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Entries in Best Actress (210)

Tuesday
Aug262014

Best Shot Collection: Gone With the Wind (Pt. 2)

Previously on Hit Me With Your Best Shot - Gone With the Wind Pt 1

We return now to wind-swept Georgia and the tale of the most famous southern belle of all time, Scarlett O'Hara Wilkes Kennedy Butler. We've lost a few Best Shot participants this time around (people don't love Part 2 as much I guess - a group which includes me) or they're just running late (which includes me). I'm still debating between a few images and too tired to think any more. I'll decide tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day!

GONE WITH THE WIND PT 2
Click on any of the Best Shot choices to read the corresponding articles 

The marriage of Scarlett and Rhett is its own version of Sherman's march... a path of destruction in their wake.
-The Entertainment Junkie 

There is something you love better than me, though you may not know it.
-Ashley Wilkes for The Film Experience

a glimpse of reality; her funhouse mirror is cracking
-Cinemunch 

My favorite section of the film [is] the hardcore suffering part, where everyone is starving and filthy and Scarlett has to wear the same dress for 18 months... 
-Video Valhalla 


 Certainly a movie you love wouldn’t take you two weeks to watch... 
-Pop Culture Crazy


No use trying to sweet talk me. I knows you since I put the first diapers on you.
-Mammy for The Film Experience


 You're a heartless creature. But that's part of your charm.
-Captain Rhett Butler for The Film Experience


One of the great characters and performances in the annals of cinema... 
-Antagony & Ecstasy

Scarlett stands confidently and defiantly. Its the only way she knows how.
-The Film's The Thing 

Nothing modest or matronly will do for this occasion...
-Film Actually 

Here's Our Darling Scarlett."
-Melanie Wilkes for The Film Experience


Melanie as the calm moral centre of the film...
-Lam Chop Chop 


I love the fact that Scarlett’s bedroom has a portrait of Marie Antoinette in it...
- Allison Tooey


Gone with the Wind is my mom’s favorite movie...
-Coco Hits NY

-The Futurist

And that is... the end! Except for my choice. Unless a few stragglers show up. Hope you enjoyed.

Next Tuesday night, September 2nd, our Season Five Finale: THE MATRIX (1999) for Keanu Reeve's 50th Birthday. Why not pick a shot and join us?

Friday
Aug222014

Viola Davis. 'Holy s***, that woman can act!'

Here's Matthew Eng on where we are in the career of one of the great screen actresses... 

“Holy shit, I love watching this woman act!” is what I immediately thought during Viola Davis’s doozy of a “big scene” in Get on Up, which nearly every review of Tate Taylor’s surprisingly strong James Brown biopic has been well-inclined to praise. As Brown’s aged, long-estranged mama, Davis—with the aid of terrific star Chadwick Boseman and some pretty expert makeup artists whose numbers Clint Eastwood should find immediately—manages to reinvigorate a set-up familiar from any number of tortured artist-biopics (i.e. absentee parent comes groveling years later to abandoned child-turned-superstar at the peak of his fame) with the same smart, electrifying clarity of character and tender yet tough-minded emotionalism that should be long-recognizable by now to anyone who has seen Doubt or Antwone Fisher or Solaris or Won’t Back Down, or else FencesKing Hedley II, or Seven Guitars on Broadway, or, more likely, witnessed Davis’ extraordinary, one-woman rescue job on Taylor’s The Help.

Holy shit, I love watching this woman act. It’s not the first time the thought’s run through my head.

Davis is, as usual, great in Get on Up, a superior musical drama that’s prone at times, like all entries in this genre, to some patchy plotting and tacky set-pieces, but which sports the affecting ensemble, sobering insights, and stellar, sweat-stained concert sequences that Eastwood and his animatronic Jersey Boys could only dream about. Davis’ role is also, as usual, brief but crucial to the movie at-hand. [More...]

 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug152014

Nicole's Return. The Dates Are Ever Changing.

When will our beloved Kidman return to us? For someone who works so consistently, doesn't it seem like it's hard to find Nicole Kidman in a movie theater? Grace of Monaco keeps threatening to arrive but never does leaving us to wonder if it will ever play in regular movie theaters after its shaming at Cannes (that place can be brutal). Any big dreams for the quality of Paddington (it comes from charming source material at least) her Christmas film, have been dashed by that hateful slapstick trailer and Colin Firth's exit as the voice. The wait is soon over though. For those of you who missed The Railway Man in theaters, it's just out on DVD and Blu-Ray. [Warning: Nicole's part is small enough that when the climax arrives, she's literally a blurry figure in the background.]

 

Next up though is the thriller Before I Go To Sleep which has a new poster (above) and a new release date: Halloween to be exact. Let's just hope it's better than The Invasion or Trespass. (It's apparently really hard to make a good thriller post-Hitchcock because not that many filmmakers are skilled at making them.)

