So Sunday night was the 91st Academy Awards and as usual, I stayed up for them so suffice to say I am still recovering!
The night was full of expected wins (here’s looking at you “Shallow”) and even more surprises. Given that there is a lot of debate regarding the awards (particularly the Best Picture winner Green Book), I thought I would give my opinion on some of the awards. In this post, I will be discussing the acting awards.
Best Supporting Actress
By this point in awards season, it appeared to be Regina King’s Oscar to lose and she didn’t disappoint, claiming the Best Supporting Actress gong for her nuanced turn in Barry Jenkins’s brilliant adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk. It was a performance that allowed King to shine as the matriarch who is determined to fight for justice for her daughter’s partner in jail. It was nice to see this film recognised because it was wrongly snubbed in major categories including Best Picture which had rightly caused a furore on social media.
This category was full of strong competition, particularly from Rachel Weisz’s incredible performance as Lady Sarah in The Favourite. She had won the BAFTA a couple of weeks ago and personally, she would have been my first choice for the award. That being said, it is wonderful seeing King being recognised in film after a long absence from the big screen.
Best Supporting Actor
Much like King, this was Mahershala Ali’s for the taking. Having won the same award two years ago for his stellar turn in Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight, his acting talents are still very much fresh in Hollywood’s mind and he continued his winning streak as the genius Dr Shirley in feel-good piece Green Book. Admittedly, I didn’t really get on with this film as a whole (I will explain more later) but the performance Mahershala gives cannot be ignored nor his win argued. He is brilliant playing the pianist touring the deep south chauffered by Tony, a white New York Italian security guard who proves to be Dr Shirley’s polar opposite performed brilliantly by Viggo Mortensen. Ali brings such an elegance and grace to his performance showcasing the struggle of Dr Shirley.
Having swept every supporting actor award, this was one of the expected wins; however, I can’t not mention Richard E. Grant who has been charming the globe with his enthusiasm this season and bringing a much needed injection of joy that the film industry needs during the politically turbulent backdrop. That being said, Mahershala was my choice to win and he has continued to cement his status as one of the greats.
Best Leading Actor
Like the two previous awards, this gong also had a clear frontrunner in the form of Rami Malek for his performance of Freddie Mercury in the audience favourite Bohemian Rhapsody. I have been a fan of Rami’s since his supporting turn in The Master and knew it was only a matter of time before he achieved even more success which came from his appearances on TV in Mr Robot. His performance as Freddie was clearly no easy feat as the film had a very troubled production due to allegations against director Bryan Singer. I have to be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the film as a whole. I wish I loved it because I am a huge fan of Queen and Malek but the script was poor and pacing was all over the place. I do believe that it is Malek’s performance that carries the whole film and the charisma that made it so enjoyable for audiences.
I do think that this performance was brilliant and deserved to be recognised by the Academy but I also feel that we’re going to see Malek’s in even better roles in the future. Personally, my vote would have gone on Christian Bale for his twisted portrayal of Dick Cheney in Vice playing the controversial vice president who would do anything to gain power. I was very happy seeing Malek being recognised but I felt that Bale’s performance had more weight and depth.
Best Leading Actress
My favourite category of the night (pun intended). The best surprise of the night saw Olivia Colman win for her portrayal of Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’ phenomenal The Favourite. I can’t even begin to explain how much I enjoyed this film. It was flawless in every way from the script to the make-up and of course, the cast particularly the three leading ladies (Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone). Olivia was my pick for the gong the whole way through awards season. As much as I love Glenn Close, I felt that giving her the award would be more of a celebration of her entire career rather than her performance in The Wife specifically. Of course, Close doesn’t ever put a foot wrong, there’s a reason why she has led such a successful career but this felt that it was more about her previous Oscar losses in the past. What was even better was Colman’s reaction and speech. She was clearly just as shocked as everyone else at her win but she showed exactly why she has captured everyone’s heart. It’s so wonderful to think that “Sophie from Peep Show” has become a Hollywood Leading Lady.
Now as I said, Colman was my choice for this award. She is flawless in every role she takes whether it is a small British sitcom or a big Hollywood film. She brings a nuanced humour that also has a depth to it and makes even the smallest character three dimensional. I am so excited to see what she does next. I am also certain that Glenn’s big Oscar moment will come eventually and it will be for a performance as memorable as Fatal Attraction. I also feel like I should give a shout-out to Melissa McCarthy’s career defining turn in Can You Ever Forgive Me? which showcased McCarthy’s range and allowed her to break out of the comedic trope that she is known for.
That’s it for my acting awards roundup. What did you think of the acting award winners? Let me know in the comments below!
My next blog will look at the original and adapted screenplays, director and Best Picture awards.