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Actress: Annette Bening

Hollywood Award honoree

Annette Bening has delivered a pair of standout performances this year. As Karen in “Mother and Child,” she charted someone who bitterly regrets having given up her baby for adoption as a single teenager in the 1970s. In “The Kids Are All Right,” Bening plays the more stable half of a lesbian couple coping with teenagers who have sought out their anonymous sperm-donor dad.

“It’s interesting, although they are very personal movies to the filmmakers — Rodrigo Garcia wrote and directed ‘Mother and Child’ and Lisa Cholodenko’s personal experience informed ‘The Kids Are All Right’ — they’ve both become so personal to me,” Bening says. “If I’m able to do it, then it becomes mine.

“The irony is these pictures barely got made. People had to beg, borrow and steal, and thank goodness for the ingenuity of people to get the four or five million dollars to make these pictures. So when you get to make the picture and people respond, it’s so exciting. The pedigree is very similar, although the kind of movie is so different.”

At this point in her career, Bening seeks out “complicated, interesting women. I was an ingenue in the classical theater, and when I think back they’re such idealized characters. Women know what it’s like to play someone’s idea of somebody — that’s what it is. But to play someone who has all the paradoxes that real people are, that’s more challenging and fun.”

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