Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Best Actress 2004: Annette Benning in Being Julia
Annette Benning received her third Oscar nomination and 2nd in Best Actress for her portrayal of Julia Lambert, an aging diva of an actress who falls in love with a young boy (Shaun Evans, in an AWFUL performance) who is really manipulating and using her.
Being Julia really is a terrible movie. It is horribly written and none of the actors are up to scratch. It's just very badly made and annoys me to no end and this has to be the reason Benning lost the Oscar and her frontrunner position besides Swank. The material is nothing Oscar voters would award and to tell you the truth, showy, theatrical performances like hers hardly ever win in this category(I went through all the Best Actress winners in my mind today, and the only theatrical performance I can think of is Maggie Smith, tell me if you disagree!).
Anyway, Annette Benning is basically the only one in the film who can survive it, but only in points. In the beginning,her over the top-ness did not convince me and I was turned off by her from the start. It's obvious Julia is an over the top character, but Benning isn't convincing enough in these moments. Her over the top dramatic moments also seems to be too sudden and I just didn't buy it. But as the film goes on, the performance does get better. She displays a certain radiance as Julia starts to come out of her post-show depression as a result of her affair with the young boy and she also is able to survive his horrible interpretation. I love watching these moments, and Benning is great at showing the vulnerability of her character throughout.
The theatrical scenes also get better and become more bearable over time. but unfortunately, her material kills her. It's not like Benning isn't trying, she is trying very hard, but it's hard to believe anyone could make this script work. I also can't stand her big scene at the end, I just don't like her over- mannered style in it. But I do give Annette credit for being the best thing in her movie and being almost great in some moments and I do love her very last scene! She gets