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Entries in Jessica Chastain (143)

Tuesday
Feb282012

Tues Top Ten Pt 2: 84th Oscar Takeaways

It's (almost) all over but the dresses. But first we're counting down the ten takeaways from Oscar's 84th year. Your takeaways may vary of course but these are the ten things I expect I'll keep thinking about beyond the big night....

10 Direction is Everything
09 Fincher's Oscar Stride
08 Leggy Angelina Jolie
07 Movie Stars on Movies
06 A Separation's Win


Jessica and her Nana

05 Jessica Chastain is a Girly Girl
Just when we started thinking of her as a Serious Serious Actress she showed up in awards season all giggling, bouncy, girlish. This doesn't mean she isn't a serious actor of course but it was rather a shock, even after speaking with her. Celia Foote's uninhibited enthusiasm in The Help might be the closest we've seen to the real woman behind the chameleon. This impression continued on Oscar night when she brought her Nana and went all womanchild shy and cuddly after her clip. Later during the Best Actress presentation she looked enormously worried for Viola Davis. No wonder she's an actress; her face registers every flush of big feeling. 

04 Emmanuel Lubezki Is Never Going To Win an Oscar
I was more sure that "Chivo" aka Emmanuel Lubezki would lose the cinematography Oscar for The Tree of Life than I was sure who would win it. I predicted The Artist but the prize went to Robert Richardson (Oscar #3) for Hugo.  Lately AMPAS seems much more interested in cinematography as a complicated technical profession rather than a spiritual one that's all about light and tone and feeling. For the past three years Oscar has definitely preferred heavily processed CGI behemoths here. We hope they one day get back to movies that feel crafted by hand... and God. Like There Will Be Blood (which miraculously won).

Lubezki is brilliant but it's lost on the general voters. At least the cinematography branch knows his worth. He has the unique distinction of being nominated with frequency despite rarely lensing Best Picture nominees (which is rare) and despite not being inextricably tied to any one specific filmmaker (also rare). His nominations, all of them deserved (rarer still!), come from filmmakers as diverse as Alfonso Cuaron, Terrence Malick and Tim Burton.


03 Best Presenter: Emma Stone
Easy A was such a confident comic star turn that it was inevitable that she would ascend but it's delightful that she's just as funny at the big show as on the big screen. Entering the stage to present strenuously waving, emphatically gesturing, widely grinning, Emma Stone was so keyed up you had to ask if she was for real. Before she spoke you were caught for an instant on the line between 'is this a skit? and 'ohmygod she is really into this' which, as it turns out, was the skit.

We are here tonight to present the award for visual effectsTHIS IS MY FIRST TIME PRESENTING AN AWARD. Hiiiiiii. 

Waitwaitwaitwait let's stop rushing. We should have some banter.

What joy. Emma is just as funny as herself. Or maybe as Anne Hathaway, if you take this as a comic send up of that ill fated Oscar hosting last year. (In tonight's performance Ben Stiller will be playing the supporting of the less stoned but equally dull James Franco there only to bring his partner down). From Stone's unbridled enthusiasm to her ADD Show Person energy to the spontaneous singing... Was it too Mean Girl? I am crazy in love with Anne Hathaway myself but I laughed and laughed.

(Runners up: The Bridesmaids "SCORSESE!!!!!" [knocks back drink]. It was smart to give the six of them the three short film awards as their numbers dwindled on stage. I only wish they could've had a Sound of Music send off or some comic interstitial to shoo each other off the stage 'adieu adieu to you and you and you'. Distant third: Gwyneth Paltrow and Robert Downey Jr in "The Presenter")

02 Meryl Streep's Third Win. Be Careful What You Wish For
As previously discussed... but also the night's best speech. (Streep would have had a rival in Christopher Plummer but for his speech being in syndication for a couple of months now)

01 They Weren't Fooling Around With 'The Year of Nostalgia'
The Oscar Producers will see your Hugo and The Artist and The Help and War Horse and The Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris and every other backwards gazing collage of deeply felt memories, shared at the movies or privately recreated by or vicariously lived through the movies and they'll raise you Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep Winning, Tom Hanks all over the place, Cameron Diaz, and Billy Crystal thawed from his cryogenic freeze. If you squint your eyes a little this ceremony took place in...1994.

What will you take away from the 84th Oscars? 
Are you already dreaming of the 85th?

Thursday
Feb232012

Breakthroughs

"More please!"

...That's my chief criteria for nominating actors for Breakthrough prizes at this site's own annual gongs, the Film Bitch Awards. (For new readers the name is a long story. We're not so bitchy about the movies unless by bitchy you mean so in love with them that we hold them to high standards). We're hoping that Pariah is only the first great performance from Adepero Oduye (pictured left).

Rather than hand Her Lady of Sudden Ubiquity (Jessica Chastain) the gold silver and bronze this year, we're giving her a special "body of work" medal.

