Today we pit our top contenders for the Best Actress Oscar in the metaphorical pudding pool for a bikini-clad, chocolate-treat-slathered Battle Royale from which only one shall emerge the victor. As if that imagery wasn’t disgusting (and sexy) enough, consider that this year’s top dogs form an unholy three-way culled from the deepest depths of lesbian porno hell: Front runners Meryl Streep (Julie & Julia) and Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side) along with our dark horse (did I just write that?) Gabourey Sibide (Precious: Based on the Novel bla bla bla bla bla).
Let’s face it: All Meryl Streep needs to do to get nominated for an Oscar is show up on set. Hollywood’s grand dame has been nominated 16 times and already has two Shiny Gold Dudes for her prodigious award mantle. She could do a regional K-Mart commercial and still be the talk of awards season. She could do a one-line walk-on in a Larry the Cable Guy movie and sweep the Golden Globes. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee her the Academy Award, does it?
PRO: Thanks to the Food Network, cooking shows are sizzlin’ hot (zing!). So Streep’s turn as Julia Child was well-timed. And while Julie & Julia probably won’t even rank in the legendary actress’ Top 10 performances, Streep has been getting deserved nods for revealing the depth and complexity hiding beneath the iconic chef’s apron (thank the gods that’s the only thing hidden beneath Julia Child’s apron that was revealed).
CON: Unfortunately Streep only accounts for half of Julie & Julia’s two-tittied titular characters. And while her performance was impressive, it did not make up for the dreadful “Julie” segments. Dear Hollywood: Bloggers do not make interesting fodder for movies. See: Tucker Max’s I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Okay, there is one exception to this rule — me — but that’s because I moonlight as a kung f ninja assassin for the Dutch government, not because I write snarky quips for the internetzes. Believe me, there is nothing at all entertaining about me in my Ben and Jerry’s stained tighty-whities, typing rape jokes between sips of Steel Reserve; it’s just sad and pathetic. And while the adorable Amy Adams did give the role of food blogger Julie Powell her all, she’s still the proverbial albatross around Meryl’s neck.
When we look back on 2009, we will likely remember it as the Year of the Bullock. After phoning in 2007’s dreadful Premonition, the actress seemingly disappeared, presumably banished to the same island where Ashley Judd forages for berries. But last year Miss Congeniality came back with a vengeance and somehow managed to garner both a Razzie Nomination (for the abominable All About Steve) and an Oscar nomination in the same year. Which raises an interesting question: Is it possible that Bullock might actually be both the best and worst actress of the year?
PRO: Bullock seemed to take a shotgun approach to winning the Oscar. If she stars in EVERY movie that comes out in a given year, she’s bound to win for something, right? In all fairness, she did receive some good reviews for her work in The Blind Side, being called “unusually watchable” by one critic, “surprisingly pleasant” by another and “not at all making me want to jam a fork in my eye” by yet another (me).
CON: This is Sandra Bullock we’re talking about. She specializes in box office fluff aimed at eternally-single cat ladies — usually opposite some equally generic hunkbot actor e.g. Matthew McConaughey. It seems silly handing her a Shiny Gold Dude for the achievement of merely being less bland than normal. It’s like awarding vanilla the Creamy Award for Best Ice Cream. Sure, it’s fine when it’s scooped onto a slice of pie, but it’s still no Chunky Monkey (the flavor du jour staining my tighty-whities).
Not only does Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire (pant… pant…) own the distinction of having the most annoying title, it was — along with The Blind Side and Paranormal Activity — one of the year’s notable sleeper hits. But what most people don’t know is that it also provided one of 2009’s most popular Halloween costumes. As a matter of fact I was at the DMV last week and even though Halloween has been over for months several of the employees were STILL wearing their Precious costumes. Pretty impressive. But was Gabourey Sibide’s performance equally impressive?
PRO: Sibide’s performance as the illiterate incest victim with a heart of gold was solid, if not mind-blowing. But she does have a unique edge over her competition: Let’s face it, it’s not like Sibide’s going to be top-lining summer blockbusters next year. She’s a morbidly obese African-American woman. No one’s casting her opposite Brad Pitt in the next Doug Liman actioner. Outside of the occasional Oprah Winfrey Network movie-of-the-week and Tyler Perry cameo, Precious may be her lone moment in the spotlight. And I believe the Academy will reward her accordingly. When she’s selling Mary Kay ten years from now at the very least she’ll have a Shiny Gold Dude by which to remember her Walhol-prescribed 15 minutes.
CON: She’s up against Meryl Streep. Still, for the reason stated above I think Sibide will pull off the upset and take home the Oscar. Streep already has more Academy Awards that she knows what to do with and likely has not won her last. But unless Martin Scorsese decides to adapt The Jeffersons for the big screen and hand-picks Sibide to be his Weezy, this will likely be her only grab for the gold. She deserves it just as much as her competition, but the distinction will mean a lot more to her. And I believe the Academy will recognize this fact and reward her accordingly.
ADVANTAGE: GABOREY SIBIDE