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Q&A Special Pt. 2: Briony, Nashville, Early Onset Actressexuality

Back again. So losing track of time lately. Fridays as Mondays. Thursdays as Fridays. When am I? Saturday AM? What? But here's the promised second part of the Q&A column. I loved the James Dean question and the Spice Girl question but I'll have to give them their own post or something later because my brain can't deal with their enormity tonight.

Here are a few more questions I wanted to / could answer. As always, I love to hear your answers to the same questions or your responses to mine in the comments.

MATTHEW: Choose three Oscar-nom'ed/winning actresses from the Aughts whose careers are most in need of redirecting and explain how you would help get them back on track.

I would've said Charlize Theron a year ago but -- yay -- totally back on track these days.

I want to start with Ellen Page. She gets work regularly but Whip It, her last vital role, will soon be three years old and it seems like we should be hearing her name more often in the 'who is up for what part' sweepstakes. I worry that Hollywood doesn't think she's "sexy" -- maybe it's the somewhat butch energy? -- and therefore doesn't consider her for the parts that they keep divvying up between Evan Rachel Wood, Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish, and the like. I think she should embrace the androgyny and do something harder-edged with a confrontational or casual sexiness. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo would've been a great move for her. But alas...

Hilary Swank. I know I've been rough on her over the years... but it's not like she's without talent (though her line readings in the New Year's Eve trailer are truly lumber yard ready. Yikes!). I think the extraordinary early success misdirected her career and she ended up playing all these Movie Star roles she wasn't suited for and doing all these genres she's terrible at. She needs to stick with contemporary drama and maybe look for a challenging memorable character in a strong ensemble piece. The only way she's getting a third Oscar nominations is a vivid supporting part.

Mo'Nique. The only problem with her career is that she doesn't work enough. When you can do what she did in Precious you kind of owe it to the world, if you ask me. (You'll notice I didn't even mention the vanishing act that is Joan Allen's career. I can't even talk about that lest I burst into tears.)

Sir Ian His AwesomenessSMG: Who are your favorite real-life gay actors? gay characters?

Y'all have to start narrowing down your questions! Characters? This sounds like a top 100 list waiting to happen so I can't do it in this format. As for gay actors, I have total organic fondness for any public figure brave enough to come out of the closet. People are always saying "oh, it's personal. leave them alone. etcetera" but basic sexual orientation is not a private matter -- sexual preferences in the bedroom, sure, but not orientation. Look around you and you will see evidence of sexual orientation EVERYWHERE. The "stay in the closet if it's what's best for you" is just heteronormative societal pressure and the thing people are always telling actors "don't come out because it'll kill your chance to become an A List movie star like ____" is sick. As if people should lie about their life for their whole lives for the sake of a lottery ticket! That's just the dark side of our capitalistic 'every man for himself' / 'dog-eat-dog' thinking. Notice how each year it gets easier for gay actors and actresses and it's becoming less of an issue. Why? Because people before them were altruistic and brave enough to come out and have opened the doors. The world is a better place post Ellen Degeneres and post Ian McKellen and post everyone-else. We can pretend we all live in bubbles but we don't. Our actions affect other people; we live in a continuum.

Politics aside, some workign gay actors I'm extra fond of in that I usually love their work and always perk up when I see them (no offscreen / offstage kinship required): Lily Tomlin, Sir Ian McKellen, Cheyenne Jackson, Miriam Margolyes, Fiona Shaw, John Benjamin Hickey, Jonathon Groff, Udo Kier (I'm still giggling remembering his bit in Melancholia), and Alan Cumming. That's off the top of my head. 

Lily Tomlin in Nashville's "I'm Easy" Sequence

JOE K: Pick three performances in Nashville which you think are the most impressive that aren't Lily Tomlin and Ronee Blakley.

Nashville! One of the best topics in all of cinema. I'll name my choices and answer a drama/musical question and a first actress crush diary after the jump.

