Oscar History

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Illustration Friday is fun internet exercize for artists and though most of the participants seem to be professional, which I am not, I'm trying it again to celebrate my first iPad (which is much easier to draw on then the phone). This weeks topic is "Spark" and the second I saw the words this image popped into my mind. Because few things at the cinema have ever felt so much like a lit fuse to something powder-keg explosive...

To this day I remember the chills, my breath stopping in the movie theater when the Marquise de Mertueil (Glenn Close) and Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) had their final heated confrontation. They'd fallen out over previous verbal arrangements and epistolary evidence. "A single word" is all he asks to mend things between them, though it sounds like a threat. The single word he's looking for is "yes" but she has a different three letter word in mind.



Movie go boom.

If "fierce" hadn't yet been invented as a word, the existence of Glenn Close's Marquise would have birthed it right then and there. (If Glenn Close were half as frightening as the Marquise crossed, the Academy would never have dared rob her of that Oscar. And rob her they did.)

Which moment lit the most explosive fuse in a movie you love?

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Reader Comments (27)

"Getting angry, baby?" - Taylor, E. as Martha, in the powderkeggiest of all powder keg movies.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen Sandiego

This scene is the very epitome of the idea of OVERACTING, specially because it's overacting made as to make us think it's subtle work.

But it can never be subtle when every single word feels this overworked, no matter how low your voice is. It can't be subtle when the act is so evidently calculated. This Merteuill could never fool anyone because you look at every single frame of Close in the role and you can see, written in Caps over her face: E V I L. Frears should have told her during filming: relax!

That said, as always, I love your art.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I love that book and the play is fierce and I love Close in most things, but thought this was a weak performance for her, (a weak film with weak work from most everybody which I realize will probably put me on the outs with most here, but once you have seen the play, this film version was poor).

I preferred Benning in the role and her film in general.

Your artwork rocks.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Wow. Mine is the same. Wonderful movie. And in that scene the movie gradually becomes darker, with less light.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

@cal roth & Henry

Girl bye.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Mine is absolutely the "shame on you!" pharmacy scene in Magnolia. Julianne Moore is spectacular in that scene; you can see her anger and frustration increase with each comment the ignorant clerk makes about her prescriptions. And then, when he finally asks, "what exactly do you have wrong with you?" she's had it.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

suzanne -- another delicious choice.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Two in recent memory..

Julianne Moore's SOMETHING VERY INTELLECTUAL INDEED from Savage Grace (man, that performance was quite something)


Nicole Kidman's I'M DYING IN THIS TOWN in the train station, when she first warns Leonard that she is depressed and thinking about suicide...

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

I just thought of another...

Abbie Cornish in BRIGHT STAR, especially when she's fighting with Mr. Brown (Paul Schneider) and she badmouths his poems to his face!

That was a revelatory performance. Poor Abbie never got her hands in a role like that again... Makes me sad.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Jorge - *sniffle*

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Peter Sellers Lionel Mandrake saying, "Oh hell", from Doctor Strangelove and Ron Livingston saying "And tomorrow, they're going to throw your ass out on the street. And why? So Bill Lumbergh's stock will go up...a quarter...of a point" from Office Space.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

My favorite Close performance but not the one i think was the best of that year.
I think Streep performance in A cry in the dark is a marvel and i would have give that oscar to her.

March 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJ.Mitchell

"Some things you have to do yourself" Dogville! Wow! Mind blown.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

I just watchd this for the first time ever on the plane home from Berlin. Delish.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Marisa Paredes going all the way to her friends office to get her boots removed in "The Flower of my Secret". It explains everything about her character. Why she's wearing the boots; Paco gave them to her, and she wears them even though they're too small. She's so dependent, and adrift, and helpless at this point. God, I love her, and I love that movie. It also contains peripheral incidents that become developed in "All About My Mother", and "Volver". Yet, this is the Almodovar film I go to when I'm feeling adrift. It has a centering effect.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyBS

The final, tragic confrontation between Anjelica Huston and John Cusack in The Grifters. Huston is at her absolute best here, as is Glenn in Dangerous Liasons. She quite often overacts but NOT in that movie. One of the best performance EVER. And nothing about that movie is WEAK.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterferdi

Thematically, the vicious one word WAR from Glenn is a killer one. But her smile just before she says the said word was the one that drove the idea that she views herself as completely immortal and then as she says WAR, her look of disdain and scorn for Vicomte was the ultimate "You are banished from Heaven" assertion.

But when i think the word SPARK the most literal meaning that pops in my head is Thelma and Louise blowing the tanker.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMustafa

Erin Brokovich storming into Finney's office because she hasn't had any news from him, at the beginning of the movie

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

"NOTHING!!!" sissy shouts as she breaks a plate, in In The Bedroom.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterfilipinofilmbuff

The argument between Michael and Kay in the hotel room in The Godfather Part II always blows me away.

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I wouldn't deny Jodie either of her Oscars, but if we concentrate on Actresses who have been robbed of the Oscar what about Gloria Swanson "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up" and Bette Davis "Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night!" Nominated the same year, both over-acting like crazy - but Norma and Margo wouldn't have suited subtle - and losing out to Judy Holliday's "spar"klingl performance, it should been a three-way split!

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe (uk)

carmen -- YES. Taylor is just stupendous in that film.

March 9, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Julianne Moore oh when will I be fully convinced she can act :(

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

Anna Paquin & Jeannie Berlin in 'Margaret' - Strident indeed! & Jared Leto coming home to Jennifer Connelly after failing to score drugs... 'Some dumb ass junkie did what?'

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

Jared and Jennifer in Requiem for a Dream of course :)

March 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

I love everyone's suggestions. Carmen stole my first thought. Oh! Oh! I've got one:

"I wonder... Do you ever wonder... if I slept with your father?"

Really though, almost every line Katharine Hepburn drawls in The Lion in Winter leads to an explosion with Peter O'Toole.

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Ferdi, Glenn does overact sometimes, but then you wouldn't get those intense moments where she can cut the air with a knife, as in the monologues in House of the Spirits and even the silly Stepford Wives. Hence, she can overdo some scenes, but she wallops a punch like nobody else. THAT makes her screen presence undeniable and epic.

March 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAndy

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