Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays!

So another year has passed. It was really much fun to write for you and discuss Best Actresses. I'm really looking forward to the other races to come. :) So I wish all of you a merry Christmas! Get the best out of Christmas, enjoy it, have fun! I send you all my love and best wishes. I made this picture with the ladies I've selected so far as the winners to celebrate: 

I want to wish you a merry Christmas with the usual picture as well (it's not the same without it) :D  

And finally the ranking of the nominees so far... 
  1. Jane Fonda in Klute
  2. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall
  3. Ingrid Bergman in Autumn Sonata
  4. Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves
  5. Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  6. Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction
  7. Sophia Loren in Two Women
  8. Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind
  9. Liza Minnelli in Cabaret
  10. Michelle Pfeiffer in The Fabulous Baker Boys
  11. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  12. Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story
  13. Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
  14. Jane Fonda in Coming Home
  15. Natalie Portman in Black Swan
  16. Charlize Theron in Monster
  17. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's
  18. Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo
  19. Halle Berry in Monster's Ball
  20. Susan Hayward in I'll Cry Tomorrow
  21. Sissy Spacek in In the Bedroom
  22. Leslie Caron in The L-Shaped Room
  23. Brenda Blethyn in Secrets and Lies
  24. Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity
  25. Penélope Cruz in Volver
  26. Meryl Streep in Ironweed
  27. Liza Minnelli in The Sterile Cuckoo
  28. Judy Garland in A Star is Born
  29. Anne Bancroft in The Miracle Worker
  30. Bette Davis in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
  31. Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter
  32. Sigourney Weaver in Aliens
  33. Jennifer Jones in The Song of Bernadette
  34. Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection
  35. Liv Ullmann in Face to Face
  36. Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence
  37. Julianne Moore in Far from Heaven
  38. Bette Davis in The Little Foxes
  39. Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class
  40. Kathy Bates in Misery
  41. Diane Lane in Unfaithful
  42. Jane Fonda in Julia
  43. Joan Fontaine in Rebecca
  44. Anna Magnani in Wild is the Wind
  45. Sissy Spacek in Carrie
  46. Helena Bonham Carter in The Wings of the Dove
  47. Frances McDormand in Fargo
  48. Fernanda Montenegro in Central Station
  49. Patricia Neal in Hud
  50. Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine
  51. Jane Fonda in The Morning After
  52. Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist
  53. Barbara Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number
  54. Katharine Hepburn in Long Day's Journey Into Night
  55. Geraldine Page in Interiors
  56. Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
  57. Annette Bening in Being Julia
  58. Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  59. Isabelle Adjani in The Story of Adele H.
  60. Julie Christie in McCabe & Mrs. Miller
  61. Natalie Wood in Splendor in the Grass
  62. Imelda Staunton  in Vera Drake
  63. Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace
  64. Jean Simmons in The Happy Ending
  65. Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins
  66. Julie Walters in Educating Rita
  67. Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal
  68. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth
  69. Katharine Hepburn in Suddenly, Last Summer
  70. Simone Signoret in Room at the Top
  71. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada
  72. Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia
  73. Glenda Jackson in Sunday Bloody Sunday
  74. Gabourey Sidibe in Precious: Based On the Novel Push by Sapphire
  75. Kim Stanley in Seance on a Wet Afternoon
  76. Pauline Collins in Shirley Valentine
  77. Irene Dunne in Love Affair
  78. Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  79. Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
  80. Meryl Streep in Silkwood
  81. Faye Dunaway in Network
  82. Anne Bancroft in The Pumpkin Eater
  83. Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge
  84. Cher in Moonstruck
  85. Jessica Lange in Music Box
  86. Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl
  87. Emma Thompson in Howards End
  88. Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
  89. Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin
  90. Claudette Colbert in Since You Went Away
  91. Carey Mulligan in An Education
  92. Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones's Diary
  93. Barbara Stanwyck in Ball of Fire
  94. Judi Dench in Mrs Brown
  95. Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth
  96. Geraldine Page in Sweet Bird of Youth
  97. Mary McDonnell in Passion Fish
  98. Catherine Deneuve in Indochine
  99. Greer Garson in Mrs. Parkington
  100. Susan Sarandon in Lorenzo's Oil
  101. Olivia de Havilland in Hold Back the Dawn
  102. Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People
  103. Susan Hayward in I Want to Live!
  104. Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl
  105. Rachel Roberts in This Sporting Life
  106. Jill Clayburgh in An Unmarried Woman
  107. Diahann Carroll in Claudine
  108. Liv Ullmann in The Emigrants
  109. Doris Day in Pillow Talk
  110. Irene Dunne in I Remember Mama
  111. Helen Hunt in As Good as it Gets
  112. Cicely Tyson in Sounder
  113. Valerie Perrine in Lenny
  114. Bette Davis in Mr. Skeffington
  115. Sophia Loren in Marriage Italian Style
  116. Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
  117. Faye Dunaway in Chinatown
  118. Helen Mirren in The Queen
  119. Kate Winslet in Little Children
  120. Barbara Stanwyck in Stella Dallas
  121. Kate Winslet in Titanic
  122. Sally Kirkland in Anna
  123. Eleanor Parker in Interrupted Melody
  124. Greta Garbo in Camille
  125. Lee Remick in Days of Wine and Roses
  126. Shirley MacLaine in Terms of Endearment
  127. Marlee Matlin in Children of a Lesser God
  128. Dorothy Dandridge in Carmen Jones
  129. Bette Davis in Dark Victory
  130. Anouk Aimée in A Man and A Woman
  131. Geraldine Page in Summer and Smoke
  132. Piper Laurie in The Hustler
  133. Michelle Pfeiffer in Love Field
  134. Jane Wyman in Magnificent Obsession
  135. Katharine Hepburn in Summertime
  136. Holly Hunter in Broadcast News
  137. Louise Fletcher in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  138. Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right
  139. Jessica Tandy in Driving Miss Daisy
  140. Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda
  141. Deborah Kerr in Separate Tables
  142. Luise Rainer in The Good Earth
  143. Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give
  144. Ida Kaminska in The Shop on the Main Street
  145. Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment
  146. Greta Garbo in Ninotchka
  147. Jennifer Jones in Love is a Many-Splendored Thing
  148. Maggie Smith in Travels with My Aunt
  149. Marie-Christine Barraul in Cousin Cousine
  150. Carol Kane in Hester Street
  151. Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider
  152. Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina
  153. Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point
  154. Shirley MacLaine in Some Came Running
  155. Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman
  156. Helen Mirren in The Last Station
  157. Olivia de Havilland in The Snake Pit
  158. Jane Alexander in Testament
  159. Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc
  160. Katharine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story
  161. Greer Garson in Blossoms in the Dust
  162. Joan Fontaine in The Constant Nymph
  163. Marsha Mason in Cinderella Liberty
  164. Anjelica Huston in The Grifters
  165. Isabelle Adjani in Camille Claudel
  166. Sissy Spacek in Crimes of the Heart
  167. Nicole Kidman in The Hours
  168. Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree County
  169. Elizabeth Taylor in Suddenly, Last Summer
  170. Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger
  171. Vanessa Redgrave in Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment
  172. Janet Suzman in Nicholas and Alexandra
  173. Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge!
  174. Greer Garson in Goodbye Mr. Chips
  175. Ingrid Bergman in For Whom the Bell Tolls
  176. Joanne Woodward in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams
  177. Judi Dench in Iris
  178. Jean Arthur in The More the Merrier
  179. Janet Gaynor in A Star is Born
  180. Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were
  181. Diane Keaton in Marvin's Room
  182. Kristin Scott Thomas in The English Patient
  183. Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point
  184. Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman
  185. Greer Garson in Madame Curie
  186. Joanne Woodward in The Three Faces of Eve
  187. Glenda Jackson in Hedda
  188. Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mamie
  189. Julie Christie in Afterglow
  190. Kathleen Turner in Peggy Sue Got Married
  191. Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues
  192. Joanne Woodward in Mr. & Mrs. Bridge
  193. Meryl Streep in One True Thing
  194. Joan Fontaine in Suspicion
  195. Geneviève Bujold in Anne of the Thousand Days
  196. Grace Kelly in The Country Girl
  197. Ellen Burstyn in Same Time, Next Year
  198. Deborah Kerr in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison
  199. Shirley MacLaine in Irma La Douce
  200. Lana Turner in Peyton Place
  201. Vanessa Redgrave in Mary, Queen of Scots
  202. Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown
  203. Emily Watson in Hilary and Jackie
  204. Bette Davis in The Letter
  205. Martha Scott in Our Town
  206. Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side
  207. Talia Shrie in Rocky
  208. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby
  209. Gwyneth Paltrow in Shakespeare in Love
  210. Naomi Watts in 21 Grams
  211. Samantha Morton in In America
  212. Gena Rowlands in Gloria
  213. Renée Zellweger in Chicago
  214. Salma Hayek in Frida
  215. Ann-Margret in Tommy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1987


