Saturday, April 30, 2011

Liv Ullmann in The Emigrants

Liv Ullmann received her first Best Actress nomination and became an international superstar by playing Kristina, a poor peasant woman in Jan Troell's movie, The Emigrants. I'm sometimes so surprised by the Golden Globes. They usually give their awards to American stars and yet they picked Liv over Diana Ross and Cicely Tyson. As a result, some even predicted Ullmann for the win back then. I think she was third or fourth but I imagine she may have even been second. BTW, if you read her memoir called 'Changes' you can read so many details about the ceremony and her feelings and Diana Ross' crying (she doesn't mention a name).

The Emigrants is a great but a bit long movie that is a bit slower sometimes than it should be. It can get really depressing occasionally like when they get on the boat. It's not great to see people suffering, especially when you know that such things actually happened in real life. I have to admit, though, that the suffering and misery became too much to be taken really seriously after a while. There are so many tragadies that you become a bit neutral eventually. Interesting enough, this was one of Ingmar Bergman's favorite movies. Max Von Sydow gives a great performance and I think he would have deserved a Best Actor nomination for his work here.

Liv Ullmann is one of my favorite actresses. It might also be the fact that Ingmar Bergman is my favorite director and she played in many of his best movies. In fact, I had only seen Ullmann in Bergman movies before I watched The Emigrants. So I was wonderfing if I would love here just as much as I loved her in, say, Autumn Sonata or Persona. The thing I love about her is that she can show so many aspects of human pain and suffering. She's a beautiful woman but whenever we see something bad happening to her, she can be so ugly and painfully ordinary. I love the changes on her face and everything. In short, she's a brilliant actress.

When we first see Kristina, she's a beautiful but somewhat distant young girl on a swing. Ullmann's beauty shines through the screen and it's just a joy to look at her. In many ways, this role is not different from what she usually plays. But Kristina's character is much warmer and more loveable than the character that Liv played with Bergman. Ullmann is one of the least technical actresses. Just like most of the famous European actresses, she's very emotional and a cares more about the emotional aspect of a character. As a result, we get very emotional performances from her. You can see that she shows all the necessary emotions with her body: her lips, fingers and most importantly, her eyes.

The Emigrants consists of two parts. The first part is really terrific, quite harrowing and the second part gets quite boring after a while. There's a parallel between Ullmann's performance and the movie. In the first part, Ullmann is incredible but in the secondd part she gets too much in the background and becomes a bit uninteresting in the end. Actually, she's not even uninteresting, she just doesn't get anything to do after a while. She's not even on the screen, which is a huge mistake as she's the heart and soul of this movie. The Emigrants is an epic movie and even the most talented performers can get lost in an epic. You need an exceptionally interesting character like Scarlett O'Hara to always be effective in an epic. Ullmann's Kristina is not such a character. She's very interesting because how ordinary she is but she's not a huge character enough.

However, a huge actress can replace a huge character to a degree. And Liv Ullmann is an amazing actress. Her performance in the first part (as I said) is just fantastic. All the emotions are handled so well by Ullmann and she's so brilliant at showing Kristina's suffering and pain. There's a very tragic event (the movie gives clues at the beginning) and Liv's reaction is mindblowing. She's very unusual but the whole thing is quite amazing. I was thinking 'OMG! She's brilliant!'. I was totally taken by Liv's effective acting.

But again, she doesn't have enough screentime. There are moments in the second part that are terrific like the one when she's looking for her lost daughter and becomes hysterical. It's also really heartwrenching to see her struggles on the ship where she becomes really sick. As I said, Liv is also brilliant in these scenes but the pieces of the puzzle cannot get together as much as in the first half because the movie doesn't let Liv succeed.

Still, Liv Ullmann is really great as Kristina in The Emigrants. It's not her best performance and it's true that she's the best with Bergman but it would be very unjust to deny her merits in The Emigrants. Although the movie works against her, Ullmann was able to make a lasting impression and have a great effect on me. It's very effective acting by a terrific talent.
This migth seem more than the review might suggest but I think this performance is a strong 4,5.

What do you think? Time for your last predictions! :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cicely Tyson in Sounder

Cicely Tyson received her first and to date only Best Actress nomination for playing Rebecca Morgan, a poor woman in Martin Ritt's Best Picture nominated movie, Sounder. 1972 is such a confusing year. I think everyone had at least a fair chance of winning (except for Maggie) and Tyson was the critics' favorite along with Liv Ullmann. I think the third place was between them. Liv won the Globe but Tyson was the American nominee and she played in a movie of social importance. Who knows? But Liza was not as unbeatable as she may seem sometimes.

Sounder is considered a very important movie. And it is really great but it's also a little bit clichéd. Martin Ritt's movies are always trying hard to give some message. He's a filmmaker very much like Stanley Kramer though Ritt is less 'obvious'. Sounder is really the story of David Lee, who comes of age during the Depression when his dad is sent to prisoned. Kevin Hooks is really the lead of the story and I think he's good enough to carry this film. Paul Winfield's lead actor nomination is quite baffling. First, he's so supporting and he's not even that great. He's quite good, though.

Cicely Tyson is a very famous actress but I don't really know her movies. I really liked her cameo in one of my favorite movies, Fried Green Tomatoes but I cannot say any of her other roles that I remember. I guess the fact that she mostly works for television prevented me from seeing much of her. Still, what I saw of her is most certainly impressive. She seems to have a very unique presence that certainly got me.

In Sounder, Tyson plays Rebecca Morgan, a woman who has a lot to worry about in her life. She's a very sympathetic lovely woman, who wins the sympathy of the viewer because she's very real and you believe everything she does. Such characters can be so great in supporting roles but leading is a bit different. However, Tyson is borderline supporting. She has more time and more to do than Winfield but it's not all that much. If this one had been campaigned in supporting, I think Tyson would have stood a better chance. Or is she leading after all? That's a tough question. David Lee is the central character but Rebecca is also a key character in a way. I can easily see why people consider her leading. She's really the heart and soul of the movie.

Sometimes Rebecca is just sitting, standing and (mostly) working in the background while everything else is happening. Still, there's something about Tyson that is magnetic and you look at her even when she doesn't have an interesting scene. In fact, none of her storylines are particularly interesting and yet Cicely injected so much beauty and naturality into them. I felt that each and every movement of hers was real and there was nothing really acted. Cicely really did become Rebecca Morgan, this hard-working mother and wife trying to keep going.

