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Entries in Best Actress (209)

Monday
Aug122013

Meryl Goes "Supporting" - The Scare Quotes Are Mandatory

Ever since I first fell in love with the Oscars as a young boy, I declared the Oscars my Christmas. Of course as my Oscar obsession grew I had to adjust. Nomination Morning became Christmas (full of sleepless night, early morning thrills, and a few dud gifts) and the Ceremony itself became New Year's Eve (rambunctious, noisy, equal parts exhilarating and disappointing, and usually causing a hangover). 

Santa (aka The Academy) thinks I've been naughty every year.

I must've been because they always throw a giant lump of Category Fraud coal in my stocking. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences added the supporting categories in 1936 when they realized that they hadn't accounted for honoring character actors who bring so much to the industry and to each movie and their current awards only honored movie stars. 77 years later they no longer care about their intentions and now all the acting categories are designed to honor movie stars. Which leaves character actors to just do their work (its own reward, sure) in their former thankless way. They are, after all, very low on Hollywood's totem pole and Hollywood is a place where power matters. 

I wasn't at all surprised to hear that August: Osage County, which has in every incarnation had two leads (Barbara & Violet), suddenly only had one for its future Oscar campaigns according to Gold Derby.

I am, however, a bit surprised that that it's Violet/Streep who all the action centers on who has mysteriously becoming a "supporting" character. [more]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Aug112013

Yes, No, Maybe So: "Philomena"

After a quiet six or seven months on the Best Actress front we have two real contenders (Cate Blanchett & Brie Larson) and in the fall and winter the usual glut of heavy hitters. We've already seen trailers for Meryl's 4th Oscar plea, Emma's comeback and Sandra's tease. And now... Dame Judi Dench as Philomena, a woman whose son was given up for adoption when she was a young girl fifty years earlier.

I did not abandon my child."

My quick reaction to the trailer...

YES - Dench doesn't carry films as often as we'd like so we're there. The tears will undoubtedly flow given that people struggling to reconcile their lives and lost children demand kleenex. Philomena's matter-of-fact loopiness (the portion control joke, her "Ann Boleyn" comment) might provide good laughs.

NO - The trailer suggests that we are as interested in Steve Coogan's career trouble journey as in her life. This would not be the case.

MAYBE SO - The light comic tone suggests a different film than we were expecting given the overall concept. Perhaps this is another Mrs Henderson Presents (which barely challenges Dench) rather than a Her Majesty Mrs Brown in terms of depth and potency. It seems unlikely, at least in this tiny sample, to impress like her tour de force in Notes on a Scandal

THE TRAILER

Are you a Yes, No, Maybe So? And which Judi Dench film does the trailer most remind you of?

Friday
Aug092013

Cinema Swimwear: Mildred Pierce

This summer The Film Experience is launching its own swimwear line! *not really

Back to Results | You are in: Swimwear

larger viewThe Two-Piece Pierce
★★★★★ - 6 Reviews

Color 
Only available in matron white

Size 
Only available in small

Product Details
Buttoned-up, hard-working, unappreciated single mother/entrepeneur by day? Wardrobe Master Milo Anderson brings you this little number to knock out your unsuspecting suitor when he brings you to his beach house. Our luxurious men's-style cover-up (sold separately) will keep your still-slim dancer's body comfortable while lulling him into submission, until that moment when it comes off and.. BAM!

Just don't expect a whistle. He'll need a police siren to show his affection for your body in this!

Price
Bill it to your wealthy trust-fund paramour

Estimated Arrival
...In fact, he probably already has one waiting at his beach house!

Details and Care 
Matching swim cap also available! Order Now! This flirty, feminine two-piece is sexy enough or him and lady-like enough for you. Just don't let your teenage daughter grab hold of it... who knows what might happen?

also available from this retailer

Monday
Aug052013

The Podcast Returns: The Xanax Kicked In For "Blue Jasmine"

As we reach the final lap of summer, it's time to bring the podcast back for another Oscar season! Joining Nathaniel are Nick Davis, Katey Rich and Joe Reid.

This week we're talking about Nick's DVD Collection, Brooklyn Park Slope, New York Park Avenue, and Chicago moviegoing, whether or not Cate Blanchett is the frontrunner for Best Actress and what we think of the casting director's Oscar branch and the American Hustle trailer. But the bulk of the podcast is devoted to a Blue Jasmine breakdown. No not that kind of breakdown. Cate already covered the going mental part.

UPDATE: For those who are spoiler averse you might want to skip these parts:

11:40 - 12:16 
14:07 - 14:54
18:20 - 19:37

Thanks Alice for pointing these reveals out.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download it on iTunes.

Blue Jasmine Breakdown

Sunday
Aug042013

Review: Blue Jasmine

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Cate Blanchett can't shut up in Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's latest dramedy which added more cities this weekend for its platform rollout. We join Jasmine (real name "Jeanette") in medias res on a flight to San Francisco as she's chattering away with, no, at an older companion. She goes on and on (and on some more!) about her love affair with her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) all the way through to baggage claim.

