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Entries in Gugu Mbatha-Raw (23)

Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov092014

Red Carpet: Governors Award Fashions... Let the Campaigns Begin

Jose here. As Nathaniel noted, the Governors Awards were held last night in Hollywood (yay Maureen O’Hara!). As usual they were pretty much a rehearsal dinner for the Oscars next year. While their red carpet is more subdued than Oscar’s - they’re there to pay tribute to legendary honorees, not to steal their thunder - there were a few exceptions to the rule. After all, if you want people to vote for you, you gotta make sure they remember you.

Let's take a look at what 16 of the Oscar hopefuls wore. What might it mean in the larger scheme of things?

 

Emily Blunt has worn this exact same thing to at least 10 other award ceremonies, color variations aside. Don't get me wrong, she's stunning etc. etc. etc. but will it help The Baker's Wife's Oscar cause, to look so every-year Blunt? The under-nominated actress should start experimenting and leave her go-to silhouette behind - wear a massive ball gown that tells people...

you've changed! you're daring! You're different in the woods!  ♪ ♫

Reese Witherspoon, too, looks the same, except it works to her favor. She's paying homage to Elle Woods, reminding voters how funny and cute she was in Legally Blonde, and how complex and dark she is in Wild by contrast. I rest my case.


Now two Best Actress dark horses, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has been in our minds all year long with her breakthrough performance in the sleeper box office hit Belle, and as she prepares to do the publicity rounds for Beyond the Lights it was delightful to see her attend. Perennial nominations-bridesmaid Marion Cotillard showed up with the Dardennes to remind people how terrific she is in Two Days, One Night, while I'm not particularly in love with her Dior dress (pretty much an altered version of what J.Law wore at the Oscars this year) I hope she talked to everyone at that party (it was 600 people) to convince them to vote for her.

 In a just world, Jenny Slate would be a slam dunk contender for Best Actress because she's incredible in Obvious Child, but an indie about abortion without a heartwarming message or a twee soundtrack is perhaps way too cool for Oscar. She definitely seems to be playing the "newbie" card, which is why she showed up dressed like Lupita Nyong'o at this year's ceremony. I hope that helps her cause! Jessica Chastain was there too, as she always is nowadays and rightfully so, and of course she was campaigning for her three or four scenes in Interstellar because it's November and she has made absolutely no other movies this year. I don't know what you mean about a three-hour-long melodrama with James McAvoy in which she's giving us Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer brilliance and a 1980s gangster flick...I seriously don't.

In a just world, Jenny Slate would be a slam dunk contender for Best Actress because she's incredible in Obvious Child, but an indie about abortion without a heartwarming message or a twee soundtrack is perhaps way too cool for Oscar. She definitely seems to be playing the "newbie" card, which is why she showed up dressed like Lupita Nyong'o at the Oscars. Will it help her campaign subliminally? Jessica Chastain was there too - where isn't she nowadays? -- and of course she was campaigning for her three or four scenes in Interstellar because it's November and she [ahem] has made absolutely no other movies this year. I don't know what you mean about a three-hour-long melodrama with James McAvoy in which she's giving us Meryl Streep in Kramer vs. Kramer brilliance and a 1980s gangster flick with Oscar Isaac in which she's giving us Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface ...I seriously don't.

 Literally, every single person involved in Boyhood was there. All. Of. Them. Look!

Moving on...

If there was such a thing as prom king and queen of awards season red carpet, this year would continue to be a popularity contest by way of The Imitation Game vs. The Theory of Everything. (Cumberbatch may have won round 1 in Toronto but round 2 on the early campaign trail has gone to Redmayne.) Just look at how cute they all are! Will people who vote for Eddie Redmayne feel like they must vote for Felicity Jones too? Can Benedict Cumberbatch win without Keira Knightley? For now, all I can say is that not since Kate & Leo have I wanted two screen couples to get married like I want these Brits to do.

 All of these handsome men below are potential Best Actor spoilers, and all of them seem to have shown up primarily to remind voters "hey, we clean up nice too!" since none of them play particularly glamorous characters. I'm especially bowled over by Oscar Isaac's bold brown tux with Clark Gable mischievous mustache accessory. Which one is making you swoon?

About that not-stealing-honorary-thunder business...

When does Tilda Swinton not steal everyone else's thunder? At first it seems strange she was even there until you remember "Remember that weird lady in Snowpiercer !" She undoubtedly has to remind people many times that that was her, which makes her instantly praise worthy. From frumpy to avant garde, now that's how you get votes. Similarly David Oyelowo showed up in one of the only tuxes worth talking about. 