So the much anticipated ranking is:

I was completely impressed by Sally Kirkland's performance as Anna. She communicated Anna's despair brilliantly and she has an extremely powerful presence on the screen. Although her movie drags her down, she's still really great as the aging actress. Still, there's something in me that's preventing me from being completely taken by her.

I was impressed by Holly Hunter to a certain extent, I wasn't as amazed by her as I was when I first saw her a couple of years ago. She still has a wonderful presence and she's a joy to watch but I felt something missing from her work. Very entertaining and loveable work but not something to fall in love with (for me). 

In an unbelievably amazing movie, Meryl Streep is unbelievably amazing as Helen Archer, a worn out, tired woman. She masterfully works with the emotions, brings the right amoung of commitment to the role and she identifies with the pain of Helen incredibly well. Not only is she wonderfully strange on the screen, but also really heartbreaking and disturbing. This unfairly rarely praised work of Meryl is just fantastic. 

Cher succeeds in every possible way with the character of Loretta Castorini. Although this may not seem to be a towering performance for the ages, it's so fantastic and incredibly entertaining anyhow and it displays Cher's talent brilliantly. Despite being relatively new to the craft, she was courageous enough to take a risk by being incredibly subtle. Each and every movement and delivery of hers is just perfect.

Great Glenn is just astonising in her iconic performance as Alex Forrest. She makes Alex a terribly human character whose actions seem to come from her desperation and not her evil nature. She brilliantly develops her character from a sexy, confident woman to a devastated wreck. She's chilling, heartbreaking and just unforgettable. A truly incredible performance by an amazingly gifted and dedicated actress.

So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Glenn Close 
Fatal Attraction
Why don't you love me, Academy?

