet. She had the record of the actress with the most number of Oscar nominees without a win, until Oscar 2009. In 2008, she starred in 2 films which gave her the unprecedented title of Best Actress by Time Magazine: The Reader, directed by Stephen Daldry, the same director who gave Nicole Kidman her Oscar-winning role and Revolutionary Road, directed by her husband, Sam Mendes, starring alongside her Titanic mates, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kathy Bates. With the prosthetics in the end of the film, the heavy nude scenes, and the German accent- for winslet played a German woman who later on got involved in the Nazi-caused turmoil- it was, all along, screaming Oscar. However, in Revolutionary Road, she played a typical suburban housewife who was dreaming big. Kate Winslet won in different categories for The Reader. She was awarded a Best Supporting Actress trophy at the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild, and the Best Actress trophy at the BAFTA and the Oscars. She also won the Golden Globe Best Actress award for Revolutionary Road in the same year. Nominated for Oscar Best Picture and Best Director (a third for Daldry on his third movie, beat that), this film, The Reader, opened possibilities to newcomer David Kross playing the heart of the film, Michael Berg. She may not be as worthy as Melissa Leo (Frozen River), Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married), or Meryl Streep (Doubt), she still proved herself as the ultimate best actress of the year. 

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Among the 10 Best Actresses, 7 won by playing real people, which the Oscars is quite fond of giving the awards to. Also, 5 of them had their film nominated for Best Picture, giving them an extra push, while the other 5 was just too strong to beat (or not really).

This year, the first of another decade, we shall witness the rise of a new set of 5 leading ladies. The nominees will be announced next week, but as early as now, I have a prediction on the golden five to make it to the cut. One of them has got to be the most deserving actress to win the award, newcomer Carey Mulligan (An Education), but reality wise, she’s new and she may not be that strong as Hilary Swank in Oscars 2000. Starring in a British film was not quite the way to leave an impact to the Hollywood viewers. Ergo, Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side), who has been winning major awards like the Critics’ Choice, Golden Globes, and the SAGs, could be this year’s dark horse. Take note, she has never been nominated for an Oscar despite her resume in Hollywood films. And… Bullock played a real person in this one, which the academy might find appealing.

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DID YOU KNOW THAT it was originally Julia Roberts who was eyed to play the character of Leigh Ann Tuohy in The Blind Side? It could have been a second Oscar for the pretty woman. Also, it was originally Nicole Kidman who was eyed to play Hannah Scmitz in The Reader? It could have been another Oscar for her, or it could have been an Oscar for Melissa Leo that year. Go figure. It’s like Assunta deRossi who was supposed to play Rachel Go in Mano Po (2002) and passed it on to Ara Mina instead, and then she won the MMFF Best Actress beating fellow star Maricel Soriano (Mano Po) and Vilma Santos (Dekada ’70).

Anyways, I’m sleepy.

See you at the Oscars!

 

 

 

 

 

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~ by ardenkhan on 25/01/2010.

2 Responses to “Oscar’s 10 Fair Ladies”

  1. Lovely. Thanks for texting me about this. I don’t know who the other contender is but I really hope Sandra Bullock wins this year.

    You wanna know who the real tragic nominee is?
    Annette Bening. Twice beaten by Hillary Swank.
    Go figure.

  2. Arden..Your reviews entice my appetite for entertainment.. thanks…Can’t wait for the Oscars…I do think that the same of group of people might win…

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