Like most of you, I’m an arts & entertainment polygamist. I love books, I love music, I love movies and I love sports. I fell in love with all four at an early age and married myself to each before I realized what I was getting myself into. If I were by chance whisked away to the Land of Hypotheticals where I was forced to divorce myself from two of my loves, they would have to be books and music.
Although I have to say, it’s a pretty savvy move on my part. Movies have soundtracks. That’s enough to give me my music fix. And books? Who needs books when we’re too busy reading blogs right?! So, with movies and sports as the two remaining members in my harem of diversions, I thought, why not combine the two into one potent super fetish?
This time of year we all love to talk about the best performances of the past year as we gear up for that annual bitch, moan and snipe-from-our-living-room-couch fest known as the Academy Awards. That’s nice and fun enough, but what I really want is to face them off like Maverick and Iceman and ask not just who the best is, but who THE BEST OF THE BEST is.
Am I saying we do a simple ranking of the best Oscar winners of the past few years? That’s a negative, Ghost Rider. I’m saying we take it one step further. I’m saying we seed the past eight Oscar winning actresses one through eight and put them through a March Madness style tournament.
So without further ado, here are the seeds (feel free to disagree in the comments section) for the Best Oscar-Winning Performance By An Actress Over the Last Eight Years:
- Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose, 2008.
- Charlize Theron, Monster, 2004.
- Helen Mirren, The Queen, 2007.
- Nicole Kidman, The Hours, 2003.
- Kate Winslet, The Reader, 2009.
- Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby, 2005.
- Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line, 2006.
- Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side, 2010.
ROUND ONE MATCHUPS
(1) Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose, 2008 versus (8) Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side, 2010
Let’s be serious, America’s sweetheart Sandy Bullock got a “Thank You For Being You” card in the form of an Academy Award last year. Meanwhile, Marion Cotillard attacked her role of Edith Piaf with such ferocious and heart-breaking virtuosity that for days after seeing the film, I couldn’t enjoy a single croissant without breaking down into tears. My wife would ask me what was wrong and I could barely muster an answer through the slobbered muffle of buttery layers. And forget about what crepes did to me. The Little Sparrow easily advances to the next round.
(2) Charlize Theron, Monster, 2004 versus (7) Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line, 2006
Roger Ebert wrote of Theron’s performance, “one of the greatest in the history of the cinema.” Good enough for me. On the other side, Witherspoon imbues her June Carter with a bubbly charisma and not a single false facial tic in the whole fun and quirky rendition. Indeed, Witherspoon beat out Charlize for Oscar gold in the 2006 ceremony, but that was Charlize in North County. Comparing the Charlize in North County to the Charlize in Monster is like comparing Michael Jordan when he was with the Wizards to the Michael Jordan on the Bulls. Charlize advances to round two.
(3) Helen Mirren, The Queen, 2007 versus (6) Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby, 2005
How much does Annette Benning despise/resent/harbor homicidal feelings towards Hilary Swank? She lost out on Oscar gold twice to Ms. Swank, once in 1999 when she was nominated for American Beauty and again in 2005 when nominated for Being Julia. If Darren Aronofsky had cast Hilary Swank in Black Swan, she would have been a shoo-in for her third Oscar and I think they would have had to bar Annette from being within 100 feet of the Kodak Theater on February 27th. What does that have to do with the Mirren versus Swank matchup? Nada. Just felt like it was my only chance to mention it before I eliminated Hilary (on a bribe from Bening) and advanced Helen to round two.
(4) Nicole Kidman, The Hours, 2003 versus (5) Kate Winslet, The Reader, 2009
What matters more to the Academy? That an otherwise gorgeous actress uglies it up in service to a role or that a gorgeous actress strips down naked in service to a role? I say the former carries more weight with the voters otherwise Halle Berry is a two-time Oscar winner, not just for Monster’s Ball but also Swordfish. Kidman advances.
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