Final thoughts: What a great year! The win was obvious though Cher came dangerously close (but then Great Glenn said she was not gonna be ignored :D). I enjoyed all of these wonderful performances, some more, some less. But you know it was really great to do a year that you were seemingly interested in. I was glad about the lots of feedbacks and arguments. I've wanted to do this year from the very beginning and now that it's over it all seems so cool, but I'm also a bit sad to let it go. :) This 1987 series was a dream come true for me. :)


  • Maggie Smith in The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne 
  • Stéphane Audran in Babette's Feast

About the next year: Well, I haven't decided it yet. It depends on a lot of things. First, I don't know if I have time to do a year till January unfortunately and I have to consider lots of other things. I haven't really decided it yet. :)

What do you think? 

Meryl Streep in Ironweed

Meryl Streep received her seventh Oscar nomination for playing Helen Archer, a very weary homeless lady alongside Jack in Ironweed. With hindsight and based on the Academy's love for Meryl Streep, her nomination for Ironweed could seem a very easy one but I wouldn't say that. Meryl didn't even get nominated for a Globe (which is stunning as they probably love her even more than the Oscars), she won no precursor awards and her movie wasn't that much of a hit, either. Moreover, with Sally Kirkland and Barbra Streisand campaigning tirelessly, Meryl's fair play behaviour could have seemed to take away attention from her. Nevertheless (thank God), she got her nomination for Ironweed. That being said, I think this might have been the only time when she was the fifth in the voting (OK, maybe also in 1998 and 1999). But who knows, when you get a nod without any precursor love that can mean a very strong support inside the Academy

Ironweed is an unbelievably great movie and definitely the best one that received a Best Actress nod in 1987. Hector Babenco's direction created such an intense atmosphere and the whole movie is so intense and wonderful. Each and every moment of it holds a punch for me. I was probably most impressed by it because I didn't expect to be. Jack gives a tremendous performance as Francis for which he easily should have won the Oscar. I strongly believe that it's one of his greatest works. He created a unique, unforgettable and haunting character and quite simply, I couldn't get enough of his acting. I was constantly amazed by his incredible presence and also the fact that he was able to put away his trademarks. 

And of course, there's the marvelous Meryl Streep. Although once it came naturally, nowadays I have a hard time calling Meryl Streep one of my favorite actresses. I always try to resist her and sometimes I really succeed, but eventually, I fall in love with her again and again. Yes, she might be a little too technical and calculating, however, once you get affected by her, you're lost. There are moments when I say "She's a magician, a genious." For instance when she starts singing as Helen Archer in Ironweeds. She's shy in the beginning and she gradually opens up to the audience until we get to find out that was just her fantasy. Besides the famous choice scene in Sophie's Choice, that's the best acted scene I've ever seen by Meryl. 

Meryl creates a suffering, weary woman who tries to escape somehow from the harsh, brutal reality of hers. The way Meryl displays Helen's emotions is just perfect: she doesn't overdo the tiredness and boredom of this woman, instead she makes her a very fascinating person. Helen dreams of being a star and actually, she becomes the star of this movie. Meryl is very often criticised for not disappearing enough into her character, however, I feel that this criticism of her is quite invalid in the case of Ironweed. Meryl Streep, the actress, is gone. There's Helen Archer and her life on the screen. 

Many people are arguing that Meryl's performance as Helen really belongs to the supporting actress category but that's something that I refuse to accept. True, she doesn't get lots of screentime, but the impact of Helen's character on the story is undeniable. In fact, for a while, Helen even takes the spotlight from Jack's character. For me the definition of supporting characters is that the movie and the story can work perfectly without them, they only make it more colorful. And frankly, Ironweed without Helen would be completely different. She probably embodies the dark life of Francis' life in which he gradually disappears. 

And Meryl plays Helen just like that: she often seems to be a ghost, a lost spirit who cannot find her way. Whenever she appears on the screen, her haunting presence captures our minds and souls. Once Meryl grabs you, there's no way to go. Meryl plays with the emotions so masterfully and it shows in this performance: she's incredibly disturbing, dazzling and puzzling (in a very good way). 

She adds so many layers to the character and she underlines them in short sentences or just one looks. Her scene in the church is just amazing and tells so many things about her character: she's basically a good person, she just has to make some "compromises". Again, the emotionality of the scene is just unbelievable.

I just cannot ignore her scenes with Jack, though. The good relationship between the two great actors truly shows: they make up an incredible couple. The way they are supporting and holding each other (sometimes literally) is just amazing. I really felt that they didn't try to outact each other, they were just really supportive. And this paid off: they really inspired each other to be better, to push a little further and try a little harder. 

SPOILER! According to a story, when they were shooting the death of Helen, Jack watched Meryl and he didn't feel her pulse. SPOILER OFF That's something I can easily believe: Meryl gave herself to this character so wonderfully, she was so committed to her that I couldn't have been more amazed if I tried. 

In an unbelievably amazing movie, Meryl Streep is unbelievably amazing as Helen Archer, a worn out, tired woman. She masterfully works with the emotions, brings the right amoung of commitment to the role and she identifies with the pain of Helen incredibly well. Not only is she wonderfully strange on the screen, but also really heartbreaking and disturbing. This unfairly rarely praised work of Meryl is just fantastic. 

What do you think? 

