Saturday, July 03, 2010

Streep Nom #13: Adaptation (2002)

Thirteen wasn't exactly an unlucky number for Meryl Streep. Though she didn't win the Oscar, her thirteenth Oscar honor brought her the title of Most Nominated Actor. It's difficult to imagine anyone ever surpassing her since she's widened the gap considerably since (Jack Nicholson is stalled at 12, tied with Katharine Hepburn and the only other living/working rivals for super frequent Oscar honors Al Pacino and Peter O'Toole are much further behind with 8 nominations each).

<-- Splendor in the grass. Spike directs Streep in Adaptation (2002)

This was also the number that coincided with what was arguably her most challenging big screen role in the Aughts in the Spike Jonze/Charlie Kauffman collaboration Adaptation (2002) and the first time she'd competed as a supporting actress since the 1970s.

Each time I watch Adaptation I seem to have a different reaction to it ranging from wild love to 'stop obsessing over yourself!' annoyance but I've never been less than enthralled with what Meryl's doing as the writer Susan Orlean whether she's playing Orlean herself or some projections of Orlean. And that dial tone reverie may well be Meryl's best screen moment from the Aughts.

The 2002 Nominees were...

  • Kathy Bates, About Schmidt
  • Queen Latifah, Chicago
  • Julianne Moore, The Hours
  • Meryl Streep, Adaptation
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chicago
At the time I was rooting for Zeta-Jones and probably still would (I blame her thrilling rendition of "I Can't Do It Alone") but I could just as easily have voted for Streep had I had an Academy ballot.

Other Women For Context
The big snub here, the one that stung, was Michelle Pfeiffer's scary self-generated cult of personality in White Oleander. She had my vote as best of the year and it stands as one of the three crown jewels of her career (a worthy companion to The Fabulous Baker Boys and Batman Returns). She was SAG nominated but couldn't get past the Chicago juggernaut for an nomination. The Golden Globes, who once loved Michelle wildly, killed her momentum by snubbing her rather inexplicably for what may well be Cameron Diaz's weakest performance in Gangs of New York. That Diaz was in the conversation at all is another reminder of how powerful momentum can be (perceived snubs for Being John Malkovich and Vanilla Sky) and how the pre-ordained "buzz" for a Best Picture contender can have a potent affect on other categories.

The only other women who generated anything like "Nominate her!" discussion that year were Toni Collette (BAFTA Nominee for About a Boy), Patricia Clarkson (NYFCC and NSFC winner for Far From Heaven) and arguably Susan Sarandon (Globe nominee for Igby Goes Down). Though the year had other interesting supporting work from the likes of Samantha Morton (Minority Report), Bebe Neuwirth (Tadpole), Edie Falco (Sunshine State), various French divas (8 Women) and Viola Davis (Solaris), it was basically a seven or eight woman race with Pfeiffer's best work in a decade presumably landing in the dread six spot.

Your feelings on 2002's supporting women?

"Streep @ 60"
Previous Nominations Discussed

78, 79, 81, 82, 83,
85, 87, 88, 90, 95, 98 and 99


Jenny Walker said...

Wasn't the great Miranda Richardson snubbed this year for 'Spider', also?


hmmm. I always forget what happened with SPIDER. It had one of those LA only one week releases. total f***over moment. nobody talked about it. UGH.

Cagatay said...

Pretty amazing year for this category, though I'm afraid Ms. Moore owns everyone else easily. One of the best performances EVER.

Michael said...

I was all about Samantha Morton that year.

The flip side of the Academy's worshipping mimicry is that the value of originality goes underappreciated.

ctrout said...

I always stuck with Catherine Zeta-Jones since she was my favorite part of Chicago. She probably should have been nominated for Best Actress though.

I'd rank them this way:

1. Catherine Zeta-Jones
2. Meryl Streep
3. Kathy Bates
4. Queen Latifah
5. Julianne Moore

All very respectable performances. Good year for this category.

Andrew R. said...

Either Zeta-Jones or Streep...way too tough a choice. It's certainly Streep's funnest role.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know what you thought of Synecdoche, New York?

Michael said...

I still don't get how Latifah got a nomination for that part. I guess this was before everyone realized that the only character Queen Latifah does is variations of Queen Latifah.


anon 3:53 i am not a fan of Synechdoche New York though i liked a couple of the supporting performances.

vg21 said...

