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Entries in Blue Valentine (2)


I Dream of Deany

The flu and Oscar-frazzled headspace are a strange combination. I've been drifting in and out of consciousness since coming down with it abruptly 20+ hours ago. I woke up via a radio alarm recently and the voices were talking about the financial crisis.

My dream converted this to a bizarro panel of angry politicians, refusing to take blame. The culprit was obviously Derek Cianfrance, writer/director of Blue Valentine. His "extravagant spending on Blue Valentine has bankrupted the nation!" 

Ha ha. WTF? Blue Valentine... that blockbuster so intimidatingly expensive that even James Cameron passed?

Subconcious brain you are so weird.

Blue Valentine was the most movie bang for production buck of anything the cinema gave us last year. If I weren't sick I'd throw 'The Ballad of Cindy & Dean' right back in the DVD player for a third go. Years from now nobody will ever understand how Ryan Gosling wasn't Oscar nominated alongside Michelle Williams. You gotta have the whole set, Cindy and Dean.

Love that movie!



Best Actress. My Ballot and Time Capsule.

Time is a funny thing. It shifts our feelings, sorts them out. Awards are a product of time, a time capsule. They're equally funny. If you'd told me back in January 2010 when I first saw Blue Valentine that it would end the year as my 4th favorite picture and that Michelle Williams would be in my best actress list, I wouldn't have believed you. I liked her and the movie quite a lot back then but now come February 2011, I love them. The Williams/Gosling duet yields richer rewards each viewing, little intricacies thrown into sharper relief while other ideas you held about the characters get foggier with mystery.

It says a lot about the quality of this year's Best Actress field that Sally Hawkins in Made in Dagenham didn't even make the finalist list. She does expert work revealing how ordinary courage and moral outrage properly channeled, can transform even the meekest of people. It says a lot about the quality of this year's Actress field that Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone didn't even make the semi-finalist list. She does fine work embodying the cold small range of feeling that this life might allow for and she gives the hard film just the right amount of heart as a resilient eldest sibling acting as parent. In the end though, despite Lawrence's absence, my own ballot is the closest its come to Oscar's Actress list 1987. [Trivia: that's the only year from the past three decades that my own choices for Best Actress line up 5/5 with Oscar.]

Needless to say I was quite pleased with Oscar's nominations. It's my favorite Best Actress Oscar list in recent memory with the exception of 2006... maybe.

Needless to say part two: It was such a toss up for spots 4-8 that I'm sure I'll regret my choices tomorrow. If anyone in tier 2 had come out in 2009 or 2008 or 2007 or even 2006, they would've knocked someone out of the 5th spot. And if they'd ALL been released in 2005, my awards would have been radically different. Such is the arbitrary nature of awards, chained to calendars as they are.

Favorite Dozen Lead Actresses 2010 (in alpha order). If only I could nominate 12 people!

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Greta Gerwig, Greenberg
  • Sally Hawkins, Made in Dagenham
  • Kim Hye-Ja, Mother
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Lesley Manville, Another Year
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan
  • Ruth Sheen, Another Year
  • Paprika Steen, Applause
  • Emma Stone, Easy A
  • Tilda Swinton, I Am Love
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

My nominees with write-ups

This will undoubtedly feel anti-climactic as my own nominees are usually more off Oscar's path -- who knew they'd have such good taste this year ;) -- and I usually finish before Oscar nominations and here I am wrapping up the first half of the Film Bitch Awards (medals and all) a week late.

I think the year produced two true masterpieces I Am Love and The Social Network so I split on Picture/Director, Picture going to the one I've remained most possessed by but I think both will stand the test of time. And yes, Nicole Kidman finally gets her Gold Medal after many years of near-misses. She's just transcendent in Rabbit Hole nailing the insatiable hunger of grief for more and more of itself and doing so with the barest minimum of histrionics and more humor than you'd think was possible. She also brilliantly foreshadows Becca's escape route through her thicket of pain, a path cleared by her curiousity, compassion, and capacity for stillness on a park bench, feeling whatever it is she needs to feel.