Melissa Leo's Oscar Campaign: Sad, or Sadly Necessary?

By Courtney Enlow | Celebrity | February 8, 2011 | Comments ()

By Courtney Enlow | Celebrity | February 8, 2011 |


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So we ask: a necessary evil, or an Oscar party foul?

An argument for the former: Leo has a point. Until Oscars 2009, and frankly after, hers was a name few knew. Then came Frozen River, a little seen, much loved film, and awards and accolades and she probably thought, finally, this was it. That at 48 years old, she'd finally broken out.

But she really hadn't. Which was fine. Back to smaller, more independent, largely ignored films, like Don McKay and Veronika Decides to Die, which has been desperately trying to see the light of day for about three years now, and I imagine will only do so to coincide with Sarah Michelle Gellar's new TV show.

Even Welcome to the Rileys, a film that garnered some indie success, was known as the Kristen Steward stripper movie, and having not seen it, I certainly had no idea Leo was in it. Treme is loved by those who love it, but doesn't have the typical HBO show fervor most receive. Leo tends to get the short end of the fame stick, and this year, when she has a real shot, she took a chance to for once not be ignored. Why should we fault her that?

An argument for the latter: Because when we find out actors care about that kind of thing, it's weird. The ones who've worked passionately, who stay out of the limelight, we appreciate that about them, that they're eschewing fame for something real. To hear stuff like magazine covers matter to someone like that is kind of depressing. Also, let's face it, she's got this thing locked. Paramount isn't doing individual FYC ads for anyone this year. It wasn't a personal slight. And Oscar win or no, she's a character actress. That's what she is. She isn't the glamorous movie star other women sometimes are, and that's okay. How often do we see Meryl Streep on magazine covers? Not all that often, and it was way less often prior to the last couple years. We respect character actresses because they're not attempting to make a career out of looks and glamour and for that they are ageless.

A rebuttal: Is it so wrong for a woman to want to be seen? Not as a character, not as an awards machine, but as the beautiful woman she is? And, now at 50, if no one is asking, is it so wrong to put it out there for them? She's up against a 14-year-old, Amy Adams, the dark horse candidate and Helena Bonham Carter, who, despite dressing like Bjork's attic most of the time, we all know has had the ability to be super hot. Why should we fault Melissa Leo for showing us that she can too?

My stance: It's a bit off-putting to see the vulnerable side of Hollywood. But I get it. And while I wish she hadn't included the weird Snow Queen by the pool shot, it's kind of awkward and hilarious, making it a bit precious. Melissa wins.


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