Planning to tune into the Golden Globes tonight? Well, when it comes to the best dramatic actress nominees, there’s a very strong chance you won’t have a dog in this fight. Why? Because odds are you haven’t seen any of the movies in which these outstanding performances happen. The four films in question have only been in limited release since the fall, and in some cases, premiering as late as December. That means they’ve only been shown in a handful of theaters in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Sorry, rest of America. Hope you’re enjoying “Star Wars.”
The good news is, now that awards season is underway, the prize-winning films should slowly trickle into wider release. One such movie is “Carol,” which produced two nominees for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. The impeccable Cate Blanchett is an obvious front-runner in this category. The 2-time Oscar-winner shines as the sophisticated Carol Aird, a well-to-do wife in the midst of a divorce and custody battle. Blanchett is as luminous as ever, in her coolly composed portrayal of a woman struggling with her need for self-expression in 1952, a time of clear-cut conservatism. I’ve never seen her hit a false note, and another win for Blanchett tonight would be well-deserved.
Sharing the nomination is her co-star, Rooney Mara. Mara plays Therese Belivet, a department store salesgirl and aspiring photographer who becomes enchanted by the slightly older Carol, and then begins an affair with her. I don’t know if it was her brunette bangs, delicate features, or understated performance in this role, but while watching Mara I was constantly reminded of Audrey Hepburn. Not necessarily a bad thing. If she doesn’t win a Golden Globe tonight, no biggie- she’s already won the Best Actress award for this role at the Cannes Film Festival. Count on seeing much more of her in the future.
At 21, Irish actress Saoirse (pronounced “Ser-sha”) Ronan is the youngest of the nominees in this category, but no stranger to movie critics. At the tender age of 12, she first gained acclaim for her haunting performance in the 2007 film, “Atonement.” Tonight she’s being recognized for her role in “Brooklyn.” Ronan plays Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who immigrates to America in hopes of making a better life. Overflowing with all the innocence and quiet determination you could hope for, Eilis carves out her place in 1950s New York. Ronan bring Eilis to life effortlessly, but then, it’s not exactly a stretch. Still, if it’s eye-welling earnestness you’re looking for, Saoirse’s gonna nail it every time.
You may not know her name yet, but Alicia Vikander had a very busy 2015. The Swedish actress was in six films released last year, including “Burnt” with Bradley Cooper. (Yeah, I didn’t see it, either.) I predict a major bump in her visibility, as she’s vying for two Golden Globes tonight. One, for her supporting actress role in “Ex Machina,” and the other for her leading role in “The Danish Girl.” Set in the 1920s, the movie is a fictional account loosely inspired by the true story of Danish painter, Einar Wegener, and his life as a transgender woman, named Lili Elbe. Vikander is utterly charming and vital as Einar’s wife, Gerda Wegener. Gerda is a painter in her own right, but only meets success after she begins to use Lili as her model. Gerda’s challenge is to overcome the loss of the husband she married, in order to accept the person he’s become. Vikander tackles this complicated role with great heart and honesty. Definitely Globe-worthy.
On a side note, Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Einar/Lili is enough to make me want to add him as a “write-in” for this category. His transition to womanhood is both breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time. Not surprisingly, he is nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama. Though unlikely, a double win for Vikander and Redmayne would be pretty cool.
Finally, my personal pick for tonight’s winner is Brie Larson. “Room” is a film that left me feeling like I’d held my breath for 2 hours, and Larson’s powerful performance was a huge part of that. Larson plays Joy Newsome, a woman kidnapped by a stranger, and imprisoned in a shed for 7 years. She raises her son Jack (fathered by her captor) in the most normal way she knows how, creating the fullest life possible within the confines of a single room. As Jack’s “Ma,” Larson takes us on an emotional journey that I cannot fully explain. She is vulnerable, yet incredibly strong. Loving and tender, but clearly hardened by the experience. It’s the role of a lifetime. I was incredibly moved. And I’m not alone: Larson has already won 18 regional film awards for this role, and is nominated for another 18.
The Golden Globes airs tonight at 8:00, on NBC.