Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year and a New Beginning

I wish you all a very happy new year with lots of fun, laughter, joy and great movies to watch! And of course, a great party for New Year's Eve! :) 

I hope you won't have a New Year's Eve like these people had

And especially poor Shelley: 

But here I am, announcing how my blog will change in 2013. I was seeking new ways for myself and how I can share all my movie- and tv-related thoughts besides my teeny-tiny tweets and then I suddenly realised: I have two blogs! It also seems crazy that I'm only doing Best Actress reviews here so I sort of comibined these two blogs. It feels like I'm only watching these movies and care about such things in terms of movies. No ways. I want to go deeper and explore more areas, Oscar, not Oscar, Europe, television, you name it. This all means more regular posts and various subjects, also hoping that this will lead to more conversation and discussion. I will go on with the Best Actress years and I'm gonna finish it. :)

In the past few days you saw two of the examples how my blog will look like from now on (I didn't get much feedback so I'm assuming you're all fine with the changes).

But as I said, I'm not even remotely finished with Bets Actress. Hilary's review is coming as soon as I have time. I'm also going on with revisiting some years that left me some doubts. Truth to be told, sometimes I did my ranking according to what I thought was right (or wanted to be) and not what I really felt. My new goal is to allow myself to be wrong and surprise you and also myself (if you know what I mean). 

So here's one revised year where there's a shocking change. Some of you may have noticed, some of you may not but see it to believe it (I changed the winner's review a little bit, added some new elements). More to come. :) 

Happy New Year everyone! :) May Captain Nielsen guide you to safer seas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The perfect movie for the holidays

Whenever you want entertaining life lessons, you turn to one person and that is...

Yep, Woody pretty much knows it all. Although my absolute favorite of his is Annie Hall (quite easily), around Christmas, there's a movie I just cannot miss and that is...

Hannah and Her Sisters, the bittersweet masterpiece is just the perfect holiday movie. It's a brilliant summary of life, our world as well as the best movie of the eighties (for me). Now I've seen it 8 times (counting the one two hours ago).

The movies chapters all offer different views and perspectives of life that get even richer and richer at each viewing. It's marvelous to me how Woody's brilliance truly unfolds to me over the years, since there are so many aspects of his movies that I become fascinated by. Things that I previously barely noticed or even ignored. 

This year, for me, that is the wonderful, stunning visuality of the movie. People so easily ignore the visuality of "small" movies like the ones made by Woody. The cinematography of Carlo Di Palma is just stunning and its best proof is the lunch of the three sisters. The way the camera gazes at the expressions of the sisters combined with the fabulous performances that these three ladies give and the flawless directing is an unforgettable experience.

Hannah's worries, Holly's nervousness and Lee's shame are all perfectly captured. It's like looking into three different souls at the same. Although Dianne Wiest was the one winning the Oscar (and deservedly so, she's my favorite winner in that category), the two other sisters are not less brilliant than she is. Barbara Hershey's performance is incredibly painful, but also uplifting, making her probably the emotional core of the story. Mia Farrow does an amazing job holding the movie together with her character: it's so easy to ignore her merits in the movie, but once you've seen this film many times, you recognise the amazing job that she does here. And no words are necessary to describe Dianne Wiest: she's the one you relate to, the easiest person to love in this whole story, despite playing a neurotic mess. The way Wiest portrays how Holly longs for love is just amazing and makes this character so relatable (her scene in the cab is one of the greatest ones ever made). 

Hannah and Her Sisters give us scenes from life tha feel so close and real to what we experience every day. One says you watch a movie to escape reality and to see something different as Haneke says "24 lies per second". But as Woody proves it, it can be "the truth, 24 frames per second", Hannah and Her Sister is a mirror in which we can all observe our lives and what we know and think about this world. And that's the best thing one can get at Christmas or any time of the year. 

Happy Holidays once again! :)

Happy Holidays!

First of all, let me wish you a merry Christmas! :) Unfortunately, I can't post the usual picture, but I hope your holidays will be as peaceful as it will be for the owner of this house: 

Really, all I want for Christmas is an infinite season of Homeland, with all the scenes being between Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin.

I watched these two over the years and their duo is one of the most powerful ones on television ever. In some ways, they are like Great Glenn and Rose Byrne were on Damages, a teacher and a faithful student, like a parent and a daughter.

I don't want to get into how brilliant these two actors are separately. Claire is a natural: many say she's been this brilliant since 1994, I'd say she's been this brilliant since 1979. Her talent and skills only compare to the greatest: she has such an overwhelming talent, like that of Great Glenn, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett or, of course, Jane Fonda. I hope she's winning an Oscar someday (she certainly gives Oscar-worthy performances week after week on Homeland). And then there's Mandy Patinkin, who's also insanely fantastic. His more subtle approach to his character is a wonderful counterpart to Claire Danes' untempered brilliance. His facial expressions speak volumes. It's an outrage that he didn't win the Emmy last year for The Weekend (he wasn't even nominated). The way he expresses Saul's almost unconditional acceptance of Carrie, his care is just outstanding and he amazingly underlines how Saul would be a lonely and bitter old man without the crazy and moody Carrie. His fear and desparation in the last scenes of the season (and his ultimate relief) is a testament to that (oh, his prayer in that brutal finale was harrowing). 

In my humble opinion, they are the engines of this fantastic shows. Many are celebrating Damian Lewis as the great discovery and while I admire his work a lot, too, for me it's all about Danes and Patinkin.

Since Christmas is also about being generous and unselfish, I'll probably give up on that infinite, private Homeland season and I'll just wish a Golden Globe for Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin, respectively because they are both, well...


Now you got a sneak peak of how my blog will change next year. It'll include more subjects, more topics, not only Best Actress reviews (I'll go on with those as well with sometimes radical changes in the old rankings). I guess I'm trying to just reinvent myself. :) But more on that later.

