The Stars gathered this evening in London for the Moët British Independent Film Awards which was ruled by one particular Tyrannosaur and also afforded Michael Fassbender his second best actor prize (following the Venice Volpi Cup) for Shame. He needs to keep nabbing these to stay in play for a very competitive Oscar race.
British actress Olivia Colman speaks softly and with great modesty but perhaps that's wise. Her talent speaks loudly on its own behalf by way of ntroduction. Though British audiences have embraced her comic talent for years now, international audiences are just now getting to know her as a dramatic force. She's utterly devastating as a meek Christian shop owner in the violent drama Tyrannosaur. The film, directed by the actor Paddy Considine (In America), is gathering a small but very vocal fanbase who think Colman really ought to have a Best Actress nomination in her very near future. Later this month, she'll be onscreen again as Carol Thatcher daughter of The Iron Lady, but even if you exited the first movie only to immediately enter the latter, you'll scarcely recognize her from one film to the next.
We spoke briefly on the phone recently about her rising stardom, drama and comedy acting muscles, and having a living legend as a co-star.
Nathaniel: Have you been able to soak in all of this attention from Tyrannosaur? Your name being on the awards radar here in the US and such?
OLIVIA COLMAN: Not really. it's quite surreal. Because it's not my first job. I'm 37 and i've been working for a long time. So... [long pause] This job means so much to me that I'm thrilled that people are liking it. That's the best thing about it, that other people are taking it to their hearts as much as we all did.
Nathaniel: Your involvement with Tyrannosaur goes way back. You were also in Paddy Considine's short film "Dog Altogether" about the same characters. Did this feel like a do-over? What was it like going back?
COLMAN: lt felt different. A lot of the scenes from the short were also in the feature and the reshooting of those scenes that we'd done years before were the hardest to film. It's weird because it's like an echo. You can hear yourself. You've already said it but years ago. It felt very different apart from that because we suddenly had a sense of a much longer journey. In the short I didn't know about Hannah's backstory at all.
Nathaniel: This gave you a chance to dig deeper then?
COLMAN: Yes. It's lovely to get your teeth into it.
Nathaniel: In terms of Hannah's religiosity and her generous nature. How did you approach constructing her? A lot of religious characters in cinema aren't, well, sympathetic like this.
COLMAN: It was so clear from the page. Paddy had written it so beautifully you just had to do what was written, really. I knew who she was straightaway. Even if she hadn't been a Christian of good faith, she would still have been a good person. Her faith is sort of her protection and her armor but even without it, I would have known who she was.
Nathaniel: Paddy is such a brilliant actor but he's not in front of the camera for this one. So what it was like being directed by a fellow thespian?
COLMAN: Amazing! It made such a difference. I don't imagine all actors can direct at all. I think probably a lot of them would be terrible but he was so comfortable on that side of the camera. He knew how difficult he found it in front of the camera and he made sure we never felt like that. We always felt safe. He's an extraordinary creature. He would say exactly the right thing to get you to the right place. I've said this before but I think he could get a performance out of a log. He's amazing, just taps in. Everybody wanted to make him proud. And he's a great leader of people. A little thumbs up at the right moment would made someone feel 10 feet tall.
For those of us who don't act, we always assume that sets of intense brutal dramas like this one must be sober or difficult to be on. But maybe it's not like that exactly.
While American film critics circles orgs and associations prep their year end "best" reveals, let's hop overseas for a moment. The European Film Awards were held in Berlin, Germany yesterday. It was a very good day to be Danish.
Though Mads Mikkelsen (left) is often seen in American and British films he frequently headlines Danish films too and was honored with a world cinema tribute. Lars von Trier, the maddest prince of Denmark since Hamlet, won the top prize for Melancholia. Though von Trier lost Best Director, he lost it to fellow Dane Susanne Bier who recently also won the Oscar (Best Foreign Language Film, In A Better World.) All three were born within a nine year span in Copenhagen!
FILM Melancholia (Lars von Trier)
DOCUMENTARY Pina (Wim Wenders)
ANIMATED FEATURE Chico & Rita (Tono Erranda, Javier Mariscal & Fernando Trueba)
EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT WORLD CINEMA Mads Mikkelsen
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT Stephen Frears
DIRECTOR Susanne Bier, A Better World
ACTRESS Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin
ACTOR Colin Firth, The King's Speech
SCREENWRITER Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Kid With The Bike
EDITOR Tariq Anwar, The King's Speech
PRODUCTION DESIGNER Jette Lehmann, Melancholia
CINEMATOGRAPHER Manuel Albert Caro, Melancholia
COMPOSER Ludovic Bource, The Artist
PEOPLE'S CHOICE The King's Speech
SHORT FILM AWARD The Wholly Family (Terry Gilliam)
EUROPEAN DISCOVERY Oxygen (Hans Van Nuffel)
Congratulations to the winners!
Another prize for Tilda, eh? If Best Actress weren't so jam-packed this year -- I'll update the two week old charts tomorrow -- I'd be starting to believe that a second Oscar nomination could follow. But whether or not Oscar traction happens, there's definitely a Swintonian Love Wave happening. Such is the power of momentum. Three consecutive critically lauded star turns in acclaimed challenging films (Julia + I Am Love + We Need To Talk About Kevin) will do that to a girl.
In honor of Julianne Moore's birthday today, let's go all list-manic.
This morning, realizing it was her birthday, I flashed back to our interview in 2010 and her responses to my feverish fandom "I've seen all your movies"...
My god, you've seen some junk then!"
So after the jump in her holiness's honor, my rankings of ALL her performances I have seen... some of which I barely remember at this point but what can you do. Plus, the ones I haven't seen. Plus, what's next (2012 could be a big year for her!) Plus questions for you. Plus. Plus. Plus.
Other things to read about "Shame" today...
Aint it Cool has a review which spends one whole paragraph on the "magnificence" of Fassbender's cock (from a straight man -lol) and contains a funny smackdown of the MPAA.
MUBI Ignatiy doesn't much care fo Shame's vagueness about the details.
In Contention lets us know that it won't be eligible for the WGA Screenplay prizes.
Next Movie, in honor of Fassy, looks at the best penis moments in movies.
P.S. I've written so piecemeal about Shame -- see past posts -- that it's amounted to all of these brief bits without one big substantial review. I'm realizing that this is my habit in general, the dangers of blogging daily with ADD I suppose. I feel I need to build Frankenstein monster parts of all my brief impressions of any given movie into a series of hulking reanimated pieces. Now to wait for the right stormy opportunity and the bolt of inspirational lightning.
P.P.S. Here's the French poster, airbrushing and shining up one of the film's most haunting images. It's like a motion capture animated version of Shame. Imagine it. Hee.
Are you seeing Shame this weekend? If you've already see it, what did you make of it?