I think Lily and Ronee are clearly the MVPs (after Robert Altman himself of course) so Oscar made wise choices there. But my favorite (i.e. the one I feel the most affection for, though I'd place her third in "best" honors) is Barbara Harris as "Albuquerque". I think Harris is great in everything, one of the most undersung actresses of the 60s through the 80s... probably because she was never really a big star. That wandering, panicky but utterly confident ending, she totally mirrors with both her physicality and singing, until the movie lifts right up into the heavens. If you've never seen Nashville, rent it immediately. Turn off your phone, turn out the lights, and just soak it up in one sitting, all 159 glorious minutes of. No pausing. It's the only way to watch something that brilliantly cumulative and atmospheric.

you may say that I ain't free, it don't worry me

After her, I'd say Keith Carradine who radiates such perfect sexual ease as if he's never had to make much effort. He keys right into the way that self-possessed or sexually magnetized people can flutter cruelly (but not sadistically) in and out of connection with the people around them, as if it never once occurred to them that they might lose the attention or affection should they mentally (or physically) wander. And "I'm Easy" is one of the greatest scenes in the 100+ year history of the cinema, of any kind.

Everyone else is tied for me after those four -- I love the whole cast -- so I can't say. But I will say that every time I see Shelley Duvall in an Altman movie, I feel overwhelming joy. She's such a glorious oddity and only Altman understood the glorious part.

SEISGRADOS: Since we are almost from the same generation, I always wondered who was your first actressexual crush growing up. Mine was Farrah Fawcett, I was a rabid fan since I was 12 just when I started watching Charlie's Angels. I couldn't stop drawing her and collecting pictures. My parents were even a bit concerned. LOL. 

Since I was alive in the 70s (shut up!) I do remember the massive Fawcett Fixation of planet earth. That damn red bathing suit poster! The sales figures of 12 million for that thing strike me as lowball since I swear to god I saw it a million times growing up and that was just in Michigan. The first actress fixation I remember having was Natalie Wood since I loved watching her old movies on television as a  little boy. But the tidal wave of in the moment fixations hit in 1984 when I went completely off my chair for Molly Ringwald, and for Daryl Hannah in Splash (I think it was the crimped hair that did it. LOL) and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone (I think it was the everything that did it. God, what a woman.) They were like training wheels for what happened next (a.k.a. you know who.)

But it was the Oscar Diva Hydra Monster of 85-94 (Pfeiffer Streep Sarandon Close Weaver Huston Hunter Thompson) that made me the crazycuckoo person that I am today. So happy that most of them are still working even if the roles are smaller.


DYLAN: What super dramatic film would you remake as a musical and vice versa?

This is such an interesting question because it immediately throws into sharp relief how limited our modern perceptions of the musical genre are. Every answer I thought of I was second guessing myself "people won't go for this! They'll think I'm crazy!" because, in general, the only thing we accept as "musicals" on film anymore are musical comedies. But musicals can be piercingly dramatic and heartbreaking and super serious. But they only do that on stage now. Like, say, Caroline or Change which spins its potent song spell through racism, religious intolerance, generation gaps, American history, and socioeconomic disparity. It's super serious.... and super amazing, seriously. 

I only looked back over the past 15 years or so but I thought of several that would be really fascinating provided they had genius composers. (Otherwise... disaster! But that's always the case with tricky genres. Which is why one must choose creative teams so so carefully).  For a good musical, you need heightened stories so that breaking into song feels natural and not like overkill. I was going to say The New World but we already had Pocahontas (I love both. Malick & Disney double feature. BAM). Imagine what some crazy mad composer could do with choral numbers in Dogville !!! I think Vera Drake might work but I could see 100 ways it could go wrong if it were too whistling and twee but I see it like one of Sondheim's two act constructions where the first half is cheery and when you come back after intermission he's all rubbing his hands with malevolent glee; he will destroy you with that second act.

My final answer is going to be AtonementIt's big bold sprawling and definitely heightened, emotionally speaking. Think of the neat things they could do with reprises or multiple casting trio songs for Briony alone.

Briony's 11th hour apologia would be epic epicness.

P.S. I wouldn't do the vice versa part (musicals to dramas) because musicals are perfect the way God made them. Baby they were born that way.

