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Entries in Best Actress (228)

Sunday
Dec072014

A Second Look At "Still Alice"

Michael C. here to sort out a few mixed feelings at the prospect of the impending Julianne Moore juggernaut. Let me cut to right to the matter on everyone’s mind and say that any Academy voter who checks a box for Julianne Moore for Best Actress next year will have no reason to feel anything but pride in his or her choice. Her performance as Alice Howland, a 50-year-old linguistics professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s is every bit as good as billed. But let us also acknowledge the plain truth that Moore’s work here is all the more impressive because she is doing the heavy lifting for a script and direction that are not operating at anywhere near her level. 

To point out that there is little exceptional or even all that much better than competent in Still Alice outside of Julianne Moore’s performance is to risk coming off like some sort of stone-hearted gargoyle. Who doesn’t feel the urge to pull some punches when presented with such an earnestly good intentioned film? And that is to say nothing of the reluctance to rain sour disapproval down on the Best Actress parade currently gaining steam on its march toward the Oscar podium. Who wants to spoil a perfectly good Julianne Moore coronation? Not this critic. [More...]

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Sunday
Dec072014

BSFC, LAFCA, and NYFCO: Their 2014 Winners

My apologies to Boston, Los Angeles and the online contingency of New York City for their shared billing but what can you do? When they all announce on the same weekend they share column space. The DC Film Critics also announced nominations today but in the interest of sanity, TFE only covers actual awards from critics groups, not their nomination rounds (which give performers and films no real juice publicity wise anyway); we have 30+ critics organizations in the US alone so any requested  coverage other than wins for the non-institutions feels ego-driven.

It was another good day for Birdman and Boyhood or "Boyman" as Sasha likes to call it. Particularly Boyhood which no films seem to be able to squirm around for top billing. Grand Budapest Hotel probably came close in L.A., Birdman looked like a distant second in Boston, but NYFCO seemed very committed. Is it now the Oscar frontrunner for Best Picture? It probably always was so yes. 

BOSTON SOCIETY OF FILM CRITICS (BSFC)
The BSFC was formed in 1981 and were once known for scrappy idiosyncratic choices. They were among the first awards group to rubber stamp Steven Soderbergh and David O. Russell (before their prime Oscar years). In the past ten years they've become far more conservative usually awarding their top prize to the Oscar frontrunner or its presumed challenger. Like NYC, Boston now has a second younger "online" group which already announced this year.

Film: Boyhood (runner up: Birdman)
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper)
Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman (runner up: Timothy Spall, Mr Turner)
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night AND The Immigrant (runner up: Hilary Swank, The Homesman)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Emma Stone, Birdman (runner up: Laura Dern, Wild)
Screenplay [TIE]: Birdman & Boyhood (runner up: Mr Turner)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Joel Cox & Gary Roach, American Sniper)
Foreign Film: Two Days One Night (runner up: Ida)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The Lego Movie)
New Filmmaker: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler (runner up: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Jodorowsky's Dune)
Use of Music: Inherent Vice (runner up: Whiplash)

 

LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION (LAFCA)
Founded in 1975, the LAFCA is one of the twin (coastal) towers of film critics associations alongside NYFCC which announced their prizes on December 1st. Last year the LAFCA had a very hard tie figuring out their prizes and the day ended with ties in three headline categories: Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. These days they are perhaps best known for daring choices in Best Actress and Best Picture. 

