Thursday, November 12, 2015

Academy Awards analysis (2006)

By the time The Devil Wears Prada was released, we had experienced the longest span between Lead Actress nominations of Meryl's career.  The five-year break between Postcards from the Edge (1990) and The Bridges of Madison County (1995) was the greatest gap in nominations, but I was surprised when I considered that in 2006 it had been seven years since being nominated for a lead role.  Yes, there are many who consider Miranda Priestly a supporting character in the film, but the vast majority of Streep's multiple nominations from that year were indeed in the category of lead.

This film also marked an important turning point in the history of Meryl's career.  Possibly for the first time in her 30 years on screen, she became bankable.  The wonderful performance in cinemas brought Meryl into great demand for a handful of roles that may never had seen the light of day had Prada not been such a hit.  Within three years of this film's release, the success of Mama Mia!, Julie & Julia and It's Complicated solidified Streep's status as a bonafide, if not unexpected, box office draw at the age of 60.

Despite Prada's success, another actor's work the same year completely outshone the others.  Helen Mirren's  performance as Queen Elizabeth II in Stephen Frears' The Queen ultimately became one of the most dominant on the awards circuit in history.  Doing a quick check, a non-exhaustive list of Mirren's wins that year include the following:

Academy Award
Screen Actros Guild Award
BAFTA 
Golden Globe (drama)
Critics' Choice Award
National Society of Film Critics
New York Film Critics
Los Angeles Film Critics

It's possibly the biggest slam dunk of the 2000's for lead role.   Many consider Meryl to have been a distant second in the Oscar race that year, with the rest of the crew considered also-rans.  The full list of nominees that year is as follows:

Penélope Cruz (Volver)
Judi Dench (Notes on a Scandal)
Helen Mirren (The Queen)
Meryl Streep (The Devil Wears Prada)
Kate Winslet (Little Children)

I've seen all but Cruz's performance, with my personal favorite (aside from Meryl) being Dench in Notes on a Scandal. In any half a dozen other years before or after 2006, Dench would've been very difficult to top in my opinion.  Great year for women's roles. Incidentally, this was Meryl's 10th consecutive loss at the Academy Awards.

23 comments:

  1. I agree, it was all but impossible to top Mirren this year. She got early traction from Venice )winning the Volpi cup and getting a rapturous reception) and it continued from there.

    I wonder if Meryl had ran as supporting (similar to Sigorney Weaver in Working Girl) would she have beaten newcomer Jennifer Hudson?

    I also agree that Dench was astonishing as Barbara Covett. I remember seeing Notes on a scandal in the cinema and being blown away by what a biter old hag she portrayed, yet more complex than simply a villain. I loved the scene where Blanchett's Sheba attacks her and has a mini-breakdown in front of the press as well. It was probably my favourite film of 2006.

    As I said before I would actually say Dench deserved the Oscar for both Mrs Brown and Philomena out of her nominated work. It's a shame when the Academy give awards for the person's not-best work.

    Anyway, I'm glad Mery got the Golden Globe and looked great with her hair down at The Oscars. The character will live on as one of the best darkly comedic for many years..

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    1. All good points, Charlie. And I totally forgot to mention that Meryl indeed won the Globe for her performance. Ultimately I'm glad she went lead, but it does make one wonder if she could've taken the trophy had she been supporting.

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  2. I thought Dench delivered her best performance of her career in 'Notes'. Streep was also brilliant in 'Prada'. Mirren was a distant 3rd in my opinion.

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  3. I am torn between Streep and Dench. If I had to vote, I'd probably opt for Dench. Mirren's performance was far over-rated and I now sense people are coming to realise that. I have not seen Volver, but would put Mirren in 4th place of the ones I've seen.

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  4. Oh I have to disagree. I still think Mirror deserved the award as it was such a risky role which could have severely backfired in less capable hands. Her portrayal of the Queen was superb.

    Interestingly, her acting in The Audience was even more impressive. Mirror was well known here in the UK for years with a long list of fine work but this really was her crowning achievement.

    Of the others nominated I'd put Cruz 4th and Winslet 5th. They were both good but not anything particularly outstanding (for me).

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  5. I wished Meryl had been nominated in the supporting category at that time because I really wanted her to win for this iconic role. MY gut feeling is that she will easily beat JHudson and take home her supposed 3rd Oscar. If you were to examine Hudson's performance, it all boils down to that song (Telling u I'm not going)...apart from that and take away all the singing, her performance was at best mediocre, some parts even less than memorable. No offence to Hudson fans out there, but I thought her line reading so bland and unaffected, Besides, Meryl won a couple of critics awards for supporting and was runner-up to Mirren in the some of the lead critics awards. If she had taken home an Oscar for this role, I don't think she'll win for Iron Lady which may be a good thing as her win was not PERCEIVED as divisive against Viola Davis.

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    1. I see what you're saying but I want Meryl to end up with at least 3 Lead wins. I'm sorry but who remembers actresses like Diane Wiest or Shelley Winters having 2 Supporting wins?

      I know the lines often blur but Meryl was the defacto lead in Prada as the power of her performance obliterated a brilliant 'supporting' team..

