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What did YOU see this weekend?

 

Elle. Basically the same movie as The Piano Teacher but sillier. Huppert is great, but when is she not? -Jonathan

The Edge of Seventeen because I needed something light and fun. So delightful, and anchored by a wonderful Hailee Steinfeld performance. - Marina

 

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Entries in Tom Wilkinson (7)

Monday
Jun202016

YNMS: Denial

Manuel here with yet another sign of the Rachel Weisz renaissance we all so spiritedly discussed a few weeks back. When the trailer for The Light Between Oceans surfaced I was probably not alone in earmarking her supporting role in that Vikander/Fassbender weepie as a chance for the actress to nab her second Oscar nomination (which most of us had vainly hoped she’d net with her beautiful work in The Deep Blue Sea). Well, there may be a clearer path for the actress with Denial which is, after all, squarely focused on that most Oscar-ey of topics: the Holocaust.

Rather than focus on the event itself, the film centers instead on a very public libel suit in the UK in the 1990s between a writer, David Irving (Timothy Spall), and a historian, Deborah E. Lipstadt (Weisz) after she accuses him of denying the Holocaust. Let’s break down the trailer YNMS-style after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb242016

HBO’s LGBT History Oscar Break: 2003 Acting Races

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

 Last week we played a fun game of Oscar What If… imagining how Roger Spottiswoode’s And the Band Played On might have shifted the supporting actor and actress categories at the 1993 Academy Awards had it been released theatrically. This week we’re jumping ten years ahead and looking at the 2003 Oscar acting races and trying to suss out whether Jane Anderson’s Normal (which we discussed in depth a while back) could have made waves in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories.

Given that it was released the same year as the towering Angels in America it’s not surprising that Anderson’s Normal (based on her own play) went home empty-handed from all the end of year awards handed out despite featuring two dazzling performances that are usually awards-bait gold: Tom Wilkinson plays Roy Applewood who embarks on a transition to become the person he’s always known herself to be: Ruth; while Lange played his supportive wife, Irma. Indulge me if you will in imagining this Sundance Film Festival-screening title making it to theaters across the country and mounting campaigns that could have jockeyed for nominations the year Lord of the Rings: Return of the King swept the Oscars.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug052015

HBO’s LGBT History: Normal (2003)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions...

Last week we looked at Moisés Kaufman’s adaptation of his own play, The Laramie Project, based on the aftermath of the Matthew Shepard murder in the small town of Laramie, Wyoming. I raved about Laura Linney’s bit scene, continuing an unexpected but welcome line of actressy write-ups that this project has allowed. You see back when I envisioned this project, I worried we’d be stuck talking solely about gay men-driven stories and male actors for months, but looking back, it turns out we’ve talked about Stockard Channing, Lily Tomlin, Glenn Close, Angelina Jolie, Vanessa Redgrave and Michelle Williams! Not too shabby considering gay men have been at the center of more than half the titles we’ve looked at. This week, we continue to add another acting goddess to our list as we reach our first main trans storyline in an HBO production in Jane Anderson’s Normal.

More after the jump...

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Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

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Thursday
May152014

I Forgot About "Belle" But The Story Shouldn't Be Forgotten!

A Brief Housekeeping Prologue: Behold the troubles of rapid festival-blogging and ill fated attempts to "save some for later" and plan ahead. What you're about to read are my first impressions of Belle, a costume drama which opened in theaters on May 2nd when I intended a fine tuned version of this review to go up. I first wrote this back in September at TIFF and when I learned the film was not yet "locked" as to its final cut and would open in May, I saved it, fully intending to revisit the film, in case further editing sharpened its compelling premise or performances. While searching for Godzilla showtimes just now (priorities) I've realized  that it's been in theaters for two weeks and I never published this or saw the film again! (In most professional blogger ways I vastly prefer Squarespace, where the site has been housed since January 2011, to Blogspot but scheduling posts for weeks ahead in the future -- a super handy function - is a trickier and less user-friendly feature here.)

I never did revisit the film so if you've seen it I'd love to hear your opinion of the final product... 

Beautiful British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is the star of Belle, a costume drama about the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay directed by Amma Assante. Dido's life story is fascinating and ripe for cinematic exploration. She was the illegitimate biracial child of a British Naval Officer (Matthew Goode, giving Goodeian gorgeous righteousness in a cameo) who claimed her as his own despite the scandal he knew it would cause.

He demanded that she be brought up in England at his home much to the surprise and resistance of his stuffy family (Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton and Emily Watson giving extremely Wilkinsonian, Wiltonesque and Watsonlike turns). Belle's life predicament stems from her skin color but is more than skin deep... it's existential. One obvious but psychologically upsetting scene has her confronting her beautiful dark skin in the mirror and momentarily attempting to rub it away. Though Dido is blessed with wealth and privilege she never fully belongs to the high society circles she travels in, and is not even allowed to dine with her family. Her 'coming out' into society, expected of women her age for courting purposes, is only considered by the family when they realize that her same-aged sister-cousin (Sarah Gadon not giving a very Gadonish performance) needs a companion. Meanwhile the debate over slavery reaches a fever pitch thanks to a gruesome court case her grandpa (that'd be Wilkinson) is judging about drowned Africans. 

forbidden love! Gugu & Sam Reid look great together

Belle isn't particularly accomplished as cinema goes, marred as it is by modern anachronisms in dialogue and behavior, and the unmistakable sense that it'd be miles better as a more fleshed out television miniseries. The acting, too, is highly uneven. Gugu has a few wonderful moments but spends too much (i.e. most) of the running time in wide-eyed confused victim mode. But the largest problem is that much of Belle makes no damn sense. Consider, if you will, that though the film begins with Belle as a child, we skip ahead to her adult yearsone or two scenes later but every single cast member (including Belle herself) reacts to the discomfort and unfairness of her peculiar situation like they've never considered any of the implications before; Every awkward interaction or racist affront is a virginal shock! Were they all cryogenically frozen until Belle was old enough to be dowried off to the highest bidder and the actress was old enough to carry both a romantic drama and a civil rights epic?

That said it's an easy film to watch, emotionally accessible and earnest of heart, which is just what I needed that morning at the festival and sometimes being the right movie at the right time on the right day can endear you to weary eyes... especially if you hand them some eye drops*. A- Story / C- Execution

*That's code for tears, which I did shed.