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« Curio: Oscar Unsheets, Part III | Main | The Girls With the Lisbeth Tattoo. »
Monday
Feb132012

Monologue: Megan & the Dolphin

Have you missed Monologue Mondays? I know I have. So let's start again and try to do this weekly.

Though Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy won her Oscar nomination for a variety of reasons (as people always do) you almost always need one Oscar "clip" to make it all the way to the lineup. You know the kind. It's an instant fix of the performance, which works in the way soundbites do for politicians or catchphrases do for sitcom stars. It's something they can play at the Oscars or at awards shows that will a) remind people why they loved the performance b) remind them why they liked the movie and c) pack a mini dramatic punch that justifies the nomination for the millions who might not have seen it yet. This can be true even if the person is nominated for a broadly comic role, as rare as those nominations are.

 

I think you're ready to hear a little story about a girl named Megan, a girl named Megan that didn't have a very good time in high school. I'm referring to myself when I say 'Megan'. It's me Megan.

Now the Oscars don't always select clips this way. Continued after the jump...

Sometimes they go without (we hate that!). Other times they seem to be actively trying to embarrass one particular nominee in a shortlist with their selection (you know that kind of clip, too. I bet one came to your mind while you read that sentence). I assume the scene that helped the most in clinching Melissa's nomination is the one late in the film, where she tells the story of her own difficult life in high schoo after heroically forcing Annie to see her own self-sabotage problem with slapstick comedy involving actual slapping. While the scene tugs at the heart, McCarthy also makes sure it stings and tickles. 

But for whatever reason, the scene I always think of is her introduction and how well she telegraphs her singular character instanteously when Annie (Kristen Wiig) first meets her.

How's it going, Megan?

It's going great. It's going great. I'm on the mend. You know, I just got some pins in my legs, believe it or not. Pins in my leg. I can still do this, allright?

Fell off a cruise ship. But i'm back.

Oh shit? Yeah, oh shit. Yeah oh shit. Took a hard hard violent fall. Kind of pinballed down. Hit a lot of railings, broke a lot of shit.

She crams a lot detail into this introduction. Megan's a little tipsy. Megan loves to tell a story. But mostly you get the completely endearing but actually odd mashup of Social Misfit and People Person. Is she trying to impress (that funny dance) or is her motor mouth just nerves. Note the way she latches on to Annie's one interjection 'Oh shit' like it's a flotation device, a lifeline.

In this opening monologue she also keys you into Megan's love of animals (which will pay off with big laughs later in the movie) and her hedonistic appetite for life (I'm not talking food).

I didn't... I'm not going to say I survived, I'm going to say I thrived. I met a dolphin down there and I swear to god that dolphin looked, not at me, but into my soul. Into my goddamn soul, Annie. And said 'I'm saving you Megan.' Not with his mouth but he said it, I'm assuming, telepathically.

We had a connection that I don't even know if I can exp… oh Jesus... shut my mouth. 

Some of the character is in the writing of course, but the Bridesmaids cast did a lot of comic improvisation. And even when actors don't change a word it's their job to sell it. And boy does she. Megan reveals later in the movie that she owns six homes. We'd all own that many if McCarthy was selling them. She turns this impossible totally odd caricature into a real character and even, arguably, the heart of the movie.

I'll readily admit that the first time through the movie I didn't quite get the fuss over McCarthy's work. I loved the entire cast but I loved them mostly equally (FWIW, in many years Kristen Wiig would've made my Best Actress list and Rose Byrne remains underappreciated for what is easily her best work) but on subsequent viewings she's ever more endearing. Megan has staying power and McCarthy's contribution sure was vital to the movie's unexpected deserved success. 

Related:
My Best Supporting Actress Ballot
Top Ten List
My Ensemble Awards
Oscar's Supporting Actress Race

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Reader Comments (52)

Yay supporting actress ballot! Every time I've logged on to TFE for the last few weeks, I've been hoping to see it:)

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonny

When we first saw Bridesmaids in May my boyfriend said she'd be nominated for an Oscar. Yeah whatever, said me. I hate it when he's right!

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

Omg, this made me laugh! I love that monologue (both of them).

And if the Oscars use the shit clip like the BAFTAs did, I'm going to be severely disappointed. Ugh. Hopefully they use the one on the couch, I love it. That scene actually almost made me cry last time I watched the movie because I was watching it with my mother and Annie began to remind me of my mom and it made me really sad. The power of film! It made me love Bridesmaids even more, it's such a human story. I hadn't realized how sad and real it truly is before then.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

I love the clip on the couch more, just because of the "life slapping you in the face" bit.

