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Entries in Best Actress (203)

Wednesday
Nov062013

Paging Lacuna, Inc. - Naomi Watts' 2013 is One She'd Rather Forget!

One of my favourite movie-going memories of 2013 was seeing the trailer for Adore play before a bemused sold out opening weekend audience at Blue Jasmine. Amongst the scattered laughs was one lady a row or two behind me who uttered to her companion, “What is Naomi Watts doing?” She, and the rest of us, are sadly still waiting for an answer. On the heels of that Oscar nomination for The Impossible, Watts has since appeared in two films that have literally been laughed off of cinema screens.

[Adore and Diana giggles after the jump...]

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Wednesday
Oct302013

Review: Blue is the Warmest Color

Adele (Adele Exarchopolous) is voracious. We first note this when she’s devouring a huge plate of spaghetti at her family’s table. She practically hoovers it down, tomato sauce staining her mouth, before going back for seconds. She reads and writes the same way, albeit offscreen, devouring 600 page novels and writing intimate diaries. But what we see is her various oral fixations and one doesn’t eat literature. If she’s not shoving cigarettes in her mouth, it’s food (and, later, body parts). In one endearing moment she shoves a chocolate bar in her wet face during a crying jag getting a huge laugh from moviegoers who've also eaten their feelings.

Adele will eat anything but seafood. That would be a sly tongue-in-(uhhhh)cheek joke if the new lesbian drama BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR didn’t make a point of it in two separate scenes. Instead this provocative film -- already famous round the globe for its explicit sex and post-Cannes disputes between its actresses and director – risks camp by playing it straight. It shamelessly equates oysters to ladyparts and in one scene that is either comical, ridiculous, perverse or all three, Adele’s older girlfriend Emma (Léa Seydoux) teaches her how to eat them… in front of the parents!

Guess what? She likes it.

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Wednesday
Oct232013

Kate, Barbra, and Oscar Part 1: The Queen

As a bit of context for the impending Supporting Smackdown (get your votes in), we'll be celebrating 1968 daily at Noon for the rest of the month. Here's Anne Marie on a favorite Oscar moment.

It was the night of April 14th, 1969. The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion was packed with stars for the 41st Academy Awards. When it came time to award the Oscar for Best Actress, presenter Ingrid Bergman stuttered with shock as she announced that two women had tied. Her surprise was understandable; there had been no tie in the acting branch for over thirty years. Barbra Streisand, only 26 years old, tripped over her sparkling sailor suit as she approached the podium to accept her Oscar for Funny Girl. Katharine Hepburn was characteristically absent for her historic third win, so the director of The Lion In Winter accepted on her behalf. This joint win was more than just a peculiar footnote in Oscar history. This was a rare case of the Academy getting it exactly right twice with one award.

As has been extensively documented here at The Film Experience, the Academy is often maddeningly predictable in its awards-giving. However, at its best an Oscar can be a celebration of an explosive newcomer on the cusp of an incredible career (e.g. Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind) or a salute to a seasoned veteran for a risky performance at her artistic peak (e.g. Vivien Leigh in A Streetcar Named Desire). In 1969, both happened: Katharine Hepburn won for the second time in a row for a virtuosic, against-type performance as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion In Winter, and Barbra Streisand won for her instantly-iconic turn as Fanny Brice in her very first film, Funny Girl. While these two women can share that Oscar win, they certainly cannot be confined together to a single blog post. If you'll forgive my fangirl squeals of excitement, I'll start with Hepburn.

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Sunday
Oct202013

Remember When... We Didn't Know Who Would Star in "Gravity"?

