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Marriage Story Review

"They're saying this is for Adam Driver what Kramer vs Kramer was for Dustin Hoffman. More about him than about her.  Scarlett, to me, is the open question. By now it's Driver vs Phoenix for best actor." - Melchiades - Andrew

"Mini-shutout to Alda, whom I loved and thought did absolute wonders in his what, 3 or 4 scenes. Great review!" -Alex

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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The Films of 2013. The 14th annual FiLM BiTCH Awards


Best Actress
discuss on the blog 

Cate Blanchett
Paulina Garcia
Greta Gerwig
Brie Larson
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Richly layered cruelly funny, and ultimately devastating. Pick a detail, any detail, to marvel at. Like the way her eyes stop focusing mid-sentence: terrified glimpses into the abyss or anxious dress rehearsals for a psychotic break?

She's in (literally) every frame and rewards the audience with a totally endearing, funny portrait of a brave sexually vivacious divorcee eager for the next dance... if she can just find a partner with her compatible lust for life

 A lesson to all hard-to-cast singular talents: create your own material! Frances is childlike, pathetic, hilarious, undateable, confused - often all at once - in her reluctant but eventually joyful dance into adulthood
 We all throw up protective walls at times but Grace has walls within walls within walls. Brie gets that Grace's aren't so mobile in this gorgeous empathic braiding of painful personal baggage and innate kindness
Her comic genius is a given but the textured drama surprises in this technically precise but intuitive work. How she manages facial expressions that elicit both sympathy and schaudenfreude is just beyond me

Finalists: Adele Exarchopoulus is all insatiable id in Blue is the Warmest Color whether eating or screwing or crying; Emma Thompson gives glorious return to form in her funny bold strokes work in Saving Mr Banks

: Amy Adams gives American Hustle its glimpses of its con artists conning themselves non-fraudulent soul; Julie Delpy continues the defining work of her career with Before Midnight; Jane Adams, cast against type in All The Light in the Sky, delivers with a smart, even sexy, character piece; Melissa McCarthy is on fire with perfect line readings in The Heat; and Meryl Streep has sharp moments as the monster mom that devours her young for dinner sport in August: Osage County


Best Actor
discuss on the blog 

Bruce Dern
"Woody Grant"
Chiwetel Ejiofor
"Solomon Northup"
Tom Hanks
"Captain Phillips"
Oscar Isaac
"Llewyn Davis"
Matthew McConaughey
"Ron Woodruff"
This weary would-be lottery winner is comically single-minded but Dern isn't, giving a career-topping performance of many facets, equally funny and sad. "I was there" (indeed)
Those huge eyes soak up more horror than even we are privvy to, extending the film beyond its own haunting frames. An astonishing balancing act of filled in humanity and emptied out auteur vessel
 It's all in the last reel but so what? Sometimes the culmination is key, the aftermath as the drama, cathartic release reinforming what came before. The best he's ever been?
 Everything about his abrasively self-sabotaging musican, works, with or without feline accessorizing. That superbly expressive actorly singing voice doesn't hurt either.
Though much has been made of his physical commitment, the newly reenergized star actor's emotional work on this desperate survivor, myopic but evolving, is as noteworthy and far more compelling.

Finalist: Paul Eenhoorn fully absorbs the title of This is Martin Bonner and paints you a complete if still tantalizingly withholding portrait. This is the kind of performance that should warrant immediate interest from A list auteurs and casting directors
Semi-Finalists: Mads Mikkelsen finds multiple shades of pride and despair as the wrongly accused in The Hunt; Jake Gyllenhaal & Hugh Jackman both work hard to elevate Prisoners from standard procedural to knotty haunting thriller. (I'd gladly take a sequel on Gyllenhaal's Detective Loki); Mud often wanders into a "what kind of a movie is this anyway" zone but Tye Sheridan anchors well, rooting it most firmly in the coming of age adventure drama; and Leonardo DiCaprio who proves with Wolf of Wall Street that toxic comedy is a good look on him


Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins
Scarlett Johansson
Lupita Nyong'o
Sarah Paulson
"Mistress Epps"
Léa Seydoux
Hawkins self-effacing turn as Jasmine's way-too accomodating sister deepens on repeat viewing as she anxiously surfs her sister's choppy psychological waves. A nice touch: Ginger is so much more relaxed with men.

Body. Face. Voice. She finally lives up to her early promise, pushing every part of herself to full-bodied (pun intended) characterization. Sexy, funny, and surprisingly dimensional despite playing a 'type'. Bonus Points: Her

 Patsy has no agency but thanks to Lupita, she has character. Watch the way she holds her chin high but empties out with the Epps (she's not even there). And those terrible cries, like its not just flesh but spirit ripped away.
Paulson's acting instincts are as sharp as Epps' nails as she lays self regard, free range hostility, and (curiously) morbid death-wish fantasy bare (that line reading about the slaves rising up unnerves) haunting even when she's out of focus. "Do it."
One of the most exciting actresses working - she perfectly embodies this often selfish artist, who runs hot emotionally (and sexually). Her cooling off wouldn't be half as devastating if she didn't so completely sell the pleasurable fire of holding her favor

Finalists: Joanna Scanlan cuts through any period fussiness of The Invisible Woman with a solid wall of cumulative neglect and bewildered rug-pulling pain; Oprah Winfrey provides great chain-smoking entertainment value as the cheating, funny, but proud wife of Lee Daniel's The Butler
Semi-Finalists: August Osage County would have been stronger had it not sidelined Margo Martindale's well realized Mattie Fae; Kaitlyn Dever does beautiful work in Short Term 12, embodying the rage that her mentor has learned to wall up; and we'll wrap up with a double feature of Jennifer Lawrence & June Squibb who are both wholly entertaining (if arguably not much else) in American Hustle & Nebraska respectively


Best Supporting Actor
discuss on the blog 

Bradley Cooper
"Richie DiMaso"
Michael Fassbender
"Master Epps"
James Franco
James Gandolfini
Keith Stanfield
 Perfect understanding of tone but it's those merciless comic instincts which really sell it: Even in moments where Richie thinks he's winning, Cooper makes his flop sweat glisten.

 His electric rapport with the camera is now a given. But watch when he interacts or doesn't with both his internal vile thoughts and the actors around him (horribly reducing some to props)


 "Look at my shiiiiiit"

Franco knows you will in 2013's most outre turn. People call actors 'brave' for playing gay / getting naked. They should reserve the word for those who fellate loaded weapons
Heartbreaking and wholly human as an overweight man stumbling through an new difficult romance. This is what the romcom genre needs: actual human stakes and empathy.
Moving and defeated and resilient in smart proportions. More importantly he never overplays his amply dramatic hand -- even when he's rapping about his own harrowing childhood.

Finalist: Jared Leto does subtle variations of druggy performative self-awareness in Dallas Buyers Club and the way he drawls "lone star" is a particular delight; Tom Hanks gives Saving Mr Banks exactly the Disney it needs for its gosammer light (some would say fluffy) take on two artists locking horns toward compromise

Semi-Finalists: Chris Cooper imbues one of the lesser parts in August: Osage County with lived-in compromise and loyalty; Elyes Aguis gives one of the most naturalistic child performances in many years in The Past; Kyle Chandler provides a nice subtle frisson in The Wolf of Wall Street by presenting its only character with mapped out moral fiber and humanity; and Sergio Hernandez is both comically and dramatically sound as the cowardly widower in Gloria


The Films of 2013. The 14th annual FiLM BiTCH Awards PICTURE | ACTING | VISUALS | SOUND | EXTRAS | SPECIAL | SCENES