Sunday, February 28, 2010

Get to know the Supporting Actresses

Thank you, Brian, for letting my participate in another fabulous Supporting Actress Smackdown! Out of the 5 nominees for 2009, only 1 - the brilliant Mo'Nique - made it into my Top 10 for this category (My Favorites for 2010 will arrive in a month or so). The other 4 gave mediocre to good performances, none that I really hate.

So please click on STINKYLULU to read my take and our verdict on this year's Best Supporting Actress Oscar category!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sandra Bullock, in The Blind Side
approximately 54 minutes and 6 seconds
43.9% of the film

The film

The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

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

An easy to watch TV-movie turned gold by overzealous Christian audience and die hard Sandy fans. But in the end: what the hell is it with the Best Picture nom?! Nothing special, nothing new.

Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy

In almost every Oscar race there’s a Melissa Leo or a Laura Linney for The Savages showing up at the last minute and managing to deservedly catch an Oscar nomination. This year, there wasn’t much of a serious crowd fighting for a nomination. So Sandra got her hands on the popularity slot; she is much appreciated by her peers and her movie (which came from nowhere) took by surprise the December box office. In the end, Oscar is also about the money.

In this true story, Sandra plays Leigh Anne, the ex Southern belle, devoted Christian, interior decorator, stubborn wife and mother who becomes the foster parent of an almost illiterate black teenager. Why? Because that’s how Leign Anne felt like it and whatever she wants, she’s gonna get it. And the whole character is mostly based on this characteristic: the well intentioned woman trying to bring good (by force) into a young man’s life.

I’ve seen interviews with Sandra talking about the part. Despite what you see on screen, she has said many times how uncomfortable the character felt for her and the effort in trying to really project (and understand) the actions and drive force Leigh Anne has. If what she says is true, then I have to give credit to Sandra: she made it look so easy, natural, she seemed comfortable in this character and it allowed her to crack a joke once in a while and give us the only memorable moments of this film.

The very bad parts of the screenplay seemed to avoid Sandra, or she just refused to go for the cliché lines or too cheesy situations. There are a lot of roll-your-eyes moments even in her scenes, but Sandra knows her craft so well that she spins it around, either with a sad look or terrific comedy timing, depending on what the scene can handle. The supporting actors cannot fight the mediocrity of the screenplay, but Sandra knows best and when words don’t help, charisma itself and conviction will do it.

Her presence on screen is always nice and her way of talking down to people creates some funny situations and pleasant scenes: roughly explaining Michael what football is all about, adequately manipulating her husband, proving to Michael’s coach that she knows best… All these are good scenes in which Sandra does her forever routine: put a smile on my face.

I believed the Southern accent and I actually imagined she felt very comfortable in the shoes of the character (the hair, the clothes, all looked natural on her); but it’s more than looking pretty! Sandra also delivers plenty of scenes in which we see the softer side of Leigh Ann, and not just the shield of the tough Southern woman. She is very protective, and doesn’t run away from the obvious: if you have the possibility to do good, why not just do it?!

This movie would be nothing without Sandra. SHE makes it believable, easy to watch and gives us the only moments of joy throughout the movie! And I always felt like she understands the character and I admire how easy she makes it look! But is this Best Actress material? Is the role consistent enough? Hasn’t Sandra been doing this work for quite some time now? I would not call this a bad performance! No way! But it doesn’t have the difficulty level to put in competition with Gaby or Carey or Meryl. I’ve enjoyed the role 200% more than the movie itself… ***I was just about to give Sandra a 2, but what the hell: I LIKED her performance. It’s a , because what she does is done very well. ***

Editor note: June 12th, before posting final conclusions: I am editing this post and changing the rating to a . It's the first time I'm doing such, and I believe a 2 is more representative of my feelings towards the performance.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oscar Predictions I made back in March 2009

Look what I found and I thought it would be funny to post: the Oscar predictions I made 10-11 months before the nominations were actually announced. I do it every year (this one won’t be an exception), it’s fun and I truly believe it’s more important to get nominated than to actually win.

The first Oscar 2010 predictions I made last MARCH! Here’s how I did :)))

Best Picture:

Inglourious Basterds
The Lovely Bones
Shutter Island

They hadn’t announced there were gonna be 10. So I was 1/5 accurate. I gradually lost faith in Inglourious Basterds, but in the end it was my only accomplishment. I had very very high hopes for The Lovely Bones and Nine.


Quentin Tarantino – Inglourious Basterds
Peter Jackson –
The Lovely Bones
Rob Marshall – Nine
Martin Scorsese –
Shutter Island
Terence Mallick – Tree of Life

1/5. Not bad :D it’s not my fault Shutter Island and Tree of Life went 2010. I still believe Terence Mallick has a shot next year.


Daniel Day-Lewis – Nine
Jamie Foxx – The Soloist
Jude Law – Rage
Brad Pitt – Tree of Life
Christopher Plummer – The Last Station

I got Christopher Plummer, but in the wrong category. 0/5 :( And Day-Lewis did get a GG nomination… Jude Law for Rage is the funniest; you know, it’s that Sally Potter film nobody has seen with him in drag. It just sounded like a fine perspective :D


Penelope Cruz – Broken Hugs
Helen Mirren – Love Ranch
Michelle Pfeiffer –
Hilary Swank –
Rachel Weisz – The Lovely Bones

Don’t tell me 10 months in advance (and before the movie release) you didn’t think Pfeiffer was a lock for the nomination!!! I did great with Mirren, but for the wrong film. So 0/5 (I thought Meryl would be supporting). Funniest: Rachel Weisz, who proved to be barely on screen in The Lovely Bones.

Supporting Actor:

Johnny Depp – Public Enemies
Richard Gere – Amelia
Ben Kingsley – Shutter Island
Sean Penn – Tree of Life
Stanley Tucci – The Lovely Bones

Wow. 1/5, Yay for Stanley Tucci. I somehow thought Public Enemies was gonna be about Christian Bale’s character and not Dillinger.

Supporting Actress:

Kathy Bates – Cheri
Marion Cotillard –
Judi Dench –
Susan Sarandon –
The Lovely Bones
Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia

Strange, I remember having Penelope on the list, or maybe I added her later. Around summer time, I had 3 Supporting Actresses from Nine on this list :D imagining a Tom Jones (1963) type of move. So 0/5, but I did know Meryl was gonna be IN, one category or another. Marion was a fantasy.

Original Screenplay:
Broken Hugs
Inglourious Basterds
Sunshine Cleaning
Tree of Life

1/5. Tarantino saved me all the way. :)

Adapted Screenplay:

The Lovely Bones
Shutter Island
Where the Wild Things Are

It’s a 0/5, but seriously: I have seen worse!

The technical-categories predictions I have are from the summer, so not as old as these. But I also have the ones from March 2008 :)) obviously, no Slumdog Millionaire in them, but you wouldn’t believe how freakishly good I was with most of them. Anyway, much better than March 2009.

So do you usually adventure with such predictions 10 months in advance? Did you do it last year?

Monday, February 08, 2010

Meryl Streep, in Julie & Julia
approximately 52 minutes and 45 seconds*
44.3% of the film

The film

Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.
You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.

They should’ve just gone with Meryl all the way. Or at least for more that 50% of the movie. Meryl rules her scenes, but then we have all those boring whinny Amy Adams parts, which take the movie to an undesired recent reality.

Meryl Streep as Julia Child

Meryl Streep rules the Best Actress category! Now she finally has the most nominations here: 13 + 3 other supporting noms. Katharine Hepburn is history, with just 12 :) I guess you can say it’s finally time for Meryl to win, as it hasn’t happened in 27 years… Is this the right performance to win for? Probably not, she’s had better. But even so: autopilot-good Meryl = a fascinating performance nonetheless!

Meryl plays Julia Child, the famous French-inspired American chef, TV personality in her later life, American icon, a strong-minded independent woman, with a very distinctive voice and a remarkable height. Julia’s storyline (the woman in 1950s France discovering her passion for cooking) represents half the movie and the inspiration for modern Julie’s adventure of cooking all of Julia’s recipes. So it’s not a biopic, but a fine perspective on the life of an impressive woman.

It’s a comedy role because Meryl takes it there. Meryl IS Julia Child and takes the character (and the scenes) wherever she feels like it. With visible experience beyond words, Meryl doesn’t miss a detail: with pure joy of acting and being, she creates a fun character, a loving figure, always faithful to the happy nature of this woman.

