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Entries in Best Actress (214)

Thursday
Nov202014

Thoughts I Had... While staring at THR's Actress Issue Cover

Yesterday morning, while running out to a screening and party for Al Pacino's awards run with The Humbling (more on that soon), what did I find on my doorstep but the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter, just casually dropped there. "Close call," I thought, imagining greedy scruple-free actressexual neighbors I haven't met, stealing it before I even knew it was there.

I threw it back in the apartment and dashed off and now I return to it, staring at its cover.You know how this works, herewith my immediate thoughts uncensored as they come. 

Is it weird that I don't read the article (essentially clips from the roundtable) but just wait for the full video so I can hear it all?

I don't understand the set and art direction of this photo. Why is Reese behind a gold bar? Why isn't God herself reclined on that uncomfortably stiff chaise lounge chair while the other actresses fan and feed her? (Let the coronation begin!)

Is Amy Adams a silent partner in THR? Will she impale me with that crazy stiletto for spreading that rumor.

She's like Terminator Adams here. So severe! "Don't fuck with me fellas" Or rather "I'LL BE BACK" because you know she will next year (sigh)

This is her 4th roundtable in 5 years suggesting that someone at THR is either obsessed with her, has dirt on her, has zero imagination, or is weak-willed when it comes to standing up to Amy's formidable publicists/management.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov082014

Meet the Contenders: Felicity Jones "The Theory of Everything"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING which has potential to be a very big awards player.

Felicity Jones as Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

Born: Felicity Jones was born October 17, 1983 in Bournville on the Southside of Birmingham, England

The Role: The Academy Award-winning director of the documentary Man on Wire, James Marsh, takes the helm of this extraordinary true story based on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen by Jane Hawking, the first wife of acclaimed Astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. The film follows the over 30 year relationship of the two. Starting with their early days as doctorate students at England's famed University of Cambridge through Stephen's diagnosis with motor neurone disease (now more commonly known as ALS, it was recently in the headlines this year for the foundation's Ice Bucket Challenge used to raise money for research), the film chronicles the ups and downs of their marriage as Jane's goals take a backseat to Stephen's care. 

Jones met with the real Jane several times in preparation. She has said that what most impressed her was how the ladylike, petite Jane was able to convey such strength and that's what she wanted to capture the most with her performance. Jones read Jane's book over 6 times as research (always having it close to her on set) and studied with a vocal coach to emulate the real Jane's voice.  

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov042014

First Image from "Freeheld" - It's Really Happening!

This image fills The Film Experience's heart with actressexual joy...

God and Ellen Page in "Freeheld"

Freeheld, a drama based on adocumentary short, has had a difficult journey to the big screen. There have been cancellations, delays, cast-changes, funding issues, you name it. But Ellen Page stuck with it, came out, and the film powered back to life (coincidence? who knows). But it's delightful to see a still which is proof that it the movie is actually happening. For those who haven't been keeping up Freeheld this is the official "about synopsis" from the Oscar winning documentary:

Detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester spent 25 years investigating tough cases in Ocean County, New Jersey, protecting the rights of victims and putting her life on the line. She had no reason to expect that in the last year of her life, after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that her final battle for justice would be for the woman she loved.

The documentary film "Freeheld" chronicles Laurel's struggle to transfer her earned pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree. With less than six months to live, Laurel refuses to back down when her elected officials - the Ocean County Freeholders -deny her request to leave her pension to Stacie, an automatic option for heterosexual married couples. The film is structured chronologically, following both the escalation of Laurel's battle with the Freeholders and the decline of her health as cancer spreads to her brain.

As Laurel's plight intensifies, it spurs a media frenzy and a passionate advocacy campaign. At the same time, "Freeheld" captures a quieter, personal story: that of the deep love between Laurel and Stacie as they face the reality of losing each other. Alternating from packed public demonstrations at the county courthouse to quiet, tender moments of Laurel and Stacie at home, "Freeheld" combines tension-filled political drama with personal detail, creating a nuanced study of a grassroots fight for justice.

If Julianne's much delayed Oscar doesn't happen for Still Alice maybe she can ride Freeheld to a statue? If she does win for Still Alice maybe Ellen Page can take this one all the way? They play Detective Hester and Stacie Andree, respectively and maybe whoever picks up the movie will be brave enough to try a dual Best Actress campaign since there's no way you tell this story and they both aren't leads, you know?

And to think that Julianne Moore once worried in her first cover interview for Out that she'd never get to play gay again after her first gay role -  a reinterpretation of Lila Crane in Gus Van Sant's Psycho (1998) remake which hit the year after she became a bonafide star with Boogie Nights and the Oscar nomination.

She needn't have worried since her filmography post-stardom, is so LGBT friendly (Far From Heaven, Chloe, The Kids Are All Right, A Single Man, Savage Grace, The Hours) and she might win her Oscar for Still Alice directed by gay partners in filmmaking and in life (Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland). It's all wonderfully apt since the LGBT community championed her early on.

Thursday
Oct232014

Gotham Nominees: Boyhood vs. Birdman vs. Budapest

The Gotham Awards juried nominations have recently surplanted the ancient NBR as the first real awards nomination/wins of the film year. That it happens in October is more than a little crazy, but what'cha gonna do? The New York centric film prizes, think of it as the Spirit Awards's East Coast Cousin albeit with far fewer prizes will be held on December 1st. Since they only have six categories and four separate juries (composed of critics and programmers), multiple nods aren't as easy to come by as they are at other shows but a handful of films managed it: Boyhood, Birdman, Dear White People, Nightcrawler, and Under the Skin.

BEST FEATURE 

 

  • BIRDMAN
  • BOYHOOD
  • GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
  • LOVE IS STRANGE
  • UNDER THE SKIN

Very happy to see the intensely moving Love is Strange, in constant danger of being undervalued, show up. Especially since it didn't show up anywhere else. 199 films were eligible for these honors.

