Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Next Year


So the nominees were:

  • Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking
  • Elisabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas
  • Sharon Stone in Casino
  • Meryl Streep in The Bridges of Madison County
  • Emma Thompson in Sense and Sensibiliy
Thank God this year has become very timely, thanks to the well-deserved and very much anticipated third win of Meryl. :) Can you think of celebrating in a better way? She might even become my first four-time winner and the only one to gain three wins in a row (I will be completely impartial, don't worry)!

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

Monday, February 27, 2012

At loss for words...

Seriously, the Academy has disappointed me so many times... But to quote Meryl "Not today". No need to say more, except that they picked my two favorite nominated performances:

Thumbs up Academy! 

More on the show later. :) I'll leave you with this for now. :) 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The time has come again

Well, the time has come to share my thoughts on this year, which was extremely weak in general. Really, I didn't really warm up to many movies. :) 

Best Picture
should win: The Tree of Life
thoughts: The Tree of Life was such a life-changing, wonderful, terrific experience for me and I couldn't imagine not voting for it. However, The Artist was almost as cathartic and terrific for me so if it wins the Best Picture, I'll be just ecstatic. I feel The Artist will really be a movie that will go down in history (at least because it's a B&W silent film). I absolutely HATED The Descendants, our dark horse, but I loved Moneyball. 

Best Director
should win: Terrence Malick
thoughts: OK, the same goes for this category. I'll be VERY happy for Hazanavicius (I'M BEGGING TO THE BEST DIRECTOR PRESENTER TO TRY TO PRONOUNCE HIS NAME CORRECTLY IF HE WINS). I admire all the other directors (lifelong Woody and Scorsese fan here), except for Alexander Payne and his movie. 

Best Actress 
should win: Meryl
thoughts: IF NOT NOW, WHEN??? It's the perfect time, but I guess the Academy will screw up this perfect opportunity as well. I will applaud Viola's win because she's so talented and wonderful in The Help, but she's typically an actress whose career could be ruined by the win. I think she'll get the great roles as long as she's hunting for the Oscars (which she will definitely win some day, I'm sure). If she wins now, expect more Aibileens from her in the following years. I'd love to see a Great Glenn upset, but I'm dreading all the shit she will be getting, if she wins (which she won't). I just hope this nomination will bring her back to the mind of Hollywood and she will get a role that will bring her the Oscar (the Sunset Boulevard musical movie, maybe? Or Therese Raquin?).

Best Actor
should win: Jean Dujardin
thoughts: OK, so Jean Dujardin gives, hands down, the best performance of the bunch. But if we consider Brad Pitt's body of work this year, he really deserves an Oscar for his efforts. I actually preferred him in The Tree of Life, which was, in my opinion, the performance of the year. He was fantastic in Moneyball as well, but Dujardin was better. I absolutely loathed Clooney, so I guess if the Academy wants to continue its habit of pissing me off with the Best Actor winners, he'll win. 

Best Supporting Actress
should win: Bérénice Bejo 
thoughts: OK, first of all, I just LOVE Octavia Spencer in The Help and in general and nobody will cheer louder than me if she wins, but I have been so taken by Bérénice's surprisingly unpopular performance. She's just fantastic, in many ways like Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins: she uses the most simple emotions and tricks, relies a lot on her charm and as a result, she evokes such wonderful feeling inside me. The character may be underwritten but there's much more inside her than it seems for the first time. BTW, this is an extremely strong category (probably the only one better than last year) and I love all the three other ladies. I wouldn't even mind a Melissa McCarthy upset. Some are really hoping for that, but if anyone upsets, that will be Bérénice who can benefit from her movie. 

Best Supporting Actor
should win: Christopher Plummer
thoughts: What a f-ing wasteland, save for the fantastic Plummer. Next!

