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Entries in Melonie Diaz (5)

Thursday
Aug042016

Born in 1984? Oscar doesn't love you (yet)

Since 1984 is our Year of the Month I was prepping a "vintage" list of the people, places, and things birthed that year and was alarmed to realize that I could find ZERO Oscar nominees born that year. Not a one. And I've spent all too much time scouring the web for it.

Actors born in 1984 are 31 or 32 years of age which is plenty of time to secure an Oscar nomination, at least for women. For comparison sake consider that a very quick glance at 1983, no more than one minute of research, turns up at least 5 nominees one of whom won (Lupita N'yongo). The same speedy glance at 1985 reveals 4 nominees instantly. Even 1986 has one that immediately pops out (Lady Gaga for Original Song) though the more recent years naturally have less as the field of contenders gets younger and younger. Unless I'm missing some fast-rising sound editor or makeup artist or some such, Oscar has yet to love any 1984 babies. Poor Millenial babies. If you were born in 1984 does this make you grumpy?

So who do you think will be first? Some options after the jump as well as the saving grace of Tony, Emmy, and Grammy nominees from that 1984 crop.

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Wednesday
Aug192015

Actresses of Color Who Deserve Better Careers

Gugu Mbatha-Raw had a GREAT 2014. Will the roles be there for her? (Photo by Paola Kudaki for Elle) Here's a topic always worth discussing. Actresses of Color who deserve better careers. I made a top ten on this topic many moons ago -- 2007 to be exact over at the old blog which went like so: Anika Noni Rose, Regina King, Naomie Harris, Hazelle Goodman, April Grace, Tonya Pinkins, Audra McDonald, Gabrielle Union, and the list was topped by Viola Davis and Kerry Washington. The past eight years were very very kind to about three of them -- this was before Viola's Oscar nominations and before Scandal for Kerry and before Audra's record breaking 5th and 6th Tony Awards), but others were ignored or their careers stayed roughly the same. Do people even know who Hazelle Goodman is anymore? It will always mystify that April Grace proved she could hold her own, charisma wise, with Tom F'ing Cruise at his most intense in a stand-off in Magnolia and not come out of it with a giant career. Hollyweird.

But the subject is always worth revisiting since Hollywood changes slowly. And, to be honest, it's even a topic that applies to white and blond actresses because Hollywood is not exactly a meritocracy. Make the wrong move here, miss an opportunity there, or don't have the right agent and all the talent in the world might not make for a big career. But back to the subject of actresses of color. Remember when Lupita was in discussions for Southpaw and eventually moved on (the part went to Naomie Harris)? Having seen the picture I think we can all now agree that there's zero reason on earth, plot-wise / character-wise / talent-wise why the juicier wife part couldn't have gone to Lupita (or Naomie) instead of to Rachel McAdams. Even when Hollywood discovers someone as exciting as Lupita they don't come up with opportunities for them, opportunities that are all around if you think about it; Maybe you've noticed that the industry makes multiple HUNDREDS of movies a year.

The topic is on my mind again because Dell on Movies made a list and A Fistful of Films countered with another. Naturally, I don't agree on all of the choices. I think Queen Latifah, for example, often phones it in. Maybe subconsciously she knows that her substantial charisma will smooth over the blank spaces? But there are some obvious YES situations here too: Q'orianka Kilcher (The New World), Adepero Oduye (Pariah), and Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere). I actually wonder if their names aren't part of the problem. Hear me out: I don't mean this in a "too ethnic!" racist kind of way. I've noticed it a lot with white actors, too - especially with stage performers oddly enough. Names are getting SO long and complicated. It seems that "stage names" are a thing of the past but there's something to be said for refashioning your given name towards something that's catchy and easy for the public to remember / obsess over. If it's already catchy like "Lupita Nyong'o" just keep it but if it's hard to remember and difficult to spell why not make it easier for potential fans? Just ask Frances Gumm (who became Judy Garland), Archibald Leach (who became Cary Grant) or Natalie Zacharenko (who became Natalie Wood) and so on. Every once in a while someone new changes their name to something catchier -- did you know that Brie Larson is actually Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers? -- but mostly today's actors are keeping their original names. 

