Monday, May 21, 2018

Academy Awards analysis (2009)

By 2009, Meryl had become incredibly overdue for a second Lead Actress Oscar. She came close for 2008's Doubt, but came up short that year behind Kate Winslet in The Reader. With her acclaimed performance in Julie & Julia only a year later, it seemed early on like Meryl might actually make it. She'd been lauded by multiple film critic circles and the film itself was generally well-received, including a fantastic box office performance.

Sadly, Sandra Bullock swooped in with very little critical praise for her performance in The Blind Side to basically sweep the television awards that year, winning the drama Globe (Meryl won comedy), SAG, BFCA (tied with Meryl!) and the Oscar. I hadn't realized until checking for which awards Bullock had been nominated that year and saw just now that she wasn't even nominated at BAFTA.  I guess that's not super surprising, considering The Blind Side is a distinctly American movie.

OK let's keep it real. This performance should not have come anywhere near an Academy Award. I love me some Sandy Bullock, but I maintain that this award was more of an industry recognition for the fact that she'd been a box office powerhouse for nearly twenty years. The Blind Side also did extremely well in theaters and had that helpful Best Picture nom with the Academy, versus the solo Actress nod for Meryl in her movie.

Wonderful speech and Bullock looks stunning. It was sort of a fun little back and forth that she and Meryl had during that awards season, as Sandra made fun of the often over-hyped way people tend to pit actresses against each other. As she told Oprah the morning after her win, she wanted to diffuse that nonsense when they both tied for the Critics' Choice win by kissing Meryl. It was cute. 

Honestly, the biggest disappointment for me in all this is that the role Bullock should've possibly one for was 2013's Gravity. It was a way better movie and way better performance, and while she was nominated, it was very unlikely that they were going to award her twice. Had she not won for Blind Side, I think it's very possible that Cate Blanchett would still be without a lead win.


  1. I wish there had been more Julia and less Julie in the movie but it was still a really entertaining "popcorn" movie and Meryl was delightful. Especially moving in a couple of the quieter moments when you could see Julia's sadness and doubt beneath all that cheer.

    That being said, I'm glad Meryl's third win wasn't for a movie where she was in just over half and wasn't that challenging a role (for Meryl). Didn't Nora Ephron say Meryl did a spot on Julia Child impression without even trying when she first told her about the script?!

    I agree about Bullock completely. I wonder if she feels she'd have rather won for Gravity as well? She kinda joked in her speech here that she may have just "wore" the voters down. Anyway, I wouldn't rush to award any of the other 3 nominated. Sidibe was most impressive but is she such an amazing talent? Hmm. Mirren, whom I love, could have done more with her role in The Last Station. Had Meryl made this I'm sure she would have at least done a Russian accent. The movie is just too inauthentic.

    Pity Winslet hadn't been able to hold off one of her 2 2008 movies and won here. Meryl really deserved it for Doubt.

  2. Marketing campaign and politics aside, I don't see Bullock (Gravity) being superior to Blanchett at all (her Blue Jasmine turn was revelatory). The latter basically swept all critics and movie awards that year. It's still the best performance of the decade to me so far!
    But yes Meryl should have won for Doubt or Julia instead of Iron Lady. Especially Julia where she was comic supreme!

    1. If you know Margaret Thatcher and British politics you know Meryl nailed it in The Iron Lady. It was just a real shame the screenplay, directing and editing let her down.

      I think it would have been very close between Blanchett and Bullock had she not won in 2009. I think the Academy liked the narrative of Bullock admitting she didn't like the roles she was taken so she stepped back in the mid 2000s and tried to become more picky about the roles she took. They love a popular star who tries hard. (Matthew M, Anne Hathaway, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon etc)

  3. I really thought there were 4 brilliant performances here (Streep, Mirren, Sidibe, Mulligan),and one
    mediocre performance (Bullock). Shame on the academy for rewarding the least worthy
    performance. I'm still mystified by this Bullock win. WTF?