With rages that send her limbs flying madly and whispers that seduce all within reach, Penélope Cruz swims in a sea churning with emotions to create the extraordinarily troubled Maria Elena in Woody Allen's "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." She's late coming into the film, but it's never better than when she is on screen as a woman torn between a love she has lost and a tangle of needs she can neither control nor ignore. In Cruz's hands, Maria Elena as the not-to-be-forgotten ex-wife dances exquisitely on the edge of insanity, and for the fearless courage of that performance she deserved to win.
Still, it's impossible not to at least sigh that Viola Davis' heartbreakingly tragic Mrs. Miller in "Doubt" didn't quite make it to the stage. There is a lifetime in just a single scene thanks to Davis, in her face unspeakable anguish, her son's future in the hands of everyone else, it seems, but hers. She sees his fragile psyche facing damage on so many fronts -- the priest, his father, the world in which he must try to survive his coming-of-age issues. Her resignation is fierce and unforgettable.