Larson leads stellar group

Every year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences votes on the best in the world of filmmaking, giving many actors, directors and so forth, lifetime bragging rights just for having being nominated. This year in the best actress category, the Academy has bestowed nominations upon five actresses for being the best at professionally pretending to be someone else. In 2016, all the nominees are impressive, but a few performances stand out among others.

Brie Larson is nominated for her role as Ma in “Room.” The thing that sends her performance over the edge is that it’s centered on a situation that unless you’re a terrible filmmaker with no regards to the source material, can’t exactly mess up. It’s impossible to not to be drawn in by some aspect of the film because it clearly outlines whom you should be rooting for. Though it isn’t based on a true story, it plays upon the fantasy that if someone goes missing they can be found regardless of time. Larson out shone every other actor in the film other than Jacob Tremblay who played Jack — because let’s face it, what’s cuter than a kid that perseveres in the face of tragedy? The movie was written in a way probably purposely minimalizing the role of the other characters to ensure that the Academy focuses on Larson to ensure Oscar success and it worked, earning her first academy award nomination.

Meanwhile Cate Blanchett scored her sixth Oscar nomination for her role as Ayers in “Carol.” Though this tale of a tumultuous lesbian romance is nothing new – terrible films with similar plots and worse actresses and scripts are commonly found on Netflix – this perhaps provides the best example of onscreen chemistry between two actresses. Blanchett, captures the inner struggle of a woman having to pick between the expectations 1950s society has set for her and staying true to her identity at the cost of losing her family.

Up next is Jennifer Lawrence in the film “Joy,” loosely based on Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Now I, like many other people am somewhat tired of seeing Jennifer Lawrence paired with Bradley Cooper, however since Cooper doesn’t come until later in the flick, you get to focus on Lawrence. I guess when you find a formula that works, you milk it for all it’s worth and time after time, Lawrence has been proven to be a magnet for Oscar noms. She definitely deserves recognition for this role. She makes you laugh, cry and by the end of the film you want to start a company or invent something just to spite corporate America. However once again she plays a thick-accented blonde mother, making it seem like she’s just a smarter, more determined version of her character from “American Hustle.” Unlike Hustle, her age wasn’t necessarily a problem until the end of the movie when everyone was supposed to have aged and all she did was get her hair done differently and wear a pantsuit. She was good but amongst the other nominees, she was middle of the grain.

Soarisie Ronan is another actress up for an award who played passive, quiet Irish immigrant Elilias in “Brooklyn,” which is nominated for Best Picture as well. While there are no flews in Ronan’s acting, there was also nothing spectacularly outstanding about her role. Sure the story is charming and compelling with just the right amount of relatable “fish-out-of-water” clichés and love triangle drama, but it’s hard to see why she was nominated when there are probably women in other movies that did a better job at utilizing their acting chops to better draw the audience into the story they are trying to convey. It’s unlikely that Ronan will win this time around but it seems she certainly has the skills to earn a best actress win in the future.

Lastly, Charlotte Rampling is up for Best Actress for her role as in the subtle yet pleasing drama “45 Years.” Rampling’s performance might not be enough to win over the Academy, however she has a better chance than Ronan and probably Lawrence. Her portrayal of conflicted wife Kate Mercer, does a great job of making you think, reevaluate how secure you are about your personal relationships and much you know about yourself and the ones you really care about – not really a good movie to watch if you’re avoiding an existential crisis. Unlike the other movies, this is filmed in such a way where it seems like a scene from a couple’s everyday life. All the events are building up to the celebrations of the Mercer’s 45th anniversary. Because of this, her performance might be misconstrued by some as boring but because it draws on human insecurity and disillusionment, it makes it almost haunting and therefore memorable. Rampling is a huge part of what makes this movie worth watching, but did she do enough to wow the Oscar voters into giving her the award.

Most likely Larson is coming out of this with the title. Everyone loves a story about struggle, particularly ones that ruthlessly plays on situations that have been in the news in recent years. Blanchett might pull an upset victory but other than that, it’s hard to foresee any other actress winning for their performance. It’s going to come down to technique versus background story and the more valuable aspect will become apparent when the Academy Awards airs Feb. 28.