I haven't seen it in a while, so I am somewhat vague about what his character does; but, what about The Last Picture Show?
That's his best nominated performance, but I still wouldn't rank it alongside his best work. He's quite good and I believe I voted for him in the 1971 thread, but I don't recall. If I did, it was because I knew what was coming up and Jeff Bridges deserves an Oscar.
See, I consider her a lot like Viola Davis in The Help. Both actresses resort to crying when all else fails. And while, yes, crying was inevitable in both roles, I didn't see the need for their entire roles to be one giant sobfest. You can easily give an effective performance without crying. Unnecessary crying in film tries to bring emotion that isn't there. Michelle Williams could have sobbed her entire way through the behind-the-scenes parts of My Week with Marilyn, but she gave a good performance...I may have been a bit soapbox-y in saying Mo'Nique gives a one-note performance, but her role is nothing special. I feel though they gave it to her for the "Look! A standup comedian who made Fat Gurlz didn't do something terrible in the year's favorite sob story." Gabourey Sidibe was much more effective in a role that required almost constant tears, but she overcame that to give a fantastic performance.
What I find confusing about this statement is that it implies that it's the actor's choice to "resort" to crying. When an actor cries on screen, it's a marriage between the written character arc, the performer's strengths, and what the director tells them to do. I really don't think that Viola Davis looked at the script and said "This is a perfect opportunity for me to cry." I think it just made sense for her. I know that you're not saying that Viola Davis always does that but that is interesting because for years beforehand, Viola Davis did the opposite. She was mostly known for taking on thankless supporting roles devoid of that kind of emotional payoff.
W/r/t Monique, I actually think she's the one who survived Precious and not Gabourey Sidibe, who admittedly is good in a performance that is absolutely hobbled by Lee Daniels' over-directing. Armond White has an excellent essay he wrote a ways back about roles that win African-Americans Oscars and how they essentially always play victims or monsters. Nothing really in between. I think Mo'Nique is very good in Precious. I'm not sure she's quite good enough to warrant a nomination because in much of the film she is fairly one note...and then we get to the penultimate scene in the film and Ho...lee...cow. On one level, yes, it's a brilliantly acted scene. On another level, after enduring an hour-forty of miserablist exploitation, suddenly we are granted a portal into this woman's head...and it's fascinating! All of her rationalizations are placed out before us, and suddenly the film becomes a nuanced, interesting place to be. And then credits. It's not just that she has an arc, it's that she has one that the filmmakers had no idea what to do with.
For more than this reason, Mo'Nique is really the only reason to see the film, and I would say opposite actually to your assertions that they were just glad that she wasn't in a terrible movie, not simply because I think Precious is worse than your usual Mo'Nique film. If that was the case, then shouldn't Jim Carrey have an Oscar by now? Just as with Octavia Spencer and Jamie Foxx (hmm...), the question of whether or not this actor truly is an Oscar-worthy actor doesn't seem to enter the minds of the voters. They seem to just be taken by her work in the film, so much so that her much-maligned conduct during the awards stretch didn't seem to matter.
I was Team Farmiga all the way.
The Original BJ wrote
Except in tech categories, I don't understand why Gladiator was taken seriously as an awards candidate above-the-line.
Yeah, those of us who were here at the time of the awards had the same opinion going into the race. I forget who first started to voice murmurs that Gladiator was probably gonna make it into the race, but it seemed inconceivable. And then it happened. Ultimately, there was nothing else they could align around. Not the Asian alternative. Not Steven Soderbergh's timely narcotics panorama. I recall for a bit that Philip Kaufman's Quills was highly anticipated as a sure-fire nominee at one point. I'm pretty sure I predicted Crouching Tiger... on Oscar night, but clearly Gladiator was the movie that Hollywood decided they were most proud of that night, which makes a certain degree of sense.