Give Michelle Pfeiffer her damn Oscar !
Michelle Pfeiffer’s still got it. Fact. A fact that may surprise nobody who saw her still getting it earlier this year in her all too brief appearance in Darren Aronofsky’s acclaimed yet controversial mother!, a role that essentially came down to one fleeting but pivotal scene, a scene that needless to say she owned — and stole — like only few ever could. One of the few — and I do mean very, very few — who possess the exact rare combination that she does: astonishing screen presence, raw talent and an admirable dedication to the craft of acting. Not just an actor but a movie star. And not just a movie star but an actor. An actor’s actor. A brilliant one.
This is why it has been such a pleasure to witness this agelessly beautiful, utterly brilliant actress, one of the very best and most iconic to ever grace the big screen, bringing her A-game not once but twice in the same year. Now as the mysterious talkative widow in Kenneth Branagh’s classy adaptation of the Agatha Christie classic Murder on the Orient Express. Make no mistake about it, this is the role for her in 2017, one that allows Pfeiffer to show the kind of remarkable range and movie star charisma any filmgeek worth their salt had already known she could deliver in her sleep. Problem was that, especially in recent years, she rarely had the chance to do so because the roles were simply not worthy of her stature. But this one is.
The role, previously played by fellow criminally underrated cinematic icon Lauren Bacall, is one for the ages. It gives me pause to write this paragraph since it may — or may not ? — contain spoilers, but since the novel has been out for 83 years, I’m risking it: while Mrs. Hubbard, at first a self-proclaimed silly little husband hunter, is having a bad day, the great Michelle Pfeiffer is having a ball playing her, going with effortless ease from the almost comedic, frivolous merry widow, to terrified target of a murderer and at last to the enigmatic woman consumed by grief, sorrow and anger. And before you get your panties in a bunch, people, let me just tell you: No. She is not the killer. Not really. Or is she?
Just like her earlier role for Aronofsky this year, this one could have been done justice by only a handful of actresses. And fewer still could have done what Pfeiffer does: stand out in a sea of legendary actors and in the course of one film give us the portrait of a celebrated actress who still has the ability to hide her true emotions, her profound sadness, by putting on a convincing facade. Yet her true brilliance lies in the scenes where that facade with all its carefully created layers, falls apart, forcing her to face her true emotions. The way Pfeiffer portrays those layers of internal turmoil, we the audience feel them too. The fear. The heartbreak. The anger. Sometimes she doesn’t even need words, she only needs a look and that my friends — just as Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond claimed before — is something that only the all-time greats can do. Make no mistake about it, Michelle Pfeiffer is most certainly one of them.
So how come she has never won an Oscar? I have no clue, really, because when I look at her career, I quickly realize that no matter the role, she always delivers. On a slightly more frustrating note, I also realize that she has never received the recognition she has always so richly deserved: she has been nominated for an Oscar only three times (Dangerous Liaisons, The Fabulous Baker Boys, Love Field), the last being 25 (!) years ago. And while it’s definitely a crime she has never won, at this point what seems like an even bigger crime is that she hasn’t even been nominated for some of the best performances of the last few decades (Scarface, Batman Returns, The Age of Innocence, The Witches of Eastwick, Dangerous Minds, The Deep End of the Ocean, What Lies Beneath, White Oleander, Stardust, Hairspray, Cheri).
Long story short : the brilliant, beautiful, iconic Michelle Pfeiffer has been delivering great performance after great performance for almost 40 years now and she is absolutely at the top of her game in her latest film Murder on the Orient Express. So I kindly ask everyone who is anyone, and especially anyone who gets an Oscar ballot: just give her that Oscar already! Not (only) because she is long overdue but because she does indeed deliver one of the best performances of the year as the mysterious Mrs. Hubbard, a role at last fitting of her incredible talent. So more of these kinds of roles for Michelle Pfeiffer, please. After all she is Michelle Pfeiffer. Let her roar. She sure deserves to.