Being the calm in a storm is not as easy a dynamic to render on-screen as it looks. That’s what Mya Taylor is tasked with in Tangerine—playing the careful, contemplative counterpoint to Sin-Dee’s (Kitana “Kiki” Rodriguez) turbulent rampage through the streets of East Hollywood. When considering the two performances, both accomplished but in very different keys, I immediately thought of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Sadie and Mare Winningham’s title character in 1995’s Georgia (previously discussed here). Though both Alexandra and Sin-Dee’s lives aren’t exactly as diametrically opposed as Georgia and Sadie’s, there’s a similar thread of calm vs. irrational running beautifully through both films. Like Winningham, Taylor gifts her film with an unfussy balance of quiet observation and brimming, longstanding frustration. [More...]
Entries in Supporting Actress (240)
It's been an enormously busy week with precursor decisions confusing and clarifying in equal measure. Even if you don't put much stock in the Critic's Choice Awards (also known as the BFCA, an organization that includes your host) it'll be interesting to see what they come up with since ballots were due today and so many questions remain. Though the organization prides itself on Oscar predictive power (a very weird thing to pride yourself on unless you're a pundit rather than a critic) the confusing nature of the race won't make things easy on any pundit.
While I've been accused of overthinking various races often (who, me?) such is the curse of punditry and Oscar obsessiveness. Here's where I think we stand now...
PICTURE & DIRECTOR If this race we're taking place in 2008 with the old school five-wide race it would obviously be Spotlight, The Martian, Carol, The Revenant, and Room at this point with one of the directors jettisoned for Mad Max's overachievement by George Miller. Beyond that it's so complicated both because we don't know how many nominees we'll get and because seven other pictures still seem plausible as a Best Picture nominee for one reason or another though they had shakier reactions in these first two precursor weeks. For instance: Creed hasn't been doing all that well but I still think it's a big Oscar possibility. Am I crazy or just concussed? And speaking of...
ACTOR While I don't imagine we'll see a repeat of Will Smith's Globe nominated Concussion performance on the Oscar shortlist it's one of about ten performances that still seem to be in the race. You'll have to cleave that in half in January. DiCaprio, Redmayne, Fassbender, and Cranston all have the key nominations (Globe & SAG) but each year at least one or two people across the four categories with that combo miss and you need #1 votes given the Academy's nomination tallying system. So which performances or beloved actors have the most passion behind them? This is why I still think Michael B Jordan or even Sir Ian could surprise despite the lack of SAG or Globe love; it's always important to remember that those voting bodies are quite dissimilar to Oscar's acting branch.
SUPPORTING ACTOR Precursors have coalesced around Michael Shannon, Idris Elba, and Mark Rylance but because the former two weren't what people widely expected, CHAOS REIGNS. Sly Stallone still feels like a potential winner IF he's nominated. And will Oscar really deprive anyone from Spotlight of an acting nomination? That would be so weird for such an actor's friendly Best Picture frontrunner.
ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTRESS We'll have to list these two together because of the ongoing controversy surrounding Rooney Mara (one half of Carol's brilliant romantic coupling) and Alicia Vikander (who has two films splitting supporting honors Ex Machina and The Danish Girl, even though she's the leading lady of both). The discussions around these two have sucked so much oxygen out of the room for other women (in both the leading and supporting races) that I imagine they're both still getting nominated for Supporting DAMNIT since voters likely haven't thought through their other options . The solution: quality longshots should be working their asses off for the next two weeks to remind people of their existence (We're talking to you: Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Julie Walters, and Cynthia Nixon) since Academy voters don't get their ballots until the end of the year. Over in lead actress only four women feel secure (yes, that includes Charlotte Rampling. Come at me!) which means it's a true free for all for the fifth-slot. This week I chose Lily Tomlin as the lucky lady but it could be anyone from the second tier of the chart (or Mara or Vikander).
The other category charts will be updated this weekend -- SAG & Globe choices tell us virtually nothing about Oscar tastes when it comes to the other categories so we can think awhile longer on it.
Investigate the new charts and report back. What does your crystal ball say?
I'm not in the habit, as some online pundits are, of dissing articles written by other people but two articles just published enraged me. ...I exaggerate. They made my skin crawl from their indifference and hypocrisy. Let's get the indifference out of our system first.
Variety's "Long and Honorable History of Category Fraud" - Tim Gray
Gray immediately pisses the reasonable Oscar-lover off with the way he begins this defense of Category Fraud, a topic birthed and coined right here at The Film Experience years ago since nobody else was willing to get riled up about it and make it a cause. He introduces the topic in the the context of real world problems with life & death consequences as a way to insure that any complaints about the topic are, in the grand scheme of things, entirely irrelevant. Yes, it's true, Tim. Category Fraud does not lead to car accidents (unless Nathaniel is enraged and driving) and it doesn't threaten the world's natural resources. But this is a cheap argument. Imagine the rage you'd conjure in the reader if you used this same tactic when speaking about the lack of diversity in casting and directing jobs in Hollywood. The same is, in fact, true. Nobody will die and it won't cause starvation or droughts if people of color don't get acting jobs and women aren't considered for directing big budget Hollywood movies. But that is absolutely no reason to not care about these problems!
Every topic will seem small when placed against death and disaster. By this logic the Oscars aren't worth talking about either! But that does not mean that the topics are unimportant within their own "ecosystems." That's Gray's choice of word so let's use it. [More...]