Your turn. Which drama should be a musical? Who was your first actress crush? And have you seen Nashville and if not... will you? (You will!?! That's so good to hear.)

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Reader Comments (48)

I'd kill for a film adaptation of the musical Next to Normal (keeping the music of course). That'd be Oscar bait on a stick. But it doesn't answer the question so I'd say...

Dogtooth. Its characters bursting into song wouldn't feel a bit out of place, it would only add to some of the weirdness, AND you could still keep that epically awesome dance sequence. Would anyone but me go to see it? Not sure, but hey- this is my dream.

Honorable Mentions go to Moon, the idea of which intrigues me (imagine as his songs turn maddening over the course of the show), and Junebug, which has a very classically theatrical premise to begin with.

Going the other way around is more difficult since so many popular musicals were already movies. This is particularly true of those musicals where the music isn't an integral part of the story.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

"She gets work regularly but Whip It, her last vital role..."
Lolwhat? Never heard of Inception?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Holy shit, Atonement: The Musical would be awesome.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDean

LOVE nashville! that is all...and lily tomlin in it. god, robert altman had an amazing run in the 70s

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkent

I saw Nashville for the first time earlier this year during my last semester of college and it blew me away, I have no idea why it took me so long to see it but I'm so glad I did. It's so wonderfully immersive and masterful in every way. I loved all of the performances as well.

I've always had a fondness for Michelle Pfeiffer (started with Batman Returns) and Sissy Spacek (started with Carrie), I will watch them in anything. Nicole Kidman is my ultimate "actressexual" fixation though, I remember seeing Moulin Rouge! on HBO one night and being completely mesmerized. I hadn't even realized that I had seen her in any other films before (mainly Batman Forever). If I'm not mistaken that was the summer before I started high school so it would be 2003, I've been completely obsessed ever since.

I've always preferred dramatic musicals to comedic ones so I think Atonement would make an AMAZING musical with the right people attached, that needs to happen. The Red Shoes is practically a musical already so I imagine it would be pretty easy to turn into a full blown musical. I think the sense of longing and sorrow in films such as The Age of Innocence and Cold Mountain would lend itself pretty well to the genre as well. And for some reason The Social Network AND Bejamin Button have popped into my head as well, but I see those working better on stage.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

I would pick gwen welles & barbara baxley from nashville and also henry gibson,i never liked ellen page anyway,i think jennifer connelly needs a word in her ear!!!,i think my actressexuality started when i watched joan crawford in mildred pierce.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

maybe ellen page should hire blake lively's agent, so we would definitily be hearing about ellen being considered for several important parts.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo


November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Which drama should be a musical?
Fried Green Tomatoes

Who was your first actress crush?
Anjel, Whoopi, that order

And have you seen Nashville and if not... will you? (You will!?! That's so good to hear.)
I love Altman, but, I haven't seen enough of his filmography

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter//3rtful

Didn't Ellen Page have a supporting role in a rejected HBO pilot starring Diane Keaton? (And it was recent, too.)


November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

First actress crush? Probably Winona Ryder, but oh! I remember watching The Secret Garden in second grade and wanting Maggie Smith to slap me like she did that chambermaid. The other kids even made fun of me for voicing this. I didn't back down -- it's Maggie Smith, for Oscar's sake!

Nashville is my favorite movie ever, ever since my ex's dad showed it to me one Thanksgiving. It was his favorite movie as well, and he even gave me some theater swag from its initial release (he ran an arthouse theatre in DC during the 70s). Henry Gibson as Haven Hamilton is one of my all-time favorite performances, period. He wears that toupee with such confidence, walks around in that gawdy podunk Elvis suit unashamedly, and still becomes one of the film's unsung heroes when he refuses to let an assassin's bullet bring everyone down ("This isn't Dallas, this is Nashville! Let's show them what we're made of!"). God, I've even written essays on Gibson in Nashville for college and high school! After him, it's Gwen Welles and Michael Murphy, but only b/c Lily Tomlin and Ronee Blakley were barred from discussion. (Otherwise, it's Gibson, Welles, Tomlin, Blakley, Murphy).

