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Entries in Best Actress (321)


TIFF Actress-To-Watch: Ine Marie Wilmann in "Homesick"

Great moments in production design: In the first shot of Homesick, our heroine -- and I use the term ironically since she’s no role model -- is seen with her head cupped in her hands and thrown back to stretch / express annoyance. Beside her, out of focus in the psychiatrists office is a statue in roughly the same pose. There are other little touches like this that suggest that Charlotte ( Ine Marie Wilmann) is something of a mimic... and that director Anne Sewitsky (of Happy Happy fame) are really feeling this project. 

When Charlotte returns to proper posture we see an actress that looks suspiciously like Kate Hudson... or is it Malin Akermann? No, wait early Drew Barrymore? In a very happy stroke of casting luck, these unsought comparisons add extra resonance to the very thing the movie is going for. Charlotte, you see, really wants to be someone else... or at leave have their lives. Her parents paid her little attention and she's never even met her half brother. She's terribly lonely and latches on to everyone around her. This is most obvious in a beautifully dramatized friendship with a co-worker, that verges on symbiotic in a playful and tactile dance between them in the dance studio where they work.

But the crux of the drama of the picture is that Charlotte and her half brother do meet and go almost straight to the taboo rutting. Emotional calamities multiply all around them, as one would expect. 

Homesick feels a bit slight and sketchy despite its provocations, but Wilmann is terrific in the leading role. Her face is fluid with emotion, but more importantly it's as if she's continually scrolling and searching for the right one to express. She lets other people decide for her all too often. Hence her terrible decision making. B

Delicious Related News:

Wilmann won the Norwegian Best Actress Oscar (The Amanda) for her role in Homesick. And though the film itself was passed over as Norway's official Oscar submission this year, Wilmann has an even better reward coming: she'll reunite with her current director to play the legendary Norwegian gold medalist figure skater turned Hollywood novelty actress Sonja Henje who became one of the richest women in the world by the 1940s. Wilmann has already logged a lot of time at the ice rink in preparation. Naturally the movie will include other Old Hollywood characters and an international cast. It sounds like a superb idea for a motion picture so best of luck to all. 


Best Actress Happenings at TIFF

To quiet my nerves that you've all vanished -- you know how Tinkerbell dies if you don't clap for her and believe in fairies. That ! only with comments -- a topic that always gets you talking: BEST ACTRESS. I'll say more about these movies soon but for now, an Oscar checklist.

Cate Blanchett is a wonder in Truth. Again. As I said on twitter I used to think she was all technique with no soul but lately she's on fire with both. In the film's first scene she chatters away about downing a xanax which immediately brings Blue Jasmine to mind but Mary Mapes's righteous fury, smug pride, and sense of humor quickly register her as an entirely different character, love of booze and xanax notwithstanding. 

I feel as warmly toward Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn as the sun does in that first beautiful teaser poster for the movie. There are some who feel the movie is too "soft" for Oscar play or too romantic and old fashioned but I am keeping the faith because it has cumulative power and the end credits are out of focus... what's that? No? Well they appeared that way through my wet eyeballs!

They're called the "Amandas" and this year the top prize went to Ine Marie Wilmann who stars in an incest drama called Homesick. (More on that one soon including a film she's got lined up that sounds very promising.)

It's true I passed on seeing Emily Blunt in Sicario,  Sandra Bullock in Our Brand is Crisis and Julianne Moore and Ellen Page in Freeheld here in Toronto but there are hundreds of movies playing here that one might never see again and those three movies all have release dates coming up very soon! I only allow myself a few of those each festival and those were not the few.

The Danish Girl(s). Emphasis on the plural.

I'll be sharing more thoughts on The Danish Girl  soon but it hasn't yet fully settled. For now this tidbit: For the first 15 minutes or so Alicia Vikander appears to be playing her character Gerte as far too modern and manic. Yet as the story develops you begin to see her more clearly as a woman ahead of her time and, in turn, she becomes our surrogate window to Lili, too (Eddie Redmayne) since her trans husband can't see herself so clearly at first. Vikander is marvelous at upping the emotional ante and registering Gerte's arc while also dovetailing it with her unchangeable steel as a life partner. The Supporting Campaign, if it comes to pass, is entirely obnoxious and unfortunate. She has as much and possibly more screentime than Eddie and the film is just as much the portrait of their unconventional marriage as it is about transitioning. Since there is, as of yet, no clear frontrunner for Best Actress she could actually be a threat to win. Whichever category she ends up campaigning in late this year, she will be be nominated given a) the year she's having, b) her youth and beauty (remember how they cherish crowning the new girls), c) the juiciness of this role, and d) being in a film that will undoubtedly rack up the nominations.  