I've been spending a great deal of time thinking about Sandra Bullock in Gravity lately. It's only natural when an actress is headlining an unqualified blockbuster that I'd do that but some of the time spent making like a contemplative Rodin-statue is my disconnect with the performance. I didn't love it or dislike it. I fall right in the middle. She's up to the task but no more or less.... to me. It doesn't remotely feel like an actor's movie to me -- though in all honesty I actually expected it to be given its one character focus. As a result I've been rather at a loss for explaining all the performance raves that have flown 'round ever since. And I've been stubbornly reluctant to concede that she was an Oscar lock. [Updated Best Actress chart]

My disconnect was aggravated by the fact that on the day it premiered and the explosion of "give her a second Oscar!" tweeting began... I had such a hard time imagining Cate Blanchett's hurricane force work in Blue Jasmine as a runner-up in this "versus!" contest in terms of quality. What's more Sandra's star turn wasn't even among the five best performances I had seen that month... let alone the whole of the year. While everyone was enjoying Sandra's survivalism on opening weekend I was still: reeling from Luminita Gheorghiu's savage mom in Child's Pose which would be a film-carrying nomination threat if it were in English along the lines of a Anjelica Huston in The Grifters (...and if it were being released in time); marvelling at Marion Cotillard's technique in The Immigrant which would be a threat if Oscar had shown any interest in Marion post-Oscar win (...and if it were being released in time); and falling head over heels in love with Paulina Garcia in Chile's Oscar entry Gloria, a performance so good that it'd be a threat to win the statue if it were in English, and if Oscar loved leading ladies over 50 (they don't)... and, say it with me now... if it were being released in time. That's too many "if"s, I know. 

So I asked on Twitter, Guy Lodge thought too aggressively!, what people saw in Sandy's performance that I was missing. Why were they so enthused? (And I probably should have asked the lot of you as well!)

The most common answers I received were for 'selling the illusion' and for her 'game physicality'... both of which are valid points, I concede. But I find that the performance is lacking in vocal nuance and in the eyes (beyond terror). I just didn't feel like it transcended the simplistic characterization in the screenplay in any way and when you're talking FIVE BEST OF THE YEAR you'd better transcend! Otherwise just enjoy solid respectable "we love you, you superstar" reviews and leave it at that. Joe Reid was teasing me earlier today with the internet's binary thinking that this makes me a Sandra hater and no one should ever believe that i've ever enjoyed her in anything. But I have! I've just never though she was a "great" actor, only -- and this is not an insult -- a super likeable and talented one. She's the kind of star for whom global popularity and bottomless coffers of gold coin feel like just rewards. 

This is all a long way of saying that I'm happy for Sandra's success since she seems like such a good person and she's so likeable, but that I still don't get why she's now an "Oscar Actress" as opposed to a Beloved Movie Star. Sometimes those things should go totally hand in hand of course, don't misunderstand. But in this case...?

Why am I bringing this up now, three weeks after Gravity has conquered the world and has the loudest Oscar fanbase this year?

Well, while looking for something else entirely in the Vaults of The Film Experience I came across this old post about the casting of Gravity after Angelina Jolie passed in 2010 and this strange "what if" visual detail...

actual reported studio interest when they were trying to find Gravity's female lead in 2010

IT'S SUCH A TIME CAPSULE.

These women were all actually mentioned in the trades as viable Angelina Jolie replacements!  It's hard to imagine Gravity with most of these girls (if not quite all of them) in the role. Funny, right, that the studio were so invested in the futures of Blake Lively, Abbie Cornish, and Sienna Miller... or that they thought Scarlett or Natalie were old enough to play a scientist with expertise that the space program needed, or that they allowed for the possibility that Naomi Watts or Marion Cotillard might be bankable enough?

Now that Gravity has settled in as our possible nomination leader, how are you feeling about it? And Sandra's place in the Best Actress race? Whether you think I'm crazy or only half-agree, do chime in. 

Friday
Oct182013

Two Graces at War

It's Julien your French correspondent to pass a bit of a contentious interview your way. After tampering with the ending of August: Osage Country and cutting 20 minutes off Snowpiercer, it seems Harvey Scissorhands is at it again. Grace of Monaco director Olivier Diahan spoke to French newspaper Libération (in an article published today) about his ongoing feud with Weinstein.

The disagreement is apparently the cause of the film's delay:

What’s complicated right now is to make sure that the critics will be able to judge my own version of the film, and not another one. But it’s not over yet, I haven’t given up. (…) There are two versions of the film: mine and his… which I found catastrophic.”

Quite a strong assessment from the guy who directed My Own Love Song, wouldn’t you say?

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