As I was updating the supporting actress chart I was reminded again why I hate category fraud. This year Mya Taylor, Alicia Vikander, and Rooney Mara have all been campaigning for supporting awards and in truth I love them. They're terrific in their films (Tangerine, The Danish Girl, Carol respectively) and in two of the three cases the MVP of their films. But all three are also leading ladies in films that are absolutely duets. There's been a lot of (deserved) discussion of these performances but category fraud creates a vacuum elsewhere. It's not just that it's dishonest, a gaming of the system to give more attention to actors who usually already get plenty of it (Mya Taylor being an exception here obviously... but usually category fraud benefits stars), but it skews the conversation such that once awards season rolls around, you wake up and you realize you have precious little idea what anyone actually thinks of the supporting players of the year. This is one of the reason "coaster" nominations happen where people get in simply because their film is loved. People haven't really thought their choices through. Because they haven't been discussed. Not the way leading performances are.
Like these women... shouldn't there be more conversation about what they bring to their films? But how can that conversation even start when people are only talking about leading ladies.
The next time someone tells you the supporting race is thin -- point them to this graphic. I don't love all of these performances myself but all 24* of them, if they were to be pointed out to a wide group of voters as viable options, well, wouldn't they each have no trouble finding some fans? My point is this: you can definitely find 5 great performances in any category in any film year.
See the updated Supporting Actress Chart and discuss your favorites in the comments. Which of these 24 women do you love and who should we all be discussing? Not for their probability of a nomination but for their actual performances?
* I am torn as to whether Kristen Stewart or Elizabeth Banks can justifiably be called supporting for Clouds of Sils Maria & Love and Mercy. They're borderline cases. Each is the lead of their portion of the film but they're not the leadiest (if you will) since someone else is even more important and they both disappear for a section of their films.
More adventures from Oscar's holiday festive campaign trail. This time the Oscar frontrunner (Spotlight) and an Oscar possibility too many people are sleeping on (Youth)...
Should Jane Fonda ever tell you you have good tastes in movies, it'll get you drunker than whatever cocktail is in your hand. My personal guarantee to you! If, hypothetically speaking, you're a self-proclaimed actressexual cinephile Oscar pundit (ahem) and two of your favorite movies of all time happen to be They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969) and Klute (1971), and Jane Fonda says this aloud to you, you might feel a little like you've peaked. Is this real life...?
The 77 year-old American icon, along with her Youth co-stars Paul Dano and Michael Caine were the glitziest guests of Fox Searchlight's holiday party in New York City last week. (If the star's of the company's buzziest contender Brooklyn were at the sprawling extravaganty catered party at the Park Hyatt -- truffle shavings? why not! -- I unfortunately didn't spot them).
True legends aren't often as accessible as Jane Fonda was at this particular party, gladly taking selfies with multiple fans and chatting about her movies and Youth, too. Many people have referred to Fonda's work in Youth as a "cameo" including probably myself at one point or another and while that might be factually true it's not spiritually true. You'll hear everything from 4 minutes to 9 minutes about her screentime depending on who you're talking to but screentime is rarely an accurate barometer of impact. Youth spends so much time obsessing on her character, the Fonda-like "Brenda Morel" (not coincidentally also a multiple Oscar winning bonafide legend who has recently made a new home in television) that when she arrives it's with the power of a rumbling fault line, tectonically shifting the movie's entire landscape. Youth as a film experience is basically pre-Fonda and post-Fonda in the telling. I fully expect her to be nominated and have for months now.
Paul Dano is the only actor in Youth that is not working some strange voodoo of their own persona fused with character work. He's playing a full fledged movie star best known for a franchise he despises... and though I expected Keitel to be winning the traction as Supporting Actor, it appears that some people are in Dano's corner. He was in good spirits at the party, and possibly filled with spirits from the open bar (sorry, that was me - I'm projecting) Dano keeps being paired with estimable superstars or genuine acting powerhouses: Day-Lewis, Jackman, De Niro, Caine, Fonda (though he doesn't share scenes with the latter). I asked him if this trend was disconcerting or intimidating for him on set? 'Are you kidding me?' he answered, excited. 'I love it. I hope it'll make me better.' I won't spoil one of Youth's most disturbing surprises which involves Dano's actor character preparing for a new role but I asked him about that soon to be infamous scene. As it turns out he filmed it on his 30th birthday which is now, he admits, 'the weirdest birthday of my life.'
Less celebrity hobnobbing occurred at the last party I attended in Los Angeles which happened to be for Spotlight (you know how sometimes you're shy and sometimes you're extroverted? Same) but the "light supper" event was well-attended and the town's love for the movie was palpable. Writer-director Thomas McCarthy was surrounded by well wishers, a nice mix of Academy members (former 80s Best Actress nominee spotted!) and journos the whole night. I did say a brief hello to Michael Keaton who I had met a couple of times during his Birdman run last season. "Welcome to Round Two!" I said stupidly. Was he ready for all this again, so soon? He assured me it felt much different this time -- the pressure was off since it wasn't so focused on him. It's too soon to say if the "all supporting" Oscar campaign for Spotlight will pay off with the acting branch, but I personally think it was the right call. It's the very definition of an Ensemble Picture. Can anyone beat that team for SAG's upcoming top prize?