The conclusion comes either today or tomorrow. :) I don't know. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holly Hunter in Broadcast News

Holly Hunter received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Jane Craig, a neurotic television executive in the Best Picture nominated Broadcast News. In the very crowded 1987 Best Actress race, Holly was clearly the favorite of the critics' and yet I have a hard time believing that she was a very serious contender for the Oscar. I suppose she was fourth in the end or maybe third if she managed to get ahead of Sally Kirkland. I guess the fact that Broadcast News received a lot of other nomination might have given Holly the edge, eventually. The drawback of strong fields is that only one person can win the award. Something like that is about to happen in this year's race, too. It's full of great performances and there will be some left off or losing. 

Broadcast News is a very entertaining and interesting movie though I wouldn't call it the masterpiece that everybody makes it out to be. Its screenplay is very witty and smartly written but sometimes it just gets too much and more annoying than it should be. I guess the ones who loved Network will be disappointed by it and those who disliked it will take lots of pleasure in it. William Hurt gives a shallow performance as a shallow person: that might have been the point but I still wasn't impressed by him. However, it's Albert Brooks who gives the best performance of the movie. Although his character is incredibly unlikeable and annoying, he just excels in the part. I'd say he deserved to win the Oscar for it. 

Although Holly Hunter is a very talented actress in my book, there's something about her that's a bit annoying: her accent. It's a little bit too heavy for me and she has to overcome this obstacle to completely impress me. Not that she's not able to. In Broadcast News, however, she has to use all the qualities that I dislike about her the most. Therefore, it's very shocking that I liked her performance so much. 

Jane is a very weird character, who's incredibly difficult to get used to, but eventually, you develop a certain amount of sympathy towards her. While Faye Dunaway's Diana Christensen was almost a caricature of a stereotype, Holly adds some soul to this typical 80s careerist woman. In one of her first scenes, we can see her being hysterical and breaking down in a hotel bedroom, which could have been a very depressing start, but Holly was somehow able to turn it into something really lovely. Holly nails the humorous parts of this character: her scene when her lecture becomes a complete failure is just priceless. She displays some irony besides the humiliation of Jane. 

Holly's chemistry with both Albert Brooks and William Hurt is just wonderful (especially with Brooks). Holly showed wonderfully how differently Jane behaves in the company of both of these men. With Brooks' Aaron, Jane is more confident, humorous and their scenes give some of the best parts of the film. My favorite line of the whole movie is said in their argument (but that belongs to Brooks): "I think we have the kind of friendship where if I were the devil, you would be the only one to know." Hunter and Brooks play with each other so wonderfully that I just couldn't get enough og their scenes. With Hurt, things are a bit different. Whenever Holly is with him, her performance gets a little bit weaker and shallower. Her wittiness becomes a little bit annoying and I kind of felt she overdid those scenes. 

The bitchy and unbearable part of Jane is, nonetheless, perfectly handled by Holly. The scene where she gets the chance to pick the person who's sent to Alaska is simply hilarious: her delivery of "Jennifer!" is just wonderful. 

As I said, the comedy part of this character is just excellent and the same goes for her more dramatic scenes (her confrontation scene with William Hurt at the airport is just unforgettable), but there's just something that says to me that it's not enough. There's everything for me to completely embrace her: she's hilarious, she nails the dramatic moments, she develops a complete, multi-dimensional character, she has a luminous presence and yet it never becomes coherently amazing. By this I mean, she's amazing in bits and pieces but the whole thing doesn't reach the level of fantastic. However, I really cannot deny how wonderfully entertaining she is in certain scenes.

In the end, although I was impressed by Holly Hunter to a certain extent, I wasn't as amazed by her as I was when I first saw her a couple of years ago. She still has a wonderful presence and she's a joy to watch but I felt something missing from her work. Nevertheless, her line deliveries are pitch-perfect and her scenes with Albert Brooks truly make up for the weaker parts of her performance. Very entertaining and loveable work but not something to fall in love with. 

What do you think? Meryl's review comes tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction

Great Glenn Close received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Alex Forrest, a lonely, psychotic woman who's after a man with whom she had a brief affair in the movie Fatal Attraction. Considering the hit status of Fatal Attraction and the fact that Great Glenn had already received three Oscar nominations must have made her a serious contender for the Academy Award. However, unlike Cher she wasn't the sentimental favorite and unlike Sally Kirkland she didn't campaign as hell to win the award so she once again lost (and she's still Oscarless, what a shame on the Academy, it's disgusting). It's ironic that out of the five performances nominated it's only hers that became truly iconic and most frequently talked about. You know, time always tells which performances are really good.

Fatal Attraction is an excellent movie. It's not an art flick, it very much knows what the audience wants and serves it, but it's still just chilling and fantastic. Adrian Lyne is very talented at creating tension (in every way) and he's just great here. I think all the Oscar nominations were richly deserved for this movie and I guess Michael Douglas would have been deservedly nominated, too had it not been for his Oscar winning turn in Wall Street. Anne Archer, however, absolutely deserved to win the Academy Award for her excellent work as Dan's wife. In my opinion, Ellen Hamilton Latzen was also worthy of the nomination (I know, I know...)

But oh boy, this movie is about Great Glenn. And I love this woman, I truly do. I literally watch everything she's in (movie, television show and if I can see bits and pieces of her work theatre). She has an acting style unlike anyone that I know. There's something about her that draws me constantly, a kind of a special aura or radiation that keeps telling me all the time: "She's great. She's great. She's great. She's great. She's great.". And yes, she's Great Glenn and no I can't call her anything else. I might even say she's my favorite actress besides Jane Fonda. And according to most people, her finest hour was her work as Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction.