Best Original Screenplay
should win: to be determined
thoughts: I'm watching A Separation in a couple of hours so at the moment Midnight in Paris whose fantastic, wonderfully entertaining and smart story is a real treat. The movie might be a bit slower than it should be, the screenplay is extremely strong. The Artist isn't very original if we see the story, it's rather the way it's made that makes it so brilliant and original. I won't mind if it wins, though. Bridesmaids was one fun movie but I somehow can't connect Oscar to it. :) Imagine that a movie with 5 minutes of shitting and puking women wins for Best Original Screenplay. I don't think it's a threat. I guess Margin Call 

Best Adapted Screenplay
should win: Moneyball
thoughts: Seriously? The Descendants? Really? (Insert Amy Poehler's Really??!! face here) Moneyball is easily the best of the bunch, with its smartness, intelligence (Sorkin's brilliance) and real honesty. I love sport movies so I guess it was obvious for me, though I believe that it's also the best one objectively. Some people  praise Tinker Tailor... which had an interesting story but occasionally it became dreary and too slow (it was great, though).

Best Cinematography
should win: The Tree of Life
thoughts: Are you kidding? There's no other way to go here. I'll take it if The Artist wins, but this one belong to Emmanuel Lubiezki. That movie was almost a divine revelation and Lubiezki had quite a lot to do with it. 

Best Editing
should win: The Artist
thoughts: If you ask me, the editing is one of the strongest parts of The Artist. It was so excellent and it helped such a great deal to feel the atmosphere of the movie. I also admired the editing of Moneyball quite a lot.

Best Foreign Language Film
thoughts: I haven't seen any of these, but I'm watching A Separation today if everything goes well. I'll be quite happy if In Darkness wins, because the friends in Poland deserve an Oscar (you know Hungarian-Polish friendship is very significant in our lives here since the medieval era).

I don't want to get into the other categories as I don't have much to do with Sound Mixing and Editing. I don't really care about these categories though I love the winners there because it's so nice to see very moved ordinary people among the stars. :) 

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 2011


So the much anticipated ranking:

I suppose my biggest issue with this performance was that Michelle could have been given so much more. She's proven it over the years that she's able to perform miracles on the screen with the right material. Well, this material just wasn't right for her. She did all that she could with this part, both technically and emotionally. It's a great performance, it's just not something to go crazy about.

Great Glenn's performance as Albert is not her best work, and it doesn't have the totally mindblowing and disturbing effect of some of her other roles, it's a wonderfully touching and emotional performance. It may not give you a huge experience, it's like reading a chapter from a classic novel: inspiring, uplifting and beautiful in itself and more than serves its purpuse. I stand by her!

Rooney Mara gives a wonderful, impressive and very complex performance as Lisbeth Salander. What may seem robotic to others is just pure greatness for me. She brilliantly portrays her character's vulnerability and humiliation, but also her cool and incredibly exciting personality. She shows so many sides and reveals so many layers of this woman so effortlessly that she might come off as doing no acting at all.

Viola Davis is able to give a layered and heartbreaking performance as Aibileen. In each and every moment of the film, she's endlessly loveable, showing so many emotions and faces of this character. Her incredible talent shines through this somewhat thin material and is able to be wonderfully moving, natural and funny at the same time. I have my isssues about her role, but she's just fantastic

In the end, this is a very obvious choice in every possible way. Meryl is everything that a Best Actress winner should be. She gives a fantastic performance as Margaret Thatcher. She's just brilliant in the technical part of her performance, nails the emotional scenes and she's just thoroughly impressive playing this very controversial and divisive character. Simply brilliant.

 So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Meryl Streep 
The Iron Lady
Hail Meryl!

