Oscar History

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Handmaid's Tale ep 1 & 2

"Margaret Atwood's novel is superb. If this is half as good, it will be great!" - Marcelo

"My one concern is how much of the novel is covered so quickly. Even in the first episode, they pulled a lot of events from the middle of the novel right in there to establish the universe. The pacing works onscreen, but what are they going to have left to cover by episode 9 and 10?." - Robert


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Entries in Dame Judi Dench (13)


NYFF: "My Week With Marilyn" 

Poor Marilyn. The press hounded her. Fans would tear off pieces of her soul if they could. Co-stars and directors dissed her. Men wouldn't leave her alone (not that she wanted them to). And now Simon Curtis is holding yet another Monroe seance -- her soul will never rest in peace -- with his feature film debut My Week With Marilyn (2011),  a "true" story about the making of The Prince and the Showgirl (1957).

True must come with quotes. The film is based on the memoirs of Colin Clark, the third assistant director on the "lightest of comedies" directed by and starring Sir Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams). Can we trust the awestruck account of a young movie dreamer's version of his friendship and quasi-romance with the world's most famous actress? My Week With Marilyn emphatically does despite the amusingly placcid (if repetitive) moonyness with which the talented Eddie Redmayne portrays him, as if he's just as doped up as Marilyn, but much smarter about his cocktails of choice.

"Surprise!" Marilyn escapes with Colin Clark, lowly third assistant directorClark was 23 going on 24 when he met the immortal bombshell while hustling into the movies, landing his first job on a set through the help of his father's connections, despite the fact that the father did not approve of him 'running off to the circus'. The details of Clark's adventure in the movies are both acted out and explained to us in voiceover in the film's inelegant screenplay, which prefers for the characters to state the obvious or speak their psychologies aloud. Sometimes they even speak Marilyn's aloud; in the great transitive powers of true celebrity, everyone on earth is her psycho-therapist. Sometimes this obviousness of speech has comic payoffs (the film works best as a comedic clash between proper British theatrical training and idiot-savant American stardom) and once it even pays off both dramatically and comedically in a sadly funny scene where Colin Clark tells it like it is, succinctly, to Marilyn. He understands Marilyn and Olivier's mirrored goals and prophesies the failure of the movie.

Thought Balloons as dialogue and Michelle's performance after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Yes, No, Maybe So: "J. Edgar"

That vibration you're feeling on the ground, that telltale rippling disturbance in your glass, is the clomping arrival of one of 2011's (presumed) Oscar behemoths, Clint Eastwood's biopic of FBI man J Edgar Hoover called J Edgar [official site].

Don't wilt like a little flower. Be strong."

Which means we have to get down to our yes, no, maybe so breakdown of things that make us want to buy a ticket, run away screaming, or mull it over before committing. As a founding member of the oft reviled and totally misunderstood* 'Clint Eastwood is Overrated Club' I realize my breakdown will already be broken for some. But I do approach each trailer with as open a mind as I can muster given my general leanings. In this case everyone knows (and I'd never deny) that I vew cradle-to-grave biopics as the mustiest of all film genres; they aren't inherently cinematic with their staccato 'greatest hits' survey of life since movies are always strongest when they capture something seismic in miniature about a character, story, time, or theme that suggests rather than illustrates a major life beyond two hours.


Is that legal?"


  • Ummm... welll... oh, okay. Got one. The font of the logo is excellent with those flamboyant J and G curls in the otherwise Serious Man signature.
  • Like everyone else I'm curious to see how well the actors handle the "alleged gays" material.
  • Maybe Armie Hammer has a lightness of tone that will help it. Though he looks vaguely brainless when he puppy smiles directly at Mr. Hoover, the "is that legal?" line has hints of mischief and love of life.
  • The shot of the John Dillinger death mask reminds us that plot point, already cinematized on its own, has plenty of juice should they squeeze.

The trailer in question and more commentary after the jump

Click to read more ...


Supporting Actress Predix & Jessica Chastain

I don't have the patience or the time to research this but what do you suppose was the tipping point moment when Hollywood decided that they MUST have Jessica Chastain in every single movie in production? She's like Michael Fassbender's twin sister in terms of output. This happens fairly regularly with actors that Hollywood suspects you'll go crazy for. The most recent examples: Mia Wasikowska and Chloe Moretz. Sometimes the audience complies fawning all over the actor, other times they get all excited about the person as a celebrity but not as an actor (Colin Farrell's weird initial trajectory some years back), and other times they barely notice and don't care and Hollywood starts scrambling for another next big thing. [Editors note: Actually they're always scrambling for that even if you do embrace the one before.]

What will happen in 2011 with Jessica Ubiquity Chastain? Hollywood has gifted her with a potentially huge year. Will her work return that investment? Here's what her year is like...

Jessica Chastain in THE TREE OF LIFE

  • JAN - She co-starred with Michael Shannon in Sundance hit "TAKE SHELTER"
  • FEB - She started filming "THE WETTEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD" with an all star ensemble that includes Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman.
  • MAR - She turned the big 3-0.
  • MAY - She stars as Brad Pitt's wife in Terrence Malick's long awaited drama "THE TREE OF LIFE"
  • JUL - She co-stars with Chloe Moretz and Sam Worthington in the thriller "THE FIELDS"
  • AUG - She plays the young version of Helen Mirren in 'THE DEBT" and is part of the Southern ensemble in "THE HELP" with Emma Stone.
  • NOV - She co-stars with acclaimed thesps Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave in the Shakespearean adaptation "CORIOLANUS"
  • TBA -- She's supposedly completed work on Terrence Malick's Tree of Life follow up picture which stars Rachel McAdams. She's also Salome in "WILDE SALOME" which is Al Pacino's documentary about Oscar Wilde's play. It might come out this year.  If you've ever seen his Looking for Richard, we imagine it'll be like that - totally worth seeing if you're into the theater, the playwright in question and don't mind listening to actors indulgently talk about their craft (I don't just not mind this. I love this) but otherwise you probably won't care.

