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Alicia Vikander cast as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
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Entries in Best Actress (350)

Sunday
May012016

Best Actress: An "Overdue" Narrative or Fresh Blood?

The next Best Actress race hasn't remotely started so we're at the "anything goes" stage. Sally Field is the only player thus far who feels like a distinct if long shot possibility. With a Golden Globe Comedy nod highly likely for Hello My Name is Doris she'll be discussed again at year's end reminding people of her endearing star turn in the sleeper hit. But what to make of the Best Actress race. Most or all of the contenders are yet to come and there are no sure things. 

Sure, Viola Davis looks good on paper to repeat her Tony win in 2010 for Fences as the long suffering wife of a trash collector who was once a promising ball player. But there are some "what ifs" involved. Denzel Washington hasn't yet proved he's special as a director and when the revival in which they starred on Broadway hit not everyone agreed on her category placement with some theater awards deeming her "featured" (the stage's term for "supporting") rather than lead like the Tonys. And then there's the not small matter of whether the Fences will be ready in time for a release and a big Oscar push. If Viola doesn't dominate, will we have an Overdue Narrative this year or a Fresh Blood moment in Best Actress?

Consider: La Pfeiffer (3 nominations... deserved many more. Waiting to win since 1988); The Bening (4 nominations... waiting to win since 1990); Amy Adams (5 generous nominations. Waiting to win since 2005); Viola Davis (2 nominations... waiting to win since 2008). With Jessica Tandy, Hilary Swank, Rachel Weisz, and Meryl Streep winning their rightful Oscars there's ample opportunity for a "make up" year in Best Actress. 

But then again not every leading race sees a "career win" like Julianne Moore's or Leonardo DiCaprio's recently. Do you think 2016 will be an old guard year like that or a new blood situation (Negga? Pike?)? Or will it be somewhere inbetween (Emily Blunt...waiting so long for a first nomination? Jessica Chastain, twice nominated thus far?). Check the Best Actress chart and make a call in the comments. 

Saturday
Apr302016

April Foolish Predictions!

It's finally complete - the first predictions of the new film year, affectionally dubbed "April Foolish Predictions" by yours truly, just under the wire before May begins. I've opted to go for a year with a lot of new blood in various categories but the supporting categories have no sure things so it's like throwing darts blindly... possibly not even towards a wall... in those categories.

Enjoy fresh charts on ACTRESS, ACTOR, SUPPORTING ACTRESS, and SUPPORTING ACTOR as well as the General Prediction Chart for a summary.

Report back!  

Thursday
Apr142016

First Look: Battle of the Sexes

Murtada here. So you have a new movie about a very popular internationally recognizable person, what to do to announce that your film has started shooting? Why get Billie Jean King herself to tweet a photo of your two stars, right next to the two real life people they are playing. Get everyone talking about the uncanny likeness. Easy peasy, the internet ate it up!

Battle of the Sexes is about the 1973 tennis match between King and Bobby Riggs that made headlines worldwide and still stands in the culture as encapsulation of 1970s changing social attitudes about sport and feminism. Emma Stone is King and Steve Carrell is Riggs and boy do they look the part. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) are directing, the supporting cast includes Sarah Silverman, Alan Cumming, Elisabeth Shue and in a Birdman reunion Andrea Riseborough as Marilyn Barnett, King’s girlfriend at the time. It was surprising to see Danny Boyle's name as a producer, although not so much when seeing his Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours partner Simon Beaufoy as the screenwriter.

Barnett during the alimony trial.

Riseborough’s casting hopefully means that the movie will explore the tumultuous relationship between King and Barnett. Their relationship became public in 1980 when Barnett sued for alimony, outing King and putting her in the path of LGBT rights advocacy. That was 7 years after the battle of the sexes, so we are keeping hopes tempered.

The film just started shooting, so we have a long wait before we can see it, perhaps in the second half of 2017. However since this is an awards site, it’s never too early to speculate. We know that playing a real life person - with that person making the campaign rounds alongside the actor - is a surefire way to win an Oscar. The movie has to be good of course, this one at least has the pedigree. Will this be Emma’s moment? 

Tuesday
Mar222016

Tues Top Ten: Best Performance of the Decade (Thus Far)?

Today's top ten was inspired by Robert MacFarlane who asked what the greatest performance of the decade was on twitter to a quick flurry of responses involving some usual suspects: Phoenix, Hoffman, Cotillard, Blanchett and some unusual suspects: O'Connell, Culkin, Pitt. But the question naturally lingered because who doesn't love ranking such unrankables?

Let's do this!

BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE DECADE (THUS FAR)
Ranking likely to change tomorrow. Oscar nominated roles marked with asterisk. Oscar winning roles with double asterisk 

Honorable Mentions (No Particular Order): Binoche in Certified Copy, * Keaton & Norton in Birdman, * Riva in Amour, ** Day-Lewis in Lincoln, ** Bale in The Fighter, * Rampling in 45 Years, and many others...

10 James Franco, Spring Breakers (2013) --look at his shittttttttt
09 * Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night (2014) --transcendent
08 * Cate Blanchett, Carol (2015) --daringly stylized, mesmerizing
07 * Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom (2010) --she did a great thing, sweetie
06 Charlize Theron, Young Adult (2011) --the layers. the layers
05 * Viola Davis, The Help (2011) --smart. kind. important. (and other wonderful adjectives)
04 Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike (2012) --lawbreaker in the house
03 Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy (2012) --Bless Charlotte Bless
02 ** Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine (2013) --from airplane to park bench, perfection
01 Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


What are yours? 