Film Boyhood (runner up: The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Director Richard Linklater, Boyhood (runner up: Wes Anderson, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (runner up: Julianne Moore, Still Alice)
Actor Tom Hardy, Locke (runner up: Michael Keaton, Birdman)
Supporting Actress: Agata Kulesza, Ida (runner up: Rene Russo, Nightcrawler)
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (runner up: Edward Norton, Birdman)

New Generation: Ava DuVernay, Selma
Screenplay: Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Birdman)
Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya (runner up: The LEGO Movie)
Foreign Film: Ida (runner up: Winter Sleep)
Documentary: Citizen Four (runner up: Life Itself)
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubeszki, Birdman (runner up: Dick Pope, Mr Turner)
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood (runner up: Barney Piling, Grand Budapest Hotel)
Score: TIE Jonny Green, Inherent Vice and Mica Levi, Under the Skin
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen, Grand Budapest Hotel (runner up: Ondrej Nekvasil Snowpiercer)
Experimental Film: Walter Reuben, The David Whiting Story
Career Achievement: Gena Rowlands

The LAFCA seem to have bought into their own myth about their iconoclastic Best Actress behavior. They weirdly switched categories for Patricia Arquette from supporting to lead despite backing J.K. Simmons as supporting from his far leadier work as half of a two-hander relationship drama between two men in a film with basically only two major characters.

Agata Kulesza is a worthy fascinating choice but she's really very obviously more of a lead than Patricia Arquette. But what can you do? I suppose you could make a better case for her in supporting than you could for Arquette as a lead but it's all rather baffling. 

 

NEW YORK FILM CRITICS ONLINE
Said to have been formed in 2000 the internet only has records dating back to 2003 for their prizes. They are not to be confused with the ancient and highly important NYFCC which already announced on December 1st and were Boyhood & Immigrant focused this year.

Picture: Boyhood
Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Ensemble Cast: Birdman
Screenplay: Birdman
Cinematography: Birdman
Use of Music: Get On Up
Debut Director: Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Breakthrough: Jack O'Connel for Unbroken AND Starred Up
Documentary: Life Itself
Animated Feature: The LEGO Movie 

Marion Cotillard is perhaps the other big story of the day having won NYFCC, BSFC, and NYFCO already. Her Oscar chances still seem debatable though for a number of reasons including two separate films and the lack of any real campaigning beyond a screener for Two Days One Night.

J.K. Simmons, Richard Linklater, and Citizen Four continues to be steamrollers in Supporting Actor, Director, and Documentary respectively. Meanwhile Birdman marches along as a strong contender for basically everything if not, yet, a dependable film to bank any actual golden statues on. More unfortunately (especially given my change of heart about the film) critics have optioned not to really back Grand Budapest Hotel beyond the category that Oscar would have awarded it any way, Best Screenplay, which is the only category in which Wes Anderson films ever find any traction, sadly, despite often being sheer wonders in terms of Production Design, Costuming and weirdly expressive stylized performances. 

Friday
Dec052014

Monty the Cat Pundit Smells a Jennifer Aniston Surprise!

Monty is getting on in years and has all but retired from Oscar punditry. When I show him my swag in the hopes that he'll reveal some innate feline wisdom about awards season these days he looks away with disdain, grumpier than ever. He's even ignored all the boxes which must be like an alcoholic strolling past an open bar without stopping.

But FINALLY engagement. This week he lept with glee into a box containing various Into the Woods substances (I wasn't quick enough with the camera but he obviously approves. Does this mean that Into the Woods can muscle into the Best Picture race after all (it's kind of a toss-up right?) or is it just a reminder that Monty has a thing for musicals? His first Oscar call ever was Best Original Song for Björk in Dancer in the Dark (2000) when he was just a 2 year-old. He would race to the CD player (remember those?) whenever it came on and plant himself there.

And tonight, the most curiousity yet this season as he began circling one of three new packages He would barely let me touch it. What's it for?

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov302014

Interview: Jennifer Kent on Her "Babadook" Breakthrough and What She Learned From "Dogville"

It's been a banner year for female directors. Two female directors have continually been in the Best Director Oscar discussion, they continue to make inroads in indie cinema (see the Spirit Award first feature and first screenplay citations!) and in many countries outside of the US. And that's not all. The year's most impressive debut stint behind the camera arguably belongs to Jennifer Kent (pictured left) whose controlled, creepy, beautifully designed and acted Australian horror film The Babadook has been winning raves. After a stint on Direct TV it's just hit US theaters, albeit only three of them. May it expand swiftly to unsettle every city.