Occasionally, Tyson's performance is incredibly beautiful. The scene where her husband returns is a simply brilliant moment and the rawness of Cicely's acting is wonderful. That scene is so full of emotions and I was totally taken and moved by it. The way she was running and screaming was so heart-breaking and Tyson played those moments terrificly. I'd say it's her best scene, hands down.

However, I have the troubling feeling that Cicely Tyson should have been given much more and then she would have been truly incredible. Although she's always great to watch, the insignificant parts do not become more significant because of her. It's not really her fault but her whole achievement suffers from it and I feel quite sorry about that.

Still, I have to say that Cicely Tyson gives a beautiful performance as Rebecca Morgan. Tyson adds real emotional depth to this (tiny bit) standard character. Her unique, very interesting presence, her great acting choices result in truly great work. Had she been given more to work with, she would have got my vote for this year, rather easily. However, my admiration for her is still great.
A very strong 4,5. Really great work.

What do you think?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Diana Ross in Lady Sings The Blues

Diana Ross received her only Best Actress nomination to date for playing singing legend Billie Holiday. Ross' loss was quite a big loss and it has become kind of legendary. She had a very Oscar movie and she was seemingly quite certain that she would win her Oscar. Liv Ullmann actually wrote about Ross' reaction in her autobiography. Ullmann felt quite sorry for Ross who was crying on the shoulder of Shelley Winters. I am sure though that if it hadn't been for Liza, Diana would have won. But frankly, wasn't it obvious who was the better?

Lady Sings The Blues is... boring. It's really overlong, boring, dull and emotionless. I usually don't go for the movies about the tragic lives of tortured, drug-addicted singers. There are exceptions but this one is not one of them. Watching it was a real torture after a while and I had to force myself to go on watching it. The story is extremely loosley based on Holiday's life. The screenplay nomination is a joke, in my opinion. This movie has about as much to do with Holiday's life as Dreamgirl with Ross'.

Diana Ross is such a fantastic singer. Although I can't think of any of her songs right now, she's so talented. However, acting is much different from singing and I don't really like when singers want to show they can act. I just can't stand it. Ironically, that's the same that happened with Beyoncé when she played (kind of) Diana in Dreamgirls. When a singer plays a singer in a movie, it's almost always Oscar baiting.

I would love to say that it's not the case here but it is, unfortunately. Every single scene says "OSCAR! OSCAR! OSCAR!". However, the only thing standing between the Oscar and Diana is the movie itself. If the movie had been more faithful to Holiday's real life, things would have been much better and it would have landed the Oscar on the actress' lap. But could Ross have played Billie Holiday that way? Her acting talent did not even seem to be enough even for this dumber version of Billie.

I have to say that Ross didn't have the acting experience for this role. I mean playing Billie Holliday is extremely hard, in my opinion. Ross chose to underplay the role and in a way it was the right decision but sometimes that was almost fatal. There's a big scene where Billie is begging for the drug in the bathroom. I didn't feel that she was aggressive enough. I mean, I don't like overacting either (that one also would have ruined the scene), so they needed an actress who had enough talent to keep the balance. While I was watching Diana, I just kept wondering what miracles Diahann Carroll could have done with these role. I don't know why she came to my mind but I feel that she could have done a better, more complex job with this role.

What we have (and it's a positive thing) is the star power and charisma of Diana Ross that carries the movie all the way. She has the kind of personality that makes you always look at her. Her charm kept me going on and not giving up on her. And why exactly? Because she was good enough in some of her scenes. For instance, her big breakdown with her lipstick is actually quite effective and she has a great scene when she's walking and notices a dead man hanging on the tree. The scenes where Billie experiences racism are played very well by Diana and they are indeed memorable. However, once the drug addiction part comes in, everything is ruined and Diana's performance loses its strength.

However, I must say that the chemistry between Ross and Billy Dee Williams works very well and they make a good on-screen couple. The tension between them doesn't burn the screen down but they look quite good together.

I have very mixed feelings towards Diana Ross' performance as Billie Holiday. On the one hand, Ross is quite strong in some of the scenes and she has a lots of star power, which can be impressive, occasionally. On the other hand, I cannot overlook the fact that in some of the scenes she's very weak and she wasn't mature enough as an actress to play this part. They wanted her to do more than she could.
What do you think?

I know I keep changing the background day after day but I may keep it so. Whenever I feel down it will be light and when I feel good it's gonna be dark. :D

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Liza Minnelli in Cabaret

Liza Minnelli received her second Best Actress nomination and first Oscar for playing Sally Bowles, an American girl who desperately wants to become a movie star in the movie Cabaret. Liza Minnelli's role in Cabaret is something that equals Oscar and yet Liza's win wasn't as easy and obvious as it seems nowadays. Liza Minnelli had to compete against her good friend Diana Ross who had a biopic, which is a major advantage. However, Liza won, which caused a considerable amount of tears. 1972's Best Actress was a great drama itself.

Cabaret is so great that it's almost painful. I mean, OH-MY-GOD! I was totally blown away by Bob Fosse's achievement. It's such an intense and disturbing experience and tells so much about the world and people. I'm so mad that it was released in the same year as The Godfather (why did I want to write Casablanca, I never know). I think giving Best Director to Cabaret and Best Picture to The Godfather was the best decision the Academy could have made. They split the attention. Naturally, some keep bitching that Coppola didn't win and they are right but Fosse was also VERY worthy. Moreover, I think Joel Grey more than deserved his award (yes, over everyone else in the category).

Every movie has its sould somewhere. Sometimes it's hidden and you have to look for it. However, finding the sould of Cabaret is as easy as it can be. It's Liza Minnelli who keeps the movie together so thrillingly that Cabaret becomes something really special. You can rave about Joel Grey's acting, Michael York's innocence, Marisa Berenson's subtle desperation or Bob Fosse's fantastic direction. When they are compared to Liza Minnelli, who cares about them? Liza Minnelli turns in an earth-shattering performance as Sally Bowles, this young and carefree/careless girl. There's laughter, tear and amazement in Liza Minnelli's performance. Basically, she gives what acting was really made for, charming and moving the audience.

I'm not saying that I'm a big fan of Liza Minnelli but I'm an admirer of her undeniable, huge talent. She can do basically everything. She can sing, dance, act, you name it. She's got show-business in her blood. That's what she inherited from her family. People often make the huge mistake of comparing her to her mother, Judy Garland. Everybody wants to decide who's the more talented. I don't want to make this comparision but Liza as Sally Bowles has the same effect as her mother as Esther Blodgett in A Star is Born. Ironically, this is the role that (as Marlene Dietrich said) let Liza leave the shadow of her mother. She's Liza Minnelli, not Judy Garland's daughter Liza Minnelli. She's Liza Minnelli.

