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Entries in Best Actress (264)

Friday
Jan092015

A Short Detour: Best Actress 1977 Anyone ?

With Oscar ballots in and BAFTA nominations announced we'll shortly proceed to final predictions and finish the Film Bitch Categories that correlate with Oscar. In short, prepare for a busy week! But for tonight, before Golden Globes weekend, why not a brief detour from the right now?

The current Beauty vs Beast poll (ending Sunday night so get your votes in) on Annie Hall, has been prompting some unrelated Liza Minnelli comments regarding her Globe nominated / Oscar skipped work in New York New York. I also wish she'd been in the running that year since it's an amazing performance, much closer to her Cabaret brilliance than Oscar history would tell you. This threw me for an unexpected 1977 flashback. The average ticket price was $2.25. Hot damn. And it was a great year for Actress-led movies.

more...

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Thursday
Jan082015

A Quick Chat with Jenny Slate Who Will Love Her Future No Matter What!

Jenny Slate, one of last year's biggest breakthroughs, started 2014 on a career high and still hasn't come down. Obvious Child was so buzzy at the 2014 festival that you can be reasonably sure that comedies from the forthcoming 2015 festival will see themselves held up in comparison 'what's this year's Obvious Child?'  After a successful limited release, Jenny Slate found herself on red carpets and snow she's up for a Critics Choice Award a week from today.

Best Actress in a Comedy, Critics Choice Movie Awards
Rose Byrne – Neighbors
Rosario Dawson – Top Five
Melissa McCarthy – St. Vincent
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Kristen Wiig – The Skeleton Twins

Whether or not she wins it, it seems likely that she'll enjoy herself. Perhaps it was her character Donna Stern's abrasive caustic humor that led me to picture someone either darkly funny or like the stereotype of the sad clown but instead the new star is relentlessly cheerful and super positive, and determined to stay that way. She even makes lemonade from lemons when I mention This Means War.

Here's our conversation...

NATHANIEL: This has been such a huge year for you? How would you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10? 

JENNY SLATE: Oh man. I guess i’d give it an 8 but I feel like most years I usually rate them pretty highly because I like life!  But this has been the most satisfying year of my career so far: Obvious Child really changed things for me.  [more...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec302014

Luise Rainer (1910-2014)

Luise Rainer, Oscar's first back-to-back Acting winner for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937) was, for the past handful of years, perhaps better known for outliving everyone than for her brief movie stardom. She was just two weeks shy of her 105th birthday when she passed away early this morning of pneumonia. She is survived by her daughter and two granddaughters.

She was recently name-checked not so flatteringly in the Hollywood bio Hitchcock (2012) but the actress, still very much alive at the time, could surely roll with it. The outspoken import lived through tumultuous times, beginning her acting career on the German stage and screen before fleeing as Hitler consolidated power (she was Jewish) and then being sold to the American public as "The Viennesse Teardrop" because German wouldn't do back then. She quickly becoming a star while briefly marrying (unhappily) the playwright Cliff Odets who had several tumultuous affairs with famous actresses (as portrayed in Frances, 1982).

The outspoken diva was very vocal about what she thought of Hollywood, her unsatisfying career, and "The Oscar Curse" which she doesn't believe in though she admits that the back-to-back Oscars weren't at all helpful. The adulation prompted Hollywood to just throw her into anything, with no worries of miscasting or her own creative satisfaction.

Her career ended as swiftly as it began as she fought with the powers that be for more choice in her films. Soon she left Hollywood for New York and then London where she settled for good. 

I had a seven-year contract that I broke and went away. I was a machine, practically, a tool in a big, big factory, and I could not do anything. I wanted to film Madame Curie, but Mayer forbade me. I wanted to do For Whom the Bell Tolls, but Selznick took Ingrid Bergman and brought her to Hemingway and I didn't know Hemingway. And so I left. I just went away. I fled; yes, I fled."

She flew away to, by all reports, a happier life outside the spotlight. Her remarkable longevity and semi-regular all smiles appearances over the years suggests that she enjoyed it. 

Monday
Dec292014

Lead Actress Chat-a-long

Epix only uploads tiny pieces of this for viewing but someone has uploaded their whole Best Actress roundtable. The Supporting Actress version was up briefly before being pulled so watch it while you can. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Emily Blunt, Shailene Woodley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Jessica Chastain.

