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« Costume Design and Cinematography Guild Honors | Main | FYC: Ed Lachman for Best Cinematography and Carter Burwell for Best Score in Wonderstruck »
Wednesday
Jan102018

FYC: Salma Hayek in "Beatriz at Dinner"

Before the Oscar’s nomination votingends on January 12th, a best actress plea from Jorge...

We’re now in a post-Golden Globes time of awards season, where the most open and uncertain race in years has slowly become more solidified. And it seems like the Best Actress category has, if not all five nominees locked down, at least four (Hawkins, McDormand, Robbie and Ronan) that are solidly established.

But there’s always a maybe. There’s always the possibility of a Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, or a Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night. So today I’m making my case of why this year there should be a Salma Hayek in Beatriz at Dinner...

Salma Hayek has had a long, diverse career in Hollywood. She started out as a muse for Robert Rodriguez’s B-movies during the 90s, had a star-making performance in Frida in the early 2000s, and since then has become a reliable presence in big studio action fares, genre movies, and raunchy comedies. But she has never done anything like what she does in Beatriz at Dinner.

Salma was personally sought out by director Miguel Arteta and screenwriter Mike White to star in Beatriz before the film was even written. No one anticipated how topical the small contained feature would become upon its release, or how Beatriz would suddenly become a surrogate for the world watching.

As Beatriz Luna, a Mexican immigrant in California and a holistic healer that gets trapped in a dinner from hell with the one-percenters that rule the world, Salma sheds all the glamour, sex-appeal, and aggressively forward performance style that has defined her career until now. With nothing but high-rise jeans and a bad haircut, empathy is her only weapon. And she uses it to destroy everything around her.

The movie sits on her shoulders; the camera always lingering on her as the rest of the dinner party moves around her orbit. Her body language is subtle, but speaks volumes. What initially appears to be a turtle hiding in her shell, turns out to be a grenade waiting to explode.

Most of her performance is done through her eyes, which seem to carry the entire pain of the world. Beatriz is a woman that is at all times carrying an overwhelming emotional weight, both hers and everyone else’s. And this dinner takes a hard toll on her. Salma is able to effortlessly embody a woman whose job (and entire life) revolves around feelings, and who tries to contain those feelings because of social etiquette, and ultimately fails.

She also has amazing chemistry with the rest of the cast, namely John Lithgow and a criminally overlooked Connie Britton. She plays off wonderfully against them, embodying a moral compass in an evening (and a world) that seems to have none.

Salma’s performance (and the movie it’s a part of) is perhaps too small to get the recognition it rightfully deserves, but that’s precisely what makes it so transcendental. It’s the internal battle of a woman who can’t keep it internal anymore. It’s more physical than Margot Robbie landing a triple axel, and makes a bigger statement than Frances McDormand’s three billboards.

Remember, it’s harder to heal something.

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Reader Comments (12)

As good as any of the main contenders.
But I have yet to see The Post.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commentergrrr

She, Connie and John Lithgow are perfect in this.

« All tears flow from the same source »

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

I absolutely *love* her performance, for being so unusual and so atypical in the ways she makes Beatriz so odd yet endlessly sympathetic - and, as you put, endlessly empathetic to boot. Her last look at Lithgow while imagining an alternate future is so heartbreaking. Love this write-up! Thank you Jorge!

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

Jorge, beautiful description of Salma's best-ever performance. Her last scene broke me.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

ENDORSE 100%. I didn't catch this until it was streaming, and immediately told everyone to see it. Salma is performing beyond anything she's done before on screen, playing a character we've never quite seen on screen before, either.

Beatriz at Dinner says more about our times than Three Billboards - in particular, it's more truthful about the psychic complications of vengeance.

As Beatriz, Salma is my Best Actress of 2017, and Beatriz at Dinner is in my 10 Best.

January 10, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterHustler

She was already on my ballot, but now she's on it twice somehow. Your work here is done, Jorge! Very nicely written.

My favorite moment is that return to sea that's been done so well before in places like MAD MEN and A SINGLE MAN, but feels just as earned here thanks to Hayek.

January 11, 2018 | Registered CommenterIlich Mejia

She is the one overlooked performance that needed a GG boost,what a shame the buzz didn't start.

January 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I think she's very good in the film, but the movie - my god, the movie... there is no way that movie could have ended in a way that was satisfying.

January 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Glenn, I'm with you on this one. I was rather disappointed in Beatriz at Dinner as a whole (partially because that ending just seemed SO wrong), but DAMN if Connie Britton and Salma Hayek don't have their characters PEGGED. Both of them deliver performances with fascinating little details that say so much about these women. Both are eminently deserving of accolades for their work.

January 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

I'm not sure if this has had a release yet in the UK, or if it has I've missed it. I've had a soft spot for Salma ever since Desperado. I look forward to seeking this out.

January 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Yes, love this performance. I love that Hayek didn't make Beatriz, for lack of a better word, too likable. And Beatriz IS likable, in her own way, but also kinda kooky, and angry, and lonely, and so many other things.

January 11, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I saw this on a plane to New York last week and, still, it made a really strong impression on me. Salma Hayek's performance will stay with me forever, and the more i think about the film, the more i realize how fabulous Britton also is in it. A real, layered, impactful supporting turn that deserved to be recognized.

January 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClement_Paris

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