Sunday, February 24, 2013


Well, the time has come. It was a long and quite tedious season all around (probably because of the long time between the nominations and the ceremony), with hypocritical pundits outdoing themselves (seriously, I wished we could get the Sain Viola days back) and of course, Ben Affleck's pissy diva behavior was the most annoying thing and the Greek tragedy around his "snub". I mean, he already has one undeserved Oscar, why three? However, 2012 was a relatively strong year (but probably not as much as people say). Anyway, I'm glad we've got to this point.

Best Picture

Will win: Argo
Should win: Silver Linings Playbook

I'll keep rooting for Silver Linings Playbook in basically every category it's nominated in, because for me, it was one of the most beautiful, wonderful movies recently. It can be because of my personal reasons, but I still find it the best. But that doesn't change the fact that Argo will take the award home, which is a shame, really, despite the fact that it's a well-made piece with good atmosphere. ArgoFuckYourself.

Best Director

Will win: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Should win: Michael Haneke for Amour

Haneke should take this in a walk, but unfortunately, his chances of winning are quite slim. That being said, with Ben Affleck out, everybody has a shot at an upset (save for, maybe Benh Zeitlin). Between Spielberg and Lee, I'd probably pick Spielberg because he was able to trim the potential sentimentality of Lincoln, creating an often fascinating motion picture. That being said, if Bigelow had been nominated, this would be a perfect line-up and she would be a no-brainer pick. For some reasons, I somehow believe that Spielberg will take home this award as a compensation for the Lincoln shutout that's about to come.

Best Actress

Will win: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook or Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (I don't dare to pick now out of superstition)
Should win: Emmanuelle Riva for Amour

What else do you want? :) Scroll down to my thoughts. 

Best Actor

Will win: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln
Should win: Joaquin Phoenix in The Master
This year is not even close for me, Phoenix and Cooper are so much better than the other nominees. I picked Phoenix by a hair, but I'd so love to see a Cooper upset.  DDL will get another Oscar I'll be baffled by - seriously, I don't see how other people don't mind that there is no soul in his performances. Everybody is so obsessed with external things. It's not that he's great, but I rarely connect to him (his early performances are way better than the post-Gangs of New York ones). The one I'm truly baffled by, though, is Denzel whose performance is just way behind.

Best Supporting Actress

Will win: Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables
Should win: Sally Field in Lincoln

Hathaway seems to be the only completely safe bet (beside DDL) and in my opinion, undeservedly so (I know, I know). I'm not going to get into why I don't like this performance, I'd rather go and praise Sally Field's incredible performance as Mary Todd Lincoln, which, for me, is essential to the development of Lincoln and Sally's no-holds-bars acting is just perfect for this character. Amazing. The other nominees... not sure about them, but they all offer something special (especially Hunt's beautiful, subtle work in The Sessions, but I'm not sure if she's in the right category).

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln (not sure; it could just as well be Waltz or De Niro)
Should win: Robert De Niro in Silver Linings Playbook

Since the category is Best SUPPORTING Actor, I'm saying De Niro should win his third Oscar even though both Hoffman and Waltz gave superior performances (Hoffman gave the best performance of the five, IMO, but his fraud is the ugliest). Considering them in this category is more than unjust (especially that Waltz's spot took the place of DiCaprio and Jackson who could have won long overdue Oscars). Anyway, a strong category, with Arkin being the weakest link (but I enjoyed his work a lot as well).

