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Entries in Jessica Chastain (143)

Thursday
Aug182011

Prediction Updates: Lead and Supporting Actress

Oscar obsessives around the web, including myself, have been hung up on the Glenn Close vs. Meryl Streep Best Actress '80s Rematch! narrative for quite awhile now with Albert Nobbs and The Iron Lady still without real movie trailers to give the already popular media angle extra flavor. Less often discussed, and it's been nagging me for awhile now, is which young actress the Oscars will glom onto this year. Best Actress is often, statistically speaking, a beauty pageant who's who of hot 20 and 30something stars. This is not to say that the main race can't be between two 60-something ladies (it can if their names are Close & Streep) but we already know that that won't be the whole story even if it does turn out to be The Story.

There are three more slots to consider and more than that if you include the possibility that Close or Streep might not happen, if you include the precursor awards (which have room for more players) and the Supporting Actress category which has slightly more diverse preferences but which is still a sucker for a new "it" girl.

Which young beauties will be competing for gold? There isn't room for all of them.

Fresh Faces.
Which will Oscar get a Mulligan / Lawrence style insta-crush on?
ROONEY MARA, 26, with sociopathic edge and punk styling in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
FELICITY JONES, 27, doing young romance drama in Sundance hit Like Crazy.
ELIZABETH OLSEN, 22, winning acclaim as cult member in Martha Marcy May Marlene and probably winning credit for being talented younger sibling of the gajillionaire Olsen twin sisters.
MIA WASIKOWSKA, 21, proving she can carry a film and also be excellent while doing so in Jane Eyre.
ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, 29, soon to be winning "best in show" attention for W.E. 
JESSICA CHASTAIN, 30, seemingly in every other movie released in 2011 and hardly recognizable from one to the next.  

Already Stars.
Oscar's sweet spot for Best Actress wins is late 20s to early 30s. 
KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, 26, serving mental patient realness in A Dangerous Method.
KIRSTEN DUNST, 29, undoubtedly memorably victimized in Von Trier's Melancholia.
MICHELLE WILLIAMS, 30, doing biopic iconography for My Week With Marilyn and romance for Take This Waltz 
EMMA STONE, 22, who won't get nominated for The Help but the enthusiasm about her career this year is totally hogging some of the spotlight that the other hopefuls are going to need. 

Who do you think will be showered with love and media attention 'round the holidays this year? Who will come up wanting? Which of the newbies will ever have careers as big as the "already stars"? Share your projections / wild prophesies in the comments.

Best Actress chart | Best Supporting Actress chart

Sunday
Aug142011

Red Carpet: "The Help", Teen Choice Awards

NATHANIEL: For this episode of Red Carpet Convos, I'm joined by our resident fashion-obsessive Jose and Kurt. We begin with ... oh help me. It's THE HELP. I feel like I have done nothing but talk about that movie this week.
KURT: 'The Help Experience'.
NATHANIEL: Which would work as that movie's title... were it not for that pesky Emma Stone ;). It's totally overthrown Rise of the Planet of the Apes already in conversation.‬

Aibilene, Celia, Skeeter, Minnie and Hilly

JOSE: ‬ Confused by Ron Howard's kid and Jessica Chastain again, which one's which?‬
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪The pregnant one is always Bryce Dallas Howard‬
KURT: ‬ ‪Is that to say she's perpetually pregnant?‬
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪I feel like she's had four children already. But i think this is just her second.‬
JOSE: ‬ ‪She's still pregnant? She and Natalie Portman gestated like elephants. I thought she was just wearing a bad empire cut‬

KURT:
‬ ‪well since we seem to be working backwards, let's talk about Ms. Howard. Jose are you very familiar with her red carpet looks? cuz i'm not‬
JOSE: ‬ ‪actually no, though somehow I happen to be a big fan of her underrated-ness.
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪She went very patriotic for this red carpet.‬  Perhaps to counterbalance how dastardly Ugly American her character Hilly is?
KURT: ‬ ‪she should have worn a confederate flag‬
JOSE: ‬ see what I can gather from her look is that color blocking is already hard for the skinny starlets, so pregnant ladies should stay away from it, this reminds me of Uma's yodeling costume from the Oscars a few years ago‬
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪Ah, I think it's lovely or would be without the primary colors.‬
KURT: ‬ ‪agreed about the color blocking. reminds me someone a few seasons ago of Project Runway - can't remember her name.
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪reality show contestants fade in memory practically instantly -- celebrity meat grinder that. I love Project Runway and I can never remember people's names after the next cast has replaced them.‬
JOSE: ‬ ‪oooh nice connection Kurt, since freaking Heidi Klum is always pregnant as well‬
‪KURT: ‬ ‪word‬. Bryce should have worn a variation of that floral thing that makes it into all the promo stills. i kind of love that look.
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪Octavia Spencer. This is a lovely color I think but the clutch is cracking me up. It's so flat and shiny that what could you keep in there other than maybe all the movie contracts you're thinking of signing now that you've had your breakout role.‬
‪KURT: ‬ ‪yea its weird‬ like a trapper keeper
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪ ‬ ‪Omg. maybe she's got homework or a slambook inside?‬
JOSE: ‬ ‪Love the cut and the cleavage, since bigger ladies usually go for huge priest-robe like dresses, the mid-length cut is absolutely perfect‬
‪KURT: ‬ ‪yes the dress is pretty. is the wrap too much?‬
NATHANIEL: ‬ ‪‬ ‪I like it. But then I like gossamer loveliness in general.‬
‪KURT:‬ ‪well at least it's not draped over her like a JLo doilie‬ and i wont say anything else about Jlo -- i promise!

