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Entries in August: Osage County (35)

Thursday
Nov082018

Months of Meryl: August Osage County (2013)

John and Matthew are watching every single live-action film starring Meryl Streep.  

#45 —Violet Weston, the cancer-stricken, drug-addicted matriarch of an Oklahoma family.

MATTHEW: Tracy Letts’ high-octane, Pulitzer Prize-winning family drama August: Osage County was the toast of the 2007-2008 Broadway season, which made a cinematic adaptation all but inevitable and the star involvement of Meryl Streep an equally foregone conclusion. The vituperative, pill-popping Violet Weston is the crowning achievement of Letts’ play and arguably the meatiest dramatic role to come along for sexagenarian actresses in the past 15 years. The part has been previously interpreted on stage by the Tony-winning Deanna Dunagan (who originated the character in the initial Steppenwolf production), Estelle Parsons, and Phylicia Rashad, any one of whom could have bowled us over in an alternate film, as might have rumored candidates like Jessica Lange, Sissy Spacek, and Glenn Close. This isn’t to take away a single merit from Streep’s no-holds-barred work, but rather acknowledge that Streep herself is the rare and defiant exception who proves the rule that actresses over the age of 50 are anathema to Hollywood’s gatekeepers.

Before falling in love with the eye of the camera, Streep was first and foremost a creature of the theater...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov232017

Blueprints: "August: Osage County"

Happy Thanksgiving! In these days of family forcefully gathering around for a meal, Jorge takes a look into “August: Osage County” to remind you that your relatives perhaps aren’t so bad after all.

 

Not unlike Thanksgiving itself, Tracy Lett’s August: Osage County is about a broken family that is bound to be around each other as past secrets, tensions and grievances slowly rise up to the surface.

The emotional climax of both the 2008 Tony-winning play and its subsequent 2013 Oscar-nominated adaptation is an almost 20-minute dinner sequence after the funeral that brought them all together. Matriarch Violet Weston (Meryl Streep) asserts her toxic matriarchal power over her family. And slowly but surely, tensions escalate to the point of explosion...

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Tuesday
Apr082014

"Poor Ivy”: August: Osage County’s Underappreciated MVP

Here's Andrew to celebrate the release of last year's embattled August: Osage County newly arrived on DVD. Significant spoilers ahead.

Each year there's at least one film which wins middling to good reviews and manages Oscar nods but is promptly forgotten as soon as it's released. August: Osage County was 2013's victim of that unfortunate annual tradition. Sure, it earned those two acting nominations it seemed assured early on but no one was particularly interested in talking about any aspect of August: Osage County, but for its Oscar belly-flop elsewhere and the Oscar queen at the centre. Perhaps, it was an automated response to Meryl Streep usually being at the centre of films with little else to offer than her star turn (The Iron Lady, Julie & Julia, Music of the Heart, etcetera). It's a shame because the former awards’ hopeful had so much more to celebrate than just the fire-breathing matriarch in the middle.

The strongest asset was undoubtedly that excellent cast. Aside from Streep and Roberts, only a few players picked up significant praise and even then the one most deserving was the one afforded hardly any attention: Julianne Nicholson as middle-child Ivy.

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Wednesday
Feb122014

18 Days Til Oscar. 18 Nominations For Meryl Streep

Here's a piece of trivia that even people who are clueless about the Oscars can recite: Meryl Streep is the most nominated actor of all time. Sometimes those same people will say she's won the most Oscars but you can't know everything if you don't pay attention. But, any way you come at it, her record is astounding (18 noms / 3 wins) 

Today I'm having fun repurposing her bitchy dialogue from August: Osage County and pretending its mockery of her fellow nominees and their (comparatively) puny Oscar histories.

You ever been married nominated before?
...More than once

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Thursday
Jan162014

Best Actress Lineup Now Eligible for a Senior Discount

There's a vicious moment in August: Osage County wherein Violet Weston (Meryl Streep), who hasn't tasted enough blood for the day, humiliates her daughter Karen (Juliette Lewis) who has recently entered her 40s that she's losing her looks. A less vicious but still hurtful joke follows later in the film when Barbara (Julia Roberts) tells her sister Ivy (Julianne Nicholson) "You can't move to New York. You're almost 50, you'll break a hip.". The Weston women, tearing each other down and using their advancing age as just one of the weapons with which to do so, probably wouldn't take comfort in the maturity of this year's Best Actress race but the rest of us should. 

Even if it's not our dream lineup (my own happens to skew much younger this year), it's a good push back against Oscar's frequent preference of youth over accomplishment... particularly in this category.

I didn't mean to become the "age" guy but I salivate at the prospect of digging into Oscar statistics each year so I couldn't pass up the chance to write about the Best Actress shortlist, when Vanity Fair asked me to write about the relatively advanced age of the group. Their average age is 55. I'd already prepped my Jennifer Lawrence piece on "The Youngest Actors To _____ " when they contacted me so that's  two in a row. But I hope y'all take it in the vein it was intended: to celebrate the glories and mysteries of Oscar stats and the breadth of talented people, male and female, from fresh faces (in both senses of the word with JLaw) to accomplished veterans that show up for Oscar honors.

Here's the full piece ! 

Due to turnaround deadlines with Oscar nomination articles, many of them are written in advance. One of my favorite things about reading other sites on Oscar nomination day is noticing where the seams are wherein they've clearly had to edit something out or shove something in quickly. I had two versions of this Vanity Fair piece ready due to the great January wars of "Will it be Amy or Meryl?" and then they both made it. Goodbye Emma! *sniffle*

One thing I noticed in researching this piece and writing about the topic over the years is that people tend to think of past Oscar lineups as older than they actually were. I believe this is just a human tendency to age up anything that came before us. If you first fell for Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, for example, she is probably an "old" actress to you. But when she first became a sensation with the release of the Oscar winning blockbuster Kramer vs. Kramer, she had only just turned 30 or, in modern terms, was roughly the age that her put upon assistants Emily Blunt & Anne Hathaway are right about now. Fasten your seatbelts for this bumpy take-away truth: Bette Davis was younger than ALL of this year's Best Actress nominees (save Amy Adams) when she headlined All About Eve (1950).