"Don't you love to take stock every six months? At the very least it's a good excuse for list-making. Lists! Wheeee. If all Academy members did this before they sent in their nominee ballots in January, we might end up with a spread of nominees that wasn't so December slanted. I never decide who to vote for this early but I do draw up lists of performances I enjoyed / respected to consider again later in the year when all the advertising rushes in an effort to shape the highly malleable collective subconscious and thus, votes.
If I had to draw up a ballot right now:
Judi Dench, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
The movie is considerably less broad once it's reigned in by her warmth, laughter, and subtlety
Valerie Donzelli, Declaration of War (France's Oscar submission 2011, US release in 2012)
She still has raw wound access to what must have been a highly traumatic experience (she and her ex-boyfriend play fictionalized versions of themselves trying to save their nearly fatally ill child) but the turn has a wide range of feeling and levity via mischievous romantic impulses and gallows humor.
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
How soon till she's back at the Oscars? Maybe not for this... directly.
Stephanie Sigman, Miss Bala (Mexico's Oscar submission 2011, US release in 2012)
Wonderfully naturalistic. She just vibrates with impotent terror.
Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
A force of nature even while nature is whipping up mythological force all around in "the bathtub"
You could argue that Judi Dench leads an entirely supporting cast in Marigold Hotel but for now I'm viewing her as the lead. Maybe I'll change my mind. Perhaps she'll campaign supporting for the Oscars. I'm definitely curious to see what happens with the Oscar campaign for Wallis. She was 6 years old during filming. Oscar traction would never happen for a little boy (and this role was a little boy's role in its first incarnation as the play "Juicy & Delicious") because Oscar voters never deprive their respected industry kings of a nomination for a tiny tot... or even a 20something! But Oscar is notoriously less likely to shout "respect your elders!" when it comes to adult actresses who have regularly had to step aside for first timers. So we'll see. But eight is awfully young!
Honorable Mention? Greta Gerwig from Damsels in Distress is someone I can't help thinking about. Her stylistically odd performance cadences were a smart match for Whit Stillman's alternate reality college comedy; naturalism would've never worked.
I'd also like to give a shout out to Oksana Akinshina in the Russian cold war musical Hipsters. (I saw it two years ago but it recently got a miniscule US release.) Some of you will remember her as the title character in the über depressing critical darling Lilja 4-Ever (2002) in which she played a young teen forced into sexual slavery. I'm happy to report that she's grown into a very beautiful young woman and hasn't lost her effortless screen presence in the process. In a better world she'd be an international star.
Who did "Team Experience" Love Most?
I polled them. Keep in mind that not all of our contributors live in LA or NY or even the US so release dates vary...
Craig ("Take Three"): Charlize Theron plays Mavis in Young Adult with shades of sharp spite and glimpses of delicate vulnerability beneath. One of today's best working actresses.
Alexandra ("Curio"): Michelle Williams in Take This Waltz. I loved this naturalistic performance. She managed to convey vulnerability, lust, wistfulness and joy in a single look.
Jose: Jennifer Lawrence may be tired of being the heroine, but she was impressive in The Hunger Games. Can not wait for the sequels. Take note K-Stew...
Michael ("Burning Questions"): Rachel Weisz did her best work to date in Deep Blue Sea. In a performance of enormous subtlety, she manages to make this desperate woman relatable even as romantic obsession pushes her to the edge.
Glenn (various posts): Am I allowed to say Lana Del Rey in her 8-minute music video for "National Anthem", wherein she plays Marilyn Monroe and a post-Obama Jackie Kennedy? She's the next Cher, I swear. Barring her, more in the realm of actual cinema, let me go to stumps for Sara Paxton in The Innkeepers. She's like the anti-Deschanel: completely adorable and funny and a great actress, but also one I'd like to see more of."
Source: Nathaniel at TheFilmExperience.net