Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Carey Mulligan, in An Education
appromixately 68 minutes and 34 seconds
75.3% of the film

The film

A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.
You can read my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

An Education is a beautiful character-driven film, sharp, well-written, with very good acting all around. Carey Mulligan is the star of it all, as she gives a fantastic breakthrough performance.

Carey Mulligan as Jenny

An Education is all about falling in love with Carey Mulligan. With a screenplay focused so much on her character, Carey gets all the help she needs to give us a believable, relatable, deep performance. And she manages it; here is where youth, talent and limited experience actually help: the fact that she is new in the acting business increases the believability of her character’s actions and emotions. Can anyone argue the casting and the natural feeling of her performance?

Carey plays Jenny, a 1960s smart 16 year old dedicated to her studies and with a big dream of going to Oxford. But her convictions are challenged when she meets David, a charming richer man who introduces her to love, fun and society. Jenny’s dilemma is solved at the end of the film, but what’s more important is her emotional journey and Carey does a splendid job at making it all seem convincing and adequate.

I always got the feeling that Carey totally understands Jenny. We can imagine that’s not so hard to do, but it rarely is so dead on that you totally forget about the actress that IS acting [another great example this year: Gaby Sidibe]. I keep underlining this great achievement from Carey because it’s very important to me, for the performance to feel believable and more so relatable. Carey made Jenny very accessible and, as a big bonus point, also sweet, adorable, loveable.

This is also to the screenplay’s credit. The film is meant to be light, but the fact that it’s funny means even more opportunities for Carey to spin the performance. Carey understands good subtle comedy, so her witty lines are always delivered perfectly and with the right timing. Her girlie way of being is adorable and her funny giggle in the rain scene is a very effective idea.

It’s hard to pick scenes where she acts best because she’s so consistent all throughout the film. However, I’m not sure you can sustain a great performance without dramatic scenes. Again, Carey knows how far to go and never overplays the suffering emotions of Jenny. The final talk with David is heartbreaking, and so is the moment of solitude crying when her father expresses his regrets about everything. And let’s not forget the energetic scene she shares with Emma Thompson, when Jenny confronts the headmistress about the purpose of education. It’s such a difficult, wordy scene to play and Carey does it justice, to say the least.

When the film came up, many said a star is born. It’s hard to predict what’s gonna happen with her career and I doubt she’ll ever top this fabulous breakthrough performance, but Carey seems to have the versatility and character understanding to become the finest actress of her generation. Her performance as Jenny is so natural, believable, relatable and a great full achievement that I’m sure people will be talking about it many years from now, more than any other Oscar nominees of her category. My rating is obvious: .

Monday, March 29, 2010

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, even though I’ve been more active on the other blog (My Latest Oscar Film).

I will very soon post my opinion on Carey in An Education, the thing is… I would hurry, only that I don’t have The Last Station, which is keeping me from finishing 2009 and (finally) moving to the 30s.

Last Station and A Single Man are also keeping me from posting my Favorites aka My Awards for 2009… cause I need to see most of the good / buzzed stuff and cannot do it without these 2 titles. But hopefully this will happen sometimes in April. I’ve never taken them so seriously before…
In case you were wondering, it was Let the Right One In winning everything last year :P But again: this year I was even more committed to see stuff I would normally not bother with. Click for last year’s.

And 3rd, but not least: Are you familiar with my Youtube page? Not active lately, but now I’m posting Isadora (1968), the hard-to-find Vanessa Redgrave classic performance. So if you want to check it out, click HERE.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Gabourey Sidibe, in Precious
approximately 66 minutes and 47 seconds
65.1% of the film

The film

In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enroll in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.

You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

Precious is a very dramatic, well written, overdirected but I’m fine with that, fabulously acted movie. I guess it was the only 2009 movie to really have a meaningful emotional impact on me after watching.