It's not our usual practice to nominate someone whose been working as long as Olivia Colman alongside debut artists like Martha herselves Elizabeth Olsen, but Colman was completely unknown to us here in the US.

You can see the Breakthrough nominations under the Film Bitch pulldown menu up top. We've also started handing out medals in the Oscar adjacent categories. Check them out!

P.S. Here's a cute video of the remaining nominees Tom Cullen & Chris New from "Attitude"'s photoshoot if you haven't seen it.

Friday
Feb032012

Oscar Symposium Day 3: Farewells and Futures

On Day 1 of the symposium we partied with the Best Picture field and considered Star Vehicles. On Day 2 we discussed movies that are hopelessly in love with themselves (to good and bad effect), the forever contentious Lead vs Support debate, the invisible arts of editing and screenwriting. We pick up there. Nathaniel was admitting he wasn't entirely comfortable falling for Margaret.... 

Nader & Simin: A SeparationNATHANIEL:  I've scraped my knees up on cold hard pavement. I too was caught up in #TeamMargaret excitement. I love it when critics remember that part of their job is to advocate for buried treasure rather than merely rubber stamping the critical darlings over and over again (Did Michelle Williams really need to hog the majority of critics awards for My Week With Marilyn, which is straight down the middle awards bait? They didn't see anything off the golden path that was worthy of praise?). But when I finally saw Margaret, I left somewhat dejected. There's a lot to love. But there is also just an awful lot. It plays, to me, like a series of brilliant pieces that haven't quite been shaped to fit the genius-level mosaic they're intended for. Or maybe I was just thrown by the length and those phone calls to daddy. Lonergan is a brilliant writer but a brilliant actor not so much.

And maybe I was still just high on A Separation (my choice for Best of the Year) which illuminates a bit of the same ground in terms of personal actions creating ripples that we can't possibly grasp the full reach of. And they both show us how flawed people (i.e. all of us) can get tangled up in very difficult moral, social, religious, political and ethical webs they probably helped spin.

KURT: I'm glad you brought up that comparison between A Separation and Margaret, because it's definitely something I was thinking about while watching the latter (in between all the reveling in how Lisa initiates an allegorical, post-9/11 war that's ultimately futile and only reaps money for people who don't deserve it). Though vastly different in structure (one drum-tight, one manic and sprawling), these two scripts hold a lot of similarities, and are, in my opinion, at the tip-top of the year's best.

I'm also glad that Mark brought up Margin Call and Tinker Tailor in the same thought bubble because I found myself linking those two in my head a lot as well. Both films are essentially corporate dramas with power players coping with crisis, and both teem with a kind of impenetrable language you really have to crack. I hail from the team that doesn't really buy all the "Speak to Me Like a Golden Retriever" crap, because A) I don't believe those folks would actually expositionally coddle each other, or need coddling, in that way, and B), as mentioned, the movie keeps promising through dialogue that it's clearing things up, when it's really just thickening its fog of jargon. I do believe Chandor took a highly commendable crack at presenting this world, and I don't know if I've seen anyone do it better in terms of writing (Oliver Stone certainly didn't), but there's a lot of pretense about those scenes that irks me. (I prefer his small details, like the gross arrogance the company shows by firing Tucci's head risk manager, and little shots like the one of Demi and Simon Baker in the elevator with the cleaning lady.)

...and we've reentered MI6 where we began!

As for Tinker Tailor, there isn't a lick of coddling, just a glimpse into a radically rarefied world, filled with so much code talk, names and lingo it's like Tolkien does MI6.

Symposium Wraps with Bridesmaids, eye candy and film futures after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb012012

Red Carpet SAG: Slinky Angie, Cute Emma, Winning Viola

Red Carpet Conversations continues on the road to Oscar night. The Critics Choice Awards fashions were like something out of easter but the Globes stepped it up with all the colors of the rainbow. Now we've reached the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Pajiba's Joanna has returned!

Joanna:  ‪wooo hoooo fashion‬

Nathaniel:  ‪Welcome back Joanna‬. So how is awards season treating you? You were sick yesterday when we were supposed to talk. Was it red carpet overload?

‬Joanna:  ‪There's only so many ruffles one girl can take.‬ 

Nathaniel:  ‪So we start on a sun-drenched field.

Lane, Wiig, Carpenter, King, and Mol

It was sunny at the SAGs and I'm not just talking about Jean Dujardin's disposition. Look at all the solar rays powering this first group.

