Sunday, April 25, 2010

The ranking of the nominees right now

2. Judi Dench in Notes on Scandal
3. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
4. Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies
5. Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons
6. Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker
7. Jane Alexander in Testament
8. Jessica Lange in Frances
9. Meryl Streep in Silkwood
10. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall
11. Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake
12. Dame Edith Evans in The Whisperers
13. Geraldine Page in The Sweet Bird of Youth
14. Meryl Streep in Doubt
15. Kate Winslet in Little Children
16. Anne Bancroft in The Graduate
17. Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
18. Julie Christie in Away from Her
19. Jodie Foster in The Accused
20. Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball
21. Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
22. Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde
23. Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace
24. Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves
25. Katharine Hepburn in Long Day's Journey into Night
26. Julie Walters in Educating Rita
27. Melissa Leo in Frozen River
28. Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses
29. Helen Mirren in The Queen
30. Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark
31. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
32. Frances McDormand in Fargo
33. Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom
34. Penélope Cruz in Volver
35. Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl
36. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
37. Laura Linney in The Savages
38. Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment
39. Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
40. Jane Fonda in Julia
41. Judi Dench in Iris
42. Ellen Page in Juno
43. Kate Winslet in The Reader
44. Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman
45. Kristin Scott-Thomas in The English Patient
46. Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist
47. Annette Bening in Being Julia
48. Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
49. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
50. Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point
51. Sissy Spacek in Missing
52. Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary
53. Audrey Hepburn in Wait until Dark
54. Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria
55. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
56. Diane Keaton in Marvin's Room
57. Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point
58. Katharine Hepburn in Guess who’s Coming to Dinner
59. Angelina Jolie in Changeling
60. Melanie Griffith in Working Girl


The category is Best Actress and the year is 1962. This was also a year I've been putting off for ages (since December), because the decision was sooooooooo difficult. But I've concluded everything and let me tell you that this is one of the greatest races ever.

The much worked on ranking:

1. Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker: Again, the most important decision, the #1 spot was an easy choice. Anne Bancroft gives a heartbreakingly beautiful performance in a heartbreaking movie, The Miracle Worker. Her co-operation with Patty Duke is one of a kind, and truly, truly unforgettable. At first, she seems to be a strict and confident woman and than we see her talk about her childhood (that monologue is dead on) and we become stunned. Anne Bancroft was a brilliant actress, always giving strong performances but this time she really outdid herself.
Grade: *****

2. Geraldine Page in The Sweet Bird of Youth: I love Geraldine Page and this performance. She used to be my pick, but my love has cooled a bit. No problem, she's awesome as Alexandra de Largo, an aging movie star having a nervous breakdown. The greatest thing about this performance is that you instantly feel sympathy for this poor woman, who suffered so much, who's getting old, but still wants to be adored. And Page, she does everything possible with this role and gives one of the greatest performances ever.
Grade: *****

3. Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?: I wish this movie came out in 1963. Davis would have won that Oscar hands down. And it would have been well-deserved. Davis gave the performance of a lifetime as the mad has-been child star, "Baby" Jane Hudson. She's not a cute little girl anymore with curly blonde hair. She's a devastated, crazy and drunk woman, a (tiny bit) similar to the character played by Mo'Nique in Precious. And yes, Bette is over-the-top, but she's brilliant and marvellous. So that's all.
Grade: *****

4. Katharine Hepburn in Long Day's Journey into Night: Well, this is a performance when I was really disappointed. I've read everywhere that this is Hepburn's greatest performance and it's heartbreaking and everything and so on and so on. It's amazing for sure, but not as much as they say. For example, I think she was far more brilliant in The Lion in Winter. But if you judge her based on her achievement, she deserves praise. She knows where to do what and she has some heartbreaking scenes, I just still could not like her that much.
Grade: ****

5. Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses: I feel guilty for giving her this spot, but she's the least brilliant of this bunch. In Days of Wine and Roses, Jack Lemmon gave his (probably) greatest performance ever, so it's more about him than Remick, who's absolutely great too. At the beginning of the movie, she's just an innocent woman NOT drinking ANY alcohol, but in the end she becomes a broken-down, bitter alcoholic. It's really painful to see her go through this change, but it's not painful to praise Lee Remick for it.
Grade: ****

What do you think?

