Cocktail Conjecture: Best Actress

It’s Oscar Week. Or as we call it at The Cocktail, The Most Wonderful Time of The Year!  We’re giving our cocktail-soaked predictions for the big six categories. Like the Oscars last year, we’ll probably get it wrong. And we don’t even have star-struck accountants to blame!

Unlike the Oscars, we’re going to do the best category last. Not Best Picture, but Best Actress!  This is a tough category, and we feel sorry for the losers non-winners, because in some years any of these performances would be Oscar worthy.

And the nominees are..

streep

Meryl Streep, The Post

There’s a little known but strictly enforced law in Hollywood, CA that says if Meryl Streep appears in a movie, her performance must be nominated for an Oscar.  Sometimes those roles are a stretch, but The Post is not.  Although like the year she was up in Florence Foster Jenkins, she will walk home empty handed.

She does a great job portraying Kay Graham, the owner of The Washington Post, during the Pentagon Papers scandal.  It’s a man’s world and her showing strength through self-doubt is good.  But unlike her Oscar winning portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, we don’t have a baseline to judge the performance against the actual person.

It’s an honor just to be nominated, and no one knows that better than Ms. Streep.

itonya

Margot Robbie, I, Tonya

The Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan scandal was nearly 25 years ago, that’s three generations in figure skating years.  But Tonya of yore was brilliantly brought back to life by Margot Robbie in I, Tonya.

The look, the fierceness, the questionably-sincere shock at everything that went down, it’s like we’re reliving the mid-90s all over again. Unfortunately this came in a year when two women are dominating this category, and neither are named Margot or Robbie.  Her best hope is that the two frontrunners split a vote and she moves in.

lady bird 3

Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird

Saoirse Ronan is no stranger to dramatic roles, and was nominated for her performance in The Lovely Bones. We have no doubt that one night she will stand on the stage of the Dolby Theater wearing an elegant evening gown and delivering a heartfelt Oscar acceptance speech. However that will not happen this year.

In Lady Bird she plays an angst-ridden teenager with parental issues who is trying to figure out life today and in the future.  It is an ordinary story told extraordinarily well. But, like Ms. Robbie, it’s not strong enough to topple the top two.

And that brings us to..

shape

Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water

The most nominated movie of the year is nominated in nearly all the major categories, and sports the best performance of the year in any of the acting categories. Sally Hawkins plays a mute.  I don’t think you understand how much of a crutch speaking is.  But Hawkins conveys her dialogue through sign language and expression.  Making the performance even more amazing is her leading man, who doesn’t even have a name, also doesn’t speak.

This performance, this love story, is cinematic brilliance. Sally is our choice to win the Oscar.

However our pick to win is..

3bbd

Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

As Mildred, a small town woman long scarred by life and recently scarred by the brutal murder of her daughter, Frances McDormand is the perfect choice for this role.  It’s a credit to the director and writer that they maker her character less sympathetic as the film progresses.  At the start we are sympathetic to her plight, but as time goes by we become desensitized to the tragedy and wish she would treat people better. But somehow we still root for her to succeed in her brutal plot.

McDormand is perfect to deliver matter-of-fact acerbic dialogue, invoking laughter, anger, and disgust all with the same line.  She has also hit the daily double at the Golden Globes and SAGs, and we are pretty sure she will complete the trifecta on Sunday.

The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation

Three Wise Men: Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels, & Jim Beam, mix ’em together with ice, strain into a glass, swallow it down. And toast all the nominees while you’re at it.

Cheers!

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