"About to" being relative to when you're actually dropping by the site to read this: Brie Larson in Room

I'll end with a personal favorite. It's early still and we should all weigh these things until the last moments before declaring our definitive top fives on any ballot but this much is obvious: 45 Years gets a tremendous amount of its weirdly chill power from Charlotte Rampling's complex work. She plays a woman who begins to question the foundation of her nearly half-century marriage when a bizarre message arrives from Switzerland. Two time Oscar nominee Tom Courtenay (Doctor Zhivago, The Dresser) as the husband is also terrific but it's really Rampling's film. She hasn't had this fine a showcase since Under the Sand (for which she should have been nominated). The British legend is still waiting on her first Oscar nomination but she's had the kind of enduring expansive international career (80+ films for multiple countries, including France, Italy, the UK, and the US) and consistently high quality work that really ought to make her an attractive proposition on ballots.

Will AMPAS make it happen or is the race just too thick with contestants


On Kate Winslet's Oscar Win 

As The Dressmaker makes its premiere at TIFF here's Murtada on its leading lady's controversial Oscar win.

Kate Winslet is back! That seems to be one of the many “comeback” stories this fall season. Reviews for her supporting part in Steve Jobs have been stellar. And The Dressmaker is playing TIFF tonight! Has she ever been away though? Since her much maligned Oscar win for 2008’s The Reader, she starred in a much admired mini series (Mildred Pierce) for which she received multiple awards, worked with Steven Soderbergh (Contagion), Roman Polanski (Carnage) Jason Reitman (Labor Day) and her old Sense & Sensibility friend Alan Rickman (A Little Chaos). Some of these have been better received than others but none, with the possible exception of Pierce, have ignited the passion of even her most ardent fans.

Winslet’s a great actress who deservedly won the highest acting accolade in her profession. Yet there is a cloud above that win amongst Oscar obsessives. It is a somewhat unpopular win that still inflames a lot of passionate discourse even years later. Let’s examine why after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Lady in the Van: Maggie in 4 Gifs

Manuel here to welcome another Best Actress hopeful to the fold. Yes, it was unclear whether two-time Academy Award winner Maggie Smith’s vehicle, The Lady in the Van, would indeed get a US release this fall in time to qualify for awards consideration but with a Toronto Film Festival special presentation, a December release plan, a new poster and a new trailer, we have to welcome Smith to the race. More...

Click to read more ...


Best Actress Updates, Or: Get Right With God. Stop Category Fraud!

News, or shall we say "scuttlebutt," recently broke in regards to Todd Haynes long-awaited Carol that Cate Blanchett would campaign for Supporting Actress and Rooney Mara for Lead. Speaking at length to someone who has seen the picture they say, and I quote, "...either demotion absolutely insane. Even moreso than Notes on a Scandal." referring of course to the last time that Cate Blanchett pulled out the category fraud stops to get nominated for a lesbian drama. Only this time she's the title character, making it even more ridiculous.

Then Cate's agent denied it.

Which is all along way of saying... that discussions and are still forming. But why should they be when it comes to Supporting/Lead campaigns? why should they be?

If it were to go that way the reasoning is clear: to have Cate avoid competing with herself for Truth, the Rather-Gate movie in which she plays Mary Mapes to Robert Redford's Dan Rather, and defer to Rooney Mara since Rooney took Best Actress at Cannes. If you remove all concerns about ethics, this is just fine and makes sense... but really now. Shouldn't power players within Hollywood have some ethics and set good examples? Cate has two Oscars already. It's time for actors, particularly those of Cate's magnitude, to stop with the greed and start standing up for what's right: let actual character/supporting actors have a shot at Oscar nominations in the category designed to honor them rather than pretend you're not huge star in a leading role just so that you can be feted again. (See also: Julia Roberts in August Osage County recently who also had no excuse for the greed, and whose very stardom ruined the property's ending by insisting on a cutaway closeup that dampened the meaning)

And yes stars do approve their campaigns. They are not blameless though the strategies come from elsewhere.

On the other hand this particular Carol proposition would not likely be the type of Category Fraud that voters would go along peacefully with. Especially not with Cate having top billing, being the title character, and getting 3/5th of the movie poster for her face. Every once in a while they do balk at fraudulent campaigns as when they "promoted" Keisha Castle-Hughes to her true category (Lead for Whale Rider despite a supporting campaign) or when Kate Winslet greedily attempted a double nod by pretending she was supporting in The Reader to clear the way for her lead campaign in Revolutionary Road. Instead AMPAS voters just ignored the latter and "promoted" her for the Holocaust drama to the category she belonged in anyway. For now I'm demoting both Rooney & Cate on both charts until we see further evidence that anyone beyond SAG (who are required to vote by how the studio submits) is going to buy this 'Carol is the supporting player in Carol' business.

Finally, there is no reason to believe that both Rooney and Cate couldn't be nominated in Best Actress if they ran a truthful campaign as it's happened before, and not just once either. One could argue that the only reason it doesn't happen anymore is that its only very rarely attempted it. In supporting where it's frequently attempted it happens frequently. 

