The 2022 Oscars season is starting to feel like we’re taking a stroll through Madame Tussauds in Times Square.
Oh my God, she’s so lifelike! They’ve captured every line and lash. Her posture is perfect, the hair is just as I remembered it and she’s wearing that iconic dress. They must have done so much research.
Whether I’m talking about a wax figure of Marilyn Monroe or Lady Gaga in “House of Gucci” is anyone’s guess.
But just about every major Best Actress contender next year is acclaimed for playing a real, very famous person in a movie based on history. Yawn!
Worse, there is a distinct possibility that, for the first time ever, all five slots in the category could be filled by a portrayal of an actual person. That’s a stark turnaround from 2011, the year Natalie Portman won for “Black Swan,” when the nominated roles were 100 percent fictional.
Suddenly, however, there is nothing more prestigious and impressive than resembling and talking like a famous person. Think of all the poor Elvis impersonators over the years who’ve been cheated out of their rightful Oscars.
Nicole Kidman is the latest star to hop on the biopic bandwagon. The Aussie initially got flak when it was announced she’d play Lucille Ball of “I Love Lucy” in “Being the Ricardos” — as Kidman’s about as funny as Virginia Woolf, whom she played in “The Hours.” But pundits saw the film this week when it premiered, oddly, at Village East Cinema on Second Avenue, and they were surprised by how much they loved her.
It doesn’t matter that Kidman isn’t a laugh riot, those who’ve seen it say. The film is about Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s crumbling marriage. Not as many yuks there as in the Vitameatavegamin commercial.
But it’s Kristen Stewart who’s the solid front-runner for playing Princess Diana in “Spencer,” kind of like Emma Corrin who won a Golden Globe for playing Princess Diana on “The Crown.”
Jessica Chastain is giving her a run for her sterling by playing rouged-up televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”
Jennifer Hudson hasn’t gotten the same R-E-S-P-E-C-T for playing Aretha Franklin in “Respect,” but it’s not unusual for a strong performance in a mediocre biopic to sneak in — like Andra Day in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” and Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady.”
Meanwhile, Lady Gaga is trying to top her “A Star Is Born” Best Actress loss with her turn as Patrizia Reggiani in “House of Gucci” (she won’t win).
And, oh, the arduous preparation!
Gaga says she spoke in an Italian accent for nine months to nail the fashion murderess. Hudson learned how to play the piano like Franklin. Kidman obsessively watched old “I Love Lucy” episodes and learned every tic and facial expression. And Chastain went to church every week with her co-star Andrew Garfield to better channel the Bakkers.
How exhausting. These women are like hyped-up high school students trying to outdo each other with extracurricular activities to get into Yale.
Some of them are very good, and some are bland. The quality of one I can’t reveal yet, but let’s just say she’s prosciutto-ing it up on the slopes. But that’s not the point. Hollywood’s small, simple brains no longer understand how to judge good acting when someone’s not slathered in prosthetics and foreign accents. That’s a shame.
The performances that stick with us the most tend not to be picture-perfect recreations, but those that have a magical quality that goes beyond making faces in a mirror: Cher in “Moonstruck,” Kathy Bates in “Misery,” Meryl Streep in a trillion movies.
Just act. Leave the impressions to “Saturday Night Live.”
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