Thursday, December 3, 2015

1987: Cher for Moonstruck

Cher plays an Italian-American bookkeeper from Brooklyn who is burned out enough to say yes when her boring boyfriend proposes, only to almost immediately fall for his much more intriguing brother.

Moonstruck is one of those rare romantic comedies that is so well done that the Academy couldn't help but recognize it. It was even nominated for Best Picture, though as always the long epic won. But besides The Last Emperor, Moonstruck was the only movie that year to win multiple Oscars, also snagging Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis and Best Original Screenplay. The reason I'm mentioning all of this when I'm supposed to be talking about Cher's performance, besides the fact that I love it when rom coms get recognition, is because while I'm utterly convinced that this movie deserved the other two Oscars, I'm less sure about Best Actress.

I really like Cher's performance; I just don't think it stands out very much. This is very much an ensemble picture, and I find the supporting characters more interesting than the leads. She does a good job of fitting into the cast and playing off the other actors when called for; I just don't feel like she gets to do very much. Olympia Dukakis steals every scene she's in, while Cher kind of blends in, which is not something I ever thought I'd say about Cher. She does quite a bit of yelling, but so does everyone else, so even that doesn't make her stand out. It's still a very good performance; just not an outstanding one. Now that I'm thinking about it, though, that is consistent with her character. She's used to blending in and just kind of being there; hence she agrees to marry that guy because she doesn't think anything more exciting will ever happen to her. So I guess that works. And she does start to stand out a little more when she falls in love with Nicolas Cage, although I would have liked to see more of that.

I think my biggest problems with this win are that I'm more interested in the supporting characters than in her character, and that I don't believe that she and Nicolas Cage are actually in love. But the latter is mostly due to the ridiculousness of both Cage and his character. Otherwise, I do think Cher is surprisingly believable in the role, especially since she is neither Italian nor from Brooklyn, and also considering that most people don't think of her as an actress. I certainly don't begrudge her this win, and I thoroughly enjoy this movie, even though it lacks many of the qualities I've come to expect from a Best Actress Winner. It's good to have some variety, absolutely, but it's hard to agree that the performance of the leading role is Oscar-worthy when the main aspects that recommend the movie are the script and the ensemble.

Cher is mostly considered a singer, so I think many people are surprised to learn that she has an acting Oscar. This is the only leading role she's been nominated for, although she was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for 1983's Silkwood. Her career has been so unpredictable that I don't even want to attempt to guess whether she'll receive more nominations or not. I wouldn't be a bit surprised either way.

Next up: Jodie Foster's first of two (so far)

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