Saturday, May 24, 2014

Oscar predictions - The Acting 

Not much to say about it. I said on Twitter I wasn't going to post early predictions this year, but I'm doing it now just for the 4 acting categories (especially since my 1989 post will probably get delayed, I think).

So here they are, in alphabetical order. I'm feeling quite confident about some of them. Predicted winners in blue (no, not in the photos - I work with what I have).

Best Actress:

Amy Adams – Big Eyes

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Jessica Chastain – The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Hilary Swank – The Homesman

Michelle Williams – Suite Francaise

(Runner-up: Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl)

Best Actor:

Steve Carell – Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper – [Untitled Cameron Crowe Film]

Michael Keaton – Birdman

Joaquin Phoenix – Inherent Vice

Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner

(Runner-up: Robert Downey Jr – The Judge)

Best Supporting Actress:

Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

Rooney Mara – Carol

Sarah Paulson – Carol

Kristin Scott Thomas – Suite Francaise

Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

(Runner-up: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood)

Best Supporting Actor:

Johnny Depp – Into the Woods

Robert Duvall – The Judge

Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

Channing Tatum – Foxcatcher

Christoph Waltz – Big Eyes

(Runner-up: Albert Brooks – A Most Violent Year)

They'd look like interesting nominations.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

An introduction to BEST ACTRESS 1989

As usual, there’s a video at the end of the post to show I didn’t cheat with the draw. :) 1989 was actually one of my top choices, because I haven’t seen most of the films and I feel the year isn’t talked about enough [though I know some bloggers who have ;) ]. That being said, at the time of the draw (2 days ago) I had only seen Driving Miss Daisy. I am familiar with scenes from Fabulous Baker Boys and Music Box, but not with the films as a whole. I haven’t seen Camille Claudel and I only saw Shirley Valentine last night (it was GREAT). I don’t expect this to be the year with the most fabulous performances, but they’re all quite different.

There are no favourites for now and I’m prepared to be surprised.

The 5 ladies that Oscar had chosen as nominees for 1989, in alphabetical order:


Isabelle Adjani as Camille Claudel, in Camille Claudel

Pauline Collins as Shirley Valentine, in Shirley Valentine

Jessica Lange as Ann Talbot, in Music Box

Michelle Pfeiffer as Susie Diamond, in The Fabulous Baker Boys


Jessica Tandy as Daisy Werthan, in Driving Miss Daisy

From the 5 nominees, only Adjani plays a real life person. Driving Miss Daisy is the only film of the 5 to be nominated for Best Picture and, as it happens, it also won. This is the part where I try to guess how they got nominated:

There were two clear front-runners before the nominations were announced. First one, I’d say, was Jessica Tandy. This must have been an easy nomination to get, judging from the success of the film: Miss Daisy received 9 nominations and ended up winning 4 Oscars. This was the first Oscar nomination for 80-year-old Tandy, who had done some films in the past, but was better known for her stage work, having won a couple of Tonys. She entered the race having won the Golden Globe for Actress in a Comedy/Musical and minor awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics & the Kansas City Film Critics Circle. She was also the unofficial runner-up for the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Society of Film Critics awards.

Another sure bet for a nomination was Michelle Pfeiffer. She entered the race having won the most awards from the critics: the Golden Globe for Actress in a Drama and the recognition from critics’ groups such as the National Board of Review, the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the Chicago Film Critics Association. Those are basically all the important wins she could’ve received. This was Michelle’s 2nd Oscar nomination, having been nominated the previous year for her supporting role in Dangerous Liaisons.

If these two were locks, the next 3 actresses weren’t such safe bets. Looking at the competition, it seems like there could’ve been all kinds of combinations for the nomination list. I think it’s safe to say next in line was Jessica Lange. Prior to the Oscar nominations, for this role she had received only a nomination for Actress in a Drama at the Golden Globes. However, given that this is a serious role in a serious drama AND Jessica was a darling of the 80s, I don’t think I’m wrong in suggesting she had the 3rd chance of getting the 1989 Oscar nomination. This was Jessica’s 5th nomination (and 4th in Leading), at that point having won just once, for her supporting performance in Tootsie (1982).

I’d say that Pauline Collins was next, because I imagine she had the British voters on her side. And she had just won the Tony award for playing Shirley on Broadway. So there was some buzz around this performance. Prior to the nomination, she had received just a nomination at the Golden Globes for Actress in a Comedy/Musical. This was Pauline’s first time at the Oscars.

And then we get to Isabelle Adjani, who I hear is quite amazing in Camille Claudel and she was a true movie star at that time, however there was nothing to suggest her film was a success in the US, AND it’s a foreign language film, AND she did not benefit from critics’ support (like it had previously happened for L’Histoire d’Adele H). But somehow she made it. Not that it influenced the Oscars, but prior to the nomination she had won back in Europe awards from the C├ęsar and the Berlin Film Festival for this role. This was Isabelle’s 2nd Oscar nomination, having been nomination 14 years before for Adele H.

I think there was a strong runner-up for a nomination and two other interesting contenders:

6. Andie MacDowell, Sex, Lies, and Videotape – Golden Globe nomination for Actress in a Drama, wins from: the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (tied with Pfeiffer) and the Independent Spirit awards.

Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally...

Sally Field, Steel Magnolias

Dark horses:
Ellen Barkin, Sea of Love
Kathleen Turner, The War of the Roses
Winona Ryder, Heathers
Kelly Lynch, Drugstore Cowboy

Maybe got a couple of votes:
Liv Ullmann - The Rose Garden
Annette Bening - Valmont
Annabella Sciorra - True Love
Nicole Kidman - Dead Calm
Susan Sarandon - A Dry White Season
Cybill Shepherd - Chances Are


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

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My vote - Best Actress 1961

There had been both worse and better Best Actress years for me to review in the past, but the 3 films Breakfast at Tiffany’s and lately I’ve had a lot of coincidences related to this film. To see the post on how the 5 actresses got nominated, click here.
I discovered were at least interesting and I had always been curious about them. I also had no idea who the winner would be and, in fact, it proved to be a rather easy & obvious choice. Also, it’s always nice to revisit

If #1 was an easy choice for me, the same could be said about my #2. From then on, it’s all a bit mixed up. While I found qualities in all 3 performances following, none was truly exciting. I am literally coming back to this and changing the ranking minutes before posting. In the end, it’s all about passion, I guess. I can’t believe who I’m choosing for #3, but the performance grew on me. #4 makes small mistakes, but it’s also not very creative. My #5 is a performance that people tend to love, but I find it really overrated; no remorse there.

So here is how I ranked them:

1. Sophia Loren, Two Women

The screentime: approximately 71 minutes and 41 seconds (74.4% of the film)

The film: It’s surprisingly good and easy to watch, except towards the end when it loses both the intensity and the fun. Some thoughts on it: LINK.

The role: Sophia plays Cesira, a loud-mouthed Italian woman, mother of a teenage girl, trying to keep her daughter safe during WWII.

The performance: You know what, it IS the role she was born to play. Sure, she’s a bit young for the part, but the energy she brings to the screen, the tears and the humour are all fascinating to look at, captivating and often entertaining. It’s the kind of performance only an European actress could’ve created – there’s no fuss to it, just pure emotions on display in what would be the opposite of anything theatrical. She’s extremely beautiful, but the performance doesn’t rely on looks. It’s all about what her character feels and her honesty. The highly dramatic scenes towards the end are carried perfectly, balanced beautifully. An almost 5, since I have no excuse to go for less.

The highlight: Her final scene with her daughter.

2. Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

The screentime: approximately 70 minutes and 38 seconds (64.6% of the film)

The film: I had seen it a couple of times before. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s fun and it plays well even nowadays. Some thoughts on it: LINK.

The role: Audrey plays Holly, a beautiful party girl and part-time escort, who befriends a handsome neighbour while looking for the right rich guy.

The performance: The character was created for a different kind of girl, but at least we can all agree that Audrey brings a lot of class to it. She tries to be funny and relaxed and look drunk, and it succeeds most of the time, even though you can tell she’s out of her comfort zone. But the performance has class, it has some relatable emotions and some smarts to it. The dramatic talent she brings in the post-engagement scenes feels right for the film and the character’s arc is nicely done. We knew the camera loves Audrey; but such a performance doesn’t become iconic without some real acting behind it. An almost 4.

The highlight: The taxi scene towards the end.

3. Geraldine Page, Summer and Smoke

The screentime: approximately 67 minutes and 29 seconds (59.6% of the film)

The film: Listen, it’s just Tennessee Williams doing his thing. It’s not his best material, so the film is not exciting; but it had me curious. Some thoughts on it: LINK.

The role: Geraldine plays Alma, a frustrated spinster whose unrequited love for a handsome doctor creates trouble in their lives.

The performance: To call this performance theatrical feels like the understatement of the year. She had actually played the role on stage, so all she had to do was get ready for her close-up. The performance is gradually growing on me (because I usually tend to favour Geraldine) and I have literally pushed it to #3 just now, but I have to be objective: she creates a dislikeable character that I’m not 100% sure can be put on the writing. She’s delicious to watch throughout, but in an almost involuntarily humorous way. Where there should be nuances, there’s a didactical, almost unnatural acting style. Strangely, there are countless highs and lows in a performance that can be seen as mostly tiresome. I don’t know: I still am rather fascinated and confused by it, even after seeing it twice. A strong 2.

The highlight: Trying to seduce John but realizing it’s too late.

4. Piper Laurie, The Hustler

The screentime: approximately 49 minutes and 46 seconds (37.1% of the film)

The film: A well written and nicely directed film, with a strong acting ensemble and a captivating ending. Some thoughts on it: LINK.

The role: Piper plays Sarah, an alcoholic woman who falls in love with an insecure pool player and helps him become a better man.

The performance: Truth is it’s a role that could’ve been played in many different ways. My problem with it is that I never really connected with the character and in the end I didn’t really care about what happened to her. Just like in the case of Natalie, the performance lacks a certain sparkle and I question how emotionally available she allows her character to be. Even in her vulnerable moments, there’s a feeling of arrogance that rubs me the wrong way. There’s too much class in this troubled woman and Piper’s acting ends up looking a bit strange next to Newman’s more realistic approach.

The highlight: Getting drunk at the party and speaking the truth.

5. Natalie Wood, Splendor in the Grass

The screentime: approximately 56 minutes and 37 seconds (46.3% of the film)

The film: It’s dated as hell, but there’s some honesty in the screenplay. Strangely enough, the problem comes from the casting. Some thoughts on it: LINK.

The role: Natalie plays Deanie, a good girl who has a nervous breakdown after her handsome boyfriend dumps her.

The performance: What’s the catch? I don’t get it. When she gets a big scene, she hides her face and I can only assume it’s because the acting skills are not there to carry it through the right way. Unlike Geraldine, there’s nothing exciting in her rather theatrical choices, no sparkle, no real energy. There’s little charisma and too much dignity; the performance needed charm and, while I did sense the character’s struggle at times, it’s as if she puts no real effort in making the character even remotely interesting. It’s my opinion she cannot carry the film, not that Beatty’s anywhere close.

The highlight: Reading the poem in the classroom.

How did the Academy vote: I’m quite sure it wasn’t an easy win for Sophia since this was the first time (?) they rewarded a (leading) Oscar to a foreign-language performance. And the film hadn’t received any other nominations. But given the runner-ups, you can tell I’m thrilled with her win. Daniel P. tried to convince me that Natalie was the runner-up, but after seeing Splendor again, I feel like #2 was Geraldine – sure, it’s a polarizing performance, but it’s flashier and it had the critics’ support. Natalie was a close 3rd, for sure (not sure Best Picture winner West Side Story worked in her favour). Feel free to argue on my guessing game. :) The other two nominees didn’t really stand a chance: Audrey was probably 4th, because Breakfast was a hit. Piper was definitely 5th, because she was an unknown and not the star of her film.

And those are my thoughts on 1961.

What’s next: Another draw, this time from the 80s & 90s. There will be 15 options to choose from [all except 1980, 1985, 1992 & 1994 already discussed + 1987 because for some reason, although I’d seen it in the past, I don’t have a copy of Anna to see it again and count the screentime].
To see other BEST ACTRESS years discussed so far, you can go to the column on the right.