Which of these dazzling stars will we be seeing in every red carpet from now until Oscar? What were some of your favorite looks?

Monday
Nov032014

British Independent Film Award Nominations

Manuel here bringing you fresh awards news from across the pond.

O'Connell in the Belfast riots film '71

The British Independent Film Awards (I will kindly refuse adding the requisite champagne-sponsor ahead of their name) announced their nominations earlier this morning and from the looks of it, we are surely headed for a fascinating "Year of Jack O'Connell" narrative to shape up in the next few months. We already got a nice glimpse of his physique in Starred Uphere he's racked up a nod for nomination leader '71 (reviewed by Nathaniel), and that small film Unbroken will by year's end cement him as not only an up and comer but a firmly established rising star.

While I have yet to catch many of these (Pride and Frank's strong showings are gentle reminders that I really have no excuse for not doing so already), I have to say a lot of these categories look quite impressive; that Best Actress lineup (Pei Pei, Knightley, Jabeen Ahmed, Mbatha-Raw and Vikander) is wonderfully diverse while that International Independent Film category (with Ida, Blue Ruin, Boyhood and The Badadook) seems cooked up by (and for!) the TFE community.

Catch the full list of nominations after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep172014

The Link Graze

okay, more like The Link Gorge because there's so much of it. But how long has it been since we did a link roundup? whoopsie daisy. Chew away on these blog cuds today

good reads
New York Times amazing thinkpiece on the death of adulthood in American culture with notes on Mad Men, YA fiction, seminal premium cable series like Sopranos and Sex & The City and more... 
In Contention five things we learned from Anna Kendrick about The Last Five Years and Into the Woods
NPR has a story on the making of Gone With the Wind. Expect a lot more of that film in the next few months all over the web given its 75th anniversary 
Gawker "The Skeleton Twins and the Crafting of Modern Gay Character"
Mike's Movie Projector remembers the Oscar-winning Separate Tables (1958) and other versions of that play. I have such issues with that movie. I think it's Deborah Kerr's worst performance for one. 

TIFF roundups
You may be exhausted by our TIFF coverage (i have final notes tomorrow and then maybe a podcast so get interested again!) but here are some pieces elsewhere to give you a little more variety...
Girish Shambu names his best and worst 
The Wire Joe Reid picks 15 best performances from Al Pacino (?!?) through Julianne Moore
The Film Stage really fine review of Wild. I liked it more than Sky here, but this is a very smart review 
The Dissolve critics pick their best and worst with Duke of Burgundy up top and Thomas McCarthy's The Cobbler with Adam Sandler down below. I'm sad that the gifted Thomas McCarthy has his first critically reviled movie but maybe that's what you get by working with Adam Sandler.
Mind of a Suspicious Kind Jordan Ruimy's recap. I gave him a hard time for his comment on Eddie Redmayne...

 

 

...but it was super nice to meet him at the fest finally after chatting online
HitFix loved Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (I skipped that one but only because it was opening in October) and Julianne Moore 
Little White Lies does a TIFF top ten from to Force Majeure to A Pigeon Sat on a Branch
The LA Times proves that not everyone loved TIFF as much as I did complaining about the final week 
RogerEbert.com interviews Liv Ullman finally back behind the camera with Miss Julie
The Matinee wraps up quickly with superfast notes on Top Five, The Duke of Burgundy, and Jena Malone 

amusements
Cigarettes and Vines apparently Paul Thomas Anderson and Bennett Miller both hate digital filmmaking and text each other about it 
Cracked 8 actors who look the same on every movie poster. Did you know that Denzel Washington always avoids eye contact, Tom Cruise always goes profile, and Eddie Murphy can't help cocking an eyebrow? 
CHUD celebrates the really ballsy cameramen on Mad Max: Fury Road. Dangerous filming there 

Oh ohhhh! 

