Best Actresses in “Elah”

Timothy Gray‘s potential-Oscar-nomination piece for Variety (dated 6.28) starts off by naming three Best Actress favorites — Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose, Julie Christie in Away From Her and Angelina Jolie in A Mighty Heart.
I fear that number is going to be narrowed down to two. We all know when a picture dies a quick box-office death the high-calibre performances in it tend to droop in estimation, so as unfair as it may sound I wouldn’t be surprised if Jolie (who gives her best performance ever as Heart‘s Marianne Pearl) falls off the list by Labor Day.
I’m not getting any kind of reading about how the other Iraq-Afghanistan movies are going to play, but if “quality of performance” were the only criteria (it never is, of course) Charlize Theron will be right in there for her single-mother/hardnose cop role in Paul Haggis‘s In The Valley of Elah. It’s not her film — the deed of possession belongs to Tommy Lee Jones — but she delivers a good deal more in the way of believable bite and conviction in Elah than she did in North Country.
I don’t know if things will also fall into place for Susan Sarandon as a Best Supporting Actress contender for her Elah peformance as Jones’ wife. But they could. Sarandon has three or four scenes, at most, but in one she lets go with a blast of radiant anger that takes your breath away. Such that it’s hard not to think of her in this light.