Friday, April 8, 2011

Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets

Helen Hunt received her first and (to date only) Best Actress nomination and Oscar for playing Carol Connelly, a waitress and a single mom in the Best Picture nominated comedy, As Good as it Gets. Many were surprised to see her win but I really don't see why. She won SAG, the Golden Globe. Of course, many thought Judi Dench would win but Hunt triumphed in the end. I guess that her stardom she reached with Mad about You helped her. It's an interesting and very controversial decision, not very typical from teh Academy.

As Good as it Gets is an entertaining but really overlong movie. Had it been 30 minutes shorter, I would have enjoyed it way more. That Best Picture nod was a bit much, I think. I mean being very entertaining doesn't equal an Oscar nomination in my book. Furthermore, this movie has such a TV feel to it (just like everything by James L. Brooks). Brooks does things as if this movie was 20 minutes long. And what works in a sitcom doesn't necessarily work in a feautre film. Jack is naturally great but that Oscar might have been a bit much. Greg Kinnear was not bad but nothing particularly amazing, really.

Whatever happened to Helen Hunt? Seriously, what's going on with her right now? Apart from the funny, but insignificant What Women Want, she didn't make many successful movies until As Good as it Gets. I guess the fact that she kept on working on television after her Oscar win might have been one of the main reasons why she didn't succeed after all. I think she's very much like Tina Fey though their characters are a bit different (but their acting style is quite similar). The other odd thing is that I wouldn't really expect to write so much about sitcom actresses on this blog, in my Best Actress reviews (only Mary Tyler Moore comes to my mind now).

Comedy is extremely hard to pull off. There's always the danger of overacting and unfortunately we don't really get great great comedy nowadays. I mean, how does The Hangover compare to Some Like it Hot? All in all, great comedy performances are mostly given on television, I feel. Hunt's previous experience with comedy certainly helped her a lot in portraying the character of Carol Connelly. However, it's not only comedy skill that she needed to do this role well. Carol is a bit boring character and you've just got to make her more interesting and loveable. And Hunt really succeeded in doing so, thanks to her immense charisma.

The first thing I noticed that (just like with Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Brown) Hunt doesn't get enough screentime and that's really the movie's fault. I just couldn't decide who's the one I should be rooting for. There was Melvin, Carol and Simon. Jack had the advantage of being Jack and getting the juicy lines, Kinnear is the one the audience feels sorry for and there's Hunt. The thing that really elevated this performance above the two male actors is that Hunt added some bitterweet realism to Carol. Carol is a very ordinary woman with problems at home, with her love life and her child. She seems to exist inside a bubble and the only think she can care about is her only child. Hunt heartbreakingly showed the pain of this character and her performance is unusually deep for this movie. I mean, As Good as it Gets lacks emotional depth and stays on the surface with emotions but Hunt (in my opinion) went inside the head of this character and understood all her actions perfectly.

There's the scene where Hunt says a hysterical monologue (it's probably her most famous moment and people still keep talking about it). She's so heartwrenching and it's just impossible not to feel for her character. And the delivery of the lin "OK" is simply perfect. I dare say that it's probably one of the best acted scenes of 1997.

I must admit, though, that I was a bit underwhelmed by the beginning of the performance but after a while it became so easy and wonderful. It started out a bit forced with Hunt's overdoing Carol's character but in the end it really became something utterly loveable and wonderful. Her reaction, when Simon wants to paint her, is just unforgettable. On a personal level, I might say that's my favorite scene of this performance (despite the fact that I appreciate that big monologue a bit more).

So, to sum up, Helen Hunt almost crossed the line of fantastic with her performance as Carol Connelly in As Good as it Gets. Hunt added wonderful, loveable realism to this character and she made the audience really care about her. Those, who keep saying that she's one of the worst winners, really need to shut up. Helen Hunt is just excellent as this loveable character. Well done.

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

Interesting coincidence: I just noticed that I wrote about the ladies in alphabetical order. LOL :D

NOTE: I know that it's only Kate left but you might just have to wait for her until next Friday or Saturday. But I might have time for her eariler. I'll do my best, I just have a lot of things to do. :)


Louis Morgan said...

Despite not liking her usually, she is good here.

1. Carter
2. Winslet
3. Dench
4. Hunt
5. Christie

Anonymous said...

She's still one of my least favorite winners but you really made me remember there were a lot of good things about her performance that make her in my opinion a worthy nominee at least.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. An unfairly maligned performance.

Fritz said...

A beautiful performance and I am glad you like it so much.

Malcolm said...

She is a very deserving winner.

Perfectly grounds her with realism and naturalism with the right amount of subtlety.

Maybe not groundbreaking, but definitely deserving of the win.

I'm really glad you liked her!

mark said...

Agreed,i think she got a bad rap beause she was considered a tv star plus the other 4 nominees were more dramtic compared to her,but she is my 3rd choice and stays that way every year,i agree she is a little sitcomy and ott to start but once they get on the road she is luminous..

Ishtar Nour El Ain said...

I Don't agreed with your review you are very wrong with all though respect i mean did Helen Hunt deserve to win ? of course she did but i think you are very mistaken in what you say about jack and the best picture nomination this movie is a classic i dont know where you are but here in america is highly praise and considered a classic you can find it on tv on any day the play this film more than titanic l.a confidential or any of the others nominees from that year plus the fact that the movie has a tv feel is what what makes it so special and warm and also jack nicholson oscar a bit much ??? My god he gave one lf the best performances of his career if you think acting to win an oscars is just about big scenes and all that you are way wrong the academy knows how to appreciated a quiet comedy character and jack's melvin was a a very rich character the fact he won the critics choice the golden globe screen actors guild award and the oscar is a testimony of that...