Fast Fade

On the afternoon of Friday, 12.2 — hours after seeing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo at Sony — I posted a Best Actress evaluation piece that began with my enthusiastic response to Rooney Mara‘s performance as Lisbeth Salander. She was so fierce and penetrating, I figured, that she had to be a late-inning Best Actress contender. In my own book that’s still true, but things have changed over the last 11 days, and now…who knows?

Mara Rooney in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

The tight embargo enforcement and the general feeling that Sony doesn’t see Dragon Tattoo as an award-calibre film has created a feeling that the air is seeping out of the Tattoo tires, awards-wise, including Mara’s own.

It just goes to show how quickly things change in this racket. The wind shifts direction, the temperature cools down, the current loses strength. Anyway, here’s how I saw it way back when:

“I don’t think I’m breaking the embargo to say that Rooney Mara is fierce and touching and diamond-hard in David Fincher‘s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Yes, her Lisbeth Salander character is familiar due to Noomi Rapace having played her three times in the three original Girl flicks but Mara gives a richer, fuller performance, I feel. Her manner is curt and chilly but her eyes are swimming with feeling. She’s a heartbreaker, and she’s tough and resourceful — the rock upon which the film rests.

“In a phrase, I think it’s highly likely that Mara will land a Best Actress nomination”…Update: Nope — not likely at all. A slender chance, at best.

“By my sights, the locks are Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Michelle Williams (My Week With Marilyn) and Viola Davis (The Help). The top actresses fighting it out for the other two slots are Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs), Charlize Theron (Young Adult) and Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin). And possibly Mara, which would make four.

“Close is seen as a weak sister in some circles because her performance is so restrained and still and minmal. On the other hand her presumed Best Actress nomination has long been seen as a career tribute (i.e., the last 30 years) plus Close has been glad-handing a lot of people at a lot of events on both coasts. Theron is seen as vulnerable because her Young Adult character, Mavis Gary, is acutely dislikable; others feel that she gives an exceptionally ballsy and blazing performance because of the dislikable-ness. Tilda Swinton‘s We Need To Talk About Kevin performance is a little odd and “who knows?” She plays a writer who gives birth to an evil demon who needs to be thrown off a pier in a burlap bag filled with rocks at an early age. I don’t see it.

“And yet many feel that Theron and Swinton give livelier, more vivid and graspable performances than Close does, despite Close having the sweep of history and present-day politics behind her.

“Close has been on thin ice since the start of the week,” says In Contention‘s Kris Tapley. “I think it’s a strong performance so I wouldn’t treat it as if it ‘has to go.’ And the category itself is fraught with great performances in mediocre films (though I think Young Adult is a great film, and the exception). So the film itself doesn’t really hold her down. The problem — as far as standing out this time of year is concerned — is that Close’s is an internalized portrayal. And you have to have a ‘show them’ component to register for a large group of people like the Academy.

“That qualification out of the way, yes, Close is in a precarious spot. The thing Theron could have against her, as you intimate, is how unlikable her character is. Viola Davis, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams seem assured. And it’s not just Mara looking for room. Indeed, Tilda Swinton hasn’t gone away. But I don’t see anyone outside of those seven cracking in.”

Hollywood Reporter columnist Scott Feinberg disagrees. He thinks that Martha Marcy May Marlene‘s Elizabeth Olsen and Like Crazy‘s Felicity Jones have contention heat. That’s not very likely, I feel. Feinberg knows that Academy voters tend to let one ingenue in among a typical Best Actress assortment, and that they’re not likely to let in three.”

Right now I think it’s Streep, Davis, Williams, Theron and either Swinton or Mara…but more likely Swinton. Close is weakening, I feel.

  • Glenn Kenny

    ” The Eloi are but baby birds waiting for the Jeffrey Wells of the world to chew their entertainment nourishment and spit it into their upraised beaks.”


  • Jeffrey Wells

    I don’t like that analogy either.

  • Jason S.

    So, you’re completely ruling out Michelle Williams’ old DICK co-star Kirsten Dunst?