Happy Holidays everyone! :) I'll post in the evening as well. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Annette Bening in American Beauty

Annette Bening is not a really lucky lady in terms of Oscar wins. She came incredibly close to winning the Golden Boy not less than three times (well, it might be four if we count The Grifters as well) and she was upstaged by the same person twice. And she's Hilary Swank. There was enough sentiment both times to reward Bening, she was the more acclaimed and respected actress, a true diva. However, like Great Glenn, Annette has never been good at having the critics on her side, which eventually led to her being Oscarless. Of all her nominations, the loss for American Beauty was the biggest and yet personally, it might probably my least favorite of all her nominations.

The roots of all my problems with Bening's performance are in the movie itself. Although at the age of 14, it seemed to be the best movie ever, nowadays I find American Beauty to be pushy, overcooked and even manipulative. First of all, it's so obsessed by the aesthetics and just tries so hard the communicate all the beauties of life. That being said, I'm still stunned by the genious Conrad L. Hall's great cinematography (that 100% deserved the Oscar though it had some serious competition from Sleepy Hollow) and the wonderful art direction (which deserved a nomination at the very least). I can even praise Thomas Newman's catchy, heartbreaking score and yet I feel that Sam Mendes wasn't able to use all these wonderful things properly to have a great effect. But don't get me started on Alan Ball's screenplay, because I'll get really mad. 

There's something similar about Annette Bening's performance here: Bening is a natural source of greatness and brilliance (even though it took me some time to see it). In American Beauty, she stuck with a part that many people imagine would be an actress' dream: for me, however, it's nothing but an overwritten, gross, one-dimensional caricature of the suburban lady who doesn't even get as much screentime as I remembered. In fact, I thought that most of the time, Carolyn Burnham was present in the role of a court jester with over-the-toplines that would make even Diana Christensen blush in comparision. She cries, she screams, she laughs, she's SOOO mean she's VERY pretentious, she' REAAAALLY phony and all she needed was REALLY being nailed by a real estate king and taking shooting lessons. While Kevin Spacey is provided with an arc for her character, Annette is left with some crazily exaggerated, over-the-top scenes. 

This could have been one of the worst performances ever that people still would have loved if it wasn't for Annette Bening. As I said (and I want to emphasise over and over again), Bening is a natural resource of acting greatness and she's excellent even under the most awful circumstances. What I appreciate the most about this performance is how dynamic and vivid Bening actually is in the role. She actually was able to make the screenplay work in her favor in many ways: she didn't decide to tone down the character a little bit and instead, she chose to go all the way with Carolyn. It was a very risky move on her part though I'd say if she hadn't done crazy overacting here, this would have turned out even shakier than it is. 

As I've previously mentioned, Carolyn is written as a gross caricature, which would be fine considering the subject of the film (the pretentious and empty life of the American suburbs), but Alan Ball forgot about something: writing Carolyn as an actual human being. She's such an unbelievably consistent bitch that you'd hardly find one person like that in real life. There's absolutely no color and texture in her and yes, she's only there as a court jester. That being said, Annette (with her over-the-top acting) makes you remember Carolyn and in a way, added some humanity to this humanoid character and also made her, one of the better aspects of this movie.

If there's nothing else about Annette in this movie, she's memorable at the very least. She pulls off the entertainment part of this performance beautifully: she's nothing short of amazing in her deliveries of those crazy lines and she says them like nobody's business. Her "I will sell this house today" scene is, quite simply, brilliant. Her breakdown in the end is just brilliant: she really is like a baby whose candy was taken from her. The hysterics of Carolyn are played so brilliantly by Bening that sometimes you even ignore those major gaps in the character. In my humble opinion, if there's anything you can rely on in case you hate American Beauty, it's probably Annette. Weirdly enough, she gives the least pretentious and most honest performance of the cast despite playing the "obvious" #1 phony of the story. Just like Carolyn is a shameless phony, Annette is just shamelessly over-the-top here, not sweating (like the rest of the cast) to make this movie "mean something" to the audience.

I'd like to ask Annette privately what she herself really thinks about this character and the movie. I'm quite certain that she considers it one of the high points of her day career. I wonder, though, if it is about the richness of the character or the acclaim and the awards she received for it. It's neither her most demanding nor the most rewarding (both are easily be Being Julia in my view, that was tailor made for her and she was brilliant). She gained lots of fans with this role and I also bow before her talent and her ability to save the movie. However, that's because she so wonderfully saved the movie with her crazy acting and she was the only character that eventually carries some emotional weight. With all the exaggerations and the hysterics, Bening showed a more human side of Carolyn that the story so carefully concealed.

While this might be my least favorite of her nominationsI really admire this performance of La Bening, partly because of the previously mentioned movie-saving and partly because we got to witness what a brilliant comedienne she really is. Her scenes are unforgettable and not only because of the hysterics, but also her amazing skills. She's doing some crazy overacting and goes way over the top, but I feel her acting seems even better compared to the rest of the movie.

What do you think?

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Annette Bening in American Beauty
  • Janet McTeer in Tumbleweeds
  • Julianne Moore in The End of The Affair
  • Meryl Streep in Music of the Heart
  • Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry
Since I'm busy and have absolutely no motivation to go on with 1938 (well, um, to start it), I'm doing a year I'm really interested in. :) This is the first Bening-Swank fight though it's not as controversial despite the fact that Swank won in an upset. And let's face it, this year looks pretty stunning to me. :)

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

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Farewell, Jane! :)

Studying Jane Fonda's performances has been a long and uplifting journey and in the end, I'm both sad and grateful. From my part, it started with a not too flattering review about her performance in Coming Home. Still, I consider that a significant step on my journey. Back then, I didn't get her (and quite frankly, I wasn't that open back then, I pretty much imagined a certain ranking for myself and adjusted my views to that) and I'm not sure that I understand her now, but I feel that I get her acting in general. And it's not about numbers for me, even though all of her performances received the maximum number of points and she was also my winner twice (and all the others being close runners-up). 

