Oscar History

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Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots

"With only a few scenes at her disposal, Samantha Morton was an amazing, amazing Mary Queen of Scots in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age". Don't expect that portrayal of the lady will ever be topped." -Ken

"Saoirse Ronan is an inspired choice for Mary. But... Who signed off on Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I? What is this madness." - BillyBob

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Review: "Farewell My Queen"

An abridged version of this review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad 

There are numerous reasons why the Marie Antoinette story has fascinated artists and storytellers for centuries now. From the Court's commitment to theatrical flamboyance with a blind eye to the consequent suffering of the masses (modern pop culture echos were seen as recently as The Hunger Games this spring), to the complexity of the Queen's intimate lonely gilded cage tragedy played against the backdrop of a vast messy violent history. One could argue that the now mythic story is super relevant all over again in this era of rampant socioeconomic injustice and the angry gap between the 1 and 99%. 

Benoît Jacquot clues you in early that he means to tell the famous story differently in the just released French import  Farewell My Queen. For one, it's told "backstage" through the stressful lives of the servants. Consider it the French Revolution: Downton Abbey Edition... without Maggie Smith or the jokes.

The German actress Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds) plays the troubled big-spending transplanted queen, Léa Seydoux (Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol), the film's actual lead, is her bosomy devoted servant Madame Laborde, and Virginia Ledoyen (8 Women) is the Queen's Object of Affection, the Duchess de Polignac. The French people were so unhappy with this rumored affair that the ostensibly powerless Duchess was fairly high on the list of the 286 heads demanded for the guillotine! [More...]

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Celeste Holm (1917-2012)

The oldest living Best Supporting Actress winner has now, unfortunately, left us. And to think we were just talking about the divinely appealing Celeste Holm. Holm died earlier today at 95 years of age in her Manhattan home with her husband at her side. She'd recently been hospitalized for dehydration and suffered a heart attack.

Celeste celebrating her Oscar at an anniversary screening in '12 and on Oscar nite in '48

Today's she's best remembered for her work in All About Eve (1950) and Gentlemen's Agreement (1947) for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, but her successful career also included Broadway stardom (she was the original Ado Annie in Oklahoma!) and her own television series "Honestly Celeste". She will most definitely be missed. 

In the last completed episode of Best Pictures from the Outside In (a series y'all bring up with regularity), we talked about Gentlemen's Agreement in which I found Holm fully deserving of her Oscar, writing:

In all seriousness Celeste Holm is tremendously good in this movie as a sassy career gal with a big but slightly lonely social life. At first I was worried it was one of those cases where you latch on to and overvalue a charismatic performance because it saves you from its dull surroundings (too many examples to name) but by the movie's end I was convinced that I would have found her sensational even if she hadn't been surrounded by so much dead air; the portrait was so vivid I could project a whole sequel with her character as the star.

Mike remarked that he wanted to meet her to thank her for being the best thing in so many movies.

Celeste and her husband at her 90th birthday party in 2007Celeste had been recently troubled by bitter family divisions and legal complications involving her depleted fortune, her much younger husband (from her fifth marriage in 2004) and her two sons. Our condolescences go out to all of them -- we hope everyone resolved their differences towards the end and hangs on to the good memories.

Program yourself a mini-Celeste fest in her honor soon. There are wonderful and/or storied films to choose from: All About Eve, Come to the Stable, Gentleman's Agreement, High Society, The Tender Trap, and the television musical Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella among them.


Box Office Quickie

There's not much to report with this weekend's box office. It's more of the same as every studio, shaking from fear of the Bat, avoiding getting anywhere near opening weekend of The Dark Knight Rises Ice Age #8 (No, seriously I have no idea how many there have been now. No wait, I do: Too Many.) had the weekend to itself but for Spider-Man holdover and Ted's word of mouth.

Top five chart adapted from Box Office Mojo...

Of this week's top five Ted and Magic Mike are the most profitable on account of their lower than average budgets. But once you count in merchandising I suppose Brave, despite a budget nearly the size of its domestic gross (thus far), will be the winner... eventually. Disney Princesses = Profits Happily Ever After. 

What did you see this weekend? I stayed in and watched Jeff, Who Lives At Home as you commanded. More on that one soon.



Men of Steel 'n' Spandex

My eyes are beginning to glaze over from the Hype-a-Thon that is the interwebs around Comic Con time. The Earth is so overrun with superheroes that it's remarkable that crime still exists at all. I went to get coffee this morning and the street in front of my favorite deli was cordoned off as a crime scene. Not joking. The heroes are all trapped in airconditioned movie theaters our moviegoing fates having been long since sealed.

See, the grosses for every superhero movie that's arrived, yes even notorious "flops" like Green Lantern, divisive films like Watchmen, or the ones that would've been 'Straight to Video' in other decades like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, have had little trouble breaking $100-200 million globally so the only logical thing is to greenlight as many as possible with tighter budgets. Superheroes are the new Horror Flicks -- you'll always make a profit if you control your budgets.

Man of Steel teaser poster

If Hollywood had any cold feet at all about greenlighting every superhero they own the rights to, this summer's one-two-three KO that is Avengers + Spidey + Batman (a trio that will obviously clear $3 billion globally) will surely doom us to one superhero movie a month or more by 2015. Soon superhero movies will be as ubiquitous as horror flicks. Especially if Warner Bros ever gets its act together. They own ALL DC characters -- unlike Marvel Studios/Disney which has to work from a deck with several key cards missing -- and yet, apart from Batman regularly and Superman every once in awhile they can't seem to get anything working properly.

So, what's next?

Next Weekend
The Dark Knight Rises - this is the last we'll see of Bruce Wayne for awhile though Nolan is already suggesting that Anne Hathaway deserves a Catwoman movie. Careful what you wish for *cough* Halle Berry

The massively spandexed release schedule as it currently stands after the jump...

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