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Entries in Supporting Actress (226)


Cannes Actress: Zhao Tao and Jane Fonda

The latest buzz from Cannes is that the Best Actress race is heating up. Or at least speculation is. Marion Cotillard's Lady MacBeth has yet to screen but those that have seen it early are typically wowed. But we know at this point not to expect Cannes juries to point and go "Her! Her!". If there is a Blanchett-Vanquisher out there it may well be Zhao Tao who stars in the "giddily ambitiousMountains May Depart.

That's the latest from the reknowned Jia Zhangke, a regular at the fest for whom Zhao Tao is a recurring player (Still Life, Platform, A Touch of Sin). Mountains is Zhangke's fourth try at the Palme and though he usually comes away empty-handed, his last attempt A Touch of Sin (2013) took Best Screenplay. Despite the jury completely changing each year Cannes somehow has an Oscar-like sense of momentum wherein you generally move up the ranks as to which prizes you take; longevity wins the Palme. (It's not as simple as that of course but there can be a weird cumulative coronation effect.)

So that makes the Palme race: Hungary's Son of Saul vs. USA's Carol vs China's Mountains May Depart? (Or am I forgetting something that's been similarly ecstatically received?) Typing them out that way it makes Cannes sound like the Olympics of the movies, only annual instead of bi-annual. And maybe it is?

In other Canne actressy news, our friend Kyle Buchanan says that Jane Fonda walks away with Paolo Sorrentino's Youth which stars Michael Caine as a retired film composer.  I'm hearing that Fonda's role is very showy (an old combative muse to Harvey Keitel's director character), but quite small. Nevertheless I couldn't help but immediately picture both Grace (Jane) and Frankie (Lily) as Oscar nominees this year in Supporting (for Youth) and Lead (for Grandma) and how much media fun would that be? Sorrentino had a major Cannes sensation and eventual Oscar winner with his last film The Great Beauty. This one is in English which naturally will give it a leg up with Oscar voters if it opens this year but it's already more divisive which can be a problem. Still love/hate divides are tough to predict with awards. All you sometimes need is the right people on the love side to turn the critical tide around. And anyway when this mixed review called it 'elegant fun' I just thought... doesn't that describe a lot of well received prestige films?

But just to remind us that she's already one of the immortals (with 2 Oscars, multiple classic films, and celebrity outside of acting as well, the legend is assured) here is Jane Fonda looking amazing on the cover of W --  their oldest cover girl ever.

Here's an interesting bit on self-awareness from the W interview

One day on the set of On Golden Pond, a film that she coproduced so that she could costar with her father, the legendary actor Henry Fonda, she was fixing her hair when Katharine Hepburn (who played her mother in the film) pinched her cheek and demanded, “What do you want this to mean?” “It was 1981, and I didn’t know what she was talking about,” Fonda recalled. “Back then, I didn’t give my looks a fare-thee-well, and that bothered Katharine. She said to me, ‘This is what you present to the world. What do you want it to say about you?’ Her question has been lodged in my psyche ever since. I now think what Katharine meant was awareness of a persona. She wanted me to consider how I wanted to be seen. Now I pay attention to how I present myself to the world. I realize that it matters.”



Mother's Day Special: "Now, Voyager" and Bette Davis

Happy Mother's Day, readers! Here's new contributor Angelica Jade Bastién returning to talk Bette Davis, tell all bios, and a 1940s classic. - Editor

When I introduce friends to Bette Davis for the first time I tend to show them Now, Voyager. Yes, the film gives us one of Davis' best performances but my love for it is deeply personal. Whenever I watch Now, Voyager I see my emotional landscape on the screen. As a teenager struggling with mental illness and a caring yet controlling mother who didn’t quite know how to handle it the film was a revelation. It gave me hope that I could become the woman I always dreamed of. Ultimately, my obsession with the film centers upon the multiple ways it explores motherhood. 

Now, Voyager is essentially about the transformation of Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis) from spinster aunt figure to badass, emotionally realized womanhood. The film begins with Charlotte teetering at the edge of a nervous breakdown brought upon by the multitude of ways her mother, Mrs. Vale, controls her...

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Supporting Actress Chatter: Alicia, Julie, Kristen, Judy, Etc...

Alicia Vikander as Gerta Wegener in "The Danish Girl": Supporting or Lead?2015 hasn't brought us much in the way of stellar supporting actressing quite yet, with the exception of César winning Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria. It helps that it's practically a lead role and she holds her own with one of the world's most hypnotic talents (Juliette Binoche). The other possibly key player that's already been seen by the lucky ones who attended the Sundance Film Festival is Julie Walters from Brooklyn (reviewed). She's a scene stealing delight as the strict landlady of the girl's boarding house where the heroine (Saoirse Ronan) lives and definitely has enough screentime to make a play for a nomination should the film be well received in general release. 

Otherwise for Oscar Predictions we have to venture into the great unknown.

Most Likely To Succeed, at least sight unseen, is 2015's 'it girl' Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, The Danish Girl, Seventh Son, The Light Between Oceans, The Man From UNCLE, Testament of Youth, Adam Jones, Tulip Fever ...Yes, she has 8 movies slated for US release this year - take that Jessica Chastain!) It's tough to imagine her missing if The Danish Girl is any good because she's a terrific actress and the role is amazing, too. She's playing the erotica painter Gerda Wegener who supported her husband (Eddie Redmayne) as he became the titular character in the world's first sex reassignment surgery. Is the role large enough to campaign in Best Actress? This early in any film year most questions have no answers.

