The Lesley Manville issue has been covered two or three times on HE (the last time on 10.27), so there’s no need for overkill. But I spoke a bit with Manville last night at a Sony Pictures Classics gathering on Madison, and she was her usual lovable, attentive, half-smiling, faintly forlorn, straight-shooting, sweetly smiling self, and my heart just goes out to her. She’s the best.
I just hope Manville’s achy-heart performance in Another Year wins the Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle or the L.A. Film Critics Association or…you know, like that. Because as good as she is (and she really is world-class in this film), she might land a Best Actress Oscar nomination. She ought to. But the odds of her beating all her big-time, heavy-duty competitors — Black Swan‘s Natalie Portman, The Kids Are All Right ‘s Annette Bening , Rabbit Hole‘s Nicole Kidman, Winter’s Bone‘s Jennifer Lawrence and Blue Valentine‘s Michelle Williams — are not favoring, let’s face it.
She’s a Brit playing a lonely Brit single with a drinking problem, and that in itself probably shaves a few points when you consider the native-American-identification factor. People know the other characters (Manhattan ballet dancer, hip lesbian mom, Long Island mom who’s lost her son, tough Ozark girl, blue-collar Pennsyvlania girl in a relationship) in a kind of next-door-way, culturally speaking. Any way you cut it Lesley probably doesn’t win.
But in the Best Supporting Actress category, she rules. Animal Kingdom‘s Jacki Weaver would be her only real competition. Amy Adams and Melissa Leo seem fairly evenly matched in The Fighter, but neither kills on Manville’s level. Helena Bonham Carter is entirely pleasing in The King’s Speech, but I don’t believe in the idea of a career Oscar for her at this juncture, and I don’t know why anyone else would either. Rosamund Pike is exceptional in Barney’s Version and Made in Dagenham, but she’s obviously not getting the traction. Get Low‘s Sissy Spacek has the chops and the likability, but the wattage is so-so. Ditto Dianne Wiest in Rabbit Hole.
So maybe people can just politely bypass Sony Picture Classics’ suggestion that Manville should be considered for Best Actress and just write her in for Best Supporting Actress like whatsername who beat Joe Miller in Alaska.