Final thoughts: So Meryl wins her third... from me at the very least and FROM THE ACADEMY AS WELL! YAY!. :) Moreover, she's set a record as my only three time winner so far. Moreover, she's also my first consecutive winner. :) I hope that I won't get too repetitive with Meryl. After the rare vicious comments about her in the past, I feel like going back to her. She's downright brilliant as Thatcher. Viola was also fantastic and I wouldn't be mad if she won (I would be happy for her), just quite disappointed. Michelle was an obvious fifth, Great Glenn and Rooney were pretty much equal to me. My love for Great Glenn caused kind of a controversy here, but I was incredibly glad about the supportive comments. And I'm not someone who remains ungrateful so mrripley, Louis and Fritz can all pick a year (and of course, the previously requested years of Louis and Fritz will be done next, I just didn't have time, sorry). Thank you guys! Also, congrats to Joe Burns and greysie on the correct predictions, they can also pick a year!

*Addition: There was a pretty big Meryl vs. Viola fight among bloggers and fans and we ignored that the best performance of the year (Charlize Theron's) was actually snubbed. She acted five circles around any of these great ladies. Amazing. 

  • Charlize Theron in Young Adult *My pick*
  • Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids

The next year: 
  • I Want To Live: The sequel!
  • Klute: The Sequel! 
What do you think? Any thoughts on your mind? Any comments on this  Oscar year (I'll do some posts and rankings on it during the weekend)?

Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Rooney Mara received her surprising (?) first Oscar nomination for playing Lisbeth Salander, an extremely sharp and kind of antisocial hacker detective in the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Most people were surprised to hear Rooney's name among the Oscar nominees, especially over Tilda Swinton, who had received all the important precursor nominations for We Need to Talk about Kevin. I, myself, wasn't shocked by her nod at all. Although she doesn't come off in the interview who's pushing really hard for Hollywood's appreciation, I find the backlash against her totally disgusting (SERIOUSLY, HOW WOULD  ANYONE REACT WHEN ASKED ABOUT PIERCINGS IN THEIR INTIMATE PARTS?). I suppose she's a real dark horse in the race and I can even imagine that she becomes third after Meryl and Viola. 

To my mind, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a fantastic movie and I was really pissed not to have seen it among the Best Picture and Director nominees (seriously, The Descendants????). Many people are bitching about it, constantly comparing it to the Swedish version. I think it was right for me not to watch that movie as I was able to avoid comparisions with the new one (and yes, I'm planning to watch it). All the nominations it received were well-deserved (though I had some issues with the editing, it's ironic that it has the best chance of winning the Oscar). Furthermore, Reznor-Ross score was once again brilliant after their Oscar winning, fantastic work in The Social Network. 

Most of us got to recognise Rooney Mara's talent in her brief, but effective performance as Erica Albright in The Social Network. Even in those short scenes, she displayed such a marvelous range as an actress: she fantastically showed so many sides of Erica. Still, people were quite stunned to see her picked to play Lisbeth Salander in the newest adaptation of a Swedish bestseller. With hindsight, for me she just seems to have been the perfect choice for Lisbeth. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing her future as an actress. I feel that we're going to see her at the Oscars. 

If there's one word to describe Rooney Mara's performance as Lisbeth, it would be fierce. Her presence is so strong and intense, it just impossible to take your eyes off her. Naturally, her look in itself is quite unusual to say the least, which helped her a lot to steal the spotlight from the others. Daniel Craig, with his very ordinary character and twice as much screentime, doesn't get to be half as significant as Rooney since whenever we get to see Rooney, it's like being kicked on the ass with Lisbeth's boots. She's far from being desperate to gain attention, she actually does very minimal acting and she's almost on the edge of being robotic and incredibly dreary but somehow (thanks to her natural charisma) she managed to make Lisbeth thoroughly interesting (something that many people would argue with, I'm sure).

In many ways, I consider Lisbeth Salander to be a character very much like Mark Zuckerberg (not a coincidence that Fincher directed both films). They are the people of the future: by nowadays' standards and values rude, unkind and antisocial people who also happen to be geniouses. What makes them sort of superior to their companion is their lack of vanity and the need of getting constant feedback. While Daniel Craig's and Andrew Garfield's character constantly need being praised, pampered and mentioned, Lisbeth and Mark don't really give a damn about fame or money (as long as they can buy a new computer). In my humble opinion, Rooney Mara perfectly realised this (among other things). The perviously mentioned coldness and minimal acting serves the purpuse of the movie excellently. Rooney avoided overemoting or overdoing the tough, even merciless aspect of Lisbeth. She pretty much found a perfect balance, while also making Lisbeth a vulnerable woman.