This was the first time I started to go to the cinema much more often and pay attention to the Academy Awards. I loved Chicago and The Hours and they were the two films that opened here at the beginning of March so I could actually see them before the awards ceremony. (Adaptation only came in July.)

I was happy for C. Z-J., but I agree with Sean, she should have been Best Actress. Being totally in awe of The Hours, Julianne's and Nicole's nomintations were a thrill. I wasn't aware that Meryl's ommission from The Hours-nominees was because of her nomination for Adaptation, in which she is absolutely amazing, so with hindsight, no disappointment. Still, I really couldn't have decided had I had a ballot, so many great performances that year! I would rather have that than a 2010 again.


vg21 -- well Streep was campaigned as
Lead for The Hours so theoretically she could have been double nominated that year. But it was one of the years where the 5 nominees were totally clear -- even though certain factions were pulling for something more outre like Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary or Isabelle Huppert in The Piano Teacher.

it was always going to be

KTibbs617 said...

Although this was a "SHE TOTALLY SHOULD HAVE WON" year, I was only a little upset at the CZJ win - would have preferred Moore to win if anyone was going to beat La Streep. Do love her GG acceptance speech, though. Not unlike the '09 SAG win for Doubt. She was surprised.

"And that dial tone reverie may well be Meryl's best screen moment from the Aughts." - and of course that was improvised!!!!! This is exactly the point of putting Meryl in the hands of directors who let her be creative without leaving her to fend for herself just because she's "The Genius Meryl Streep". Supposedly she also drew on the walls during that scene as an improv - why that isn't in deleted scenes I'll never understand.

vg21 said...

Mentioning Michelle Pfeiffer's colossal reminds me how unfair the competition of subjectively assessed achievements can be. I always thought this creative industry was very grateful for unique and absolutely mind-blowing (even if quirky) performances but after Sally Hawkins was soooo spectacularly ommitted in 2009, something just broke in me. Maybe, it was because of the "comedy-factor", but I feel that this was a sure way to secure Kate Winslet's win (and surely everybody had her in mind b/c of the Globes and all the buzz). As much as I like her, it was a great disappointment that she wasn't tested against such a worthy and opponent. (Also no Kristin Scott-Thomas that year.)

dinasztie said...

Meryl should have won this one. CZJ was not and I Can't Do It Alone was her weakest scene IMO, but it's just me naturally.

vg21 said...

Nathaniel, I see, thanks. My bad. I said I was a beginner back then:). I didn't know Meryl was up for a lead nomination for The Hours and it is still strange as Nicole was too. But these rules are always so aloof for me :).

/3rtfu11 said...

The first time I’ve seen all the performances from one category. Latifah was nomination worthy. I agree with the eventual winner being Zeta-Jones. She’s no longer in the movies. Publicly bitching about Kidman getting better parts because people felt sorry for her ---- Michael Douglass questioning how long Brad and Angelina will last ---- no wonder her opening SNL monologue is the song “They Can’t take my Oscar Away” ---- she will not be missed. No hate but Meryl Streep is one of many aspects to Adaptation that I do not remember. Julianne Moore ---- when will the Academy throw you a bone? Possibly this year for TKAAR ---- so don’t care who the competition is. Kathy Bates ---- her biggest defender as a poster here. She’s also the last performance I actually saw ---- as recently as a few weeks ago! I’m shocked by the nomination and some of her critical prizes for this performance. The performance isn’t bad, weak, or even undeserving of any sort of attention but I feel in the end all it adds up to is ---- she’s the only other major character in the film ---- everyone else sort of works as a wall paper ensemble. Her nudity and being Jack’s girl in the supporting category secured her place.

Before I saw the performance I had convinced myself that she could’ve won it had Jack Nicholson himself allowed the Academy to vote for him ---- word is he actually campaigned for Brody ---- which of course meant the take-along coasting traction Bates carried ended at the nominations stage ---- on top of her unfair lost to Judi Dench to make-up for the Helen Hunt win ---- that in itself was a Jack’s girl take-along coasting victory.

No one at the Academy feels sorry for Bates – her Lead Actress victory is logical and serendipitous.

Rick said...

In one of the last scenes in "The Hours" when there is the scene between Streep and Moore ... I remember turning to my wife and saying that even though Moore was doing all the dialogue ( and I felt quite poorly ), it was Streep who stole the scene just by her reacting to what she was hearing.

MRRIPLEY said...