Fatal Attraction basically created a whole new genre with the crazy ex-girlfriend who's ruining happy families. And most of that is due to the marvelous and devastating performance of Great Glenn who's simply marvelous at communicating Alex's feelings and demons. The movie and the screenplay are quite standard and not very original (to say the least) and it was up to the actors (and especially Great Glenn) to elevate it to something really special. They all succeeded, especially Great Glenn who created one of the most iconic characters of all time.

If you have noticed, I just keep saying that Glenn is great and iconic but I don't give reasons why. The explanation is quite simple: no words can perfectly describe Great Glenn's gigantic power and force as Alex. From the first moment, her performance is just perfect. We get to see her for the first time at a party, being an ordinary 80s sexy woman. She presents Alex as a confident, smart and sexy woman with a sense of humor but also as someone who's very realistic about life. She's an incredibly seductive presence (I can only compare her to Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct) and you can easily see why Michael Douglas' character falls head over heels for her.

For me, the most wonderful aspect of this performance is the way Great Glenn develops Alex: she goes step by step, very carefully without being too obvious or forced in her acting. You can notice some small hints here and there so that you can say in the end "of course, that was the obvious thing for her to do." At first, she seems to be more and more proud, but she turns out to be a devastated, depressed person. SPOILER The scene where we see her attempting suicide is just perfectly played by Great Glenn. The amount of sadness and devastation that she displays in that scene alone is worthy of an Oscar, in my opinion. Thanks to her timing, it becomes just as shocking as it's dramatic. SPOILER OFF!

It's well-known how much Great Glenn prepared for this role and that she actually consulted with two psychiatrists about the part and played her according to the diagnosis. And she just chillingly shows the symptoms, actually, she does much better than the movie would have asked for. However, it's Great Glenn's careful approach to this woman that really paid off. Great Glenn realized that Alex is not just a woman who wants to take revenge on her lover, but a mentally ill person who's just desperate to have somebody in her life.

The movie, however, is constantly trying to drag Great Glenn down. With the famous rabbit and roller-coaster scenes, it's just trying to say that Alex is just a crazy witch but miraculously Glenn was able to play the character the way she deserved to be played. Alex seems like Ophelia who sinks deeper and deeper into mental illness. Her face is just devastating where Alex is turning the lamp on and off. I couldn't help feeling sorry for that woman and hate Dan for what she did to her. In a way, Alex's behavior is justified and Great Glenn emphasises that every story has two sides and unlike what we should believe, Alex is not a just a crazy bitch. She turned her very sexist movie into a really complex and fascinatig character study that doesn't cease to amaze the viewer. I guess that was the main ambition of Great Glenn and she more than succeeded. She makes the viewer compassionate about Alex's fate.

Alex's feeling are best shown by Great Glenn in the scene where we can hear her narration and watch her teary face in the car. Glenn (I always want to type Alex, that must mean something) is just chillingly brilliant there. I was naturally frightened by her but the whole thing was also deeply heartbreaking. She makes Alex so terribly human despite constant effort of the movie to make her the devil itself.

I guess that's why Glenn was disappointed that the original ending (where Alex commited suicide) was replaced by a showier, scarier ending, which would say that the movie won and Alex is a monster. However, Glenn was able to benefit even from this. She just kept up doing what she originally did and that's it. She did it as if it was what Alex would have done. She didn't overdo the craziness of Alex. and was a really haunting presence. However, I don't see the comparisions with Madame Butterfly this way which would have been so beautiful with the original ending.

In the end, I can say that Great Glenn is just astonising in her iconic performance as Alex Forrest. She makes Alex a terribly human character whose actions seem to come from her desperation and not her evil nature. She brilliantly develops her character from a sexy, confident woman to a devastated wreck. She's chilling, heartbreaking and just unforgettable. A truly incredible performance by an amazingly gifted and dedicated actress.

Don't tell me you were suprised! :) 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sally Kirkland in Anna

Sally Kirkland received her only Oscar nomination for playing Anna, a forgotten Czechoslovakian actress having great difficulties in New York. Sally must have been really close to winning that Oscar. Before the 1987 Oscar race, she was an actress playing bit parts and being Shelley Winters' Goddaughter. Sally Kirkland started campaigning alone with the help of Winters to get her performance and movie recognised. However, things are not easy when you're practically unknown in a tiny film with no stars and when you're nominated with legendary actresses giving iconic performances. Sally pulled of a win from the Globes   but she didn't manage to get the coveted Academy Award. I guess the Academy was too eager to give the award to Cher plus I think the second was Glenn with Sally being the fourth at best (I just don't see them voting for her, sorry). 

Anna is an awful movie, simple as that. It's incredibly slow, boring, meaningless, unoriginal though it has some great moments. There was nothing in it that really caught my attention (OK, one thing) and the whole thing was just dragging along. Now compare this to the movie of the other nominees and you'll instantly see why Sally lost the Oscar. I mean there's Moonstruck, a wonderful movie full of heart, Fatal Attraction, the huge blockbuster or the wonderfully witty Broadcast News (haven't seen Ironweed yet but I'm sure it's better than Anna). I guess Academy voters were just as bored by it as I was and didn't want to watch it, not even for Sally. Honestly, this movie was one of the worst ones that gave a Best Actress nominee. 

