4B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, ebruary 24, 2005
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The Michigan ail:
CATEGOiRY I IEsT ACTRESS
Bening takes Swank head on in '05 race
CATEGORY I EsT ADAPIED SCPEEMPLAY
'Sideways' is strongest contendei
By Lindsey Bieber
and Andy Kula
Daily Arts Writers
" WEOP1fmac1 0000O0
By Christopher Lochner
For the Daily
At the heart of 2004's best actress
race is a rematch five years in the
making. In 1999, Hilary Swank
took the Academy Award for her
role in "Boys Don't Cry," beating
out Annette Bening, who was nomi-
nated for "American Beauty." The
two will face off again this year,
with Swank nominated for "Million
Dollar Baby" and Bening for "Being
Though in good company, the two
are generally considered frontrun-
ners both receiving Golden Globe
awards for their roles - Swank for
best actress in a drama, Bening for
best actress in a comedy or musical.
In "Million Dollar Baby," Swank
plays a thirty-something boxer who
will stop at nothing to get to the top.
Her undying determination and spirit
is overwhelming. No other actress's
performance this year comes close to
being as intense as hers, and as the
only nominee with a golden statuette
in her possession, Swank is a likely
choice, with her ability to nail an
Academy Award playing the tough-
girl character. After all, she has
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been mastering the role ever since
"The Next Karate Kid" in 1994.
Unfortunately for Bening, the
Academy typically favors dramas
over comedies like "Being Julia."
Bening's portrayal of the 1930s
stage actress Julia Lambert was cer-
tainly strong, but it may prove too
lighthearted to compete with the
more dramatic roles of her competi-
tors. However, Bening does have an
impressive body of work without any
Academy Awards to boast.
Combined with her loss in 1999,
her resum6 may be enough to draw
votes from those looking to recog-
nize a previously overlooked star.
Fittingly, her character, who sought
revenge on her enemies after a trou-
bled love affair, may be the vehicle
Bening uses to settle the score with
The Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar
tends to be one of the more forgotten
categories for the movie industry's big-
gest night. Nevertheless, this year's
nominees combine clever ingenuity
with quality writing to create a truly
diverse field of nominees.
Written by Richard Linklater, Kim
Krizan, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy,
"Before Sunset" is the sequel to the
1995 hit "Before Sunrise." Nine years
after the time of the original, Jesse
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Hilary, just pretend it's the agent who got you that gig in "The Next Karate Kid."
Just as Bening took on a Brit-
ish accent for "Being Julia," Kate
Winslet used an artificial American
accent to win a nomination for her
role in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spot-
less Mind." Playing a quirky Barnes
and Noble clerk named Clementine
Kruczynski, Winslet provided the
surreal film with enough energy to
make it one of the most remarkable
movies of the year.
Though Winslet delivered an
excellent performance, the role is
not likely to win her an Academy
Award. The character, while a lead-
ing part, does not dominate the film
in a way that screams "best actress."
Also, the subtle story is not tragic
or epic enough to satisfy the Acad-
emy's traditional tastes. When all is
said and done, Winslet's fourth act-
ing nomination is not likely to lead
to her first win.
Also nominated is Catalina San-
dino Moreno, whose performance in
"Maria Full of Grace" helped make
her mark on the film industry as the
first Colombian to be nominated for
an Academy Award. Her character,
desperate to support her family and
her unborn baby, becomes a drug
mule, swallowing large tablets full
of cocaine in order to smuggle them
into the United States. While the
script is not packed with dialogue,
Moreno fills the gaps with expres-
sions far more gripping than words
themselves. Her performance is
commendable and noteworthy, but
because she has no Hollywood sta-
tus and is still an aspiring actress,
she is not likely to win the Oscar.
Another newbie to the Academy
Awards is longtime British actress
Imelda Staunton. In "Vera Drake"
Staunton plays a postwar British wife,
mother and housecleaner with a heart
of gold. However, her good intentions
clash with those of the police when
they find out that she has been ille-
gally inducing abortions.
Although the plot deals with a
touchy moral subject, ethics do not
factor into the affection felt for Vera
Drake. Because Staunton's good-
hearted nature reaches the film's
other characters as well as the audi-
ence, her performance proves her
worthy of an Academy Award.
