Hey Academy! Time To Take Nicole Kidman's 'Paperboy' Role Seriously!

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Once, Nicole Kidman barely had to raise an eyebrow to get awards attention. Now, she barely can raise an eyebrow and her best work in years is being completely ignored in the Oscar conversation. The Paperboy stars Kidman as Charlotte Bless, a damaged attention-seeker who becomes sexually obsessed with a convicted murderer (John Cusack), while cock-teasing the only man—or really, teenager—who truly loves her (Zac Efron). It's Kidman's bravest, boldest, and most committed performance ever, and no one cares for the short-sighted reason that the movie is terrible.

How unfair. The Nicole Kidman of To Die For used to have a bright future before that bright future came true and blinded everyone to her comedic gifts. Once Kidman scored her first Oscar nomination for 2002's Moulin Rouge, she became the prey of the Hollywood awards hunt, in which the chase for For-Your-Consideration goes like this: take one prestigious actress (see Kidman, Berry, Jolie, Swank), make her play someone vulnerable (see Cold Mountain, Things We Lost in the Fire, The Changeling, Conviction), then cross your fingers. This is why we've had a full decade of Kidman drifting about in period costumes or, god forbid, stretching herself to play a movie star in Nine. And people, this is why the Oscar season is boring. This formula guarantees a chase to the middlebrow, and it's why every Best Picture Oscar winner since Silence of the Lambs is something your grandma would see at an arthouse matinee.

There's only one thing we can do to save the Academy Awards: nominate Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy.

Just because The Paperboy is bad doesn't void the bravery it took to make it. Kidman's Charlotte is a balls-out wonder. She's pure sex and need, at once over-confident and fragile. Slithering around in her neon polyester pants, Kidman is fully alive for the first time since Baz Luhrmann murdered her with tuberculosis. And The Paperboy even has not one but two stand-out scenes that will live on in infamy—Sally Field standing on a table in Norma Rae can't compete with Kidman peeing on Zac Efron or giving John Cusack an orgasm just by breathing at him from across a prison cell.

Imagine if Oscar voters were able to parse the jewels from the schlock. Why should Les Misérables clutter up every acting category? What if this year's ceremony didn't just include the dull favorites like Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln and Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty—roles everyone respects, but no one loves—but made room for Michael Shannon in Premium Rush and Michael Sheen in Breaking Dawn – Part 2. Imagine just being able to say, "The Academy Award-nominated bike messenger thriller Premium Rush."

Plus, this wouldn't be the first time we've given an actor a statuette for good work in an awful film. We did it three years ago when Mo'Nique won for Precious. It's no coincidence that Precious and The Paperboy were both directed by bizarro auteur Lee Daniels, a former casting agent and producer with the clout to get serious actors to take him seriously. He convinced the likes of Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Joseph Gordon-Levitt to star in his debut film, Shadowboxer—-and that's despite a script which opens with Stephen Dorff shoving a pool cue up a guy's ass.

In fact, let's go one step further. Not only does Nicole Kidman deserve a Best Actress nomination for The Paperboy, Lee Daniels deserves Best Director. He's clearly one of the greats. Not because his films are any good, but because his actors would do—and do do—anything for him. Anthony Minghella, Sidney Pollack, Rob Marshall only wish they could pull as passionate of a performance out of Kidman, and Daniels behind-the-scenes alchemy is that powerful with every single one of his actors. He not only convinced Helen Mirren and Cuba Gooding Jr. to shoot a strip scene in Shadowboxer, he convinced them to commit to it like it was high art. And The Paperboy performs more stunt-casting miracles: An American sweetheart, John Cusack, is loathsome; Macy Gray is the next great actress and Zac Efron, convincingly, can't get laid. Could Steven Spielberg swing that? Never.

Luckily, we're not alone in appreciating this wonderful, terrible gem. In October, a group of rogue cinephiles launched a For Your Consideration Facebook page flogging Nicole Kidman's outstanding work in The Paperboy. As of today, the page has 10 fans. Let's get that number growing.



Comments

  • Maximus says:

    Are all the articles on Movieline.com written by 12 year-old boys? The person who wrote this obviously doesn't know much about Nicole Kidman's career. Saying she spent the last decade "drifting about in period costumes" is ridiculous. Watch "Dogville", "Margot at the Wedding", "Birth" or "Rabbit Hole". Kidman is an extraordinary, unique actress who constantly takes big artistic risks. That's why she rarely gets awards attention. Let's not forget she only has three Oscar nominations. Just as many as Julia Roberts or Amy Adams, which is an absolute shame considering all the great performances she has given over the years.