I was just thinking today, while watching The Spirit of St. Louis, what a good musical it would make. No, really! Lindbergh singing in the cockpit, the pit ingeniously recreating the wind and plane through the music, flashbacks that become more narratively God! The possibilities! I do wonder what Flower Drum Song would be like as a straight adaptation of the book instead of a Rodgers/Hammerstein musical. For one thing, the whole Helen Chao storyline wouldn't just disappear...

As for Mo'nique and Ellen Page, I too hope for more and better things in their future (though I agree with Matthew: Inception was THE film of 2010, and Page was particularly exceptional in it). I wouldn't say the "butch" thing is what's working against her, so much as I would call it "young-looking-but-not-prom-queen" factor. I've still got those fingers crossed for the Laurel Hester film (and I still demand Martha Plimpton co-star -- people know/love her now!), but her next film is a Woody Allen flick. Yes. That's just right. Meanwhile, I've always loved Mo'nique...even in the ten minutes I saw of Phat Girlz, so I know what you mean by "doesn't do more". I do think Precious is the only time we'll hear from her at the Oscars, but I would love to see her get going on that Hattie McDaniel biopic, with Gabby Sidibe in the lead. Please?!?!?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

For a long, long time, 'Nashville' used to be the one film I was embarrassed about not having seen. But once I did, I completely fell in love with it. I could probably fill up my entire 1975 roster of Best Supporting Actress nominees with that film alone (even although I'd probably have to find room to squeeze in either Hélène Surgère's Madame Vaccari or Shirley Stoler's commandant), and I'd still have to leave out worthy performances.

(And thank you for loving my James Dean question, I'm still eagerly anticipating your casting ideas.)

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMrW

I strongly disagree with this idea that musicals should only be adapted in musical form. Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd would be a much better movie without the music. Sometimes you just are not able to stage musical scenes in your movie - then, cut it all and do what you can do best. Why that purism?

That said, I've already said that I would love Coppola's Dracula to be a musical. More recently, music could have saved The Curious Case of Benjamin Button from that boredom. The movie should have sparked a sense of melancholy similiar to Brigadoon's. But the musical Benjamin Button should be shorter.

Shutter Island would be a magnificent musical, don't you think?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

First actress crush: Linda Darnell, saw Blackbeard the Pirate when just a little kid with her in all her Technicolor glory and even though she was already gone by then I was completely transfixed. Next would be Susan Hayward and her exquisite suffering, often in mink, and grit. Which lead to my love of most of the classic actresses, my adoration of Ida Lupino and Priscilla Lane is almost boundless! Then I happened upon Farenheit 451 one day and fell for Julie Christie totally, still my favorite although through her I discovered other great British actresses like Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Glynis Johns and of course Maggie and Judi. Too many other great actresses too list but the world is a little dimmer since Anne Bancroft left it. Of the current crop Emma Stone is too me the most distinctive.

The film that automatically popped into my mind is that florid piece of melodrama "Written on The Wind" it's already operatic with meaningful pauses and malevolence stick some big songs in there and the work is done, along the lines of Sunset Blvd.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

Ellen page would have worked well in Dragon Tattoo. But from the look of it Mara is looking pretty good of late.

And good pick on Nashville. I really miss Altman :(

But on a brighter note, i just saw this from imdb but it's the birthday for both Hathaway and Gosling today.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternic

matthew and walter i saw Inception, yes. :) who didn't? but anyone could have played that role. She was far from vital. It was Exposition Girl.

everyone i love these musical ideas and glad the Atonement musical wsa not laughed off. I seriously think it would be amazing. even think ofthe mournful soldiers dirge replacing that unedited tracking shot. yay.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

It's kinda interesting that no one on your list of favorite openly gay actors is a real A-list movie star who gets lead roles in big budget productions on a regular basis. Then again, not even Jodie Foster is really open about her well-known orientation.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Thinking about my first actress crush makes me laugh. I too remember the 70s, and I did have that Farrah poster above my bed (it was seen as so "red-blooded" for an 11 year old boy to like Farrah in a bathing suit, but for me the gesture was happily pink-blooded, but I digress)...My true actress crushes at that age were Carol Burnett and Angie Dickinson. (Police Woman, OMG). I remember my parents becoming very concerned when they discovered that I'd taken all the Monopoly money from the family board game and drawn Angie and Carol at the center of the bills. Ha! Good times. I know they might not have been the best movie actresses of all time, but Angie and Carol captured something on the small screen that really speak to me about what life is all about, even to this day...

