Three women annihilated by circumstance.
Who Should Win: Marina De Tavira, “Roma”
Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white drama “Roma” follows the story of a young woman going through an unexpected pregnancy during a turbulent year for Mexico City. However, it is also the story of an only-barely-older woman going through a terrible divorce amongst the same circumstances.
Marina De Tavira plays Sofía, a mother of four and the employer of the main character. As a mostly stay-at-home mom, her role in the movie begins as that of a (somewhat) antagonist to main character Cleo. Overprotective of her children, Cleo’s occasional mistakes lead to nasty confrontations between the two.
As the film progresses, however, Sofía’s situation begins to parallel that of Cleo, with both women suffering through dissolving relationships. As Cleo is hardened by the estrangement of her boyfriend, Sofía is made extremely vulnerable as her husband disappears from her family’s life. A pivotal scene has Sofía destroying her husband’s Ford Galaxie, his pride and joy, simply by driving it into the family’s narrow driveway – in parallel to an earlier scene in which her husband successfully parks the car.
As Sofía and Cleo are changed by their respective subplots, the two bond almost covertly. By the end, they are nearly kindred spirits, with each having experienced enough that they can truly appreciate each other as the only constants in their lives.
Who Got Snubbed: Gina Rodriguez / Tessa Thompson, “Annihilation”
Of all the movies that released in 2018, “Annihilation” is the only clear instant classic. Admittedly, Alex Garland’s sophomore directorial effort is buried in so many layers of metaphor it’s nearly impossible to fully appreciate after only a single viewing, which may be why it was completely ignored by the particularly busy Academy voters. However, it only takes a single viewing to appreciate the performances of Gina Rodriguez and Tessa Thompson.
“Annihilation” revolves around the sudden appearance of phenomenon known as “The Shimmer.” All that is known about “The Shimmer” is that only one person has ever entered and subsequently returned. In an effort to find out more, a team of female scientists enter the mysterious phenomenon. Rodriguez’s character, Anya Thorensen, is an ex-military paramedic, who slowly succumbs to the horrors the groups finds within the phenomenon, turning heel halfway through.
In a way, Rodriguez plays an audience surrogate, starting the film with reservations, but losing her cool when the movie swings into horror. At the most terrifying point of “Annihilation,” the team is left to not only deal with the psychological hellscape they’ve entered, but also the fact that one of their own has become the movie’s only villain.
Thompson, on the other hand, plays a much more reserved role. An astrophysicist, Josie Radek spends her time in “The Shimmer” somewhat out-of-place, but manages to take in more of the phenomenon than perhaps any of the other characters. While all characters get at least one monologue, Thompson’s speech about her and humanity’s place in the world is one of the most memorable scenes of the year, and a particularly poignant scene in an already sophisticated movie.
Other Notable Snubs: Michelle Yeoh, “Crazy Rich Asians;” Amanda Seyfried, “First Reformed;” Blake Lively, “A Simple Favor.”