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Entries in Best Actress (225)

Tuesday
Dec102013

Top Ten: The Oldest Best Actress Line-Ups

Statistics show us time and again that Oscar likes his ladies young. In fact 29 is the most common age that leading ladies win Oscars (for comparison's sake only one man under 30 has ever won Best Actor). And yet, as we speed towards the Oscar nominations, barring an extreme long-shot fresh-faced spoiler like an Adèle (20) or a Brie (26), this year's Best Actress Lineup will likely skew incredibly 'vintage'. If the expected five make an historic "all winners lineup" it's going to be the oldest lineup ever. Now, there is some degree of unusual feeling (I share it) that Meryl Streep (64) is vulnerable to a shut-out for her work in August: Osage County -- something that seemed unthinkable even a few months ago -- but even if she doesn't make the shortlist, there's no guarantee it'll be someone at the beginning of their career. Amy Adams (39) and Julia Louis Dreyfus (52) might still triumph over Brie or Adèle for that hotly contested fifth slot.

So let's look at...

The Top Ten Most Mature Best Actress Shortlists

This top ten is actually only nine years long. I'm reserving a spot for 2013. Barring a major upheaval, the 2013 lineup will be our oldest on average ever. Unless Adèle makes it... and even then it'll come close to being the very oldest. A funny thing occurred while researching this: the years I thought of as elderly weren't. I immediately thought of 1950, for example, with those grande dame performances by All About Eve's Bette Davis and Sunset Boulevard's Gloria Swanson (two of the best performances to lose the Oscar) but both of those women were barely 50 (Grande Dame used to start young!) and the rest of the category was young, younger and youngest. I was also wrong about these years which average a touch or a lot younger than I remembered or was expecting: 1960, 1962, 1974, 1990 and 1992.

Runners Up [3-way Tie] With an Average Age of 41.2 years
1997 As Good as It Get's Helen Hunt, the winner, was the median age of 34.
1996 Fargo's Frances McDormand, another median age winner, was 37.
1952 Come Back Little Sheba's Shirley Booth, pictured left and recently discussed, was the oldest at 52 and the winner. (She's still the only woman to win Best Actress during her fifties. Isn't that insane?) Can you guess which years made the list before you click to proceed? Try it silently for fun...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec082013

Podcast: Philomena Catching Fire

This week NickNathaniel, Katey, and Joe discuss the blockbuster Philomena and that little arthouse indie The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Spoilers you might want to avoid for Philomena are here (32:00-32:20 / 35:00-35:30).

Some questions that need your answers in the comments:  Is Jennifer Lawrence better as Katniss than in her Oscar roles? Would The Hunger Games be better as a TV series? What is going on in the Hemsworth family gene pool? Is Philomena at 98 minutes too padded or too short or, paradoxically, both? And how many nominations can it hope for having conquered the auntie demographic?

You can listen here or download the conversation on iTunes

Philomena: Catching Fire

Monday
Dec022013

Interview: Julie Delpy on the ideal way to watch the "Before" trilogy

Julie Delpy speaking in West Hollywood in NovemberStargazing sometimes leads us to believe that we really know the faces who act out our human dramas onscreen. Or that we know the characters they portray as if they were neighbors. It’s a false intimacy and a fantasy, fiction being fiction and strangers being strangers, but sometimes the illusion is too perfect to deny. Such is the case with Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke as Celine and Jessie in the “Before…”  trilogy. The actors cowrote and costarred in the decades spanning trilogy under the guidance of Director Richard Linklater and the films, perfectly spaced out every nine years, have allowed audiences to age along with them, which has only added to their ephemeral mystique. The films are grounded in reality through their short single day stories and long takes - real life happens one day at a time and without a lot of fussy crosscutting – and the only fantastical element is that every day conversations are rarely this thrilling and this wide ranging and this funny simultaneously for 90 minutes straight without some dud moment or mundane distraction breaking the spell. For that kind of perfection you need miraculous writing and great acting.

