Here come the girls

Posted by · 3:11 pm · September 30th, 2009

Saoirse Ronan in The Lovely BonesI know I’m hardly the first person to mention it, but as I was fiddling around with my predictions recently, I was struck once more by just how young the Best Actress category is skewing.

At present, 15 year-old Saoirse Ronan is the only teenager being talked up for a nomination, but with three other solid contenders — Carey Mulligan, Gabourey Sidibe and Abbie Cornish — all playing teens in their respective vehicles, you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. (As if that weren’t enough, in a perfect world, 18 year-old Katie Jarvis would be leading the field for “Fish Tank.” We can but dream.)

Meanwhile, you can bet that a sizable number of Academy members are under the impression that waif-like 24 year-old it-girl Mulligan (the current frontrunner for “An Education,” in case you need reminding), and especially 26 year-old non-pro Sidibe (whose buzz for “Precious” has rocketed since Toronto), are even younger than they are.

Beside these ladies, 27 year-old Cornish, whose work as the young Fanny Brawne in “Bright Star” everybody but Kris seems to love, looks a virtual veteran. Lucky for her that Meryl Streep is around to keep things in perspective.

Seriously, however, I do wonder how many members of this new young guard can remain standing all the way to nomination day. Having four teenaged characters in the Best Actress lineup would be unprecedented … will the voters think that excessive?

Mulligan is, of course, a lock, and “Precious” can scarcely put a foot wrong at the moment, which bodes well for Sidibe, despite the fact that she’s far from a typical nominee in the category. Cornish is on the bubble at the moment, but her film is gaining critical ground after a cool Toronto reception, and its fans may choose to rally around her performance as its chief form of recognition.

The one on shakiest ground right now, then, is unsurprisingly the one about whom we know the least. Ronan is clearly a fine actress, but might the Academy feel that handing her a history-making second nod before the age of 16 is too much, too soon? Perhaps, but what concerns me more than that is her actual role in “The Lovely Bones” — Susie Salmon is an awfully passive presence on the page. Has the adaptation given her more to do?

So many questions. Anyway, don’t mind me … just thinking aloud.

→ 39 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

39 responses so far

  • 1 9-30-2009 at 3:38 pm

    Encore Entertainment said...

    I hope they have given her more to do…it’s good to see her next role is not another Briony.

  • 2 9-30-2009 at 3:42 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    Peter Jackson Im sure has addressed any flaws, and this is the performance Im most looking forward to all year, actually all the performances in this film are my most anticipated. I really want to see Whalberg wow me and Im sure Tucci will. Also Im looking forward to Brad Pitt in Tree Of Life becuase I think he could really shake things up if the film gets released in time. Brads been on a role lately, in my book at least

  • 3 9-30-2009 at 3:43 pm

    daveylow said...

    Is Ronan really the lead in the film?

  • 4 9-30-2009 at 3:46 pm

    Lance said...

    Don’t forget Emily Blunt who plays Queen Victoria as a teenager. I saw “The Young Victoria” this past weekend and I LOVED it especially Blunt’s performance.

  • 5 9-30-2009 at 3:46 pm

    Chris said...

    Slightly OT, but regarding Katie Jarvis: I wanted to go see “Fish Tank” this past weekend, and it was actually sold out! At 20 past eleven in the evening! And even though I was angry I didn’t get in (it was the last screening in town), I was quite happy nonetheless that a small film like that could attract a bigger audience.

    So, who knows what might be on the radar still?

    (Which makes it even more remarkable that the film was sold out, is the fact that there was only one more person in the audience apart from me and my girlfriend, when we went to see “Creation” instead.)

  • 6 9-30-2009 at 3:47 pm

    Adam K said...

    I just don’t see “Bright Star” working out on nomination day. Every person I’ve talked to who has seen the film has absolutely hated it. And if we know anything with the Academy, the public seems to be a better barometer of a film’s nomination chances than critical response.

  • 7 9-30-2009 at 3:48 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Daveylow: That’s what I’m wondering. Her role in the novel is more that of a narrator than a fully-formed character. Still, since everything is told from Susie’s perspective, she’s its most constant presence.