Rooney's first scene gives a spot-on summary of the rest of her performance: we instantly get to know Lisbeth's character, her behavior among other human beings. Her entrance is so great, in my opinion, that it almost rivals that of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (though it's far from being an Elizabeth Taylor entrance). I realised that Lisbeth herself is a very thankful part for actresses, obviously with the right talent any young actress could have played it well, but for me it's more important how well Rooney played her. And I just loved how vulnerable she made Lisbeth.

There are so many heartbreaking moments involving her. Although I find the storyline with her paralysed guardian a bit useless, Rooney totally nailed Lisbeth's devastation and sadness without being overdramatic. However, it's the scenes with the repeated assaults of her new guardian that are incredibly terrifying and shocking. First, it's because of their nature (watching that particular scene is incredibly hard), second because of the fact how well Rooney played Lisbeth's desperation and humiliation. I just have to add right now that her big revenge is just as hard-to-watch and shocking (not that the son of a bitch didn't deserve it). Lisbeth is a vulnerable woman, but if needed she can be a revengful predator with incredibly cool behavior.

Furthermore, I also loved the wonderful sense of humor that Rooney put into the Lisbeth character. Her "I don't give a f-ck" attitude is played to perfection by Rooney: she succeeds in making Lisbeth somewhat likeable or at least enjoyable to the viewer, which can also mean that she avoided playing the point of Lisbeth, but I see it in another way. It's hard not to laugh out loud in the scene with the librarian woman, but then again we get to see Lisbeth suffering and getting in trouble. I don't know if this means a great sense of humor and irony on Rooney's side or my the situation and the character's original coolness.

Rooney doesn't overdo Lisbeth's brilliant, fast mind, either. Whenever we get to see her working is just a wonderful moment: her rapidity and sharpness is incredibly impressily shown by Rooney. She doesn't screw it up by being a "traditional movie genious" so to speak. She really shows how a wonderfully complex and brilliant mind of this woman works.

As I said, the thing that Rooney mostly succeeded in is showing Lisbeth's vulnerability and especially her vulnerability as a woman. Her chemistry with Daniel Craig is just excellent, they almost set the screen on fire. We can see two generations and two ways of thinking meeting. It's obvious that they become involved with each other, it all just seems natural. Plus (I know many disagree), Rooney is incredibly sexy and attractive (despite being a bit too skinny). Lisbeth is hardly anybody's type of woman and yet there's something irresistably attractive about her.

To sum up, Rooney Mara gives a wonderful, impressive and very complex performance as Lisbeth Salander. What may seem robotic to others is just pure greatness for me. She brilliantly portrays her character's vulnerability and humiliation, but also her cool and incredibly exciting personality. She shows so many sides and reveals so many layers of this woman so effortlessly that she might come off as doing no acting at all. Minimalist, excellent, sizzling, sexy performance that gets

What do you think? 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Michelle Williams in My Week with Marilyn

Michelle Williams received her third Oscar nomination for playing the screen icon Marilyn Monroe in the movie My Week with Marilyn. It's interesting that Michelle was the one who was mostly praised by the critics for her performance (and got the most awards), now she's not a really serious contender. Meryl and Viola are both so much stronger than her and it's quite sad that she doesn't have much chance as she's a great actress who really deserves to win an Oscar some day. Somehow, I feel she had a better chance of winning last year since then she was obviously the third one and now Glenn Close might easily get ahead of her. But we'll see. I can also see her pulling off an upset. 

