Best Actor/ Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor/ Best Supporting Actress

An actor’s performance can pull you deep into a story.  If the actor is able to surrender his own individuality to his/her character and present someone on screen with whom you can so deeply identify that you begin to live the story yourself, he/she has done the job.  The best actors make this extremely difficult task seem so easy that they inspire people to “hop on the bus” to Hollywood, certain that they can master the same elusive skill.  Believe me, folks – it’s SO not easy!  Honored at this year’s Academy Awards will be some of the best performances from 2017…

 

OSCAR NOMINEES 2018

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

*Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project: Dafoe gives his character, motel manager “Bobby,” a complex and engaging persona which defines and provides focus to this beautifully shot but long and meandering film.

*Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: in the role of “Chief Willoughby,” Harrelson provides the angst and conflicted sense of morality that seems to drive everyone through this modern-day “frontier” drama.

*Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water: Jenkins’ role of “Giles,” the neighbor, seems to be the grounding point of reality here…until he isn’t. Jenkins perfectly plays the reasonable, gentle friend who is gradually pulled into a fantastical fairy tale.

*Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World: Plummer took on the nearly impossible task of replacing Kevin Spacey weeks before the release date.  His portrayal of John Paul Getty is flawless and believable.

*Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: Rockwell’s Deputy Sheriff Dixon seems to embody all that is dysfunctional in this role of an American male raised by a domineering mother. Yet he has an awakening and shakes off the chains of mindlessness in a very realistic performance.

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

*Mary J. Blige, Mudbound: This is a wonderful deep portrayal by this legendary musician as “Florence Jackson,” the pivotal anchor of this story.

*Allison Janney, I, Tonya: Janney plays the caustic, self-centered mother of the skater with sympathetic hints of the tough life that hardened both of them.

*Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread: In the most overlooked role in this intense character study, Manville plays the sister of the main character.  Her influence is felt throughout, even without a lot of screen time and dialogue.

*Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird: Metcalf plays Lady Bird’s mother with a depth that lets us feel the frustration trying to raise a strong-willed daughter. We sympathize with her and see her comedic predicament rather than perceive her as villain.

*Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water: Spencer is the Earth Mother in this modern day myth.  I cannot imagine anyone else with a big enough aura to fill that role.

 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

*Timothee Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name: With an almost effortless ease, Chalamet embodies this sensitive, intelligent, perceptive and impressionable young man coming of age armed with a worldliness and a European sensibility beyond his years.

*Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread: in what he says is his last performance as an actor, Day-Lewis takes on an introspective artist with a dangerously narrow focus and an obsession with his muse and with his reputation as a designer.

*Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out: This son of migrants from Uganda who grew up in England, superbly personifies the unsuspecting innocent who is sucked into a maelstrom of evil created by racial misconception and narrowmindedness.

*Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour: In spite of physical dissimilarities, Oldman “got” Winston Churchill so thoroughly that I began to think I was actually watching him, even through my own memories of seeing the real Churchill on TV as a child.

*Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.: This vitally important role is a tour de force for Washington and one that is a huge departure from roles this actor usually plays. Washington shows us someone we might normally dismiss as strange, who is a force of nature and marches to his own drummer.

 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

*Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water: No one but Sally Hawkins could so thoroughly convince us that a normal hardworking human could fall in love with a fantastical river creature.  She does so with grace and inspiration, drawing us all into this modern day fairy tale.

*Frances McDormand, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri: McDormand said that she channeled John Wayne for this role of a mother so hell-bent on revenge that she loses sight of her own reality.  “Rooster” was there in spirit.

*Margot Robbie, I, Tonya: Robbie delved deeply into the personality and history of Tonya Harding, a tragic figure with whom she had no prior connection before reading the screenplay. She was able to capture Harding’s character and the tragedy and comedy surrounding the skater’s rise to fame and sudden downfall.

*Saorise Ronan, Lady Bird: Irish actress Saorise Ronan is able to cross cultural lines to beautifully embody the coming of age of a budding artist aching to break out of her mundane surroundings in Sacramento CA.

*Meryl Streep, The Post: The reason Streep is almost a given during award season is that she is able to get to the heart of every character she plays and to hold that heart out to us.  In Catherine Graham, she gives us the strength and courage required to breakout mold that defined a woman’s acceptable place in the 1960’s.

 

 

MY CHOICES

*Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri – his character goes through the greatest transformation.

*Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Octavia Spencer in The Shape of Water defines the strength that lies beneath the structure of this story

*Best Actor in a Leading Role – This is a tough one, with so many brilliant performances, however I’m going with Denzel Washington in Roman J. Israel, Esq./ even though Oldman will probably win for Darkest Hour, and deservedly so.

*Best Actress in a Leading Role – Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water has to cross boundaries of reality vs. dream, to not only show us the beauty of a plain mute cleaning woman. She must also suspend our sense of our everyday existence to convince us that a fantastical strange-looking river creature can possess charisma and sexuality.

 

 

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.  She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

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