  • 8 9-30-2009 at 3:53 pm

    Sean said... said they’ve gotten confirmation from paramount that Ronan will be submitted as lead, not supporting.

    I’ve read the script(awhile ago)…and i think people will be suprised at how humorous and funny the character is since its all serious business in the trailer.

  • 9 9-30-2009 at 3:54 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Lance: True, but I don’t regard Blunt as a serious contender. Personally, I found her bland in the film … Rupert Friend acts circles around her.

    Chris: Interesting. I’ve been surprised, and not a little thrilled, to see how well “Fish Tank” has performed locally. Most excitingly, the teen audience seems to have found it. Out of interest, where was the cinema in question?

  • 10 9-30-2009 at 3:55 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    sean was it humerous in a good way? the real question is i know ill like the film, but does the script show signs of a master piece in the works or just a solid film, or none of the above?

  • 11 9-30-2009 at 4:08 pm

    Sean said...

    I honestly thought the script was pretty amazing, its definately something really different and unique. Most of the time i was thinking “how is this even going to look?”…narrative-wise, visually, tonally….,imo if he can make it all work cinematically….then the M word is possible. Jackson’s said this is the hardest film he’s ever made by a longshot…so hopefully he pulled it off, he’s certainly had all the time in the world to tinker and perfect it so….we’ll see.

  • 12 9-30-2009 at 4:09 pm

    Jim T said...

    I agree that Ronan is the less safe than than the others but some people who have read the script say that scenes from when she was alive have been added. Anyway, I think critical response to Amelia and Swank’s performance might be the most important factor on Ronan’s chances.

  • 13 9-30-2009 at 4:12 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    “And if we know anything with the Academy, the public seems to be a better barometer of a film’s nomination chances than critical response.”

    Which is why “The Dark Knight” swept the board last year? Not sure I quite understand this statement.

  • 14 9-30-2009 at 4:27 pm

    Dan said...

    It is definitely not correct to say the public is the best barometer of the Academy’s tastes. Nominations for films like Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, Finding Neverland, Milk,….the list goes on and on….suggest AMPAS liks relatively well-regarded milddlebrow adult films that play reasonably well with the public.

    So, Adam, if your relatively well-educated, well-off, liberal, white adult friends aren’t liking “Bright Star” en masse, then we have a problem. Based on my personal experience of seeing the film opening night at The Landmark here in LA (a AMPAS memeber hot spot I should think), it played pretty well with them.

  • 15 9-30-2009 at 4:35 pm

    j said...

    Oh, I was just going to say that. Except I was going to add in a reference to Wall-E. Or even big earners that didn’t get too much critical attention, Indiana Jones, Hancock, Iron Man.

    I believe Angela Lansbury at 20 is the youngest multiple-nominated actor ever. If Ronan gets in and knocks Swank out, I’d be pleased. If Cornish doesn’t get in, I’d be very upset.

  • 16 9-30-2009 at 4:50 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    good to hear sean, it did take as long to make as the entire trilogy which is definately saying something, I just want it to come in and own everything else, but movies like this dont seem to be to the peoples liking anymore, they seem to want them to fail, makes me kinda sad. But no one can say Peter Jackson makes movies with awards in mind, because its just not true, this is not an oscar movie, it justn might become one.

  • 17 9-30-2009 at 4:51 pm

    Chris said...

    @Guy: Cineworld in Glasgow. On a Saturday night – which is even more surprising, since cinemas are generally empty on saturdays, because Glaswegians go out to get hammered.

  • 18 9-30-2009 at 4:56 pm

    John said...

    Yeah, I saw ‘Bright Star’ in a theater with about 15 people in it the other day (early afternoon showing).

    I think just about everyone (including me) really liked it. Several had tissues in hand.

    Those with the tissues were several very old woman.

  • 19 9-30-2009 at 5:26 pm

    Joseph B. said...

    I still think Emily Blunt’s performance in “Sunshine Cleaning” is one of the best of the year. Shows why I have no vote with the academy I guess…….