Review: Ryan's Daughter (1970)

When someone says David Lean, usually two movies come to people's minds. Those are The Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia. These are great movies, but because of them some other brilliant films are forgotten such as Brief Encounter, A Passage to India and Ryan's Daughter.
Or you can also say that these movies are so dated and boring, despite their greatness. Or you can say that they are really empty with a icturesque cover. But I would not accept that.
Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles) is a young Irish woman, who falls for an older man (Robert Mitchum) and marries him. Soon she finds herself unhappy and wants something more until she begins a passionate affair with an English officer. However, in a little Irish villiage this is not the most acceptable thing to do.
Now I have to ask myself? This is a beautiful and dull movie or a real masterpiece? I'm saying that this movie was just amazing, and probably the best one of David Lean (after Brief Encounter). Ryan's Daughter is widely considered as a disappointment, but I think it's not fair: that title should go to Doctor Zhivago (which does not have much to do with the book).
There's something else that came to my mind: this movie is so much like Breaking the Waves. Of course Ryan's Daughter is not that weird, but I strongly believe that there's some sort of connection between these two great pieces.
In addition, Sarah Miles really looks like Emily Watson (and mix her a bit with Julie Christie). Although she's not as brilliant as Watson, she's still exceptional. She manages to show the emotions and doubts of this not so complicated woman very well, so I believe that the nomination was very well-deserved, even though Glenda Jackson was an obvious choice for the win.
Another good choice for the win was John Mills, who plays the village idiotic excellently. I'm not 100% sure that he was better than Chief Dan George in Little Big Man, but Mills gave a really worthy performance, so you can't complain about this win.
Robert Mitchum is also brilliant, but the performance I really want to mention is the one given by Trevor Howard as the decent priest of the village. I think he easily could have been nominated that Oscar. But again, I'm fine with John Mills' win.
Despite the great performances and the magnificent and accurate directing by David Lean, the movie's effect is mostly due to the cinematography. Boy, I had really high expectations with the cinematography (well it beat Patton and Women in Love) but this movie exceeded them. I was really speechless in the storm scene, it was unbelievably beautiful.
So to sum up this movie was truly-truly great and I really don't get it why it received terrible reviews when it was released. I was impressed.
Grade: 9/10
Nominations: Best Actress (Miles); Best Supporting Actor (Mills, WON); Best Cinematography (WON); Best Sound
My wins: I agree with the Academy. And it should have received a Best Score nomination.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


It came to my mind that I could do this year, so let's see. But before that let me say that I think the hate for the actual winner is probably also due to her speech. But the ranking:

1. Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball: This win (just like Jessica Lange’s) is wrongly hated and underrated as I think it’s just great. She’s not perfect, because some of her scenes are a bit overacted, but she’s so raw, so emotional and really-really great. Her much criticised and nearly pornographic sex scene is not there because she’s hot, it really shows the pain and loneliness of those two characters who only have each other. And when she finds the pictures, oh that scene kills me. I’m probably one of the very few people supporting this win, but I don’t care.
Grade: *****

2. Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom: Just like Berry, she plays a woman losing her child, but it’s so interesting how different ways these ladies chose to show the suffering and grief of a mother. Spacek is more subtle and quiet, keeping her emotions to herself and having some meltdowns. Tom Wilkinson was a bit better IMO, but Spacek was also able to create a breathing and memorable character and you just can’t help being sorry for her. Not ground-breaking, but very-very memorable.
Grade: ****

3. Judi Dench in Iris: How should I put it? This is a very intelligent performance by one of the most brilliant actresses ever. She plays Iris Murduch, a great mind who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. It’s very different from Julie Christie’s very subtle and bitersweet performance in Away from Her and Judi Dench is also very subtle, but in Iris there’s more emphasis on the disease itself. Her chemistry with Jim Broadbent was excellent and I can’t really say much about her, that I haven’t already mentioned. Except for good job, Dame Judi Dench.

4. Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!: You might think I dislike Kidman, but it’s not right.Although I think she’s a good actress, I don’t really like (or care about) her two nominations. This one is a bit weird for me as I think she was far better in The Others, but that’s just me. My main problem is with the movie itself. Moulin Rouge! is a bit much for my stomach and although the art direction and the costumes are spectacular, the movie itself did not really catch me. I know it should have butit did not. But back to Kidman: she’s very good in some of her scenes and she has a great singing voice, I just did not love this performance that much.
Grade: ***

5. Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones’ Diary: The problem might be in me, because I’m not a single woman so I really could not identify with this character. Zellweger is fine, fine and the comedy part is really great, but I just don’t see why this performance is better than any other romantic movie performances. Although I guess the phenomenon itslef carried Zellweger to this nomination, there are really some truly memorable scenes such as the beginning. So not bad at all and I’m fine with it so my grade seems fine.
Grade: ***

My ranking of the nominees

So here's the ranking of the Smackdowned years. I hope you like it.