In an ideal world, Imelda Staunton
would take home her first Academy
Award on Feb. 27. Her dramatic per-
formance touched hearts and won
over moviegoers of all genres. Since
she tied with Swank for Best Actress
in the National Society of Film
Critics Awards, her work in "Vera
Drake" is clearly enough to make
her a strong Oscar contender.
Unfortunately, as deserving as she
is, she will probably not get the rec-
ognition. Academy Awards are sel-
dom received for performance alone.
Considering that "Million Dollar
Baby" had much more mainstream
appeal than "Vera Drake," Swank
will most likely pull ahead.
Also, being a first time nomi-
nee, Staunton's experience does not
match up to the more popular careers
of Winslet and Bening. In the end,
Bening may receive the Oscar as a
personal tribute, but it is more likely
that Swank will repeat.
Kim Krizan, Ethan+
Hawke, Julie Delpy+
Jose Rivera +
and Celine reunite when Jesse is on
a book tour in Europe promoting his
novel. Full of pleasant dialogue, Jesse
and Celine stroll through Paris remi-
niscing and hypothesizing about what
could have been. The quartet of writ-
ers make the sequel work by staying
true to the original while expanding
on the themes which made the first
one so popular.
The only foreign language film
nominated in the category, "Diarios
de Motocicleta," is adapted from the
memoirs of Che Guevera and his
cousin Alberto Grenado. The script
was written by Jose Rivera and it
recounts the journey of Che and
Alberto through South America and
how it ultimately shaped their des-
tinies. While touching, the movie
still finds time for humor, creating a
package that is certainly worthy for
Oscar contention. Guevera's character
in particular keeps the film moving
smoothly, which is an accomplish-
ment for a foreign film.
Adapted from a play by Allan Knee,
the script for "Finding Neverland,"
written by David Magee, enchantingly
tells the story of Scottish author J.M.
Barrie (Johnny Depp) and how he came
to write the children's classic Peter
Pan. Brilliantly shot and enchantingly
told, "Finding Neverland" is the most
intimate and tender movie of the year.
The fairytale theme is a fine line for
scripts to walk, but Magee pulls it off
Directed by Clint Eastwood and
with a screenplay by Paul Haggis,
"Million Dollar Baby" is the story of a
female boxer looking to beat the odds.
The accolades for the movie are well-
deserved, as Haggis, while sometimes
too heavy-handed, still packs a punch
when it comes to creating strong char-
acters. There's a reason why East-
wood, Hilary Swank and Morgan
Freeman all earned nominations for
Lastly, adapted from the novel
by Rex Pickett, Alexander Payne
and Jim Taylor created the script for
"Sideways." Delightfully quirky and
simultaneously emotionally grip-
ping, "Sideways" is the story of col-
lege pals Miles (Paul Giamatti) and
Jack (Thomas Haden Church) as they
take a trip through the wine country
of California before Jack heads to the
altar. The characters in "Sideways" are
beautifully defined, and the writing i
at once heart breaking but uplifting
which is what the Academy tends to
like in this category.
When the envelope is opened oi
Oscar night, the subtle brilliance o
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Fittingly, her character, who sought revenge
on her enemies after a troubled love affair,
may be the vehicle Bening uses to settle the
score with Swank.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic
The subtle brilliance of
" "Finding Neverland" is
likely to be overlooked
"Million in favor of "Sideways," a
movie about two thirty-
Dollar Baby"; something men who are
. washed up and burned
out - something many
Paul Haggis : film critics doubtlessly
0 relate to.
Swank, when I was your age, I ... lived in a duplex!
. ." ...." ." ." ." ." .. ." .." ." ." ." ." . """""." .. . .. .. .. . . . .. !" . "".. ". ..". .
Annette Catalina Imelda3
Bening Sandeno- Staunton
"Being Julia" "Maria Full "vera Drake"
... ....... ..... ........ ... .. ...................... .......
Hilary Kate "
"Eternal Sun- .
"Dlla by"shine of the e
y" Spotless Mind"0
Courtesy of Fine Line Features, Focus, Sony Pictures Classic, Warner Bros.
Alexander Payne, .
0 Jim Taylor 0
Courtesy of Focus. Fox Searchlight, Miranax, Warner
Bros., Warner Independent
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will win 0