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Thursday
Jul102014

Halfway Pt. 5 Best Performances

Are you getting restless about all these halfway posts? We're almost done. The Power of List compels me. There's one more halfway post to go that's basically 'The Oscar Charts are Updated!' as the coding problem I mentioned is fixed and the updates are happening behind the scenes as you read this. We must get all this halfway business behind us by Saturday morning so that we can ape out all weekend with Andy Serkis & Co and start this second half of the year off right.

Herewith...

THE GREATEST PERFORMANCES OF 2014's FIRST HALF


BEST LEADING ACTRESS: Keira Knightley does her most relaxed and fluid work ever in Begin Again as a musician at a crossroads, never letting any one aspect of the character's situation pigeonhole her emotional responses; Agata Kulesza is an abrasive and evasive presence in her first scenes in Ida as a cynical woman who is too guarded to let her affection for the niece she's just met show but the performance keeps revealing more in each scene, like a window opening up; Luminita Gheorghiu sure can hold the camera and doesn't care what you think of her complicated often unpleasant character in Child's Pose; Marion Cotillard often silent and soulful performance in The Immigrant as a Polish woman who is lured into servitude (sexual and otherwise) is a beauty; and Scarlett Johansson proves herself quite the auteur vessel in her enigmatic, curious, unpredictable, sexual and unsettlingly "off" star turn in Under the Skin.

(This was so difficult to narrow down from ten so my apologies to: Emily Blunt who gives one of the great bad-ass performances even if there's not a lot to her Edge of Tomorrow role beyond that; Angelina Jolie who gifts her wicked witch Maleficent with subtle and unfamiliar affections as well as her usual screen presence for days; Gugu Mbatha-Raw who is so beautiful when righteously aggrieved as Belle; Jenny Slate plays abrasive stand-up well and is even better at believable impulsive decision making on the fly in Obvious Child; and Agata Trzebuchowska as the silent and watchful Ida - and yes both actresses from Ida are named Agata which is funny considering the polar oppositeness.)

BEST LEADING ACTOR: Russell Crowe reminds us he's a movie star with his commanding title performance in Noah, a strange collision of righteous pacifism and violent obsessivenessRalph Fiennes is brilliant as the perfect concierge in Grand Budapest Hotel not quite playing against type but subverting his usual sophisticated cad with new comic energy and a remarkably innocent carnality; It's Jake Gyllenhaal versus Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy and it's easy to tell the characters apart (and argue about preferences) which is a real coup for this perpetually underrated if well employed actor; And finally James McAvoy seriously owns X-Men: Days of Future Past in his second go-round as Professor Xavier, never phoning it in (always a danger with reprisals... his co-stars are much flatter than before) and absolutely committing to the genre, the emotional logic of the highly convoluted plotline and Xavier's combustible feelings for his co-stars and his desire not to feel at all.

 (...and I'm going to stop there at four since I cheated on the next category with six though please note that I also appreciated the work of Aaron Paul who is believably limited in the parental skills department as a grieving widower in Hellion, Pierre Deladonchamps who serves Stranger by the Lake's vision with unobtrusive being on camera as opposite to "Acting!", Chris Evans minimalist but effective leading man skills twice over in Captain America: The Winter Snowpiercer and Colin Firth's Firthishness as filtered through PTSD and bookishness in The Railway Man.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: I cheated with six women (Shut up! I don't do such things once we get official. You know that by now.) but at the moment I'm going with Jillian Bell who is so much the comic MVP of 22 Jump Street that it positively hurts... like a punch to the face; Rose Byrne who is sharp, sexy, funny and alive to all the ways she refuses to play a stock wife character in Neighbors; Laura Dern, The Face, who gives The Fault in Our Stars its most genuine tears; Gaby Hoffman who is a complicating but also soothing and sobering presence (neat trick) in the funny Obvious Child; Scarlett Johansson in Captain America 2 who is getting better and better all the time (and she was no slouch at the start) and proves it by upping her Black Widow game every damn time infusing character, layers and specificity into the mandatory surface sexiness and showmanship; and I'm holding a spot open for Uma Thurman in Nymphomaniac because.... well... let's talk about that one next week since both Volumes just came out on DVD.

