Thursday, March 4, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks - Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress

Wandering Through the Shelves hosts Thursday Movie Picks. It's a weekly series where bloggers post and share various movie picks every Thursday. 

The rules are simple: based on the theme of the week pick three to five movies and tell us why you picked them. For further details and the schedule visit the series main page here.

This week is Thursday Movie Picks - Oscar Winners Edition: Best Actor and Best Actress. Unlike past weeks where I've probably over-thought the theme, I kept it simple with highlighting performances that come to mind every so often and remain as impressive now as when the film was released.

Natalie Portman - Black Swan

When a ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is chosen by the company's artistic director to star in the next production of Swan Lake, a rivalry brews between herself and a fellow ballerina competing the leading role. Their feud ultimately forces Nina's dark side to emerge.

I always find Natalie's career so fascinating. She's a rare and underrated example of success going from  child star to a global franchise like Star Wars (arguably the most divisive era of the fandom before the newer sequels) to hitting her stride as an adult. Her role as Nina Sayers is one of the most complex leading roles, a dizzying take on an artist seeking perfection. Black Swan is arguably one of Darren Aronofsky's most complex film, filled with nuance that makes you do double-take and see something new. And Natalie manages to command every frame without getting lost in his vision while making you get lost in her crazy downfall.

Charlize Theron - Monster

Longtime prostitute Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron) begins supporting herself and her girlfriend by resorting to killing the men who brutalize her. 

Monster had been on my to-watch list for years, namely to watch Charlize's performance and Patty Jenkins' directorial debut. After finally watching this last year, they both didn't disappoint. At the time of the film's release, the media does as it always does - try to convince people that Charlize only won because she transformed from being beautiful to ugly, but her performance is so much more than that. Charlie imbues Aileen with resilience, exhaustion, passion, hope and desperation. You get to see the monster and human within her and in a real-life story/person most people write off. It's certainly one of her best.

Daniel Day Lewis - There Will Be Blood

Oil prospector Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day Lewis) cons local landowners into selling him their valuable properties for a pittance. However, local preacher Eli Sunday suspects Plainviews motives and intentions, starting a slow-burning feud that threatens both their lives.

There Will Be Blood is one of my all-time movie theater experiences, so it has a special place in my heart overall. But of the nominations and wins DDL has earned, Daniel Plainview is my favorite. Like all of his roles, he throws himself into this one. On the surface, Plainview doesn't come across as menacing, but by the film's end, you truly come to see the lengths of cutthroat self-preservation he'll go to that's ultimately just his natural human instincts. And it's hard to believe or remember that the Drink You Milkshake monologue and such a serious role was also one of the first to spawn memes for the Oscars. 

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