Julie Delpy is not, of course, Celine. And though I know this as I settle into our conversation over the telephone I’m temporarily stunned when she, unasked, repeats her trilogy’s most famous line when I bring up the ending to Before Sunset (2004, for which she won a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination though not, tragically, the Best Actress nod she deserved as its companion). She sounds just like Celine… only somehow not...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov292013

Interview: Julia Louis-Dreyfus "Wiggles Around" Toward Acting Glory

Not all actors are adept at every platform. Movies, tv and stage can require require different charismas and subtle changes in scale. In the case of bonafide television superstars like Julia Louis-Dreyfus (16 Emmy acting nominations and 4 wins from 3 different hit series) who rarely work outside their chosen platform, there’s every reason to suspect that they’ll stay put... and should! But with Enough Said, Julia Louis-Dreyfus threw us a divine curveball. Though she's never had a lead film role she carries Enough Said with a beautifully modulated mix of comic and dramatic impulses as Eva, a lonely massage therapist who second-guesses her new romance with Albert (James Gandolfini). If she isn't Golden Globe Best Actress nominated on the 12th, I'm planning to riot. 

Despite the warm reviews and indie success, she was modest about this new achievement when we spoke on the phone last week and very gracious when her work was complimented. “It means a lot to me, especially since you saw it twice”. She’d sprained her ankle earlier that same day “I’m such an ass!” but was still in good spirits, with one leg elevated and her inimitable laugh strangely comforting in its familiarity, like someone had left my TV on in the background. The publicist introducing us sounded unusually ominous "You have 15 minutes." which proved a great ice breaker.

"I feel like we have to take an SAT or something," Julia says.

"In 15 minutes, put your pencils down." I counter.

"Right?!" And we're off...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov222013

Female Acting 2013: Embarassment of Riches

You guys.

How am I ever going to decide on my own awards ballots this year? When the Film Bitch Awards begin in late December / early January - hell even before then when I vote at the annual BFCA "Critic's Choice" Awards --  I will have to make a Sophie's Choices and narrow it way down. There are so many fine performances this year. How will I choose??? Oh god, how will I choose. And with a few films still unseen these two fields could even grow.  

BEST ACTRESS - MY LONGLIST BALLOT
in no particular order 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov222013

Posterized: Judi Dench, Leading Lady

Good things come to those who wait. For Judi Dench that good thing would be movie stardom. She's been acting on stage since 1957 (as Ophelia in Hamlet at the age of 23), on tv since 1959 (the title role in Hilda Lessways), and on the silver screen since 1964 (The Third Secret)...  but it wasn't until 1997/1998 when Dench hit her sixties that true movie stardom happened, prompted by the double whammy of her first Oscar bid (Mrs Brown) and its follow up "oops sorry about last year" Oscar win for Shakespeare in Love (recently discussed). Isn't her career trajectory unheard of? Who doesn't even start being a movie star until their sixties? Dame Judi thats who.

Though she may soon retire (she's turning 80 a year from now) she's still in her movie prime. Her latest starring role is as Philomena, the story of a woman seeking the grown son she gave up for adoption, and it opens today in limited release. Will it bring her her 7th career Oscar nomination (her 5th in lead)? Only seven women in the history of movies have ever accomplished it before (Streep, Hepburn, Davis, Page, Berman, Fonda and Garson are the current top seven in Oscar's Actress Hierarchy each with seven or more nominations). And, finally, why is Philomena rumored to be categorized as a Drama at the Globes when the poster is screaming "COMEDY!" at the top of its marketing lungs. 

JUDI DENCH'S BIG ROLES
How many have you seen? 
To pad out her leading lady resume from these peak stardom years, I've included TV films


Mrs Brown (1997) - Oscar nomination, Bafta win
The Last of the Blonde Bombshells (2001) - Globe win, Bafta win, Emmy nomination
Iris (2001) - Oscar nomination, Bafta win

Ladies in Lavender (2004)
Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) - Oscar nomination
Notes on a Scandal (2006) - Oscar nomination, and my vote for her all time best performance

Cranford (2007) Golden Globe, Emmy, Bafta Nominee
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) - Globe nominee
Skyfall (2011) - some may say this isn't a leading role but the plot of this film suggests otherwise 

Which of these posters brings back your fondest Dame Dench memories?