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Entries in Best Actress (225)

Monday
Dec152014

Critical Kudos Continue: Kansas, San Francisco, Dallas, OFCS

(We interrupt your Missi experience this morning to bring you more awards news. Missi returns this afternoon for two final posts.)

The Film Critic (a monolith) floats in his room this month contemplatively, aging rapidly before our eyes. A difficult choice faces him/her: Birdman or Boyhood? After the jump see which cities chose what and which categories they're allowing themselves to have a little fun with...

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Wednesday
Dec102014

SAG Noms: Surprises, Snubs, Sexism, Stunts

The nominations were announced live here (by Eva Longoria and Ansel Elgort) and on TBS & TNT. My wrong predictions were back here.

Though I have many pet peeves about the way the actors guild decides and divvies up its honor, here's one that's wildly underdiscussed online and I don't think it's at all insignificant or petty. Each year they refuse to alphabetize correctly, always listing Male Actor categories BEFORE Female Actor categories. That might make sense at the Oscars since "Actor" does comes before "Actress" in the alphabet if not in our hearts, but "Female" does not  come AFTER "Male" when you alphabetize and yet SAG always lists the men first. Highly sexist if you ask me though they are obviously super self-righteous about not calling women "Actresses". Go figure. 

If you don't think this is sexist consider this subliminal perhaps subconscious related value judgement: Drama is always listed before Comedy in their press releases though that's also not alphabetically justified. 

So The Film Experience always course-corrects for SAG by listing female actors first. Of course we do that with the Oscars too which is alphabetically incorrect since we use "Actress" but in our case it isn't a subliminal but a purposeful value judgement. Duh! Women are better than men. 

NOMINATIONS & COMMENTARY (ALL CATEGORIES) ARE AFTER THE JUMP

MOVIES

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Team FYC: Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Belle" for Best Actress

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's abstew on "Belle".

As a graduate of Great Britain's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Gugu Mbatha-Raw was trained in the classics of British theatre. She began her career treading the boards in productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with Andrew Garfield and Hamlet on Broadway with Jude Law. Like most classically trained British thespians making the leap to the big screen, a Merchant Ivory-type period piece would naturally lend itself to her Shakespearean background. But despite her pedigree, Mbatha-Raw probably wouldn't traditionally be cast as Queen Elizabeth I or Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett on film. Which is why her breakout performance as Dido Elizabeth Belle in the real-life story about a biracial heiress in 18th Century England that defied the conventions of the day, couldn't have been a better fit for Mbatha-Raw, tailor-made for her talents and utilizing her classical training.

In most corset dramas, the greatest concerns seem to be about finding a husband to secure financial stability. But Belle, while still maintaining a romance we come to expect from the genre (with Sam Reid's law apprentice, a man as noble and just as he is handsome), is concerned with loftier issues. Race, class, and social injustice are all part of the bigger picture and at its center is the remarkable Mbatha-Raw, giving a face and humanity to what could very easily turn into a film about ideas.

Raised alongside her cousin as if they were sisters, yet at the same time not allowed to dine with her own family, Dido is caught in-between worlds. Mbatha-Raw's expressive face, at turns inquisitive and knowing, effortlessly conveys the internal and emotional struggle Dido confronts everyday. In one heart-breaking scene, she rubs and beats at her skin, its color a constant reminder of her difference. Tears stream down her face as her frustration overwhelms her. And in that moment Mbatha-Raw allows us viscerally to feel Dido's plight, communicating this woman's important and fascinating story with intelligence and compassion.

And if that wasn't enough, Mbatha-Raw showed her range and versatility by delivering an equally compelling performance in a completely different role about identity as a modern-day pop star in Beyond the Lights. But as Dido in Belle, Mbatha-Raw gives the kind of performance that heralds the arrival of a new star, a signature role that will become synonymous with the actress. Hopefully the Academy takes notice as well, rewarding this young thespian with a nomination for her efforts and crowning 2014's best new cinematic discovery. 

 Other FYCs 
Costume Design The Boxtrolls | Production Design Enemy | Editing Citizenfour Makeup and Hair, Only Lovers Left Alive | Best Actor, Locke | Supporting Actress, Gone Girl | Visual FX, Under the Skin | Cinematography, The Homesman | Outstanding Ensembles | Screenplay, The Babadook |  Original ScoreThe Immigrant 

Sunday
Dec072014

A Second Look At "Still Alice"

Michael C. here to sort out a few mixed feelings at the prospect of the impending Julianne Moore juggernaut. Let me cut to right to the matter on everyone’s mind and say that any Academy voter who checks a box for Julianne Moore for Best Actress next year will have no reason to feel anything but pride in his or her choice. Her performance as Alice Howland, a 50-year-old linguistics professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s is every bit as good as billed. But let us also acknowledge the plain truth that Moore’s work here is all the more impressive because she is doing the heavy lifting for a script and direction that are not operating at anywhere near her level. 

To point out that there is little exceptional or even all that much better than competent in Still Alice outside of Julianne Moore’s performance is to risk coming off like some sort of stone-hearted gargoyle. Who doesn’t feel the urge to pull some punches when presented with such an earnestly good intentioned film? And that is to say nothing of the reluctance to rain sour disapproval down on the Best Actress parade currently gaining steam on its march toward the Oscar podium. Who wants to spoil a perfectly good Julianne Moore coronation? Not this critic. [More...]

