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"Big performances and big personalities tend to have the edge. It so happens that all the acting categories this year have one or both of them. In supporting actress specifically, Janney has a bigger performance and a bigger real life personality." - Joseph

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« One Last Moment for Our Biggest Oscar Hopes | Main | The Furniture: The Chicanery and Posterity of 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus' »
Monday
Jan222018

Beauty vs Beast: All Sewn Up

Jason from MNPP here for our weekly "Beauty vs Beast" party - I'd been holding off on fêteing Paul Thomas Anderson's latest and most recently greatest Phantom Thread until it got its proper wide release, and now that it has, hitting over 800 theaters across the US this weekend, let us intrude ourselves upon the very strange (and strangely satisfying) union of Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day-Lewis), master designer, and his flung-from-space muse Alma (Vicky Krieps). Anderson muddies the waters great deal on what we think we know about this kind of power dynamic going in - Alma's nobody's pawn or pushover. And in Reynolds' sparkle-eyed acquiescence we see what she sees as worth all the fuss, too...

PREVIOUSLY I kept hearing how last week's Hitchcock contest was tough for everybody and the numbers bear it out because this might've been the closest race we've yet had - Cary Grant topped Jimmy Stewart by just 3 votes out of over 300 cast! I'd say we're fairly torn on which man got the most from the Hitch treatment. Commenter Claran was decisively Team Cary though:

"Take that, Jimmy! Lest we forgot who stole the Oscar that should've gone to Grant, who wasn't even nom for The Philadelphia Story!! Tsk tsk....Shame on you, Oscars!!"

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Reader Comments (18)

This movie was like a really twisted, best-ever episode of Project Runway mixed w/ The Beguiled, with a dash of Of Human Bondage mixed in for good measure. I voted for Alma mostly b/c of the twinkle in her eye, and her indefatigable nature.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRob

Isn't it a bit early for this match-up? It only just got a wide release, and a lot of people will not have seen it.

Bit wasteful to be honest. Why not wait a few weeks, or months. Patience is a virtue.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjin

Why didn't Vicky Krieps get any Oscar buzz?? She matched him 100%.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRichard

Day-Lewis and Manville are better than the ingenue at the center.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

Jimmy stole the Oscar from himself- he deserved it that year for a really beautiful performance in "The Shop Around the Corner."

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterShawn

I'd like opinions, because I haven't been able to discuss this (spoilers, naturally):

Do you think the film is weaker on Alma's perspective than on Woodcock's? Whether it's due to the script or Krieps's performance, or some combination thereof, it seems Alma is a far more opaque individual whose desires and motivations remain mostly elusive. We don't really get a sense of who she is the same way we more or less understand Woodcock's psychology, which is odd considering Alma is the narrator! Is Alma merely chastening the irascible male suitor, enabling him to further exercise his creative genius? Is she merely a replacement maternal figure? Obviously she takes on a dominant role eventually, but I am still kind of unclear as to her own drives and proclivities beyond wanting, broadly, to possess this possessing man.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

They deserve each other, but ugh, Team Neither.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDave S.

Oh, if only one of these two was pitted against Cyril... "Don't pick a fight with me, you certainly won't come out alive."

That being said, it's gotta be Reynolds. By the end, it's laid bare what Alma's motivations are; but Reyonlds' are, in my mind, far more fascinating to consider. (I hope that wasn't a spoiler for those of you who haven't seen it.)

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

Jonathan: at first I agreed with your thoughts, but I guess my comment above indicates that I actually disagree. I'd say her perspective is weaker, but not necessarily more opaque; just simpler. I'm not sure I can accurately describe Reynolds' thoughts, which seem more complex.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

Not crazy about either one I probably would have liked this movie better if with James Mason and Audrey Hepburn- with some really good looking clothes from Givenchy, a Bernard Herrman score and Alfred Hitchcock directing- he would have at least had thrown in a murder to wake us up

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjaragon

Team Alma all the way. I loved the way the character developed and I think Vicky Krieps is quite a find. Definitely one of my favorite performances from 2017.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

Spoilers again.

Guestguestguest: What, to you, are her "laid bare" motivations? To be dominating as a means of assuaging her inferiority complex? I just don't really get her side of things, which seems kind of apt because desire is often not readable/rational, but to me it seems Anderson cares more about Woodcock (his surrogate) than Alma. The "Beauty vs. Beast" thing is really quite resonant with this particular duo, because Alma is kind of like Belle, terrified and enraptured by the pernicious beast, who falls so under his spell she sticks around to reform him. Except in this case, Alma finds a way to make him her subordinate. But this won't last, of course, because when Woodcock recovers from whatever mushroom-induced ailment he is beset with the two will go back to lunging at each other's necks.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Team Manville. Tell me I have to vote for these two and I'll run right through you.

January 22, 2018 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I thot Krieps is a discovered gem! ! She matches DDL every step of the way n emerges the winner, well sorta... Its no an easy feat acting opp such icons like DDL or Manville n she holds up pretty well!! I'm surprised tt she din land a best newcomer mention w the BAFTA or NBR or any other critics group. She's the find o 2017, if u asked me.

Keeping my fingers X tt Manville wld sneak in the BSA!! 😁

January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

Who cares about Woodcock and Alma ... Cyril 4eva!

January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCharlieG

I was so pessimistic about the character and Krieps in general, but Alma blew me away. Team Alma to the end!

January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBen

My heart is with Reynolds, but I loved Alma, and if the weirdly neglected Vicky Krieps can get some recognition for her performance I would be delighted as fuck.

January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

(spoilers, I guess - sorry to those of you who haven't seen it)
Jonathan: maybe I'm seeing it too simply, but yeah - I think she's just out to control him because that's all she can do. She can't live without him, but she can't stand him in default mode. She knows what she can do, and she knows it'll work. What I can't figure out is what's going on in Reynolds' head. Can he not live without her either, no matter the circumstances? Does he feel more empowered by consenting to a situation in which he presumes will end up okay? Does he (gasp) actually like what she's doing? I just see more mystery and complexity to his motivations.

January 23, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGuestguestguest

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