Friday, November 23, 2007

Thoughts on Amy Adams and Enchanted

Quick thoughts on the film: Enchanted is a true gem of a movie. I wouldn't go so far as to call it one of this year's best, but it certainly is special. It's a sheer delight to watch, in particular the first 3/4 of the film (the last quarter just did not have the "magic" that the previous sequences had, despite the prominence of Susan Sarandon's witch queen), and the film owes practically all of its charm to James Marsden and the woman of the hour, Amy Adams.

Amy Adams is pitch-perfect as the Disney princess thrust into jaded New York. This is, as many have proclaimed, a true star-making turn. Many have gone so far as to compare it to Julie Andrews's Oscar-winning turn in Mary Poppins. This is Amy Adams's movie.

Can she get nominated? Given the buzz surrounding her, she most likely will be. It will, however, depend partly on how well the film does in the box office. Just partly. The voters of the Academy would find it difficult to ignore Adams, particularly in this year when stellar performances are overshadowed by weak critical reception and box office performance (case in point: Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age).

Here's the thing: I believe that if she gets nominated, she will likely go on to win the statuette. Marion Cotillard, the de facto front-runner, gave a magnificent performance in La Vie en Rose, one of the best in many years, but she's not American and she does not enjoy much clout within the Academy. Keira Knightley (Atonement) isn't exactly an Oscar darling either, even if she gets her second nomination in three years. Ellen Page (Juno) just won't win it, unless critics' groups rally behind her. As far as sentimentality goes, veteran Julie Christie (Away from Her) could win it, but wouldn't the Academy opt to go for the "a star is born" complex instead? Only previous nominee Laura Linney, garnering astounding praise for her performance in The Savages has just as strong a chance, but will she be in the top five?

It would be lovely to see Adams in the mix, but at the same time I'm dreading the idea of Marion Cotillard losing the Oscar when she SO deserves it. The thing with Adams's performance is that it's an amazing caricature of Disney princesses, and it's captivating and, yes, enchanting, but it's hardly the year's best. That's Cotillard and, according to many, Linney.

Then again, how do we actually determine what performance is the best? Right now (note: I haven't seen Atonement, Juno, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, The Savages), my personal top five actresses of the year are: Cotillard, Angelina Jolie (A Mighty Heart), Ashley Judd (Bug), Adams, and Christie. Cotillard, Jolie, and Judd have powerful, Oscar-bait breakdown scenes, Adams is a wonderfully confused princess from a cartoon world, and Christie is all quiet, reserved strength. How do you compare such disparate performances? Well, it's a useless question, since the awards shows have been doing just that for many years (80 for the Oscars).

More on this soon. Adams will likely be in the top five in my next predictions update.