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The Forgotten Oscars 2011

By MICHAEL NEEL  |  February 28, 2011

Best Actress: Hye-ja Kim for Mother
US Release Date: March 12

What would you do if your son was accused of murder? A man with mental disabilities and memory problems, who's presumed guilty because he can't stand up for himself? When the police won't help him, the titular character in Mother (played by Hye-ja Kim) does whatever she can to clear her son's name. Her amateur investigation takes her to some dark places and reveals troubling truths about her seemingly normal town.

>>READ: Phoenix review of Mother<<

Hye-ja Kim delivers a moving, nuanced performance that displays her considerable range. The role calls for her to be heartbroken, angry, distraught, loving, and so much more. She slips from one emotion to another effortlessly, sometimes from sentence to sentence. She commands the audience with her eyes, body language, and incredible facial expressions. Mother is a complex, unconventional crime story, with twists that reveal the immense depth of her character — and if she wasn't up to the task, the film simply wouldn't work.

In Mother's opening shot, she walks through a field toward the camera. Slowly, she starts dancing. She seems melancholy, as though she's fighting with herself somehow. She stares at us, almost daring us to watch her. We don't know anything about her, and yet she's completely mesmerizing. Then the shot dissolves, and she stands motionless. Haunted. These two shots hint at her immense talent — and the rest of the film delivers on that promise.

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