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Entries in Cate Blanchett (84)


Podcast: Carol Aird of Manhattan, Mark Watney of Mars.

Katey, Joe, Nathaniel and Nick, get stranded on Mars with Astronaut Matt Damon. After rescuing each other they fall for shopgirl Rooney Mara with Cate Blanchett. Yes, we're discussing Ridley Scott's The Martian (now playing at a theater near you) and Todd Haynes's Carol (opening November 20th but surely already playing in your head).

Nathaniel is sick -- apologies for the vocal germs! --  so Katey hosts this one. 

43 minutes 
00:01-14:30  The Martian. How often must mankind save Matt Damon? 
14:31-40:00  The miraculous healing powers of Carol. Struggling with/loving on Rooney's remoteness and Blanchett's range and roll. 
40:01-43:00 Oscar fanfare / Sign-offs

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments won't you? Especially those two prompt questions: What did you think of The Martian and when were you most turned on by Cate Blanchett?

Carol and The Martian


NYFF: 10 Best Things About "Carol" (First Impressions)

Todd Haynes' highly anticipated Carol screened a week ago for NYFF press and I immediately began marking time P.C. "POST CAROL". It was that impactful. For something that appears so delicate it breaks with immeasurable force. Carol recounts the relationship between a posh 40something society wife (Cate Blanchett), no stranger to lesbian affairs, and a curious 20something photographer/shopgirl (Rooney Mara) who has never been in love. Haynes's sixth feature is one of his best and thus both a marvel and a relief since he had gone AWOL from movie screens for eight years. The film which began the long drought, I'm Not There, is the only one that this longtime Haynes fanatic doesn't cherish.

Herewith 10 favorite things (in no particular order) about Carol right after meeting her. This infatuation is too potent to think clearly at this point for a traditional review. A word of caution: exciting first dates don't always lead to fullblown rewarding relationships but this one appears to be a (celluloid) romance for the long haul. 

1. Gifts & Gift-Wrapping
We like to think of final quarter movies as "gifts" since so much of awards season is centered around the holidays. This one is beautifully wrapped (the production values are breathtaking on literally every level) and even better once you start tearing the careful packaging apart to see what it's gifted you with. Carol also takes place during Christmas just like Tangerine so in one single cinematic year we've received the best Lesbian Christmas movie and the best Trans Christmas movie. How about that? More...

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6 Questions. Best Actress / Supporting Actress Races

With the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress (or "Best Actress Pt 2" if the category fraud forces have their way!) charts updated, all Oscar charts are now up to date. Next update is...? Well, we'll see. But October tends to be instructive. Here are question prompts for the comments after you've checked out the charts.

1. Will it help to be the first FYC screeners out?
Blythe Danner (72) who carries I'll See You in My Dreams and Lily Tomlin (76) who drives Grandma already have screeners out. I can't wait to watch both again. I'd hold them in my hands to prove my eagerness for you but then how could I type? As previously expressed in "either/or" paranoia (The Martian vs. Mad Max or Truth vs. Spotlight situations) "either/or" is often a false lose-lose game. But it will be interesting to see how much room the Academy has for stellar older women nonetheless. Speaking of...

2. Older Titans or Fresh Excitements?
For the senior set, there's also Charlotte Rampling (69) in 45 Years but she's risking being the last person out of the gate, as Marion Cotillard tried (successfully) in a much thinner field last year.  Even if Oscar decides it wants all fresh young things this year -- and there are plenty of them with Saoirse Ronan and Alicia Vikander leading that particular pack -- and none of the enduring thespians end up nominated how refreshing is it that we have three senior women in the running this year whose names are not Mirren or Streep or Dench?  Answer: very! 

3. How can we ever stop Category Fraud?
Alicia Vikander is The Danish Girl (but, yes, so is Eddie Redmayne so it's a perfect title) UPDATE: But the studio has confimed to us that she's running in supporting. The same is true for Rooney Mara who is 100% definitively absolutely totally inarguably a lead in Carol (there should be no doubt as to how we feel) no matter what the campaign strategists claim. I firmly believe both Mara & Blanchett could be nominated if pushed as a box set in Carol, a la Thelma & Louise... if Thelma & Louise had been excited about bedding each other on their road trips instead of, say, Brad Pitt.  Romantic dramas, requited or unrequited, usually require two leads... it's the nature of the beast. Pretending Mara is supporting in Carol is like pretending that Kate Winslet supported Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine or Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic (or vice versa) or like pretending Blanchett supported Dench in Notes on a--- oh ah. DAMNIT!

With Mara & Vikander both in high rising star demand and Oscar's history of LOVING to crown young beautiful actresses near the beginning of big careers, Supporting Actress could well be Best Actress 2 with these two leads battling it out for that win. IF Oscar is okay with the fraud that is... which they usually are, yes. (sigh)

4. Among the actual supporting players/characters this year who could win traction? 
Category Fraud tends to be a bigger problem in years when memorable actual supporting characters show up late in the year. And 2015 is definitely having that problem. Usually I have a full list by this point that I'm eager to hold on to but it's been a weak year for female parts in the ensemble. Case in point: It's exciting to think of Elisabeth Moss squaring off with Blanchett in Truth, but she only has a few lines here and there. And Sarah Paulson is as wonderful as everyone has come to expect in Carol but as with 12 Years a Slave, other much more famous or less famous actresses have much larger roles in her movies. When will a filmmaker give her THE key female role, supporting or otherwise, in a movie? She's earned it.

Jane Fonda has just one scene in Youth (and a flash cut from another scene) but boy is it a doozy. Half of the movie points right at this scene.

I'm currently predicting Jane Fonda in Youth, Julie Walters in Brooklyn, and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Hateful Eight for the more traditional type of strong candidates, making big marks in well liked movies either by way of the script blazingly focusing on them or by way of scene stealing or by way of being the key woman in a man's movie. All three of these are risky bets for different reasons (Leigh mostly because people haven't yet seen the film ... and because she has historically proven easy for the Academy to ignore even when she had juicy big roles) but the supporting actress race is looking like the last of the four acting competitions that will come into proper focus.

5. Who do you think we're underestimating and which chart position do you think is spot on?
Sound off. 

6. Remember that New Best Actress Hierarchy we published in February?
Jane Fonda (#6), Cate Blanchett (#11), Maggie Smith (#12) and Kate Winslet (#18) could all move up a rung or two this year if Oscar voters embrace their latest roles.  


TIFF: Journalists at War. "Truth" vs "Spotlight"

On the first day of TIFF last Thursday I saw four consecutive movies from different countries and of different tones entirely that all had a surprise pregnancy reveal scene/shot during their stories. Festivals are funny like that providing you with unexpected throughlines. But sometimes you fully expect the comparisons, if not a schedule that has you watching two similar movies back-to-back. That happened to me with James Vanderbilt's Truth and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight. Both are journalism pictures with A list casts and both will be gunning for awards honors at year's end. Spotlight is better positioned already with stronger reviews but Truth definitely has its pleasures. While watching them Truth felt more popcorn entertaining but Spotlight is stickier, staying with you afterwards.

Truth vs. Spotlight in 8 categories after the jump...

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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


3 in One - Pfeiffer, Blanchett , Mara

 Here's Murtada with just released pictures of 3 upcoming projects.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Ruth Madoff
Quick turnaround from the casting announcement, they have already started filming The Wizard of Lies and released the first picture. New cast members have been added to the HBO project including Nathan Darrow (famous for House of Cards' menage a trois with Robin Wright and Kevin Spacey) who will play the Madoff’s younger son Andrew.

Pfeiffer is completely transformed as Ruth Madoff. 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