Best Original Screenplay

Will win: Django Unchained
Should win: Moonrise Kingdom

I'm elated that Moonrise Kingdom was recognised here, because it's the most special screenplay for me this year, because of the beautiful, poetic and tender story of growing up. It's just amazing. Amour is closely behind though the screenplay is one of the least important parts. Either Haneke or Tarantino will win an Oscar in a make-up for not winning Director. I'm going with Tarantino because it's more of a film that wins a Screenplay award than Amour (if you know what I mean). Although it's a strong line-up, I have no idea what Flight's average screenplay does there.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Will win: Argo
Should win: Silver Linings Playbook

Although Tony Kushner wrote a very admirable 1,131,141-page-long screenplay, for me Silver Linings is the easiest choice of all the categories for its realistic, bittersweet portrayal of a tough subject, fantastic dialogue and ironic way of thinkin. That being said, Argo will win this one, which is a shame, really, because it's probably my 4th in this line-up and it's way behind SLP, Lincoln and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Best Cinematography

Will win: Life of Pi
Should win: Skyfall

What a category! Basically everybody deserves to take home the Oscar, except for Robert Richardson who's doing one of his two types of cinematography (one for Scorsese, one for Tarantino). Still, Skyfall is the real standout for me and not because I feel Deakins should win. He actually always deserves to win, but what he did with Skyfall and the whole Bond series visually was just fantastic: it mixes its classic atmosphere with this modern, stunning digital visuality (that fight scene in the blue light, my goodness). But I guess this crazy obsession with 3D will help Life of Pi's case.

Best Score 

Will win: Life of Pi
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty Anna Karenina

Another terrific category, despite the fact that the two greatest scores this year were not nominated (Zero Dark Thirty and Moonrise Kingdom, both by Desplat). I have to go with Anna Karenina here  and for very subjective reasons. I'm just dying for strings and the way Marianelli's music sounds from the violins and chellos. I'm dying. The close runner-up (for the same reasons) is the often bashed score of Argo, which is vivid, colorful, tense and uplifting. But I'm also fine with Danna winning for Life of Pi. 

Best Editing

Will win: Argo
Should win: Zero Dark Thirty

William Goldenberg deserves the Oscar... for Zero Dark Thirty. Seriously, that movie is brilliantly paced and the editing has such a large part in keeping it as intense and suspenseful as it really is. Strongly behind is Silver Linings Playbook, for the magnificent manic feeling it adds to the film.

Best Production Design

Will win: Life of Pi
Should win: Anna Karenina

Honestly, Anna Karenina not winning for this would be a crime. The sets had such an integral part in creating the magical atmosphere of this underrated movie and I basically couldn't close my mouth while looking at them. Closely behind is Lincoln for fabulously representing the whole tone of Lincoln in the sets. The weakests link for me are Les Miserables, which failed to impress me with those stagey elements (it worked with Anna Karenina more) and Life of Pi, which I fear is winning because The Academy tends to confuse Art Direction with Visual Effects.

Best Costume Design

Will win: Anna Karenina
Should win: Mirror Mirror

Another very strong category, where in my opinion, the late Eiko Ishioka's work in Mirror Mirror should easily triumph. Close behind is Anna Karenina for me, which will be perfectly deserving of the Oscar it'll win, in my opinion.

Best Original Song

Will win: Skyfall
Should win: Adele for Skyfall

Adele is so close to winning that damn Oscar, the Academy had better not screw this up. Seriously, this really was the song of the year and was a perfect-perfect choice for a 007 movie (that intro, my goodness). 

Best Make-up and Hairstyling

Will win: Les Miserables
Should win: Les Miserables

For some reason, I have to go with Les Miserables here, because some of those creations in The Hobbit seemed so obvious and fake for me and Hopkins' make-up is so terrible in Hitchcock (it's more Albert Nobbs than The Iron Lady, to put it nicely). Les Miserables, however, is perfect this way and is an easy choice for me. 

Best Sound Mixing

Will win: Les Miserables
Should win: Skyfall

Best Sound Editing

Will win: Life of Pi (I don't really buy Argo winning this, it's either both Sound categories or neither)
Should win: Life of Pi

To see the rest of my predictions, watch my goldderby profile! :) I might change some of my predictions so you'll see the changes there.

Anyway, I'm excited for the show because Seth MacFarlane is hosting (I'm a fan of Family Guy) and of course, especially since Jane Fonda is presenting!!! :) The winners might be shitty but Jane will be there and that's the most important.