(I'd tip my hat to several other ladies too -- how much time do you have? -- but none were quite on this level so let's not list them all. But please know that this does not mean that I am any less obsessed with Tilda (who was possibly genius but also possibly bad... I'm still deciding... in Snowpiercer) or Nicole (whose role was a dud even if her performance wasn't in The Railway Man, sorry about it.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: May I abstain? No. Fine... I guess I'd go with Patrick D'Assumçao for fish-out-of-water directness and unfussy depression in Stranger by the Lake; Song Kang-Ho for embracing the selfish agenda of his character while giving generously to the spark of Snowpiercer; Adam Levine for surprisingly natural ease with acting in Begin Again - no false notes; and Jeff Goldblum and Tony Revolori from Grand Budapest Hotel though I should see the film again before justifying those names with any explicit commentary on their performances; And I'd make those five choices while glancing over at Scoot McNairy (The Rover), Jeremy Renner (The Immigrant), Wyatt Russell (22 Jump Street), Christopher Walken (Jersey Boys), Jake Lacy (Obvious Child), and everyone else in Snowpiercer and wishing all dozen or so men either had more complicated characters to play, more screen time to prove themselves, or were just a bit more transcendent of the limitations of their roles. I like all of these performances but it's been an uneventful year in this particular category. 

LIMITED OR CAMEO ACTRESS: Emma Levie is somehow malevolent and frightening without doing much at all in Snowpiercer; Alison Pill is an atypical joy in one of Snowpiercer's oddest scenes; Susan Prior does a lot with a very little in her extended scene in The Rover as a dog loving doctor - the movie doesn't care about her but she sure cares about the movie; Charlotte Rampling wows and completely elevates Young & Beautiful in one of its last scenes; and Tilda Swinton is sublime and memorable as the horny ancient heiress in Grand Budapest Hotel who sets the plot in motion.

LIMITED OR CAMEO ACTOR: Matthew Goode is believably progressive and stalwart in a very short bit in Belle; Harvey Keitel and Edward Norton are great fun in their small roles in Grand Budapest Hotel; Luke Pasqualino is magnetic in a nearly silent role in Snowpiercer; and Craig Roberts is hilariously deadpan as "Ass Juice" in the raunchy comedy Neighbors

And I'll end with a tweet about Luke Pasqualino because it's uncool that more people aren't talking about him...

 

 

Oh wait one more...
BEST ENSEMBLE: Grand Budapest Hotel; Neighbors; Obvious Child; Snowpiercer; Young and Beautiful

YOUR TURN. Which performances and characters were you just wild for in these past six months?

 

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Reader Comments (40)

I haven't seen enough from this year to justify anything except to say as of now my favorite movie so far is the documentary LIFE ITSELF.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

What was your thoughts on Cranston in Godzilla, exactly? Plus, Revolori was pretty much co-lead on Grand Budapest Hotel, wasn't he?

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

I'd like to mention Peter Sarsgaard as supporting actor in Night Moves. He was menacing while being strangely strangely seductive and outwardly silly. 3 things that are tough to combine.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Joaquin Phoenix deserve a spotlight for his deeply layered performance in The Immigrant!

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercraver

For me, Ralph Fiennes just towers over everyone else, regardless of category. Comic genius. One for the ages.

Marion is movie-star greatness in The Immigrant, working with a script that doesn't serve her well and costars who didn't seem to get the memo that they were in a period piece.

Have you seen the French film, "Violette," about the lifelong journey of the writer Violette Leduc, who only achieved fame in old age? It has two strong female performances FYC:
Emmanuelle Devos (lead) and Sandrine Kimberlain (supporting, as a steely and compassionate Simone DeBeauvoir.)

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Based on what I've seen so far:

Actress: STACKED. Keira Knightley is so relaxed and heartbreaking and lovely in Can A Song Save Your Life? (Begin Again). Jenny Slate is funny and heartfelt in Obvious Child. Shailene Woodley reduced me to a puddle of tears. Emily Blunt is a total badass in Edge of Tomorrow and proves why she is our current greatest movie star. Gugu Mbatha-Raw SHOULD be a star after Belle. Rinko Kikuchi is totally committed to the weirdness of Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, and sells it. Dakota Fanning wouldn't end up in my top 5 of the year, but she's stretching really well in The Last of Robin Hood in a similar fashion to Amanda Seyfried in Lovelace. Frederikke Dahl Hansen is mesmerizing as hell in Copenhagen and navigates around some ... tricky elements of the film. Lindsay Duncan is a great sparring partner in Le Weekend.

Actor: Kind of unfair to compare Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood to anyone else, but he's terrific. Tom Hardy totally owns Locke. Ralph Fiennes is a delight in Grand Budapest, and the same goes for Tom Wilkinson in Le Weekend.