2. Dame Judi Dench in Notes on Scandal
3. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
4. Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies
5. Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons
6. Jane Alexander in Testament
7. Jessica Lange in Frances
8. Meryl Streep in Silkwood
9. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall
10. Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake
11. Dame Edith Evans in The Whisperers
12. Meryl Streep in Doubt
13. Kate Winslet in Little Children
14. Anne Bancroft in The Graduate
15. Julie Christie in Away from Her
16. Jodie Foster in The Accused
17. Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
18. Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde
19. Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace
20. Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves
21. Julie Walters in Educating Rita
22. Melissa Leo in Frozen River
23. Dame Helen Mirren in The Queen
24. Meryl Streep in A Cry in the Dark
25. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind
26. Frances McDormand in Fargo
27. Penélope Cruz in Volver
28. Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl
29. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
30. Laura Linney in The Savages
31. Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment
32. Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married
33. Jane Fonda in Julia
34. Ellen Page in Juno
35. Kate Winslet in The Reader
36. Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman
37. Kristin Scott-Thomas in The English Patient
38. Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist
39. Annette Bening in Being Julia
40. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
41. Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point
42. Sissy Spacek in Missing
43. Audrey Hepburn in Wait until Dark
44. Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria
45. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
46. Diane Keaton in Marvin's Room
47. Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point
48. Katharine Hepburn in Guess who’s Coming to Dinner
49. Angelina Jolie in Changeling
50. Melanie Griffith in Working Girl

Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: Hamlet (1948)

Hamlet, well what can I say that has not been said before? It would be very cheesy to say that it's one of the masterpieces of the western culture (but it is), but wait a second this time I have to write about the Best Picture winner movie directed by Sir Laurence Olivier (who also stars as Hamlet).
Well, first of all the adaptation is not flawless at all to be honest. Some important elements of Shakespeare's masterpiece were left out (I guess due to time problems), but apart from those things there was something (and I can't explain what) that was missing from this movie.
It would not be fair though if I said that this version was not great, because it is, it is just not a masterpiece. The first 70-80 minutes are simply breathtaking. That part literally gave me chills and I said "Yes, this is a great adaptation". But after Ophelia becomes crazy the movie slows down and it loses its strength, even though the ending is again able to recreate the brilliance of the beginning (partly).
However, the main reason to see this movie is definitely the brilliant and iconic performance of Sir Laurence Olivier. In the "to be or not to be" scene (which was really unusual but I just loved it), he was just breathtaking. The way he acted with his faces and said the lines, it's just simply marvellous. When he's on screen, the movie really lives and when he leaves it becomes empty. I don't know wheter it was a great idea to put Olivier in the centre of attention that much. Sure his acting's worth it, but sometimes his greatness becomes dangerous for the movie. Nevertheless, a very well-deserved win, one that you really can't complain about at all.
I knew Olivier would be great, but I was incredibly worried how Jean Simmons would solve one of the most difficult parts ever written. Quite well actually, but she did not achieve the greatness she could have. That nomination might have been deserved, because she has her moments.
You can say anything you want, I think the Ghost has the greatest part (Shakespeare wrote it for himself). I know that his presence is minimal, but with so limited time that role offers such excellent opportunities but it might be just me.
The other members of the cast give good and reliable performances, but again as I said it's all about Olivier. And I must also mention his direction, which is definitely nomination-worthy and mostly because of the beginning. I guess the Best Picture win must have been a shock as I think The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was a way better movie.
A question came to my mind: should Hamlet be adapted to the screen? I guess not, because Hamlet is for the stage and everyone should see it there. Now I know what was missing: the theatre. I'm a bit bitter about this movie, because I had so high expectations but I was disapponted eventually.
Grade: 7/10 Laurence Olivier was brilliant though and he's one of the greatest winners.
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (Olivier); Best Actor (Olivier WON); Best Supporting Actress (Simmons); Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (WON); Best Costume Design, Black-and-White (WON)

P.S.: I know I promised the 2002 Best Actress Smackdown for today. I don't know when I can do it as I have to see Frida, so sorry.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Oscar-less actors

Now write some famous Oscar-less actors who can still win, but should have won earlier or I just like them. But I want your collaboration too! :-)
I would like you (no pressure) to say in your comments who you want to win the most, who you think will get it first.
So my names:

1) Glenn Close (should have won for: Dangerous Liaisons)
Will she win? I think yes and I'm even saying for Albert Nobbs.