I am still appalled at latifahs coaster nom and julianne had far superior lead work so why nom her twice and not give her one or the other trophy seems like weaver in 88 all over again.

my top 5 in order

zeta jones

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Not much to say here... This year was pretty predictable in terms of female nominees...

Like Nathaniel says, the nominees for Lead Actress were always going to be Salma Hayek, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Diane Lane and Renée Zellweger. I recall that some gained some doubts about this line-up when Streep was nominated at the Globes but the Lane/Kidman/Hayek/Moore was already locked-up and between Streep and Zellweger, the one in the BP frontrunner was always going to be the 5th nominee.

In my opinion, however, I love Streep more than Kidman in {The} Hours. But if I were to change that line-up, I'd reckon Huppert should also be a nominee so... She'd be my pick instead of Salma, I suppose, not Streep.

About the Supporting Actress category... Don't get me wrong, I love Zeta-Jones, she embodied the diva-ness of Velma Kelly perfectly and her showmance was impeccable (and yes, I'd probably nominate her over Zellweger too as Lead in Chicago), but I remember being blown away by what Streep was doing in Adaptation. So I'd give her my vote.

About the nominees... I'd kick Kathy Bates and Queen Latifah (Michael, loved that remark :P) out - they benefited from other factors to get a leg-up in the race (Bates: previous Oscar winner in a movie with Jack Nicholson which would obviously be nominated; Latifah: BP contender and everyone big in that movie (except of course Richard Gere because apparently they HATE him) got a nomination).

And of course I'd pick Pfeiffer and Patricia Clarkson.

Mimi said...

Streep should have been nominated for The Hours in the Lead category, one of her best performances ever imo. Nicole, okay it's just my opinion, but I didn't like her performance at all, it was all about the nose. And I still can't believe Streep didn't get the award for Adaptation, I mean serious, she was f*****g genius as Orlean, and if you think about the fact that the whole 'stoned' scene was made up by Meryl herself, it's even more ridiculous...

OtherRobert said...

I preferred Queen Latifah because I liked what she did in her quieter moments more than I liked CZJ in her "look at me" moments, which is the entire point of her character. Bates was my win. I don't know why. I can't even remember anything significant about her performance. Supporting Actress is a category I'm very hot/cold with.

2002 was a year that I only cared about two categories: score and animated film. My horses didn't win there, either. I only agree with Polanski winning director, and only in the context of "about damn time."

Danny King said...

Recently watched "Adaptation" for the first time. I can tell you that I'll re-watch it again very soon. So far, it's my favorite Kaufman flick, but his take so long to process that that statement is still on pretty thin ice.

koch said...

I have to say Meryl Streep should have won this category, even if Catherine Zeta-Jones delivered a great performance. However, I did love Patricia Clarkson's performance more than anyone else's.

Don't remind me of the Best Actress category. I still do not get Nicole Kidman's win. Totally undeserving. Sorry.

Sean D said...

Adaptation is actually, if you can believe it, my favorite Meryl Streep performance. And I'm well-versed in Streep. And naturally, I do think it's her most criminal loss.

I'd rank the nominees
1. Streep
2. CZJ
3. Moore
4. Bates
5. Latifah

It was a very good lineup. The only change I would make is substituting Queen Latifah for Patricia Clarkson in Far From Heaven.

Steolicious said...

This was a great year for the supporting-ladys! And this is my list:

1 Julianne Moore - The Hours
2 Michelle Pfeiffer - White Oleander
3 Meryl Streep - Adaptation
4 Catherina-Zeta Jones - Chicago
5 Toni Collette - About a Boy & The Hours (cameo)
6 Kathy Bates - About Schmidt
7 Queen Latifah - Chicago
8 Amy Adams - Catch Me If You Can
9 Patricia Clarkson - Far From Heaven
10 Laura Linney - The Life of David Gale

(P.s.: Streep was much better as lead in "The Hours" than Zellweger in "Chicago".)

Unknown said...

Streep is my pick of the nominees, with CZJ in second, too. I remember thinking Pfeiffer didn't have a chance with the reception for White Oleander, and then the SAG nomination suddenly giving me hope. The same thing happened last year with Diane Kruger.
I wonder why Oleander's director never made another film. I give him a lot of credit for Pfeiffer's performance, as talented as she is. Those two looks at the end!

Unknown said...

I still stand by CZJ's win, though I do appreciate (if not love) Streep's work in "Adapation." Pfeiffer's inclusion, however, would have sweetened the pot so much more. It's been ages since I've seen "White Oleander" -- and only once at that -- but so much of her performance remains indelible to this day ("You don't go anywhere until I let you go!"). I remember enjoying Bates's work too, so her nod never bothered me.