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentertimothy

willy -- it'll happen. It gets easier for openly gay actors all the time.but it requires the foot soldiers, you know.

timothy -- i don't remember angie dickinson well -- i guess my parents didn't watch that show -- but i know she was formative for a lot of people.

November 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"Querelle" as an animated musical with a score by Trent Reznor.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I love the idea of an Atonement musical, but Nathaniel, that's kind of cheating... it was a book first! And a pretty amazing book at that! I wonder what a musical version of The Last Picture Show would be like. Another one that I think could work, oddly, is Jerry Maguire. Just think - Cheyenne Jackson and Kerry Butler in the Cruise/Zeeeee parts? That could be musical heaven! And I second the idea above for a film version of Next to Normal. That would KILL, IF they cast it with musical actors as opposed to actors who may or may not be able to sing. That score is really tricky.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Ellen Page, as adorable, talented, as she is, is less an ingenue, and more, a character performer. I don't think her career is as cut and dry as you read it on the surface. It'll have to find auteur(s) that'll make a muse out of her yet.

Mo'Nique, could care less about art. She doesn't feel she owes anyone anything. In an Essence magazine cover story this year she cried racism was holding her progress in Hollywood back. Of course we've heard the rumors of diva-dom, that I'm inclined to believe instead. She says in the article that she didn't understand why she was asked to audition for new parts, or was only outright offered a 4th or 5th lead in an ensemble. Mo'Nique is a standup and a personality--not an actress, in the face of the quality of her work.

Hilary Swank has two Oscars. Michelle Pfeiffer has none, add and repeat with Weaver, Bening, Moore, Close, Turner, Bassett, Farrow...etc. Hilary Swank has more BA Oscars than Meryl Streep. Nobody feels sorry for Hilary Swank. Nobody! Like Kevin Spacey she's a lifetime pariah for winning two Oscars from two nominations.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter//3rtful

I forgot about Whoopi being one of my first actress obsessions. She's so grumpy now that I guess it made me forget what a joy she was to watch. I grew up watching The Color Purple and the Sister Act movies over and over so she definitely has a spot on my list too.

Dracula would make a great musical, I like that suggestion from Cal.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Yes I think Ellen Page is difficult to cast. It's not just the androgyny, it's that she looks too adolescent. Too pixie-ish. Winona Ryder was always the same way.

I'm surprised not one single mention of Jodie Foster in answer to SMG's question. Not a fan?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKym


November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMARK

cal & thefilmjunkie -- i dunno. vampire musicals always flop on broadway ;)

kym well except Noni was really a sex object too... at least a bit later on... i think it was the boobs.

Eric SO PERVERSE. Reznor doesn't even need to write new songs. you know that "CLOSER" (i want to fuck you like an animal ♪ ♫) slides right in!

/3rtfull sounds like i need to read this cover story!

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

One tip to Ellen Page: get a role in a Woody Allen movie. She has the style and is perfect to that fast-paced line reading Allen parts demand. She could be much greate Allen muse than Johansson, simply because ScarJo is great, but in totally different way, not fit to Allen at all.

First actress crush: Kelly McGillis. What happened to her?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Walter Hollmann: I believe that when Mo'Nique referred to the Hattie McDaniel biopic, she was planning to star in it herself. Actually, I don't think Gabby Sidibe would be good in the part.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

Nathaniel, EXACTLY. And the story itself already has a Tom of Finland feel to it, so the animation style is a given ;-)

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I remember coming home from school as a kid and watching the Rosie O'Donnell Show everyday after school. We lived in Orlando at the time, so when Rosie came to tape a week's worth of episodes at Disney World, Mom and I were there. I must've seen Harriet the Spy 20 times. I cried when Rosie didn't come back for a second Rosie Christmas Special. I think that's when I knew my taste was a little different from everyone else's. What wonderful formative years...

