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'Changeling' vs. 'Doubt': The Best Actress Race is ON

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Ladies and gentlemen, fight fans of all ages, tonight we convene a contest for the heavyweight actress championship of the world. In the red corner, fresh from her summer hit Wanted as well as delivering a set of twins while serving as surrogate mom for the civilized world… Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie in Changeling.

And in the blue corner sits a veritable veteran, a lithe lioness who’s taken all comers and emerged victorious. Most recently singing her way to box-office glory in Mamma Mia… Academy Award winner Meryl Streep in Doubt.

See if you agree with my handicapping, after the jump.

For us mere moviegoers, this doesn’t have to be a competition. We cansee both of these — and, Lord help me, I do so very much want to —without having to pick favorites. And, since the overwhelming majorityof us don’t get to vote for who’ll win Best Actress, we can do sowithout a horse in this particular race. All of that said, I’m a weebit more stoked about Doubt —while the righteous campaign Jolie’s melancholy mom wages to get herson back looks to be devastating, I’m more engaged by the quicksilvermorality play of Doubt.

Plus, I just like the fact that the Doubt trailer doesn’t have anyone crying, and that’s the one thing I don’t like about the Changelingspot: that Jolie spends so much time in tears. I understand its about awoman grieving over the loss of her child, and given that this is whatthe film is about, it’s appropriate. It’s just… so often, greatfemale roles are saddled with an attendant hysteria (and I mean thatliterally) in a way that makes the roles about their femininity. Sometimes that’s a completely valid choice: The lead in The Accused had to be a woman, as did the main character in Little Children. But what’s so refreshing to me about Doubt is the same thing that drew me to Kathy Bates in Misery or Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction:What defines Meryl Streep’s Sister Aloysius is not that she has girlparts, it’s a larger mania; what drives her is a more universal hunger.

And you? Which of these will get your Oscar-bait money: one, both, or neither?