Early 'anything could happen' oscar predictions give us a unique opportunity to fantasize about comebacks too, should the films play and the reviews be kind. Which of these possible comeback queens will you be rooting hardest for: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight; Judy Davis, The Dressmaker; Parker Posey, Irrational Man; Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (well comeback to Oscar glory that is)?

Kate Winslet and Judy Davis on the set of "The Dressmaker". They play mother & daughter.

See the Supporting Actress Chart here and please do discuss EVERYONE in the comments. You know you want to and you know you you love this category almost or as much as Best Actress (which will be our grand finale to the April Foolish Predictions tomorrow). 


Revisiting Rebecca (Pt 5): Burn It Down, Mrs Danvers

Previously on "Revisiting Rebecca"
Pt 1 - a whirlwind de Winter courtship
Pt 2 - return to Manderley, meet Mrs Danvers
Pt 3 - feel up Rebecca's lingerie
Pt 4 - attend a costume ball but don't jump out the window, young lady!

...And here is Jason, with our final installment.

1:44:50 We fade up from a kiss to a sign reading "Kerrith Board School 1872." It seems so exact it made me wonder if this is a real place, but a quick google comes up with nothing. I assume this, like most everything save the more obvious natural exteriors (the beaches filmed on the California coast, for example), was a set. It seems an odd detail to so prominently focus upon though. My guess is Hitch liked the connection to The Past, with it hanging over everyone – he was never exactly the most subtle with his themes.

In the Hitchcock/Truffaut book the two filmmakers discuss how "the location of [Manderley] is never specified in a geographical sense; it's completely isolated." Hitch actually talks at length about how he sees this possibility of isolation as an "American" thing -- that if Rebecca had been filmed in Great Britain he'd have shown the countryside surrounding the house but filming it in America gave him the possibility of this "abstraction." It certainly helps that whenever we’re seeing the mansion itself it’s always a miniature, and not an actual location. Anyway, here we are... Where ever here is!

Continue on to the final installment

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Quick Impressions: Annie Funke's Violent Year

Quick Impressions. There are showbiz dreams embedded in nearly every frame of your favorite TV shows and films. Consider this series a celebration of SAG card holders and free advice for casting directors.

Meet Annie Funke (It's pronounced "funky"). She's only made one movie but what fortune to land such a strong one for your debut! The actress has just two scenes in J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year (2014), just out on DVD & BluRay, as the unexpected heir of a rival company who Oscar Isaac's desperate businessman must turn to for help. While the cast is uniformly fine, there was just something about Annie Funke's pin-drop tense scenes in particular that we just couldn't stop thinking about. We had to know more...

While Funke's first movie and a buzzy breakthrough a couple of years ago in a play called "If There is I Haven't Found It Yet" which she refers to as a "game-changer" have both been heavy dramas it turns out she came up through musical comedy. Because of scheduling conflicts during the casting of A Most Violent Year she thought she wouldn't get the part but here we are. And here is where we'll jump into our conversation...

NATHANIEL: I love musicals and plan to see your next one but it's exciting that you're making waves elsewhere now, too. 

ANNIE FUNKE: As a kid in Oklahoma with a musical theater degree I had no idea that my career would go in any way to tv/film. It wasn't on my horizon at all

But then you got A Most Violent Year from a self-taped audition!

When I showed up on set the first day I hadn't met anyone. That was completely like being shot out of a cannon. [Laughs] 


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Revisiting Rebecca (Pt 2): Introducing Mrs. Danvers

For its 75th Anniversary, we continue our baton-passing recap of Alfred Hitchcock's only Best Picture winner Rebecca.

Previously on Revisiting Rebecca: Nathaniel introduced us to our No Name heroine (Joan Fontaine). While travelling as a companion to a wealthy older chocaholic named Mrs. Van Hopper, she meets a mysterious stranger with a name that drips of money, Maximilian de Winter (Sir Laurence Olivier). When her employer falls ill, Maxim and No Name take the opportunity to get to know each other better. Until one day...

Part 2 by abstew

27:00 Despite Mrs. Van Hopper's skepticism over Maxim and um...Joan Fontaine's marriage (we can't officially refer to her as "The Second Mrs. de Winter" just yet since ol' Maxxie hasn't put a ring on it), the two are off for a quickie nuptial: Monte Carlo-style. Which apparently means wearing your travel clothes, almost forgetting the official papers (Freudian slip, Maxim?), and having the ceremony performed by a member of ZZ Top. More...

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Posterized: Judi Dench 

Today marks yet another onscreen reunion of besties & Dames Maggie and Judi: The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in limited release (it goes wide next weekend). They shared a dressing room at the Old Vic in the 1950s and they've been tight ever since.

Dame Judi & Dame Maggie in 2014

They're both Oscar Royalty of course, among the most beloved actresses to ever live, but Judi Dench's story is particularly interesting since it took her so long to cross over into full stardom. Long a valued commodity in the UK, America was slow to discover her. Perhaps it started with the international hit and Best Picture nominated A Room With a View (where she & Maggie played spinster friends - they both won BAFTAs for their roles, Maggie in Lead, but only Maggie went on to an Oscar nomination with a demotion to supporting). By the time Judi got her first true lead film role in Her Majesty Mrs Brown, Maggie was already a two-time Oscar winner, with five nominations under her belt. 

So Judi's late life success is a unique story. Let's look at her career since her stateside breakthrough. How many of these 24 Judi Dench films have you seen?

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