First and foremost, Jane Fonda's imperfect. You could find actresses who might pull off the technical part of a performance much "better" than she does and yet for me, she's the best of the best. All of the minor (or even major?) flaws add to her characters and her uncertainty about herself shines through the screen. She's not relaxed, she can be inconfident and this is what makes her so close to me as an actress and as a human being. She's able to reveal flaws of the characters like nobody's business and she can affect with her performances like nobody else. Her talent is somewhat confusing to me: it's all in her genes, it's in her flesh, acting is quite simply coming out of her. She's close to everyone in her performances: she can grab the attention of both an M.D. and a shop assistant. Her characters are so layered that it's just impossible not to find something to love and cherish about her.

And her astonishing beauty is worthy of thousand odes. She uses it so wonderfully and it makes her performances even more expressive and yes, attractive. What we see on the screen is a stunning actress with enourmous talent and a human being with a backbone of steel plus tons of dignity.

Reviewing Jane enabled me to go further into her career. Her development as an actress is worthy of another post. I'm kind of bitter that an "ordinary Oscar blogger" (who's not a big Fonda-fan) doesn't get to review her fantastic, effortless comedic work and doesn't get to witness her buzzing personality in Barefoot in the Park or Nine to Five. And yes, it's crazy that The Dollmaker was made for TV (I've reviewed it, too), that one should be an easy pick for 1984 Best Actress. She is indeed a miracle worker, turning even the most horrible pictures into something tolerable (at least) with her astonishing, relatable, sympathetic or hilarious acting (Monster-in-Law, Peace, Love & Misunderstanding or The Morning After). I actually don't even care about the quality of the movie she stars in if I can watch her.

I love you Jane! Thanks for the amazing experience!

So here we go again, all her (perfect-graded performances), in their infinite glories, demonstrating Jane's unbelievable, untoppable versatility: 

Gloria Beaty in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?
*1969 Champion*

Bree Daniels in Klute
*1971 Champion*

 Lillian Hellman in Julia 
*1977 Runner-Up*

 Sally Hyde in Coming Home
*1978 Runner-up*

 Kimberly Wells in The China Syndrome
 *1979 Runner-up*

Alex Sternbergen in The Morning After
*1986 Runner-up*

And for all these, Jane Fonda gets a big fat last

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 1979


So the much anticipated ranking is:

I cannot conclude that Marsha turns in some really special work in Chapter Two, her performance adds some life to the movie and prevent it from becoming a cure for chronic insomnia. Her luminous, interesting presence and impeccable delivery make you go on with the movie. Still she's not able to pull off the harder, more emotional scenes.

 Jill Clayburgh gives a really charming, likeable performance in Starting Over, that really is much better than the film it's in. She  creates a very human character that seems very easy to relate to. Although her chemistry with Burt Reynolds is not perfect, the most important thing is that Jill is able to tell you why Phil fell in love with Marilyn. Very enjoyable lightweight work. 

Bette Midler's performance is a real emotional roller coaster that's outstanding in every possible way and does so seeming natural all the time. She's everything that people like to see on screen, she indeed sings, dances and dies. I could mention her loud breakdowns, her amazing singing or her tender moments with Frederick Forrest, it wouldn't describe properly how fantastic she is.
Jane Fonda is nothing short of amazing in The China Syndrome. What could seem to be one of her least passionate performances is in fact one of the most mysterious and layered ones she's ever given. As usual, she commands every scene as well as develops her character beautifully, adding new layers and dimensions to her in every minute. Jane so wonderously portrays Kimberly's awakening and development as a person that you just marvel at every little detail in this performance.

Sally Field is perfect as Norma Rae. She developed this character with great care and expertise and you just constanly feel how much compassion she has for this woman. Every single scene, every single monologue of hers is exceptionally done by her, making it especially difficult not to fall in love with her and the character. A deeply affecting, wonderful, unforgettable performance, the true highlight of a great actress' career. 
So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Sally Field
Norma Rae
You got what you wanted Sally. :)

Final thoughts: What a year! Three truly knockout performances that will be really high in my ranking. No matter how strict I tried to be, the work of these three women was just unbelievable. Sally won this for me rather easily though I'm really sad that I can't say goodbye to Jane with another win. In the end, I narrowed it down to the two of them, Bette fell behind a bit (I love her and would be my pick in many other years). Jill and especially Marsha were far behind these amazing ladies, but I found many things to be respected and loved in there respective performances. Overall, a wonderfully interesting year, which is right up there with the best (1989 is still my favorite, though, for whatever reason, 1979 is very close). 

If you think that Jane won't get a special tribute after this, something's seriously wrong with you. :) She'll get it from me.

  • Vera Pap in Angi, Vera *My pick* (in a tie with Sally)
About the next year: I'll get to do a year from a decade I rarely cover, let's leave it there. Let's say that this is the very first Oscar year that Jane Fonda took part in (even if it was a small one) :)). I can't part with her, sorry. 

What do you think? Any thoughts on your mind?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sally Field in Norma Rae

I imagine how Jane Fonda, Jill Clayburgh and Marsha Mason all must have been like "DAMN!" when Sally Field took home the Oscar over them for a role that they all passed on. Sally Field basically swept all the awards for her performance as the textile worker Norma Rae, who's fighting for a union in Martin Ritt's Best Picture nominated film, Norma Rae. I don't really think that her win came as a surprise for anyone, save for Bette Midler maybe, who still seems to be somewhat pissed by this particular loss of hers. Although Sally may not have won by a landslide, I think she pretty much had it in the Oscar in the bag.

One of the reasons for having an advantage over others was that Sally Field was starring in an important, controversial movie that received a Best Picture nomination. And I have to agree with The Academy here: Norma Rae is a profound, upsetting and uplifting piece of work, which is a beautiful story of a woman's development as well as a political movie. It deserved all the nominations and was worthy of the Oscar for Best Original Song for the moving theme of "It Goes Like It Goes". I was also wondering whether or not the other actors deserved nominations for their respective performances. On the one hand, I'm not sure since 1979 was a strong year in Best Supporting Actor.