  • 20 9-30-2009 at 5:27 pm

    James The Greatest said...

    I think ‘Bright Star’ plays VERY well with the older Academy voter crowd, but I don’t think the film itself has the legs to stay in voters’ minds for another FOUR months. Quieter movies/performances like this need to be released later in the year to have a real chance. The one thing on Cornish’s side, though, is a fairly slow field (sadly, as usual) for female leads.

  • 21 9-30-2009 at 5:47 pm

    markus said...

    I don’t consider Mulligan the frontrunner. Best Actress is a tossup between Streep & Mulligan.

  • 22 9-30-2009 at 5:52 pm

    Aaron said...

    I thought Bright Star was brilliant, especially Abbie Cornish’s performance. I saw it in New York in a sold-out performance and the audience seemed to enjoy it. And yes, many were crying.

    I’m not giving hope up on Cornish yet. For me, personally, her character really stays with you after you see the film. The last 10 minutes of just her on screen is an absolute tour-de-force.

  • 23 9-30-2009 at 5:55 pm

    Gabe said...

    I saw The Lovely Bones back in April (rumors of a delay to 2010 are absurd; the print I saw was almost completely finished, effects wise) and while Ronan is certainly the lead, I’d be shocked if she were nominated. Tucci, however…grand slam. Sarandon could get in the supporting actress mix, though her screen time amounts to maybe 15 minutes. Wahlberg…UGH, it’s like he’s doing Andy Samberg doing Mark Wahlberg on SNL. Totally distracting.

  • 24 9-30-2009 at 7:06 pm

    André said...

    I’ll be watching “Fish Tank” tomorrow here at the Rio Film Fest based solely on your review, Guy…

    if I don’t like it, you owe me a movie ticket ! =P

  • 25 9-30-2009 at 7:06 pm

    Alex said...

    I think Cornish’s performance was brilliant. On par with Mulligan. She certainly deserves the nom.

  • 26 9-30-2009 at 7:18 pm

    Speaking English said...

    Cornish is excellent, and Whishaw matches her (but of course he has no buzz… whatever). My pretty full audience seemed to really enjoy the film; they all stuck around after as the credits started to roll, always a good sign.

  • 27 9-30-2009 at 7:34 pm

    Kate Winslet said...

    Unless someone spends $25 million on an Oscar campaign and blows everyone in the Academy, it’s going to Meryl Streep. The actor’s branch will barely be able to pull together five female nominees this year, and a bunch of unknown girls are not going to be able to compete with the queen (how many fucking times did I have to lose before they gave it to me?). Streep is 60 and potentially has three huge box office films this year … it’s not a race at all, and I will campaign for her myself if she does not want to.

  • 28 9-30-2009 at 7:44 pm

    Mike said...

    UntilI read the last few comments, I was getting the impression that everyone was kinda over Meryl Streep. Well I’m certainly not. And to
    the previous comment, if you really are Kate Winslet, I think you are right up there with Meryl streep, and I think you are amazing.

  • 29 9-30-2009 at 7:57 pm

    Jim T said...

    I don’t know, I really find it hard to judge between playing a real person and creating a character out of a page. To be honest, I would like to see Meryl winning for creating something out of a page. I mean, it’s easy for her to play a real person but it’s more interesting to watching her becoming something completely of her own.

    Then again, she has admitted she “steals” things from other actors so it might always be an amalgam of real people.

    Then again (:p) aren’t all actors copying (consioussly or not) expressions and gestures from other 9famous or not) people? Save for people like Nicholson. I’m confused.

  • 30 9-30-2009 at 7:59 pm

    Dan said...

    @ Gabe: Why do you say you’d be ‘shocked’ if Ronan were nominated? Because of the screentime or because of quality?

    And I’m so bummed to hear that about Walhberg….is voice can be SO annoying at times!

  • 31 9-30-2009 at 8:21 pm

    Patryk said...

    Hope “Bright Star” is not as tedious as “Portrait of a Lady.” Will give it a go this weekend and hope for the best from Cornish (great in “Candy, “) and Wishaw.

