The leading ladies this year are beautiful, strong and have their films riding on their shoulders. Each one brings alive a distinctive character in an equally distinct story. While the films may revolve around these ladies, they fit into the character and the narrative with ease. The competition is fierce and the competitors are worthy, but who will get to take the Oscar home?
Natalie Portman for Black Swan
Our rank 1
So powerful is Portman’s portrayal of Nina Sayers, a ballerina who strives for perfection and loses herself in the battle between white and black, that you involuntarily clap your hands as the film draws to a close. The ambitious yet lacking-in-confidence Nina comes alive with Portman’s sensuous, measured performance that slowly comes to a boil and explodes right before it overflows into the climax, soaking you in its pure passion. Portman’s hard work on learning the intricacies of ballet obviously vouch for her sincerity but her intelligent use of her body as a prop is a delight to watch. The right blend of technique, talent and temperance, Portman’s performance is a clear winner of the award in my eyes.
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
Our rank 2
Bening plays the prim and proper Nic with measured efficiency. She brings to life Nic’s exasperation, pride, hostility, anger and subsequent indifference that stems from hurt with panache. While the plot without its homosexual angle would be rather clichéd, Bening’s performance is definitely one of its strongest points. This is Bening’s fourth nomination, but her chances are slim in view of the competition she faces from Portman.
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine
Our rank 3
Williams plays Cindy Pereira, a woman married to an ordinary man with no ambition but who loves her dearly. As the story unravels in two parallel narratives, we see a hopeful Cindy wanting to go to college and the Cindy who has resigned to her fate. Though at the beginning of the film Cindy seems indifferent and rather passive, as the two narratives progress, Cindy’s character evolves into a deeply layered, complex personality and you know where her monotony comes from.
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter’s Bone
Our rank 4
Lawrence portrays a teenage girl forced to grow up and take responsibility for her family. Lawrence brings grit and conviction to the table while bringing Ree Dolly to life. A girl who searches for her father not for emotional needs but for pure survival, Ree strives to toughen up her young siblings and gently turns into a child in need of a parent while sobbing on her depressed mother’s shoulder. Lawrence’s performance reaches out to you and stays with you even as you try to shake off the depression induced by the rather cold and dry film.
Nicole Kidman for The Rabbit Hole
Our rank 5
Kidman’s portrayal of Becca, a mother who pretends to have come to terms with the death of her young child while struggling to redefine her life, is rather powerful. Her strained relationship with her mother, her distance from her husband, and her jealousy towards her pregnant younger sister define Becca’s mental state. Though Nicole is believably bereft, tender and lost in The Rabbit Hole, her performance leaves something to be desired. Her chances of walking away with a golden statuette this year are, like her figure, quite slim.
For the sheer brilliance and grandeur that she brings to her character in Black Swan, Natalie Portman is our choice for the golden win.