So Sally Kirkland. Honestly, I can't say a word about her. The performances of hers that I've seen from her were very bit parts in The Sting and The Way We Were so I really cannot judge her talent. She's almost completely forgotten by now and we could only see her arriving four hours early to the Oscars. She's become a symbol of agressive self-paid campaiging and is made fun of regularly because of that (at least they talk about her). I wonder why people didn't mention her when talking about Melissa Leo's idiotic self-promotion. The two ladies clearly have a lot of things in common. 

Sally plays Anna, a forgotten, aging Czechoslovakian actress who takes care of a young girl, Krystyna from her country. Anna thinks Krystyna has the potential to become a big star and she indeed succeeds while Anna has to make do with being an understudy. Anna is typically a character that you feel really sorry for. She's really down on her luck, worn out and tired. In a way, she's like Margo Channing, with the exception that Margo was an acclaimed, celebrated actress and Anna has difficulties making it in America. She was a huge star in her home and it's actually quite painful to see her reminiscing about her days of glory. Sally is great at making the viewer sympathize with Anna. However, we also see that she leads a very miserable life and she's a rather pathetic person. Personally, I just wanted to go to her and do something about her career and shout at people: don't you see how much talent she has? Her audition scene is really heartbreaking. We can see that she's way above the things that she has to do.

Anna is typically a character who has a very tragic background story with the revolution, the dead baby and the alienated husband. Kirkland got very juicy monologues from Agnieszka Holland, the wonderful director who penned Anna's screenplay (surprising) and Sally used every opportunity to shine in this part. She puts an incredible amount of emotion into them and it's impossible not to be impressed by her determination to get her part right. It could come off as pushing for attention and in a way it's right but we must not forget how wonderful she is as Anna.

She works quite well with her co-stars and her scenes with Paulina Porizkova are just great. They are like a mother and a daughter, an older actress and a younger actress. In a way they are like Margo and Eve but there's a big difference. Anna and Krystyna are never bitchy with each other and they are much more genuine and supportive. That aspect of the movie is very poorly worked out unfortunately but the actresses were able to save it from being totally weak and forced.

My favorite part of the whole film is Anna's breakdown on the stage. It's a very loud, over-the-top moment that's solved by Sally wonderfully. She never completely overdoes it, only as much as the character required.  All in all, I felt that Sally wonderfully identified with Anna's pain and sorrow.

I probably would have been much more amazed by Sally if she had been in a better movie. Unfortunately, Anna is such a bad movie that it's constantly trying to drag down Sally. In a great movie, she would have been brilliant, this way she's just really great, which is kind of annoying, considering how much more Sally could have given us.

But all in all, I was completely impressed by Sally Kirkland's performance as Anna. She communicated Anna's despair brilliantly and she has an extremely powerful presence on the screen. Although her movie drags her down, she's still really great as the aging actress. Still, there's something in me that's preventing me from being completely taken by her. However, it was a personal triumph for me to get the very hard-to-find movie that I had been looking for over two years. So I'm really content. :)
What do you think?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cher in Moonstruck

Cher got her second Oscar nomination and won the Academy Award for playing Loretta Castorini, a widowed Italian-American book keeper in Moonstruck. I can imagine that Cher's triumph was very much like Sandra Bullock's win two years ago: a beloved superstar got her due for an unshowy, lightweight role. Lilian Gish was actually quoted after failing to receive a nomination "At least I don't have to lose to Cher.". However, I see a big difference between Cher and Sandra. Cher actually gave a great performance, which was really lovely and that's probably (besides her superstar status) what gave her the edge over Sally Kirkland who campaigned as hell with the assistence of her Godmother, Shelley Winters.

I love romantic movies with traditionally huge families and boring, aging women turning out to be beautiful. That's the reason I go crazy for films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Moonstruck. Although they don't have much artistic value, they are masterfully entertaining without being overly sentimental, soappy or vulgar. They are nothing but good fun with great writing, directing and actors. John Patrick Shanley richly deserved the Academy Award he took home for Best Original Screenplay. I'd say the same about the nominations of Gardenia and Dukakis though I'm not 100% sure if I completely agree with the win of Dukakis (I guess I need to see the others, too).

What can you say about Cher? I mean, she's such a great performer and a legend in every possible way: she sings, she acts, what doesn't she do? Exactly. I can talk about her only in superlatives and it would be boring to talk about how great she is. I guess it was obvious that she would win the Oscar after losing to Linda Hunt back in 1983. She had a blockbuster on her side, she was loved by everyone, it was no wonder she received a huge standing ovation. Although fellow nominee Glenn Close's role as Alex in Fatal Attraction is the most iconic one of the group, Cher also managed to deliver a famous line "Snap out of it." while slapping Nicolas Cage (something that many of us wants to do nowadays). 

Loretta Castorini is aging, she has an awful boyfriend who asks her to marry him and she's a totally unshowy character at first sight. It takes a very talented performer with a strong and interesting personality to make such a character really intriguing and that's why I feel that Cher was such a great choice to play her (it's hard to imagine the original choice, Sally Field as Loretta though it would have been really interesting). She brought the right amount of charisma to the movie and the result was something completely irresistable. I felt as if I was watching a flower blooming not an actress playing a part. 

