Sunday, January 17, 2016
2000: Julia Roberts for Erin Brockovich
This is a pretty emotionally demanding role. In the beginning, Erin is barely holding her life together and is desperate for a job. Then later she becomes very emotionally attached to her clients and her cause, despite the upsetting fact that it's pulling her away from her kids. She uses excessive sarcasm and profanity, which rubs many of the other characters the wrong way, but has to let the audience see that it's often a defense mechanism to keep from crying. Roberts pulls all this off wonderfully. She makes Erin's complex emotions incredibly believable and understandable, mostly with her eyes and her voice. Of course, my favorite parts of the movie are her zingers that put condescending people in their place, which she delivers perfectly. She also has really good chemistry with Albert Finney, who plays her initially reluctant boss, and I enjoy watching their relationship develop. I also think her relationship with her kids, particularly her son, are very real and well done.
My main complaint is that I don't think she has very good chemistry with Aaron Eckhart, who plays her neighbor with whom she becomes romantically involved. Their romantic relationship didn't seem believable to me. The relationship is supposed to become unhealthy once she becomes more involved in her job, but I feel like there was very little believable attraction even at the very beginning. So that whole thing is my least favorite part. But other than not being convincingly attracted to her boyfriend, on the whole it's a solid performance.
So far, Julia Roberts has received a total of four Oscar nominations: two for Best Supporting Actress and two for Best Actress. This is her only win. Prior to this she was nominated for her supporting role in 1989's Steel Magnolias and her leading role in 1990's Pretty Woman. More recently, she was nominated for her supporting role in 2013's August: Osage County. One way to know that you're a great performer: you get nominated for an Oscar for a Meryl Streep movie when you're not Meryl Streep (of course, Streep was also nominated for that movie). Anyway, Roberts will probably be nominated for more Oscars, and might even win again, although I think I like her best in romantic comedies, which are hardly ever recognized, so we'll see.
Next up: Halle Berry, the first African-American woman to win this award (that certainly took long enough)