Sally Bowles is a fantastic character. She's very bohemian, careless and always wants to enjoy the present and everything. Yes, she sleeps around, yes, she drinks too much but she likes her life. She's desperate to become a movie star, something that she will probably never be. Liza so brilliantly showed Sally's determination to succeed. I would say that Sally had a really strong willpower and she didn't want to give up her dreams. The fire, the lust, the desire are all in Liza's big eyes. The way she looks at anyone is both hilarious and heartbreaking. You can't help but feeling ambivalent about Sally and it was so great how Liza let us feel that way. You have fun at the stupid things of Sally but you can also feel so sorry for her.

Liza brilliantly found the balance between the comedy and the drama of this character. How could you not laugh your head of when you're listening to her horrible German or when she's playing the femme fatale. The timing and the line readings are all so perfect. That English lesson with the delicate, young woman having a conversation about health and then Liza starting to talk about some rather quite unlpeasent diseases. And then there are moments when you're totally heartbroken like when Sally's father lets her down or when she reaveals the horrible truth in the end. It's really painful to watch her there. Liza got across Sally's misery so thrillingly. Moreover, I also loved when Liza made Sally a bit like Pookie Adams from The Sterile Cockoo. Don't misunderstand me, she's not repetitive at all, except for her brilliance. :)

And the songs! Those songs! From Mein Herr to Cabaret, they are all so fascinatingly performed by the fabulous Liza. Oh, my goodness. In most musicals the characters start singing spontaneously but in Cabaret there's a function for everything. The songs really help you a lot and Liza really rocks in those scenes. I mean, really. Mein Herr or Maybe This Time are fantastic even though my favorite is Cabaret. The amount of emotions that are present there are so overwhelming and gave me chills. Liza goes on acting and adds so much of Sally's pain into that song. She sings slower and slower and it becomes mindblowingly effective.

However, I have to stop at some point because I could praise Liza Minnelli endlessly for this huge, unforgettable and wonderful performance as Sally Bowles. Liza Minnelli is the heart and soul of this brilliant movie and if I may say so, she gives the best performance ever in a musical, in my humble opinion. I'm not a fan of the genre but I'm crazy about this one. You can watch Liza over and over again in this movie but you'll have just as much fun and you'll be just as touched as you were for the first time. B-R-I-L-L-I-A-N-T.

What do you think?

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Liza Minnelli in Cabaret
  • Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues
  • Maggie Smith in Travels with my Aunt
  • Cicely Tyson in Sounder
  • Liv Ullmann in The Emigrants
Wow, a fantastic looking year once again, I'm so excited.

What do you think? How do you pick? What are your predictions for my ranking (the contest is on)?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 2006


This is a great performance by the great Kate Winslet but I just embrace her because the movie was between me and her. Kate shows Sarah's emotions extremely well and she has some mindblowingly great scenes and yet the whole thing becomes uneven because she's often gets a bit lost the movie itself. Great work but not as brilliant as I used to think.

I must say that this is a great performance by the great Helen Mirren. As Queen Elizabeth II, Mirren was able to become very moving and effective. The technical part is just perfect though the emotions could have been a bit stronger. Although this work doesn't really live up to the hype that surrounded it when it was released, it's still very well done by Mirren.
Meryl is fantastic all in all, the movie sometimes drags her performance down and I feel that she could have been given much more to work with. I still say that she's just excellent as Miranda Priestly, the merciless, vicious magazine editor but the movie prevented me from saying that I was totally blown away

As I finished writing, I've become dead certain that Penélope Cruz gives her absolute best performance in Volver as Raimunda, a very complicated and tough woman. This is not only a beautiful achievement but also a tearjerking tribute to an acting style that has unfortunately died out in the last decades

Judi Dench gives the best film performance of her career as Sheba Hart, a desperate, lonely woman who feels like she has some hope in her life at last. Dench is almost disturbingly perfect as Barbara Covett. Every line reading, every nuance, every movement is just great.

So I can proudly announce
that my winner is...
Judi Dench
Notes on a Scandal
She just read the news... :)

Final thoughts: Wow, a highly interesting year with quite an obvious winner, in my opinion. I feel quite bad for Penélope because out of sentimental reasons, she used to be my pick, but Judi cannot be ignored. Her Barbara commands every scene with her longing and despair. Tempted was I to make Meryl my pick but clearly, her performance is not on the same level as Penélope and Judi. Helen and Kate were the sour grapes, if I may say so but they seem decent choices on the Academy's part. With hindsight, it seems kind of surprising that Helen swept all the awards (actually, it's not that surprising).
About the next year: I want to make up for that last fiasco of mine with 1967, so I again let you decide from two. This time I only picked years where I got the movies in advance, so happy voting!

What do you think?

I wish you a happy Easter! :)

Penélope Cruz in Volver

Penélope Cruz received her first Oscar nomination for playing Raimunda, a woman having a troubled life in Volver. If Helen Mirren hadn't been there, I actually would have bet on Penélope Cruz even though I think Meryl Streep got more votes. However, if the two had been there with each other (without Mirren), I think Cruz would have won the Oscar. First of all, she had the cool factor. Second, she had the "Oh! You're not just sexy, you can also act" (as if they hadn't seen All about my Mother). Plus, she's one of the sexiest actresses alive, so the babe factor also helped her. The only thing going against her was the foreign language.

Volver is a terrific film, way better than all of the other movies of Cruz's fellow nominees combined. Almodóvar is such a masterful director. His movies are incredibly loud, over-the-top, colourful and, I dare say, quite vulgar and yet one just cannot take their eyes off the screen. Fantastic, even though it's not even the best work of the director. Carmen Maura is an actress who always impresses me with her unique talent and this movie is not different.

However, there's one and only one person truly in the spotlight. And that's Penélope Cruz. And it's no wonder. Sometimes I'm a bit sceptical about her (when I don't see her acting) but every time I see her I'm impressed, even by things like Nine. Naturally, she's so sexy and yet there's something really mysterious about her. Her sexiness is not pushy and it doesn't come to your face, you just feel it and it's so great about her.

As Raimunda, Penélope Cruz gives probably the biggest performance of her career. I'm not saying best because it's arguable wheter she was better in All about my Mother. However, this really juicy leading role is something that's a real gift in the life of a performer and I'm quite certain that Penélope was also aware of that. She did everything to be great and I believe she succeeded.