My Week with Marilyn is probably the best title given to any movie and says the most about it. It really feels like you're watching it for a whole damn week and it's so uninteresting, bland and boring, it just drags along from one dreary scene to the other. Kenneth Branagh got an Oscar nomination for his performance as Sir Laurence Olivier, which might be deserved (compared to Jonah Hill, it definitely is). This movie is another proof to how shitty this Oscar field is and 2011 was in terms of movies (seriously, it was a better year for television). But here's hoping for better years! 

Whoever was going to play Marilyn Monroe in this movie was going to get Oscar nominated - that was my intitial thought about this movie. Marilyn is really a role to kill for: she has numerous possiblities to show the actress' range and talent. She needs everything, humor, sensitivity, an unmistakeable star quality. Michelle Williams may have seemed odd for the part considering she looks nothing like Marilyn Monroe, but honestly who can look like her? Marilyn was such a unique personality - I think nobody else could play her other than herself. But now here we have Michelle Williams, the best actress of her generation, with an incredible amount of sensitivity, beauty and radiant personality of her own. 

The main problem with My Week with Marilyn's Marilyn is that it's not as great as it could have been. Yes, Michelle is wonderful with what she has to work with but she doesn't have that much to do at all. What she most successful at is creating the star quality of Marilyn Monroe. For each and every second she's on screen, we can clearly understand why people went crazy for Marilyn back in her day. She's so fragile,  disturbed, radiant, attractive, seductive, sexy and all around brilliant - things about Marilyn that Michelle perfectly recreated on the screen. Although there isn't much of a  physical resemblance between the two ladies, I can hardly think of someone who could have pulled this part of Marilyn off so beautifully. All in all, it's just so easy to fall in love with Michelle's Marilyn Monroe.

As I've mentioned earlier, Michelle doesn't really have a great movie behind her. Not only that, her part is not as showy as it would initially seem. There are small breakdowns and touching moments here and there, it's just that we don't get a real portrait of Marilyn Monroe. Really, what was the goal of the Picture? It seemed to me that the director couldn't find out what to focus on: Marilyn's own storyline, the making of The Prince and The Showgirl, the love affair (?) between Colin Clark and Marilyn and as a result, we get total chaos in the movie: as painful as it may seem, Michelle suffers from this. Not all that much, because her talent shines through even the lousiest material. 

The chemistry between Eddie Redmayne and Michelle is clearly lacking and that's not really the fault Michelle. Redmayne is way too much of a dreamer and I couldn't really believe that he falls head over heels for Marilyn. Michelle does everything possible to be as seductive and sexy as possible, but I guess it wasn't enough.

Last year I kept praising Michelle's wonderful emotional intelligency in her performance in Blue Valentine. As Marilyn Monroe, she shows the same intelligence but not as rawly and effectively as last year. It might be unfair to compare her two roles to each other, but all I'm trying to say is Michelle is actually way too good for this dreary TV movie (there you go, I said that). All around it seemed much more like an Emmy performance for Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie, not something that Oscar should really go for. THIS Marilyn Monroe she gets to chance to play is not enough for her talent. 

However, she shows some of that intelligency in some of the scenes, the one where she plays "the lost little girl" as Kenneth Branagh puts it as Sir Laurence Olivier. I was especially impressed by the scenes where we got to see Marilyn's insecurities and emotional fragility. I really connected with her character that way, mostly thanks to Michelle's interpretation. I especially loved the moment where she was watching a dollhouse with Colin. There's so much innocence and sweet despair displayed there by her that I couldn't get enough of it. I was really hoping that we would get more scenes of that calibre. And there are some, here and there. Her "big" breakdown in her bed is another wonderful example of how much Michelle can do as an actress. 

However, the songs were the real highlights of this movie: there's everything in them that the movie lacked. They are wonderfully expressive, exciting, heartbreaking, beautiful, touching and all the other things. In the end, Michelle's performance becomes as heartwrenching as it had to be and as we all know, a great ending can make up for all the other problems. 

