By now, it's probably a done deal: Natalie Portman will win the Best Actress Oscar on February 27 for portraying a ballerina's descent into madness with such exacting skill. While I loved Black Swan and Portman's performance, it wasn't my favorite of 2010. That honor would go to Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole. I suffered right along with her grieving mom, and Kidman never once resorted to shameless hysteria.
Despite my love for Kidman and my admiration of Portman's dedication to character and craft, like so many people who have deemed Annette Bening overdue for years, true Hollywood royalty (whatever that is), I'm rooting for her to pull an upset. Not because I thought she was any better than usual in "The Kids Are All Right," or because it was a particularly Oscar-worthy role, but because if Bening wins, we finally can leave her in peace and focus on far more overdue actresses (Glenn Close? Sigourney Weaver? Michelle Pfieffer? Hel-LO?!).
For your consideration: Jacki Weaver in Animal Kingdom. I just saw this Melbourne-based crime drama, and I am convinced that had it received a wider release in the U.S., Weaver would be a shoo-in for the grand prize. Her monster mom is a monster grandma, too, who hovers over her criminal brood like Mother Nature, kissing her grown boys on the lips and ordering a hit on her grandson. At the beginning of the film, when she found out that her estranged daughter had died of a drug overdose, and she didn't even flinch, I knew she was going to be a piece of work.
What I loved about Weaver's performance is that hers is a completely unique creation, even more loathsome than her murderous sons for so blindly enabling them. Despite the slightly sinister twinkle in her eye, she looks the granny part. There is not a single moment of her performance that seems over-the-top or tailored for awards-season attention. She deserves the acclaim she's gotten -- and all of the work she'll hopefully get going forward -- and she deserves to take Oscar home, too.
May the baddest mama win.