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Entries in child stars (24)

Wednesday
Sep032014

Back to School. Tips from "Matilda"

Hello all, Margaret here celebrating another day of "back to school" week. I'm sure there are plenty mourning the end of their summer, but I know I can't be the only one who feels a thrill of excitement every time September rolls around. Even if you're past your school years, doesn't the arrival of autumn get you itching to pick up some clean blank notebooks and a fresh set of pencils? Perhaps that attitude is why Matilda (both of the 1996 Danny DeVito film and the classic Roald Dahl novel on which it's based) has always been a personal hero.

Matilda Wormwood was a girl genius, and even though she had execrable crooks for parents and was subject to outrageous familial neglect, she didn't let that get her down. In or out of school, there is a lot we can learn from Matilda.

Keep yourself sharp. Left to her own devices from a tender age, Matilda didn't take that as an excuse to let her mind idle. She charged on down to the local library, and had read every book in the place by her sixth birthday.

Negotiate creatively. When her parents denied her requests to enroll in school because they'd rather have her at home to sign for UPS packages, Matilda was undeterred. She mixed in a little bleach in with their hair tonic and engaged in a little telekinetic TV exploding, and she was in kindergarten in no time.

Don't be afraid to be smart So what if her class was only on the two times tables? If you can multiply 13 by 379 in your head, sing out!

Develop a signature look. When Matilda decided somewhere around age four that the hair ribbon worked for her, she stuck with it.

Stay away from school principals who favor military jackets and knee shorts. This one should speak for itself.

Keep these tips in mind and you should be able to navigate back-to-school season (or the post-Labor Day work week) with style.

Now, who else out there was a school-loving Matilda type? Reveal yourselves!

Thursday
Jul312014

Smackdown 1973: Candy, Madeline, Linda, Sylvia, and Tatum O'Neal

Behold the five Oscar-nominated Supporting Actresses of 1973: a "bitchin' babe" (Candy Clark), a pint-sized con-artist (Tatum O'Neal), a possessed teenager (Linda Blair), a selfish carnival dancer (Madeline Kahn), and a vinegary New York institution (Sylvia Sidney). 

THE NOMINEES

 

Last month's featured year, 1964, gave us an extremely senior acting shortlist of Oscar regulars but the corresponding shortlist of 1973, apart from Sylvia Sidney who had been a respected working actress for nearly a half-century, skewed very new and very young and not just because it gave us the youngest Oscar winner of all time in Tatum O'Neal; she was 10 years and 148 days old. The four actresses nominated with Sidney were in their first flush of stardom and only acting in their first (O'Neal) second (Kahn & Clark) or third films (Blair). The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences obviously approved of their career choice.

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS

from left to right: Chambers, Delany, Harris, Longworth, Rogers, Turner

You've already heard 'what 1973 means to them' and now here to talk about these five performances are authors Mark Harris ("Five Came Back") and Karina Longworth ("Anatomy of  an Actor: Meryl Streep"), film critics Bill Chambers (Film Freak Central) and Kyle Turner (Movie Scene), your host Nathaniel R (The Film Experience) and our special guest: two-time Emmy winning actress Dana Delany ("China Beach", "Body of Proof", and the forthcoming "Hand of God").

And, as ever, we must thank StinkyLulu for the original Smackdown inspiration in which we revisit Oscar shortlists of the past without all the campaigning and heat-of-the-moment politics that infect each awards race. Without further ado, part one of the main event.... (here's part two which is a podcast conversation)

1973
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN 

 

LINDA BLAIR as "Regan" in The Exorcist
Synopsis: The daughter of a famous actress begins acting strangely. Can two priests save her from the demon inside?
Stats: 15 yrs old. First and only nomination. 41 minutes of screen time (or 34% of running time). 