On the other hand, Norma Rae is The Sally Field Show and therefore she overshadows every other actor in the movie, no matter how beautifully they support her (this is not criticism in any way, it's more of an observation about the movie itself). If there's an actress to whom a one-woman-show is suitable, it's Sally Field who always dominates the screen with her non-apologetical, almost shameless emotionality. She approaches her characters emotionally rather than intellectuall, which made her the perfect choice for complicated women, like M'Lynn from Steel Magnolias, Maggie Wyczenski on ER (Abby's bipolar mother) or her latest role, Mary Todd Lincoln. And that's also why I think her work in Places in the Heart didn't work on every level. Her persona is just not fit for being toned down, she's way too vivid and colorful to play ordinary, repressed women.

Of all the possible choices for Norma's part, I don't have difficulties imagining Jane Fonda or Marsha Mason as Norma since I believe that both of them would have done an excellent job portraying the soul of a revolutionary (for Jane, it wouldn't have been a real challange) and yet I'm glad that even Jane turned down the part (mind you, this rarely happens to me). Sally Field made Norma Rae her own in such a way that she herself also disappeared completely into her. There are no boundaries anymore between the character and the actress. She applies The Method in the most in the most unusual and exciting way, fabulously adjusting herself to the character and vice versa.

I've seen people being turned off by Sally's very first scene where her character is yelling to the doctor about how her mother became deaf and although it indeed feels like being kicked in the butt right away, I felt that was necessary for the introduction to the character. Norma is not a person who likes beating around the bush, she's the kind of person who's wearing her heart on her sleeve and doesn't hold back anything. However, I felt that, unlike Bette Midler, Sally tried not to completely get carried away by the part because overacting could easily work with The Rose, but it could have ruined Norma's character completely. I was delighted by the fact that Field figured out that Norma was a raw and emotional person, not a wreck. Sally exceptionally balanced subtlety with over-the-top screaming and all of that served the character.

Also, what totally amazes me about this performance is that Norma Rae is not far as baity as it sounds, it's just a damn difficult part to pull off and yet Sally succeeded brilliantly. First of all, Sally's Southern accent is just impeccable and so believable that I actually looked up where she was born after I finished the film (she's a California girl, actually). It really is an authentic portrayal of a Southern working-class woman without any pity or feeling of superiority from the actor's part. Sally portrays Norma with the maximum amount of compassion and understanding.

And this is probably the greatest achievement of Sally, which was most definitely the reason why she won the Oscar: this passion about her character is almost contagious. Not only do we sympathise with her as her audience, but we also get to see her values, we get into her head and she revolutionises our way of thinking about the issue of the movie. I suppose Martin Ritt was aware of the fact that the movie's success and effect was all due to Sally and I guess choosing the actress who gave the world The Flying Nun was risky (even though she'd given an acclaimed performance in Sybil). However, Sally, in my opinion, did more than communicating "the message", she made us all decide what we think about the importance of an issue. And this kind of a move can be so refreshing among Hollywood movies when everything is all prepared for us and we don't even have to think. Sally touches both your heart and your brain as Norma.

Also, the way she develops this character is nothing short of extraordinary: she portrays Norma's awakening so brilliantly. She points out that Norma may not be the most educated or intelligent, but her courage and passion sets the screen on fire (to say the least). As I said, her passion is contagious. Norma is actually in many ways like Kimberly Wells from The China Syndrome: she gradually becomes aware of the world surrounding her and it's in every way an uplifting journey for the viewer as well. Sally didn't choose to be as subtle as Jane, I don't think one can hold that against her since subtlety simply doesn't fit the character.

Sally is seriously so fantastic in this movie and her acting works on so many levels that I can't even choose her greatest scene. If you're looking for a subtle one, her conversation with her children is the one that stands out the most: the quiet tenderness that seems strange from that character at first becomes so effective and heartbreaking in just two seconds and Sally conveys so many emotions in the that quietness. However, if you're looking for a big scene that went down in film history, the big riot in the factory has to be the standout. She's loud, unapologetic and totally brilliant and makes you associate the word "union" with her forever.

Quite simply, Sally Field is perfect as Norma Rae. She developed this character with great care and expertise and you just constanly feel how much compassion she has for this woman. Every single scene, every single monologue of hers is exceptionally done by her, making it especially difficult not to fall in love with her and the character. A deeply affecting, wonderful, unforgettable performance, the true highlight of a great actress' career.

What do you think? :) 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marsha Mason in Chapter Two

Marsha Mason received her third nomination in the Best Actress category for playing Jennie MacLaine, a fictionalized version of herself in the movie Chapter Two. Marsha hadn't received any awards for this performance, only a Golden Globe nomination in Best Actress - Musical/Comedy where she really didn't have much of a chance of winning, either considering she was nominated alongside the powerhouse performance of Bette Midler. I suppose Chapter Two combined with Promises in the Dark ensured Marsha's position in that year's Best Actress line-up. I'm not sure, though, if she was able to get ahead of Jill Clayburgh (probably not) so unlike the other years, Marsha didn't have any chance of winning (not even her biggest fans love this performance of hers as much as, say Only When I Laugh). 

Chapter Two, quite frankly, is a terrible movie that I have no intention of rewatching in the foreseeable future, only if someone's life depends on it. Although it's not Gloria or The Morning After level of horribleness, it's pretty much like Afterglow: pointless, boring, it's just dragging with the viewer literally praying for it to end quickly. I really admire Neil Simon as a writer, but I suppose his material always works much better on stage (except for the outrageously funny comedies, like The Odd Couple or Barefoot in the Park). His exagerrated, unrealistic style works wonderfully on stage, but leads to forced and boring movies that are uplifted by the performances. I must say, though, that nobody uplifts Chapter Two: not James Caan and not even my dear Valerie Harper. 