The resemblances between Penélope in this movie and Sophia Loren are just undeniable. Naturally, Raimunda is a character who would have been played by Sophia forty-five years ago. Raimunda is loud but repressed and she's quite earthy. I always felt that Raimunda had a background, a real backstory but everything was so shady. It was wonderful to see Penélope peel all the layers from this character and show the disturbing truth behind the loudness.

I would say that this is a loud role but I would never say that Penélope is too over-the-top and hysterical. She does everything so naturally and I could always so believe that she's this hard-working woman with lots of problems in her life. There's lots of deglam in the role and yet Cruz has just as much dignity and grace as Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II and I'm not kidding. I mean, we take Penélope seriously after we see her sitting on the toilet, after she says that it smells like a fart and so on. Almodóvar wrote lots of crazy, unbelievable things to his wonderful screenplay and Penélope delivered all the lines and stupid things as if she went to a store to ask for some milk.

I am also crazy about how well Penélope was able to show both Raimunda's toughness and softness. SPOILER ON! When she finds out that her husband was killed by her daughter, we hear her screaming and a couple of minutes later she's washing the blood at the kitchen SPOILER OFF! I mean, it's againg so insane and unbelievable and yet I just loved that Raimunda was so quick-thinking. All the inner demons that she has are revealed to the audience by the greatness of Penélope Cruz. When I first saw the movie when it was released, I would not have believed all the things that happened to Raimunda because Penélope was so mysterious. In time, however, all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle fall into the right place and I become blown away by Cruz's achievement. She almost told everything and yet we didn't suspect anything. Masterful, by all means.

Furthermore, the chemistry among the four leading ladies is just unbelievably great. I mean, it's so FAIR that they all won Best Actress together at Cannes. They are really like the Spanish, female version of The A-Team, a bit like the Foxy Chicks mentioned in Pulp Fiction or The Golden Girls. They are just brilliant together and everyone has her own territory. Cruz is, obviously, the leader of the group. She has the smarts and the troubled past.

And those scene, kids! Oh my goodness. Whenever she hugs her daughter or another member of her family, there's an earthquake and thunderball. So many honest, deep, female emotions going on there, on the screen. Oh, just wonderful. But I could also mention the scene where she's crying quietly after she doesn't want to make love to her disgusting husband and listents to him having fun alone. I could mention probably all of the scenes, actually, but I won't. She's just as great as she is. I don't want to pick a favorite scene because I can't (OK, for a bit naughty reasons, I like who she does the washing-up). But I would be so unfair if I didn't mention her heartbreaking song, Volver. That scene is cathartic, if I may say so.

OMG, I was a bit long, I know but if there's a performance that you feel really passionate about, you just cannot stop. As I finished writing, I've become dead certain that Penélope Cruz gives her absolute best performance in Volver as Raimunda, a very complicated and tough woman. This is not only a beautiful achievement but also a tearjerking tribute to an acting style that has unfortunately died somewhere. But we need this type of performances, too. Penélope Cruz and Pedro Almodóvar are probably the saviours of the Raimundas of the cinema. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

So what do you think? I've got a lot of things to think about until the conclusion.

Kate Winslet in Little Children

Kate Winslet received her fifth Oscar nomination for playing Sarah Pierce, an unhappy married woman having an adulterous affair with a married man in the movie Little Children. I think it was this the loss which made Kate say that was enough, it's nice to be nominated but it would be great to win. And this was the time when the world started to think the same. She didn't even have a prayer to win alongside Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep or even Penélope Cruz, probably. She was probably like Michelle Williams, a solid fourth.

Little Children is quite a weird movie. The first time I saw it, I was blown away by it but this time I was much less enthusiastic. It works with very cheap tools sometimes and it can be quite manipulative. Moreover, why did they need that narrator? He had this soft, deep voice, which became ultra soft and ultra deep when there was a very emotional moment. So the screenplay that I loved the most for the first time was a bit of a failure this time around. Not a bit of, actually. Jackie Earle Haley is, however, brilliant and I think he would have deserved to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in that weak field.

Kate Winslet is a fantastic, extremely talented actress who might have annoyed me when she was (ahhem) campaigning for her Oscar (in time, I really understood her and now it doesn't really bother me). She's not exactly beautiful but there's something so grabbing about her. She has a very unique and luminous presence which can elevate silly little comedies like Holiday and make them highly entertaining. And her roles are so different (I believe that she said that she liked it this way) and even her performances.

Bohumil Hrabal's book, Cutting It Short begins with the sentence "I am Madame Bovary." It's a hilarious but very bitter book about a woman, Maryska who's desperate to be free and have fun on her own. Little Children is a somewhat similar one with Sarah Pierce/Kate Winslet as Madame Bovary/Maryska. Sarah is trapped in a boring life which doesn't fit her personality. She's restless, impatient and bored, above all. Kate Winslet added this feeling so much to Sarah and despite the fact that she's very unlikeable, you actually care about her.

I used to be quite a hyper about this performance but just like my admiration for the film itself, my love cooled (though to a lesser extent). Kate Winslet is naturally brilliant when she's given enough space and the movie focuses on her. Her luminous self adds so much to the movies (I'm saying Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, her best work, as an example). In Titanic, I said that Kate became the victim of the epic movie, the stunning visuals. In Little Children, Kate became the victim of the director's desperate and failed attempt to look artsy. One just cannot really focus on Kate because the movie is so mesmerized by itself. Poor Kate, she had so much potential with this role and she could have blown all the other ladies of 2006 away had it been for a better movie.

Kate's chemistry with Patric Wilson works very well even though she's seemingly way more talented than most of the cast combined. They are a very unlikely couple and yet they somehow look quite good together. The stupid, obvious flaws of the screenplay hold her back so much. I mean it's such an obvious scene where she's talking about Madame Bovary but Kate does great in it and yet her greatness pales in comparision with the flaw of the movie.

Still, I would be so unfair if I didn't praise her obviously brilliant scenes like when she's spying on her lover and she hides behind the wheel and then she starts crying hysterically and I was totally blown away there. It's such an unlikely and yet very realistic reaction, I just loved it. Moreover, the scenes in the end were handled perfectly by Kate. She brilliantly showed Sarah's desperation and hope.

