FAST FIVE Oscar Watch: Best Actress

Sean Smithson, Contributor
In an already cut-throat industry, Hollywood is especially hard on actresses. The importance put on youth and a certain, narrow kind of beauty, is stifling. Even respected actresses of the caliber and ability of, let's say Julia Roberts, have to cow to the trade's criteria of being the right weight, having the right skin, the right hair, and the right smile.

Every so often though, there is a flashpoint. Sometimes, a performance emerges, in the perfect film at the perfect time, that is so strong, and refined, it destroys all criteria, and smashes the boundaries that stand before it. Actresses who have battered down stereotypes and wrested the deserved respect of Hollywood include Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Haviland, Julie Christie, Barbra Streisand, Ellen Burstyn, Faye Dunaway, Nicole Kidman, Hilary Swank, the list goes on and on. Yet somehow, in Hollywood, it seems "the actress" is always having to re-prove herself, and re-establish the fact that women are as
strong, willful, and well rounded as their male counterparts.

It's time for that actress to give that performance once again. It's not a want, it's a need, for both the medium of cinema itself, and for those that spend their time watching.

Well, that actress is here, in the right film at the right time.

I nominate Vin Diesel in her role as Dominic Toretto in Fast Five, for Best Actress.

Admittedly, Chris Morgan's water-tight yet pathos filled and insightful screenplay (read Todd's plea for it's Oscar inclusion HERE) gave Miss Diesel a lot to work with. The personal drama, first off, is in league with a Tennessee Williams play, and she plays the exiled matriarch to
perfection. Even through her corded, sweaty muscles, and the go-against-the-grain beauty of her bald pate, she commands an energy and provides another layer of depth, to her character, that is as electrifying as it is illuminating. Call me crazy, but I could swear she's channeling Anna Magnani from Rosellini's Rome, Open City and tempering it with a bit of G.L.O.W. (Glorious Ladies Of Wrestling) to make it accessible for modern audiences.

When supporting actress Dwayne "The Rock "Johnson shows up, as Miss Diesel's foil and arch nemesis, Hobbs, the level of artistry is almost tear inducing. Seeing two beautiful women forearming each other in the neck, while still being able to deliver performances that would make Stella Adler or Lee Strasberg weep with pride, is the stuff of which legends are made.  To add, did anyone catch the reference to Woody Allen's Interiors during the last scene in the garage? I sure did. Again, here the lovely Miss Diesel proves she belongs in the ranks of a Collen Dewhurst or Olympia Dukakis. Hopefully her clearly magical work is acknowledged by an Academy that seems a little stale these days. Let's hope for an official nomination for who I see as Actress Of The Year hands down/no contest. On February 26'th, if Miss Diesel isn't delivering a "You love me. You really love me!" speech from the podium, I will know once and for all...that art is dead.

If Miss Diesel (deservedly) wins? I'm smelling a renaissance.
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