Gabourey Sidibe as Clarice Precious Jones

Once in a while you get a performance that you just know it’s a one-hit-wonder. This is Gaby’s first acting job, so her first Oscar nomination and probably her last. The role of Precious required a good acting instinct and a good ear to listen to Lee Daniel’s well thought direction. And we can’t ignore the physicality of the role… Gaby has all these requirements, so I thought the casting was perfect. The result? A very special performance that is probably most difficult to read for me…

Gaby plays Precious, a 1980s overweight teenager dealing with a lot of problems: her illiteracy, the sexual abuse that left her pregnant for the 2nd time, and the mental and physical abuse caused by her mother. The film really is a journey for Precious and we can sense that from Gaby’s well thought performance. No doubt you can see the arc of the character and the change Precious goes through.

You couldn’t really tell it’s 100% acting if it weren’t for those fantasy scenes. They are the least interesting parts of the film, but I can see why Lee Daniels used them. Such a moment of fantasy happiness for Precious allows Gaby to glow and basically act like her real-life persona (you’ve seen the interviews, right?). By showing the fantasy, it creates a contrast with Precious’s daily way of being and underlines the acting that Gaby really puts into this role.

This take on fear and illiteracy looks very believable. It might be a bit frustrating to barely understand what Precious is saying in her first dialogues, but those scenes show a fear of failure and the defence mechanism Precious has created for herself. It’s also interesting how Gaby presents her, with a mixture of tough girl ready to bully and the person resigned to abuse from all around her, but always remembering Precious IS a teenager: so, keeping some stubbornness and moods of the age.

Her big shinning moment in the film doesn’t live up to Mo’Nique’s, but it’s fabulous. The Why me? scene, followed by the Nobody loves me… is like a relief moment, expressing what has partly been on our minds ever since the beginning of the film. The crying is heartbreaking and the scene just feels so REAL, like most of Gaby’s acting throughout. She puts lots of honesty in the performance, and by doing so creates a strong bond with the viewer.

It’s hard to find something negative in the performance to blame her for. Looking at it, I just see a very directed performance and a good actress doing the job. This isn’t necessarily bad… or at least it’s hard to make up my mind. What I can tell is that for me Precious is all about Mo’Nique and I couldn’t wait for her to get back on screen; even when I’m watching it again, my eyes are still on her, not on Gaby. To me, Mo’Nique steals every scene and I’m always influenced by that. So: a strong from me!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Oscar predictions, just hours in advance

Here are my Oscar predictions, just for the record. For me, the toughest 2 categories to predict are Foreign Language Film: White Ribbon has the art, Prophet has the raw quality (many think) and Secret in Their Eyes has the heart, even though the 40 minutes I’ve seen were rather boring. AND Cinematography. Also, Original Screenplay. Here I go:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker (should win: Precious or Hurt Locker)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow, for The Hurt Locker (should win: Bigelow)

Actor: Jeff Bridges, for Crazy Heart (unfortunately haven’t seen Firth yet, but I’m sure he’s great; also, Clooney and Renner were better, imo)

Actress: Sandra Bullock, for The Blind Side (should win: Carey Mulligan)

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, for Inglourious Basterds (should win: Woody Harelson)

Supporting Actress: Mo’Nique, for Precious (should win: Mo’Nique)

Original Screenplay: Inglourious Basterds (should win: Up)

Adapted Screeplay: Up in the Air (should win: Precious)

Cinematography: The Hurt Locker (should win: The White Ribbon)

Editing: The Hurt Locker (should win: The Hurt Locker)

Original Score: Up (should win: Up)

Original Song: Crazy Heart (should win: Crazy Heart)

Art Direction: Avatar (should win: Sherlock Holmes)

Costume Design: The Young Victoria (should win: Bright Star)

Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker (should win: The Hurt Locker)

Sound Editing: Avatar (should win: Avatar)

Visual Effects: Avatar (should win: Avatar)

Makeup: Star Trek (should win: Il Divo)

Animated Feature: Up (should win: Up)

Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon (should win: haven’t seen all yet)

…and I don’t care about the rest of the categories.

Are you on team Avatar? :)