So, to sum up, this is a great performance by the great Kate Winslet but I just embrace her because the movie was between me and her. Kate shows Sarah's emotions extremely well and she has some mindblowingly great scenes and yet the whole thing becomes uneven because she's overshadowed by the movie itself. Great work but not as brilliant as I used to think.
What do you think? Time for your last predictions! Note: before you predict, consider that I changed Helen's grade. I'm so sorry for my weakness with the grades. I might started grading them only at the time of the final conclusion and then add the grade to the review afterwards.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal

Divine Dame Judi Dench received her sixth Oscar nomination to date for playing Barbara Covett, an elderly teacher in Notes on a Scandal. Well, 2006 wasn't the most exciting Best Actress race ever. If there's ever been a lock to win, it was Helen Mirren. And I guess that poor Judi became the fifth in the voting. Too bad, though nowadays people seem to be much more crazy about her then they were about Helen Mirren back thrn. Seasons change I guess and time's the best judge.

Notes on a Scandal is a great movie, which I have seen four times, but always found some interesting nuances I haven't really noticed. One of the most fascinating things about it is how thrilling it is. I have already expressed my fondness of the scores of Philip Glass and this one is not different, though I might prefer The Hours and Koyaanisquatsi to this one. The performances are as sharp as a razor: Cate Blanchett was absolutely robbed of that Oscar (I mean, that competiotion is NOTHING compared to her) and Bill Nighy should have received a nom at least. However, I must say that I spotted some very tiny but manipulative moments this time and the director wanted to make sure that we get the movie.

And Dame Judi: well, I just really don't waste your time with my endless praise towards the brilliant dame. She's such a thrilling, fascinating actress and I just cannot wait until My Week with Marilyn comes out. I always look forward to watching her movies as she alsways brings something fresh and new to her acting. She always gives different types of performances that are amazing on their own merit. She can play Queen Elizabeth I, Iris Murdoch, Queen Victoria and everyone and I'm just blown away. In Modern Family, Cam said that Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice. Well, that's basically the same that I feel about Dame Judi Dench.

Let's be brief about this one because I should get it out right now: Judi Dench is amazing as Barbara Covett and this might even be her best performance in a film. One could not get a character that is harder to play than the manipulative, unlikeable and bitter Barbara. I would even say that she's a character that you instantly hate. She's the brutal spinster teacher that everyone is terrified of. She's a typical snob bitch who looks down on her pupil. Dame Judi's line readings (not only) at the beginning are simply terrific. That bitterness that you imagine this character has is perfectly got across by her. Yes, the character is not very likeable but Dench made her very enjoyable, at the very least.

And still, that's probably the smallest achievement of her. As soon as Sheba Hart comes in, Judi Dench's performance becomes as sharp as a razor and she becomes totally brutal and extremely disturbing. Dame Judi shows sch harrowing and disturbing amount of loneliness that this character has that it becomes very hard to watch after a while. When Barbara's asked by Sheba to come to lunch to her home is a fantastic moment. That hopeful smile and little twitch is so perfectly done by Dame Judi. I mean that's something that you call talent. She does not just say "I adore lasagne", she screams for help.

The scenes of Dame Judi with Cate Blanchett are also wonderful: they are so full of tension and of course the fact that they are two of the most brilliant actresses of our era adds a lot to them. The inconvenient truth about Sheba makes Barbara extremely furious and then everything changes in a moment. Barbara decides not to report Sheba for having an affair with a pupil of hers and Judi showed the moment of the decision with such brilliance. On the outside, she's the good guy, the good friend, a mother superior who helps the little nun. Inside, Barbara is a cold, bitter bitch who found an opportunity for some happiness. And it's all brilliantly shown by Judi Dench.

As the movie goes on, Barbara sinks deeper and deeper into her isolation and becomes more and more obsessed with Sheba. The loneliness she feels makes her sould very ugly and yet we feel sorry for her. I could so feel the pain when she had to say goodbye to her cat. That scene didn't almost make me cry because I'm an avid animal lover and can't watch when cats die. I felt the true misery inside this person. And her final line to Sheba ("I need more than a friend") was one of the most depressing lines I've ever heard.

So, to sum up, Judi Dench gives a fantastic performance as Sheba Hart, a desperate, lonely woman who feels like she has some hope in her life at last. Dench is almost disturbingly perfect as Barbara Covett. Every line reading, every nuance, every movement is just great. Dench made the audience care about this highly unlikeable character. Occasionally, one just says "poor woman" despite the fact how awful Barbara can act. My admiration and enthusiasm dropped a bit towards this performance but she's fantastic anyhow.

What do you think?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Helen Mirren in The Queen

Helen Mirren received her third Oscar nomination and first Academy Award for Queen Elizabeth II who's going through a very difficult period in Stephen Frears' Best Picture nominated movie, The Queen. If there's a defintion for a locked Oscar win then it's quite definitely Helen Mirren. Everybody knew that she was going to win the Oscar, nobody even dared to hope that someone else would win. So, it was quite an easy win for her. And I must also add that Mirren won every other possible award that year for this performance.

The Queen is a movie that I used to like very much but this time I was actually a bit bored by it. Naturally, one doesn't expect a tough, huge epic about Queen Elizabeth II but I think that the story is a bit too dry and it fits the medium of television much more. That being said, the diretion of Stephen Frears elevated the material quite a bit. The actors give quite proper and entertaining performances. Many say that Michael Sheen should have got the nod for Best Supporting Actor and I might just say the same. The Best Picture nomination was a bit much, though in my opinion.

Helen Mirren is a terrific actress who's such a huge talent and I so love her on- and off-screen persona. Her real-life self seems to be so much fun and yet she's very dignified and on the screen she shows so much self-control and grace. I think that's what made her the best choice for the title role of The Queen.

I am very curious why Helen Mirren blew the whole world away with her performance. You can say many reasons, which may seem quite true until you see the movie. The film is based on real events (from the recent past) and this one seems to be a very baity role. And yet when I watch the performance, I see nothing very loud and big. As Her Majesty, the Queen puts it in the movie "Nowadays people want to see glamour and tears, the grand performance." However, Mirren approached this character with so much subtlty and dignity and I truly believe that it was the right decision. I think that Mirren's triumph and success is mostly due to the fact that she brought so much dignity to the screen and that's something that everybody loves, even those who deny it ;).

Another reason for Mirren's success with this role was the way she solved the technical part of the performance. Her accent, her speech, her walk the small movements, twitches, little ticks that we see were perfectly done by Helen Mirren. Her Majesty is someone we can occasionally see on TV during her public duties and there's a certain kind of image that we have of her. It's almost a stereotype that Queen Elizabeth II has an admirable sense of duty and commitment towards everything she believes in. Her faith, her family and her people. Mirren showed a more human side of this extraordinary person but she always remained faithful and she respected the personality of the Queen.