Well, nobody, except for Marsha Mason. Just like in Cinderella Liberty, Marsha doesn't give a totally amazing, mindblowing performance, but she illuminates the screen anyhow whenever she's present in a scene. Although I wouldn't say that I'm a huge fan of hers, I admire her luminous aura that's best displayed in The Goodbye Girl. It's true that that her marriage to Neil Simon gave some boost to her career, her performances have their respective merits as well. While Simon wrote some nice parts for Marsha, she was the heart and soul of these pictures.

That being said, in Chapter Two, Marsha had the easiest/hardest part: she basically had to play herself. Some people regard the performances of Gloria Swanson and Mickey Rourke in Sunset Blvd. and The Wrestler, respectively, as inferior ones since they basically recreate their own experiences. In those cases, you can easily dismiss these arguments since some similar events in the respective lives of these two performers only made the part more suitable for them. However, Marsha actually replays her life on the screen (in a fictionalised, more dramatised way, probably).

First of all, Chapter Two tries to become a touching potrait of two complicated people, searching for new meanings in life. In the beginning, Marsha's scenes rank with her best performances: her delivery is amazing, she gets all the lines, she's lovely, funny, dynamic and you just cannot wait to see more of her. Actually, I believe the scenes with James Caan kill her balanced, excellent work. First of all, Caan gives such a bored/boring performance that puts James Franco's Oscar hosting into shame. That being said, the chemistry could have worked between the two actors like it did in Cinderella Liberty, but, alas, it doesn't.

Also, while the movie was considered a Comedy at the Golden Globes, I felt it fell (flat) between Drama and Comedy. It pushed hard to be seen as serious, but Neil Simon just couldn't resist writing one or two ironic one-liners. As a result, for most of the time, the actors are standing there, completely clueless about what to do, hoping that the respect for Simon carries them to success. Unfortunately, I felt that abour Marsha as well. Sometimes she gave the character from The Goodbye Girl, sometimes she played her role from Only When I Laugh (in advance). I could almost see her crossing her fingers, saying "please let it go right". And it's actually right occasionally.

Still, the previously mentioned luminous presence of Marsha makes up for a number of things. Whenever the movie is unbearably boring and slow, Marsha makes you go on with the film. She develops her character quite well, actually, and it's interesting to see her how this movie obviously resonates with her own life. Although she's obviously playing herself, she fearlessly reveals intimate details about herself.

The movie gets a total chaos after the honeymoon and although Marsha seems to give up trying, she stands tall as much as the movie lets her. Although the last scenes seem to be painful recreations of The Goodbye Girl, I didn't mind, since Marha did what she does best: being charming and portraying happiness. Few people can deliver a happy ending like she does, that's for sure.

So I cannot conclude that Marsha turns in some really special work in Chapter Two, her performance adds some life to the movie and prevent it from becoming a cure for chronic insomnia. Her luminous, interesting presence and impeccable delivery make you go on with the movie. Still, since she's not able to pull of the harder, more emotional scenes, I'd say that this was more of a respectable, but a bit failed effort from a strong performer.

What do you think? And thanks to Alex again for providing me with access to the film!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bette Midler in The Rose

Bette Midler, also known as The Divine Miss M received her first Best Actress nomination for playing Mary Rose Foster, "The Rose", a tortured singer modeled after the late Janis Joplin in the movie The Rose. Although The Rose was obviously made as an Oscar vehicle for Bette Midler, Sally Field's Norma Rae stood in the way of Bette's Oscar dreams. Nevetheless, Bette was able to gain tons of fans of this work of hers and her supporters must have been backing her while voting though I suppose that wasn't enough to get ahead of Sally. Still, I believe Bette was a close second.

The Rose is a movie that doesn't offer anything revolutionary in its genre though I believe it's much better than Lady Sings The Blues (a movie made with very similar goals for the famous lead actress). At least the filmmakers in this case had the decency not to claim it was an autobiography so that they can adjust it to Bette Midler's talent and persona. Mark Rydell's never been a favorite of mine (the only film of his I enjoy is On Golden Pond, but that's mostly because the autobiographical connections with the Fondas) and this film is definitely not his masterpiece. Although sometimes it's painfully dragging along, it's intense enough occasionally to capture the viewer's imagination (I must add, though, that it can be because of The Rose's character and Bette's performance). Frederick Forrest gives a really proper performance that adds lots of balance to do movie and balances the over-the-top acting of Bette excellently. A well-deserved Oscar nomination.

And we have Bette Midler in her first big starring role as The Rose. At that point, Bette was no stranger to show business, having won Gramys and gaining acclaim for her work on stage. Since she was already a big star, it was time for her to break into the film industry as well and I believe there wasn't a better role for her to achieve that goal. It obviously has Oscar written all over it and it's very similar to the case of Diana Ross in 1972. Take the tragic life of a singer, adjust it a little bit to the lead actress and you can sit back and enjoy the superlatives. However, there's an undeniable difference between the two ladies: unlike Ross, Bette's talents are not restricted only to music, she's also a damn brilliant actress. Bette Midler essentially embodies everything that show business is all about: outrageous comedy, over-the-top drama, towering presence, singing, dancing, love, laughter and death.

Unfortunately, I'm not acquainted with Bette's singing career, but from what I heard, her songs are not the most earth-shattering rock records. While Mary Rose Foster's style couldn't be more different from what Bette's used to, The Divine Miss M's singing rock like nobody's business. I suppose this is the point when I can criticise myself why Bette's singing mattered here and why Marion's lip-syncing didn't in La vie en rose. Since people probably expected basically Bette's performance from Marion, it must have been quite a disappointment. However, Bette had an advantage over Marion: in Mary Rose Foster, she created a brand new character whose life was loosely based on that of Janis Joplin. It would have been just as difficult to imitate Janis' real voice (even for a brilliant singer like Bette), but Midler did something even more important: she evokes Janis Joplin's dazzling, fantastic aura that makes it so easy to understand why the whole world went crazy for her. Bette's turn is a Star Turn with a capital S and a capital T. :)

Not only does Midler perfectly recreate Janis' star power on the screen, she also points out spectacularly why people are so obsessed with this singer or any other star that they run on stage to touch her, too feel her close to them. Midler so effortlessly concludes that it's not only Janis Joplin that she recreated in The Rose. It's also The Rolling Stones, The Beatles or even stars like Michael Jackson, Madonna or Lady Gaga. Bette draws a perfect portrait of ultimate stardom: she portrays all the love towards stars, but also how this immense fame isolates them from the rest of society. In the end, The Rose is just as isolated and as much of an outcast as a homeless person.

