Sissy Spacek received her sixth Best Actress nomination for playing Ruth Fowler, a grief-stricken, repressed mother and wife in the Best Picture nominated movie, In the Bedroom. Sissy Spacek is one of Oscar's favorite actresses. And there's a reason for that. After winning the majority of the awards (including the Golden Globe), people must have been sure that she would win her second Academy Award. I guess the fact that she had already won an Oscar must have been the biggest setback and in the end, Halle Berry made history and became the first African American actress to win the Best Actress Oscar.
In the Bedroom is an incredibly small independant movie. You can see such films among the Best Picture nominees every year nowadays but they almost never win (I can only think of The Hurt Locker at the moment). Why? I don't really know, it might be that the Academy still prefers soappy biographical movies like A Beautiful Mind or The King's Speech. In the Bedroom is very quiet and it's seemingly unspectacular but contrary to Moulin Rouge!, it's a movie that has more inside and less outside. In my opinion, Tom Wilkinson should have won the Oscar in a weak field where he was far and away the most deserving nominee. Marisa Tomei's nomination was deserved but I wouldn't vote for her over Maggie Smith and (especially) Helen Mirren.
Sissy Spacek is such a brilliant actress, a true chameleon and she seems to be such a decent, kind person. Preparing for this review I watched her interview on Inside Actor's Studio and that interview made me love her even more. It could seem quite useless to mention it here but that interview made me realise what a wonderful, prepared and dedicated performer she is. The movie In the Bedroom was sort of a comeback role for her, after mostly concentrating on her family. And it's very important and it has a lot to do with this role. Sissy Spacek shows Ruth Fowler as a mother first. We can get to know her as a dedicated, hard-working, kind woman who's very helpful and careful with everyone around her. Her relationship with her son is seemingly tense and she seems to be a bit cold and distant. Although she's not Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People, she still comes across as distant.
Sissy's performance as Ruth Fowler is very hard to describe as there are so many layers that you cannot see together. It's too complex and too lifelike. Many have said this before and will say it, too. It's so interesting that two ladies were competing in one category and they both played grieving mothers. I think comparing the two performances is incredibly hard because of the different choices that the actresses made. However, I don't see the two performances as polar opposites. In fact, they are quite similar. Both characters have their ups and downs. The main difference is really in their personalities. Sissy showed Ruth as a repressed, depressed woman, Halle showed Leticia as a total wreck with some calm periods.
Sissy is incredibly haunting and disturbing in her quietness. We really don't see her doing anything and the scenes are almost unspectacular and yet there's some underlying tension that Sissy showed so brilliantly. Sometimes the character seems to be boring (especially at the beginning) and Sissy doesn't have a lot to do technically but we can still feel that Ruth is like an atomic bomb that almost explodes. Although Leticia Musgrove exploded, Ruth didn't though she was quite close to it. The scene where she's faced with her own mistakes by her husband is incredible. All the emotion and tension we see there is just amazing. It's a really electrifying moment and I was blown away by the performance of both actors. They were incredibly real and totally believable. The tears, everything is perfect about that scene. I mean that should be taught at acting classes.
There are other haunting moments that are unforgettable despite their simplicity. For example the one where Ruth is talking to the priest. Sissy makes Ruth look both calm and nervous. The combination of the two is so dazzlinh and brilliant. The small nervous ticks, the way she holds and smokes her cigarette. Brilliant. But I could also mention her last moments in the end of the movie where she's talking to her husband. Again, on the outside, that scene is nothing and yet Sissy fills it with so much emotional power. However, I don't have to mention her big moments as her shorts sequences when we see her smoking or watching TV are just as brilliant.
Sissy Spacek is just amazing as Ruth Fowler and she shows how much tension her grief causes in her life. Her performance is not huge, she doesn't sing, she doesn't dance, she doesn't die, we just see her being totally fantastic and unbelievable. This is an incredibly haunting and unforgettable peformance. Those small movements of hers, the outbursts, the tears. Everything is so real and haunting. Brilliant.
What do you think?