Tuesday, March 11, 2008

robbed, baby, robbed

I'm on the Casey Affleck bandwagon these days, after spending 1/3 of my life watching him as The Coward Robert Ford and more recently seeing him in Gone Baby Gone. Honestly, I do remember him in To Die For and Good Will Hunting (one of his scenes involved a violated baseball mitt and it was hilarious). I am impressed with the roles he's taken, and with his acting range - in The Assassination of Jesse James etc., he convincingly played a 19- and 31-year old version of his character, and that character changed from an adoring fan of the outlaw to a willing murderer of the man. In Gone Baby Gone, he is back in his Boston element with the quick-talking, foul-mouthed young investigator who becomes obsessed with a missing child case. He is charming, funny, concerned, conflicted. And adorable, but they don't give awards for that (dammit).

But I really want to talk about Amy Ryan and the tragedy of this year's Oscar snub. I suppose since she was nominated, it wasn't really a snub (and globally speaking, it's also not a tragedy), but I am appalled that she didn't get the award for her performance in Gone Baby Gone.

I won't get into Tilda Swinton-bashing because that's not nice and I'm sure she's a lovely woman (when not wearing someone's shower curtain). But her performance in Michael Clayton, while powerful for the film, was not a standout. Many, many other fine actresses can do the serious-faced almost-maniacal business-woman-who-means-business thing; it's not a tremendous stretch. Amy, on the other hand, played the junkie mom of an abducted girl with such intensity and emotion, I had to remind myself it was acting. I believed her to be that woman; I wanted to hug her, shake her, slap her, yell at her - it was exhausting to watch the movie, actually. And the last scenes. Heaven help us. That is the kind of thing Oscars were made for; wake up, Academy.