I feel that (very much like Judi Dench in Mrs Brown) Helen Mirren didn't get really emotional and I dare say emotionally difficult scenes. Naturally, her monologues and speeches about how she knows her people and how she cares about them are very effective and moving but I don't think that this performance dived deep enough into the sould of this person. The screenplay almost desperately wants to make the Queen seem strong and wise and therefore she became a bit too perfect. And I feel that Mirren could have made her a bit more human. Or I might be a typical person of this era and expect the tears and the grand performance.

Still, I must say that this is a great performance by the great Helen Mirren. As Queen Elizabeth II, Mirren was able to become very moving and effective. The technical part is just perfect though the emotions could have been a bit stronger. Although this work doesn't really live up to the hype that surrounded it when it was released, it's still very well done by Mirren.
What do YOU think?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada

Meryl Streep received her fourteenth Oscar nomination and set up a new record in 2007 when she received her nom for playing Miranda Priestly, a ruthless boss in the comedy The Devil Wears Prada. Actually, 2007 was the time when the whole world started to want Meryl to win her third Oscar, which is yet to come to her though I have a feeling that if The Iron Lady is any good, she won't have to wait very much. Although nobody had a chance in hell of beating Helen Mirren, Meryl provided some ultra minor competition.

The Devil Wears Prada is movie that I wouldn't watch if it wasn't for Meryl Streep. It's an extremely standard story about a girl's changes. Anne Hathaway is an actress who doesn't impress me as much as others but I still consider her a good actress. Emily Blunt is, however, just excellent. Stanley Tucci is a fine character actor and he's also very good in this role. The whole movie is quite enjoyable and entertaining but it doesn't go beyond that. It's a perfect one to watch on a boring afternoon when you don't have much to do.

Meryl Streep is an actress who can really annoy me sometimes but whenever I see her act, I forget all my complaints. While she's very technical and when you think about that it's really annoying, her whole style works and it always pays off (though there are always people who attack her work). Miranda Priestly is one of her most popular and loved performances and nowadays many people think that she should have won her third for this one. However, there are many people who think that Miranda is a supporting role.

In a way, I agree that Meryl is supporting but I also believe that she's the driving force of this whole movie. Meryl is the reason why people like The Devil Wears Prada. She elevates the whole material to another level with her real brilliance. She's the one and only reason why the movie doesn't suck, really. Without her this film would have been forgotten in about two months. However, there came Meryl, won a Golden Globe, impressed everyone and Miranda became one of Meryl's most popular roles.

Miranda's part is actually not as complicated as it seems and I bet it was quite easy and enjoyable for Meryl. Throughout the movie, I felt that Meryl had a lot of fun in this role and yet she took this silly comedy very seriously. Miranda is very much like Patty Hewes from Damages. Tough, strict, brutally honest, sharp and above all, ruthless. Although Meryl doesn't have a brutal drama, she was able to achieve something almost as great as great Glenn in Damages. Meryl added a lot of depth to this very shallow comedy and as a result, we got a really impressive and almost dazzling performance.

The Devil Wears Prada has a very shallow and standard story but I'd say that Meryl's character was excellently worked out though I feel that Meryl had very much to do with that. What I love most about Meryl's performances that her brilliance keeps changing in every movie. Once, she's joyful and radiant (Julie & Julia), sometimes she's just terrifying (Sophie's Choice), sometimes she's painfully ordinary and believable (A Cry in the Dark, Silkwood) and sometimes she has this very sharp excellence (like in Doubt) that she shows in The Devil Wears Prada. She's incredibly subtle as Miranda and she becomes insanely hilarious occasionally. This ultra subtlty is probably the main reason why this performance is so great.

Moreover, the emotions Meryl attached to Miranda are really impressive. I actually felt some kind of a sympathy for this woman. Her breakdowns and fights over her marriage are very sad. We get the feeling that Miranda is not really happy. That big monologue she delivers about her divorce at the hotel is just perfect. But I could also mention the one in the car, which is (in my opinion) one of Meryl's best moments captured in a movie.

Although Meryl is fantastic all in all, the movie sometimes drags her performance down and I feel that she could have been given much more to work with. I still say that she's just excellent as Miranda Priestly, the merciless, vicious magazine editor but the movie prevented me from saying that I was totally blown away. Still, it would be really unfair to take away anything from Meryl as she's really fantastic.

In the end, I decided for a 4.5.

What do you think? Who should be the next reviewed lady (whose review will come on Thursday or Saturday)?

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Penélope Cruz in Volver
  • Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal
  • Helen Mirren in The Queen
  • Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
  • Kate Winslet in Little Children
So is Helen as much of a lock as she was back then or will I give my vote to somebody else?

What do you think? What's your ranking? What are your predictions for my ranking?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1997


So the much anticipated ranking is:

I'm not one of the fans of Julie Christie in Afterglow. She has some nice moments and she nails to emotional scenes to a certain extent but it's not enough to win me over. I really missed the wildness or the subtlety of her other great performances. But the fact that she wasn't great is mostly due to the horrid movie. Still, she's not great.

This is great work by Kate Winslet. I don't want to take away anything from it as it's great work but she pales a little bit in comparision with the epic movie that she's in. Kate perfectly portrayed all the negative emotions and fears of the character and therefore she was really haunting in the beginning.

Helen Hunt almost crossed the line of fantastic with her performance as Carol Connelly in As Good as it Gets. Hunt added wonderful, loveable realism to this character and she made the audience really care about her. Those, who keep saying that she's one of the worst winners, really need to shut up. Helen Hunt is just excellent as this loveable character.

This is a wonderful performance by one of the greatest actresses ever on this planet. Although it may not be the best achievement of the brilliant Dame Judi Dench, she perfectly inhabited this very complex character and nailed the emotional scenes. This is excellent work that is a real joy to watch. It's not fantastic or mindblowing, it's "just" absolutely wonderful.

As Kate Croy, Helena Bonham Carter managed to create fascinating, multi-layered and mysterious character that is surely very interesting. I was totally blown away by Helena who gave astonishing work and I am not surprised at all at the amount of love that Helena gets for this great achievement. Haunting, disturbing, beautiful.

