2001 was a highly unusual year for the Academy Awards with a string of upsets in multiple categories, such as Best Director, Best Actor, and for the sake of this posting, Best Actress as well. The primary competition in the Best Actress category was between Sissy Spacek for her powerhouse performance in In the Bedroom and Nicole Kidman in the visually dazzling musical Moulin Rouge. Both actresses had won the Golden Globe with Spacek being the favorite to win amongst critics and film audiences alike. However when the winner was announced, it was Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball who walked away with the award.
Spacek’s performance in In the Bedroom is something only an actress of her caliber could have pulled off as effectively as she did. Her work as an ordinary music teacher whose life is thrust into disarray when a tragic incident occurs is incredibly realistic and heart shattering to watch. Spacek is further able to convey elements of victimization and anger fueled by the grieving process. Her performance functions as a slow acceleration of emotion, starting from extreme repression to an explosion of resentment and blame that even the most versed audiences of cinema will be taken aback by the realism of her performance.
Lost to: Halle Berry for Monster’s Ball (2001)