In three short weeks when the names of the nominees for Best Supporting Actress are read aloud, you won't hear her name. But one hundred years from now, when Oscar pundits are arguing about who might be nominated @ the 181st Academy Awards, I am quite certain her name will ring more of a bell with the 22nd century pundits than "Maria Elena", "Cassidy", "Mrs. Muller", "Queenie", "Sister James" or anyone other character that ends up represented in this year's Supporting Actress Nominations.
I'm thinking of....
While her name is instantly iconic, this beauty doesn't live in a garden. In fact, a garden would immediately shut her down, leaving only a pulsing green light as indication that she still functions at all. No, this EVE lives aboard the Axiom in Pixar's latest classic.
But "stop!" I hear you objecting. EVE is totally a LEAD actress, not a supporting player. Maybe so... but since she spends a good chunk of the movie in a directive induced coma (*her screen time above doesn't include that half hour), I'm cutting her a break to name her "supporting". Nobody claimed Glenn Close was the lead of Reversal of Fortune (1990) ... she just kept lying there silently in that bed.
Well not so silently. She was narrating. But here's another mark in EVE's favor. Think how much this unknown actress conveys with a vocabulary that consists of just 7 words: "Earth" "EVE" "No" "WALL•E" "Directive" "Classified" and "Plant"? I mean apart from a lucky round of MadLibs, how much could you convey with only 7 words. (It's too bad she isn't just mute because than she'd win the Oscar for sure. They love the silent ones)
EVE enters the movie at the 16 minute mark and she's all business. Any interruptions to her routine will have her cocking her gun with as much fierceness as Linda Hamilton mustered in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (another Supporting Actress wonder snubbed due to genre prejudices). A lesser 'actress' might have kept hitting this one note of 'uptight career woman' (the script certainly calls for it) but EVE starts shading her routine duties with everything from indifferent shrugs to attempts to refocus after distractions to hints of joy whenever her job allows her a moment to fly. (This actressy instinct pays off later in a major way during an outer space "dance" sequence that's too beautiful for words. So there aren't any)
Though EVE makes the right decision to never show "EVE"s fatigue (she's too hardcore for that), she does reveal chinks in the facade. Only five minutes into the performance and she's registering frustration and barely contained fury that, for all her efforts, she isn't quite cutting it at her job.
Writer/director Andrew Stanton opts to shoot EVE out of focus or in long shot quite often but even in these moments, her performance is filled with emotional clarity. You always know just what she's feeling and without dialogue she relies on her whole
Once her hair is down, so to speak, EVE even demonstrates remarkable flair for slapstick comedy in her tour guide's private lair. And just when we couldn't love her more and we're as wrapped around her three fingers as WALL•E wishes to be, she shuts down... courtesy of the little guy's plant gift. It's twenty-five agonizing minutes for WALL•E before she's conscious again at which point EVE picks up the performance right where she left off (did they film out of sequence? If so, kudos!) as a woman who knows she kinda sorta likes a slightly embarrassing fella but...what to do, what to do with him? I mean she's still totally into her career.
By this point in the movie, confident that she's gotten her character across, EVE is even generous enough to hand over complete scenes to the other players like the emerging third tier hero in the Captain of the Axiom. From the background or in her action scenes she keeps on amplifying her emotional connection to WALL•E.
I know there are a lot of killjoys out there that don't want to see this movie in the Oscar running for Best Picture. These same stingy types are probably barking mad that I'm recognizing EVE here today. I can hear them now "She's only a computer. She has no business competing with flesh and blood women who have brains and not 'directives'. She's a glorified iPod with a raygun!" These naysayers clearly have never owned an iPod. Those things have a mind of their own.
And EVE... she's got the brains and the heart. And boy does she let you feel it when she finally realizes how much that little guy loves her.
He's virtually impossible not to love. So's she.
*read more entries @ Stinky Lulu's blog-a-thon
my 2007 entry: Marisa Tomei ~Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
my 2006 entry: Meryl Streep ~ A Prairie Home Companion