The Academy Awards is popularly known as the Super Bowl for women, an annual opportunity for the ladies to get drunk and vent a year’s worth of pent-up cattiness toward a parade of dresses, shoes and dumb remarks. But I think us men – who dutifully watch it along with our significant others – end up enjoying it more than most will admit. Why? Let’s just say women aren’t the only ones looking at the Oscar gowns. Just like the women, men get to choose – or nostalgically remember – their celebrity crushes from the year’s best films.
And so just in time for the big day, I submit my women’s guide to what it means about your man – and the status of your relationship – if he has a thing for one of this year’s nominees for best actress (and one Supporting Actress nom for good, and I mean very good, measure.)
If your man – and all of your girlfriends, too – aren’t into Rooney Mara, maybe they are asexual. Seriously, I know that Ms. Mara as the feisty and emotionally-challenged femme fatale in The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo may not be everyone’s cup of Scotch-spiked tea, but characters like Lisbeth Salander arouse men’s desire to be afraid, because sometimes fear is the necessary pinch that reminds him he’s not dreaming, or dead. But don’t worry, you don’t have to get a mohawk or a motorcycle to compete with her – you just have to do something once a day, or once a week, that surprises him. Share a secret. Break into dance while making breakfast. Or, if you must, get a piercing on a body part that is for his eyes only.
I was 13 when I watched Fatal Attraction on cable when my dad was out on a date. Ever since, I’ve had Glenn Close’s woman scorned scorched into my memory, a character who surely has single-handedly lowered the infidelity rate a few percentage points among my generation of men. If your guy has a nostalgic crush on Ms. Close, I’d be a little worried about his ability to take that lesson to heart. So let’s hope that the fact that he still carries a torch for this bunny-boiler means he’s intrigued by her latest role, the one that might finally win her a statuette. In Albert Nobbs, Close plays a gender-bending aspiring businesswoman, and if your man is a truly modern one who is intrigued by this, you shouldn’t be afraid to be the one to wear the pants. In fact, you may want to invest in a tuxedo jacket, too.
In one moment, she is a vulnerable flower in need of protection and in the next she is a seductive heartbreaker inviting you into her bathtub. In My Week With Marilyn, Michelle Williams is unrecognizable as her former self and seems to literally become Hollywood’s most, ahem, well-rounded sex symbol. If your man left the theatre lusting for this “Michelle Monroe” – who can be both a Madonna and a, well, Mary Magdalene – you may feel the expectations on you are too high. Then again, I often tell men that women are not delusional when they ask men to be both strong and sensitive; it’s just two things, after all. Is it too much to ask the favour to be returned?
Viola Davis, the first maid to tell her story of racial discrimination in The Help, may be the quietest film hero to grace the silver screen last year (besides, perhaps, the star of The Artist.) The incredible authority she is able to evoke simply with her eyes reminds me of another buzzy recent release – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, the book that gives the shyer half of the population its due props. If your man is into Ms. Davis, he may be drawn to the strong, silent woman, one who takes action instead of filling the air with mere words. Unlike chatty extraverts and social butterflies, this type of woman follows her own guidance and doesn’t care so much what anyone else thinks of her decisions. Do you?
“Stand by your man,” Tammy Wynette crooned long ago, commanding all women to create a strong foundation for a relationship. But if your man is attracted to the silver screen’s most ambitious female – Ms. Streep’s been a tyrannical magazine editor, an iconic cookbook author and, in The Iron Lady, Britain’s first female PM – he probably also listens to a lesser known tune by Lenny Kravitz: Stand By My Woman. All I have to say to you, then, is: Good catch! Just remember to also stroke his ego once in a while on your way to the top.
She’s the only supporting actress on my list, but boy is Jessica Chastain supportive. Your man’s crush on this foxy redhead probably began last year when she played the uber-loyal wife to a man going slowly crazy in Take Shelter. Now, in The Help, she ups the ante by learning how to whip up a Southern meal for her new husband. I know that it’s outdated for modern women to show their love by being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, but occasionally offering up some of your perfect fried chicken – both the breasts and the thighs – is a romantic gesture that’ll surely go straight to his heart.