Dana Delany: William Friedkin clearly created a set where Blair felt free to perform. She is naturally real as a pre-teen and then fully committed  in the physicality when she is possessed. I know it's McCambridge's voice, but Blair deserved this nomination just for what they put her through; the crucifix in the crotch, alone! ♥♥♥

Bill Chambers: This isn't one performance but three--four if you count the makeup unto itself. Blair provides the base coat, of course, and the guilessness she brings to her early scenes is perhaps easy to underrate; she's not just natural, she's impossibly ordinary. (Her squirms and grunts in the hospital scenes are also viscerally authentic.) But Regan is a puppet in both concept and execution, manifesting fewer reactions than she provokes. In the end, this isn't unlike nominating Yoda or something. ♥♥

Karina Longworth: In a movie full of terrible performances, at least Blair's gives you something to think about, in that it takes some work to separate out what she's actually doing on her own, and what is being accomplished via makeup, effects, and voice dubbing. The things that are wrong (dated, laughable) with the movie are not Blair's fault, exactly, but she also doesn't exactly give a sense of the agency or invention that she brings to the role that another actress wouldn't.  ♥♥

Kyle Turner: Though part of what’s memorable about Blair’s performance has to do with Mercedes McCambridge’s voice work, she adds an absolutely crucial element of that innocence and naiveté suddenly taken over by evil. The film is not only horrifying on a visceral level, but on a human level because we sympathise for Regan. She’s going through Hell. Literally. ♥♥♥♥♥ 

Mark Harris: Revisiting this, I found myself surprised by how little Blair is in the movie—unlike the adults, she’s not a character but an object, and William Friedkin uses her shrewdly but sparingly, in short, carefully chosen takes, sort of the way Spielberg deployed the shark in Jaws. It’s far from great acting, but her ordinariness works well for the part, and even though it’s a largely lip-synced performance (all hail Mercedes “Pazuzu” McCambridge!), she’s impressively game in every scene. ♥♥ 

Nathaniel R: Those doctors and priests are such fools. Little Regan definitely has an unholy spirit inside her and its name is "McCambridge". Though the sound design, dubbing, and makeup are doing major heavy-lifting, Blair does just fine with her half portions, believably slipping towards catatonic trouble. Plus: watch her demon scenes with the sound off (I tried it!) and there’s still solid physical acting. In short I believed this young actress scratched “Help Me” into her own stomach from the inside. ♥♥♥ 

Reader Write-Ins: "Even with all the help this performance gets (makeup, sound, voice actors, etc) I still think Blair was ahead of her age and completely believable. Even after all the spoofs and rip offs I still find her creepy and during the "normal" scenes she's very natural." - Mauro. (Reader average: ♥½)

Actress earns 19½ ❤s 

4 more actresses after the jump


Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb112014

Shirley Temple Black, 1928-2014

Here's the last kind of news you want to hear, first thing in the morning. Shirley Temple Black, the quintessential child star, has passed away at 85 years old.

Temple's career exploded at the sage old age of 5, when she appeared in a string of massively successful hits for 20th Century Fox in 1934, including Little Miss Marker, Baby Take a Bow, and Bright Eyes. So fast and so complete was her success, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences created a brand new award that year just so that she could receive it, the non-competitive Special Oscar for best juvenile performance. She appeared in a shocking number of films throughout the 1930s, dominating the box office and generally making everybody much less depressed that there was a Depression on. Her career continued strongly until 1949, with the actress still appearing in classics like The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer and John Ford's Fort Apache even as an adult. In later years, she was the U.S. ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, in addition to sitting on the boards of a number of corporations.

To most of us, though, her name was and will remain fixed to a very particular idea of childish exuberance, the round cheeks and curly hair of pre-adolescent innocence at its most bubbly and aggressively charming. Temple, in the 1930s, was one of the all-time iconic movie stars, an instantly-familiar face with an immediately-recognizable personality even to people who'd never think to watch one of her movies.

 


It's easy to assume that her stardom was based on being abnormally cute and able to carry a tune, but even in her earliest starring roles, she had a gift for comic timing and a distinctly clever streak that keeps her roles from getting too sacharine. She was, by any standards that have ever fairly applied to a pre-teen, a genuinely good actress and commanding screen presence, on top of being a darling moppet.