But Jasmine is a liar or at least a half truth-teller. We will immediately discover that her great love affair ended in ruin. Hal was a criminal, a financial con artist who pampered Jasmine with other people's fortunes and ruined everyone including Jasmine. She's moving in with her estranged adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), also ruined by Hal's crimes, now that she's destitute. Jasmine hasn't adjusted to her new facts, though, treating her cabbie from the airport like a personal chauffeur, and leaving him a big tip considering she's supposed to be penniless.Jasmine isn't always "in the now" as it were. She never is actually, talking or bragging or obsessing over the past. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul172013

Best Shot: Mary Poppins Makes Your Heart Feel Light

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: Mary Poppins never explains anything! That's true of both the character and the film, actually. There's no back story (Hallelujah!) and no fussiness about the how and why of her "magic". (Sadly, this movie would never be made today when the mystery is drained from everything). More surprising for a family film there's very little overstating of its message (though Dick Van Dyke does a little bit of singing it directly to Mr. Banks just to make sure he's clear). If you don't believe me, really watch it again. Despite the imposing length (2 hours and 20 minutes) it's structurally smart and so light on its feet that it simply blows in on the East wind and then floats away when the super nanny's mission is accomplished. Like its heroine, the movie is practically perfect in every way.

"Cheeky" - my favorite shot of Julie Andrews in the film

I'll do my best to emulate her and keep my "best shot" explanation brief -- if only I could sing it! though it's a bittersweet task since, if I was choosing a different shot, I'd get to talk at length about how brilliant Julie Andrews is in the movie. Her Oscar win is one of the most unusual choices the Academy ever made for a Lead Acting trophy (no histrionics, no "clips", nothing one might define as Oscar-Bait) and one of their smartest, too. But I'll have to wax rhapsodic about Julie another time and jump right to my choice for Best Shot.

When I was a kid my favorite song in the movie was "Jolly Holiday". I'm not sure if it was because I wanted to dive into the chalk paintings or if I just found it catchy or if I just loved that incredibly funny moment when all the barnyard animals get solo lines and they each sound EXACTLY like a singing version of that animal should. As an adult I still love the song mostly because its such an accurate description of how one feels in Mary Poppins presence: light and grand... your heart starts beating like a big brass band.

Best Shot -- I wish I could see this on the big screen!

But, as anyone familiar with Mary Poppins know, there's a beautiful melancholy undercurrent to the plot and the feeling which is why I'm choosing this moment, right after the chalk painting adventure when Mary and the children have left Bert in the park. It's gray and stormy now but Bert's mood is unaltered. He keeps dancing in the rain, still enjoying the imagined holiday as the colors lose their shape but glow like memories.

This visual motif with a man in near silhouette with a telling splash of color is repeated again (only more empathically) in both the showstopping "Steppin' Time" number (blue) and when Mr Banks is fired from his job (red) but here is where it most beautifully summarizes the film's smart disposition (both firm and truthful but  loose and magical) and the color Mary brings to people's lives.

When the day is gray and ordinary
Mary makes the sun shine bright!

Mary Poppins warns us over and over again -- though not in hamfisted redundant ways -- that all things are temporary. One day childhood will end. Very soon the chalk paintings will wash away. As soon as the wind changes Mary herself will vanish. Mary Poppins would never say anything as mundane as "seize the day" but in her cheeky way she's making sure that we get that each day counts. She recommends feeding birds, flying kites, and a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

Best Shot Steppin' Time
Antagony & Ecstasy - on Julie Andrews' brilliant star turn
Allison Tooey - the feeling it gives
Encore Entertainment - Mary Poppins needs you to get your act together
Entertainment Junkie - on magical realism
Film Actually - defying logic, physics, and gravity
The Film's The Thing - a familiar silhouette
Manuel Betancourt - Julie Andrews Steppin' Time
Stale Popcorn - actually hates the movie!
Serious Film - praises David Tomlinson's Mr Banks
Victim of the Time - the measure of a woman
We Recycle Movies -on childhood nostalgia

Wednesday
Jul172013

A Topic That Never Grows Old: Best Actress 1995

Elisabeth Shue had my vote among the Oscar nominees

With the time left -- you can have more money, you can drink all you want -- just stay. That's what I want. I want you to talk. Or listen. Just stay."

Alicia Silverstone, Clueless (MTV Winner, Globe Nominee)
Angela Bassett, Waiting to Exhale (Image Award Winner)
Annette Bening, The American President (Globe Nominee)
Gong Li, Shanghai Triad (None)
Joan Allen, Nixon (SAG Lead Nominee but Oscar Supporting Nominee)
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Georgia (NYFCC Winner, Spirit Nominee)
Jessica Lange, Rob Roy (None)
Julianne Moore, [safe] (Spirit Nominee)
Julie Delpy, Before Sunrise (None)
Kathy Bates, Delores Claiborne (Saturn Nominee)
Michelle Pfeiffer, Dangerous Minds (MTV Nominee, #1 Female Led Box Office Hit)
Nicole Kidman, To Die For (Globe Winner)
Sandra Bullock, While You Were Sleeping (Globe Nominee, #2 Female Led Box Office Hit)
Toni Collette, Muriel's Wedding (AFI Winner, Globe Nominee)

...and the Oscar nominees
Elisabeth Shue, Leaving Las Vegas 
Emma Thompson, Sense & Sensibility (won for Screenplay!)
Meryl Streep, The Bridges of Madison County (#3 Female Led Box Office Hit)
Sharon Stone, Casino (Globe Winner)
Susan Sarandon, Dead Man Walking (The Winner) 

*and I dedicate this list to Pocahontas in Pocahontas who I wish was a real actress

Such riches to choose from! Definitely in the running for Bestest Best Actress Year of All Time? Your ballots please.