  • Scott Mendelson

    But the audience reception will certainly play a big factor. Put simply, if the film opens huge and/or becomes a mainstream topic of conversation, then Mara is pretty much a sure bet for a nomination. If it doesn’t do all that well, then it’s that much less likely. Yes this predigestion can be frustrating at times (it feels like I’ll be the last person on Earth to see MI4 or TGWTDT because I’m merely waiting for opening day or the night before), but the box office and public reception will arguably be the major factor as to whether or not Mara gets in.

  • LexG

    “Close has been on thin ice since the start of the week…”

    I don’t know quite the words with which to express it, but I think lines like the above are at the heart of what JLC was getting at. Maybe it doesn’t seem so absurd if you’re “in it” and make your money prognosticating the Oscars, but… this whole THIS WEEK IT’S CLOSE THIS WEEK THERON MOVES AHEAD play-by-play all season– which, granted, is your job– on movies that are barely released or not released or only screening for bloggers and bored SAG extras who like to go to screenings just seems so over the top. Like we’re hearing play-by-play of a ballgame or, more accurately, a NASCAR race. Only all based on totally unreliable qualifiers like obscure critics groups (WOW, THE MINNEAPOLIS FILM CRITICS ARE GOING WITH CHARLIZE, THE HEAT’S ON NOW!) or insect antennae or Poland asking around on the Westside. We never know till we know, and even then, Oscars are not REMOTELY IMPORTANT AT ALL except to like Kathy Griffin and gay Asian guys in clunky glasses.

    Hate to always go back to this stock riff, but I can’t even CONCEIVE of telling my Uncle Ed who runs the blast furnace at a coal plant in rural wherever that “this week Glenn Close is falling behind, but if Dragon Tattoo is a hit, Rooney’s got a shot.” He’d just belch and call me a homo.

    Like when you guys think of THE OSCARS!!!!, don’t you hear it with JAZZ HANDS and a slight lisp and some guy who looks like George Pinocchio and that supergay black guy on E! channel MINCING IT UP just LOVING THE PAGEANTRY on the RED CARPET, OSCAR OSCAR! WAHHHHHH! like some camp drag venue.

    It’s a self-congratulatory fashion show that nobody young, cool or plugged-in cares about in 2011, a relic of OLLLLLLD BROOOOAD-WAAAAAAAY! style PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ hat-and-cane vaudeville, just irrelevant and so, SO…. gay.

    Who cares?

  • AnnaZed

    Why, oh why, is Michelle Williams still bobbing up on these lists? Her Marilyn is cringe-worthy, an embarrassment that I hope the lovely and talented woman will eventually live down. Let’s not shed anymore light on it, please.

  • Soma

    Felicity Jones has had good luck with wins, but Olsen and Mara have way higher profiles at this point.

  • York “Budd” Durden

    It’d be more interesting to discuss her sister. Or Finch’s color palette.

  • raygo

    Strictly conjecture as I haven’t seen TGWTDT, but Mara’s character/performance seems to share some of the same elements as Uma Thurman’s in the Kill Bill pics, and if a actress like Thurman couldn’t land a nomination (which she deserved) for either pic, I can’t see how Mara gets one.

  • Ray

    “I don’t like that analogy either.”


  • cyanic

    Who cares?

    You do. Since all movies are awesome to you except for black (female led) ones and Asian cinema which nobody wants or needs.

  • George Prager

    You guys misunderstood JLC. He was talking about the People’s Choice Awards, not the Oscars.

  • bluefugue

    >Hate to always go back to this stock riff, but I can’t even CONCEIVE of telling my Uncle Ed who runs the blast furnace at a coal plant in rural wherever that “this week Glenn Close is falling behind, but if Dragon Tattoo is a hit, Rooney’s got a shot.” He’d just belch and call me a homo.

    More of this Lex, less foot/suicide guy, pls

  • Doug

    Hollywood has already read and seen “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and gotten excited about its star Noomie Rapace. That was a couple of years ago. Despite the players involved, the new version arrives with a sense of been there, done that.

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  • Cadavra

    Lex is correcter than he thinks. A week or so after the Ratner/Oscar fiasco, I made a joke about it to a bunch of presumably film-savvy friends. None of them had the slightest idea what I was talking about.

    Right now Americans are more concerned with keeping their homes than they are about what overpaid cry-baby wins an award for playing make-believe. We are the minority. Which is fine, as long as we accept it as such.

  • tephoz2001