We've lost a lot of terrific actors in the last couple of months, but with Temple we've lost more than that. This morning marks the passing of one of the few genuine Hollywood legends left to us, and everyone who loves movies is a bit poorer for it.

Monday
Jan062014

Linker and Commander

My New Plaid Pants the greatest "which is hotter?" of all time
Pajiba's bitch rankings for the new season of Downton Abbey. So happy it's back. Love Mary so much. 
The Backlot Did Sir Ian McKellen out gay actors who everyone knows are gay even though they're not actually really out even though they're gay? The silliest "controversy" of the weekend. Gay gay gay

Awards Daily seems convinced that American Hustle is going to win Best Picture and everyone knows it. Ummm... we don't even have the nominations yet. I'd say the race is still on.
The Carpetbagger let's ask Siri about Samantha in Her why don't we? Yes, let's.
Variety Judi Dench, Bruce Dern and 12 Years get props from the AARP in their annual "best movies for grownups" list
In Contention oooh, it's BAFTA's rising star nominees! I always forget that they do that.  The nominees are: Dane DeHaan (Kill Your Darlings), George Mackay (How I Live Now), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Will Poulter (We're the Millers), and Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color). They aren't nominated for those specific pictures but I just include them to remind you. Who would you vote for?

Best Read
If you haven't yet read this open letter to James Franco from The Village Voice's Amy Nicholson, titled "do the double dick dude" you absolutely must: hilarious, provocative, and smart.

Today in Randomness...
A happy 25th birthday to actor Max Pirkis. Remember how great he was opposite Paul Bettany and Russell Crowe in Master and Commander: Far Side of the World? I've been meaning to rewatch that for in forever. You never know with child actors if it's merely a great director, a natural gift, or a happy accident. Pirkis later had a supporting role on HBO's Rome as the evil Gaius Octavian (I only saw the first season of that show but I understand it was akin to a King Joffrey part?) but he's been absent from screens for all of his twentysomething years. He's returning to the movies this year in Flying Home (with Jamie Dornan) and the horror flick The Quiet Ones (opening in April) and we wish him well, especially if Master and Commander was indication of his potential. As I was typing this up I realized he was on twitter and twitter accounts from non celebrity actors are a peculiar joy. There you can sometimes spot actual opinions instead of careful PR positivity about everything. For example, he has Oscar opinions, didn't like whatever Jodie Foster was doing in Elysium (but who did, really?). And, this is my favorite, because I never quite understood why people were so gaga for The World's End (which I think is the worst of the Cornetto Trilogy and by a significant margin. 

 

Thursday
Dec052013

Team FYC: Tye Sheridan for Best Actor

In this series we sound off (individually) on their favorite fringe contenders. Here's Philippe Ostiguy on Tye Sheridan in "Mud"


It is no secret that, while the Academy rarely misses an opportunity to reward a young actress’ breakout, it likes to keep the boys running a while longer – in fact, over the past twelve years, female acting nominees have been on average a full eight years younger than their male counterparts. Little Tye Sheridan, then, has virtually no chance of catching voters’ eyes, especially in a field as crowded as this year’s Best Actor category, and with a film that peaked in buzz back in May.

But boy, does he deserve a chance. Previously only seen as The Tree of Life’s youngest, quietest sibling, the seventeen year old gives in Mud a performance of the highest class, one played with evident maturity that nevertheless remains candid and childlike (Sheridan was fifteen at the time of filming). Though it was sold as the story of a runaway criminal, likely to bank on Matthew McConaughey’s involvement, Mud is above all the tale of Ellis’ coming-of-age, as his naïve idealism is confronted with a reality much harsher than he had anticipated. Having lived a sheltered childhood and bumpy family life, Ellis is all too happy to find a role model in McConaughey’s Mud, with his grand talks of love, freedom and independence, and all too unprepared for the kind of letdown his trust sets him up for. Though the veteran gives a first-rate turn as the titular character, it is Sheridan’s much less showy portrayal that gives the film all of its heart. His Ellis is earnest and hopeful, out of his depth but determined to hold it together. The way Sheridan grounds the entire film with his restraint and soul brings to mind Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout as Ree Dolly in Winter’s Bone, albeit with a greener, tenderer character. Ellis’ tenderness is in fact his biggest strength: when he finally lashes out in disappointment, eyes red and voice cracking, he rips your heart out.