Nowadays it's kind of natural that famous singers star in feature films but I can hardly imagine Beyoncé or Christina Aguilera showing such talent and versatility as an actress that Cher did. She developed Loretta's character with such confidence and ease. It's just really amazing to see Cher seem so great and professional in this part while also preserving her "rough diamond" aura. She's very subtle throughout the movie and she avoids overdoing certain aspects of Loretta. She's a very "Italian-American" character, if you know what I mean but Cher plays her with very subtle mannerisms and she emphasises the lovely attributes instead of the stereotypes in her.

Cher gorgeously shows more and more layers of Loretta and becomes a totally irresistable presence. Loretta is a quiet and a bit reserved person but certainly not shy and she's not afraid of speaking her mind. Cher's nothing short of incredible in the very famous slapping scene: Cher immortalized the line "Snap out of it!". I loved that Loretta shows that she's a very down-to-earth person who doesn't believe in curses and yet she does everything bad in this movie just to avoid bad luck. Again, this could have been overdone by Cher and yet she found the perfect balance.

The "ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan" storyline is one of the oldest and most boring ones every and yet Cher and her wonderful movie makes it all work fabulously. In her bit ironic and very humorous interpretation even the most cheesy things work. She did the best by not taking her character too seriously. I guess that's why she was such a great choice to play Loretta: she had much to learn as an actress and she turned out to be fantastic eventually. Moonstruck is a development story not only for Loretta but also for the amazing Cher (who went on to give one of my favorite performances ever in Tea with Mussolini; Why wasn't she nominated for that one?). She wasn't afraid of taking risks (nobody could ever accuse her of that) with Loretta. By underplaying her, she risked being lifeless and boring but her instincts were right: this was the best possible way to play Loretta.

Cher succeeds in every possible way with the character of Loretta Castorini. Although this is not a towering performance for the ages, it's fantastic and incredibly entertaining anyhow and it displays Cher's talent brilliantly. Despite being relatively new to the craft, she was courageous enough to take a risk by being incredibly subtle. Each and every movement and delivery of hers is perfect and we get to see wonderful acting that carries Moonstruck fabulously.

What do you think? 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Next Year


So the nominees were:

  • Cher in Moonstruck
  • Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction
  • Holly Hunter in Broadcast News
  • Sally Kirkland in Anna
  • Meryl Streep in Ironweed
A truly WOW year, that I've wanted to do ever since I started these reviews. I'm eager to watch and rewatch these performances and movies that cover a wide range. Careerist women, aging women, tired women and one of them doesn't like being ignored. Oh, I'm über excited!

What do you think? Who's your pick? What's your prediction for my ranking? :) 

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1955


So the much anticipated ranking is:

I would be lying if I said I wasn't really moved by this performance. To some, this work of Jennifer Jones would be flat and uninteresting, but I really enjoyed every minute of it. Although it's not a grand achievement by today's standards, it's an incredibly moving and loveable piece of work. Jennifer excels at showing Suyin's humility and pure emotions. Again, this is nothing fantastic but something really lovely.

In a role that's the least baity of her category, Katharine Hepburn excels. It takes some time to fully realize her greatness as Jane Hudson, but the outcomes are simply astonishing. Kate injected an incredible amount of charm into the character that made extremely loveable. And eventually, it's Kate's charisma and fascinating personality that makes her completely irresistable here. 

Eleanor Parker's vibrant, wonderful performance as Marjorie Lawrence is a real treat to watch. She approached this character in a very odd way (for her time) and the result is something endlessly charming and impressive. She does way more than I expected her to do and gets the most out of this showy, interesting part. A really pleasant surprise coming from a hard-to-find movie.
Anna Magnani is all around brilliant as Serafina Delle Rose. The intensity of her work is just amazing and you can't take your eyes off her. Her scene in the church alone deserved an Oscar, not to mention her whole work. She's highly emotional, over-the-top and theatrical and yet it all feels brilliant because of her extraordinary talent. Unforgettable performance.

An unbelievably great performance, which I (sort of unexpectedly) loved from the very first minute. Susan is simply marvelous at showing Lillian's pain and struggle with alcohol and makes her film extremely disturbing and hard to watch. However, she also makes an unforgettable impression that hits you really hard in your guts. In her signature role and personal favorite work, Susan Hayward is fantastic. And she sings, too!

So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Susan Hayward
I'll Cry Tomorrow
Cheers, Susan... :)

Final thoughts: A great year with two amazing performances. Deciding between the two was incredibly difficult. I was surprised by how great the others were. Yes, Jennifer is the weakest link but she was also really lovely. I've never really warmed up to Kate so after a few days my appreciation for her work cooled down a bit. Eleanor was, however, so wonderful but I need to be less generous with the grades. So the ranking was not that difficult in the last 3 places. 

About the next year: All I can say is FINALLY! A year with at least two iconic quotes, one iconic character (or even more) and at least four brilliant actresses. I've been hunting (literally, well, almost) for one film for a long time and now I have it! I almost gave it up, my mind constantly said "Snap out of it!" but then the year said to me "I'm not gonna be ignored, Dan." 

What do you think?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo

Anna Magnani received her first Best Actress nomination and won her only Oscar for playing Serafina Della Rose, a devastated widow in the Best Picture nominee, The Rose Tattoo. Looking at the list of awards Anna won for this performance, I wonder why she was so convinced that she would lose the Oscar. I guess she must have thought Susan Hayward was the Hollywood darling who had to win. When she was told she won, she threatened to kill the reporter who informed her that she would kill him if it's not true. It was as true as possible and she even went to receive another nomination (and also should have won another Oscar). 