Are you all ready?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Final Conclusion - Best Actress 2012


So the much anticipated ranking is:

5. Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
This may not be a brilliant performance and probably Quvenzhané doesn't fully understand the technical part of acting yet, but I never felt her inexperience for a moment. On the contrary, she understands the character and makes her much more complex than I expected from her. Quvenzhané is much more conscious than most of the child actors that I've ever seen, never coasting on her charisma and always doing what's best for her character.

4. Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
I'm just astonished by the beautifully detailed, layered and understated performance of Jessica Chastain. She develops a characters from little bits of scenes and moments and affects without much dialogue, screen time or showy Oscar scenes. She has a lion share in making Zero Dark Thirty the shocking and stunning masterpiece that it really is. But I wish I could forget that shouting...

3. Naomi Watts in The Impossible 
Naomi Watts gives a really effective performance in The Impossible, which may not have blown me away, but I was still impressed by it. She does the best she can with her character and has a lion share in making the movie as dramatic and devastating as it really is. I just feel that besides the physical and dramatic part, there wasn't much going on with the character and that's probably the reason why she's not more of a contender for the actual award.

2. Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook 
Contrary to all the Oscar reviewers and just like everyone else in this world I've totally fallen under the charms of Jennifer Lawrence who gives an unbelievably amazing, beautiful performance and creates a three-dimensional character with such extraordinary passion and depth that it sets the screen on fire and makes you fall in love with her characters despite (or maybe even because of) her flaws.

1. Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
This performance is nothing like I've seen in the Best Actress category and comparing it to other Oscar nominees seems really weird as a result. She may not win the Oscar for this stunning, career-crowning achievement, her performance (and Jean-Louis Trintignant's) will go down in movie history, as it should be. A deeply haunting, disturbing, depressing, mesmerising and amazing performance by an often overlooked, great talent.

So I can proudly announce
that the winner is...
Emmanuelle Riva
 Je vous aime, Mademoiselle Riva.

Final thoughts: A truly amazing year. The Academy makes some shitty safe choices in Best Picture, Actor and the rest, but they keep compensating with outstanding Actress line-ups every year so I'm happy at least about that (and also the Directors' gutsy, almost original set of nominees). Initially, choosing between Jennifer Lawrence and Emmanuelle Riva was so damn difficult, my head said Emmanuelle, my heart said Jennifer (for subjective reasons). I feel that eventually, I made the right choice. That being said, I was equally happy for Jennifer and really I hoped this would be a tie (as they will come right after each other in my ranking). Jennifer Lawrence, say what you want, almost rivals Kate Winslet's Clementine in my mind and that's why I'll keep defending her win, even though Emmanuelle Riva is my choice, eventually. But seriously if anyone of my Top 3 had won, I wouldn't have been disappointed at all (I could have accepted a Naomi upset as well). So this year was better than alright, even though Marion Cotillard definitely deserved a nomination.:(  

  • Marion Cotillard in Rust and Bone
  • Judi Dench in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games
About the next year: First, I'll finish 1999 and then... well, I'll let you know.

What do you think? Any thoughts on your mind?

Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

Quvenzhané Wallis became the youngest actress ever to be nominated for Best Actress thanks to her performance as Hushpuppy, a little girl who's forced to grow up by some tragic events in her life in Beasts of the Southern Wild. Quvenzhané was the surprise nomination of Oscar morning, upsetting Oscar-winning superstars Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren. With hindsight, Emmanuelle's nomination seems to be obvious, but Wallis' spot is still very surprising. I feel that while she will most definitely be fifth, her nomination was an incredible achievement that will most definitely boost her career if she makes the right decisions. But I hope that before having a great career, Quvenzhané will have a very happy and satisfying childhood.