And if you thought that this all was enough for a spectacular performance, you don't know the half of it. :) Bette brilliantly shows addiction and how damaging alcohol and drugs are to The Rose. She doesn't hold back at all and mercilessly reveals the torture of this woman, making this movie a real emotional roller coaster. The Rose is a real wreck in every possible way and her breakdowns are real treats for anyone who loves over-the-top acting. Although it's true that there isn't one subtle moment in Bette's performance, I think this chaos has an even greater effect on the viewer. I must quickly add, though, that Bette is perfectly aware of how far she can go and even though she's almost crossing the line, she manages to remain believable and harrowing instead of total crazy overacting.

The more tender and playful moments of this film come when Frederick Forrest enters the screen as Houston, the boyfriend of The Rose. His presence brings balance to the movie and Bette's performance and these two are playing off each other wonderfully and they show how these two people are changing each other's lives.

That being said, the most painful and harrowing moments of the movie comes when The Rose returns to her hometown. The Rose's desire of proving her own greatness to her folks at home is brilliantly portrayed by Bette and that's what makes her scene at the store just as painful as her phone call from the football field where she's nothing short of spectacular: she's able to show vulnerability and suffering so painfully that one just keeps marvelling at the intensity of Bette's performance. At the bottom, she holds everything back. This breakdown is different from everything that we saw from The Rose: it's not loud, not over-the-top, it's something deeper and more disturbing. Witnessing the last hours of a person's life is always hard for the viewer but Bette makes it almost unbearable. I tell you all, it's probably the greatest scene I've witnessed since the start of these reviews (it's up there with Jane's tape scene from Klute).

This intensity is what makes the very last scene of Bette even more cathartic and uplifting: what you can hear is just a divine voice that changed many lives. The death of The Rose is inevitable and Bette's singing makes it so dramatic and earth-shattering that only compares to an opera. And this is Midler's greatest achievement: showing all the emotions of a human being with her over-the-top but ultimately mindblowing acting.

All in all, Bette Midler's performance is a real emotional roller coaster that's outstanding in every possible way and does so seeming natural all the time. She's everything that people like to see on screen, she indeed sings, dances and dies. I could mention her loud breakdowns, her amazing singing or her tender moments with Frederick Forrest, it wouldn't describe properly how fantastic she is. It's indeed a piece of work that make Bette perfectly deserving of the title of "The Divine Miss M" and also a big

What do you think? :) 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jill Clayburgh in Starting Over

Jill Clayburgh received her second Oscar nomination for playing Marilyn Holmberg, a neurotic schoolteacher having an on-again-off-again relationship with Burt Reynolds' character in Starting Over. Jill had previously received a Golden Globe nomination and yet I'm very surprised that she managed to pull off this nomination, considering the fact that Jill was in contention for a Drama as well. I suppose this film was more successful and had more hype than La luna. Interesting enough, three of the Comedy Actress nominees went on to receive Oscar nomination (that's something that quite rarely happens). I'm not sure if Jill or Marsha was the fifth finally, but I guess Jill had more leftover love from last year (though you can say the same about Marsha's 1977 nod). 

Although Starting Over tries to be a very intelligent romantic comedy, much in the style of Annie Hall, it becomes a weak imitation of that classic way too often. It's much more Hollywood (change Woody to Burt Reynolds) and it's humor is much less sarcastic. In fact, I didn't find this movie funny at all despite the fact that I knew which parts were supposed to make me laugh. That being said, Burt Reynolds gives a proper performance, though hardly one that screams an Oscar nomination to me. Same goes for Candice Bergen, who's really sexy and is singing that catchy song excellently, but fails to give any depth to her character. I'm not surprised by her nomination, though (she's a sexy Hollywood insider, so there we go). 

The only thing about Starting Over that's not screaming Hollywood seems to be Jill Clayburgh, fresh off her An Unmarried Woman fame. She obviously doesn't fit the criteria of the sexy Hollywood lead in this movie: first of all, co-lead at best and she's also not sexy in a very traditional way. I suppose Clayburgh's career was very much about challenging Old Hollywood's idea of how a woman really "should be" and in fact, she tried to portray the reality. And I suppose that's what made her so popular in the seventies, when American cinema took a radical turn from what it was and didn't become what it was later in the eighties. Jill Clayburgh is one of the typical 70s figures.

This way, Marilyn Holmberg also seems to be out of place in Starting Over, especially comparing her to Candice Bergen's character: Marilyn is neurotic, insecure and she's basically the definition of the ugly(ish) duckling that doesn't turn out to be a beautiful swan. Although she may be an ugly duckling, it's just impossible not to fall in love with her, when she starts yelling at Burt Reynolds in her first scene. It's easy to see why she made such a strong impression on him. 

What I really enjoy about this performance is that it's coming from an era when quirky didn't mean the annoying Zooey Deschanel, but something utterly loveable and natural. What I mostly loved about Jill here is that the charm and wit of Marilyn was coming out of her so naturally and effortlessly. This kind of performance can seem incerdibly artificial if the actress doesn't possess a natural charm. Many people compare Marilyn to Diane Keaton's Annie Hall and even accuse Jill of imitating Diane, which has some merit, though I feel it's more the screenplay that tries to outdo Annie Hall, making Marilyn even weirder, even more neurotic and putting her in even more awkward situations. Although Jill occasionally surrenders to that cause, most of the time she manages to add her very own touch to this character. 