After that picture all us Kidmaniacs will wait again for her other completed films to play the release date shell game. Most promising by far is Werner Herzog's Gertrud Bell biopic Queen of the Desert both because Herzog is an amazing director (another feather in Kidman's auteur-fetish cap!) and because the role is big and central. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like Queen of the Desert is doing the fall festival circuit so maybe they're waiting until 2015?

CAST THIS!
This is one of those stories that was so obviously a Film Experience type of story that I pretended to myself that I'd already covered it on the blog. Like those dreams you have where you already went to class or work so there's no need to jump up and go when you wake up! Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon are now attached to the film adaptation of Liane Moriarty's comic best seller Big Little Lies about a group of three mothers whose kids are in the same Kindergarten class in a beautiful Australian seaside town (with secrets, natch). A sprained ankle sets off a series of events which eventually leads to a school riot and a murder. There are three major characters (and apparently a lot of broadly drawn but possibly scene-stealing supporting casts). No word yet on which of the moms Nicole & Reese are planning to play but obviously a third star will be joining them.

These are the characters...

Madeline: gleefully extroverted, fashionable, and still a "glittery girl" at 40. Her broken Dolce & Gabbana heel sets the plot in motion. She's happily married but still having trouble with her ex and his younger "new age-y" wife
Celeste: a nervous very beautiful mom with twins, who is married to a wealthy man
Jane: shy, plain and uncomfortable in her own skin. New in town but Madeline and Celeste befriend this single mom when her son gets in trouble the very first day of school

YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO PICK THEIR ROLES FOR THEM AND ADD A THIRD ACTRESS IN THE COMMENTS!

Let's just pray this wasn't doesn't go the way of The Danish Girl which Nicole was attached to for quite some time until development hell took it from her plate. The film is still trying to get made but instead of an actress in the transgender lead role it's now Eddie Redmayne with his Les Miz director Tom Hooper guiding him through the transformation. 

Tuesday
Aug122014

Elizabeth Taylor in "Suddenly Last Summer". Oh how that star burned.

This is an episode of Hit Me With Your Best Shot

"Suddenly... last summer" is spoken so often in Suddenly Last Summer (1959), Joseph L Mankiewicz & Gore Vidal's adaptation of Tennessee Williams play, that it starts to take on a kind of trancy grandeur. The actresses retreat inward, psychologically, in the thrall of their own theatricality, the overheated jungles of art direction around them, and surely their good fortune to be playing Tennessee Williams characters.

my favorite scene in the film

To a minor degree the repetition of "suddenly...last summer" is not unlike the effect of Rita whispering "Mulholland Drive" like an incantation in Mulholland Dr. The comparison seems apt since both films are batshit crazy sexually charged nightmares in which a beautiful brunette has selective amnesia issues.  But let's not drift away to 2001. We stay in 1959. And two beautiful brunettes is exactly what I want to talk about since Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor loom large in my own movie fantasies, as two of my all time favorite actors. 

Suddenly Last Summer might seem dated in some respects as psychological films often do as science progresses but Elizabeth Taylor's star power hasn't aged a day. She's impossible to look away from and aces the tricky role of Catherine Holly, a woman who is fully sane but goes a little mad sometimes... and not just from the PTSD she's clearly suffering. Taylor is a smart enough actress to go for gray shadings in both Catherine's sexuality and psychology even when the gorgeous lighting by the Oscar-winning cinematographer Jack Hildyard (The Bridge on the River Kwai) is so high contrast and her monologues go so extremely black (the absence of memory) or white (the blazing white beach where her trauma began).

more after the jump

best shot

The beach was very white. Oh how the sun burned. It was like the eye of God watching us, burning, burning. There was no air that day. The sun had burned up all the air. Outside it was like inside a furnace.

And then they came...

This image seizes me. Elizabeth in the sun; Monty eclipsed. 

Which you might say is true of the movie. Both Actresses were Oscar nominated but Monty is constantly overshadowed. I'd argue that his is this adaptation's most difficult role because there's so much less to work with that it's easy to disappear as the surgeon ricochet's between two madwomen. He's best in this, his first scene with Liz; they loved each other dearly offscreen and their chemistry always blazed. It's a long duet in which he coaxes her towards memory and they flirt and spar not a little. The structure of the scene will be somewhat mirrored in the film's climax, Catherine's memory returned.

By contrast Monty practically disappears in his scenes with Katharine Hepburn, where he goes frustratingly blank even when the role suggests so much more than he's giving, particularly in Violet's insistent refrain that he is like Sebastian, her dead (gay) son, in this way or, undoubtedly, that. 

runner up images after the jump if you're a completist or so inclined to consider more options...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Aug052014

Sandra at the Top

Yesterday Forbes published their annual list of the top-grossing actresses of the year. They figure in gross earnings and endorsement deals and everything. The list is as follows: 10. Kristen Stewart 9. Natalie Portman 8. Amy Adams 7. Scarlett Johansson 6. Cameron Diaz 5. Angelina Jolie 4. Gwyneth Paltrow 3. Jennifer Aniston 2. Jennifer Lawrence 1. Sandra Bullock. So here's Matthew Eng chasing our very tiny recent Sandra fest with this climactic love letter. - Nathaniel

Sandra at the Spike Awards this summer with two of her most important co-stars Hugh Grant and Keanu Reeves

I don’t particularly get people who don’t like Sandra Bullock.