I am, however, a bit confused about Beasts of the Southern Wild. On the one hand, I was completely stunned and blown away by it. On the other hand, I'm a bit baffled by it and I'm not sure why I was so amazed. Anyway, this movie is unlike anything I saw last year (or in fact, any other year) and I'm glad that Benh Zeitlin received an Oscar nomination for his powerful, innovative and surprising directing, which was much better than Ben Affleck's average work (I never forget to point this out, sorry :P). I was also impressed by Dwight Henry's unusual and unaffected performance as Huspuppy's tough father whose layers are revealed surprisingly well by Henry who shows us little moments of vulnerability behind the tough guy act. His work is better than all of the Best Supporting Actor nominees this year (just saying).

Still, Beasts of the Southern Wild will be remember primarily because it marked the first big screen appearance of Quvenzhané Wallis, this startling presence who will hopefully light up the screen many times in the future. I'm neither too enthusiastic nor very sceptical about child performances as I believe that all performances should be treated equally with the same amount of praise and criticism. I personally don't mind if it took 1241 takes to make the kid as good as she is on the screen, because I see that she had all the power in herself to play such a complex role so wonderfully. And she has every quality to be the star of a movie: charisma, strong personality, beauty and above all, a shining talent.

At first sight, Hushpuppy seems to be a paper thin character that doesn't need the actress to do more than coasting on her own charisma, but you realise what a complex development she has over the course of the film and how conscious she has to be to show all the layers of the little girl. I'm actually quite shocked at how realised this performance was: I had a feeling that Quvenzhané perfectly understood her character and all the stages she was going through in her life. She starts out in perfect harmony with her own environment and feels that the private world of hers (and her daddy's) cannot be destroyed in any way only to find out that it's all consumed by the illness of her father. I don't know if it was Quvenzhané's own realisation of this tragedy that I saw on the screen or her character's, but how she communicated this to the audience was nothing short of breathtaking. Both Hushpuppy and Quvenzhané walk around with the confidence of an adult and only Hushpuppy loses that confidence occasionally .

Also, I was astonished by how comfortably Quvenzhané works with the cameraaaahs (I  miss 30 Rock), perfectly being of aware of how much is needed to be shown, while also toning down her own cuteness. Whenever we get funny scenes, it's more about the humor and the irony of the situation than how cute Wallis looks on the screen (the scene with Hushpuppy's cooking comes to mind).

However, the true highlight of the film is Hushpuppy's heartbreaking last scene with her father: not only do you see pain in her tears, but also the determination to manage on her own. I believe the most breathtaking achievement of Quvenzhané is that she was able to show this girl's development so effortlessly, adding to the wonderful atmosphere of the film. Although lot of that had to do with her personality, it doesn't take away anything from the overall effect.

But objectively, you have to curb your enthusiasm a bit because Quvenzhané still has a lot to learn about this craft. Although she has the talent and the confidence, you can see that she cannot shine from a technical point of view. Of course, you don't expect that from a 6-year-old, but as I said in the beginning, I have to compare her to four adult lead actresses who all perfectly realised their characters and gave them everything they could. While Quvenzhané works from her instincts just like Jennifer, this was a decision from Jennifer's part and served the purposes of the character and it gave her performance a natural, but professional feeling. However, you can see that Quvenzhané works with her instincts because she doesn't have other options. You find Quvenzhané brilliant if you consider this a child performance, but when you compare it to everybody else, it just doesn't have the weight and experience that all the others do. She affects, but that has more to do with how well she's working already.

This may not be a brilliant performance and probably Quvenzhané doesn't fully understand the technical part of acting yet, but I never felt her inexperience for a moment. On the contrary, she understands the character and makes her much more complex than I expected from her. Quvenzhané is much more conscious than most of the child actors that I've ever seen, never coasting on her charisma and always doing what's best for her character. She walks on the screen with lots of self-confidence and she has such a stunning personality that I'm certain that she will give beautiful, layered performances when she grows up and learns more about acting. However, not only is her work in Beasts of the Southern Wild a promising beginning, but also something that even great actresses can be proud of.

What do you think? (The conclusion comes later in the evening)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Jessica Chastain received her second Oscar nomination for playing Maya, the CIA agent who was able to track down Osama Bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow's stunning movie, Zero Dark Thirty. At the beginning of Oscar season, it seemed that Jessica had a legitimate shot at taking home her first Oscar and it seemed so logical: her career's really hit its peak (although I can see her top even this). And then that absurd, disgusting hate campaign about torture came up, probably smashing Jessica's Oscar dreams for a while. Never mind, she'll be back very soon and she'll go for the gold then! I'm thinking she'll be third eventually or if Naomi's buzz is indeed that strong then she's only fourth (I highly doubt it).

Zero Dark Thirty is quite simply a masterpiece by Kathryn Bigelow who really did her absolute best with this film and who's really unworthy of the tons of criticism thrown at her. And that perfectly shows the hypocrisy of people: when she was about to make history at the Oscars, she was basically considered Queen Empress of the world and when controversy hit her latest movie, all these loudly cheering fans stayed silent and let the hate campaign cost her a more than deserved Best Director nomination (which she should have won in a heartbeat). Anyway, I thought this film was much better than The Hurt Locker, since it was able to be just as effective without the occasional use of theatrical elements that weren't actually needed. This picture was more toned down, more mature and even more shocking and disturbing. It could win any of those five nominations without a single complaint of mine. Unfortunately, I feel it's destined to go home empty-handed.

This unfortunately applies to Jessica Chastain, whom I really wanted to see her win the Oscar and it's not only about her performance necessarily: I feel that she would benefit from the win the most and nobody would really complain about it (I'm worried now that cinephiles and the JenLaw fan base will have some serious comment battles under the Best Actress youtube videos and in blog posts after this Sunday and neither of them deserves the shit that either of them will most definitely get).

But as they say, good work is its own reward and that cannot be more true than in the case of Jessica Chastain who keeps having amazing years: last year it was The Tree of Life, Take Shelter and of course, The Help (as well as many others) and now she's back with Lawless, Mama and her latest masterpiece of acting, Zero Dark Thirty. Jessica Chastain instantly comes off as a fantastic, beautiful actress who can blow your socks off in ten seconds. The only thing that really bothers me is that every time there's a new discovery who shows exceptional range, people are already screaming 'we have the new Meryl Streep'.

And I'm saying this because we already know by now that she's one of the most unique actresses ever to grace the silver screen and she offers us yet another great performance to prove that. She plays Maya, a CIA expert whose only goal to achieve is finding Bin Laden. She basically sacrifices her happiness, time and safety, while also probably jeopardising her job. On many occasions, Jessica describes Maya as a woman who lets her expert work speak for itself while not using her womanhood in any way. Many are praising this aspect of her performance while bashing Jennifer Lawrence as a fuckable young actress who's only good for men to ease themselves on her pictures, but let me just treat them separately. I'm saying Jessica just gives one hell of a performance as a strong female character, something we don't see as often on the big screen as we probably should be.

That being said, Jessica managed to also overcome the obstacle of being compared to Claire Danes' powerhouse acting in Homeland, which basically has a monopoly on being the complex, complicated character of a CIA agent, but even I forgot about Claire while watching Jessica here (mind you Jessica, she still cannot be topped in my book :P). But really these two performances really are like apples and oranges. What they share is a masterful skill at developing an intriguing, tough character and while Maya doesn't have a showy mental illness to let Jessica affect even more in the part, we can catch little moments of her vulnerability as well and she can become just as manic and obsessed as Carrie Mathison. Getting to witness all the ups and downs of this very subtly drawn character is so fulfilling in itself that I probably wouldn't even ask for me. Jessica had a difficult job in making this character stand out from the dangerously powerful film, but she managed to add something of her own to the overall effect.