Supporting Actor: Ethan Hawke is totally charming in Boyhood. Nat Wollf is a ball of manic, combustible energy in Palo Alto. Gene Jones is so goddman terrifying in The Sacrament. Don Johnson is a total bad ass blast in Cold in July, one of the best movies of the year that not nearly enough people have seen. Sam Shepard is also totally menacing in it.

Supporting Actress: Love love lover Rose Byrne in Neighbors. Funniest performance of the year. I'm always a lover of Gabby Hoffman. Patricia Arquette is the standout of Boyhood. Renee Marino is the only life in Jersey Boys. Mia Wasikowska is a blast and a half in Only Lovers.

Limited Performances: Totally agree with you about Pasqualino and Pill in Snowpiercer. Probably my two favorite parts of the movie. Also really enjoyed Olly Alexander's brief scenes in Le Weekend as Jeff Golblum's son. Andrew Scott and Ruth Wilson and Olivia Colman are limited in a much different way, but they do such great voice work off of Hardy in Locke.

Ensemble: I love each and every person in Can A Song Save Your Life? (Begin Again). Adam Levine is charming? The cast of Cold in July works extremely well together and manages to stay on tone together. It's unfar to everyone else to compare them to the Boyhood ensemble, but watching all of those actors follow the lives of their characters was something else. Kumiko The Treasure Hunter probably has my favorite casting of the year. Every actor Kumiko comes across, both in Japan and the U.S., looks and feels true to their surrounding. The movie is incredibly weird, so the realness of all the actors in it totally grounds it.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

Forgot to mention Scott Shepherd in And So It Goes. He's in a different movie than everyone else, but he was a nice discovery for me.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterwill h

I'd like to mention Zoe Kazan for her great performance in 'The Pretty One' Mark Ruffalo to me has the best supporting performance in 'Begin Again' as for Best Actor I have 3 that have stood out so far Nicolas Cage 'Joe' Chandler Rylko 'The Toy Soldiers' and Anton Yelchin '5 to 7' and there our 3 supporting actress Performances that have stood out to me
Constance Brennerman 'The Toy Soldiers' Laura Dern 'The Fault in our Stars' Gabby Mulligan 'Obvious Child'

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

I know it's so unlikely but how my year, my decade would be made if Uma took home that little gold man early next year!

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterchoog

I agree that Best Supporting Actor is the thinest of the categories so far. I tried to do a list of who I'd nominate and I only could come up with a single name I felt comfortable with (Jeff Goldblum in 'Le Week-end').

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Each night before bed I pray that Marion is nominated for The Immigrant. Anyone care to start a prayer group with me?

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I'm with San FranCinema - when it comes to performances so far, for me there's Fiennes and then there's everything else (though some of the everything else is quite good). That said, I'm pleased you mentioned Patrick D'Assumçao for Supporting. I didn't like that movie at all, but I thought he was quite good in it.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

You keep writing about Pasqualino in Snowpiercer, but I have to admit I don't remember him at all (I saw the movie in December) and a quick Google search didn't help. Who did he play in it?

I wasn't a big fan of the film, but I did enjoy Tilda's performance quite a bit and appreciated that she went really broad. At the very least, the image of her eating the cockroach Jell-O is ingrained in my memory.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Haven't seen much this summer yet, but I was deeply struck by the chemistry between the leads in The Immigrant. Joaquin and Marion just make so much sense together (both say worlds without words, both effectively brooding and beautiful, and possibly the finest actor/actress of their generation....) but Jeremy Renner made the dynamic interesting with his signature easy charm. Also they were just really really good-looking together so I wish there were more movies featuring the three of them where they just look on at each other with lust/disgust/entrancement

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterViv

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard for The Immigrant
-Nothing to be said. What eyes, what face, and what naturalism to remove the feeling of this is not just a French woman acting Polish not to mention playing English as a second language but from the Polish perspective.

runner-up: The incredible Agata Kulesza for Ida. Tragic, darkly funny, conflicted, and a woman of multitudes, just an incredible performance that balanced the personal and literal representation the film had of Poland of that period.

Also good: Jenny Slate for Obvious Child, Emma Roberts for Palo Alto, Scarlett Johansson for

Best Actor
Joaquin Phoenix for The Immigrant
-Best performance. It also now annoys me how much Theodore Twombly is the 'it' role for him as of right now when his work with this and with James Gray in general is so much stronger and interesting.