  • Empires says:

    My gosh why so vicious, the author clearly despises Nicole Kidman, so why bother write this up? The checklist for all the cheap shots has been ticked, maybe it makes you feel better about yourself trying to bully her, what a sad sad existence you must lead.

    This poor excuse for an article comes off as a message board troll posting. So its ok for other actresses but not ok for Nicole Kidman?

  • Empires says:

    By the way there are multiple Nicole Kidman FYC facebook pages, you just chose that one for self gratification.

  • Maximus, I think you're missing the point of the piece.

    • Connecticut Sam says:

      I am missing a piece of ?

    • Maximus says:

      I'm missing the point? How so? The point of this article is to bash Nicole Kidman. Like every article about her on this site. The first two disgusting, misogynistic sentences say it all. The writer tries to pass Kidman as a boring, bland actress only interested in getting Oscar nominations (even comparing her to Halle Berry and Hillary Swank, WTF? How come the writer doesn't mention the two biggest awards whor*s of all time, Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep?), completely ignoring the fact that Kidman is probably the most daring and brave actress in the past decade and that most of her films are the exact opposite of what Oscar voters like (Dogville, Birth, Fur, Margot at the Wedding). Then the writer tells us that Nicole Kidman has no range as an actress and that her last good performance was in "To Die For". I quote her: "This is why we've had a full decade of Kidman drifting about in period costumes or, god forbid, stretching herself to play a movie star in Nine". Yeah. Because Kidman's characters in Moulin Rouge, The Others, Birth, Dogville, The Hours, Birthday Girl, Margot at the Wedding, Fur, Rabbit Hole or Birth are all the same. Sure. Either the writer hasn't seen those films or she doesn't know much about acting (or she hates Kidman and doesn't want to give her any credit). And the writer ends her article by saying that Paperboy is a terrible film and that Kidman has no fans.
      What do you think the point of this article is? Do you really think "Amy Nicholson" wrote this to support Nicole Kidman? Seriously?

      • Get a grip, will you. A rage-filled tirade won't get you anywhere, especially when you draw a parallel by offending two of the most loved, gifted and dignified actresses of all time. That's just pathetic. Nicole Kidman is a damn fine actress and this article is reeking of (silly) presumptuousness. That should do.

        • kate ford says:

          The so called writer is completely UNknowledgeable of Kidman's body of work, and perhaps the movie industry as a whole.

  • Fleshing says:

    Clearly this writer should check out Dogville (2003), Birth (2004), Margot at the wedding (2007), 3 masterful performances from Kidman after Moulin Rouge and before The Paperboy.

  • Linus says:

    I doubt that Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack wish they could pull a passionate performance out of Kidman seeing as how they've both been dead for 4 years.

  • J. Crane says:

    Movieline hates Kidman, I think the first 2 sentences of the "article" make that clear once again. It's appalling this was written by a woman. Disgusting behavior, distgusting blog.

  • aitchcs says:

    Was she not nominated for Rabbit Hole? Still one the most respected actresses. Margot at the Wedding really unrecognized for both Kidman and Jason-Leigh.

  • Marta says:

    This article is one of the cruellest things that I have ever read against Nicole Kidman. She is the greatest actress and the writer obviously needs to see the more recent films, Trespass, Go with it & Australia – none of which were ‘costumed pictures’. Kidman is the only actress that takes risks and she is starring as Grace Kelly in her next movie, who she really looks like. It is not Nicole’s fault that The Paperboy was a bad movie and big flop as Nicole had to take the role because Sofia Vergara dropped out. I am sick of haters starting up for your consideration facebook pages and trying to humiliate her. It’s not her fault people! Leave Nicole alone.

  • kate ford says:

    Ahem, Kidman was nominated for Best actress in 2011.

    Perhaps you should have knowledge of the subject matter before you choose the premise and angle of your next topic.

  • AC Jones says:

    The problem is more that this article just assumes/promotes the idea that Daniels' movies are "bad." Neither Precious nor The Paperboy are. They're movies about things and people that aren't easy. Kidman was a blast in The Paperboy for sure, but...

    Can we be really honest, though, and discuss the fact that it's no longer easy to take her seriously with that abjectly frozen, slightly crooked face? Her eyes are always redder than one thinks is possible and NOTHING MOVES ON HER FACE EVER.

    Perhaps that has something to do with it. Her face was the thing that kept pulling me out of The Paperboy.

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