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Jessica Lange's Triple Crown 

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Entries in Best Actress (368)

Thursday
Jun112015

Q&A: May/December Romance? Actressy Titles? Streep Sans Sophie

This week's Ask Nathaniel session didn't get as many questions as usual -- you were intimidated by the request for donations surely which sucks because life ain't free and we work hard here -- but here are 9 questions anyway because I'm such a giver. Let's start with a trip back to 1995 and move on to smackdowns, actressexual directors, Nicole Kidman in Paddington, and Hollywood's love of pairing older men with younger woman... 

Golden Globe Comedy Wins Don't Always Lead to Oscar Noms

COCO: I'm in a very 1995 mood. Were you obsessing and predicting twenty years ago?

NATHANIEL: LOL. Yes, I was.  I've been obsessed since I first discovered the Oscars 82/83 (my family was mystified since none of them had interest) and started making list of "dream nominations" each year when I was a kid even though I didn't see most of the actual nominees since they were rated "R" (VERBOTEN!) so I was madly scribbling things like  "Best Actress: Daryl Hannah for Splash !!!" and such early on. But honestly I can't remember when I started "predicting" in the classic sense but it was definitely before The Film Experience.

We'll be discussing 1995 at length in the July Smackdown so I'll save most of my comments for then but my biggest nail-biter and raucous-cheering and breath-holding was for Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas (who was my personal choice for the Oscar that year) since there were basically seven women with what seemed like actual traction for five spots. The oddwomen out were, of course, Jennifer Jason Leigh (Georgia) and Golden Globe Actress in a Musical or Comedy winner Nicole Kidman (To Die For).  Nothing against Leigh and Kidman but I knew there was only room for 1 of them since Sarandon, Stone, Streep, Thompson were locked up for various reasons some valid some not. That year's Best Actress race was so overstuffed and incredible which is why it comes up so often in Oscar circles as a point of discussion. 

On some posters (not this one) the tag line is "Raises screen acting to a new level of sexual knowingness" (!!!)PEDINHRO: What are your favorite movies with a female name in the title? My all time favorite is The Marriage of Maria Braun!

Well, you took the best one! Wait do you mean Best Title or Best Movie that just happens to have a female name in the title? If you mean best movie obviously I have to have things like Carrie and Annie Hall. But if you mean "Best Title" that's more fun so let's make it a whole top ten after the jump...

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Wednesday
Jun032015

YNMS: Suffragette 

Every day since Cannes wrapped it's become clear that the Oscar charts must be updated. We were already banking on Focus Feature's Suffragette for a Best Picture nomination but when we update we might get even more bullish after this new trailer and that prime October real estate (October has been very kind to Best Pictures of late - December is so passe). Anyway, let's not get distracted with Best Picture talk.

Suffragette stars Carey Mulligan as Maud, a working wife and mother who is recruited to join the growing movement and becomes a fierce activist. Mulligan, having a great year with Far From The Madding Crowd's success and a Tony nomination, will likely reap Oscar traction if people like the film but she's backed up by quite the ensemble of talented ladies. Meryl Streep is apt to get all the glory, as she does, for her small role as Emmeline Pankhurst, a catalyst for the story and an icon of Suffragette history, but I'll be interested to see which other members of the supporting cast can win any attention or praise (if any) for strong characterizations or memorable scenes once people start seeing the whole film. Suffragette will premiere at the London Film Festival. 

The trailer and our Yes No Maybe So breakdown -- which we'll do a little differently this time -- after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun022015

Grace & Frankie. Final Thoughts & Emmy Wishes

We recapped the first half of Grace and Frankie and then abruptly quit talking about it, but since it's been renewed, we should tie this up in a neat bow. As with other Netflix shows in the past like OITNB and Daredevil it didn't quite engage people in the blogging model as weekly series coverage does despite the fact that it was clear that most readers were watching. The problem, as documented in ongoing media hand-wringing and cultural conversations about binge-watching, is that nobody's ever on the same page. 

But on the other hand people do seem to have ended up on (mostly) the same page with Grace & Frankie in terms of its overall quality. More...

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Saturday
May302015

1979 Look Back: Bette Midler and "The Rose"

By 1979 Bette Midler was already a star. She had a Grammy (Best New Artist), an Emmy (for her televison special Ol' Red Hair is Back), and a Special Tony award for "adding lustre to the Broadway stage". (She performed in a show called Bette Midler's Clams on the Half Shell Revue). Naturally the next entertainment medium to conquer was film and become an inevitable movie star as well. Despite uncredited small parts (including 1966's Hawaii, which filmed in her home state) and underground film, Midler made her official film debut as a lead with her electrifying performance as a troubled rocker in The Rose - which, of course, brought her a Best Actress nomination, a Golden Globe, and a film career to add to her impressive résumé.   

