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? 

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you didn't go nuts for her, she was good, maybe very good but not Oscar worthy at all in my opinion (I prefer her work on Suspect that year).

Anonymous said...

I love the movie,but would give her little less.But Cher has never been movie superstar at all,as a singer maybe.

Louis Morgan said...

I recall she was good but I did not love her performance by any means. I will be rewatching her performance very soon though.

Sage Slowdive said...

I am a Cher fanatic, and I think there is alot of fascinating things to discover in her performance here. The early way she plays stone faced compared to later on when she gets a little more loose, yet still holding that same facade. I still think it's a 5 star performance.

Anonymous said...

She gave a very entertaining mamma-mia routine, but not Oscar worthy.

Eddie

dinasztie said...

Sage: I agree with what you say but for me that's only enough to give her a 4,5. :)

mrripley said...

Would you have given either Lillian Gish or Bette Davis in the Whales of August nominations,Cher deserves to win in 87 'cos Glenn would win in 88 for me.

dinasztie said...

Never seen Whales of August.

You said once you liked to spread the wealth. Not me. I like giving tons of wins to ladies I love. :)

hey deanie said...

Incredibly wonderful work from Cher. She is so dynamic.

And I'd check out The Whales of August, by the way – it's a beautiful movie!

dinasztie said...

OK, if I have time, I'll definitely check it out (and if I can get it).

Anonymous said...

She was brilliant in Moonstruck. Her performance is very natural. I've watched the movie several times and I never tire of it. From the opening scenes at the Met, to the closing "a la familia" toast, it's absolute perfection. Cher strikes me as a generous actress and her scenes with each supporting player in the movie are so wonderful. Can't say enough good things about her or about this wonderful movie!

Tommy Baruno said...

I remember watching Anna by Sally Kirkland, the role earned her a Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama, her acting is breathtaking, but Cher is indeed a megastar, that year she released another mega hit If I Could Turn Back Time after tons of platinum albums and number one variety TV show. It helped her to gained bigger voting than relatively unknown Sally Kirkland.