Runner-Ups: Ralph Fiennes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Jack Kilmer for Palo Alto, Andy Lau in Blind Detective, Jack O'Connell in Starred Up, and Pierre Deladonchamps for Stranger by the Lake

Best Supporting Actress
Ko Ah-sung for Snowpiercer
-The heart of the film

Runner Ups: Tilda Swinton for Snowpiercer, Dagmara Dominczyk for The Immigrant (seriously underrated), Gaby Hoffmann for Obvious Child

Best Supporting Actor
Song Kang-ho for Snowpiercer
-Come on! Easily.

Runner Ups: Patrick D'Assumçao in Stranger by the Lake, Nat Wolff for Palo Alto, Jeff Goldblum for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ben Mendelsohn in Starred Up, and F. Murray Abraham in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Limited Cameo Actor:
Adam Pearson in Under the Skin. A role and scene that utterly shattered me when I first saw it.

Runner-Ups: Kind of.... a lot of The Grand Budapest Hotel ensemble but especially Edward Norton. Luke Pascqualino in Snowpiercer, most definitely. And Ed Harris as well. Val Kilmer's cameo in Palo Alto was fine work. He needs to be in more comedies.

Limited Cameo Actress: Emma Levie and Allison Pill in Snowpiercer.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Glad to see the notice for McAvoy. He really knocked it out of the park with his performance in X-Men: Days Of Future Past and proved once again how underrated an actor he really is (the snub of his performance in Atonement still stings to this day for me).

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Yes. Let's talk about Uma Thurman in Nymphomaniac next week. And then let's never stop.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commentergoran

McAvoy, Pasqualino, Goode... mmm yes. OH you expected something a more substantial comment? Nope.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Wow, great list all around. Jake Gyllenhaal was phenomenal in "Enemy". James McAvoy really owned "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and Tilda Swinton stole every scene of "The Grand Budapest Hotel" she was in. But none of them impressed me more than Marion Cotillard's virtuoso performance in James Gray's "The Immigrant". Seriously, Cotillard portrays her role of Ewa (as it happens with every role she has played so far) as if the soul of her character has penetrated into every part of her body. I simply cannot explain how is it possible for her to do something like that. Actually, I simply cannot explain how is it possible for an ordinary mortal to be that talented. She has an almost non-human talent in acting and she displays it with such rawness, grace and honesty once again. If she won't get her second Oscar in A Leading Role for in 2015, this will be the biggest injustice in the history of Oscars. Ever. In any category. I feel totally safe to make a statement like that already. Her performance as Ewa Cybulska is easily among the greatest female performances ever put on screen and can overshadow any performance given by an actress through the last five years. It’s such a miracle of a performance no one’s work can even come close. And trust me, no one's work will. And frankly, I really think it's absurd to live in a world where Marion Cotillard has only one nomination (and a much deserved win, of couse, in fact the most deserving in the history of Academy Awards). I mean, really how can this even be possible? I mean, let's face it, Cotillard is without a hint of doubt the greatest actress of all time. There has never been an actress (nor there will ever be, I'm pretty sure about that) that can reach her otherwordly talent in acting, her unmatched technical skills, her obviously limitless depth, her level of commitment to every role she so brilliantly portrays on screen or on stage and her constant desire to take risks. Marion Cotillard is the definition of acting, something like the incarnation of the word itself, she tops every person in the history of mankind, male or female (from Daniel Day-Lewis and Philip Seymour Hoffman to Katharine Hepburn and Meryl Streep) who ever attempted to become an actor. With every performance she gives, she redefines the term of acting, it's as if she pushes acting to a whole another level. From the legendary Edith Piaf of "La vie en rose" and the mdisturbed Mal of "Inception" to the long-suffering wife of Day-Lewis' Guido in "Nine" and the emotionally shattered amuptee from "Rust and bone", Marion Cotillard has dedicated herself to her craft in a way no actor/actress can ever claim he/she ever did. She's criminally ignored from the Academy since winning her first Oscar back in 2008 for giving the best female performance ever in "La vie en rose". How can she have only one Oscar nomination and win? I mean, it makes no sense at all. It's not only a shame that she has never been nominated since 2008, it's inconceivable. How on Earth she hasn't even been nominated for "Nine", but Sandra Bullock ended up winning for "The Blind Side"? After watching her being snubbed so relentlessly for her more than worthy of an Oscar win work in the last few years, I don't even want to imagine of her being snubbed again in 2015, with two performances praised so highly as the ones she gave in "The Immigrant" and Dardennes' latest "Two Days, One Night". I feel that mere words aren't able to do justice to Marion Cotillard's gigantic performance in "The Immigrant". Watching her transform into the almost unbearably demanding role of Ewa is like an otherwordly experience. She inhabits her character so completely it ends up extremely scary. It doesn't feel like a performance at all. You find yourself thinking you're watching the most crucial parts of Ewa's tormented existence unfolding in front of your eyes. No-holds-barred, Cotillard dares to abandon herself into her role in a way no actress in the history of cinema can claim she did. Body and soul, she gives her all. It's a marvel to watch, an unforgettable tour de force, a performance for the ages. It's laughable to think of any other actress instead of her being nominated or winning in any category (leading or supporting) in the Oscars 2015. Yes, I'm sure the great Amy Adams is killing it in "Big Eyes" and the same goes for Jessica Chastain in "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby". Yes, Meryl Streep is surely great again in "Into the woods", yes, Rosamund Pike in "Gone, girl" is amazing. But let's be serious: none of the aforementioned actresses, none of the living actresses, none of the great actresses that have now passed away and I really think that none of the actresses that will ever be born can match her talent in acting, can match any of her performances with any performance of theirs. Marion Cotillard should win in both categories in 2015, for either "Two Days, One Night" or "The Immigrant" in the leading category and "Macbeth" in supporting (if she goes supporting). Anyway, she must win a second Oscar in 2015, no matter what. The Oscars should make it happen. It's something of a paradox that it hasn't been done yet. Marion Cotillard should sweep all the awards in 2015!!! She more than deserves it. And I really couldn't be anymore enthusiastic for her mesmerizing work in Gray's film and for the film itself.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStergios

Bah!!! I've been waiting for Vol. II of Nymphomaniac that I've shelved Vol. I from my rankings.

But yes, Stellan Skarsgard for Best Supporting, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stacey Martin for Lead Actress, and Uma for 'cameo'.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Ah no love for Cranston or Binoche cameos in Godzilla?

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

@Stergios

I like Marion Cotillard too. After seeing THE IMMIGRANT I went mad with praise for the movie. But I know it has a snowball's chance in hell of receiving proper award season recognition.

July 10, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

YES! Jillian Bell! I saw 22JS last weekend and thought *Who is that?* Loved her so much.

I wasn't a big fan of CAPTAIN AMERICA but ScarJo was the best thing in it for me: great that we got more of her character, but in a just world she would have been the star and not just the co-lead. (Well, in my mind she was the co-lead!)

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSteve G

Marion Cotillard is everything in everything.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

I am so entranced by The Immigrant and that talk about its cinematography made my find these two stills, to show where Gray/Khondji went to find his references: http://calroth2.tumblr.com/

Again, Cotillard is absolutely mesmerizing in it.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

My ballots so far...

Best Actor
Mathieu Amalric, Venus in Fur
Jesse Eisenberg, The Double
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
James McAvoy, Filth
Tye Sheridan, Joe

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
Stacy Martin, Nymphomaniac: Volume I
Emmanuelle Seigner, Venus in Fur

Best Supporting Actor
Jamie Bell, Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Patrick d'assumçao, Stranger by the Lake
Shia LeBeouf, Nymphomaniac: Volume I
Eddie Marsan, Filth
Gary Poulter, Joe

Best Supporting Actress
Mia Goth, Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Terele Pavez, Witching & Bitching
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
Uma Thurman, Nymphomaniac: Volume I
Mia Wasikowska, The Double

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Marion Cotillard is amazing....I mentioned in an earlier post that had The Immigrant been released last year, she would have given Cate Blanchett a worthy fight for the Oscar. In fact, I thought she was better than Cate (Blue Jasmine) in more ways than one. I'm just thrilled there's so much love for her here. Clap! Clap!

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJans

My lists! Lots of mentioned names, but a few of mine are from films that many haven't lauded or probably haven't even seen.

Top 10 Male Performances:
-Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
-Jake Gyllenhaal, Enemy
-Ryan Hansen, Friended to Death
-James Immekus, Friended to Death
-Peter McDonald, The Bachelor Weekend
-Pierre Niney, Yves Saint Laurent
-Aaron Paul, Hellion
-Joaquin Phoenix, The Immigrant
-Andrew Scott, The Bachelor Weekend
-Josh Wiggins, Hellion

Top 10 Female Performances:
-Elizabeth Banks, Walk of Shame
-Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
-Essie Davis, The Babadook
-Scarlett Johansson, Captain America 2
-Agata Kulesza, Ida
-Leslie Mann, The Other Woman
-Stacy Martin, Nymphomaniac Vol. 1
-Uma Thurman, Nymphomaniac Vol. 1
-Shailene Woodley, Divergent
-Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Mai

Stergios...are you a fan of Marion Cotillard?

