Oscars 2019 POV: Best Actors

Santa Monica Mirror film critic Kathryn Whitney weighs in on the Best Picture category in the 2019 Oscars. Photo: Facebook.

Throughout February, I am sharing my own humble point of view (POV) on which films, filmmakers and actors should be honored with an Oscar. This week, it’s nominees for Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress and Best Actor.

My Point of View –

Best Supporting Actress: While I applaud Amy Adams’ true to life performance as Lynne Cheney in “Vice”, Marina de Tavira as the long-suffering Senora Sofia in “Roma” and Regina King’s portrayal of strength in “If Beale Street Could Talk”, it is the “conjoined” virtuosity of Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz in “The Favourite” that is the most groundbreaking. Their exquisitely timed wacky characterization of real life poseurs in the court of Queen Anne is magnificent enjoyment to watch. I wish that they had been nominated as one together, because they will undoubtedly cancel each other out and not win the Oscar. I believe that Amy Adams will win, with Regina King as a close second. All of these women deserve the award.

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell transforms into George W. Bush in “Vice”, not only through brilliant makeup art but also by bringing Bush’s well-known mannerisms and voice to life. Adam Driver in “BlackKklansman” succeeds in playing Officer Flip Zimmerman as an aloof outsider with sharp intelligence and passion bubbling beneath the surface. Sam Elliot is memorable as the wise older brother of Bradley Cooper’s rock star Jack in “A Star Is Born”. Elliot shows the frustration of one who sees tragedy coming and cannot stop the trajectory. Richard E. Grant is the perfect foil to Melissa McCarthy’s dry, sarcastic Lee Israel in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” His sincere and sympathetic Jack Hook is willing to take a leap of faith for his friend. My choice to win the Oscar is Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley in Green Book”. This is really a starring role “rather than supporting. Ali’s performance is a tour de force as a uniquely accomplished black man who uses his wits to keep his integrity whole while surrounded by racism in the USA of the 1960’s. Ali has a presence and charisma that fills the screen, and even learned to play the piano quite well for the role.

Best Actress: Yalitzia Arapicio had never considered acting as a career prior to being cast in a leading role in Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”. Her lack of knowledge of the craft proved to be an advantage, as director Cuaron was able to obtain a strikingly real performance from her in the role of Cleo the housekeeper, a character quite different from her own background. It is obvious that she understood Cleo from the inside out, and was able to carry the whole movie on her shoulders.

“The Wife” is a drama about relationships, about real emotions that lie beneath words that are spoken. Glenn Close creates a beautifully understated and luminous embodiment of a wife who possesses a power that lies below the surface. Olivia Colman in “The Favourite” plays a complex, suffering and conflicted Queen Anne. Her portrayal is the base on which her courtesans, played by Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz, spar for power in campy riotous fashion. The film would not have succeeded without Colman’s spot-on performance. Lady Gaga stars in “A Star Is Born” in her first performance as an actress. She portrays excitement and sadness and brings her the depth of her own personality into the role. I look forward to seeing more cinematic performances by this self-styled fascinating icon. Melissa McCarthy breaks away from her usual wacky comedic style in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” She gives a perfect performance as the witty and sardonic Lee Israel, whose wisecracking personality is underscored by tragedy.  My choice for the Oscar is Yalitza Arapicio in “Roma”. I was completely impressed with her performance. The Oscar will probably go to Glenn Close or Olivia Colman. Any of the nominees deserves that high honor for these roles.

Best Actor: Christian Bale accomplished an amazing transformation into Vice President Dick Cheney in the movie “Vice”. The makeup department did an incredible job – usually this kind of makeover is used to conjure up monsters in horror movies so the actor is free to use imagination. Here, in addition to the makeup, Bale completely “got” the vocal and physical mannerisms of Cheney – Bale’s performance was scarier than a horror movie. We already know Bradley Cooper as a consummate actor. “A Star Is Born” is his first film as star/director/writer/producer.

He plays the tragic hero, country-rock musician Jack, with great sensitivity and realism. “In At Eternity’s Gate”, Willem Dafoe channels the madness of the beloved artist Vincent Van Gogh and leaves us questioning whether or not the artist’s radical concept of reality was just as valid as the world of everyone around him. Dafoe’s Van Gogh is at once sad, exultant and inspiring. The confusing camera work in this film detracts from a great performance. Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”…it’s not often that an actor can inhabit the soul of a real legend, who, for many of the audience watching the film, was an indelible part of their life experience. Rami Malek succeeds in channeling this unique, incredibly talented, courageous, larger than life presence beyond expectations. Viggo Mortensen morphs so completely into his role of the Italian tough guy Tony Vallelonga in “Green Book”, that I forgot that the actor playing the role was indeed Mortensen. He and Mahershala Ali play off each other’s performances so well that the two seem to have been drawn into a different plane of reality. My choice for the Oscar would go to Rami Malek, perhaps because I loved the music of Freddie Mercury so much – Malek made me feel as though he had been resurrected. This is a hard category to guess. I would say that the Oscar will probably go to Bale or Malek, though all deserve it.

It’s definitely a positive thing that there are so many great performances this year it feels as though all the Oscars should be cloned and given to everyone.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people.  She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. [email protected]