How Do You Feel About Melissa Leo?

This was not an upbeat movie about ice-skating, but by the time I figured that out it was too late.

Something about Melissa Leo rubs me the wrong way, and unlike those times you pretend you don’t know why or can’t quite put your finger on it or whatever I will say exactly what the something is that is responsible for the wrong-rubbing: her “self-commissioned For Your Consideration ad campaign [for the 2011 Best Supporting Actress Oscar].” Remember that, when she paid for her own ads asking people to vote for her for an Oscar? This profile of Leo by Doree Shafrir posits that my discomfort was in part inspired by the fact that “Leo had so brazenly deviated from the script of how older actresses in Hollywood who have delivered a performance good enough for an Oscar are supposed to behave.” I’ll accept that, and I am also willing to accept that there is probably a level of ingrained sexism that makes me (yes, even me! I try so hard to not be always with the sexism, but I am a white man of a certain age who grew up in a different America; the sexism is still strong within me no matter how often I casually and manishly dismiss it by telling myself, “Don’t be ridiculous, you are not sexist,” which is JUST WHAT A SECRET SEXIST WOULD THINK) more disdainful of women who assert themselves than I would probably be about men in a similar situation.

And what a ridiculous situation to have any feelings about in the first place! The Oscars! An awards show predicated on picking out the people who did the best job of playing pretend that year! Chosen by other people whose job it also is to play pretend or to help the people who are playing pretend look pretty and play pretend better! People whose thought process is, “Well, that woman did a very good job of playing pretend as a blind astronaut, I want to celebrate her pretend-playing skills” or, “Yes, that man was terrific playing pretend as someone whose crippling depression fueled his creative genius but wrecked his family life, but we already gave him a prize for playing pretend back when he played pretend as a diabetic boxer whose terrible alcoholism prevented him from being truly happy and also ruined his relationship with his daughter, so we should probably let somebody else get an award for playing pretend,” or “This guy was such an asshole when we played pretend together a couple of years ago that I am going to make it my life’s goal to make sure there is never any chance he gets to stand up on the stage in front of millions of people and thank everyone for making him the best man at playing pretend this year,” and so on. And don’t get me started on the award they give the person who has played pretend for so many many years and never been given the little golden dolly they give the best player of pretend so then they give them a special golden dolly because they are going to die soon and their chances of being good at playing pretend again before then are very slim.

Anyway, what was I saying? Oh, right, here is a profile of Melissa Leo you should read. She was really good in the “Louie” show.