For Annette Bening, it seemed as if the stars in the Oscar sky had finally aligned into a shape that wasn't that of Hilary Swank's face. For her fine performance in Lisa Chodolenko's Showtime-y The Kids Are All Right, the actress was a frontrunner for this award since Sundance last year, and nothing seemed capable of pussyblocking her on the way to the Oscar podium. Then came the pitter patter of Black Swan's balletic feet. Darren Aronofsky's casually, if cluelessly, homophobic and misogynistic melodrama, after receiving mixed notices at Venice and Toronto, struck a chord with American critics and audiences, and the rest was not only box office history, but a repeat of the same old Oscar story. For being young, having a nice ass, showing us every frayed nerve in her character's body, but little else, and indulging in the sort of gay sex that only a gay person could have a problem with, Natalie Portman so perfectly embodies the spirit of this award that few are entertaining the possibility of an upset at this point. I won't either, because I'm not sure Bening, for all of her class and industry cred, can complete with the sort of effusive passion
chronic masturbators fans of Black Swan have for all of the blood, sweat, and tears Portman poured into the project, though if truth be told, does it really matter who gets it? Whichever way it goes, the category's best performance still gets the shaft.
Will Win: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Could Win: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Should Win: Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine