Marisa Tomei for ‘My Cousin Vinny’ Is the Rare Perfect Oscars Win

Mar 10, 2023 1406

BY: Kevin Fallon

The only thing that’s better than the perfect acting performance? The perfect Oscars win. It happens less often than you’d think—as in, almost never. In fact, it’s so rare that, in one of the only cases of it happening, decades of conspiracy theories and industry legend surround it. Marisa Tomei’s performance as Mona Lisa Vito in My Cousin Vinny is one of the few times it’s both earned and acceptable to call something “iconic.”

She crafted a riotously dynamic character and calibrated an exactly right blend of silly, serious, and scene-stealing; it’s memorable, while never pulling focus away from the narrative. In fact, the climax of the film, a Cinderella story by way of legal comedy, hinges upon her. She nails every beat of her courtroom testimony, pulling off the magic act of embodying a comedy cliché—the exaggerated, ditzy Italian-American—to crowd-pleasing effect, while subverting expectations at the same time. 

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