That Hathaway Resistance

One of the oldest award-season prejudices is to deny consideration to any film that feels the least bit romcommy — anything that feels a little too fast or frothy or up-moody. And especially a performance in a film that dances to this kind of tune. This thinking might well be intensified, I’m thinking, in the case of an “emotional comedy” that isn’t exactly romcommy as much as a hybrid of romcom + earnest emotionalism + relationship anguish + grappling with a debilitating disease.

But throw it all together and you have the mule-like refusal of some award-season handicappers to even consider the idea that Anne Hathaway‘s performance in Love and Other Drugs might be Oscar-worthy, even as a speculative who-knows? type deal, which is what at least half of the flotations out there are composed of. This is presumably due to the belief that to qualify for an acting award you have to solemnly suffer and pour your heart out in a somewhat doleful and non-pizazzy way (like Annette Bening does, for example, in The Kids Are All Right).

Also working against Hathaway thus far has been the fear-of-Ed Zwick factor, but that, as noted in my recent review, is not a concern this time around.

I’ve been passing along ecstatic reader reviews of Love and Other Drugs for several months now and some of the awards handicappers won’t bite. A few days ago I saw Love and Other Drugs and earnestly praised Hathaway’s performance, but apart from Gurus of Gold voters Pete Hammond and Suzie Woz and two or three others, awards handicappers aren’t biting.

Two exceptions are Scott Feinberg and In Contention‘s Kris Tapley. Both have short-listed Hathaway — fine.

But to my knowledge Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone and The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil haven’t touched notions of Hathaway with a ten-foot pole. And what about USA Today‘s Anthony Breznican? You’ve gotta watch that guy, Breznican. Because he’ll pull a fast one if you’re not careful.

And don’t give me that “oh, we haven’t seen the film yet” stuff. Who really knows if Christian Bale‘s performance in The Fighter has the chops to compete in the Best Supporting Actor race, but that hasn’t stopped certain handicappers from saying “Bale looks like a comer!”

  • Ray DeRousse

    Part of the problem I’m having is the perception that Hathaway can do this kind of featherweight role while drugged, tied up, and fast asleep. It’s way beneath what she’s capable to doing.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    I get and acknowledge what you’re saying, but the role and the performance aren’t “featherweight.” Have you seen the film?

  • Chauncey

    Too many guys think I’m a concept, or I complete them, or I’m gonna make them alive. But I’m just a fucked-up girl who’s looking for my own peace of mind.

  • sumo-pop

    She’s terrific. She’s like Julia Roberts with balls, if you know what I mean.

  • George Prager

    In 1980, Jill Clayburgh was nominated for STARTING OVER. But she didn’t have to compete with a glut of indie movies.

    Of course if you made that film today, Burt Reynolds’ character would have to be a best-selling novelist and Clayburgh the Governor of Massachusetts or the President of Harvard.

  • jsw3000

    So let me get this straight Ray DeRousse, she’s good in what she does (with her eyes closed) so let’s not even consider her when award times come. Good, then let’s ask Julia, Angelina and Gwyneth (to name a few of the last stars to get recognition) to hand back their Oscars, Globes and SAG’s because we know they won them for roles they keep playing from time to time. Come on, even Audrey Hepburn won an Oscar for a romantic comedy and she kept doing that (wonderfully) for the rest of her life.

  • Kristopher Tapley

    Your knowledge is flawed. I’ve had Hathaway as a definite consideration all year, even had her predicted for a while (that is until the category became so competitive). She currently sits at a respectable #8 on my lead actress tally.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Tapley: I stand corrected.

  • scottfeinberg

    I have her at #6 now, and had her at #5 until recently…

  • Rikki Pinke

    “Let us never forget: My somewhat flawed diatribes are the REAL story.”

    – J. Wells, 2010

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Aack, aack, aack….

  • 90027

    oh, and

    Vulture: “heavy competition from Anne Hathaway”

    Awards Daily includes Hathaway in their look at Best Actress contenders:

    Movieline has her as an outside possibility on their Oscar index, she was in their top five until recently:

  • Andrea

    With all due respect Mr. Wells, when it comes to Hathaway, you tipped your hand a while ago.