2) Leonardo DiCaprio (should have won for: The Aviator)
Will he win? I think yes for the Sinatra movie or the Hoover movie, but unfortunately not for Shutter Island. (even though he was worthy)

3) Julianne Moore (should have won for: Boogie Nights)
Will she win? I guess yes, not next year but for Boone's Lick. It's based on a Larry McMurthy novel (they love'em).

4) Laura Linney
Will she win? Well, it's a tough question. If she does it will definitely be in supporting.

5) Michelle Pfeiffer
Will she win? She has no movies planned and her big fame is over now, so at the moment it does not seem real.

6) Meryl Streep (should have won for: Silkwood, Doubt, Adaptation maybe Julie & Julia)
Will she win? I hope so and yeah, she has two, but it's so OFFENSIVE. I want that damn third!

7) Ralph Fieness (should have won for: Schindler's List)
Will he win? I'm not so sure, perhaps for a supporting role.

8) Brenda Blethyn (should have won for: Secrets and Lies)
Will she win? No, I don't think so, but I keep hoping.

9) Tom Wilkinson (should have won for: In the Bedroom)
Will he win? I think he has a chance with a great a supporting role.

10)Jeff Bridges
Wait! He has just won! :-) YEAH!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Review: Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Well, this is again one of those cases when I feel that I HAVE TO review a movie that I've seen countless times. The time has come to take another look at this beautiful movie, which is unfortunately very underrated these days.
It's about an old and grumpy Jewish lady (Jessica Tandy) whose son (Dan Aykroyd) hires a chauffeur (Morgan Freeman) for her elderly mother who's not able to drive safely. Soon the (just a bit) stormy relationship turns out to be a real friendship through the years spent together.
This is a beautiful movie to say the least. And yes, they don't make them like this anymore. There's basically no action in this movie, only great scenes, wonderful performances, good humor and something to think about. It's an easy recipee but nowadays they prefer makin them BIG and LOUD.
Anyway, the most basic thing about making a movie is something to work with. That's essentially a tolerable screenplay. No in this case, the screenplay is awesome and one of the greatest ones ever written. With its humor, sadness kindness and fabulously written characters this story makes you feel better, fills you with joy that there are some great movies.
Sure, it's not only due to the screenplay. You need someone to play these roles. Jessica Tandy at the age of 80 is simply beautiful. And boy she could really act! The scene when she's looking for the tests or when she's talking about her childhood are so heartbreaking. But she also gives a hell of a comic performance. So stop saying right now that Michelle Pfeiffer was more deserving please.
I'm sad that Morgan Freeman did not receive the Oscar he would have deserved, but Daniel Day-Lewis was certainly on a different level, I'm just a bit bitter that this excellent performance (which is Freeman's best IMO) was not awarded with an Oscar. Nevertheless, he's just as great as Jessica Tandy and in their scenes their collaboration is so great. They act together and not against each other. It's so great (at the Berlin Film Festival they received an acting award for their collaboration, which was a wise decision).
Dan Aykroyd received a well-deserved nomination for playing the son who not only has to deal with her old mother, but also with her unbearable wife.
Another nomination-worthy thing was the original score, which is so catchy and beautiful, I just don't get it how it could be left out. But it's not me giving out the Oscars. And those makeups are really great!
So to sum up, Bruce Beresford was again able to make a cathartic and beautiful little movie (which should have earned him a nomination) after Tender Mercies. One of my favorite films ever.
My Grade: 10/10 Yes again, I'm very generous, but this movie deserves it.
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Actor (Morgan Freeman); Best Actress (Jessica Tandy WON); Best Supporting Actor (Aykroyd); Best Adapted Screenplay (WON); Best Art Direction-Set Decoration; Best Costume Design; Best Editing; Best Makeup (WON)
My wins: Picture, Actor (runner-up to DDL, I just want to honor him too), Actress, Screenplay, Music (I nominate it), Makeup

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My ranking of the supporting actress winners of the decade

So, we ended a decade, so it's high time I did this and I'm gonna start with this category since it's the easiest to decide and this category is the most popular one (but it's not my favorite). I give very brief comments.