Also, if I had to find a better comparision to this character, it would be Diane Chambers in Cheers. Shelley Long's flawless, perfect performance showed three years later (on television, Hollywood was too busy making popular blockbusters at the time) what Marilyn should have been, how she should have been written and acted. I think Long would have done miracles with Marilyn, turning her into one of the most iconic characters of the seventies, with a very simple thing: subtlty. If Jill's was also a perfect performance, I probably wouldn't be able to imagine anyone else in this part, but in every scene, I was wondering how brilliant Shelley Long would have been (and how amazing Ted Danson would have been in Burt Reynold's role!!!). You could blame it on the fact that Cheers has been on my mind lately (true), but I cannot ignore the obvious comparisions in the character.

What made me think about that is also the most brilliant chemistry ever between Danson and Long, which Reynolds and Clayburgh do no have. I should obviously think that despite all of the differences, Phil and Marilyn were destined to be together and I always had my doubts if they really were. However, I felt that it's more of Burt Reynolds' fault than Jill's. Since he failed at showing the dilemma of the character believably, Jill's excellent job seems to be wasted and the movie is about how they are supposed to be together, no matter what.

That being said, Jill Clayburgh excels the most in the scenes when Marilyn has meltdowns over Phil's behavior. Jill points out brilliantly how Marilyn becomes the most honest when she's raging and yelling. Although it's not that obvious that Marilyn is putting on a performance with her calm self, she seems way more honest this way. :)

Jill was able to make up for most of the mistakes of the screenplay: although it never intends to make Marilyn more than an interesting turn in the story, Jill created something more complex that really is, by far, the biggest achievement in the movie. Jill could have done even more with this character if she had been given better material, but she' charming even under the limitations of the story.

It boils down to one thing in the end: Jill Clayburgh gives a really charming, likeable performance in Starting Over, that really is much better than the film it's in. She  creates a very human character that seems very easy to relate to. Although her chemistry with Burt Reynolds is not perfect, the most important thing is that Jill is able to tell you why Phil fell in love with Marilyn. Very enjoyable lightweight work.

What do you think? :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Just a note

As I said, I'm very busy at the moment, but I'll most definitely go on with 1979 on Tuesday at least. But I'm announcing a second project I'll do simultaneously. As you see, Fritz is updating his reviews and I decided to do the same, but not with all the years and performances. I might change a few places in the rankings (I'll give a note whenever that happens) and I'm going to rewatch and change some reviews as well, particularly in years that I did at the beginning. The reason is simple: this whole thing started off as an experiment and I feel I learned so many things since that I simply get a bit embarassed if I see my old rankings and reviews. This might cost my previous winners their respective #1 places and some might improve a lot. :)

The years to be reevaluated: 1940, 1948, 1973, 1974, 1998, 2009

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome

First let me say what an honor and a privilege it was to review this brilliant lady's fantastic nominated performances and that I'm sad that it's the last time that I can say that... 

Jane Fonda received her fifth Oscar nomination and a Bafta Award for playing Kimberly Wells, a shallow reporter who finds out a cover-up about safety issues at a nuclear plant in the controversial movie, The China Syndrome. The 1979 Best Actress race was between Sally Field and Bette Midler, but Sally Field was probably the overwhelming favorite considering her sweep of the precursor awards. I suppose Jane must have been the dark horse to win the award. She had just won her second Oscar so there must have been some leftover love for her and the movie received three other nominations. I suppose she was third, eventually.

Although The China Syndrome is not a favorite of many, for me it's one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking movies ever made in Hollywood. It never ceased to amaze me with the director's skill to create tension or his ability to discuss some really complicated topics so effortlessly. I'd say the movie deserved additional nominations for Best Picture and Best Director and should have won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Jack Lemmon gives an outstanding, unforgettable performance, which would have deserved a Best Actor win, too, but I also agree with Dustin Hoffman's win. Michael Douglas seems to be the weakest link of the three lead actors as he was never able to make his character more layered and he ended up being a bit one-dimensional.

Still, whenever I watch a Jane Fonda movie, it's a Fondafest for me anyway and after a while I just ignore every other aspect of the picture. You know, I often get a Great Glenn or Maggie or whatever mania, it all seems nothing compared to what I feel when I see Jane on the screen. Every time this lady opens her mouth, I'm hooked, staring at the screen as if it was my first time watching a film. I'm quite simply in awe of her versatility, the uncertainty around her and her enourmous star power. I've never seen another actress who can excel in both the technical and emotional part of a performance while also having a real movie star aura around her. And the commitment tp her political activism just makes her work even more compelling as you can clearly see that every performance of hers is a testament to what she believes is right. And yet she avoids being preachy and she lets the performance speak for itself (I guess this is the part that many people disagree with).

That being said, Jane's work as Kimberly Wells in The China Syndrome is widely considered to be one of her least passionate and most toned down, technical performance, which lacks the thing that many of us love about Jane the most: that usual feeling of tension that's present in each of her performances up to The China Syndrome. She visibly gained confidence over the seventies and The China Syndrome is the first movie when it becomes really obvious: she's an actress at the peak of her career, simple as that.

To tell the truth, I was really concerned about how objective I can be about this performance and how honest I will be in this review when I know that this is my last review about Jane and it feels like an obligation to rave about her. Since I didn't use to be a huge fan of this particular performance, I thought I probably should have chosen Klute to be my last reviewed Fonda vehicle and then I could have said goodbye to her with a #1 place in my ranking. Then I started watching The China Syndrome and all my doubts disappeared. I'm not saying that Jane makes no mistakes as Jane would be the first to admit she's not perfect. And I would be the second to say that. Jane is not a "perfect actress" in the Meryl Streep or Katharine Hepburn sense of the word, even her best performances are flawed in a way and that's what makes them so human and believable and that's the reason why I repeatedly keep falling for her. The flaws and imperfections are probably the most exciting things in Jane's performances. I think for her that's just the way of identifying with her characters and this results in the lack of distance between the viewer and Jane. While "perfect actresses" talk down from the screen, Jane whispers everything to your ear, sitting right next to you. And this is what I found out while watching The China Syndrome: it lacks the visibly deep emotionality and passion of other Jane Fonda performances (something for which I thought I loved her the most) and yet I'm just as drawn to Kimberly as I was to Bree Daniels or Gloria Beaty. I get it now. I get Jane Fonda in general. Her greatest skill is revealing human imperfection and she does it like nobody else. It's easy to say that she's your favorite actress after Klute (who wouldn't at the moment). It's not about the first impression, the second one counts just as much.