I suppose my biggest issue with this performance was that Michelle could have been given so much more. She's proven it over the years that she's able to perform miracles on the screen with the right material. Well, this material just wasn't right for her. She did all that she could with this part, both technically and emotionally. Although some say it's mostly an imitation, I feel that Michelle very much inhabited this character and made it her own. It's a really great performance, it's just not something to go crazy about (just like everything else this year). 

What do you think?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs

Great Glenn Close received her sixth Oscar nomination for playing the title role of Albert Nobbs, a woman pretending to be a man in order to survive in the 19th century Ireland. When the project was announced Great Glenn fans all over the world (including yours truly) started to hope that this movie might be the ONE after all for her. As of now, it seems that it wasn't enough for Great Glenn to get enough votes for her Oscar. As a lifelong Great Glenn devotee, I still hope secretly that a Viola and Meryl vote split will help her stage that miraculous upset on Oscar night and she will get some real love from Oscar. 

Albert Nobbs is said to be a boring, lifeless picture but I couldn't disagree more. I really enjoyed it, especially for the second time. The direction is nothing to write home about and neither is the story and the screenplay (it really annoyed me when Great Glenn was saying those cheesy life to herself). The acting, however, is just wonderful all around. Again many will disagree with me, but I think the ensemble was just fascinating. Janet McTeer gives a really strong performance, richly deserving of the nomination, but I have to emphasise Pauline Collins who's so wonderful in her role as the vicious and bitchy owner of the hotel. She was a clear highlight of the movie (for me, at least). 

Great Glenn is so special for me. Although, like every sane person on this planet, I'm obsessed with her unforgettable and amazing performances in Fatal Attraction and Dangerous Liaisons, I'm equally impressed by her more quiet and less talked about works, just like the ones in The World accoring to Garp, Reversal of Fortune (her best performance, in my humble opinion) and most recently, her work on Albert Nobbs. As amazing as she is as Patty Hewes in Damages (and is she amazing in it!), I didn't feel very satisifed by the fact that she has to be on tv. Albert Nobbs was a comeback for her to the big screen and I hope that this Oscar nomination will lead to more great roles and a possible future win. 

Albert Nobbs was a passion project for Great Glenn and what I admire most about this movie that it's not pushing her in the spotlight. She's of course the most important part of it but her role is surprisingly quiet and subtle. It's very different from the scheming and/or neurotic and/or psychotic women that people most like to see her play. I'm still stunned by the fact that people went on praising Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams for their transfromation, but very few people were raving about Great Glenn as Albert. She's just considered to give a dreary performance that got recognised because of who she is and the passion project factor. 

However, there's me who doesn't stop being amazed by Great Glenn's fantastic talents as an actress and I'm saying right here and right now that this is quite probably the most beautiful, engaging and touching performance she's ever given. Her radiant "Great Glenn personality" is shining through the screen like never since her first feature film performance as Jenny Fields. 

Great Glenn doesn't have many lines so she uses her body to her greatest advantage. She's so in control of herself without ever seeming to be too forced or calculated. If Albert Nobbs was a silent movie, I imagine she would be just as brilliant as Albert. Her whole story is written on Great Glenn's expressive, beautiful face. And she can communicate so many emotions just by using her eyes or mouth. 

There are no huge breakdowns of Albert like the ones that Meryl got in The Iron Lady or teary-eyed monologues of her dead son, she doesn't get to play a movie icon or a tough hacker detective. Albert is a very reserved person, who's trapped inside her body and who's very uncertain about her own identity. I presume she still thinks of herself as a woman yet she considers Albert her real name. You don't get to break out of her own shell, but she becomes so close to it. There's so much beautiful hope inside this character that Great Glenn so wonderfully shows: it's such always a grand moment when we see her only counting her money and dreaming about that tobacco shop she's planning to open. 

I was also stunned by the scenes where we get to see how wounded Albert is emotionally. A great example is when Hubert finds out that Albert's a woman and Great Glenn's desperately begging to her not to reveal her secret. We see her biggest fear come true and her humiliated reaction is incredibly heartbreaking. 