For what it's worth Emayatzy has a series regular role in Amazon's Hand of God starring Ron Perlman (as a businessman who starts speaking in tongues and seeing visions) and Dana Delany as his sharp wife that drops all of its first season episodes in early September. Emayatzy plays Perlman's mistress/prostitute. Pilot reviewed here.

I'm not in the headspace today for a full top ten on this topic but I know it would include Melonie Diaz (such a welcome presence - she always pops), Carmen Ejogo (so gorgeous and talented), Kimberly Elise (just brilliant and so infrequently works in movies), Danielle Brooks (so dependably engaging on Orange is the New Black and I want to see what else she can do), Adriane Lenox (who originated Viola's role on stage in Doubt to a Tony Award), Clauda Kim (Age of Ultron / Marco Polo)... maybe you can help out in the comments with your own? 

Monday
Apr282014

Tribeca: Bits and Pieces

Glenn wrapping up his Tribeca film coverage with five films including Elisabeth Moss, Roman Polanski, Emory Cohen, Melonie Diaz, and the memory of a fashion icon.

The One I Love

Catching up with this high-concept romance after having missed it at Sundance was a good idea. Taking a Twilight Zone-ish twist to the relationship dramedy we see so often at festivals and on the indie scene, Charlie McDowell’s feature debut is a visually playful metaphysical look at marriage and the memory of love that is ultimately rewarding and inventive. Elisabeth Moss continues to be on top form following Mad Men, Top of the Lake, and Listen Up Philip with her role here, while Mumblecore graduate Mark Duplass gives fine if less attention-grabbing work as her somewhat dull husband.

The story is too complex to get into here (and yet easy to follow so don’t worry about this just being a winsome Upstream Color), and it’s probably best audiences go in as blind as possible to the twists that it takes with the story of a crumbling marriage and the retreat they take to the country where, apparently, everybody comes back refreshed and more in love than ever. Filmed in warm, picturesque yellow tones and with refined, yet deliberately essential production design, The One I Love is a winner that will likely be wonderful to revisit. B+

Venus in Fur, Under the Harvest Sky, Dior and I and X/Y after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec012013

Podcast: Spirited Spirit Discussion

In this week's episode,  Nick channels that THR Hollywood Actress Roundtable (previously live-blogged) and Nathaniel, Katey, and Joe join in but eventually it comes around to this week's topic: Spirit Award nominations.

We haven't seen all the films but the best thing about the Spirit Awards is advocacy for smaller titles you might not be familiar with. Are they shirking that privilege and responsibility with the focus on so many future Oscar nominees in the last few years? The discussion includes but is not limited to: Inside Llewyn Davis, Afternoon Delight, Mud, Upstream Color, Frances Ha, Fruitvale Station, All is Lost, Computer Chess, Short Term 12, Blue Caprice, and Spring Breakers.

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download it on iTunes. Join in the conversation in the comments.

Spirit Awards Nomination Chat

Saturday
Jul202013

Review: Fruitvale Station

This review was originally posted in my column at Towleroad

Fruitvale Station, the first legit* Oscar Best Picture contender of 2013, hit a few theaters last Friday after months of pre-release buzz.

The buzz was fueled by a double triumph at Sundance this past January where it took home both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. The feature debut of 27 year-old writer/director Ryan Coogler tells the true story of the death of a 22 year-old African American man named Oscar Grant, who was shot by police on New Year's Day in 2009 at the Fruitvale BART Station in San Francisco. Watching it last Friday it felt like a modest success, a solid specific slice-of-life drama if not a great or ambitious one. But context is a funny thing. The very next day it was feeling much bigger.
 

Nothing exists in a vacuum and that includes the movies. On Saturday George Zimmerman was found "Not Guilty" in the death of Trayvon Martin, another unarmed black man (this time he was only a teenager), whose life was snuffed out nonsensically. The Weinstein Company who distributed the movie couldn't possibly have had better (or sadder) timing. If Fruitvale Station were a fictional drama, it might have felt unnervingly prescient opening when it did but since it is also based in fact it arrives like a stinging reminder of a shameful national pattern.[more...]

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