My god. Does she ever sleep?

I realize that Terrence Malick's films have never resulted in an acting Oscar nomination but there's a first time for everything and one has to assume she'll be in the 2011 conversation in some way even if it's just "oh my god there she is again!" I've included her in the predicted five because honestly, this is the hardest time I've ever had predicting Best Supporting Actress a Year in Advance. None of the roles/film/star matchups are screaming ME!

I am totally anxious to hear your thoughts on this entirely foggy category. This category requires psychic powers and perhaps mine are on the fritz.



Daniel Craig (and Dame Judi) in "Equals" 

Love it. This is for International Women's Day... which is today. It's actually the centennial of International Women's Day so a very big deal indeed. This PSA is directed by Sam Taylor-Wood who made that brilliant short "Love You More" and the John Lennon bio Nowhere Boy.


and furthermore...

Tom Shone "acting as a special effect" interesting piece.
The Playlist unveils the teaser poster for Pedro Almodovar's latest, The Skin That I Inhabit. Ewwww. I'm so scared to see this movie. But I shall.

In Contention checks out Vanessa Redgrave and Ralph Fiennes in the modern dress film version of Coriolanus, directing by Fiennes himself. How about that?
The Carpetbagger interviews The Social Network's invisible man Josh Pence, the other half of the Winklevii
The Wrap
Lady Gaga on Jay Leno. You know... one thing I have to hand to Lady Gaga, the generosity and sentimentality she exudes in song and message doesn't seem faked at all. The way she handles Madonna questions in particular with respect is great. Because Madonna is the queen. Infinity.

Finally, the NY Times reports on Judi Dench's new book "and furthermore." The title implies that there is a previous book and we ought to read it since she's prepping a post script, addendum or some such in book form.

Complete the Sentence
If you were speaking with Dame Judi Dench what would follow your "and furthermore" with? "and furthermore ___________________"

Do tell her (and us) in the comments.


TV @ The Movies: "Meryl Streep Realness"

TV @ The Movies is a series that came to life because we always perk up when movies or movie actors are name-checked on the small screen. Who and what fillters into pop culture? And in what form?

Are any of you watching RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3? In the latest episode The Supermodel of The World gave her competing "gurls" scripts to film a movie trailer "Drag Queens in Outer Space: Return to Uranus". The acting in the final trailers was so hideous I didn't even remotely wish the fake movie was real and given that it was called "Drag Queens in Outer Space: Return to Uranus,"  that's a fail.

Shangela & Mimi discuss their upcoming performances

Shangela and Mimi Imfurst already hate each other and have become immediate rivals. This is because they're both crafty disingenuous camera hogs and nothing drives people crazier than seeing their unflattering traits reflected in other people. They're both continually making trouble (Shangela) or breaking down (Mimi) so as to log more camera time. Essentially, this is a fail safe ploy in the reality TV format: I already know their names and faces and the other queens are still bleeding together after two regular episodes. Mimi brags about her acting experience and on the read-through of the script, they have this exchange:

Shangela: You better get that Oscar, bitch.
Mimi Imfurst: I'm bringing Meryl Streep Realness. You gotta get ugly to win the gold.

As quotes go it's no "I was giving Michelle Pfeiffer bitch" uttered magnificently in season 2 by Raven (It's all downhill from Raven. Sigh). Meryl Streep Realness and the tried and trued De-Glam Oscar trick both make sense on their own but putting them together is like talking in gibberish. Streep has never had to downplay her beauty for Oscar's attention. In fact, her Best Actress Oscar went to arguably one of her most glamorous performances in Sophie's Choice. Yes, yes, she also deglams within the same film in flashbacks. But that's Meryl; she does it all. Except for maybe camp.

Okay, okay. That's not exactly true.


Mimi ended up going for full Leigh Bowery Artifice, Meryl Streep Realness never entering the picture.

But the queens weren't done paying homage/defaming the prestige screen divas. Later Stacy Lane Matthew's performance as "Lady Tata" in the sci-fi trailers prompted comparisons to none other than Dame Judi Dench.

Stacy: Honey, I don't know who in the hell I was.
Shangela: Girl, you were some British bitch.
Mimi: You were Judi Dench giving us Shakespeare.
Shangela: Where in the hell did you get that accent Miss Back Swamp North Carolina? Next thing you turn around you're a British bitch.
Stacy: Bitch, I was thinking Julia Child.

[Ahem]. Speaking of Streep Realness/Camp.

For reasons that are still unclear Lily Tomlin was a guest judge. (Sci-fi plus Lily? Why?) Strangely, she didn't say much and only made one funny.

If you were starring in "Drag Queens From Outer Space," which legendary actress would you be using for inspiration? Would you be okay with Lily Tomlin judging you?

RuPaul's Drag Race is available to watch online. If you dare.


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