So I can proudly announce
that my winner is...
Helena Bonham Carter
The Wings of the Dove
Just loved Helena

Final thoughts: Why do I have mixed feelings? This was an enjoyable year with very good performances and mostly not-so-great movies. Afterglow was T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E but Christie made it a bit less intolerable, Mrs Brown was quite boring with Judi Dench who gave a wonderful but definitely not her greatest performance (interesting enough, that was the movie because of which I wanted to do this year), As Good as it Gets was very entertaining and Hunt really elevated the material (I'd say she was the best thing about it). Helena was just thrilling and her movie was very interesting. I'd say Titanic was the best movie in the bunch, a real epic and Kate was really good in it though not brilliant. I would say that this year was worth reviewing because of the fantastic, gutwrenching performance of Helena Bonham Carter and the great Dame Judi. I could live without the rest, though.

The ranking of the reviewed years:

  1. 1944
  2. 1969
  3. 1974
  4. 1989
  5. 1959
  6. 1964
  7. 1939
  8. 1977
  9. 2010
  10. 1997
  11. 2009
  12. 1980
  13. 1941
  14. 1963
  15. 1966
  16. 1973
  17. 1990
  18. 1978
  19. 1954
  20. 1948
  21. 2002
  22. 1957
  23. 1940
  24. 1998
About the next year: I AM SO DAMN SORRY! I've just realised that The Whisperers was removed from Youtube! I'm so f-ing nervous right now. I'm feeling very sorry but I'm going to do another great year instead. I'm so sorry again. Really, really sorry. Basically, the poll was useless and I didn't get the other movies of the years in the poll. So I had to think quick. And I have my year, which is (I promise) a great one. It's an incredibly similar one to 1997 and not only in the types of roles (single mom, royal) but also some people. :)

What do you think?

Kate Winslet in Titanic

Kate Winslet received her second Oscar nomination (and the first one in the Best Actress category) for playing Rose DeWitt Bukater, a young upper-class girl falling for a poor artist in James Cameron's epic Titanic. Titanic was pretty much a phenomenon and I think that helped Kate get many votes. I think the reason why I think she (and Gloria Stuart) didn't win was that most of the voters might have been tired of voting for Titanic and they wanted to give at least the acting prizes to other movies. I think Winslet was third or second in the end.

Titanic is a really huge movie, which is (in my opinion) worthy of all the Oscars it won. What an achievement! I know that many disagree with me and it's kind of chic to criticise this one (and Avatar). Just to make things clear, I also love Avatar very much. The amount of work James Cameron puts into his projects is so astonishing. Wow, I always keep being amazed by his dedication. The actors give excellent performances, Leo is way better than he's said to be and Gloria Stuart was really worthy of the nomination she got. I think the cause of the hate towards Titanic can be summed up in one word: envy. :)

Kate Winslet is quite definitely the most talented actress of her generation. She's really so talented and despite the fact that sometimes her off-screen persona annoys me, she's a brilliant, shining talent. Many compare her to Deborah Kerr but that's one of the most stupid comparisions I've ever heard. Kerr used to play these very proper and gentle ladies while Kate can do almost everything. All in all, Kate is a brilliant actress and I can't wait to see her in the adaptation of God of Carnage.

The role of Rose is something that seems to be very baity on the outside but just like any other performances in epic movies it's a bit outshone by the gigantic movie. Titanic didn't have a very strong screenplay (it's quite standard, actually just put The Poseidon Adventure together with a soap and you get the story) but the character of Rose was probably the best written one of all. It's probably the only one that has a real emotional depth and is a real challenge for a performer.

There's one thing that we shouldn't forget about Rose (and that's soemthing that Kate forgot once in a while): she's a seventeen-year-old girl, full of anger, defiance and mixed feelings about her future. I don't even think that Jack was really the love of her life, he was just rather a symbol of the life and freedom that Rose desperately wanted. So the Rose is a very complicated character who needs very much care from the performer.

In the beginning, Kate is just brilliant as Rose. Kate was able to become so haunting. She showed the frustration of this girl so terrifyingly that I was totally blown away by her. Those empty looks on her face said so many things about Rose. The beginning was quite probably the best thing about this whole performance. Everything was so well put together and I could always identify with Rose. Kate knew Rose's motivations and I actually fogot that she wasn't a very experienced actress at the time. Thanks to her intuitive talent, Kate was full of self-confidence and she really nailed the part.

Kate's chemistry works excellently with Leonardo DiCaprio and they really make a great couple in the movie. Although Titanic doesn't have the tension of Revolutionary Road, it's still a great co-operation between the two of them. So, everything is alright there.

However, there comes the disaster of the Titanic and unfortunately, Kate's performance almost becomes the victim of the movie. The stunning visuals, costumes, art direction, the directing, the music, everything are so overwhelming that you just cannot really focus on Kate because there are so many things that are more impressive. The achievement of Kate keeps really fading and everything she achieved in the beginning almost disappears but fortunately, it wasn't too late and the ending saved her performance. Still, thanks to the movie, Winslet was never consistently great.

Still, this is great work by Kate Winslet. I don't want to take away anything from it as it's great work but she pales a little bit in comparision with the epic movie that she's in. Kate perfectly portrayed all the negative emotions and fears of the character and therefore she was really haunting in the beginning. Although the overall effect of her work is a bit ruined, this is still a very great job.
What do you think? (no predictions now)

The Final Conclusion will be posted in a couple of hours.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets

Helen Hunt received her first and (to date only) Best Actress nomination and Oscar for playing Carol Connelly, a waitress and a single mom in the Best Picture nominated comedy, As Good as it Gets. Many were surprised to see her win but I really don't see why. She won SAG, the Golden Globe. Of course, many thought Judi Dench would win but Hunt triumphed in the end. I guess that her stardom she reached with Mad about You helped her. It's an interesting and very controversial decision, not very typical from teh Academy.

As Good as it Gets is an entertaining but really overlong movie. Had it been 30 minutes shorter, I would have enjoyed it way more. That Best Picture nod was a bit much, I think. I mean being very entertaining doesn't equal an Oscar nomination in my book. Furthermore, this movie has such a TV feel to it (just like everything by James L. Brooks). Brooks does things as if this movie was 20 minutes long. And what works in a sitcom doesn't necessarily work in a feautre film. Jack is naturally great but that Oscar might have been a bit much. Greg Kinnear was not bad but nothing particularly amazing, really.

Whatever happened to Helen Hunt? Seriously, what's going on with her right now? Apart from the funny, but insignificant What Women Want, she didn't make many successful movies until As Good as it Gets. I guess the fact that she kept on working on television after her Oscar win might have been one of the main reasons why she didn't succeed after all. I think she's very much like Tina Fey though their characters are a bit different (but their acting style is quite similar). The other odd thing is that I wouldn't really expect to write so much about sitcom actresses on this blog, in my Best Actress reviews (only Mary Tyler Moore comes to my mind now).