Spotlight's ensemble features Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo in the largest roles. But technically they could go any which way with campaigning, even trying "all supporting" like The Departed did

In other strange categorization news I forgot to add Jason Segel (in another two-hander same-gender film) to the Supporting Actor chart last time round for End of the Tour so there he goes. All Acting Category Charts are now updated:

LEAD ACTRESS - lots of strong contenders
LEAD ACTOR - lots of strong contenders
SUPPORTING ACTRESS, - very vague at this point. much will still happen 
SUPPORTING ACTOR - starting to take shape


Saoirse Ronan, All Grown Up

Behold the new poster for Oscar hopeful Brooklyn (reviewed at Sundance) which arrives in theaters on November 6th from Fox Searchlight. 

Though it's not half as distinctive or even film-representative as the earlier teaser poster, one thing it does aptly convey is the maturation of Saoirse Ronan. Brooklyn is her bridge movie. She was a famous teen (see: Atonement). Now, at 21, she's an actress fully ready for those complicated adult roles that will surely come her way. She's terrific in the film, charting this young immigrant's progress from overwhelmed mouse to confident young romantic heroine.

the earlier more beautiful posterTrivia Alert 
Should Saoirse be nominated in Best Actress at 21, she won't break the record of fastest to two nominations. That record ain't budging since Angela Lansbury has held it for about 69 years now, winning her first two nominations by 20. But she will break the crowded tie for Lansbury's runner up (Kate Winslet, Sal Mineo, and Jennifer Lawrence all got to two Oscar nominations by the age of 22). 

Do you think she'll manage it?


Autumn Sonata: Ingrid's Swan Song 

Happy Ingrid Bergman Centennial! The great movie star was born 100 years ago on this very day in Stockholm, Sweden. Jose closes out our 10 film retrospective with a look at her final feature film - Editor

Jose here. True story: there was a time when I thought Ingrid Bergman and Ingmar Bergman were the same person. Not because I had seen Persona and dreamt of metaphysical unions between both great Swedes, but merely because I was a child.

I first laid eyes on Ingrid on the box of my grandma’s tape of Casablanca, when I was 6, and there was something about those eyes filled with longing and sorrow that one day drew me to insert the tape into the player. Bewitched by the earthy qualities and the warmth she exuded, I devoured as many of her films as I could get my hands on, until one day I heard someone talk of Ingmar. Convinced that it was merely a mispronounced version of Ingrid’s name I remained oblivious until the day I saw The Seventh Seal at age 12. The more I learned of Ingmar’s work in the following years, the less I thought there would be room for Ingrid in his world of damaged, oft cold human beings.

Then I watched Autumn Sonata and not only did she make sense in Ingmar’s universe, it seemed to be the place she was born to be in. Playing world famous pianist Charlotte Andergast, the director allowed her beautiful features to reflect a severity she had merely suggested in earlier roles during her career, as if she chose not to be breathtaking. The film has Liv Ullmann play Charlotte’s daughter Eva, who resents her mother for not having been around much when she was a child. To say that their exchanges are unkind would be an understatement, when every word seems like a dagger aimed for the ultimate kill.

Cinema's Legendary Bergmans. No relation.

Ingmar’s kind of existentialism often drew from his own life, but in Autumn Sonata he seems to have made a film all about Ingrid. For starters, the very notion of a mother abandoning her children was something that allegedly tormented Ingrid who left her own child in America to pursue a relationship with director Roberto Rossellini in the 1950s, in traditional Bergman fashion though, Charlotte isn’t entirely filled with regret though, and she seems pleased with having Eva’s contempt, rather than having spent her life pretending she wanted to be with her children. It’s a bold performance that breaks from the nurturing qualities Ingrid had shown all throughout her career.

Charlotte turned out to be the Oscar winner’s big screen swan song, she would then go into semi-retirement only to act in a Golda Meir biopic that would win her an Emmy and a Golden Globe, but her work in Autumn Sonata makes for a beautiful bookend when juxtaposed with her first big role in Intermezzo. In fact, we could propose a theory that Charlotte is another version of Intermezzo’s Anita Hoffman, in fact she could even be the same woman, a professional musician who realizes her art is more important than anything else in the world, after being subjected to endless heartbreak at the hand of the man she loves. It’s a thing of beauty to realize that she had been showing us shades of Charlotte more than 40 years before. Could it be that Ingmar had seen Intermezzo as a young man and dreamed this part for his leading lady before he began his own career? Even though Ingrid and Ingmar weren't the same person after all, they were meant to do transcendental art together all along.

previouslyIntermezzo (1939), Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1941), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1942), Notorious, (1946), Joan of Arc (1948), Journey to Italy (1954), Indiscreet (1958), The Inn of Sixth Happiness (1958), Cactus Flower (1969) and 10 Best Ingrid Bergman Kisses (1935 through 1970)