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTina Fey

Tina Fey, I guess you're joking, since it's more than obvious that I'm a massive fan of Marion Cotillard. I'm a movies lover by birth and I've never been so impressed by an actress. I really think she deserves every accolade there is for her work, especially the work she's done this year.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStergios

Yeah, Jillian Bell was hilarious--- EVERY line was pure comedy gold ---"You've got 99 problems, but being young ain't one" !...
I wouldn't be surprised if all her lines were improvised...

Scarlett Johansson was pretty good in Captain America Winter's Soldier, but she didn't LOOK very good, that flat hair was not very flattering-- she looked way better in Avengers ( the short wavy hair) or Iron Man 2 ( the long curly hair.)...

Regarding Nymphomnaic:
Jamie Bell was nothing short of genius.
I'm not, though, as taken with Uma Thurman as alot of people seem to be...
I loved Stacy Martin; lovely lovely screen presence; what a debut performance. Von Trier really knows how to pick 'em! At least he's very good at picking newcomers - his selections of established actors are more problematic, Christian Slater was horribly miscast...
And Charlotte Gainsbourg was good, but she fared better in Melancholia and Antichrist.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

I wanted to avoid The Fault in Our Stars like the plague but.. Laura Dern man. Damn I guess have to watch it now. LOVE THE FACE.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

Ulrich: You know the surprising thing about Slater? He hasn't appeared in a film directed by Tarantino yet! (And considering the way his career has gone? Dude has to be CHEAP.) "It's LIKE having Nicholson but without the pesky 'having to drag him out of retirement' part."

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

It's tough to come up with the lists of best actors and best actresses; there are a small number of obvious choices, but then who do you go with? I'm listing my choices together, to avoid category fraud.

Best Actors:

Tom Hardy - Locke (by a couple of lengths)
Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhall - Enemy (should I count him twice?)
Joaquin Phoenix - The Immigrant
Thierry Lhermitte - Quay d'Orsay (France)
Pierre-Yves Cardinal - Tom at the Farm (Québec)
Jesse Eisenberg - The Double
Mathieu Amalric - Venus in Furs
Xavier Dolan - Miraculum (Québec) (Yes, Dolan can play a straight, devout Jehovah's Witness, and play it very well!)

Best Actress:

Agata Kulesza - Ida
Agata Trzebuchowska - Ida
Marion Cotillard - The Immigrant
Scarlett Johansson - Under the Skin
Emmanuelle Seigner - Venus in Furs
Vanessa Paradis - Fading Gigolo (The best thing about that mess of a film!)
Tilda Swinton - Only Lovers Left Alive
Laura Dern - The Fault in Our Stars
Laurence Leboeuf - La petite reine (Québec; English title "Downfall of a Champion")

Nat, I definitely agree with you about Charlotte Rampling in Young and Beautiful. I also agree with San FranCinema about Emmanuelle Devos and Sandrine Kiberlain in Violette...but that was a 2013 film in Montréal.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Scratching my head over how you could mention Scoot and ignore Guy Pearce for Best Actor and Robert Pattinson for Best Supporting Actor. Those two gave the most powerful performances I've seen so far this year.

July 11, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Simon -- they're sixth place slotters

July 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Charlotte Rampling gives one of my favorite performances of the year... shame it's just a cameo. I also second the Allison Pill lovin'.

And Nathaniel, by Luca Pasqualino's "moves" you mean his pecs and abs, yes?

July 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Glancing over Scoot Mc Nairy in The Rover and ignoring the briljant performances of Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson? This movie should be watched for the interactions between Eric and Rey alone. Guy Pearce is a very underrated actor, it's about time that he gets some award recognition. And Pattinson deserves a Best Supporting nom ( although his part is more a co-lead) for the way he brought the mentally challenged (or not?) Rey on screen.

July 12, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrey

Just saw "Only Lovers Left Alive" and want to throw in Mia Wasikowska for supporting actress! A burst of convincing, frustrating, energizing life that shifts the way the whole film feels from the moment she enters onward.

July 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

San FranCinema, couldn't agree more with you for Mia Wasikowska in "Only Lovers Left Alive". Such an energetic, dark, complex performance. She really killed it as Ava. I saw "The Railway Man" recently and while the film didn't impressed me much on the whole, I was blown away by Colin Firth's performance. He really deserves a nomination for his astonishing work as Eric Lomax.

July 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStergios

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