Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Best Actress 2004: Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake

Imelda Staunton received her 1st Oscar nomination for playing Vera Drake, a kind and loveable woman who is actually an abortionist. Eventually, her work comes back to her and she is charged and convicted for her crimes.

Vera Drake isn't that great of a film. I just found the characters not very interesting, besides Vera and Sally Hawkins (Whose storyline is completely wasted). But I think the film was well liked by the Academy, given it was nominated for Staunton's performance, the script, and a surprise directing nomination for Mike Leigh. I think this factor was what gave Imelda the edge over Annete in the role of Hilary's competition, as well as a BAFTA win, but Hilary still walked off with the gold.

Vera Drake is a very happy woman. She is totally commited to her children and her family, and is warm and kind to everyone she meets. The role of Vera could have easily been one-note in the hands of another actress, but thanks to the way imelda plays it, it becomes a terrific one. Throughout the beginning scenes, Vera is very friendly, yet you sense a depth underneath her sunny facade. in some ways, you feel like it is a facade to a certain extent. Vera must convince others that she is not the type of woman who believes these things, and Imelda sells us from the get-go.

Yet, it's the 2nd half where the performance really becomes amazing. Vera's happiness is gone, and Imlelda is simply devastating. All her closeups are truly amazing, and Staunton breaks your heart every time. You see all the emotions in her face. She is shocked and shattered by the realization she has been found out by the authorities, and she is ashamed of the fact she kept it a secret from her children. But she is not ashamed of her actions, because she believes that this was the right thing to do. Her chemistry with her husband in these scenes and throughout the film is fantastic and it is simply so heart-wrenching to watch.

My only complaint is that the role of Vera is a little one-dimensional. Well, I shouldn't say that. I think the role could have been developed more and if it had,Staunton could have been incredible.Still, she completely disappears into the part and gives a beautiful, exceptional performance that gets


dinasztie said...

I used to be crazy about her, but last time I was a tiny bit disappointed. Not sure why. I hope Kate (or Annette) wins anyway. :)

joe burns said...

Dinasztie: Well, she is great, the material is what holds her back....

We'll see... Annette is next!

Nues20 said...

She is brilliant and in my opinion should have won.
This is really funny because in London Imelda Staunton is playing Ms. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and I saw her yesterday.
She was absolutely amazing - even better than Ms. Lansbury herself! :)

joe burns said...

Glad you think so!!!!

SO JEALOUS!!!! I probably won't agree she's better then Lansbury, who I love immensley, but I'll give her CD a listen. What do you think of Lupone's version?

Nues20 said...

I love Lupone but I don't know if she is my favourite for Ms. Lovett.
Of course she is amazing and she has a very distinct voice.
So it kinda sounds a bit weird sometimes when she tries to do the cockney accent at the same time sounds like some type of transatlantic mess.

Nues20 said...

Definitely give her album a try but she isn't the best singer in the world so you might be kinda disappointed.
She was just great at being Lovett more than anything else.
Do you have a favourite musical Joe?

joe burns said...

Oh, I love her there, but she lives in the shadow of Angela Lansbury....

Oh, well, in my opinion, the role needs a great singer, but still, it could work!!!

Probably Chicago, but I like so many, it's hard to choose!!!

How about you? Do you like Chicago?

Nues20 said...

I do but I saw it here in London and the cast were really tired.
When I went to Broadway they were celebrating the fact that they were the longest revival on Broadway but here they are like "we're the longest revival (yawn)"
They're closing here soon anyway.
Dunno - I've seen Wicked 6 times so maybe but Sweeney Todd is definitely up there - so many great musicals!

joe burns said...

I know!