Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
Close, nominated five times in the ’80s but not at all in the next two decades, was rewarded for her 30-year mission to star in a movie version of the George Moore story about a woman in turn-of-the-last-century Ireland who can get a decent job only if she masquerades as a man. Mara, 26, was feral and feisty as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander — a role that, let’s face it, Noomi Rapace embodied far more brilliantly in the original Swedish version of Stieg Larsson’s best-selling thriller. Granddaughter of the football royalty who owned the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants, Mara got two nifty presents in two days: her nomination and the Giants’ advancement to the Super Bowl. On Oscar night, though, Close and Mara will get aisle seats, not statuettes, as Streep, Williams and Davis go for the gold.
Streep’s Margaret Thatcher is what DiCaprio’s J. Edgar Hoover never managed to be: alive. Under expert makeup, she humanizes the Tory Terror of 10 Downing Street. The view here is that her performance is stratospheres above Williams’ poignant but a bit too on-point playing of Marilyn Monroe. Still, Academy members could give Williams the Oscar, in partial atonement for never having even nominated Monroe. Davis, as the earth mother in chief of The Help’s splendid female ensemble, may battle with Octavia Spencer, a favorite to win Best Supporting Actress. Nominated for Doubt three years ago, Davis could very well win here. MTV.com’s Oscar swami Kara Warner proclaimed, “The woman is due.” O.K., but isn’t Streep past due? Davis, 46, was in high school when Streep, 62, last won an Oscar — in 1983, for Sophie’s Choice.
Snubs: Mara wasn’t the only young actress from a famous family who enjoyed a breakout role last year: Elizabeth Olsen, the 22-year-old kid sister of TV’s Olsen twins, earned critics’ plaudits as the religious-cult refugee in Martha Marcy May Marlene. No nomination for her, nor for Tilda Swinton, the majestic Scot who won a Best Supporting Oscar in 2008 for Michael Clayton and really should be a finalist every year. Playing a rare “normal” role, as the suburban mom baffled by her son’s malevolence in We Need to Talk About Kevin, Swinton was a hit with the critics but struck out with the Academy.
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