"Other times they seem to be actively trying to embarrass one particular nominee in a shortlist with their selection (you know that kind of clip, too. I bet one came to your mind while you read that sentence)."

Ed Harris for Pollack. They just showed some random clip of him screaming/crying - even Ed Harris looked perplexed/disgusted. I felt bad for him. It didn't sell the movie at all.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

Ditto Naomi Watts in 21 grams. Lots of crying and nasal discharge. Was so weird taken out of context. The best clip ever was Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost. "Molly, you in danger, girl." She got a huge laugh and cheer from the crowd and it perfectly summed up the performance.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

You know, the first time I saw Bridesmaids, my reaction to that high school speech was "Holy shit. That's her Oscar clip!" Not that I thought she'd actually get a nomination, mind you (Oscar is not particularly fond of comedies, especially of this ilk), but it was so dead on as to almost be a parody of an Oscar clip.

But yeah, that dolphin monologue is one of the all-time great character introductions.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I liked Bridesmaids, and upon rewatch liked it a bit more (and appreciated its writing a bit more, too). What's so odd, though, is that as great as good as I think Melissa is I think she's so good because Megan seems to be the film's most broadly drawn character and the very fact that she turns in this very specific, REAL character really makes me smile and excited to see what she does next. Sure, she probably wouldn't make my own top 5 (Ugh, your top 5 is BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!) but I've been cheering Melissa on since her stellar work on Gilmore Girls. She's just adorable.

February 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

I'd somehow never seen Melissa McCarthy, or even heard of her. And when she did that "on the mend" monologue, I didn't click that her character would play such a prominent role in the film. I just assumed it was a random character actress who is freakishly talented, can sell preposterous farce with odd naturalism and uncanny character detail, and who I will unfortunately never see again because she is too plain-looking and overweight to get any meaty roles. So so glad I was wrong.

And big points too for the makeup and costuming. I know it's technically 'looking down' on the character, but if you go to an ordinary suburban wedding, the first thing you notice is a lot of slight overweight, perfectly decent and content-looking 35+ women whose makeup and costuming are 'looking down on their character' in this exact way.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergoran

Nathanial: do you think Sarah Bayet have a chance at an Oscar nomination if A Separation was released earlier, say in July?

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRic_H

Nathaniel: do you think Sarah Bayet have a chance at an Oscar nomination if A Separation was released earlier, say in July?

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRic_H

surprised with the Berenice Bejo absence!!! She's my favorite of the Supporting Actress nominees.

and guess I'm the only one who liked Shailene Woodley. *shrug*

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

"Rose Byrne reveals a noteworthy and previously unexplored comic gift." Get Him To The Greek. Pretty much stole the movie for me.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim B.

Nathaniel, talk about a BRILLIANT supporting actress line-up. Honestly, just about identical to my own that I've almost settled on.

I love Melissa McCarthy so much, I've been a fan since she was on Gilmore Girls, and I can't believe how much her career has taken off this year. I'm so happy for her. Indeed, both monologues that you singled out are genius, but the one towards the end on the couch in particular has stayed with me. Such a devastating, yet hilarious, performance.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicolas Mancuso

Nathaniel, talk about a BRILLIANT supporting actress line-up. Honestly, just about identical to my own that I've almost settled on.

I love Melissa McCarthy so much, I've been a fan since she was on Gilmore Girls, and I can't believe how much her career has taken off this year. I'm so happy for her. Indeed, both monologues that you singled out are genius, but the one towards the end on the couch in particular has stayed with me. Such a devastating, yet hilarious, performance.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicolas Mancuso

I remember being irritated by Nicole Kidman's clip for Moulin Rouge a decade ago. But hey, bad clips are better than no clips!

And Melissa is such a worthy nominee this year. People have given that nod crap (no pun intended) but I'd rather see her at that podium than inevitable winner Spencer, who's fine but nothing spectacular. Ah, well.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

Remember Abigail Breslin's clip? It was just her screaming into the phone. Ridiculous.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicolas Mancuso

I wish you have Byrne over McCarthy. But I did enjoyed the monologue, even if there weren't much else.

I am happy you have Chastain over Spencer in The Help.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkin

Bad clips are better than no clips...that's true! still Kidman's in MOULIN ROUGE clip wa a painful moment..it seemed they wanted to tell you she had not won. Pity, 'cause Baz Luhrmann's film was full of wonderful moment featuring Nicole:

"away from you, away from the Duke...away from the MOULIN ROUGE!"