BEST ACTRESS (they don't have lead or supporting designations)

Big year for GUGU with Belle as breakthrough and a nom for Beyond the Lights

  • PATRICIA ARQUETTE, Boyhood
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON, Under the Skin
  • GUGU MBATHA-RAW, Beyond the Lights
  • JULIANNE MOORE, Still Alice
  • MIA WASIKOWSKA, Tracks

Given that Still Alice is only getting a qualifying Oscar run and there's no proof that it will even play in NYC by the end of the year (LA is the only required theatrical run) I think it's weird to nominate Julianne Moore at the Gothams, however excellent she is in the picture. I wonder what criteria they use for eligibility?

BEST ACTOR (they don't have lead or supporting designations)

 

  • BILL HADER, The Skeleton Twins
  • ETHAN HAWKE, Boyhood
  • OSCAR ISAAC, A Most Violent Year
  • MICHAEL KEATON, Birdman
  • MILES TELLER, Whiplash

Interesting to see Oscar Isaac show up but not Jessica Chastain when the same nominating committee chose for both categories. 

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR OR ACTRESS

 

  • RIZ AHMED, Nightcrawler
  • MACON BLAIR, Blue Ruin
  • ELLAR COLTRANE, Boyhood
  • JOEY KING, Wish I Was Here
  • JENNY SLATE, Obvious Child
  • TESSA THOMPSON, Dear White People

Slightly odd choices by the breakthrough committee. I love Boyhood and Nightcrawler but it seems weird to single out Coltrane or Ahmed from either, not only because they aren't the MVPs but because their performances just aren't at the same accomplished level as their co-stars. 

BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR

 

  • ANA LILY AMIRPOUR, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
  • JAMES WARD BYRKIT, Coherence
  • DAN GILROY, Nightcrawler
  • ELIZA HITTMAN, It Felt Like Love
  • JUSTIN SIMIEN, Dear White People

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • ACTRESS
  • CITIZENFOUR
  • LIFE ITSELF
  • MANAKAMANA
  • POINT AND SHOOT 

I haven't yet seen Life Itself (I know I know) but I increasingly suspect, based on everything I've read about it, that hero worship is really getting in the way. It's not that I don't appreciate Ebert's work or that I don't understand the need to honor him for a special life in this very specialized field. But as with Oscars view of documentary, sometimes subject matter trumps execution in terms of awardage. Critics complain when that happens. Except when it happens to a movie about a film critic ;) I reserve the right to change my mind and consider it very worthy if I see it but I just wanted to point out that this is always a real danger in awardage for all groups, not just Oscar, the effect of subject matter trumping execution. 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Lunchtime Poll: Multiple Acting Oscars

I was all prepared to list the most Oscar winning Actors for a quickie top ten list. Until I remembered there were only six with 3 or more Oscars (for acting)

Four Leading Oscars
01 Katharine Hepburn
Three Leading Oscars
02 Daniel Day-Lewis
Three Oscars (Lead/Supporting Mix)
[Three-Way Tie]
03 Ingrid Bergman
03 Meryl Streep
03 Jack Nicholson
Three Oscars (Supporting)
06 Walter Brennan

YOUR TASK: Make it a top ten by filling slots seven through ten. Name the four actors who most deserve to join them as three-timers or the ones who seem most likely?

Monday
Oct062014

FYC: Marion Cotillard in 'Two Days One Night'

Jose here. You know how sometimes a performer will win a gazillion awards for their breakthrough performance and then never be recognized again, even as they deliver much more complex, superior work? It’s the “been there done that” syndrome, which has sadly made most awards groups forget all about Marion Cotillard, who is once again Best Actress material in Two Days, One Night (Michael reviewed it here)


As the recently laid-off Sandra, Cotillard is unforgettable. We follow her as she visits her co-workers’ homes asking them to help her win her job back. As some show support, others display contempt and pity, making for a harrowing moviegoing experience. The Dardenne brothers, who in the past have been reluctant to work with movie stars, put their trust in Cotillard and the payoff is evident. The actress sheds all her glamour and star presence to play someone so fragile it seems as if being filmed is causing her pain. Sandra doesn’t talk much, but her face says everything. In one of the film’s most devastating moments, the Dardenne’s give Sandra some inner peace through a song in the radio, not only do they allow Cotillard’s smile to finally shine, but they also highlight the actress’ ability to reshape herself according to the emotions of her character. All throughout the film, Cotillard seems to be physically smaller, something she did in her Oscar-winning performance as Edith Piaf. The trick is more powerful here because Sandra is a “regular human being”.

Throughout the film we feel her pain and at times it’s so unbearable that it made me wonder what someone like Lars Von Trier would do with such a vulnerable character. The Dardenne’s are much more sensitive than the mad Dane and give Sandra her dignity, but not without pointing out how willingly she submits herself to humiliation in the name of survival. During most of the film Sandra wears a coral t-shirt with a ribbon pattern, which I feel Cotillard chose for the character. It makes her plea even more heartbreaking, as she knocks on doors trying to be festive and optimistic, when inside she’s completely destroyed.

Many cinephiles thought this turn would finally bring her the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival but it became the first Dardenne brothers’ film not to win a single award at Cannes. It was Marion's third straight loss at the festival (2012 Rust and Bone, 2013 The Immigrant) which is a head-scratcher considering who won in those respective years. As Two Days One Night gears up for its Oscar-qualifying release later this year, I can’t help but wonder, does Marion have to knock on every AMPAS’ member’s door to finally get nominated again?

Why do you think Oscar keeps ignoring Marion? Where do her recent performances rank among your favorites for each year?