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Sunday
Dec072014

BSFC, LAFCA, and NYFCO: Their 2014 Winners

My apologies to Boston, Los Angeles and the online contingency of New York City for their shared billing but what can you do? When they all announce on the same weekend they share column space. The DC Film Critics also announced nominations today but in the interest of sanity, TFE only covers actual awards from critics groups, not their nomination rounds (which give performers and films no real juice publicity wise anyway); we have 30+ critics organizations in the US alone so any requested  coverage other than wins for the non-institutions feels ego-driven.

It was another good day for Birdman and Boyhood or "Boyman" as Sasha likes to call it. Particularly Boyhood which no films seem to be able to squirm around for top billing. Grand Budapest Hotel probably came close in L.A., Birdman looked like a distant second in Boston, but NYFCO seemed very committed. Is it now the Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture? It probably always was so yes. 

BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS (BSFC)
The BSFC was formed in 1981 and were once known for scrappy idiosyncratic choices. They were among the first awards group to rubber stamp Steven Soderbergh and David O. Russell (before their prime Oscar years). In the past ten years they've become far more conservative usually awarding their top prize to the Oscar frontrunner or its presumed challenger. Like NYC, Boston now has a second younger "online" group which already announced this year.

Film: Boyhood (runner up: Birdman)
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper)
Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman (runner up: Timothy Spall, Mr Turner)
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night AND The Immigrant (runner up: Hilary Swank, The Homesman)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Emma Stone, Birdman (runner up: Laura Dern, Wild)
Screenplay [TIE]: Birdman & Boyhood (runner up: Mr Turner)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Joel Cox & Gary Roach, American Sniper)
Foreign Film: Two Days One Night (runner up: Ida)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The Lego Movie)
New Filmmaker: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler (runner up: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Jodorowsky's Dune)
Use of Music: Inherent Vice (runner up: Whiplash)

 

LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION (LAFCA)
Founded in 1975, the LAFCA is one of the twin (coastal) towers of film critics associations alongside NYFCC which announced their prizes on December 1st. Last year the LAFCA had a very hard tie figuring out their prizes and the day ended with ties in three headline categories: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. These days they are perhaps best known for daring choices in Best Actress and Best Picture. 

Film Boyhood (runner up: The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Director Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (runner up: Julianne Moore, Still Alice)
Actor Tom Hardy, Locke (runner up: Michael Keaton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Agata Kulesza, Ida (runner up: Rene Russo, Nightcrawler)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)

New Generation: Ava DuVernay, Selma
Screenplay: Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Birdman)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The LEGO Movie)
Foreign Film: Ida (runner up: Winter Sleep)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Life Itself)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubeszki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Barney Piling, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Score: TIE Jonny Green, Inherent Vice and Mica Levi, Under the Skin
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen, Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Ondrej Nekvasil Snowpiercer)
Experimental Film: Walter Reuben, The David Whiting Story
Career Achievement: Gena Rowlands

The LAFCA seem to have bought into their own myth about their iconoclastic Best Actress behavior. They weirdly switched categories for Patricia Arquette from supporting to lead despite backing J.K. Simmons as supporting from his far leadier work as half of a two-hander relationship drama between two men in a film with basically only two major characters.

Agata Kulesza is a worthy fascinating choice but she's really very obviously more of a lead than Patricia Arquette. But what can you do? I suppose you could make a better case for her in supporting than you could for Arquette as a lead but it's all rather baffling. 

 

NEW YORK FILM CRITICS ONLINE
Said to have been formed in 2000 the internet only has records dating back to 2003 for their prizes. They are not to be confused with the ancient and highly important NYFCC which already announced on December 1st and were Boyhood & Immigrant focused this year.

Picture: Boyhood
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Ensemble Cast: Birdman
Screenplay: Birdman
Cinematography: Birdman
Use of Music: Get On Up
Debut Director: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Breakthrough: Jack O'Connel for Unbroken AND Starred Up
Documentary: Life Itself
Animated Feature: The LEGO Movie 

Marion Cotillard is perhaps the other big story of the day having won NYFCC, BSFC, and NYFCO already. Her Oscar chances still seem debatable though for a number of reasons including two separate films and the lack of any real campaigning beyond a screener for Two Days One Night.

J.K. Simmons, Richard Linklater, and Citizen Four continues to be steamrollers in Supporting Actor, Director, and Documentary respectively. Meanwhile Birdman marches along as a strong contender for basically everything if not, yet, a dependable film to bank any actual golden statues on. More unfortunately (especially given my change of heart about the film) critics have optioned not to really back Grand Budapest Hotel beyond the category that Oscar would have awarded it any way, Best Screenplay, which is the only category in which Wes Anderson films ever find any traction, sadly, despite often being sheer wonders in terms of Production Design, Costuming and weirdly expressive stylized performances. 

Friday
Dec052014

Monty the Cat Pundit Smells a Jennifer Aniston Surprise!

Monty is getting on in years and has all but retired from Oscar punditry. When I show him my swag in the hopes that he'll reveal some innate feline wisdom about awards season these days he looks away with disdain, grumpier than ever. He's even ignored all the boxes which must be like an alcoholic strolling past an open bar without stopping.

But FINALLY engagement. This week he lept with glee into a box containing various Into the Woods substances (I wasn't quick enough with the camera but he obviously approves. Does this mean that Into the Woods can muscle into the Best Picture race after all (it's kind of a toss-up right?) or is it just a reminder that Monty has a thing for musicals? His first Oscar call ever was Best Original Song for Björk in Dancer in the Dark (2000) when he was just a 2 year-old. He would race to the CD player (remember those?) whenever it came on and plant himself there.

And tonight, the most curiousity yet this season as he began circling one of three new packages He would barely let me touch it. What's it for?

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