It was an incredibly hard role to make very impressive for everyone (in that way, Great Glenn failed as it seems) because her of the lack of flashy, showy parts. The only scene where we get to see her crying last for like 15 second and yet it was an incredibly heartbreaking and almost cathartic moment for me. However, if you really ask me about the most breathtaking moment of the movie, it has to be her monologue about "how she invented herself" (Great Glenn can really nail these ones, right? :D ) It's a highly emotional, touching and delicate moment, which implies much more than it actually says. It's gutwrenching to really get to know Albert, only to find out that we had already suspected these things thanks to the wonderful and careful interpretation of Great Glenn. I would say that it has to be one of the most emotionally intense and heartwrenching scene of 2011. 

It was amazing to see how wonderfully Great Glenn showed the doubts of Albert about herself, her personality and indentity. Her friendship with Hubert is a very safe point in her life and her realization of the fact that there is somebody like her is just brilliant. Out of the many touching scenes (how many times did I use this word in this review exactly?), her walk on the beach is one of the most luminous and effective ones. It's one of the rare moments when she can really be herself and let her emotions and feelings out. Her stumbling is a wonderful symbol of this being a very unfamiliar thing for her and Great Glenn portrays in such a wonderfully subtle way. 

This performance is so incredibly rich that it would be incredibly difficult to mention all the things about her that impressed me. Her chemistry with Janet McTeer and Mia Wasikowska is incredible. With Mia and the hotel, it's much like a Father Goriot story for Great Glenn and I admit that they are not as strong as some of the other ones. They are, quite frankly, quite unorignial and cheesy, but Great Glenn wonderfully enlightens them with her wonderful presence. 

It's really the scenes about Albert's personality that makes you totally amazed by her: her dreams, her hopes, her love and her doubts about herself. Although the ending of her story is no surprise, its not depressing or devastating at all, it's rather an uplifting, emotional and, I dare say, cathartic experience (at least for me, I don't see many people being amazed by her, how sad, really). 

Although I agree that Great Glenn's performance as Albert is not her best work, and it doesn't have the totally mindblowing and disturbing effect of some of her other roles, it's a wonderfully touching and emotional performance. It may not give you a huge experience, it's like reading a chapter from a classic novel: inspiring, uplifting and beautiful in itself and more than serves its purpuse. A wonderful, unforgettable experience for me, given by a fascinating actress who's brilliant with or without Oscars.

What do you think?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

Another year, another nomination, another record. Meryl Streep received her seventeenth Oscar nomination for playing Margaret Thatcher, the controversial British PM in Phyllida Llyod's movie, The Iron Lady. Each and every year when Meryl is nominated there's a point (=the Golden Globes) where everybody believes that it's Meryl's year after all. However, there's always the SAG which she loses (I guess if she hadn't won for Doubt, she would have won for Julie & Julia) and then she misses the Oscar as well. Bafta may help her a bit, but I suspect that Michelle is a bigger threat for Bafta (and the Oscar) than we imagine. And finally I'm VERY happy to say that Meryl got her third Oscar. :) 

The Iron Lady is heavily criticised as a movie, and while I see the point of the haters, I should also add that I actually enjoyed it while it lasted. Sure, Phyllida Lloyd has a lot to learn as a director, but her work improved considerably since her previous dreadful effort, Mamma Mia!. It's an accurate movie when it comes to historical facts though I'm not so sure about the scenes showing Thatcher's private life. Jim Broadbent plays the weirdest role you can possibly imagine.

However, the movie mostly felt like it was made so that Meryl can finally win her third Oscar. I really don't know, either what she has to do to win that award. There's always someone, who's more due or whose movie is loved more and somehow Meryl is forced to the second place. I think she should have won her third for her Julia Child (I know that many disagree, let's not get into that) at the very least. And here we go again, two years later, another biopic, another nod and another loss coming even though now she had what worked for everybody else: movie about a British politician.

