The Stylist team weighs in on the performances of the year.
The Academy Awards are only a few days away, and at least one of the major categories is still up in the air. Who is going to win Best Actress?
Glenn Close took home a Golden Globe, a Screen Actor’s Guild Award and a Critic’s Choice Award (tied with Lady Gaga) for The Wife. But Olivia Colman also has a Globe, a Critic’s Choice Award (not tied) and a BAFTA to her name for her performance in The Favourite.
Throw A Star Is Born’s Lady Gaga, Roma’s Yalitza Aparicio and Can You Ever Forgive Me’s Melissa McCarthy into the mix and you have five of the most heartbreaking, moving and compelling performances of 2019. Any one of them could be named the best of the year.
Which is exactly what the Stylist team has done. Read on for our impassioned odes to the women we believe deserve the Best Actress Oscar come Monday morning.
Glenn Close in The Wife by Helen Bownass, Stylist’s Entertainment Director
“I’m thinking of my mom who really sublimated herself to my father her whole life… And I feel like what I’ve learned from this whole experience is, women, we’re nurturers, that’s what’s expected of us….But we have to find personal fulfillment. We have to follow our dreams. We have to say, ‘I can do that, and I should be allowed to do that.”
This is an excerpt from Glenn Close’ rousing speech when she won the Golden Globe for her role in the magnificent The Wife in January. And it’s a speech we need to hear more of this Sunday.
The film – about a woman married to a much lauded male author who must let him shine – makes such an important statement about the ways in which women are expected to efface themselves, to hold themselves back. Though it’s set in 1992 it’s just as vital today. And as the eponymous wife Glenn Close is complicated, quietly intense and utterly mesmerising.
The camera is a constant presence in her face. In just one look you sense a lifetime of frustration at being silenced, but it’s all simmering under the surface. Until she can’t hold it in anymore…
Close gives a beautiful and important portrayal of a woman who finally comes into herself and that’s something we should celebrate. Loudly and proudly. Give her the Oscar. Give her another platform. Give her anything she wants quite frankly.
Olivia Colman in The Favourite by Meena Alexander, Sub Editor
We already knew that Olivia Colman was the queen of playing queens (OK, we didn’t know because the new season of The Crown isn’t out yet, but are you willing to bet against it?).
What we weren’t so aware of was her impeccable comic timing and uncanny ability to transform into an adult baby. Colman’s portrayal of Queen Anne – pitiful and manipulative in equal measure – in the absurd two-hour riot that is The Favourite is nothing short of comedy genius, yet in one scene she also offers the truest depiction of pain I think I’ve ever seen on screen.
Only Colman could pull off such a complex role with ease, and I love her all the more for leading a film that unashamedly puts female egos front and centre, with all their whims, desires and less-than-shiny bits on show.
When asked in the Guardian if she thought the vulgarity in The Favourite could jeopardise its Oscars chances, Colman replied: “Who gives a f**k?” She deserves Best Actress for that, if nothing else.
Lady Gaga in A Star Is Born by Hannah-Rose Yee, writer
The best movie romances are played out through a series of looks. No words, just gazing in adoration. It’s why the wedding in Crazy Rich Asians, and the way Nick and Rachel drink each other in across the aisle, is the most important scene in that movie. And it’s why Lady Gaga should win Best Actress for A Star Is Born.
In a tour-de-force performance that is less of a birth and more of a supernova, the singer fully embodies the pathos of a woman who believes that her dream is over before being swept up in the realisation that it might not be. She’s fall-in’, both for Bradley Cooper’s grizzled Jackson Maine and the creative fulfillment that their partnership gives her.
Gaga evokes all of this through a series of looks: watching Jackson through the streamers at the drag bar, staring at him unblinkingly as he runs his finger (!) down her nose (!!!), the way she covers her mouth but never her eyes as the pair sing their love song Shallow together for the first time. How Gaga looks at Cooper – a mixture of awe and disbelief – is what makes this movie sing.
The first 40 minutes of A Star Is Born is some of the most dizzy, ebullient filmmaking this year, the best evocation of what it feels like when you meet the person who is going to change your life forever.
The rest of the movie can’t live up to that promise, which is kind of the point. But even through the bad times – ain’t it hard keeping it so hardcore, Jackson? – Gaga looks at him in a way that makes you believe that a happy ending could be right around the corner. Spoiler: it isn’t. But it’s no coincidence that the movie ends on a shot of Gaga staring right down the barrel of the camera, demanding that you see her.
Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me by Tom Gormer, Photography Director
I LOVE Melissa McCarthy. I loved her in Tammy, I’ve seen Bridesmaids more times than I should admit, and I even loved her in that one with Jude Law and Miranda.
But until recently, I won’t lie, I thought she was becoming a bit of a one trick pony who plays the same character in Every. Single. Comedy. But all of this opinion has changed. Last week I was on board a flight and ‘that serious looking film with Richard E Grant in’ was on the in flight TV screen menu. My attention span isn’t the best, but I really like Richard E (Spice World and Girls been his best work) so decided to give the film a go.
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME IS BRILLIANT. It is probably one of the best films I have seen in recent years. And, yes Richard is great in it. But Melissa is OUTSTANDING. She steals the show. It is her film. You really feel for her extremely lonely character and not at any point during the 107 minutes of cinema do you even think that her character Lee Israel is lolzy McCarthy and might do some fart gag.
My attention was focused throughout. And she even made me sob.
Who would’ve thought that Melissa McCarthy playing a drunk dowdy frowny failed author who is involved in an FBI fraud case would be making grown men cry in 2019.
And for that reason alone she gets my vote for Best Actress at this weekend’s Oscars.
Yalitza Aparicio in Roma by Kayleigh Dray, Digital Editor
Are we really having this conversation? The answer to the “who deserves Best Actress?” question is so obvious. And, if you don’t believe me, press your ear to the nearest Academy Award statuette (careful: those golden pecs can be quite chilly) and listen closely. What’s that you can hear? The ocean, you say? Hardly. It’s a thousand voices whispering the name Yalitza Aparicio!
Her astonishing performance as Roma’s Cleo is the sort that sits with you long after the credits have rolled. Because, while her role is a quiet one, it’s nuanced and complex and unbelievably powerful, too. It envelops us entirely, gently submerges us, until we can see nothing else. Because yes, this may be the sort of film where everything and nothing happens all at once, but all of that everything and nothing is seen entirely through the eyes of our heroine: Roma has redefined the female gaze. And, considering this is Aparicio’s first ever film role (she trained to be a teacher before winning the audition for Alfonso Cuarón’s movie), this is no small feat.
Of course, if she wins she will make history. She’s the second Mexican actress and the first indigenous actress ever to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Should she win the Oscar on Sunday, she’ll make history again. But Aparicio shouldn’t be given the gong for these reasons: she should be given it because she is a phenomenal actress, and 100% deserves to have her talents acknowledged by her peers. End of.