2016 Oscars: Best Actress

Continuing my series of 2016 Oscars posts, which will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the three weeks leading up to the Academy Awards on Sunday, February 28.

NOMINEES FOR ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Who Will Win: Brie Larson, Room
Who Could Win: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Who Should Win: Saoirse Ronan, Brookyn
Who Should Be Here: Emily Blunt, Sicario

Unlike the other three actor roles, the competition for Best Actress is a little more open. The consensus is that Brie Larson will take home the gold for her career-defining role in Room, though it’s not as solid as the other three. Room is a compelling, yet strangely structured film. It’s really two films in one (and I’m doing my level best to discuss it without significant spoilers), and it’s essentially structured exactly that way: two 60 minute films, shown back to back. Larson completely dominates the first one, but gives way to Jacob Tremblay, who plays her son, in the second – almost so much that she could have been nominated as a supporting actress. This doesn’t diminish the quality of her performance – which was phenomenal – but it takes her down a notch when discussing an actress in a leading role, especially when compared to my vote…

Saoirse Ronan. Brooklyn was a small, slow-burn, beautiful film, which couldn’t have come at a better time. In a time of ever-increasing xenophobia from sea to shining sea, it reminds us who we are, and where we came from. Ronan simply owns the film, completely disappearing into her role as Eilis, an woman who immigrates to the United States seeking a larger and more fulfilling life than the one promised to her small Irish village.

Cate Blanchett could also be in the running for another Oscar win (which would be her third), but she’s lacking in momentum. Rooney Mara’s character equally dominates the film, which received little attention outside its actors. Jennifer Lawrence and Charlotte Rampling are in a tougher bind, as their nominations represent the only honors for their respective films, and none are calling them snubs. I would have like to have seen Emily Blunt recognized for Sicario, a terrific look at the underbelly of drug enforcement.