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

Completely OT (I can't find a link post, sorry), but I thought you'd like to know about Almodóvar's next project to be shot next summer.

http://www.fotogramas.es/Noticias/Cine-espanol/Pedro-Almodovar-rodara-en-verano-Los-amantes-pasajeros

A racy, ensemble comedy.

Apologies in advance if someone else had come with the same news.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Nicolas, Breslin's is exactly what I thought of re: embarassing Oscar clips. The clips in general sucked in 2006 (Wahlberg's was about 2 seconds long).

Two clips that made their actors cringe: Blanchett for The Golden Age and Tucci. (They probably couldn't believe they were actually nominated for that.)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRax

I'm so glad to find Sareh Bayat among your nominees. Such a powerful performance. I love her final scene in the kitchen...

PS Check spelling :)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

When did "most endearing" star to mean "best"? Because, MMcC is fine, nice, but nomination worthy? I am sorry she is isn't even that funny? Rose Byrne's attention to details give us a way richer performance and character, sorry.

Re: clips. Dianne Wiest had the best Oscar clip ever. Her clip brought the house down. Nobody else could have won that year

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

When did "most endearing" star to mean "best"? Because, MMcC is fine, nice, but nomination worthy? I am sorry she is isn't even that funny? Rose Byrne's attention to details give us a way richer performance and character, sorry.

Amen to that.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

Carl, are you talking about her BULLETS win? Because, yes, the got that right. They got all the nominees clips right for that category, but Dianne's was just especially wonderful.

"Don't speak!"

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew K.

"Other times they seem to be actively trying to embarrass one particular nominee in a shortlist with their selection (you know that kind of clip, too. I bet one came to your mind while you read that sentence)."

For me, Blanchett's in The Golden Age just springs to mind. She looked so embarassed. And it wasn't like she wasn't already going to get in for the totally worthy I'm Not There-I don't get why they had to nominate Blanchett instead of someone like Tang Wei or Keira Knightley or even Amy Adams (who'd be on nomination Number 4 by now then).

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Embarrassing clips? Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age comes to mind. I seem to recall her blushing and looking very confused by the clip of her shouting on a horse.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

@jtagliere - I remember reading (maybe in the WSJ?) after the 2001 Oscars that Ed Harris knew about that nomination clip and tried to change it to a clip of him painting, but the Oscars refused; meanwhile, Harvey Weinstein (who produced the unworthy nominee Chocolat that year) got to handpick all his nominees' clips.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

@Andrew K. Yes, that Bullets Over Broadway. They didn't applaud Mirren and Harris that much, but then we had Thurman (I want that trophy!), Tilly (Ha Ha Ha) and Wiest (Don't Speak!). Marvelous!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Anyone remember what clip they used for Marisa Tomei in MY COUSIN VINNY?

:)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Melissa's Oscar clip will probably be "Hey not Air Marshall John". I've known that ever since that clip was shown at the Ellen show.

BTW her whole performance is brilliant. In fact, she might even be my absolute favorite in that category though I love Octavia (I miss her from your ballot). I'm not much of a fan of Chastain in The Help, she was a bit too hammy. I much prefer her otherworldy, beautiful turn in The Tree of Life which was my favorite supporting actress performance of the year.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdinasztie

Nathaniel I think it'd be fun if you picked clips for all of the nominees sometime before Oscar night. But I know you're busy. :)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

Nathaniel I think it'd be fun if you picked clips for all of the nominees sometime before Oscar night. But I know you're busy. :)

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEllen

//"away from you, away from the Duke...away from the MOULIN ROUGE!"//

That was exactly the example I thought about when Nat mentioned clips in his write-up. I never understood why they didn't use the scene Mirko mentions, when I saw the movie - it was dark, emotional, there was screaming - isn't that the sort of thing Oscar usually goes for in clips?

Other than that, the clip I thought most embarrassing was actually the one for Geoffrey Fletcher's screenplay for Precious in Best Adapted Screenplay- all the juicy scenes in the movie, all the "acting" and ensemble work and they chose the wordless scene of Precious scarfing down a bucket of chicken and then tossing it in the trash; a scene that could have been cut out of the film without any damage whatsoever, and that's what they chose? Not that the scene had to have dialogue, it's just the uselessness of it; it gives no film for the movie or script as a whole. But then the weird thing is, Fletcher won the Oscar. So maybe the thing about "telegraphing" holds more true for the "major" awards than for others? Or just the acting awards?