  • 32 9-30-2009 at 8:54 pm

    Roarkkk said...

    I’m not really going to put too much stock into test screening reviews….i mean aintitcool posted 2 reviews of Lovely Bones earlier in the year, while one was a rave and the other was a rant…both were in agreement that Ronan’s performance was the standout, while Gabe sounds like he didnt really like her. And also, a guy on the boards saw it and said Wahlberg and Sarandon gave the best performances…so i dont know which random person i should believe.

  • 33 9-30-2009 at 9:20 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    Roarkkk believe no one, i really doubt anyones seen the full film and if they had it wasnt finished becuase its been over 8 months sense anyone has “seen” it and we all know how film evolves in a year. Peter Jackson is a perfectionist and hes had plenty of time on this film. For anyone that says that King Kong was no good even Jackson himself said he wished he had more time to go back and cut quite a bit to make a shorter running time, but there was no time. He has plenty of time now and an outstanding cast, until it all falls to shit Ill be rooting for the film, like I do all films, until they suck, what if every movie was better then the last? Thats what Id love and thats what Ill hope for until the film shows it disapoints

  • 34 10-01-2009 at 4:49 am

    Michael W. said...

    I’m kinda in love with Abbie Cornish :-D So I will be upset if she doesn’t make it (even though I haven’t even seen the film yet). But I trust that she i s brilliant. She is also far from safe in the category so a lot of things can happen. Right now I think it looks like this: 1. Mulligan, 2. Streep, 3. Sidibe, 4. Cornish, 5. Ronan and with Swank and Cotillard as contenders for the 4th or 5th spot.

  • 35 10-01-2009 at 6:23 am

    M said...

    I am not going to take test screening sinto account either. I heard Jackson never does test screenings for his movies, not sure how true that is. However, if it is true, then no one has seen it.

    I am anxious to see Lovely Bones, and I hope Ronan does perform well, which would put her even more in the Oscar talk. I also want to see Precious.

    So far, from what I’ve heard Streep, Mulligan and Sidibe are the ones who are almost a sure bet to be nominated so far.

  • 36 10-01-2009 at 7:37 am

    JFK said...

    I agree that Cornish should get the nod–the last 10-15 minutes were brilliant! Everyone in my packed Manhattan theatre was enthralled, most stayed for the end of the credits.

    Streep has to be a lock and I’m thinking the same for Mulligan (Did anyone see her in Bleak House?–amazing!. Swank and Ronan are a toss-up. Sidibe might get overlooked.

    I would really love it if Swinton were included, she was unreal in Julia.

  • 37 10-01-2009 at 8:48 am

    lance said...

    Guy – I understand your reaction to blunt in “the young victoria” but let me at least point out what I noticed and maybe you’ll reconsider her. First, she couldn’t play it too big because they wanted to show a person that was being manipulated by different sides and if she played it like blanchet in elizabeth, we’d ask, how is this strong woman being controlled by other people? Next, she used such a great voice for her character – a very different british accent than “devil wears prada” she also has some very difficult scenes like the ones where she is balancing being a queen and a wife. She had to show so many emotions and thoughts going on at the same time. The final scenes after the assasination gave her a climax to her performance and I think she really nailed it. This is also a costume drama about royalty which the academy loves and most every review on rotten tomatoes highlights her performance so maybe that will help her out. I hope so – it was such a great movie experience for me.

  • 38 10-01-2009 at 11:23 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Let’s not forget Marion Cotillard, if she does indeed go lead.

    The majority of early reports from Nine screenings say that Cotillard is the MVP….And I feel like the Academy quite likes her, enough to reward her with a second nomination.

  • 39 10-02-2009 at 10:35 am

    j said...

    With Last Station confirmed, I see 10 strong contenders. Ranking them in what I’d like to see.

    10. Swank, 9. Mulligan, 8. Cruz
    7. Mirren, 6. Bening [though I think this still is distributor-less]
    5. Sidibe, 4. Cotillard, 3. Ronan
    2. Cornish, 1. Streep