As for Latifah and "When You're Good to Mama" is one of the best performed numbers in the movie, but we're talking about a complete portrayal here. And I actually thought both Streep's and Moore's work in "The Hours" was kinda muddy, for lack of a better term. Toni Collette was always the best in show for me.

cal roth said...

This year seemed so silly to me since I could never register any performance after I saw The Piano Teacher.Then I saw J. Moore in Far From Heaven, and, you know, it was one of the rarest ocasions when a tie for best actress was justifiable (Babs/Kate was not, since Kate is so much better)...

How could that world survive performances like Moore's and Huppert's in the same year? We wait decades for this kind of work, and then they come at the same time, in two.

In supporting, I'm still with CZJ. Streep is very very good, but Zeta is better. I'd nominate Watson for Punch Drunk Love, too.

Sebastian said...

Gotta go with Zeta on this one still. Her "All That Jazz" sealed up her Oscar win, but "I Can't Do It Alone" and the finale were just as thrilling. Meryl was a close second. It was another one of those sad "in another year, she would have won" type deals. I won't throw Queen Latifah under the bus. I loved her Mama Morton. Kathy Bates was okay. I'd throw out Julianne Moore in a heartbeat for "The Hours" for just about anything else. Samantha Morton for "Minority Report" would have been sweet. Michelle Pfeiffer for "White Oleander" would have been good too. Maybe not my first choice. I could have rooted for Edie Falco in "Sunshine State" too. It was a good category for the most part, and I think that the right person won the Oscar.


cal -- yeah, it's pretty crazy when two performances that great in the same year. On the other hand. you're so so wrong about Babs in Funny Girl. Easily one of the best Best Actress wins. She slams dunks that whole effin HUGE star turn. There's only 1 or 2 musical/acting performances that are its equal.

Brandon said...

This is, without question, one of my favorite nominations ever! What she does with Susan making her absurd yet somehow deeply humane is just a fascinating experience. But that she nor the literally equally fantastic Julianne Moore failed to win is beyond me. Jones' is a TERRIBLE performance, that shouldn't have even gotten a nomination.

Arkaan said...


For me, the top two (CZJ and Streep) are so far ahead of the rest of the nominees it feels like they're juniors. Replace with Richardson and two of Huppert, Morton, Falco and Kathleen McDermott (Morvern Callar). I like to pretend Latifah's nomination was for Living Out Loud.

Between Streep and CZJ, I truly don't care who wins. Streep's performance is an unexpected delight in a film full of delights. CZJ gives a pure star performance, ramping up the charisma to dazzling effect.

Alex said...

I have a lot of personal problems with Supporting Actress in 2002. To start with, my 3 medalists give what I think are probably the 3 best performances in this category of the decade, give or take Tilda or Virginia Madsen, so it's hard for me to put them in order:

1. Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago)
2. Meryl Streep (Adaptation)
3. Michelle Pfeiffer (White Oleander)

Then on a much lower tier, we have...

4. Patricia Clarkson (Far From Heaven)
5. Susan Sarandon (Igby Goes Down)

But really, if I had my way, Helena Bonham Carter would have the #4 slot for her performance in the HBO movie Live From Baghdad. I'd even think about swapping Clarkson for Janeane Garofalo (The Laramie Project), though that'd be a tough call.

As for Best Actress (where I think Moore qualifies for The Hours, though she obviously doesn't stack up against herself in Far From Heaven), Hayek wasn't always guaranteed that nomination with Streep in the mix, right? I read somewhere above that Zellweger had the 5th slot, and maybe they weren't speaking literally, but there's no way Hayek wasn't last on anyone's ballot. Anyway...

1. Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven)
2. Diane Lane (Unfaithful)
3. Meryl Streep (The Hours)
4. Nicole Kidman (The Hours)
5. Renee Zellweger (Chicago)

Alex said...

Oh, also, I wasn't Oscar watching back then, but to anyone who was: did CZJ's horrendous Traffic snub have anything to do with her win? Momentum and all...

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Clarkson should have been nominated, dammit. Throw out Bates: agree with /3rtfull, her nom seemed more for being a recognizable name in That Great Jack Movie than anything else. CZJ and Streep are almost tied for me, Latifah's all right...but I'm not keen on most of Moore's work in The Hours (though I LOVE her in Far From Heaven).