Of course, I was introduced to Meryl in high school and that obsession concerned some people (winter break one year was 17 Meryl films in 17 days).

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

Alex -- you are an overachiever.

November 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan, she's not solo on the cover. She shares it with Chris Rock and Steve Harvey.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter//3rtful

"One tip to Ellen Page: get a role in a Woody Allen movie. "

She is, in fact, in the next one.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRJ

Nashville is such a terrific film, amazingly constructed and woven together, as well as at once of-an-era and yet timeless. The onstage disintegration of Barbara Jean's psyche (, in particular, is one of the most haunting scenes Altman ever captured.

A few movies of varying quality that came to mind might make for great musical material—Birth (good), The Brave One (bad), Boxing Helena (ugly). Even Network, my all-time favorite film seems rips for musical reinterpretation (although if it didn't turn out well, that would crush me).

And I can't remember exactly which came first, as both movies were released around the same time in 1982, but Ann Reinking in Annie and, no joke, Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2 (thanks to Cool Rider and Love Will Turn Back the Hands of Time—Pfeiffer + Maxwell Caulfield = yummy) both absolutely enchanted me. (Truth be told though, my first actress crush actually arrived via TV: Erin Gray of Buck Rogers and Silver Spoons fame. Swoon!)

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Yay Nashville! I love Albuquerque, but I have to go with Geraldine Chaplin's Opal for the win. She's just so callous and batty. It's wonderful.
As for the musical question: I don't think I can improve on your Dogville suggestion, but The Hours strikes me as a good option. The music in the movie is already important in stringing all three stories together, and giving all the characters songs together would only improve that connectivity. Plus, you could keep the casting from the film. How amazing would a Streep/Moore/Kidman number about baking cakes be?

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJoe K

First actress crush was Elizabeth Montgomery. It was all those Bewitched reruns on TV after school.

Coming out of the closet doesn't keep any actor from being rich and famous-- but it might keep them from being Tom Cruise-level super-rich and super-famous. How much money do these people think they need?

I must confess that I haven't yet seen Nashville, but I loved Barbara Harris in the original Freaky Friday. ("Apeface? He's a great kid!")

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiggs

"I do think Precious is the only time we'll hear from her at the Oscars, but I would love to see her get going on that Hattie McDaniel biopic, with Gabby Sidibe in the lead. Please?!?!?"

Yes, please! Gabby could be so good. I still think she should have Sandra's Oscar.

As for Mo'Nique, yeah she's a diva. I'm thankful for Precious and what she gave us in that, though. I'm happy she turned down the role in The Help because it introduced us to the wonderful Octavia Spencer and spreads the wealth to other black actresses in Hollywood.

My first actress crushes: Drew Barrymore, Kirsten Dunst, and LeeLee Sobieski.

November 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

1984, 1984, 1984.... Turner covered in mud, Pfeiffer turning into a hawke and Hannah as a mermaid.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I'm so happy to see a Nashville question; Nashville is one of my favorite movies of all-time, and Altman is one of my favorite directors.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

PEGGY SUE -- ladyhawke was 1985... so turner and hannah prepped me for La Pfeiffer. I still remember --like it was yesterday -- that moment when you first spot Pfeiffer, her face turning into the camera by the light of the full moon. my god. i think it was the first time i'd ever seen her (i think i saw Grease 2 on VHS afterwards?) and I was never the same again. LOL. went back to the movie theater that same week to see it again... maybe even the next day? which i've only done a few times in my life.

SUZANNE -- nashville is the best. Because of my allergies to long movies i put off seeing it for a really long time even though i was fond of robert altman and afterwards i felt like such an idiot for waiting. It instantly vaulted into my top 20ish favorites of all time.

JOE K -- The Hours: The Musical. I love it. I mean the movie is already adapating and about the book (note Meryl Streep playing the character who sees Meryl Streep in the book. Hee) which is already adapted from another book and about it too. it's layers and layers and layers so why not another one?