Yes, the 82nd Best Actress statuette deserves to be sitting comfortably somewhere on Gabourey Sidibe’s mantelpiece and yes, The Blind Side is a pretty foul piece of limo-liberal fabling. Yes, she is a performer of some obvious limitations that are strikingly evident in even her strongest comedic performances. And yes, she has given us All About Steve and The Proposal and the Miss Congenialitys and Two Weeks Notice and all those other “duds” we love to roll our eyes at in public almost as much as we love to sheepishly watch them in private whenever they pop up on FX or Lifetime or HBO.

I’m more than happy to make couch potato time for Two Weeks Notice, a funny/frisky valentine to New York that’s patently flawed but genuinely sentimental, and even The Proposal, a ridiculous container of rom-com contrivances that would make Kate Hudson cringe, but which has plenty of good moments to spare. No, I haven’t yet laid an eye on All About Steve, which is likely for the better, but I do own While You Were Sleeping and Miss Congeniality, and I’ve sat through the latter’s sequel, um, three, maybe four times.

Why am I glued to these movies when I still have so many unseen Bergmans? [more...]

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Aug022014

Posterized: Famous Singer Biopics of the Past 50 Years

Oscar loves a lot of movie-things with predictable regularity though it should be noted that those things go in and out of style (when was the last time you saw a hooker with a heart of gold?). But one thing that never seems to go out of style with filmmakers: Biopics of musicians. Whether or not Amy Adams ever gets around to her Janis Joplin picture, or Hathaway goes through with the Judy Garland picture (I'd so prefer her to do Liza Minnelli who hasn't been done!) or Jane Krakowski ever gets the greenlight for Jackie Jormp-Jormp, there's plenty to choose from in the library already. And awards bodies, not just Oscar, often choose them. It's as good a way as any to be noticed.

How do you think Get On Up, from the director of The Help will fair with AMPAS? Reviews may be mixed but they don't seem to be for Chadwick Boseman's playful performance in the energetic title role. Hollywood is always searching for "the next Denzel Washington" and he's one of the candidates even though 'the next...' is always so problematic since true stars are always their own unrepeatable thing. Remember that uncomfortably weird forcing of so many actresses into 'the next Julia Roberts' tag? Even Julianne Moore (lol) was once in that lineup in a major magazine.

Let's look back at the past 50 years within this particular subgenre and see how many films we've gotten and how many of them won awards traction. I came up with about 27 pictures (excluding biopics of musicians who weren't singers or snapshots of the industry more than individual singers because you have to narrow it down somehow) though it's possible I missed a few.

27 FAMOUS SINGER BIOPICS (1964-2014)
How many have you seen?

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul152014

Queen of the Desert Pic and Nicole in the Oscar Race?

Queen of the Desert, Werner Herzog's biopic on Gertrud Bell starring Nicole Kidman wrapped filming in March. Though it's still looking for a distributor it looks like post-production is all done since producers are tweeting about the final cut and calling it "EPIC". Herzog has also expressed real enthusiasm about Nicole's performance in his slightly oddball way of speaking.

"Now, Nicole Kidman,” Herzog said of her lead performance in "Queen Of The Desert." “Wait for that one. Wait for it. I make an ominous prediction: How good she is.”

(You can even hear his voice when you read quotes from him, can't you?)

Nicole shared this photo of the wrap of shooting.first official image. will they keep this aspect ratio? it's so Lawrence of Arabia long

Of course all of this is from people who are involved in the picture so they'd never be anything less than enthusiastic. But I myself have high hopes and I'm not involved. Unless you count my heart which belongs to Nicole.

Though I'd love for Werner Herzog to have a major Oscar success -- imagine how fun he would be on the campaign trail all season? -- the truth is Oscar has resisted him over and over again. Despite a prolific acclaimed filmography his only Oscar success is Encounters at the End of the World (Documentary Nomination, 2007). Nope, they didn't even go for the classic going insane in the jungle epic Aguire, The Wrath of God (1972) or the classic going insane building opera houses movie Fitzcarraldo (1982) or the classic already insane and hanging out with bears in the wilderness doc Grizzly Man (2005) all of which attracted awards heat elsewhere... just not with AMPAS. (Does Nicole Kidman go insane in the desert? I'm sensing a theme here.)

This sudden burst of news about the picture and our love of Nicole Kidman has us hoping she can climb the Oscar charts. But given that last year's Best Actress Shorlist had the most communal previous nominations of all time  I'm sensing this is the kind of year where Oscar is going to want some fresh blood.

UPDATED OSCAR CHARTS
BEST ACTRESS and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS