Sunday, February 28, 2010


The category again is Best Actress and the year is 2007. Well, this year was very exciting: in the end most people expected Julie Christie to win, but everyone knew that Marion could pull of an upset. She did and she made a lot of people ecstatic and some people furious. You will find out my reaction to her win very soon.
So the ranking:

1. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose: I told you, very soon. :-) As Edith Piaf, the tortured French singer, Marion Cotillard was able to put on one of my favorite performances ever. At the beginning you see a loud, alcoholic young woman sturggling on the street, soon she becomes world-famous and self-confident diva and after the loss of her lover, a broken-down drug-addict. And the changes she goes through is magnificent: I think it's the beginning which could be the most distracting for the haters, but I think you cannot play a loud and over-the-top character subtly. Her scenes of grief are heartbreaking and the dying parts are simply mind-blowing and the interview... Gosh.

2. Julie Christie in Away from Her: If Marion hadn't been nominated, of course she should have won. Julie Christie, whom I consider the most beautiful human being, has always been a huge favorite of mine. She manages to create a suffering character so thrillingly that she nearly breaks your heart. Christie's dignity and beauty are timeless. She need one or two looks and tells you everything. She perfectly gets across Fiona's pain and the loss of her mind and I simply cannot say anything else, except for congratulations.

3. Laura Linney in The Savages: Now I really think that this performance is a bit overrated. The nomination was certainly well-deserved, but the win would have been a bit much. Linney plays Wendy, a neurotic writer who has to deal with the sickness of her father, her brother, her non-existing writing career, an older lover, a wild cat and a dead ficus. Well Wendy (just like the movie itself) is fantastically weird and quite funny and Linney never gets over the top in her scenes and she perfectly found the balance between the comedy and the drama.

4. Ellen Page in Juno: Now this performance is quite overrated. But again, the nomination was probably deserved. She is very funny and heartwarming as Juno, the self-confident and weird pergnant teenager. Her lines are excellent and the drama scenes were very well-acted by Page. When I was watching it, I was much more amazed by her than now, but I still like her performance. Actually, the more I write about her, the less confident I am that she's overrated.

5. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age: And this is a seriously underrated performance and I would even say it's hated. But I could not resist it sometimes. I love Blanchett in the first movie, so of course this was a bit of disappointment, but this one was not so bad either. Although she had some overacted scenes, she also had marvellous moments, which really showed Blanchett's real abilities. So, not that bad.

So, what do you think?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Women in Love (1969)

Simply put: this is one of the most unique movies ever made. But before reviewing it, a bit of history: I first caught this movie on TV about two years ago without any knowledge that it was Women in Love actually. And I was not aware either that the woman whose acting particularly amazed me was Glenda Jackson who actually won an Oscar for it.
This time of course I was more aware and I knew what to expect. I was not disappointed, oh not a bit. This was a haunting and amazing experience for me.
It's about two friends, Rupert (Alan Bates) and Gerald (Oliver Reed) who fall in love with the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun (Jackson), a sculptor and Ursula (Jennie Linden), a teacher. Throughout the movie they discover the real nature of love and commitment, and their relationships completely change.
Well these characters in my humble opinion are so messed up, demanding, conceited and even selfish, but they perfectly define the basic human mistakes. You cannot really say that Rupert, whose sentences are as empty and pretentious as possible, or the hysterical Ursula, or the weirdo Gudrun or Gerald are so kind characters but you completely understand their motivations. They are people searching (and starving) for love.
Ken Russel's directing nomination was extremely well-deserved, I may even say that he deserved it (maybe in a tie with Robert Altman). He managed to direct all of the scenes thrillingly beautifully and of course the magnificent cinematography also has a key role in it. I haven't seen Ryan's Daughter yet, but its cinematography must be awesome as it was able to beat both Women in Love and Patton.
The performances are unbelievable: the two leading men are simply astonishing. I think I prefered the acting of Alan Bates, but Oliver Reed was fine too. Their wrestling scene is very subtly directed and excellently acted, so it's IMO suitable for conservative people too.
Jennie Linden is also outstanding as Ursula, but Glenda Jackson completely stole the show. That woman could really act and I'm very sorry that she's more busy being a politician than being an actress. And I must add that her dancing scene is AMAZING: it's so thrilling, so mysterious, so attractive, so sexy, so brilliant. She really deserved this Oscar but even though this win of hers is better, I slightly prefer her in A Touch of Class (dear, she was magnificent in that one!). Again, an Oscar deserved.
I really cannot complain about this movie, except for maybe the rather slow beginning which is on the edge of becoming boring. But again this movie is brilliant. In time, this might become one of my favorite ones. Another must-see!
My Grade: 9.5/10
Nominations: Best Director (Ken Russel); Best Actress (Jackson, WON); Best Screenplay; Best Cinematography
My wins: Actress and Cinematography

Friday, February 26, 2010


So, now the winner was... 2008 Best Actress. Well, last year Kate Winslet finally won her anticipated Oscar. I think she should have won for Sense and Sensibility instead, but of course that's me. But now let's just see them one by one in my ranking, which was absolutely the most difficult one to make but now it's time to share it with you:

1. Meryl Streep in Doubt: Surprised, huh? Well, yes I'm a huge fan of Meryl and I'm shocked that this performance of hers is so underrated, but if you really look into it, you will see the brilliance, which makes this one, one of her best works. It's so full of humor, drama and some of her scenes she's simply chilling. I might be a bit blinded by my love for her, but in my humble opinion she managed to get across the feelings of this very complex and difficult character. Thirlling work by one of the greatest actresses.

2. Melissa Leo in Frozen River: This performance is very complicated. At first I was very impressed by her and she was my win, but my love for her cooled a little bit. I still love her, but somehow this performance does not live in my as intensely as Meryl's. Still, she's magnificent, extremely realistic and very impressive. Her movie in itself was a bit too "independent" for me. There's some real drama in this character who is desperate... to simply survive. Again, very impressive.

3. Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married: Well, if you had asked me a week ago, she would have been the fourth, but the more I thought about her, the more convinced I was where to put her. Yes, sometimes she was annoying and yes she's a bit overrated, but Hathaway was able to put on not only a very honest performance, but also a very understandable (yes, I mean it) character. Her great monologue was simply heartbreaking and her confrontation scene with her mother was breathtaking. Well, the more I'm writing about her, the more tempted I am to make her #2.

4. Kate Winslet in The Reader: Again, did she need to beg for this award? Yes, I was rooting for her, but why did she have to humiliate herself? This performance started rather slowly, but in the end she was amazing. Had she been nominated in the supporting category, she would be my pick, even though I think she's rather a co-lead. Her scenes as the older Hana were much better than the younger one. Her initial mediocrity becomes something interesting and in the end we get a great performance by a great actress. And this career-Oscar hurt much less than Bullock's will this year.

5. Angelina Jolie in Changeling: What the hell was this? OK, simply put, this performance is hysterical, over-the-top, waaaay to much and much less heartbreaking than it inteded to be. I mean what was she doing to get the nomination of Sally Hawkins? Screaming: I WANT MY OSCAR!, I mean I WANT MY SON BACK!. YAY! This is a bit unfair from me, because I love Angie in general, but this work of hers really did not hit me.

So, what do YOU think?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I'm begging...

Could you help me with giving links to Reversal of Fortune, Kiss of the Spider Woman or A Double Life. Thanks again.

And now you can pick the next Smackdown from the following:
1967 Best Actor
1967 Best Supporting Actor
1988 Best Actress
1988 Best Supporting Actress
1994 Best Supporting Actor
2008 Best Actress
2008 Best Actor
2009 Best Supporting Actress

Feel free to pick.


So, surprise! 1996, Best Actress. Generally, this was a very good year for this category with strong and likeable nominees without any disasters.
So the ranking:

1. Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies: Yes, I have a fascination towards the performances given in Mike Leigh movies and Brenda Blethyn tops all of them. As Cynthia Rose Purley, the unmarried factory worker with two out-of-wedlock children she easily puts on one of the greatest performances I've ever seen. Her constant meltdowns and cries show us a self-pitying, lonely woman, who wants something more and finds it in the new relationship with her daughter whom she lost a long time ago. Her scene at the birthday party and the one with his brother (Timothy Spall also deserved an Oscar) are sooooo brilliant that they still haunt me. Perfect performance.

2.Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves: Now, this performance is a bit hyped. Ok, it's great I admit it, but not nearly as magnificent as people say. Still, she's brilliant. I expected much more, but the things I got were nearly satisfying. Her praying scenes are certainly unbelievable and I really liked this performance and her scene with the doctor was heartbreaking. I just cannot say more, because this performance is so indescribable.
Grade:****and a 1/2*

3.Frances McDormand in Fargo: Easily the most likeable nominee of the five. People love this performance more than they should, but it's still hilarious. She's just so adorable when she's eating with her husband, when she shouts "POLICE!" or when she meets her old schoolmate. Her performance is an enormous relief in Fargo, which was its aim I guess. She shows us that you can also have a nice life in a cruel word. Excellent, hilarious and subtle. Well done.

4.Kristin Scott-Thomas in The English Patient: I love this woman, I really do. Her beautiful, dignified performances really catch me and don't let me go. It's debatable wheter she was leading or supporting, but I really don't care (even though I think it's leading). When I first watched The English Patient, Juliette Binoche's and her performance got me the most. She was able to get across the passion of this one and give a beautiful, great performance.

5.Diane Keaton in Marvin's Room: Well, I love this woman too, but she seems to be the weakest link of this line-up. She's fine, she's fine and she has great scenes, for example the one with the pills and when she admits why she can't sleep, but these well-acted scenes cannot attach to each other, so if you see five-minute long clips of this movie, you would think she's great, but really she's only good. I really think she gives a very good performance and again, I love her (Gosh, who doesn't), but this performance is not one of her best.

P.S.: This night must have been great for Mr. and Mrs. Coen. :-)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Thoughts on the 82nd Oscars

The Show:
First of all let me express my concern about the show. IMO the design looks great, but I'm in panic because I heard something about Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner being presenters. Hell, what's happening in this world? Why are they keep to the taste of 13-year-old girls? I don't know how it will turn out, but if my worst nightmare comes true then it's gonna be a show where HSM and Twilight "stars" are presenting the main awards, Sandra Bullock and Anna Kendrick will win Oscars, Meryl, Jeff Bridges and Mo'Nique will all lose and Inglourious Basterds will win Best Picture. I should not be so worried right, because I had the same fears last year, and the show was not that bad, actually even enjoyable (apart from the winners).
But I'm so scared. And this 45 second thing. I hope the winners will ignore it, simple as that. I mean Jeff Bridges waited 38 years for this moment and he has 45 seconds? Hell, Jennifer Hudson and Reese Witherspoon won Oscars before him and even a piece of dirt under his nail has 20 times as much talent as them.
With all these changes they might gain some new fans, but they are also gonna lose some old ones. But now I've given out everything, I'm positive and optimistic.

The categories:
If either of the frontrunners for Best Picture (Avatar or The Hurt Locker) win, I will be happy and satisified, even though The Hurt Locker is my absolute favorite. However, if Harvey Weinstein is right and Inglourious Basterds wins, I may jump out of a window. But I hope that quality triumphs over greed.
Best Director is pretty much locked for Kathryn Bigelow and I'm very happy about it. She's truly-truly deserving.
Same applies to Jeff Bridges and Mo'Nique. Their wins are just as locked and deserved as Bigelow's. Their achievements this year were truly-truly amazing, and I'm more than happy for them.
And Christoph Waltz: well, I'm beginning to get friendly with him winning the Oscar. The category this year is very weak and he (gosh, I can't believe this) is probably the best of the bunch. Whatever, I'm happy for him, he seems to be a decent person and he was not bad.
Oh and there's Best Actress: I'm still trying to refuse to believe that Bullock wins this one. I used to love her so much and I don't want to dislike her because of the win (well this is not gonna be her fault). And (I'm still shocked at my behaviour) when I re-watched The Blind Side with my sister, I actually liked Bullock in it, she gave a decent performance, but is it Oscar-worthy? No. I still hope that Meryl wins BAFTA because then the competition is going to be even more fierce.

What do YOU think?

Review: Coming Home (1978)

I had been (literally) hunting for this movie for at least 2 years until I finally had the opportunity to watch it. It always get away from me, but finally I won and not the movie, so I managed to watch it.
Sally (Jane Fonda) is a naive housewife whose husband (Bruce Dern) goes to Vietnam. While he's away, Jane becomes a volunteer at a veteran hospital, where she accidentally meets her old schoolmate (Jon Voight) who palalyzed because of a metal in his back. Soon they old friendship turns into a romantic and passionate affair until Sally's crazy husband comes home.
I had extremely high expectations before watching this movie and considering the fact how much I waited for it, it makes sense. However, I was a tiny bit disappointed. I knew that it would not be better than The Deer Hunter (which beat it in the Best Picture race), but somehow I expected much more. Actually I believe that it's basically the performances of the two Oscar-winners that makes this movie really worth watching. Because they are brilliant indeed.
Jon Voight is exceptional: his last scene is really moving, and even though I got a bit less from him than I expected, I was very satisified with him and I think he really deserved that Oscar. He successfully avoided the traps that this charcter involved in it. He's never overacting for a second and he perfectly gets across this person's anger, disappointement and hope. This was truly great work.
Jane Fonda (a true favorite of mine) is also extraordinary. In her case I expected less from her as this win of hers is not as popular as the first one and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that actually she was excellent. Apart from the way she moves her hands in the big confrontation scene in the end, her acting is flawless. In another year, she would be my pick, but I don't think that the Academy should have ignored Ingrid Bergman's once-in-a-lifetime performance. Great job, though.
The two other nominated supporting players did not impress me very much: Bruce Dern is very good in some of his scenes, but contrary to Jon Voight, he really overacts sometimes. Although he has his moments, I don't understand why some people prefer him to the brilliant Christopher Walken.
Penelope Milford's nomination was completely unworthy. It's not that she's bad, I just wasn't impressed by her the least. And I think that the far more deserving Angela Lansbury should have been nominated for Death on the Nile instead of Milford (watch that movie, she's hilarious).
Hal Ashby's direction is accurate, reliable and nomination-worthy, but an Oscar would have been too much. However, I feel that the screenplay may have deserved the Oscar: the scenes are terrificly written and I think that in its characters there's a heartbreaking truth and this is a great achievement. But I'm not 100% sure if it's better than The Deer Hunter.
But again, even though the beginning is rather slow and the movie is not the greatest one ever, the truly emotional second part is terrific. Good job.
My Grade: 8/10 Good job, again.
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Director (Hal Ashby); Best Actor (Voight, WON); Best Actress (Fonda, WON); Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Dern); Best Supporting Actress (Penelope Milford); Best Original Screenplay (WON), Best Editing
My Wins: Actor for Voight

Friday, February 19, 2010

Review: Crazy Heart (2009)

Well, first of all, let me tell you how afraid I was of watching this movie. The story seemed to be the total copy of Tender Mercies, which has now become one of my favorite movies. But I had to watch it because I was extremely curious if Jeff Bridges is really deserving. And it's the most easy to say it right now: he totally deserves this Oscar.
The movie is about an alcoholic country singer, Bad Blake (Bridges), who is struggling with his pathetic life as a drunk. He plays at bowling alleys, small bars and so on. One day he meets a journalist (Maggie Gylenhall), who seems to be becoming one of the few good things in Bad's life (and of course she has a little son whom she raises alone).
And just for comparision, the story of Tender Mercies: an alcoholic country singer (Robert Duvall) is struggling with his pathetic life as a drunk. He does not play anywhere, he is out of business but one day he meets a shopkeeper (Tess Harper), who seems to be becoming one of the few good things in his life (and of course she has a little son whom she raises alone).
So oddly similar, isn't it? Well, not as much as I thought at the beginning. Sure the main things are simple, but Crazy Heart is much more simple and it doesn't have anything to do with the subjects of faith and religion, it is simply a movie for entertainment and it's really nothing special, but it is indeed quite enjoyable sometimes. So I think that Scott Cooper directorial debut will not be his masterpiece, but really it doesn't even about him. It's about Bridges.
Jeff Bridges (one of my personal favorites) gives a heartbreaking, subtle and amazing performance as Bad Blake. I am not sure if this is his career-best performance (because he was equally brilliant in The Big Lebowski or The Fisher King) and this is very different from his other characters. Still I'm surprised again that he's so popular in this movie: it's not really the loud (a bit over)acting the audiences and the Academy goes for. It's really a masterful work, which does not blow you away when you watch it, but it stays in your mind and haunts you. Brilliant, just brilliant.
Maggie Gylenhall gives a very decent performance as the love interest of Bad Blake, which is not really nomination worthy, but this year the supporting actress is rather weak (especially compared to Mo'Nique's tour-de-force), so she's my third at the moment (behind Farmiga), but because I did not really like the others even though they were not bad either (well, Cruz and Kendrick were quite mediocore). Never mind, at least she recieved the recognition she should have got a long time ago.
Robert Duvall and Colin Farell give quite unimpressive in their minor roles, but this movie is really not about them, so I guess it's not their fault.
The only thing I forgot about is the Best Original Song: The Weary Kind deserves to win, even though I'm extremely pissed that I See You from Avatar was not nominated damn it. Never mind, I'm going to be rooting for The Weary Kind.
Ok, to sum up, if you want to see this movie because of Bridges, watch it as soon as possible, but apart from him, don't have high expectations.
My Grade: 7/10
Nominations: Best Actor (Bridges); Best Supporting Actress (Gylenhall), Best Original Song (The Weary Kind)
My wins: Actor and Song

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Best Supporting Actor-reviews: Mister Roberts (1955)

You thought I forgot my Supporting Actor reviews, but I didn't, I was just preparing. So right now here we are again and I am going to continue with the review of this very entertaining war movie starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and my all-time favorite actor, Jack Lemmon. It's some kind of a shame that I could not watch this movie, but I did not have the opportunity.
But... Mister Roberts is about a deeply bored Navy officer, Mister Roberts (Fonda) who is tired of his dull life on a Navy cargo ship. Unfortunately his tyrannical bosss (Cagney) refuses to sign his transfer papers. However, this boredom doesn't last long because of the constant conflicts on the ship.
Now, let me tell you that I love war movies, but this movie is rather a millitary comedy with minimal drama in it and there are no battles or anything like that. In spite of that it's very-very entertaining, and contrary to Mister Riberts I was never bored by this movie. It had witty dialogues, hilarious scenes (mostly the ones including Lemmon or Cagney) and solid performances by superstars.
Henry Fonda reprised his Tony-winning performance as Doug Roberts. As far as I am concerned, Henry Fonda had some disagreements with director John Ford. I don't know whose version of Mr. Roberts was on the screen, but he was right. Fonda gives a typically strong and memorable performance and I think if it hadn't been such a strong year for leading men, he would have received a nomination.
The two aging superstars, William Powell (this was his last movie) and James Cagney are simply excellent, especially Cagney, but the best line of the movie definitely belongs to Powell. I guess those who have seen this movie know which one I am talking about (yes, the Ding Dong one). And Cagney is really enjoyable as the bossy and arrogant captain.
And of course there's Best Supporting Actor-winner Jack Lemmon as Frank Pulver, the big-mouthed and lazy loser, who's simply hilarious. It's a typical scene-stealing performance and an especially good one at that. Of course he does not reach the heights of Days of Wine and Roses or The Apartment, but I really think he deserved the supporting Oscar, because he created a very unique and colorful character and his "14 months" scene is alone worthy of the award. He's not one of the best winners, but a really worthy one.
John Ford who left the project before finishing and Melvyn LeRoy did a great job in directing, Frank S. Nugent and Joshua Logan (who went on to direct Sayonara) managed to write a very good screenplay and they managed to make an excellent movie, which might have been even worthy of the Best Picture nomination.
Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Jack Lemmon, WON); Best Sound Recording
My wins: Lemmon, definitely :-)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So, the nominations are in...

Well, they are here after all that suspense. I'm OK with most of the nominations, but the surprises:

Yay!: Maggie Gylennhall for Crazy Heart -> I haven't seen this movie, but I'm happy for her, because she's great.

Nay!: Well, let's see. First of all, The Blind Side, I mean The Blind Side for Best Picture. WTF???!!! So undeserved, so undeserved. And then the snub of Marion Cotillard because of Harvey Weinstein's awful campaign so that his favorite Penélope Cruz can get in (I'm happy for her though). Then the snub of "I See You" for Best Song. Come on, don't they have ears, have they forgotten what song sounds like? :-) And last, but not least, Anthony Mackie and the screenplay of Julie & Julia should have been nominated.

Hmm, I'm a bit disappointed, but very relieved that we're through with it.