Regarding the clip for Elizabeth, Armed and Dangerous (to quote Nick Davis), I didn't think the clip itself was embarrassing in and of itself when I saw it (compared to most others in a given year - say, Angelina's clip for The Changeling); what was memorable was the shot of Blanchett's embarrassed reaction to it. (She must have known the camera was on her.)

But oddly,

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Not sure why I remember it so well, but I'm pretty sure Marisa's clip was her biological clock ticking LIKE THIS!

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Can we say you're Team Chastain or is it just that particular performance? I've tried but I'm not quite there yet...

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

On top of Cate Blanchett and Stanley Tucci being embarrassed, I remember Helena Bonham Carter making a face after her clip for The King's Speech too.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

lol @ MikeInCanada....

"... and the way this case is goin.. I ain't never gettin' married"

haha

LOVEd Mona Lisa Vito

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Great list Nathaniel! I was eagerly awaiting it; supporting actress is my favorite category.

My list:
Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter
Leila Hatami, A Separation
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Carey Mulligan, Shame
Kim Wayans, Pariah

Though I regret not being able to see 'Coriolanus'; I don't think it's come anywhere around DC yet.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

I like this series a lot but I also miss Stage Door which is probably the most expensive one :p

I do love the monologue and the delivery.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

I mean I love the monologues and the deliveries

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

@Cal Roth - since the "Most Endearing" also happens to have amazing, razor-sharp comic timing that barely hides layers of pathos and resilience. Seriously, why does a brilliant comic turn have to be any less deserving than a dramatic one?

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Hey, DJDeeJay, I love brilliant comic turns, and I've been longing for a comedy to win best picture since Shakespeare in Love, in which Paltrow is way batter than Blanchett in Elizabeth.
It's not because it's a comic performance. I just happen to disagree this performance is anything special, and I can't see any layer beyond that simple characterization. She only does the basics of acting, buildind a character, but she doesn't take this character anywhere (it's not even her fault anyway, the part is just not that good).

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

@Cal Roth - Fair enough. As far as 'taking her character anywhere,' I agree there's not really an arc, but like you said, that's not really her fault. I do think, however, she reveals a lot more than what's on the surface, as Nathaniel's brilliant analysis of her introduction to Annie shows.

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I really, really disliked Bridesmaids but I am thrilled with McCarthy's nomination. Such an imaginative performance...

February 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMayukh

everyone -- One thing that I don't think is very noticed/commented on with this performance is how different it is from McCarthy's others. She's not just playing "Molly" or her Gilmore Girls character again as so many lesser comedic stars would do.

Cal -- i always appreciate your commments because I think you really think about performances and I appreciate that. I was also not fully on board with this performance earlier in the year but it definitely grew on me and I think it improves on subsequent movies. Also: Most Endearing. Why shouldn't that be an important praiseworthy part of a component if it helps the character & movie. Obviously "most endearing" is a problem when acttresses are trying to force their character towards "likeability" when they need to have rougher edges but I think this performance is really balanced between showing why people might be drawn to this woman for friendship and why people would find her off putting - bizarre (as Annie obviously does at first)

Peggy Sue -- totally Team Chastain in general (though I think an Oscar win is not yet called for) because her performances this year just show such range and insight. Can't wait to see what she can do in a lead role.

James T -- stage door will have to be intermittent unless i start getting press access (hard to get for broadway. at least in my experience)

Jonathon -- i consider her "lead" and not strong enough to make tthat list obviously

February 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@Mike in Canada and David - I'm pretty sure that "biological clock" scene is the clip they used. I know that robbed Judy Davis of an Oscar, (life, and Ampas, are terribly unfair), but it's still one of my favorite comedic performances. I think about that scene and it still makes me smile, the way she stamps her foot on the porch, etc.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

No, they didn't use that scene. In the clip, Tomei was testifying and giving and impossible speech about car engines and tire marks or something like that.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

@Peggy Sue: I'm almost one-hundred percent positive that it was the biological clock scene. Hers and Miranda Richardson's from "Damage" (in which she confronts Jeremy Irons in the kitchen) are the only ones I recall from that year.

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Troy-- It is impossible not to remember Miranda's!

I'm quite positive too. Anyone with that tape?

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

There was no clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej8EpWYFhnw

February 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbleh
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