Saturday
Mar192016

Oscar Whisperer: Have we seen any nominees yet?

Though we all know that the bulk of Oscar nominations come from the last quarter of each and every year, have we seen any awards players yet? Here's a tricky thing about punditry -- if you start too early people say you're part of the problem in "narrowing" the field but if you don't start early how are you going to be of service in keeping the entire year in play and offering perspective on which film should be watched so that it's not all about "cramming" at the end of the year which leads to all that last quarter focus. So we start early.  Here are first quarter possibilities if the Academy has longer memories than usual this year and if they surprisingly generate excitement later in the year by way of top ten lists or second wave releases (Bluray, streamin, etc...)

January
Kung Fu Panda 3 (Animated Feature)
Both of the previous films about the round warrior "Po" (Jack Black) were nominated for Best Animated Feature. Will Dreamworks go 3 for 3 with this series? The reviews are right in line with those of the previous films but franchises often outstay their welcome when it comes to "Best of Year" accolades.

The costumes in Hail Caesar (courtesy of Mary Zophres) are great fun

February
Deadpool (Visual FX, Makeup and Hairstyling)
Hail Caesar!
(Original Song "No Dames" and Any Category, really) 
The WWitch (Sound, Supporting, and Any Category, really) 

Deadpool will surely surface for the Saturn Awards but good luck with the standard awards bodies considering that superhero films don't fare well even in VFX nominations... and Deadpool is a bit bargain bin aesthetically, however popular it may be with audiences.  An extreme longshot but it will surely attempt Oscar recognition in both VFX and Makeup bakeoffs.

As for Hail, Caesar! and The VVitch, they're the most prestigious of the year's mainstream releases thus far by way of being from beloved filmmakers or inspiring critical fervor, respectively. But will any voters remember them or take them seriously enough given traditional resistance to comedy and horror? The first step in taking any film seriously is to actually watch it; conscientous voters should watch these two films. 

March
April and the Extraordinary World (Animated Feature)
Batman v Superman (Visual FX)
Krisha (Best Actress)
Zootopia (Animated Feature) 
Hello My Name is Doris (Best Actress) 

Zootopia is by far your best bet for early bird Oscar glory given the outstanding reviews and audience love and Disney being a power player in the animated feature category. Can Sally Field's Doris generate good Golden Globe will? Will Krisha develop a following (it won the Cassavettes at the Spirit Awards for 2015 but the Spirit Awards have different eligibility rules -- festival showings sometimes count for them).

Of the two attempts at reviving the Superman franchise (Superman Returns in 2006 and Man of Steel in 2013) only Returns won Oscar favor (Visual FX nomination). Will Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice be ignored or embraced for its effects? It all depends on its future competition but it's worth noting that, for whatever reason, Batman is the favorite superhero of groups that traditionally resist superheroes. Batman films have won 3 Oscars from 15 nominations. 

What will you hope for or count on from the first quarter?

Sunday
Mar132016

Review: Hello, My Name is Doris 

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

In a perfect world we would always have room for our Best Actresses as they age but in the world we actually live in only British Dames and Meryl Streep are allowed to do that. And Tilda Swinton but she lives inside her own space and time continuum. The expiration date on female movie stars — their “last f***able day” (thank you Amy Schumer) — before they disappear into thankless supporting roles used to be 40 and now it’s thankfully extended until about 50. But at some point in most star careers the lead roles all too abruptly stop.

That’s why it was a joy last summer to see Lily Tomlin ace a rare film-carrying job in Grandma and why it’s nice to have a spiritual sequel just months later in Hello My Name is Doris. The two films are nothing alike but for their creative foundation

They’re both star vehicles for a senior citizen legend carefully crafted entirely around her specific gifts. Which is to say that with Grandma we got an acerbic feminist politically savvy LGBT comedy and with Hello My Name is Doris we get a cutesy boy-crazy romantic dramedy because Lily Tomlin and Sally Field are very different performers. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar112016

Posterized: Hello, her name is... Sally Field 

M'lynn. Gidget. Norma Rae. The Flying Nun. Sybil. Edna Spalding. Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs Gump. We know her by many names but the one we'll always love best is "Sally Field," perfectly stage-name appropriate for instant recall and audience adoration... and also her real name since birth. 

Though she's been famous for literally half a century (!) she hasn't always been properly appreciated... a common fate for stars whose work looks effortless and who excel in "light" genres like dramedies and romantic comedies. But we like her. We really really like her. Don't you?

Her biggest hits: Forrest Gump, Mrs Doubtfire, Hooper, Lincoln, Steel Magnolias, and literally every film she made with Burt Reynolds from 1977-1980 -- audiences couldn't get enough of them together back then. Most frequent co-stars: Burt Reynolds (4), Jeff Bridges, Michael Caine, Dom de Luise, Tom Hanks, Ed Harris, and Tommy Lee Jones (2). Awards haul: 3 Emmys, 2 Oscars, 1 SAG, 2 Golden Globes, 2 NYFCC, and for Norma Rae a bunch of one time prizes... Cannes, NSFC, NBR, and LAFCA

But let's talk about you + Sally. Do you   ? How many of her film roles have you seen? All 30 are after the jump...

Click to read more ...