Underdogs of the Southern Wild: Best Actress in a Leading Performance

This article was written by Harry Hansford.

underdogpart4

The fourth and final part in my series on Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Oscar nominations and its subsequence chances of success deals with the Best Actress Award. An award the Beasts actress, Quvenzhané Wallis should be very proud to be nominated for and has broken records achieving as she is now the youngest ever actress to be nominated at 9 years old. This award to me is the most likely of all four nominations that Beasts has to become an Oscar winning film, however the competition is high; many would see it to be a shock if the young Miss Wallis was to walk out with the golden statue in her hand.

Wallis’ performance is the type of performance that only comes along once every generation, a child actress that can hold a film on their own is an amazing feat but to do this in such a powerful way at such a young age is just something special. Asking a child to carry such big themes and issues is always a risk however Wallis takes this in her stride and gives us one of the performances of the year and possibly the decade.

Now to look at the competition.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING PERFORMANCE

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)

  • Chastain has shown promise over the last few years and has started to become Hollywood’s go to leading lady for challenging roles. In Zero Dark Thirty she may have just found the role that cements that, as Maya, a young CIA officer, Chastain shows the audience the pain, frustration and joy that comes with working on your first job, and how it can become your life as it spans over a decade. The performance is spectacularly strong and also a strong candidate to win.

Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)

  • Lawrence had to fight for this role at first as two high profile actresses had previously dropped out. David O. Russell thought Lawrence was too young, however, after impressing Russell, Lawrence got the part of Tiffany Maxwell a young widow who becomes friends with the protagonist of the film due to their shared mental illness.
  • The role is one that ranges in emotion and is one that the audience will enjoy and talk about after the film. Lawrence however seems to have one more fight on her hand if she wants to win the award and that’s with…

Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

  • Riva, the favourite for the award, is also breaking records as the oldest ever nominee at 85 years old. She first achieved success in 1959’s Hiroshima Mon Amour and became a massive French movie star is the 60’s, though it is her role as Anne in Amour that she will always be remembered for.
  • A haunting performance of a elderly woman whose body is failing her and relies on her husband to carry on living. This performance will win the Oscar and is the only performance out of the nominated that can rightfully beat Quvenzhane Wallis.

Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

  • On the other end of the scale we have this nomination, don’t get me wrong, Naomi Watts is a very talented actress but the fact this performance has been nominated is a joke. There simply must have been a better performance to nominate.
  • Watts does her best to punch above her weight in an otherwise very average film, however her performance never once touches on the quality of the competitors.

While Quvenzhane Wallis’ performance is none other than astounding, she is up against some amazing actresses and some amazing performances. In previous years she could well have been the favourite; however I see this award going to Emmanuelle Riva and Emmanuelle Riva only.

Now that my series of articles have come to an end (they can be read here, here and here) I have started to realise it doesn’t matter if Beasts of the Southern Wild walks out the Kodak Theatre empty handed. Nobody expects anything walking in and I’m sure nobody expected anything on that first day of shooting in New Orleans, achieving all it has done this film is truly an amazing accomplishment and an inspiration that needs to be appreciated by all of those who have seen it.

Harry.

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