Poor Annette Bening, I seriously feel sorry for her. She has been so close to winning the Oscar three times at least (you might argue about her first nomination). Every time she turned on a performance to which people said she was going to win the Oscar, along came a younger actress with a showier, flashier and bigger performance and crashed Annette's Oscar hopes. Natalie Portman's win was much better received than Hilary Swank's second. Basically, the sometimes immense hate thrown against Swank might come from the fact that she beat poor Annette twice, who was (in my opinion) the runner-up both times.
Being Julia, in my opinion, is a delightful, wonderful movie. Although it's not among István Szabó's best works, it's extremely entertaining and very well-made. I enjoyed each and every moment of it, maybe partly to the nice memories that I have from the time it was released. When the movie had its premiere here in Hungary at the oldest movie theater, the media was crazy about the fact that Annette Bening came to us and there were even reports about what she had for dinner (!). A couple of months later, she was nominated for the Oscar. The hysteria went on and it became a sort of patriotic duty to be rooting for Annette Bening's win. At the time of the show, the commentators didn't even hide their disappointment when she lost. (I think something similar will happen with The Door and Helen Mirren).
I'm not a big fan of Annette Bening for one simple reason: I haven't seen enough of her movies. I'm only acquainted with her Oscar-nominated performances and most especially The Kids Are All Right, which I was extremely amazed by for the first time and yet for a second time I was kind of underwhelmed. But from what I saw of her, I've really started to like her and now I truly, sincerely wish that she won an Oscar. I hope it happens once. Personally, if she had a great supporting role, she would instantly win (that's the same thing I think about Sigourney Weaver).
Although some people write Annette's performance as Julia Lambert off as a desperate attempt to recreate Margo Channing, I'd say that's the worst interpretation of this character. Unlike Margo, Julia is not bitter and sarcastic, but extremely self-confident and sharp. Naturally, the bitchy, divaish quality is in both of them (that makes them both irresistable) and yet I would say that Julia is more positive and optimistic. She's an eccentric, larger-than-life creation and yet there's something irresistably human about her. She bursts with energy and talent and who better could play her than Annette Bening, a truly energetic and talented actress.
Julia Lambert is the greatest star of the London stage and she constantly lives up to her status as the most distinguished actress. She's a star and a diva in the best sense of the word and she's just unbelievably awesome at the different areas of life. I love her wonderful, delicate bitchiness in the scene where a snobbish woman asks her if her father was a doctor in Jersey. I won't say her answer, only that it's probably the most priceless moment of the movie.
However, at the beginning of the movie, we see Julia as someone, who's tired and fed up with her life and has very theatrical breakdowns to her friends. I loved the monologue she said to her friend and admirer at the restaurant. It all seems very exaggerated and theatrical and yet it somehow works incredibly. It's like she was acting on the stage and she was working for the applause and appreciation of the audience. Strangely enough, I myself almost started to clap many times while I was watching the film. Annette was able to create to divine presence of a distinguished stage actres, who's so blisteringly brilliant and dignified that you're tongue-tied whenever you see her. The same goes for Annette: she makes the impression of a wonderful actress while seeming incredibly effortless. I just kept wondering at how wonderful she is
Julia is a very dangerous character as any false note would have ruined the performance. However, Annette found the perfect balance. Naturally, it's very colorful and over-the-top work, but Annette knew when to hold back and when to be loud. I would say there are no flaws in this performance, except for the fact that I wanted to see even more of her. She was so good and enjoyable that I couldn't get enough of her. In each and every moment, I was delighted by her presence and wonderul persona. That big revenge scene in the end is, again, priceless.
Annette's performane as Julia reminded me of Pauline Collins in Shirley Valentine. It may not be a huge dramatic achievement but she's so delightful and I was so in love with the character that I couldn't get enough of her. She took this wonderful part and turned it into a fascinating, wonderful creation that's incredibly delightful.
What do you think?