The Rose Tattoo is an excellent piece of work by Daniel Mann, the same man who directed I'll Cry Tomorrow. It's funny that he played the midwife in the birth of the two finest female performances of 1955. Just like I'll Cry Tomorrow, The Rose Tattoo is endlessly intriguing picture with many interesting aspects. I especially loved the first part of the movie with the focus on Magnani's character but I liked the second half much more than I did last time. Sure, Burt Lancaster overacts as hell in his part as the idiotic guy falling for Serafina but he actually had to play an idiot. He wasn't as awful as I remembered. Marisa Pavan also improved on a repeated viewing. 

However, the most important reason why the whole movie works is the wonderful, superbly talented Anna Magnani. I cannot judge Anna objectively because of the very fond memories of her. I've seen lots of her films when I was a child (she's my father's favorite actress) and I learned not to see her but feel her. Who cannot be charmed by her short scene as herself in Fellini's Roma. The way she says "Ciao! Buona notte!" is just incredibly and has such force with those two short sentences that just blows up the screen. She's 300% talent that shines through the screen even in the smallest part. So I ask again: can I judge Anna objectively? No, and honestly, in her case, you don't even have to. 

Serafina is such a fabulous part which fits Anna Magnani like a glove, it's as if Tennesse Williams had written it for her. Wait, he did write Serafina to the wonderful Anna. :) It's funny that Anna is such a significant presence and her own personality always shines through the movie and yet she disappears in the character of Serafina. To such an extent that it's hard to imagine any other actress (including the wonderful Maureen Stapleton who played Serafina on Broadway) taking on this part. Anna made Serafina her own and she's just incredible at showing her emotions. 

Whenever you see Anna Magnani in any movie, you experience something like an earthquake. Anna is neither like Meryl Streep in precision or Deborah Kerr in her subtlety and dignity. I felt she did what she felt was right and it always work. She was born to become an actress and her instincts came from a magical place, a place that's perfect. I can only repeat myself: what a force on the screen! She's incredible at showing the true love and afterwards the real desperation of Serafina. Just watch the scene when she gots the news of the death of her husband. The way she slowly touches her neck is just just gutwrenching. With this one movement shows so much and its truly a wonderful moment.

After her husband's death, Serafina goes into despair and she falls apart. Anna is wonderfully worn out in these scenes. She communicates Serafina's lack of interest in living without her husband. I guess it's a great thing that we never actually see her husband in full because that we he becomes more of a myth and a god just like Serafina always talks about him. That man brought all the happiness to her and Anna is so fantastic at showing Serafina's more tender side when she's about to reveal the news of her pregnancy to her sleeping husband who honestly doesn't listen to her. Like Serafina describes it to the priest in a wonderful monologue, she gave her "baron" husband glory despite being only a peasant girl. I think there's a not-so-strange parallel between Anna and Serafina. Anna herself had a very stormy relationship with Roberto Rossellini which ended after he impregnated Ingrid Bergman. Anna thought of Rossellini as an idol and started to write hundreds of letters to "the northern woman". Anna brilliantly used her own inner demons and pain to create this character and the result was something unbelievably intense. Intensity describes Anna's whole acting style that's rarely been better represented than in The Rose Tattoo (I think only Rome Open City and Mamma Roma, her two best performances did that).

The highlight of her work here is undoubtedly the scene in the church where she talks about her marriage and  begs the priest to reveal to her what her husband confessed (I especially loved the former). The range of emotions she displays there is just unbelievable. It goes from pure love through bitterness to complete despair. She covers her head and she looks like a ghost who came back to haunt you - and I suppose that scene will haunt anyone who sees it for a long time. Its impact is indescribably strong, which only Anna can do, I think. And I figured that with any other actress, that scene would have been awfully over-the-top and theatrical.

Most people think that from there, her whole performance goes downhill. Although I admit that it doesn't reach the impact of that one scene, I felt it was just as intense as the beginning. It's also incredible - but in a different way. The tone of her work becomes lighter and much more entertaining. I guess it represents how Burt Lancaster's character has changed Serafina and made her feel great again. However, after a while, she returns to the original Serafina who's loud and incredibly devastated. The scene where she sees the rose tattoo once again is just marvelous: it evokes the best parts of the whole film and it really is a fantastic moment. Just like the one where sher confronts her late husband's lover at the blackjack table (=slaps her, I guess she must have thought of Ingrid).

The scenes with Marisa Pavan are, in my opinion, a bit useless for the main storyline but that doesn't prevent Anna from giving her best there, too. She uses them to emphasise Serafina's changes even more, plus they are incredibly entertaining, especially the one where she talks about her daughter's and her boyfriend's "innocence".

Anna Magnani is all around brilliant as Serafina Delle Rose. She gives the essence of her own very unique acting style and she plays Serafina to perfection. The intensity of her work is just amazing and you can't take your eyes off her. Her scene in the church alone deserved an Oscar, not to mention her whole work. She's highly emotional, over-the-top and theatrical and yet it all feels brilliant because of her extraordinary talent. Magnificent, unforgettable performance.

What do you think?

Note: The Final Conclusion comes on Monday or maybe Tuesday.