1. Mo'Nique in Precious: Horror, anger, disappointment, bitterness. This performance is sheer perfection. I was sceptic at the beginning but in the last few weeks something came to me and I just can't get her out of my head. This is unbelievable and in my overall ranking a #3 right now. It's just... I'm just watching it over and over.

2. Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton: Great actress, chilling performance, deserved surprise award.

3. Marcia Gay Harden in Pollock: Again great actress, great performance and the most deserved huge upset win ever.

4. Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener: Weisz gives a very intelligent and great performance, which becomes much greater in your mind after watching it.

5. Cate Blanchett in The Aviator: She's like Mercedes Ruehl. I'm not sure if she was fully deserving, but I really loved her a lot.

6. Penélope Cruz in Vicky Cristina Barcelona: People either adore or loathe her. Well, I sure like her, but this is not a deserved win. Entertaining work, though.

7. Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind: This is such a dull performance and a worse version of Marcia Gay Harden's character in Pollock.

8. Catharine Zeta-Jones in Chicago: Sometimes she's good, she looks great, sings well and everything in good in itself but this performance is a bit pretentious.

9. Renée Zellweger in Cold Mountain: Gosh, that accent was sooooooooooooo horrible. It really bothered my ears. This is one of those "rewarding the big star" awards.

10.Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls: I used to love this performance (yes, I did), but I guess I just was the victim of the nice brainwashing hype and in time I discovered the real nature of this performance.

Review: The Godfather (1972)

Usually, I review movies after the first view, but this is an exception as I've seen this movie five or six times. This is truly-truly one of the greatest movies ever made and in my humble opinion the greatest American movie.
But OK, just a bit of revision of the very well-known story: The Godfather follows the life of an Italian-American mafia family, led by Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), a strict, hard-working and honest mobster. After the murder attempt of the Don, his sons Santino (James Caan) and Michael (Al Pacino) have to take care of family matters.
The beginning is as effective as it can be: the directing, the shadows, the dialogues are all just unbelievable and the atmosphere of the movie catches you right there.
After that the wedding scene (again) is just fantastic: we don't see any crazy gangsters, criminals and so on. A celebrating, huge family is there having fun, loving each other, eating, dancing.
First of all, the screenplay is so brilliant. When I was watching the video when it won, I saw that it wasn't much of a surprise for Coppola and well it should not have been. It was way ahead of its competition and fully deserving.
And yeah, the acting: Marlon Brando's performance is simply iconic as Don Vito Corleone. Sure, he doesn't have much screentime, but I still think he's the lead, because HE got the most important role. So a well-deserved (and refused) award for Marlon Brando. But again, he was a sure bet.
And there's the impressive supporting cast, giving strong performances. Al Pacino (in a starmaking turn) gives a great and memorable performance as Michael Corleone and his change from the good boy to the next Godfather is simply breathtaking. And his last scene with Marlon Brando is unbelievable.
There's James Caan who most people think should have won Best Supporting Actor. Although he's very good, I cannot agree. Sure what he gave was very impressive but Pacino and Joel Grey were better. And there's the often forgotten Robert Duvall, who also manages to hold his own as the calm and smart consegliere, Tom Haden.
The other members of the cast (Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, Richard Castellano, Sterling Hayden) are also really great in their minor, but important roles.
And apart from the great screenplay, acting and the magnificent technical part, there's one essential reason why this movie works: the direction. I love Cabaret, but I think not giving Coppola the Oscar for this was a huge mistake. And I agree with him that making sequels was unnecessary (even though the second one was also unbelievable) as this movie was so complete.
Anyway if there are two words for perfection they are The Godfather.
My Grade: 10/10 A true masterpiece.
Nominations: Best Picture (WON); Best Director (Coppola LOST); Best Actor (Brando WON); Best Supporting Actor (Caan, Duvall, Pacino); Best Adapted Screenplay (WON); Best Film Editing; Best Sound; Best Costume Design; Best Music, Original Dramatic Score (Withdrawn nomination)
My Wins: Picture, Director, Actor and Screenplay