When I spoke with Ms. Kent over the phone we were experiencing and ungainly time-lag and accidentally talking over one another. A time-lag also happened when I watched her movie the first time; its unique slow build had me more frightened after the movie finished than while I was watching it. It sticks. The tag line is true

You can't get rid of the Babadook.

I mention that I'm pre-ordering the Babadook book as I'm telling this story about how the movie continues to haunt me. "Then you'd better not," she says laughing as we begin our conversation about debut filmmaking, snobber towards horror films, what she learned from Lars von Trier, and the miracles of Essie Davis' lead performance.

 

NATHANIEL: Have you had a lot of weird reactions to the film?

JENNIFER KENT: Yeah, I have. I’ve had the gamut of reactions from people seeking a roller coaster ride with jolts and scares. They've been like  'Ripped off. This isn’t a horror film!' to people like yourself. What’s most surprising to me is -- more than a  couple of people have said ‘I really didn’t like but I saw it again.' Why would you see it again?  And then changing their minds about it. [More...]

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Thursday
Nov272014

Podcast Xtra: Best Actress. The Runners Up?

We just delivered a podcast on Interstellar and The Imitation Game yesterday. But because we love you here's a brief "extra" conversation on the Best Actress race for your Thanksgiving weekend.

While most pundits think Reese & Juli & Felicity are locked up, there's more disagreement about the fourth and fifth Best Actress slots. We chat Hilary, Amy, Marion, Gugu, Shailene, Scarlett et al.

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments! 

Who gets the fifth slot?

Monday
Nov242014

Lukewarm Off The Presses: Hugh & Amy's Musicals, Diana's Director, Lee's Horror, & Eddie's Operation

Five stories we didn't share in all the hulaballoo of our trip to Los Angeles, the recovery week's madness and now our Thanksgiving prep. Can't let these stories go unremarked upon since many of them are related to this year's Oscar race as well as 2015 and possibly 2016. Let's get ahead of ourselves! 

Barnum by way of Jackson / Amy to play Janis

1. Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum
When I was coming out of Into the Woods the other day and coming out of The Last Five Years back in Toronto, I was wracked with indecision about how I felt. My cinephile self was mounting a civil war with my inner musical theater geek who is deeply devoted to both shows. The former musical is among my top 3 favorite Sondheim shows (the others being Company & Follies) and the latter is literally my favorite original musical of the 21st century to date. The solution to this inner turmoil is surely ORIGINAL SCREEN MUSICALS. We haven't had one since Dancer in the Dark, right? So I'm absolutely excited to see Hugh Jackman belt out whatever tunes they're writing for him as P.T. Barnum in a new musical biopic about the circus pioneer called The Greatest Showman on Earth. Having seen Jackman absolutely slay audiences on Broadway as another flamboyant showman (Peter Allen in "The Boy from Oz"), this could be his Oscar ticket if the movie is good. The songs are by a composing duo you know from "Smash" but before you get too excited it's not from the composers behind the fictional musical "Bombshell," damnit!, but the composers behind the fictional musical "Hit List" which wasn't half as good. (Sigh)

Bette Midler as Janis Joplin (sort of) in The Rose (1979)2. Amy Adams as Janis Joplin
Should Adams be nominated (maybe) and lose (definitely) the Best Actress Oscar for Big Eyes this season she will join the "Biggest Actress Loser Club" that is currently a three-person tea party with Thelma Ritter, Glenn Close, Deborah Kerr. Fine company, don't you think? The solution is UNDOUBTEDLY a Janis Joplin biopic since Amy Adams has a great singing voice, considerable awards momentum, and is still young enough to be interesting to Oscar... for at least another few years. We're far enough away from Bette Midler's wildly acclaimed take on that iconic musician (by another name) in The Rose (1979) that the earlier Oscar run won't be an issue either. [More after the jump...]

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