For reminding us adulthood is not a prerequisite for complex, layered and relatable characters, Mud should mark Tye Sheridan’s first Academy Award nomination. But hey: if that doesn’t pan out, he’ll still have David Gordon Green’s acclaimed Joe, David Fincher’s star-studded Dark Places and the central role in the dark indie Grass Stains, all due next year, to cheer him up.

Related Post
Critics Choice Balloting: Eligible Performances for "Best Young Actor/Actress" 

previous FYCs
Original Screenplay In a World... | Production Design The Conjuring | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Score Nebraska | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar WrightSupporting Actor Ulysses the Cat

Monday
Nov182013

"Critics Choice" Best Young Actor/Actress. Any FYCs?

Updated to add voting options!

Yesterday out of nowhere I suddenly felt a shiver go down my spine. I realized that if I didn't pull some advocacy action, my fellow Broadcast Film Critics might just give Chloe Grace Moretz TWO nominations for Best Young Actor/Actress for Kick-Ass 2 and Carrie and nobody needs that. Not even Chloe who doesn't strike us as the sort that needs the validation to go on. (Horror of horrors that's already occurred back in 2010 when she won a double nom) And then I pictured Quvenzhané Wallis getting nominated for her one line in 12 Years a Slave and remembered that frustrating nomination for Asa Butterfeld in Hugo (he could repeat this year for Ender's Game) and I knew I had to intervene with some advocacy or at least a helpful voting cheat sheet.

Thomas Horn & Quvenzhane Wallis, the last two winners of this category

See, sometimes the lazy voting in this category can be attributed to its low profile. If you're not actually researching / thinking about "which actors that aren't yet 21 did good work this year?" chances are when it comes time to vote you'll just be scribbling down whoever comes immediately to mind. That strategy favors the famous and the lucky (are they in a film you're thinking about for other categories?) and "Best" is not really even a part of the equation.

HELPFUL CHARTS AND READER BALLOT REQUESTS AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug082013

Stop Trying to Make Link Happen

Next Movie can you recite all of Mean Girls in half an hour? This guy in a pink shirt can. 
AV Club Netflix knows you're lying about all those highbrow films you claim you watch!
Pop Matters this is a pretty great interview with Courtney Love about her short but fascinating career as an actress with The People Vs Larry Flynt as its focus
The Playlist Woody Allen needs the right idea for his eventual "shot in Sweden" film -- he's already done his Bergman riff (Interiors) so what could he do? 
Dark Horizons on how they're filming Quicksilver (Evan Peters) super-speed for the new X-Men flick 

Playbill It looks like Clint Eastwood's A Star is Born has been shoved aside for a different musical he's interested in since he's set to start filming his take on Jersey Boys later this month. Several cast members have been plucked from the stage show including Tony winning John Lloyd Young
Empire a new Legolas still from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (I shudder every time I type that title. Such a horrible title) 
Esquire What I've Learned: Woody Allen Edition

YouTube you've heard that 8 year old Nicki Minaj-addict Sophia Rose Grace got the Little Red Riding Hood role in Into the Woods right? This furthers my wariness about the movie.  That's actually kind of a tricky part which is usually cast older since uh... her whole plot is kind of a sexual metaphor
Coming Soon filming began today on Black Sea, the latest from Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) an treasure-hunt thriller starring Jude Law
In Contention reminds that This is Martin Bonner comes out this week. I thought it was already out but no matter. Go see it. It's good.
MovieWeb a television series based on The Exorcist may be on the way. No word on what happened to the previous series based on The Exorcist (from Martha Marcy May Marlene's Sean Durkin) that was supposed to be heading our way.