The film earned a total of four Academy Award nominations (Midler plus Best Supporting Actor for Frederic Forrest, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing). Just recently the film scored another honor when it was released through the prestigious Criterion Collection. In addition to a gorgeous restoration (I had previously only seen the film on grainy VHS and I was amazed at how sharp and bright the colors are - especially during the stage numbers), there are new interviews with Bette Midler, director Mark Rydell, as well as archival footage from a day of shooting that aired on the Today show.

More...

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Monday
May252015

Two Women. Two Questions

First a Question For You
Have you ever been baffled or resentful of an Oscar win (any category) only to finally see the picture and go "Oh, okay. I get it" and feel sheepish about your past dismissal (even if it wouldn't quite change your vote)? 

Such was the case with me and Sophia Loren's Two Women (1961) the only 1960s Best Actress win I hadn't seen, largely because I was so angry about it growing up given my intense love of Natalie Wood, who lost her best shot at the statue (Splendor in the Grass) in the peak year of her popularity (West Side Story). But when the Walter Reade screened Vittoria de Sica's Two Women this weekend I decided to fix the gap. Sophia was terrific, particularly in the final act when the movie takes quite a dark turn (in some ways it's a very strange film, a mix of lightly charming Star Vehicle, brutal Neorealism, and Melodrama)

My Turn. "Ask Nathaniel..."
Once you've answered my question in the comments, ask me one! (It should not be Sophia related. I just needed to ask you that question.) I'll answer two handfuls of your questions tomorrow night in the Q&A column.

Ready. Set. Go...

 

Sunday
May242015

Cate to the Rescue!

Cate Blanchett may not have won Best Actress at Cannes but she still wins our hearts. And now we're left wondering what Oscar will do with two lesbian dramas with obvious co-leads hitting them at once this year (Freeheld & Carol), will they double down on Category Fraud or finally reject it? Anyway, here's Jose to give Cate the Coveted Post Cannes Ceremony Celebration Post. - Nathaniel R

Our adventure begins around May 15, 2015 when a certain red carpet superstar had to make an emergency call...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May202015

Cannes Actress: Zhao Tao and Jane Fonda

The latest buzz from Cannes is that the Best Actress race is heating up. Or at least speculation is. Marion Cotillard's Lady MacBeth has yet to screen but those that have seen it early are typically wowed. But we know at this point not to expect Cannes juries to point and go "Her! Her!". If there is a Blanchett-Vanquisher out there it may well be Zhao Tao who stars in the "giddily ambitiousMountains May Depart.

That's the latest from the reknowned Jia Zhangke, a regular at the fest for whom Zhao Tao is a recurring player (Still Life, Platform, A Touch of Sin). Mountains is Zhangke's fourth try at the Palme and though he usually comes away empty-handed, his last attempt A Touch of Sin (2013) took Best Screenplay. Despite the jury completely changing each year Cannes somehow has an Oscar-like sense of momentum wherein you generally move up the ranks as to which prizes you take; longevity wins the Palme. (It's not as simple as that of course but there can be a weird cumulative coronation effect.)

So that makes the Palme race: Hungary's Son of Saul vs. USA's Carol vs China's Mountains May Depart? (Or am I forgetting something that's been similarly ecstatically received?) Typing them out that way it makes Cannes sound like the Olympics of the movies, only annual instead of bi-annual. And maybe it is?

In other Canne actressy news, our friend Kyle Buchanan says that Jane Fonda walks away with Paolo Sorrentino's Youth which stars Michael Caine as a retired film composer.  I'm hearing that Fonda's role is very showy (an old combative muse to Harvey Keitel's director character), but quite small. Nevertheless I couldn't help but immediately picture both Grace (Jane) and Frankie (Lily) as Oscar nominees this year in Supporting (for Youth) and Lead (for Grandma) and how much media fun would that be? Sorrentino had a major Cannes sensation and eventual Oscar winner with his last film The Great Beauty. This one is in English which naturally will give it a leg up with Oscar voters if it opens this year but it's already more divisive which can be a problem. Still love/hate divides are tough to predict with awards. All you sometimes need is the right people on the love side to turn the critical tide around. And anyway when this mixed review called it 'elegant fun' I just thought... doesn't that describe a lot of well received prestige films?

But just to remind us that she's already one of the immortals (with 2 Oscars, multiple classic films, and celebrity outside of acting as well, the legend is assured) here is Jane Fonda looking amazing on the cover of W --  their oldest cover girl ever.

Here's an interesting bit on self-awareness from the W interview

One day on the set of On Golden Pond, a film that she coproduced so that she could costar with her father, the legendary actor Henry Fonda, she was fixing her hair when Katharine Hepburn (who played her mother in the film) pinched her cheek and demanded, “What do you want this to mean?” “It was 1981, and I didn’t know what she was talking about,” Fonda recalled. “Back then, I didn’t give my looks a fare-thee-well, and that bothered Katharine. She said to me, ‘This is what you present to the world. What do you want it to say about you?’ Her question has been lodged in my psyche ever since. I now think what Katharine meant was awareness of a persona. She wanted me to consider how I wanted to be seen. Now I pay attention to how I present myself to the world. I realize that it matters.”