November 13, 2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Whatever happened to HBO doing a television adaptation of "Caroline, or Change"? Not a filmed stage version, but their own creation. That could have been wonderful. Umm, Emmy winner Audra McDonald, anyone? But yes, I totally would go for dramatic musicals. They might not be box office draws, but that's what premium cable is here for! Musical comedies are great and all, but some variety is good for the soul too.

A film I'd turn into a musical? Hmmm. "An Education." It's not heavy drama like "Atonement," but it goes to some darker places at times. The musical could really play up the "My Fair Lady" aspects of Jenny's transformation from too-smart-for-her-own schoolgirl to jilted/scorned "ruined woman." That could be a Tony-winning performance waiting to happen with the right composer and book. The reverse question is interesting. I tried to pick musicals where a sober film might improve upon misguided or underwhelming musical treatments. I could see some interesting nonmusical films made with "Memphis" and "The Scottsboro Boys" possibly.

Never seen "Nashville" before. For shame, I know. I'll have to get on that eventually.

That's not fair at all to say that Mo'Nique "doesn't care about art." She wouldn't have delivered the brilliance that she did in "Precious" if that were the case. I don't think people really get the depths of prejudice out there in Hollywood for black actresses. And black actresses over 40 and overweight? Come on, now. And if she ever gets this Hattie McDaniel biopic off the ground, I could easily see her making her way back to the Kodak. Surely she'd take the lead role in that. But maybe get Gabby to play young Hattie? Supporting actress nod!

Wasn't born in the 70s, so I never had that Farrah Fawcett fixation. I don't think I obsessed over actresses like that growing up. I had more musical fixations like Whitney, Janet, and Madonna in my childhood/adolescence.

Gay actors I admire? I'd have to think about that one some. It always surprises me the articles I read over actors I never thought were gay are gay. I'm not a fan of outing, but I'm glad that they can make lives better for future generations through their examples.

I'd agree that Ellen Page needs another great role stat. I'll always love her for "Juno," and will defend her and Diablo Cody's great collaboration to the end. Jason Reitman too for that matter.

And to give a stab at the 3 Oscary actresses of the aughts that I'd give career interventions to, I'd say:

1. Renee Zellweger (a.k.a., "the one who shall not be named," haha!): It's baffling how far she's fallen off the map since her "Nurse Betty"/"Jerry Maguire" days, and then her 1-2-3 Oscar punch of "Bridget Jones' Diary"/"Chicago"/"Cold Mountain." Get it together, please! You're better than straight-to-DVD releases!

2. Joan Allen: This goes without saying I guess, but after her epic snubbing in "The Upside of Anger," her sad plastic surgery bouts, and being in films like "Death Match," there may be no hope left for our girl. But at least she was good in that Georgia O'Keeffe biopic on Lifetime.

3. Virginia Madsen: She might have squandered all the goodwill amassed through her breakthrough in "Sideways." Failed TV projects and underwhelming film roles won't do her any favors at her age. I'd love to see her give a great performance again. Call up Alexander Payne or Woody Allen and get crackin'!

Great Q&A this time around!

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy

Completely disagree that anyone could have played Page's role in Inception. I adore that movie, and she's a big part of the reason why. Not including that in her resume is kind of bizarre (especially when including Whip It - ???). I do agree on the Dragon Tattoo wishes, though that movie looks to be pretty solid.

Love the Atonement idea though. That would be a hoot.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

That's not fair at all to say that Mo'Nique "doesn't care about art." She wouldn't have delivered the brilliance that she did in "Precious" if that were the case. I don't think people really get the depths of prejudice out there in Hollywood for black actresses. And black actresses over 40 and overweight? Come on, now.

Do you know why the industry embraces Viola Davis? She cares about the artform. She's not someone who got into showbusiness for attention and money alone. She's studied. Mo'Nique has a girft that doesn't even feel like a girft to her. She looks at everyone else who makes a big deal about the process of acting like "What's the fuss?" It's just make believe and pretend. She made winning an Oscar see as simple as waking up in the morning. I don't feel sorry for her. I resent the very fact that no one can argue with her Oscar win, but you can argue other black performers Oscar wins!