Margaret Thatcher is already a divisive figure in politics: some consider her the greatest British politician since Churchill, some say she's the Antichrist. There's nobody who's immune to Margaret Thatcher and it was up to Meryl to use this. I suppose nobody can be indifferent to this performance. I suppose it serves the supporters and the haters of Mrs. Thatcher as well. Meryl's clearly not judgemental; she's trying to ignore politics as much as possible and we don't see a politician from a certain party, we actually see a woman who happens to be a politician. The centre of Meryl's performance is actually the womanhood of Mrs. Thatcher. The seemingly cold-hearted woman has a much softer side: it's a heartbreaking moment when she has to deal with the death of her soldiers and decides to write to the mothers. Meryl wonderfully shows the more sympathetic side of her character (or as some would say, the woman behind the monster). 

From an actress of Meryl Streep's calibre, you would expect a complete transformation to the character she's playing. Meryl (as always) fulfills all the expactations in the technical part of the character: she nails the accent, the mannerisms, the walk, everything that you see on the outside of Margaret Thatcher. That's clearly no surprise considering Meryl's filmography, it was really the inner world of Mrs. Thatcher that was exciting and really challenging for her. We first get to see her as a broken-down old woman, shopping. She's slow, unable to keep up with the world (literally, too). And the best thing is when the technical and emotional side come together: she expresses so much with just walking.

The most wonderful thing about this performance was that Meryl Streep indeed disappeared in this part. As I was sitting in my chair, I actually had to remind myself that it's Meryl that I'm looking at. Her transformation is almost as terrific as Marion Cotillard's was (though Meryl doesn't get such a dynamite of a character). She's so incredibly authentic and believable as Margaret Thatcher that she's almost more "Thatcher" than the real one. :)

In this transformation, Meryl successfully hid her own joyous, fun and playful self. As Julia Child, Meryl was very much present (and some hate it, personally, I felt it made that character even more beautiful), but here we don't get to see the Meryl Streep we all know (and love). It must have been really difficult for her to play someone with absolutely no sense of humor.

The scenes with the old Margaret and her dead husband are incredibly painful to watch, especially their last scene together. Although they were written in a very chesy and sentimental way, I kept marveling at Meryl's skills to turn them into something utterly real and heartbreaking.

Meryl also successfully avoided being completely laughable in the "Iron Lady" parts where she shows Maggie as a ruthless and harsh leader. The "cowardice" and "I have done battle" scenes are on the verge of completely ruining all the things that Meryl achieved. Meryl, however, never went too much over the top with her and she was able to seem tough and really powerful instead of hysterical and bitchy.

Meryl amazingly develops her character. All the wonderful depths and layers that she shows are just magnificent. After watching this movie, you really feel like knowing Maggie Thatcher in person. Meryl lets us observe this woman along with her and it was just a fascinating journey along with her. I just felt like knowing such intimate details about her.

My only problem with this performance is that it's not groundbreaking or totally mindblowing. Although there are lots of moments of brilliance by which I was completely fascinated, I was never completely taken by her emotionally. That seems like a big problem, but Meryl made up for it with the overall fantastic achievement plus it's more of the movie's and the screenplay's fault as they didn't give her any scenes to be emotionally captivating. Viola Davis' part was easier that way: although she had less screentime, she constantly had the opportunity to leave a huge impact. Meryl didn't have the chance for that, despite the fact how showy this part seems (it's much less showy than I imagined). But I guess Thatcher is a very reserved person and it was right not to make her too emotional.

Overall, Meryl Streep gives a fantastic performance as Margaret Thatcher. Although it's high time she won an Oscar and this is terrific work, this one is bit far from being as great as some of her other works like Sophie's Choice or The Deer Hunter (but honestly, how could she get better than that?). Still, she's just brilliant in the technical part of her performance, nails the emotional scenes and she's just thoroughly impressive playing this very controversial and divisive character. Again, not one of her best, but fantastic anyhow and 100% worthy of an Oscar win.
What do you think?