I got into a spirited discussion with Scott Feinberg during last night’s after-party for Sony Classics’ Made in Dangenham, a tidy but stirring rabble-rouser about an equal-pay-for-women strike at a London-area Ford plant in the late ’60s. The subject was The Kids Are All Right and what Focus may be planning to re-energize things for the film and for Annette Bening‘s Best Actress shot in particular.
Bening is facing tough competition from Black Swan‘s Natalie Portman, Another Year‘s Leslie Manville and Winter’s Bone Jennifer Lawrence, to name but three. But in a sense Feinberg is lobbying for an even tougher scenario with yet another competitor, Bening’s costar Julianne Moore, being nominated as well. Feinberg was basically asking why and how Moore has been “thrown under the bus” despite her having the larger and more assertive role in The Kids Are All Right, and having been overlooked or dissed in more award races than Annette.
I for one don’t believe that Bening and Moore have a prayer of being nominated together, and that it would certainly kill the chances of either one winning due to a vote split. Does Moore deserve to be the nominee more than Bening? Perhaps, but whaddaya gonna do? I sound like a go-alonger, right? Feinberg sure doesn’t.
“Some people are adamant that Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, the co-leads of The Kids Are All Right, cannot both be nominated for the best actress Oscar this year,” Feinberg writes. “That’s a bunch of malarkey. Not only can they, and not only should they, but — if Focus genuinely fights the good fight for both of them, as studio insiders emphatically insist to me that they will — they will be.
“Those who say that it cannot happen point to the large number of quality contenders in the category this year and insist that there isn’t room for two people from the same film. I disagree. Bening and Moore are together in virtually every scene of the film (Moore actually has a few more scenes, alongside Mark Ruffalo). Both actresses have some terrific moments in the film (Bening’s return to the dinner table after discovering Moore was having an affair and Moore’s subsequent soliloquy on the challenges of marriage are both showstoppers). And both are highly-respected by their peers, who have never been shy about nominating them before (the Academy has recognized Bening with three nods and Moore with four, and neither has won yet).
“Some people are pushing the line that Bening has a leg up on Moore because she’s ‘Hollywood royalty‘ (as if people are going to vote for her because she married Warren Beatty) and because she’s made the right friends (she’s a longtime member of the Academy’s Board of Governors), but for all of the aforementioned reasons I simply cannot see a voter sitting down and voting to nominate one but not the other.
“As I first wrote back on July 25, the Academy has nominated two best actress nominees from the same film in five of the 82 years (6% of the time) in which the category has existed: (a) Anne Baxter and Bette Davis for All About Eve (1950); (b) Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor for Suddenly, Last Summer (1959); (c) Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine for The Turning Point (1977); Shirley MacLaine and Debra Winger for Terms of Endearment (1983); and Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon for Thelma and Louise (1991).”