    You were clearly biased in her favor. You went as far as to say she was going to WIN the Oscar. That to me is jumping the shark especially when the blogger declaring that has NOT seen the film.

    I know it’s always a shock when an Oscar blogger finds out he has less effect on the race than he or she wants to belief. After all, that is their life.

    But news flash, you don’t. There are many strong female roles out there this year. Perhaps Hathaway’s will measure up well with them. But I won’t start predicting her based on any of your reviews that’s for sure.

  • Andrea

    Also, if her performance is as good as you say, you should have nothing to worry or fear.

  • K. Bowen

    For all the oodles of digital space that Oscar bloggers dedicate to Carey Mulligan, Hathaway was better in Rachel Getting Married and actually puts asses in the seats.

  • Robert Cashill

    As with THE KING’S SPEECH there’s a chance, however infinitesimal, that critics and other commentators not enamored of “Oscar blogging” and the reaction of paying audiences may make all the difference in Hathaway’s chances.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Andrea: Show me the line in which I said she was going to WIN. And you won’t find it because I never wrote that.

  • JChasse

    I did find Jeff saying that “Prediction: Anne Hathaway is a guaranteed lock for a Best Actress nomination. Honestly? I’m 60% convinced she’s going to win.” back on August 13, which, while isn’t a 100% declaration that she was going to win, I grant you, it is enough for him to say “What did I tell you? What did I tell you?” should she win.

  • Robert Cashill

    Put another way (and assuming it was being screened) did any Oscar blogger predict Sandra Bullock for a nomination, much less FTW, for THE BLIND SIDE this time last year? Its successful release was clearly a factor in her favor.

  • Edward

    A film with Anne Hathaway in it will put my butt in a seat, she’s that interesting an actress.

  • scottfeinberg
  • Robert Cashill

    Unless I’m misreading your post, “this time last year,” not the day before. By then she had it in the bag. What I’m looking for is, you know, “OCT. 24 OSCARFLASH!!! BULLOCK A LOCK FOR WINNER’S CIRCLE!”

  • moviechick44

    I remember as far back as the last part of filming on Love and Other Drugs, that a on set grip mentioning this is the best work Hathaway has done.

    Also…Denzel Washington, Ken Watanabe and Leonardo DiCaprio have won and been nominated for Oscar’ s for acting in a Zwick film, so there really isn’t a Zwick curse going on for actors getting shut out in nods for being in his films.

  • Ray DeRousse

    @ Jeff – No, I haven’t seen the film. That’s why I used the term “perception,” because everything out about this movie thus far give impressions of a lightweight romantic comedy. I’m sure she’s good in it – she’s rarely bad in anything – but this kind of film seem below her abilities.

    @ jsw3000 – I never said Hathaway SHOULDN’T win an Oscar, nor did I allude to that. I was talking about perceptions, and trying to explain some of what Jeff brought up in his post. As for your Hepburn remark, gimme a break – that was an entirely different era in film and in Hollywood. I dare say that Hepburn would never win for those types of performances today.

  • jsw3000

    Neither would Gwyneth Paltrow for her role in Shakespeare in Love, then?

  • crazynine

    Agree with Ray. Sure, the movie and performance may be great, but the ad campaign sells it pretty weakly.

    I’ve been a Hathaway fan for probably as long as any on this blog (I pegged her for stardom as far back as “Get Real”). She’s beautiful, sexy, smart, and obviously a very talented actress. I personally think she’s wasted in romantic comedies because there’s an edge to her that you don’t see with other actresses, i.e. she DOES come off as a bit of a cold fish.

    She needs to do more strech work. Nothing Merchant-Ivory, God no, but definitely something more serious than this movie.

  • Bob Violence

    if Hathaway made a Merchant-Ivory film that would be worthy of at least several Oscars, maybe a Nobel Prize or two

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  • dulkamar

    That Hathaway Resistance. One of the oldest award-season prejudices is to deny consideration to any film that feels the least bit romcommy anything that feels a little too fast or frothy or up-moody.xtreme fat loss

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    I had a put up a couple of very droll comments but they were “accidentally” erased by Jeff. I’m sure that my saying that if the grain monks ever got together with the 1.85 fascists they could make Jeff feel sufficiently oppressed to write his own “Darkness At Noon.”