Glenn said...

I would have given the statue to Catherine Zeta-Jones, too. She was immaculate. Of the nominees I'd give silver to Streep, although i haven't seen it since opening weekend at the cinema so I'm not sure.

My own person roster was Clarkson, Falco, Pfeiffer, Streep and Zeta-Jones.

Andrew David said...

I like CZJ but for me this year is a constant toss-up between Meryl and Julianne. Those two really owned the year... both were spectacularly good in The Hours, and then there were Far From Heaven and Adaptation to contend with. Either could have won for either film, and I would have been happy.

I also like Kidman, but I think she's outdone by the others in The Hours. She had flashes of genius in some of her line deliveries but didn't pull out all the non-verbal stops that Moore and Streep excelled at throughout The Hours. And of course, were Huppert given her due she would have streamrolled all opposition.


@Alex -- i'd say no. but now we're in an entirely different year. re: 2000 I don't recall much anger about a Zeta-Jones "Traffic" snub mostly because people were thrilled that Marcia Gay Harden snuck in (including myself who predicted it)

as i recall it went like so...

generating genuine excitement
solid fanbase love
in the default spot that everyone just shrugged and accepted even though it was entirely ridiculous!!!

the snub that people were genuinely angry about
ZHANG ZIYI, Crouching Tiger

if we could only see the vote tallies
Catherine Zeta Jones (Globe nominee Traffic) or Kate Winslet (SAG nominee Quills) both theoretically might have been in the dread sixth spot but there was also some critical noise for Catherine Deneuve (Dancer in the Dark) and since Best Pictures always have coattails I'm assuming Connie Nielsen won more votes for Gladiator, than anyone imagined at the time.

BB said...

I remember some general shock and disappointment over Zeta-Jones and Zhang not making it in over Walters and Dench. Maybe that momentum had something to do with Zeta-Jones' "Chicago" win, but the performance itself would have been enough I think even if that was her first screen performance. I liked Streep a lot in "Adaptation" too. Not enough for the win, but still good.

Clover said...

I was under the impression than nobody was rooting fot CZJ and she was considered undeserving of the award.

Craig said...

If The Fabulous Baker Boys, Batman Forever and White Oleander are the jewels in Pfeiffer's acting crown (and btw, I agree whole-heartedly), then Dangerous Liasons certainly is at least a luminescence pearl of a performance with those three gems. Who could forget the raw emotional torture and pain of confliction Pfeiffer manifested in her character of Madame de Tourvel? She gave the film a tragic heart and soul, and she proved, with this film, she could perform with the best of acclaimed film actors.

She should have won the Oscar in 2002. 'Nuf said.

adri said...

Of the female supporting performances that year, I was completely in love with Pfeiffer in "White Oleander" and Viola Davis in "Solaris". Hard to choose between the two, but maybe Pfeiffer. Such a wonderful indelible performance! And Davis ... I was just on the edge of my seat with not knowing what would happen next.

For the others, I liked Toni Colette best of all the actresses in "The Hours" (and she also did a great job in "About a Boy"). I liked CZJ best of the "Chicago" crew, and of the 5 actual nominees, I would have picked her. I haven't seen Miranda Richardson in "Spider" but I'd bet that was one of the best performances of the year.

So my choices would be: Pfeiffer (winner); Davis, Colette, Zeta-Jones; Richardson.

Scott said...

Loved both Streep and Zeta-Jones, but I'm really happy to see you mention Bebe Neuwirth in Tadpole. That performance was a gem.

Ivan said...

My 5 nominees were:

Meryl Streep/Adaptation
Catherine Zeta Jones/Chicago
Emily Watson/Punch-Drunk Love
Samantha Morton/Minority Report
Julianne Moore/The Hours

SoSueMe said...

Frankie and Johnny is another jewel, if not the brightest jewel in Michelle's acting crown. Now that was a SNUB.

I thought all the girls in White Oleander were deserving of a nomination - Alison Lohman, Renee Z, Robin W Penn, and Pfeiffer.

Julianne should have been the first actor to win both supporting and lead in the same year.

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Benji Kidd said...

Agreed... My biggest problem of recent times comes from last year when Penelope Cruz was nominated over Marion Cotillard for 'Nine'. Cruz just played a variation of her performance in Woody Allen's 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona' for which she did win. Cotillard turned what could have been a typical 'wife' role into a multi-dimensional character; knocking every one else in the film to second base.