Whether you are a fan of Annette Bening or not, no one can deny she is a movie star in every sense of the word. A stunning beauty, a consummate professional who always delivers a great performance no matter what the material or medium. Her work in the theater, on television and in film has been universally praised over the last 3 decades.
This will surprise some of my readers to learn while Bening has won a slew of awards over since her film career took off in 1990 with her first Oscar Nominated performance (Best Supporting Actress) The Grifters opposite Angelica Huston and John Cusack, somehow in the proceeding 26 years she has yet to win the film industry’s highest accolade despite winning two Best Actress Golden Globe® Awards (“Being Julia” and “The Kids Are Alright”), two Screen Actors Guild® Awards (Best Actress and Cast “American Beauty”), and one BAFTA Award® (British Oscar Best Actress "American Beauty").
Since her first Oscar® nomination she has earned three more nominations in the Best Actress Category (”American Beauty”, “Being Julia”, and most recently “The Kids Are Alright”) bringing her career total to four nominations.
Now with 20th Century Women at 58 Annette Bening should finally win her first Oscar® for her emotionally transcending and glorious performance as a single mother of a teenage son in 1979. Bening stripes away all vanity as an actress with this performance. Many parents are challenged by putting a child's needs in front of their own day after day and year after year. Being able to do so is a fine balance and often thankless but Annette in 20th Century Women shows us that there is nothing more real in this world than a mothers love for her child or children. It takes a fearless actress to fully actualize that in character and make the audience feel it the way Annette Bening does here.
The especially strong supporting cast Greta Gerwig, Ella Fanning, Bill Crudup, and Lucas Jade Zumann all deliver stellar performances as well and clearly enjoyed working with Annette Bening.
Annette’s toughest competition for the coveted Best Actress Oscar® is going to come from another perpetual Oscar® bridesmaid the fabulous Amy Adams who is equally deserving for her work in both “Arrival” and “Nocturnal Animals.”
Bening is just as beautiful and sexy at 58 as she was 30. In a culture seemingly obsessed with youth, that is a gift beyond measure. 20th Century Women is a film worth seeing and you will be glad you did. On Oscar® night it will wonderful to finally one of the greatest actresses of our time deliver a long overdue acceptance speech.
***As it turns out somehow both Amy Adams and Annette were not nominated for the Best Actress this year, two sins of omission by the actors branch, who seem insistent on keeping both actresses from winning their past due Oscars®.