Friday, February 11, 2011

Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right

Annette Bening received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Nic, a lesbian doctor in The Kids Are All Right. If Bening wasn't nominated, I would say that Natalie is totally locked for that Best Actress win. Bening is really considered overdue, she married well and she's quite respected in the industry. However, there's one serious thing against her. Voters (presumably) watch the screener of the movie and if they see it before or after Natalie Portman or Michelle Williams, I just cannot imagine that they vote for Annette. Yes, she's a straight actor playing gay, but they love this with men and only if there's a message in the movie. So, I guess Annette will have to wait for that Oscar (hopefully).

The Kids Are All Right is a pretty average movie at a second viewing. When I first saw it, I was totally captivated by it and I so loved it. I felt that it was entertaining, loveable, funny, emotional and everything. However, my views have changed about it. This time I found it quite boring (is it me that I think that most of this year's Best Picture nominees are damn boring) and quite one-dimensional. That screenplay, which is quite impressive at first sight, has some really stupid faults. Mark Ruffalo gives a very good and proper performance, but I don't think he was good enough to be nominated over Andrew Garfield. Although many people complain about the snub of Julianne Moore, I don't think it's such a tragedy as this is not her best work.

Unfortunately the same goes for Annette Bening (or her majesty as she's called on a certain blog). First of all, I don't really like Bening's off-screen persona. She can annoy the hell out of me with that wide smile and twisting of her head. Moreover, I don't think either, that she's such a brilliant actress as some say. Could anyone say a performance of hers that's totally amazing and mindblowing? If you're really honest, the answer is NO (OK, maybe American Beauty). She's great at best. Still, great is great.

Annette Bening plays Nic, a very serious and perfectionist lesbian doctor who just loves being in control of what's happening in her life. She's strong-willed, a bit conventional (yes, I think she is) and quite possessive. There's so much tension going on between her and her partner, Jules. Jules is a much more free-spirited, carefree person and the two are really polar opposites of each other. Nic doesn't really develop in the story (nobody does) but there are some scenes where she almost does thanks to Annette Bening. When I first saw this performance, I was completely mesmerized and effected by her but now my love cooled considerably.

First of all, the screentime is really working against Annette. Actually, the movie is mostly an ensemble picture where one really should be the standout to be singled out. In fact, Bening stands out of the cast, however, that's not a big achievement. All the roles (including Nic) are quite one-dimensional and as I said they don't really develop and they don't have any real depth. I guess goal of entertaining overshadowed the point in this movie. The whole meaning of the movie (or what it should have been) is in Annette's performance.

Bening's performance as Nic starts out quite slowly and so usually that you would never expect that she would be anything special. For the most of the movie (until the dinner scene), Nic doesn't have a very important part and she's just there being grumpy with the other members of that family. To tell the truth, it's not much, but Bening is really fine in these moments. Nothing interesting happens with Nic and nothing interesting happens in the performance. It's too bad actually because this way her performance becomes a bit uneven.

However, after the dinner scene, the performance becomes a bit more dynamic and finally something is happening. It's a very memorable moment when Nic finds Jules' hair. Annette acts so brilliantly with her face there. Again, the confrontation scene between her and Julianne Moore is just fantastic. She delivered the line "Did you take a nap, too?" so shraply and brilliantly that it really took my breath away. I said to myself, yes, the whole performance should have been like this. She's also great during the huge monologue of Julianne Moore. Those are quite great moments.

So, to sum up, I would be quite upset if Annette won in a shocker. Not because I hate her, I just don't feel that this is something that is worthy of an Oscar. It's true that Bening has her great and memorable scenes, but this is not an amazing performance by any means. It's just very good, proper acting in an average movie.
I'm a bit too harsh on her I think, this is really how I feel.

What do you think? It's time for your last predictions! :)

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