So I started to wonder why Kimberly is so different from all the other characters Jane's ever played. Easy: Kimberly is a person full of confidence and determination: she knows she has a good job, that people love her and she's not ashamed of being a puppet of men. Nothing really turns her on except for the prospect of moving up the career ladder. And yet Jane shows us that Kimberly has not yet turned into Diana Christensen and that she still has some sense of justice. Jane doesn't necessarily portray Kimberly only as a coward conformist (sure that's a part of her conception of the character), but also as a person who wants to do more with her life and therefore she makes some sacrifices in the present.

What I also admired about Jane is how well she avoided being overwhelmed by the story. She constantly had to refelect on the main storyline of the Ventana Nuclear Power Plant, while also developing her character. Jane didn't get much screentime, but she uses the little she has very wisely and she knew she had to sacrifice being showy to show the awakening of Kimberly, which was way more important (it may have cost her the Oscar, but communicated the message of the movie far better). To me, this is the performance that Jane Fonda can be the most proud of as a political activist (too bad that she rarely talks about this one). She's gets to be a revolutionary simply by showing how an ordinary person can realize things going on in her environment. Kimberly is like watching yourself in the mirror: she's, like all of us, a compromising, flawed human being, but as Jane wonderfully points out, it's more than enough to make a difference.

Since I'm flawed myself, I wanted just a little breakdown from Jane, or at least one showy moment and when it comes in the end, it's like a volcano erupting. You can just see the tears of a person overwhelmed by the circumstances. Kimberly says to tv audiences, while crying that she can't give an objective opinion about Jack Goddell as she became too involved with the situation. It's something I felt: I became so overwhelmed by Jane's performance here that I'm incapable of being objective. And yet, I feel that if I was sentimental about Jane here, it would be like spitting her in the eye. The brutal honesty of this part just doesn't let me be something else other than honest.

In conclusion, Jane Fonda is nothing short of amazing in The China Syndrome. What could seem to be one of her least passionate performances is in fact one of the most mysterious and layered ones she's ever given. As usual, she commands every scene as well as develops her character beautifully, adding new layers and dimensions to her in every minute. Jane so wonderously portrays Kimberly's awakening and development as a person that you just marvel at every little detail in this performance. Kimberly is right up there with Jane's finest performances and for this she gets a big fat last

What do you think? :) 

I don't know when the other reviews come, I'll be busy next week, but next Monday, I might be able to review Marsha.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Next Year


So the nominees were:
  • Jill Clayburgh in Starting Over
  • Sally Field in Norma Rae
  • Jane Fonda in The China Syndrome
  • Marsha Mason in Chapter Two
  • Bette Midler in The Rose
A fantastic-looking year. Will I go with the two favorites (Field and Midler) who have tons of fans, will I go with the less popular ladies (Clayburgh and Mason) or will I use the last opportunity to reward my favorite actress?

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


My ranking of the nominees so far...

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

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 2007


So the much anticipated ranking is:

5. Ellen Page in Juno
 I don't really know what to make out of Ellen Page's extremely weak performance. Although the character is incredibly annoying and as fake as possible, I really think that it's more due to Diablo Cody's  incompetent screenplay and Jason Reitman's forced direction. Ellen Page's only fault is that she's just not talented enough to make this character realistic and human. So after all, for me this work is nothing more than a failed effort.

4. Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Cate Blanchett's second Elizabeth is a real disappointment, but I'm much more forgiving about it than others. Cate is always such a force on screen that it makes up for the flaws of the character a little bit. Although there's no depth or real development in Elizabeth, Cate is able to prevent the movie from being a total disaster and she kept me from turning off the tv set. A flawed performance for sure, but not a real failure.

3. Laura Linney in The Savages
Laura Linney gives an extremely relatable, wonderful performance as a person who doesn't seem to be likeable at all at first sight and yet we get close to her and sympathise with her character. She never goes for cheap tricks to portray the neurotic personality of Wendy. She excellently mixes comedy with drama, creating the ideal dramedy performance while seeming effortless all the time (something that one of her fellow nominees didn't really succeed in). 

2. Julie Christie in Away from Her
 As Fiona Anderson, Julie Christie gives an amazing, heartbreaking performance that stays with you long after you finished watching the film. She portrays Fiona's pain and suffering with an incredible amount of grace and dignity and that's what makes this movie even more effective and heartwrenching. Although Julie's acting might be too subtle and seem too effortless for some, for me this is a true masterclass in acting, which is easily among the greatest achievements of this fantastic actress.

1. Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose
In what's one of my easiest decisions ever, Marion easily walks away with this year. She is nothing short of amazing in every possible way an actress can be. Her performance has the effect of an earthquake: it makes you go through Édith's journey along with her and get to understand why this woman was such a brilliant artist. It's very unusual, extraordinary and unbelievable work from a truly great actress who gives probably the most  brilliant portrayal of a real life person.

So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Marion Cotillard
La vie en rose
Easy win.

Final thoughts: What an unexcting year! Everything went the way I expected and things went pretty predictably. Marion simply killed her competition, Julie was shining, Laura was fine and then there were the two other ladies, far behind. With hindsight, I can't see how Marion could have lost this, she's so damn good here. Congrats to Andre Lepaun, Louis and Nues20 on your predictions! :) You can pick a year, that I'm gonna do some time, hopefully. :)

  • Anamaria Marinca in 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

About the next year: I really needed to go back to my favorite decade and my most special actress for some refreshment. :) I think this is enough clue. :) 

What do you think? Any thoughts on your mind?