Mid-Week Oscar Poll: Best Actress 2011

Last week, we asked you to pick this year’s Best Actor award. It only stands to reason that we’ll be asking you about Best Actress this time.

READ THIS BEFORE VOTING: We seem to have encountered a lot of confusion last week. Let me be very clear that we’re giving you two separate polls. First, tell us which actress you predict the Academy will give the award to. This has nothing to do with your personal opinions about who the best choice should be. This is purely a prediction of who the Academy members will vote for.

Who Will the Academy Pick to Win Best Actress 2011?

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Now, in this second poll you can tell us which actress you think should win the award.

Who Do You Think Should Win Best Actress 2011?

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If everyone does this right, we should come out with the same number of votes in both polls.

Frankly, I think it’s pretty clear that this year is all about Natalie Portman. She’s not only going to win, but from this year’s nominees, I honestly think that she deserves to win. As I wrote when I saw ‘Black Swan’ way back at the Toronto Film Festival, the movie has been very smartly tailored to play off Portman’s usual stiffness and inability to truly inhabit a character. Whereas those traits are weaknesses in some of her roles (like the ‘Star Wars’ prequels), here they perfectly represent this character’s personality and her story arc. Portman is terrific in this film, in a way she never has been in any before.

With that said, I also thought that Nicole Kidman is extremely good in ‘Rabbit Hole’ – and I usually find Kidman really annoying.


  1. HuskerGuy

    Haven’t seen any others, but like you I don’t see how this goes to anyone but Portman. She was perfect and certainly deserves the win.

  2. I have only HEARD of two of these movies, and haven’t seen any of them, so I am not going to vote. However, I am familer with 4 of the five actresses, and am a big fan of Kidman

  3. TJ Kats

    Have only seen Black Swan and Blue Valentine but from what I have seen this year Portman should and will win.

    On a side note while Michelle Williams was great to me Blue Valentine was dominated by Ryan Goslings performance and it is hard to see her nominated and not him.

  4. I didn’t see any of these flicks, so I can’t really judge.

    On a different note though, Natalie Portman totally has an Iggy Pop thing going on in the picture above.

    • I’m plagiarising this from a comment someone made about that exact same picture at the AV Club, but I promise I thought the same thing before I read it: it looks like a gorilla is groping her boob.

  5. ilovenola2

    Annette Bening gives this year’s most complete and devastating performance by a leading actress in “The Kids are Alright”– for my money anyway. Though I don’t begrudge Portman all her accolades (and will not be unhappy if she wins the Oscar), I truly loathed the hate-the-arts steady-cammed debacle called “Black Swan,” but admired the actress for her gruelling work and dedication.

  6. Jane Morgan

    I would give it to Michelle Williams. She gained twenty pounds and did a nude scene. That, my girls, is bravery.

  7. I’d even go one step further than your assessment that Portman’s role is beautifully tailored to take advantage of her limitations, Josh. The whole movie seems like a creepy-ass metaphor for her entire career.

    She should, and will, win.

  8. In all honesty I haven’t had the chance to see any of those films yet, but given all the praise for Portman, I’ve been wondering how the hell she managed it… I’ve never seen her come to life, or be any different in any role she’s played. And your assessment of her in Black Swan explains things! 😉

    Although there were plenty of errors in the Prequel Trilogy’s casting, I think she was clearly the worst. Hayden Christenson has at least shown his acting ability in other things, but Portman actually makes his performance seem nuanced and carefully constructed in comparison lol!

    • Josh Zyber

      I think that Portman is one of those actors who needs a good director to guide her performances. Early in her career, she was quite good in The Professional and Beautiful Girls. Then she fell into a rut of making factory line-produced studio product. George Lucas is not an actors’ director. He basically plopped her down in front of a green screen and told her: “Here, read these lines. You get one take and then we’re moving on.”

      As for Christensen, I used to want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was just badly directed in the Star Wars movies. But then I saw him in Jumper, which he made after those and had a competent director in charge, and he was even worse in it. That kid just sucks.

      • Actually, I kinda enjoyed Jumper as a guilty pleasure… 😉 It was fun/interesting enough that I read the books afterward, at any rate, lol!

        I don’t think green/blue screen work and the lack of props is ever a good excuse for excuse for mediocre acting though (or lack of ‘director’ telling them what to do). Don’t get me wrong, I think they should always build sets over green screen where possible, but from an acting perspective, they should be able to cope without. It’s no different than minimal stage acting. I’m sure most actors wouldn’t complain if they were doing some arty monologue on a black stage with only a chair… Green screen shouldn’t be any different. 🙂

        And there are plenty of directors who are considered great, who are also not ‘actors’ directors. Heck, Lucas managed with even less experience for Star Wars or even THX, mainly because the actors could act. Admittedly, you could still blame him for picking Portman in the 1st place. 😉

        I always thought Sabrina Lloyd would’ve made a good mother to Luke and Leia. She’s got a very similar look to Carrie Fisher when she was younger. Oh well… it’s always easy to 2nd guess things in retrospect!

        • Josh Zyber

          I agree with you in principal that great actors shouldn’t *need* more than an empty stage to stand on and their own talent. However, the sad fact is that many film actors (especially those without classical theater training) do need more than that, and need to be coached through a good performance.

          I wouldn’t hold Portman’s career as a whole up there in comparison to the true acting greats, but I don’t think that necessarily needs to undermine what she achieved here. With the right combination of circumstances all aligned, she’s capable of pulling out a great performance. She’s not going to hit that every time, but the potential is there.

          I don’t think I could say the same for Hayden Christensen. Looking back on even his “good” roles like Shattered Glass or Life as a House, you can see the telltale signs of most of the same issues in his performances that tanked the Star Wars prequels.

  9. Dusan

    Benning was stellar, Portman excellent, but I think Kidman gave her best performance ever in Rabbit Hole. It’s a shame I can’t vote for her.