Holly Hunter received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Jane Craig, a neurotic television executive in the Best Picture nominated Broadcast News. In the very crowded 1987 Best Actress race, Holly was clearly the favorite of the critics' and yet I have a hard time believing that she was a very serious contender for the Oscar. I suppose she was fourth in the end or maybe third if she managed to get ahead of Sally Kirkland. I guess the fact that Broadcast News received a lot of other nomination might have given Holly the edge, eventually. The drawback of strong fields is that only one person can win the award. Something like that is about to happen in this year's race, too. It's full of great performances and there will be some left off or losing.
Broadcast News is a very entertaining and interesting movie though I wouldn't call it the masterpiece that everybody makes it out to be. Its screenplay is very witty and smartly written but sometimes it just gets too much and more annoying than it should be. I guess the ones who loved Network will be disappointed by it and those who disliked it will take lots of pleasure in it. William Hurt gives a shallow performance as a shallow person: that might have been the point but I still wasn't impressed by him. However, it's Albert Brooks who gives the best performance of the movie. Although his character is incredibly unlikeable and annoying, he just excels in the part. I'd say he deserved to win the Oscar for it.
Although Holly Hunter is a very talented actress in my book, there's something about her that's a bit annoying: her accent. It's a little bit too heavy for me and she has to overcome this obstacle to completely impress me. Not that she's not able to. In Broadcast News, however, she has to use all the qualities that I dislike about her the most. Therefore, it's very shocking that I liked her performance so much.
Jane is a very weird character, who's incredibly difficult to get used to, but eventually, you develop a certain amount of sympathy towards her. While Faye Dunaway's Diana Christensen was almost a caricature of a stereotype, Holly adds some soul to this typical 80s careerist woman. In one of her first scenes, we can see her being hysterical and breaking down in a hotel bedroom, which could have been a very depressing start, but Holly was somehow able to turn it into something really lovely. Holly nails the humorous parts of this character: her scene when her lecture becomes a complete failure is just priceless. She displays some irony besides the humiliation of Jane.
Holly's chemistry with both Albert Brooks and William Hurt is just wonderful (especially with Brooks). Holly showed wonderfully how differently Jane behaves in the company of both of these men. With Brooks' Aaron, Jane is more confident, humorous and their scenes give some of the best parts of the film. My favorite line of the whole movie is said in their argument (but that belongs to Brooks): "I think we have the kind of friendship where if I were the devil, you would be the only one to know." Hunter and Brooks play with each other so wonderfully that I just couldn't get enough og their scenes. With Hurt, things are a bit different. Whenever Holly is with him, her performance gets a little bit weaker and shallower. Her wittiness becomes a little bit annoying and I kind of felt she overdid those scenes.
The bitchy and unbearable part of Jane is, nonetheless, perfectly handled by Holly. The scene where she gets the chance to pick the person who's sent to Alaska is simply hilarious: her delivery of "Jennifer!" is just wonderful.
As I said, the comedy part of this character is just excellent and the same goes for her more dramatic scenes (her confrontation scene with William Hurt at the airport is just unforgettable), but there's just something that says to me that it's not enough. There's everything for me to completely embrace her: she's hilarious, she nails the dramatic moments, she develops a complete, multi-dimensional character, she has a luminous presence and yet it never becomes coherently amazing. By this I mean, she's amazing in bits and pieces but the whole thing doesn't reach the level of fantastic. However, I really cannot deny how wonderfully entertaining she is in certain scenes.
In the end, although I was impressed by Holly Hunter to a certain extent, I wasn't as amazed by her as I was when I first saw her a couple of years ago. She still has a wonderful presence and she's a joy to watch but I felt something missing from her work. Nevertheless, her line deliveries are pitch-perfect and her scenes with Albert Brooks truly make up for the weaker parts of her performance. Very entertaining and loveable work but not something to fall in love with.
What do you think? Meryl's review comes tomorrow.