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug112011

Review: "The Help"

The first storyteller is Aibilene (Viola Davis), a black maid raising her 17th white baby in the Jim Crow south. She can't answer the question of what it feels like to raise another woman's baby when you've left yours behind at home. It's an overwhelming opening inquiry to be sure. Though it's immediately clear Aibilene is being interviewed, we don't know why and for what purpose as The Help begins. This type of prologue is common in movies as you get a peek at what's to come before stepping back to the beginning, but the introduction is important: Abilene is the first person we meet and the narrative voice of the movie. 

Viola Davis even listens with dramatic depth!

Though mainstream Hollywood has proven time and again that they're constitutionally incapable of telling black stories without a white frame --  in this case Emma Stone's frizzy haired provocateur "Skeeter" who is secretly writing a book about the experience of maids in Jackson, Mississippi -- The Help, however subtlely (and perhaps accidentally), suggests with its Davis-centric opening and closing passages that Abilene is capable of creating frames of her own, thank you very much. In fact, she'd rather write her own story than tell it to another writer.

So she does.

Mm-hmm. It's Octavia Spencer as Minny, a surefire Oscar nominee.If Tate Taylor's adaptation or Kathryn Stockett's bestseller were confident enough in Aibilene's voice to downplay Skeeter's this would be a much more revelatory movie, and surely a more painful one, but we're dealing with the movie we've got which is essentially both of theirs.

The story, or, more accurately, stories of The Help are passed like batons throughout the movie. Deep breath now: Skeeter who wants to be writer has a starter job as a cleaning advice columnist which leads her to conversations with (baton pass); Aibilene who is dealing with personal grief and a weak-willed bad-mommy employer; Elizabeth (Ahna O'Reilly) who is continually pushed towards racist actions by local queen bee; Hilly (Bryce Dallas Howard) who loves lording her power over her mother, local girls, maids and the town outcast; Celia (Jessica Chastain) who is loud and 'trashy' but really loves her maid; Minny (Octavia Spencer), the best cook in town and Aibilene's BFF, who has a sharp tongue and is at war with Hilly.

Though it's easy to take potshots at The Help  -- we might discuss those soon -- it's also somewhat ungenerous since The Help is well meaning and entertaining and best of all affords us the rare opportunity of seeing several watchable actresses chewing on a meaty multi-course feast together. Sometimes they mistake the scenery for another course (Bryce Dallas Howard and Jessica Chastain may both provoke heated arguments about the line betweena "type" and a caricature) but this was bound to happen. Chief among the delights in the acting arena is watching the dependable Viola Davis (Doubt, Far From Heaven) take the reins of a movie for once instead of stealing the whole thing in one scene or two.

The interplay between the characters makes up the bulk of the entertainment value, since with its sometimes candy color glossiness and very brief detached asides to actual history (usually on television sets), it's obviously not going for a deep historical rendering of the violent racist south. The movie would have done well to jettison much of Skeeter's story, both for pacing (it's far too long) and thematic strength, but Stone is such an engaging actress that it feels strange to object to having more of her around. Her storyline does eventually return, movingly, to the subject at the heart of The Help.

In the end where The Help wins over its audience, provided that they're okay with a surface take on a deep troubling subject, is with its trio of central performances. The intertwining still relevant topics of civil rights struggles, labor and racism are so large and overwhelming that it can be hard to breathe in their vicinity. What potency The Help does achieve it gets from its entertaining actresses sharing the thick pressure cooker air: Davis inhales, Stone fumes, Spencer erupts.

One final exasperated exhale from Aibilene is just the right cathartic move to end with. The audience breathes with her. And isn't this her story after all?

Related:
Oscar Discussion With Katey 
Review Index 

Tuesday
Aug092011

Will Oscar Hire "The Help"?

Here's a quickie conversation with Katey Rich and I about Tate Taylor's The Help and its Oscarable cast. We accidentally ran into each other outside the theater (hitting different screenings on the same day) so we decided we should have a brief chat.

How might the ladies campaign? Who really owns the film? Is this an Oscar vehicle for Viola and Emma or something more like momentum for a future Oscar?

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are the title characters but we also discuss the work of Emma Stone, Sissy Spacek, Bryce Dallas Howard, and an unrecognizable Jessica Chastain if The Tree of Life is all you have to go on. And that was all I had to go on going in.

The movie opens tomorrow in theaters. Have a listen.

Katey and Nathaniel on "The Help"

Thursday
Apr072011

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.

 

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