This obviously happened during TIFF so I was unaware but not blissfully! Channing Tatum and Jillian Bell (his hilarious 22 Jump Street co-star) doing The Dick Graze and the Booby Meeting. Juvenile? Sure. Hilarious? Yes. 

news in brief -icym these stories
Electronic Urban Report have you heard about the 'black Magic Mike'? They're recasting the lead in Chocolate City but some filming has already begun
Gothamist Batman and Spider-Man were arrested for fighting in Times Square
Us Magazine Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling have now officially spawned. No word on the baby girl's name yet. Will Ryan Gosling make good on his promise to quit making movies when he starts making babies? I hope not. That terrible life decision has already destroyed too many actresses!  
In Contention George Clooney getting the Cecil B DeMille prize at the Golden Globes this year
EW big gallery of American Horror Story: Freak Show images. So Jessica Lange does have arms afterall. I maintain that her character has no arms on that painted poster. I have stared and stared at it. They aren't there! But this is a good thing because at least 50% of Jessica Lange performances are hand gestures so she needs them!
AV Club Nurse Jackie's seventh season will be its last. I always think shows should end at five seasons. The fifth season finale of Nurse Jackie was just incredible and a perfect note to end on. I can't imagine what they'll do now though I still watch the show
Gawker such a horrible story. Django Unchained actresses harassed by police for prostitution after kissing her white husband 

P.S. via W Magazine...

Gugu photographed by Caitlin-Cronenberg

Gugu Mbatha-Raw* is really pretty. The end.

*I keep almost typing her name wrong via Star Wars Batmanny influences "Gugu Bantha-Ra"! or simple dyslexia Gugu Mbaw-Ratha is my other preferred misspelling. But one of these days I will get it right without having to double check.

Thursday
May152014

I Forgot About "Belle" But The Story Shouldn't Be Forgotten!

A Brief Housekeeping Prologue: Behold the troubles of rapid festival-blogging and ill fated attempts to "save some for later" and plan ahead. What you're about to read are my first impressions of Belle, a costume drama which opened in theaters on May 2nd when I intended a fine tuned version of this review to go up. I first wrote this back in September at TIFF and when I learned the film was not yet "locked" as to its final cut and would open in May, I saved it, fully intending to revisit the film, in case further editing sharpened its compelling premise or performances. While searching for Godzilla showtimes just now (priorities) I've realized  that it's been in theaters for two weeks and I never published this or saw the film again! (In most professional blogger ways I vastly prefer Squarespace, where the site has been housed since January 2011, to Blogspot but scheduling posts for weeks ahead in the future -- a super handy function - is a trickier and less user-friendly feature here.)

I never did revisit the film so if you've seen it I'd love to hear your opinion of the final product... 

Beautiful British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the star of Belle, a costume drama about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay directed by Amma Assante. Dido's life story is fascinating and ripe for cinematic exploration. She was the illegitimate biracial child of a British Naval Officer (Matthew Goode, giving Goodeian gorgeous righteousness in a cameo) who claimed her as his own despite the scandal he knew it would cause.

He demanded that she be brought up in England at his home much to the surprise and resistance of his stuffy family (Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and Emily Watson giving extremely Wilkinsonian, Wiltonesque and Watsonlike turns). Belle's life predicament stems from her skin color but is more than skin deep... it's existential. One obvious but psychologically upsetting scene has her confronting her beautiful dark skin in the mirror and momentarily attempting to rub it away. Though Dido is blessed with wealth and privilege she never fully belongs to the high society circles she travels in, and is not even allowed to dine with her family. Her 'coming out' into society, expected of women her age for courting purposes, is only considered by the family when they realize that her same-aged sister-cousin (Sarah Gadon not giving a very Gadonish performance) needs a companion. Meanwhile the debate over slavery reaches a fever pitch thanks to a gruesome court case her grandpa (that'd be Wilkinson) is judging about drowned Africans. 

forbidden love! Gugu & Sam Reid look great together

Belle isn't particularly accomplished as cinema goes, marred as it is by modern anachronisms in dialogue and behavior, and the unmistakable sense that it'd be miles better as a more fleshed out television miniseries. The acting, too, is highly uneven. Gugu has a few wonderful moments but spends too much (i.e. most) of the running time in wide-eyed confused victim mode. But the largest problem is that much of Belle makes no damn sense. Consider, if you will, that though the film begins with Belle as a child, we skip ahead to her adult yearsone or two scenes later but every single cast member (including Belle herself) reacts to the discomfort and unfairness of her peculiar situation like they've never considered any of the implications before; Every awkward interaction or racist affront is a virginal shock! Were they all cryogenically frozen until Belle was old enough to be dowried off to the highest bidder and the actress was old enough to carry both a romantic drama and a civil rights epic?

That said it's an easy film to watch, emotionally accessible and earnest of heart, which is just what I needed that morning at the festival and sometimes being the right movie at the right time on the right day can endear you to weary eyes... especially if you hand them some eye drops*. A- Story / C- Execution

*That's code for tears, which I did shed.

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