There’s going to be a lot of talent vying for the best actress Oscar this year. Viola Davis for The Help, Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs, maybe Charlize Theron for Young Adult, maybe Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin, maybe even a few other people.
But the race will likely come down to Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady versus Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn. And Williams should win pretty easily.
No one has seen The Iron Lady yet, but it’s a safe bet Streep will be her usual brilliant self. Who doubts it? With 16 nominations and two wins she’s already the most honored actress in film history.
Williams, on the other hand, only has two previous nominations (at age 31).
But here’s the thing — Streep is playing Margaret Thatcher. Williams plays — and plays spectacularly — Marilyn Monroe.
Marilyn Monroe may be the greatest celebrity icon of all time, the essential human being overwhelmed by persona and beauty. Plus she’s a Hollywood legend and it’s Hollywood voting on the Oscars.
No offense, but Margaret Thatcher is a former British Prime Minister of little enduring interest to most Americans. Yes, we Yanks have something of a Brit fetish, but The Kings Speech won last year and that should last us for awhile.
Ultimately, the role matters as much as the performance. Streep will rack up another nomination. Williams will take the statue home.