As we leap forth into the final half of our 100 Performances Oscar Forgot series I decided to reshuffle the running order a little bit to squeeze in an entire section of British talent into one section. Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences, we thought you loved the Brits.
Carey Mulligan for Shame (2011) – – – Robin Write @Filmotomy
For Shame indeed, as the phrase goes. A movie famous not just for it’s sheer, gritty brilliance, but also because the talking point ever since has been more about Michael Fassbender’s Oscar snub than his penis. Carey Mulligan, as Fassbender’s “troubled” sister, does not get tongues wagging as much perhaps, but she really fucking ought to. In a much more sedate, but still excellent, role in Drive, the feisty, fragile character in Shame marks a fantastic year for Mulligan. As Sissy, not only does she provide the heat and adrenaline to Brandon’s cold and static sex addict, Mulligan certainly matches the great man in the acting stakes when she is on screen. Both siblings are damaged and lonely, but as Brandon tries to suffer privately and internally, Sissy explodes her anxieties outwards into the world, her heart splattered across her sleeve as she craves some attention that might save her from herself. A bratty, excitable young woman, Mulligan makes Sissy sympathetic and honest, dragging her along admirably – adding a fine American accent and a simply heart-stopping rendition of New York, New York into the mix. Two well-deserved Oscar nominations to go please Academy.
Robert Carlyle for The Full Monty (1997) – – – Jade Evans @enchantedbyfilm
For a film that garnered so much international success, it is an astounding revelation that lead actor Robert Carlyle was not nominated for an Academy Award for his role in The Full Monty. For a small British Social Realist Comedy set in Yorkshire, this tale of five men on the dole after the local steelworks shuts down won the film huge national and international success. The Full Monty was awarded Best Picture at the BAFTAs, where Carlyle also snagged the award for Best Actor. Why then, was Carlyle not nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film when the film itself was nominated for an Oscar and went on to win the award for Best Original Score? The Full Monty was not, like most award winners, a blockbuster. It was in actuality, a fairly small British film about the working class, much like its contemporaries Brassed Off and Billy Elliot. However, in exquisite British humor and sentimentality, The Full Monty deals with the threat to masculinity in the post-Thatcher era, and it is perhaps its wit and universal understanding of the changing world for men and women that won the audience over. However, Carlyle’s performance undoubtedly played a huge part in the film’s success. Gaz (Carlyle) attempts to reclaim his masculinity by leading his fellow jobseekers through a stripping routine to a one night only ‘full monty’ performance in the working mens’ club that had been taken over by the local women to watch a Chippendales show. Carlyle is thoroughly believable and honest in his performance of what it is like to be a working class father in an industrial town, where all he has left is his pride and self-respect, with even that at threat as he tries to face up to his failure as a father. He is comical and highly memorable in this role, despite the bigger and more mainstream roles he has acquired since. With his brilliant attempt at a Yorkshire accent, alluring swag, and entrepreneurial spirit, Carlyle makes Gaz a lovably complicated character that appeals to audiences everywhere.
Kate Winslet for Hamlet (1996) – – – Robin Write @Filmotomy
Never in doubt over the last couple of decades that Kate Winslet is a terrifically talented actress. One of the best. She was the Oscar bridesmaid on quite a few occasions before campaign publicity and category fraud finally handed her the Best Actress prize for The Reader – bumping herself out of the running for Revolutionary Road for which she should have won, but was not even nominated. Thus adding to the impressive, long list of films Winslet was not nominated for. In Kenneth Branagh’s lavish and marvelous adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet Winslet took on the legendary role of Ophelia. For hardly ever was a story of more upset than that of Ophelia and her Hamlet. Winslet’s beauty and charm at that age was perfect for the fair Ophelia, why wouldn’t Hamlet love her? Saving the best for the tragic last act, Winslet turns herself inside out with consummate ease as Ophelia plummets into madness. As she drifts between vulgar and despair and child-like, breaking into angelic song and scampering about the hall, Winslet is truly enthralling and ultimately heart-breaking. The gorgeous film itself ought to have bagged far more nominations than it did, but for me Winslet was a revelation here, a performance significantly more impressive than her fine Oscar-nominated roles in Sense and Sensibility and Titanic of the same decade.
Sally Hawkins for Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) – – – Megan McLachlan @heydudemeg
Rewind to 2009’s Golden Globes. Sally Hawkins became the buzz of Oscar season when she took home the Globe for Best Actress – Comedy. But then just a few weeks later, she would get shut out for an Oscar nomination, being bested by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Melissa Leo, and Anne Hathaway. Sally’s portrayal of Poppy in Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky is actually one of the most complicated performances from that year. For most of the film, Poppy is the resilient kindergarten teacher learning to drive. It sounds like the set-up to some lame American rom-com (thank God, there hasn’t been a remake), but there’s more to it than that. It’s a character study of the power of optimism. It may seem like nothing affects Poppy in a negative manner, that she’s some effervescent sprite. But when she’s forced to confront her driving instructor, we see that she’s not ignorant or naively stupid. Hawkins is impressive with her ability to portray a character that can be giggly in one scene and soberly serious in another.
Alan Rickman for Die Hard (1988) – – – Robin Write @Filmotomy
It is easy to assume that Alan Rickman’s name these days is synonymous with Snape given the longevity and popularity of the Harry Potter generation. It could be argued that Rickman may have been a contender in the series if the Academy were capable of taking fantasy adventures serious in the acting categories. The same sporadic awards attention can be raised with action films. In Rickman’s case, two classic examples would be his roles in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Die Hard. His Sheriff of Nottingham was over-the-top brilliant, stealing the movie from Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman. In Die Hard, as the ruthless crime boss Hans Gruber that takes Nokatomi Plaze hostage at Christmas, Rickman plays a more refined, albeit still crazy, kind of bad guy. While super-cool Bruce Willis is doing his hero thing, Rickman and that infamous intonation carries such a convincing level of swarve and magnetism, you are forgiven for contemplating a switch of sides. But Gruber is ultimately evil, and willing to do what it takes to get what he wants, a true criminal mastermind. Superbly menacing throughout, Rickman is clearly having fun here. So were Best Supporting Actor nominees Kevin Kline (winner for A Fish Called Wanda) and Married to the Mob‘s Dean Stockwell – so what was the excuse this time dear voters?