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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in Best Actress (340)

Thursday
May142015

What's Up With Opera Pictures, Doc?

For the past year or so various Streep related announcements have revealed a curious trend: Meryl Streep is suddenly really into musically-themed pictures with four consecutive pictures of that ilk from 2014-2016 (with the exception of her cameos in other prestige dramas). First came Into the Woods, then Ricki & The Flash and next year it was supposed to be all about the Operas.  Opera? Yup. She signed on for a very promising sounding comic bio about a terrible singer Florence Foster Jenkins to be directed by Stephen Frears. The fate of the fourth picture, a filmed adaptation of the stage play Master Class, a fictionalized drama about Maria Callas's time as a voice teacher, is now up in the air. The HBO project aimed to reunite Streep with her most frequent collaborator Mike Nichols but five months after the project was announced, Nichols passed away.

Whether or not Master Class goes before cameras (with or without Streep) it will surely keep getting stage revivals since "La Divina" continues to fascinate actors and storytellers.  French diva Fanny Ardant already played the opera singer for the screen in Franco Zefirrelli's Callas Forever (2002) and word broke yesterday, complete with this gorgeous promotional poster, that Noomi Rapace is next. 

Noomi Rapace recreates a famous Callas photo

She'll star in the already fully funded Callas for director Niki Caro. Rapace broke out in a big way with the Swedish Dragon Tattoo movies but subsequent efforts as an international leading lady haven't attracted as much attention (sorry but Michael Fassbender stole all Prometheus thunder). Still, the writer/director Niki Caro isn't a slouch when it comes to winning her actresses attention. She's only made five movies including the very recent and very atypical McFarland USA, but two of them resulted in Best Actress nominations: Keisha Castle Hughes in Whale Rider and Charlize Theron in North Country. So chalk Rapace down as a threat for the shortlist in 2016 or 2017, depending on how quick they are about this. 

Tuesday
May122015

Q&A: Gene Kelly 1, Character X, and Best Actress 2: The Sequel

It's time to answer a dozen reader questions pulled from the last two "Ask Nathaniel" suggestion-box posts. Please to note that in the podcast this weekend, we answered a few already that were Ex Machina related and last night we teased you with an appetizer about the emotions of Inside Out and actors who best embody them.

Jumping right in...

BVR: Do you think audiences will ever flock to dramas again the way they used to years ago?

I hope so, all things being cyclical. It happens once in a while still. The Blind Side (2009) and American Sniper (2014) were both supersized hits in the way movie star dramas of the past have been when they've hit big. Unfortunately they both felt like anomalies and only that successful because they managed to get people who don't go to the movies into the movie theater. The problem today is obviously at least four-fold: TVs got larger, the amount of content exploded, theatrical windows shrunk, and the theaters, rather than stepping up their game to compete, actually made themselves less hospitable with smaller screens and tons of commercials.

Movie theater chains seem to be trying again but once you've lost a regular moviegoer, it's hard to restore their habit. What is next in terms of technological advances? Will we ever get fully three dimensional hologram-like movies you can walk around inside? And if we do, won't dramas be the favorite, rather than special effects pictures, for the 'choose your own proximity adventure' in terms of closeups of the actors? I imagine they'll be performed very much like straight plays for multiple cameras and since you're the one doing the editing, theater training will be important and superb acting could rise again to "favorite visual effect" dominance. 

Or did our recent sci-fi week warp my brain too much? This wasn't the answer you were looking for.

BROOKESBOY: Who will be the next winner of a second Best Actress prize?

More Questions and Answers -- a lot more -- after the jump

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Sunday
May102015

Mother's Day Special: "Now, Voyager" and Bette Davis

Happy Mother's Day, readers! Here's new contributor Angelica Jade Bastién returning to talk Bette Davis, tell all bios, and a 1940s classic. - Editor

When I introduce friends to Bette Davis for the first time I tend to show them Now, Voyager. Yes, the film gives us one of Davis' best performances but my love for it is deeply personal. Whenever I watch Now, Voyager I see my emotional landscape on the screen. As a teenager struggling with mental illness and a caring yet controlling mother who didn’t quite know how to handle it the film was a revelation. It gave me hope that I could become the woman I always dreamed of. Ultimately, my obsession with the film centers upon the multiple ways it explores motherhood. 

Now, Voyager is essentially about the transformation of Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) from spinster aunt figure to badass, emotionally realized womanhood. The film begins with Charlotte teetering at the edge of a nervous breakdown brought upon by the multitude of ways her mother, Mrs. Vale, controls her...