It’s not a screwball comedy or laugh-out-loud, it’s all about feeling good, relaxed and having a nice time. And Meryl takes care of that, by giving us optimistic and love for life without looking stupid and never forgetting the dignity and the dramatic side of the character; and knowing how to create a subtly iconic figure, a role model that transcends into Julie’s (Amy Adams) storyline of devouring admiration.

But feel-good and joy is never enough for Meryl! She serves us as much of a dramatic punch without changing the genre of the movie: a tearful eye here and there, a breakdown scene somewhat hidden from the camera, the love and gratefulness while looking at her husband. Plus telling us the story without the words: the child that she could not have, that was her always-present personal tragedy.

Meryl makes it look too easy and that’s her biggest flaw. We take her for granted, and don’t realize what a generous actress she is, always thinking of the character, the story and most of all her scene partners. This movie needed to be all/more about Julia Child; it would’ve given an even bigger boost to the performance. And it’s not the big dramatic tour-de-force Meryl has gotten us used to. But even so: a great achievement and easily best element of the film! I was gonna go for 3 stars when I started writing; but this is what Meryl does to me and I gradually convinced myself of the lack of flaws. It’s an almost from me.

*the screen-time never includes photos, but does include voice-overs. And I didn’t expect so much screen-time for her, considering just half the movie is hers. The explanation: the camera’s always on Meryl in her scenes + the movie gets close to 120 minutes, unusually long for the genre. She actually gets more time on screen than in Doubt. :)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Best Actress 2009

No surprises here. We’ve been expecting this line-up for a month or so. Because The Last Station isn’t really out there, I suspected at one point that it might disappear completely from Oscar categories, but it looks like the DVDs got there in time and that Helen Mirren still has lots of starpower. Melanie Laurent could’ve stepped in, but in the end the actors seemed to show less Inglourious Basterds love than anticipated.

Right now, a month ahead of Oscar, it looks like a battle between Sandra and Meryl, with Sandra taking the lead due to hotness, SAG win, popularity and The Blind Side scoring a silly Best Picture nom. But that has nothing to do with my choices, and here I’ll revisit the movies and rate/rank them based on my subjective perspective.

I give you the 5 ladies that Oscar has chosen for 2009:

from left to right, I have the pleasure to introduce:

  • Sandra Bullock, in The Blind Side
  • Meryl Streep, in Julie & Julia
  • Carey Mulligan, in An Education
  • Gabourey Sidibe, in Precious
  • Helen Mirren, in The Last Station

The first profile is coming soon.
Avatar embarrassment & some Oscar thoughts

Shame on me. Last night I went to see Avatar in Imax (one of those few you can find around Europe) and… and… I felt sick 1 hour into the film :)) no shockers, it happened the same to my sister a few days ago. I should’ve known better! I just felt a bit dizzy and like I might throw up… So there you go. I will catch the whole movie soon, but this Imax thing’s definitely not for everyone and slightly overrated. I won’t comment on the movie, as I’ve seen just an hour of it.

The nominations are here. Some points to make:

- Changing the campaign at the last minute is not a bad idea. Maggie moved from Leading to Supporting and it was the winning choice. Take note, Weinsteins, as you’ve f*cked up Marion’s and Melanie Laurent’s campaigns. Greedy. Greedy. Greedy.

- Helen Mirren CAN! Nobody has seen The Last Station, but the Dame can still get her votes! Good for her!

- The Blind Side for Best Picture… No shit! Are Hallmark-TV-dramas taking over the world?

- In my previous post I said nobody whispered when Penelope did A Call from the Vatican! And there you go… All those horny actors voted for her!

- Just the 4th female director to get recognition in this category! I hope she wins! And Lee Daniels… Does anyone know how many African-American directors got recognition here?! I can only remember John Singleton. Who am I forgetting?

- Most WTF nomination of the year: The Young Victoria for Best Makeup! What are you people thinking?! Some freckles on Paul Bettany, but that’s it! :)))

- Names coming out of nowhere: Paris 36, The Secret of Kells, Il divo, In the Loop, Harry Potter?! I’ve obviously heard of them, but who knew… Ok maybe not Paris 36

- I expected more from Inglourious Basterds and hoped for surprises in Supporting Actor.

- NO nominations for 500 Days of Summer and Public Enemies is very disappointing.

*** I don’t have Internet all the time. So any reply on the messages might require some patience. Thanks :)