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter//3rtful

Diane Lane in A Little Romance was my first. She was on the cover of Time or Newsweek. I even saw her in Twelfth Night in Harvard Square in the late 80s. But since 1983 when I first saw Pfeiffer in Scarface, it has been Pfeiffer and only Pfeiffer since.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

You don't know a damn thing about Mo'Nique to say that she doesn't care about the artform of acting. What she might not do is "play the game" the way that you would prefer her to, but that's your problem, not hers. So what if she doesn't "play nice" the way that Viola Davis does. Last time I checked, Mo'Nique has an Oscar, and Viola Davis doesn't yet.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam


Have you listen to her conversation? She doesn't care about the substance other professionals in the business do. Viola Davis will be the 2nd black woman to earn a 2nd nomination for acting and the 2nd black woman to win Best Actress--Supporting Oscars don't mean shit. Almost anyone can get one--excluding Glenn Close in her prime and Julianne Moore.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenter//3rtful

I don't care. You want Mo'Nique to act the way that you want her to act, and that's not the way the world works. And her supporting actress win means plenty. It's one of the best wins the Academy has bestowed, in her category or otherwise.

November 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam

I think Ellen Page's career derailed a bit, post Juno. She got plenty of oscar heat and basked a little in the after glow of the nomination, but then all that faded away and she was more or less starting from scratch again. Post Juno, she did Peacock, Whip It, and then Inception, which put her back in the limelight again. And I agree with you Nat, she was serviceable, but she was very much exposition girl. Any other comptent actress could have filled that role just as well.

She's clearly quite talented, but I think her career such as it is, suffers from a number of factors:

1) That "butch" vibe and the accompanying gay rumours. Hollywood producers may be reluctant to give her the main female leading role due to that - there's a significant portion of the public that already believes that she is gay. It's a hard sell for an out gay actor to play the straight lead in a film.

2) She looks very very young. Though she's in her mid 20s, Ellen still looks like she could pass for a teen. Heck, Dakota Fanning, Saoirse Ronan, Hailee Steinfeld, and soon Abigail Breslin and Chloe Morentz will appear more physically mature than her. It's not her fault, of course. You play the cards that fate delt. Though she's cute and attractive, Ellen isn't exactly curvy with a womanly figure. Due to that, she doens't get offered the female lead roles, I think. She just looks too darn young to play the romantic lead for most films. I'm reminded of X-Men: The Last Stand. Comic book geeks know that Kitty was actually romantically involved with Colossus. However, because Ellen is so petite and young looking, they couldn't pair her up with the actor Daniel Cudmore who played Colossus because it would have looked wrong, and even bordering on pedophilia. So instead they paired her up with Iceman, played by a younger more age appropriate looking actor, Shawn Ashmore.

3) She's not particularly glam, preferring to go fresh faced without makeup and street chic clothes in real life. Admireable in a way, but perhaps detrimental to her career. She's not cultivating an older sophisticated look, and therefore producers are likely not thinking of her when casting. They probably still think of her as that cute girl/woman in Juno.

Mo' Nique, very talented, but apparently labelled as "difficult" or "diva-ish." I agree with the poster up thread that said there's still a lot discrimination against black and minority actors in Hollywood. Don't need to preach this on TFE - Nat regularly opines this (and rightly so). There just aren't that many good roles for actresses, and even less for black and minority ones. Factor in sassy and overweight and one that refuses to play the Hollywood political game, and it's no wonder then that we don't see more of Mo'Nique.

Hilary. Oh vey! Does she take a beating here on TFE. Unlike some, I don't mind her as an actress. I even admire the fact that she over came a rough childhood (raised by a single mom in poverty and living in a trailer park). Though the recent debacle with the Chechen warlord has lessened the respect considerably. As for her career, she like many others before her, are suffering form post win slumps. Poor decisions and choices in material have lead to mediocrity's allure. She needs to find herself again, and be more choosy about her projects.

November 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBlinking Cursor
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