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Monday
Apr202015

Tribeca: A Second Look at "Grandma"

Lily Tomlin with writer/director Paul Weitz of "About a Boy" fameJoe Reid reporting from the Tribeca Film Festival

After months of feeling left out for not being at Sundance when this little gem debuted (Nathaniel reviewed it), I was at long last able to see Paul Weitz's Grandma, featuring as charming and exciting a central performance by Lily Tomlin as you've heard. Tomlin plays Elle Reid (no relation...though that's not what I'll be telling people), a thorny old lesbian who at times she describes herself both as a misanthrope and as a "terrible person," yet the good heart at her center never gets covered up all that effectively. She's just dumped her lover (Judy Greer) when she's visited by her teen granddaughter, Sage (Julia Garner), who needs money for an abortion. Elle doesn't have it, but she thinks she knows where she can get it, and pretty soon, we've got an old-fashioned road trip on our hands!

Road-trip movies have a natural episodic structure to them, and Grandma keeps some fun casting decisions around each corner. Here's Laverne Cox! Here's Sam Elliott! Here's Elizabeth Peña! (I let out a whimpered "aw" when the late Peña showed up; I found out after the film screened that a friend of mine did the same thing when she saw it.) Here's Marcia Gay Harden! The casting decisions are all quite sharp, which keeps it from feeling like a parade of familiar faces designed to cozy up to an indie audience. In particular, Elliott does some impressive work in his one scene. If Tomlin ends up folded into awards talk for her performance (she should), expect more than a few for-your-consideration pleas on Elliott's behalf.

While Grandma becomes as much of an abortion comedy as Obvious Child was, the focus never leaves Tomlin's Elle. It seems for a while that the movie is going to be a succession of dupes for Elle to mow down. Certainly that's how thing's go for Sage's boyfriend (Nat Wolff, making his requite festival rounds this year). But the film proves to be unexpectedly generous to most of its other characters, including an energetic third-act stomping-through by Marcia Gay Harden, who gets my vote for the movie's funniest line (it's about condoms).

Monday
Mar232015

Pretty Woman at 25: An Ode to Julia’s Laugh

Manuel here to share my love for Julia Roberts on the 25th anniversary of that 1990 blockbuster, the movie that netted the star her second consecutive Oscar nomination.

Roberts is the first movie star I ever obsessed over. She was my American sweetheart even though I was nowhere near America and didn’t quite understand what being a “sweetheart” meant. All I knew was that her laugh was infectious, her smile gargantuan and her charm inescapable. This was most (if not all) in part to Pretty Woman. I cannot recall where or how I got to watch the film that made her a megawatt star (I was barely 4 when it came out so I was obviously a late convert) but years of cable reruns made Julia a staple of what here at the TFE would dub my budding actressexuality.

She would later win me over completely with My Best Friend’s Wedding and Erin Brockovich (not to mention my probably unhealthy obsession with Mike Nichol’s Closer) but Julia’s Vivian Ward is a thing of beauty. Yes, it’s a movie star turn in that Roberts’s charm papers over the dark undertones of film and character alike, but she’s so damn watchable. And has been ever since.

More...

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Sunday
Mar222015

From the Vaults: The Etymology of "Actressexuality"

Yesterday a reader by the name of Noah Tsika (who just wrote a book on Nollywood) was asking about the coinage of the term "Actressexual" a word popularized at The Film Experience. The term grew beyond us obviously and people have since used it online who probably haven't even read this site or Nick's. Noah found the original post himself but I thought I'd share it for newer readers.

It was originally published on August 2nd in 2006 (hence the very mid Aughts examples) and went like so: 

Recently, during the umpteenth Oscar Best Actress discussion over at Nicks Flick Picks his partner Derek, continuously bewildered by our communal enthusiasm, quipped "Is Best Actress, like, its own sexual orientation?" After laughing out loud I had to face facts. This was a lightning bolt of truth.

I'm an Actressexual. 

It explains so much. It explains those nights lying in bed dreaming, not of glistening male hardbodies but of actresses swathed in Valentino, Saab, Armani, and vintage whomever. It explains the shared lust, not for their tuxedoed dates, but for that gold statue. It explains the dreams not of Ethan Hawke but of Uma Thurman. I'd like to think my love for Michelle Pfeiffer transcends any sexual orientation but it probably explains that, too.

Come to think of it, it even explains Warren Beatty. Actressexuality defies hetero and homo boundaries. Beatty may have screwed everything with a vagina back in his Hollywood heyday but notice: the only serious relationships --Julie Christie, Natalie Wood, and Annette Bening-- these were women who had just been nominated for an Oscar. Or were named Madonna. But, readers, she somehow counts.

OMG. How am I going to explain this to my parents?