Ok, I’ve finally reached my boiling point. I’ve just finished reading YET ANOTHER film essayist bemoan the lack of exceptional female performances on screen this year. One of my cohorts at Box Office Insider’s parent company wrote that Reese Witherspoon’s portrayal of Cheryl Strayed in “Wild” was the only strong performance there’s been by a woman so far this year (I’m paraphrasing so if I don’t have the quote exactly right don’t kill me. But I do have the sentiment correct). The phrase “slim pickings” was thrown about as well. Really? What have you been watching? Perhaps the “names” aren’t there, unless Meryl Streep dazzles us in “Into the Woods” which is obviously a distinct possibility, but that doesn’t mean in any way, shape or form that this year’s on screen female turns have been slim pickings and that’s certain to be news to an entire group of actresses who have turned in brilliant efforts so far this year, along with a very promising upcoming slate of possible Best Actress nominees come Oscar time.
Moore is more. The buzz coming out of TIFF was that Julianne Moore was a virtual shoo-in for a nomination with an astonishing performance of a woman battling the onset of Alzheimer’s in Sony Classics’ “Still Alice”. Oh and by the way, Moore may also be up for a Best Supporting nod for David Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” as well, depending upon which category Focus decides to slot her into. The aforementioned Reese Witherspoon could actually be battling herself between “Wild” and the highly lauded drama, “The Good Lie”, yet another festival favorite. . Meryl is always in the mix come Oscar time and, depending upon the size of her role, Rosamund Pike could be as well for “Gone Girl”.
Amy Adams has been nominated for an Oscar an almost inconceivable five times already (without a win, by the way) and is certain to get yet another nomination with Tim Burton’s “Big Eyes”. Unless the film is a complete disappointment, this would seem a cinematic no-brainer. In addition, Jessica Chastain should be in the running for either Weinstein’s “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” or A24’s “A Most Violent Year”. Despite the film’s lackluster initial numbers “Tracks” star Mia Wasikowska is receiving raves for her work, Felicity Jones (again, depending upon which category the distributor selects for her) could be a going concern for “The Theory of Everything”, Shailene Woodley would seem a logical choice for one of the five nominees after her intimate portrayal of cancer victim Hazel in “The Fault In Our Stars”, the ever reliable Marion Cotillard is supposedly brilliant in “Two Days, One Night” and Juliette Binoche could sneak into the conversation with “Clouds of Sils Maria”, a film that Cannes fell in love with.
By my math, that’s at least a dozen strong roles for a group of actresses that have 32 Academy Award nominations between them. Perhaps we should take a step back and, instead of accentuating what we think we haven’t had this year at the movies, celebrate what is shaping up to actually be a very solid year for Oscar worthy female performances.