Best actress nominees



Sandra Bullock
"The Blind Side"

"People describe it as a showy role and there is no doubt that Leigh Anne Tuohey is always on the go and a chatterbox," says director John Lee Hancock. "What I was most impressed with is how good Sandy was in a quiet moment. When you've got somebody who is always in motion, those quiet moments are the most important." Hancock sites the Thanksgiving scene -- where Leigh Anne sees her family in front of the TV and Michael alone at the dining room table: "Her look to Michael, her look to her family ... without a word spoken we can follow her brain pattern."


Helen Mirren
"The Last Station"

In the original script, when Sofya chases Tolstoy up the stairs because she's upset about his new will, she grabs a vial of opium and threatens to poison herself. "Helen said, 'If we go that far, it's going to alienate the audience,' " recalls director Michael Hoffman. The death threat was written out and the scene reworked. "It was such a smart decision and really indicative of what a remarkable storyteller she is," he adds. "It's a huge advantage to have her on a film because of her dual focus: The emotional truth and the narrative requirement."


Carey Mulligan
"An Education"

The scene where the actress is standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain with her cello was a pivotal one because that is when David (Peter Sarsgaard) pulls up in his car and they meet for the first time. "It was physically challenging for Carey because we had the rain machine going all day and she had to get wet over and over and over again," recalls producer Amanda Posey. "It was such a cold day and we didn't have the luxury of having her dry off in between takes. Carey is quite slender so we couldn't even bulk her up under what she was wearing. ... She was such a trooper."


Gabourey Sidibe

"Just before shooting began, (producer) Gary (Magness) and I threw a breakfast at the Carlyle Hotel for Lee and all of the girls," recalls producer Sarah Siegel-Magness. "Gabby was bubbly and light and full of laughter. I remember wondering how in the world would this hysterically funny girl inhabit such a somber role? But even on the darkest of days she brought light onto the set. In between takes, she would go to her dressing room to listen to music and sing. She had no idea that I used to go to the bathroom next to her dressing room just to listen to her sing."


Meryl Streep
"Julie & Julia"

"The scene where Julia is chopping the onions was shot from over Meryl's shoulders, from behind," producer Amy Robinson says. "As you watched it being shot, you felt you were seeing the back of Julia Child. In real life Meryl is not as big as Julia, but this had nothing to do with her standing next to somebody short or on an apple box: It was the way she held her shoulders and the power in her chopping those onions. It wasn't about dialogue, it was just brilliant acting."

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