Comedy is extremely hard to pull off. There's always the danger of overacting and unfortunately we don't really get great great comedy nowadays. I mean, how does The Hangover compare to Some Like it Hot? All in all, great comedy performances are mostly given on television, I feel. Hunt's previous experience with comedy certainly helped her a lot in portraying the character of Carol Connelly. However, it's not only comedy skill that she needed to do this role well. Carol is a bit boring character and you've just got to make her more interesting and loveable. And Hunt really succeeded in doing so, thanks to her immense charisma.

The first thing I noticed that (just like with Dame Judi Dench in Mrs Brown) Hunt doesn't get enough screentime and that's really the movie's fault. I just couldn't decide who's the one I should be rooting for. There was Melvin, Carol and Simon. Jack had the advantage of being Jack and getting the juicy lines, Kinnear is the one the audience feels sorry for and there's Hunt. The thing that really elevated this performance above the two male actors is that Hunt added some bitterweet realism to Carol. Carol is a very ordinary woman with problems at home, with her love life and her child. She seems to exist inside a bubble and the only think she can care about is her only child. Hunt heartbreakingly showed the pain of this character and her performance is unusually deep for this movie. I mean, As Good as it Gets lacks emotional depth and stays on the surface with emotions but Hunt (in my opinion) went inside the head of this character and understood all her actions perfectly.

There's the scene where Hunt says a hysterical monologue (it's probably her most famous moment and people still keep talking about it). She's so heartwrenching and it's just impossible not to feel for her character. And the delivery of the lin "OK" is simply perfect. I dare say that it's probably one of the best acted scenes of 1997.

I must admit, though, that I was a bit underwhelmed by the beginning of the performance but after a while it became so easy and wonderful. It started out a bit forced with Hunt's overdoing Carol's character but in the end it really became something utterly loveable and wonderful. Her reaction, when Simon wants to paint her, is just unforgettable. On a personal level, I might say that's my favorite scene of this performance (despite the fact that I appreciate that big monologue a bit more).

So, to sum up, Helen Hunt almost crossed the line of fantastic with her performance as Carol Connelly in As Good as it Gets. Hunt added wonderful, loveable realism to this character and she made the audience really care about her. Those, who keep saying that she's one of the worst winners, really need to shut up. Helen Hunt is just excellent as this loveable character. Well done.

What do you think? It's time for your final predictions! :)

Interesting coincidence: I just noticed that I wrote about the ladies in alphabetical order. LOL :D

NOTE: I know that it's only Kate left but you might just have to wait for her until next Friday or Saturday. But I might have time for her eariler. I'll do my best, I just have a lot of things to do. :)

Judi Dench in Mrs Brown

Judi Dench received her first Best Actress nomination (and much more) for playing Queen Victoria, the legendary queen in Mrs Brown. I suspect it must have been a tight race between Helen Hunt and Judi Dench. Judi Dench won Best Actress - Drama at the Golden Globes Hunt won for Comedy and got SAG. Dench had the advantage of being a respected British stage actress who was yet to be recognised and Hunt was "just" a sitcom star. Still, Hunt won the Oscar, causing controversy (which was helped by Hunt's acceptance speech, too) that even lead to an Oscar win for Dench the following year.

Mrs Brown is interesting but a bit too slow for me. It's slow-paced and therefore it can get quite boring sometimes. The reason for that is that the movie concentrates so much on Billy Connolly's character. I would have preferred if it had focused more on Queen Victoria and Judi Dench whom I love immensely. I must say, though, that Connolly is quite good in this movie but his talent is so behind Dench's. Still, Mrs Brown is a very enjoyable and it's worth watching once or twice.

I admire, love and worship Dame Judi Dench. She's greatness. She has one of the best voices ever, her face can express thousands of feelings and the subtle emotions that she gives to her characters are all so impressive. And anyone who can give a performance like her in Notes on a Scandal at least once, they deserve to be praised. She wasn't very well-know outside Britain before Mrs Brown so we could even call her performance as Queen Victoria a breakthrough in a way. And I'm eternally grateful that this movie introduced her to the whole world. Her talent is one of a kind.

Queen Victoria is a really interesting role and it certainly pays off with the Academy. First of all, they just love Brits. What they love more than Brits, is a monarch. And what they love above all, is a British monarch. And same goes with me. I also love them. It's always wonderful some real dignity in a movie. Queen Victoria is certainly one of the greatest monarchs ever, plus she was a very interesting personality. Her character needed a very exprienced and careful performance who possessed real talent and much subtlty. Judi Dench, I believe, was the perfect choice for the part.

To put it simply, Judi Dench is just great as Queen Victoria. Dame Judi perfectly showed the insecurities and fears of this woman who always tries to look very organised and strong. However, we get to know Victoria's weaknesses through Judi's sympathetic and wonderfully subtle acting style. I felt that she understood Victoria's problems perfectly well and she tried to approach her with very much respect and dignity. This woman was famous for caring very much about formalities, the outside. And as I see, she was also a bit of a drama queen, too. In the movies, she has dramatic outbursts. Sometimes it's just tears and whining, sometimes she even loses her temper. Victoria was a very moody person who liked to take control of everything. Judi nailed this side of her just perfectly. All the dramatic scenes were handled well by her and she was neither too over-the-top nor too subtle. She found the perfect balance between the faces of this complicated woman.

Dame Judi's chemistry with Billy Connolly is just excellent. Every time they are together on the screen, it's a very intense scene, full of tension and sparkling. Although it's true that Dench is a way more talented performer than everyone else in this movie, she knew perfectly worked together with everyone. I loved the scene where John Brown announces his resignal to Victoria and she refuses it instantly. That tender confession there to Brown is just wonderfully played by Dame Judi. Also, I must mention the dinner scene where the Queen gets a little drunk. It's so full of humor and it was perfectly acted by Dench.

However, there's one thing that seriously works against Dench in this movie. And that's the lack of screentime and really greatly written scenes. Of course, she's wonderful as always but I would have loved to see something more gutwrenching and dramatic. The bit lightweight story drags Dame Judi's performance down a little bit.

Still, this is a wonderful performance by one of the greatest actresses ever on this planet. Although it may not be the best achievement of the brilliant Dame Judi Dench, she perfectly inhabited this very complex character and nailed the emotional scenes. This is excellent work that is a real joy to watch. It's not fantastic or mindblowing, it's "just" absolutely wonderful.
What do you think, dear readers? You've been so active in commenting lately, so thanks. :)