The Academy Awards are five months from now and there is still a lot of uncertainty. Due to the Sag-Aftra strikes, actors are unable to work on films and promote them. This, along with the WGA strikes, has resulted in unpredictable release schedules, similar to the disruptions caused by Covid. Additionally, some highly anticipated movies have not performed well at the box office. To bring the industry together, a new category for audiobook narration should be introduced at the Oscars, and Michelle Williams should be the winner.
If you have been using the internet recently, you are probably aware of three things. The first is that Britney Spears has published her autobiography, titled The Woman in Me. The second is that Justin Timberlake is portrayed negatively in the book, particularly because he allegedly tried to comfort his girlfriend after a secret abortion by using his skills as a musician. The third is that Michelle Williams has lent her voice to the audiobook version of The Woman in Me, and she does not appear to have a favorable opinion of Justin Timberlake.
A part of the book has already become popular online. In this scene, Timberlake meets the R&B artist Ginuwine and greets him in a way that is so embarrassing, it could make anyone cringe from a distance. “Oh yes, for sure, for sure. Ginuwine! How’s it going, buddy?” Spears writes down Timberlake’s words. When written out, it creates a vivid image. You can envision Timberlake, a young member of a boy band with a youthful hairstyle. You can see all the intentional mannerisms in his walk. You can even see his overbite.
Michelle Williams’ performance of this line is a masterpiece. Her delivery has quickly gone viral online. She not only adds a great amount of emotion to the line and perfectly mimics Justin Timberlake’s voice, but she also fearlessly showcases her unique interpretation.
There is a way to express the words “Oh yeah, fo’ shiz, fo’ shiz. Ginuwine! What’s up, homie?” with a sense of vulnerability. It could be delivered in a way that shows the speaker’s awareness of their low credibility and desire to fit in. However, Michelle Williams does not deliver the line in this manner. Instead, she delivers it with a scathing tone, as if it were the most cutting insult one could ever utter. Her Timberlake comes across as entitled and oblivious. It’s almost unbelievable, but in Williams’ delivery, the line becomes even more excruciating than it appears on paper.
It is highly likely that Williams intentionally portrays other individuals in the book. These portrayals are all shown with great sympathy. One particular moment, where she reads a piece about Mariah Carey, has become popular online. The actual content is not very significant – it discusses the time when Carey taught Spears how to use a ring light to capture her best side – but Williams delivers the dialogue with a soft tone. If Williams did not like Carey, it would be evident because only demanding photos to be taken from a specific angle is characteristic of an out-of-touch diva. It would have been easy to depict Carey as shallow and obsessed with her image, but Williams gives her a warm and nurturing persona. This portrayal is well-executed and highlights how much Williams must dislike Timberlake.
During a time when actors are not as visible as usual, a performance like this serves as a reminder of the vast capabilities of the craft. And although the audiobook awards are typically presented during the Grammys, it is worth noting that Viola Davis received one last year, completing her EGOT. However, Michelle Williams deserves more recognition for her portrayal of Justin Timberlake in one section of the audiobook version of Britney Spears’s memoir. She is so talented that they should make a movie about her recording of the audiobook and she should star in it, ultimately winning another Oscar. That is how exceptional her performance is.
This article was amended to recategorise Ginuwine as an R&B singer, rather than a rapper.