2008 Calvin Awards: Best Actress

February 21, 2008

She probably shouldn't smoke when she's pregnant.

Our winner in the Best Actress category is the same person who was our choice for Breakthrough Performance. Ellen Page just missed our top ten in the Best Actress category last year for her stellar work in Hard Candy, but Juno was to be the movie that would push her over the top. Playing a pregnant teenage girl with an acerbic wit, Page made us come to love the character of Juno even as she was using teen-speak that was almost alien in tone. The wonderful thing about Juno is that she's not all tough talk. There are moments in the film when she is genuinely vulnerable, especially when she learns that the future father of her child is not quite the man she expected him to be. It's a revelation of a performance, and one that is already opening many doors for the young actress. We look forward to seeing how she progresses.

Keri Russell grabbed our staff's attention last year with a tiny but memorable role as a super-soldier in Mission: Impossible 3. Her success in that role was followed by a lead turn in Waitress, a performance we have voted the second best of the year after Page. Russell portrays a miserable wife who has recently discovered she is pregnant. Her passive/aggressive way of dealing with her situation is to bake pastries such as the I Hate My Husband Pie. During her meeting with her gynecologist, she realizes she is wildly attracted to this also-married man. The two begin an affair, which leads to more delicacies such as the I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong And I Don't Want Earl To Kill Me Pie. All of this sounds silly and slight and it is to a degree. Waitress is a simple tale of small town love and (marginal) scandal. What makes the movie work is the winning portrayal Russell offers as a woman so full of self-loathing that she bakes a Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser Pie. She makes it so easy to root for her to get away from her bad marriage and find the perfect recipe for a Happiness Pie.

Markéta Irglová was previously named a top five selection for Breakthrough Performance for her work in Once, and now she adds a third place finish in the Best Actress category. The Czechoslovakian musician was discovered by co-star Glen Hansard when his band, The Frames, had a party thrown in their honor by Irglová's parents. He invited the then-13-year-old girl up on stage to sing with the band, which she hated. This was the genesis of a complex relationship between the two that has seen them briefly date, record together, and star in a low budget movie (think $10,000) during her downtime from her busy schedule of going to high school. Clearly, this young woman is not your run of the mill choice for a Best Actress selection, but her arguably auto-biographical work as Hansard's muse in Once justifies the selection. This is Irglová's first acting job and she believes she might never get another gig. Consider this the crown jewel of one-hit wonders in the acting world, then.

Diametrically opposed would be the best description of the fourth and fifth best performances in the Best Actress category this year. Amy Adams is all sunshines, rainbows, and annoying sing-a-longs as a Disney animated character come to life in Enchanted. Helena Bonham Carter's work in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is best defined as a woman who believes that Waitress has it wrong. Pies don't need clever names and sweet confectionary to taste delicious. Instead, they need a secret ingredient, Soylent Green. So, we went with the yin and the yang of cinema in our selections for the rest of the top five. If you like cuddly princesses, Adams is for you. If you like psychotic, homicidal women, well, your dating history is similar to mine.


The front-runners for Best Actress at the Academy Awards don't quite make our top five, but they do finish in sixth and seventh place. Screen legend Julie Christie won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her work in Darling 43 years ago. Away from Her might wind up being the defining role of her career, though. Christie's portrayal of an Alzheimer's sufferer is a haunting demonstration of what the disease does to its victims as well as their loved ones. Meanwhile, Marion Cotillard, who was a decade away from being born when Christie won her Oscar, earns a seventh place selection for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose. Cotillard's work as the tragic French singer strikes the perfect note as occasionally ebullient but all too often erratic.

Keira Knightley, Katherine Heigl and Parker Posey round out the top ten. Knightley's turn as an aristocrat who falls for the help in Atonement is exactly the sort of tortured British drama that roughly six members of our staff live for. Heigl's outing as a beautiful career woman who falls for a horny slacker only after he impregnates her during a one night stand is one she herself has decried as sexist. Personally, we think she should lighten the hell up. It's a comedy and unlike Grey's Anatomy, it's watchable. Be thankful for what you had with Team Apatow. As for Posey, I've been assured the votes for her work in Fay Grim are not a joke. That is as close to positive as I can be about the actress. Summing up, the bottom of our top ten features a tortured woman who has lost her soul mate, a prima donna who bemoans her professional success and that vile chick we voted as the third worst performer in the 2005 Calvins for Blade: Trinity. The staff was with me about Posey back then. I have no idea where they went wrong after that.

Finishing a few votes short of top ten selection are Laura Linney for The Savages, Angelina Jolie for A Mighty Heart, Christina Ricci for Black Snake Moan, Laura Harris for Severance, Kristen Stewart for In the Land of Women, Nikki Blonsky for Hairspray and Claire Danes for Stardust. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Best Actor
Best Actress
Best Album
Breakthrough Performance
Best Cast
Best Director
Best DVD
Best Overlooked Film
Best Picture
Best Scene
Best Screenplay
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Best TV Show
Best Use of Music
Best Video Game
Worst Performance
Worst Picture
Top 10
Position Actress Film Total Points
1 Ellen Page Juno 60
2 Keri Russell Waitress 37
3 Marketa Irglova Once 30
4(tie) Amy Adams Enchanted 22
4(tie) Helena Bonham Carter Sweeney Todd 22
6 Julie Christie Away From Her 21
7 Marion Cotillard La Vie en Rose 20
8 Keira Knightley Atonement 19
9(tie) Katherine Heigl Knocked Up 17
9(tie) Parker Posey Fay Grim 17



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