The Grouches have plowed their way through all of the films nominated for the big eight awards. Now we make the case for which film or performance we WANT to win. Doesn’t mean we think it will win or even have a shot at winning. But if we had a vote on the nominees, here’s who we would pick, and why:

BEST ACTRESS NOMINEES: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age), Julie Christie (Away from Her), Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose), Laura Linney (The Savages), Ellen Page (Juno)

JARED

The best actress category is pretty strong this year, though about half-filled with the gimmicky stuff Oscar nominates without watching the actual movie.. One such role was Cate Blanchett’s Elizabeth, in a movie that shows it isn’t just action films that get unnecessary sequels. Blanchett was OK, but the mess of a script didn’t give her much with which to work. As I mentioned, I would have put Julie Christie in a supporting category. That’s not a knock against her performance, per se, I thought she was pretty good. But the less screen time, the less chance there is to shine, and Christie doesn’t overcome that obstacle. I’m thrilled that Laura Linney got a nomination. Both because she’s Laura Linney and because it is nice to see a portrayal of a normal person getting a nod. I don’t have anything negative to say here, I just think the next two women did a truly fantastic job / were given a little bit more meat.

I’m shocked to see me write this, but I’m going to slot Ellen Page #2. Which isn’t to say I’d be sad if she were to win. Really, so long as Cate Blanchett doesn’t get it, I’m OK, and that’s mostly just because Blanchett’s had enough love. Page’s character was relatively unique, plus her performance was integral to the success of the movie. Much of the reason Juno turned out so well is due to her portrayal of the titular character. Comedy (and especially dramatic comedy) is hard enough without pretending you are a pregnant high schooler, but Page pulled it off wonderfully. So, then, how do I end up spporting the lead actress of a movie I found to be quite terrible? Well, the movie may have been dreadful, but Marion Cotillard was completely transformed into her character. Playing Edith Piaf as well as she did took a wide range of emotions and and ages, and Cotillard managed to do some admirably, creating a distinctly memorable Piaf, somehow being able to stay cohesive throughout.

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BRIAN

For me, the best female acting performance got snubbed by not even getting a nomination. I thought Angelina Jolie was phenomenal as Marianne Pearl in A Mighty Heart, so I’ll spare you all a rant here and let you read my thoughts about Jolie in my earlier post on the subject.

As for the five nominated actresses, I’d vote for Ellen Page as Juno. My problems with the film aside, albeit minor ones, I found Page to be perfect for the precocious, quirky, and unique teenager. Even when Juno was supposedly confident and carefree, you could see, thanks to Page’s acting, that Juno was all-but confident and carefree. The pregnancy did weigh on her, and her tension with Paulie Bleeker (even if he’s totally boss) was so well done. I can’t see anyone else pulling off Juno – annoying catchphrases and all – which is why I pick Page.

Quickly, in alphabetical order, Blanchett was serviceable in Elizabeth 2, but the script was so awful and the direction was even worse, that she had nothing to work with. She may be a brilliant actress, but not even Blanchett could save that film. Julie Christie’s role was supporting in my mind, so that’s a non-starter. Cotillard places a very close second for me, but I can’t be sure how much of my appreciation for her was due to her makeup artist. The fact that she lip-synched the role bothers me a little too. Lastly, I loved Laura Linney in The Savages, and she makes the job look so easy. It was a subtle role, but I saw her performance as intertwined with Philip Seymour Hoffman’s that this part was less than the brilliant sum that was The Savages.

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JOHN

For me it’s a three horse race in this category. Blanchett got in for reprising an Oscar-nominated role and for being Cate Blanchett. She whines and yells through a pretty bad movie. I know I’m in the vast minority, but I didn’t like Christie in Away From Her. I thought she was overacting.

But these last three are tough. Linney is superb as a woman stuck in her life, prone to outbursts and lying. Wendy Savage may not always be a sympathetic character but Linney gets us to feel for her and understand her. Cotillard’s Edith Piaf is a force to behold on the screen. It’s a very big performance and Cotillard shows off her range. La Vie en Rose isn’t a very good film, but Cotillard is always terrific. On the other hand, Page’s success comes with how sincerely she sells her character by keeping her performance low-key. She has great comic timing and manages to spit out a lot of clever, sometimes too clever, dialogue without once making it sound forced. The way she subtly peels back Juno’s know-it-all bravado to reveal her insecurities is masterful.

This is a tough choice, but I give it to Cotillard by a hair. She just pulls off so much in this performance. My heart still pulls for Juno, though, and I may still be rooting for Page come Oscar night.

Snubs: I do think Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart would have made a better choice than Blanchett or Christie, but it wasn’t such a great performance that her exclusion causes me great anguish. The big, powerful performance I would’ve loved to see get some buzz, let alone a nomination, is Carice van Houten in the Dutch film Black Book. Lots of people wanted to see Keira Knightley in here for Atonement but I think the Academy made the right choice keeping her out.

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ADAM

Winner: Ellen Page

Unsurprisingly, the category that I feel the most strongly about this year will also be the most disappointing for me. Currently, the front runners for this award are my two least favorite of the five. I liked Julie Christie’s portrayal of a woman sinking into Alzheimer’s – which, by the way, is a very hard word to spell – but I don’t think it deserves to win the Academy award for acting. Nor do I think Marion Cotillard deserves the award – and not just because she’s French (I can look past that because she is hot). I do not disagree with any of the nominations; I just disagree, in advance, with the winner.

Ellen Page should absolutely win this award, and I am happy to defend that assessment against anyone who would like to try and prove otherwise. I also have to say that I am impressed with the Academy – I think Laura Linney’s nomination is well deserved. And, as stated before, Cate Blanchett is basically a force of nature that the Academy is helpless to stand against.
Performance Ranking:

1. Ellen Page
2. Laura Linney
3. Cate Blanchett
4. Marion Cotillard
5. Julie Christie

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