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    2. CJames...I get your drift. But in the end an Oscar is an Oscar, supporting or lead although an actress like Streep deserves more lead than supporting. In fact, I thought she should have gotten the lead Oscar for Julie & Julia...it was such a splendid buoyant performance (not easy for anyone to capture the spirit of J Child). However I was torn about her win in Iron Lady...mixed feelings to be specific. All in all, she should have 5 Oscars by now if it were up to me - Kramer, Sophie, Silkwood (my goodness she's way ahead of the rest of the pack but of course they gave it to someone else for sentimental reason much like her Iron lady's win), Prada (supporting) and Julia. All in all, I'm hoping she will set her own record although I think cate Blanchett may catch up one day.

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    3. Blanchett is having it good at the moment - a good thing to witness for talented women over 40. But how long it will continue is anyone's guess.

      I do feel I repeat myself sometimes re: The Iron Lady but coming from the UK where Thatcher is a big part of our political history I have to say (once again) Meryl's incarnation of her was nothing short of brilliant. It was certainly the most challenging role of 2011 for any actress.

      I think had the film been met with more critical acclaim and Viola's 'campaign' not being so resonant we wouldn't be hearing so much of Meryl's 3rd win being for "emotional reasons" or "overdue".

      Just a note on your take: what about A Cray in the Dark?! haha

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  6. I love her take in A Cry in the Dark...she's probably my second choice...thought Glenn Close should have picked up her Oscar that year (instead of Cher). I agree that Blanchett may or may not maintain her momentum depending on the whims of the industry and her upcoming roles.

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    1. Ah I read a lot about Glenn losing in these 2 years. Did you think for Fatal Attraction which she lost to Cher (1987) or Dangerous Liaisons which she lost this year to Jodie Foster (The Accused)?

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    2. Totally my first choice for A Cry in the Dark.

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  7. Oops sorry my mistake. I meant Glenn should have won over Jodie, not Cher. Thanks for highlighting it to me:)

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    1. I have seen many raves about her wicked performance in this film - I aim to see it soon. I will see if it alters my opinion of Meryl being most deserving in 1988! I really wish either of these actresses had been nominated and won the BAFTA this year as Maggie Smith got her 3rd win of the 80s and it felt like a lazy win IMO.

      Meryl actually won more big awards this years than she had since Sophie's Choice and not again until Angels in America..

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  8. Did anyone read/watch the THR's 8 great actresses roundtable? Wish Meryl were there...all my other favourites like Blanchett, Winslet, Mirren, Fonda were present.

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    1. I don't get why Helen was there, is she hoping for a Trumbo nod? Haha. Would be great to see Fonda back in the Awards equation again, she comes across very well in interviews. I think it's worthwhile for Meryl to sit out this awards season; it must be exhausting and repetitive and she can only benefit from a break.

      Winslet must be positively salivating at the chance to get back on the Oscar field after 7 long years on the bench!

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  9. CJames, I don't think Helen will even be considered considering how competitive the field is this year....did you hear Jane Fonda talk about Meryl and Vanessa being her inspiration? I saw her in Youth and she was only onscreen for 6 minutes or so but wow what cameo is was! Haha yes poor Winslet,,,she disappeared from the Oscar conversation after The Reader except for a notable performance in that Todd Haynes TV series. Somehow I wish Todd will get to work with Meryl (he did wonders for Julianne, Cate and Kate) but maybe only the first 2 are his muses. It's funny to hear their responses (about great actress/inspiration) and not think of Meryl because as far as my memory serves, everyone except Brie and Rampling (I think she will win) has said one time or another how much they admired Meryl. Winset, Blancett, Fonda (many times...I think Blanchett and Streep even joked about doing a movie together), Lawrence ( a few occasions), Mirren (a few times as well), Mulligan (recently).

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    1. Did anyone mention Meryl in this roundtable?
      I hope Fonda wins again, I'm not too interested in Rooney Mara winning tbh, she isn't even supporting in Carol!
      I'm not sure I've ever heard Helen Mirren enthuse about Meryl..

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  10. Meryl was mentioned twice - once by Fonda who cited her and Redgrave as inspiration and with whom she'd worked, another by the mediator who asked Mulligan what she and Streep spoke about during filming of Suffragette. I don't enjoy watching Rooney Mara on and off screen. I think the Academy has committed category fraud for the longest time ever since Bette Davis and Anne Baxter cancelled each other out in Lead (win) for All About Eve and then Thelma and Louise - eg. Streep, Roberts in August, now Rooney and Blanchett in Carol. I wish they'd stop it and play fair Helen enthused about Meryl during their joint interview (with Judi Dench) for EW and then during one of her press conferences for Hitchcock.

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    1. I'm glad, Helen can afford to be magnanimous. I remember the threeway interview Dench and she did with Meryl in early 2007 I think and how many times Meryl swore! haha

      I am looking forward to seeing Carol but I still hope there is room for some Maggie Smith love on the wards circuit. Her biggest hurdle is she seems unwilling to 'play the game'. Which in my mind entitles her even more!

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  11. I've hearing good things about her 'Lady in the van'. But sad to say, she wouldn't want to campaign for the Oscar (haha...she even 'dissed' Downton Abbey saying she'd never watched the show). Still she already has 2 Oscars. Btw, Carol is great by no means of exaggeration. Blanchett was luminous and Mara was, err, Mara:). To me it's Tood Haynes' best work since Far From Heaven.

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    1. I liked his work on that film, he is very talented. I don't necessarily need Smith to get an oscar nod (although she deserves it) but definitely a Golden Globe and some Critic awards nominations.

      Since Joy is going Drama I imagine that frees up some space in the Musical/Comedy category. I bet when Blanchett loses some will blame the failure of her other film "Truth" for it.

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