 ‬Joanna:  ‪I love love love love love the sparkles on Jennifer Carpenter.  Also, the length.  It's not something you can wear to the Oscars, but is delightfully SAG worthy.‬

Nathaniel: ‪I think the dress is great but maybe not on her. There's something about the lines on the side (gorgeous) that resemble a jutting rib cage. So skinny that one. But I included her as a thank you for being the only good thing about Dexter anymore (done with that show)‬

Joanna:  ‪Oh, yes, our Deb is in need of a sandwich or two.  That's for sure.   Speaking of curves, I'm not usually a fan of frou-frou, but that purple number looks great on Regina King.  She looks very dishy.  Not quite Viola territory, but close.‬ 

Nathaniel:  ‪She is SAG's Social Media Ambassador so I want to click "like" on this‬.

Joanna:  ‪Is she? If I were an ambassador I would demand a sash.  A REALLY fancy sash with Twitter birds on it. ‬

Nathaniel:  ‪That's over capacity fo the red carpet.‬ 

Joanna:  ‪Speaking of accessories. I am not a fan of whatever it is Kristen Wiig has on her neck.‬ A choker? From Wet Seal?  It's competing with the neckline of her dress. 

Nathaniel: I can see that but independently I would digg it. I like that she doesn't try to soften her angularity much on the red carpet. She's got a bit of a dark side, yes?‬ 

Joanna:  ‪Are you saying you think she has handcuffs in that bag?‬ 

Nathaniel:  ‪Shhhhh. ‬No one must know.

 Joanna:  ‪Ugh, her date is so lucky.‬ Can we talk about Gretchen Mol who looks like the fanciest lady on the USS Enterprise? 

Nathaniel:  ‪Hee.‬  ‪I keep wanting not to like it but I totally do. Which is sort of how I have always reacted to Gretchen Mol. No one remembers this but Vanity Fair was trying to make her happen for the longest and I was like "does Conde Nast have stock in her career?" so I was suspicious but i almost always like her in things.‬ 

Whenever I see Diane Lane I think "movie star without the movies"‬

Joanna:  ‪Mol's fancy space collar looks itchy.‬ ‪Oh I remember her and "Vanity Fair"!  I always felt like Weinstein had his sticky fingers all over that situation.‬ But, speaking of Real Genuine Movie Stars, Angelina Jolie was back in her Cruella style. All slinky and drapey and eeeeeevil. 

 

MUCH MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan312012

Vanity Fair 2012 'Thoroughly Modern Actresses'

The "Hollywood Issue" cover is here! You can't see me but I'm totally throwing confetti. It's one of the ten greatest Oscar season traditions (do I feel a list coming on? Maybe later).

 

Mario Testino took over photography duties for the first time. The girl's with the hardest working teams behind them (how do you think anybody lands the front cover?) are, from left to right, Rooney Mara, Mia Wasikowska, Jennifer Lawrence, and Miss Ubiquity 2011 Jessica Chastain. On the inside folds we get from left to right: Elizabeth Olsen, Adepero Oduye, Shailene Woodley, Paula Patton, Felicity Jones, Lily Collins and Brit Marling.

A zoom in for a closer look... 

Lisbeth, Katniss, "Mia Vashivovkoska" (thanks Meryl), and Miss Ubiquity

RuPaul's Drag Race premiered again last night so you'll forgive this outburst... 

GAG ON THE ELEGANZA!"

Not that any of these beauties look like drag queens... though Shailene Woodley wins the awards for "looking the least like herself" and Rooney Mara is still working the most easily duplicated look should you want her as your new style icon. 

more zoom-ins, reader questions, and fun trivia after the jump!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan302012

"Dream Big, Dream Fierce" This Oscar Season

The SAG Awards are receding in the review mirror, but the afterglow remains. How much power can emotional narratives have within our seasonal awards journey? Viola Davis has been a major actress for a long time within the showbiz community -- this very website first handed her two gold medals way back in early 2003 for her gobsmackingly great single scene in Antwone Fisher and her breakthrough year of smart character work in Far From Heaven and Solaris -- but it's only in the past few years that the mainstream has begun to learn her name and key in to her potent gift.  There's nothing like a 'who's that?' Oscar nomination (Doubt), A List friendship (Streep) and a big fat juicy hit (The Help) to boost your profile.

So I wasn't surprised but was definitely delighted to see her receive a standing ovation when she walked up to accept Best Actress for The Help.


Perhaps the standing ovation is an annual occurence and I've merely forgotten.

In some ways our relationship with the awards circus is a long one with deep pockets of memories, held grudges and fond crushes. In other ways it's as if we're goldfish swimming round the bowl and we're surprised by that little plastic castle every time.

But I think the true indicator that Viola Davis is the likely winner of the Best Actress Oscar is not the win itself with SAG, which has a much wider more diverse voting body than Oscar, but the crowd response. Reducing co-stars to tears is probably no great achievement. They were in the trenches with you so naturally Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer and Cicely Tyson were crying their eyes out. But making Zoe Saldana and Angelina Jolie all misty? Boosting Dick Van Dyke's mood when he was already high on life? 

What is going on here? (More after the jump)

Click to read more ...