Here are the nominations:
Charlotte Rampling—45 Years
This category is a bit of a yawn, though it may have set a record for the shortest names of the films they are associated with. The nomination list is almost a lazy one. There are the obvious nominees (Larson and Ronen), the old favorites (Blanchett and Lawrence) and the nod to the old professional that it is time to honor because of a great performance (Rampling).
Rampling is a legend, but more on the other side of the Atlantic than here. She’s been a star since the “mod scene” in Britain in the 1960s, but has a career of sensitive, brave performances since then. The nomination is the Academy’s version of a Lifetime Achievement Award, and with her recent controversial comments regarding the #OscarsSoWhite issue, she doesn’t stand a chance times two. This is simply the Academy saying, “We appreciate your career.”
Cate Blanchett has already won two Oscars, and looked like a possible winner again. But after a flurry of awards at the start of the awards seasons, Carol’s momentum has become as evanescent as the film’s tone. It’s a good performance, but just not strong enough to snag a win over Larson and Ronen.
Jennifer Lawrence’s nod for Joy seems like a filler, or the good performance that rounds out the other four more sure nominations. She got good reviews, but again, it’s not strong enough to even come close to winning. It’s a sign of the love the Academy has for her—one win, four nominations, and she’s just 25.
Saoirse Ronen gave the most touching, subtle performance of the year in Brooklyn, and it will become a model of understatement and beauty. That’s the problem—it’s the finest performance of the year, in both senses of the word. It’s the best of the year, IMHO, and “fine” as opposed to “coarse.” Her eyes rather than her words often tell the story, and to watch her develop her sense of confidence over the course of the film is to see a person blossom and unfold like a flower. It will likely be studied for years. Ronen is one of our finest young actresses and promises years of acting delight.
This year’s winner is going to be Brie Larson for Room. It’s not quite on the level of Ronen’s in Brooklyn, but the story is more dramatic, and Larson gets to have the “big moments” of stress, anger and frustration that makes for a more attention-getting performance. It’s a very good performance, to be sure. It’s just that Ronen’s is a step above.