I case you missed it, this piece was originally published over at LAMB for "LAMB devours the Oscars."
In 2014, I got to talk about the supporting actors for LAMB Devours The Oscars. This time around, I've got the actresses. Though there's a clear winner in this category, it's full of strong performances. I'm going to talk briefly about some of the things I adored from each one of these talented ladies.
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
At first, Octavia over her co-star Janelle Monáe bothered me slightly. It just felt too "safe." In retrospect, it makes sense. Octavia's Dorothy Vaughan is one to take charge. She organizes and holds everything together. Her hard work, like Spencer's pays off. It's easy to rally behind her. Spencer plays Dorothy very calmly, even though you know she has so much more to say. She keeps it professional. In a powerful moment when Kirsten Dunst's character attempts to justify her stance on racism, Dorothy's short reply, "I know you probably believe that" speaks volumes.
Nicole Kidman - Lion
The minute Nicole Kidman's Sue walks on screen, I immediately just wanted to hug her. She radiates warmth. Sue is an unbelievably strong woman. She loves her adopted sons so much, and when Saroo explains he's been looking for his birth mother, she responds with "She needs to see how beautiful you are." Kidman's performance is extraordinary. She only gets a short amount of time on screen, but she makes every minute of it worth it.
Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea
If you've read my blog, you know I'm one of the few who isn't a fan of this film. Michelle Williams for me is the only one that breathed some life into it. This is a cold film, I wasn't connecting with any of the characters on screen, then Randi showed up. Only sporadically at first, but it's her final scene that made me feel something. She brought me to tears when she apologized to Lee about everything that happened after their own personal tragedy. Then as soon as she left, all that emotion left with her. She was the strongest part of the film.
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Moonlight was a film I never wanted to end. When we first meet Paula in her work clothes, you don't sense that she has drug problems. Watching her spiral out of control and verbally abuse her son, Chiron is heartbreaking. Of all the nominated performances, Paula is the only character I hated. It's unfair, addiction is a disease, but it's impossibly not to care about Chiron so much. To think that Harris shot her entire part in three days in the middle of a press tour, and that she conjured those types of emotions is nothing short of amazing.
Viola Davis - Fences
And then there's our winner. (Seriously, no one else is going to take this) Okay, technically it's category fraud. But it's not as glaring as Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara last year so I'm willing to excuse it. (just like I do for Dev Patel in Lion too, by the way) Viola is an absolute powerhouse in this film. Rose is everything. She's loving, she's the caretaker, the mediator, and often the biggest voice of reason. This family would not function without Rose and she makes that known. I can't help but be in awe with what Viola does here.
Which actress gave your favorite performance?