 

They talk for about 10 minutes at the beginning about singing and musicals -- someone needs to cast Gugu in a traditional musical straightaway!  

UPDATE: Though the special presentations are not available in full for embedding, you can see all five of them here at the Epix site.

 

Wednesday
Dec242014

Best Actress Battles: Marion vs. Rosamund? 

With the internet strenuously erecting a ring in which Julianne and Jennifer can mud wrestle, and wondering who could be a surprise snub, let's look at one more imaginary Best Actress Battle with this Oscar category that appears to have six women in it. One too many. Let's call this one the Critical Darling Cha-Cha. 

Gone Girl vs. Fired Girl
Two weeks ago when their was a seeming abundance of "fifth slot" possibilities for Oscar's Best Actress race, Marion Cotillard emerged from a non-campaigning overseas cloud to claim Critical Darling status. In quick succession she took prizes from three early-announcing critics group: the venerable New York Film Critics Circle as well as Boston Society of Film Critics and the young New York Film Critics Online group. Some of those prizes were shared with The Immigrant but since The Weinstein Co wasn't backing their early release with a campaign of any kind, it soon it became clear that Marion's worker solidarity drama, the Belgian Oscar submission Two Days One Night was the one. She's such an amazing actor that which film it was hardly mattered...

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Tuesday
Dec232014

Scarlett Johansson, 2014's MVP

Year in Review. Two yummy look backs each day

Tim here. Among its many charms and disappointments, 2014 was an extraordinarily good year to be a fan of Scarlett Johansson.

No, I can go bigger than that: 2014 was a year that could make somebody a fan of Scarlett Johansson in the first place, or in my case, knock the dust off a fandom that had been growing stale over the last several years.

What makes it such a particularly interesting year to have watched the actress is the way that three of her four performances released in the United States in ’14 are variations on each other (the outlier is what amounts to cameo in Chef, more of a favor done for director Jon Favreau than a real part). Let’s take a quick look at each of them:

Under the Skin
In a holdover from the 2013 festival season Johansson played a non-human being in the human form of a gorgeous woman under the guiding hand of director Jonathan Glazer. Icy good looks married to a deliberately unknowable inner life pretty neatly describes the opinion that tends to be held on Johansson’s acting skills by people who don’t like her, which makes this, on the one hand, an easy casting decision. [More...]

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Tuesday
Dec232014

Best Actress Battles: Felicity vs. Reese?

With the internet strenuously erecting a ring in which Julianne and Jennifer can mud wrestle, let's look at two or three other imaginary Best Actress Battles. First up is the "I'm just happy to be nominated" tussle.

"consider EVERYTHING" ??? Greedy!

Felicity vs. Reese
Reese Witherspoon looked like a major force in the Best Actress race when Wild first premiered in September as the wandering self-redemptive Cheryl Strayed. Sadly the year-end party hasn't thrown much confetti her way. To date, she has won just one (maybe two?) small regional critics prizes. I blame the lack of awards on three things: the movie wasn't released in the fall where its contemplative moods would not have been in direct opposition to the bustling holidays surrounding it; Reese has already had her Oscar coronation which often kills future prospects for actresses; and, finally, the "Reeseurgence" never caught on in quite the way the McConaughissance did in its year, partially because there was no Magic Mike pop culture hit kicking the movement off in the first place a year prior.

Since her Oscar win Reese has been divorced, remarried, had a third child, and made a dozen more movies.So the Southern Belle finds herself in the odd company of Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything). Jones is about as diametrically opposed to Reese in terms of celebrity persona and acting style as you can get. Both the Nashville spark plug and the demure English flower are consistent figures in shortlists (the trifecta: SAG, BFCA, Globes) but neither appear to have generated the excitement that leads to #1 ballot placements. Though it should be noted that Oscar pundits, myself included, make far too much of preferential ballot systems since every year Oscar lineups are peppered with people and movies that are extraordinarly difficult to imagine as #1 favorites.

Do these two beautiful women have hidden reserves of campaign power and industry support to draw upon still?  Are either of them in danger of not hearing their names read out on January 15th?

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PREVIOUSLY: BEST ACTRESS BATTLES: JULI vs. JEN
RELATED: ACTRESS Chart & All Current Oscar Predictions

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