However, I'd say, all these aspects didn't matter to me at all after Bin Laden is killed (SPOILER ALERT!). Maya has to identify his body and that scene for me was just as chilling and hard-hitting as Jennifer Lawrence breaking down in front of the movie theater or Emmanuelle Riva's character slowly dying in front of my eyes. In fact, I have to say, Jessica gave us the best acted scene of 2012. I had the same feelings that I had with Jane Fonda in a very similar scene from Julia. Both of them were able to communicating such a wide range emotions without any dialogue. And this is probably one of the most rewarding things about this performance: we see an actress, at the top of her game, with self-confidence and luminous presence who uplifts an already strong and thought-provoking material. Although last year marked the "official" breakthrough of Jessica Chastain, this movie cemented her status as one of the world's top actresses, even if she'll have many roles that will be even more acclaimed and celebrated than this one. And if we're talking about the prospects of success, even I'd say that we might have our new Meryl Streep.

Overall, I'm just astonished by the beautifully detailed, layered and understated performance of Jessica Chastain. She develops a characters from little bits of scenes and moments and affects without much dialogue, screen time or showy Oscar scenes. She has a lion share in making Zero Dark Thirty the shocking and stunning masterpiece that it really is. Her two scenes after the infamous mission is completed deserve a perfect rating on their own and the rest of the film only makes me love her as well so I'm very calm about giving her a
What do you think?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Naomi Watts in The Impossible

Naomi Watts received her second Oscar nomination for playing Maria, a mother who's trying to survive the horrible tsunami of 2004 with her son in The Impossible. In this very unlikely Best Actress year, Naomi didn't seem to be more than a long shot for a nomination until the guilds, the Globes and fellow actors (like Reese Witherspoon and Angelina Jolie) expressed their support for her and the movie itself. That being said, I feel that Naomi has the least chance of winning the Oscar this year, because all the other ladies star in Best Picture nominees. Diana could do it for her next year (although I'm not too sure because of Meryl and Jennifer Lawrence's Serena, especially if Jen loses now, which seems more and more probable, it's a matter of time). That being said, I'm hearing about some late buzz for Naomi, but I don't think that will help her win.

Since I'm a fan of disaster flicks in general, I was really looking forward to The Impossible, but I knew it was going to be different from all the other films because it's based on real events. And yes, it is terrifying, even when the director chooses to be overly theatrical. You know that this tragedy indeed took place and being faced with reality is really painful. In my humble opinion, the movie also should have been recognised for the heartbreaking, stunning visual effects, which were in my opinion essential to the film. Same goes for Ewan McGregor's performance: it's better than 80% of the nominated ones, I was especially moved by his breakdown in the telephone scene. I don't know what he has to do to finally be nominated. 

Although I'd say Naomi Watts is leading in this film, she's definitely not the central character, since the story is mostly about the development of the oldest son, while Naomi Watts has to support him, while also trying to have an effect on her own. As you may remember, I wasn't very fond of Naomi's first Oscar nominated performance in 21 Grams, but other than that, I always thought she was a very reliable, talented, beautiful actress who gave a stunning breakthrough performance in Mulholland Drive. I think if she was fighting for great part as much as her good friend Nicole Kidman, she would also receive nominations more often. Instead, she chose a more subtle progress in her career and I'm sure that it was the right decision for her.

As many people said, dramatic intensity is almost a trade mark of Naomi Watts, which is exactly what a great disaster film needs. And the emphasis is really on "great" because we often tend to forget about acting in this genre (or at least we seriously underrate it), but then we should think about the likes of The Poseidon Adventure or The Towering Inferno. These movies worked because of how A-list cast was able to keep the tension, even when the story itself is paper thin. After all, disasters bring out the instinct of survival out of a person and you can't really follow the acting style of an Ivory-Merchant movie. You have to be shamelessly emotional, holding nothing back, which is actually a very difficult thing to pull off believably and that's probably why Naomi Watts was the perfect choice for the role of Maria.

The beginning of the movie is incredibly idyllic, with a seemingly alright family with usual problems and Naomi does a great job showing Maria's desire to go back to work and change in her life. It's a sort of typical exposition to the disaster that develops a connection between the main characters and the audience and Naomi is especially effective. She (along with her co-stars) wonderfully builds up the tension to the big tsunami scene. The movie and the actors play one of the easiest and most manipulative games with the viewer: you know what's coming, the characters don't. Therefore, sometimes I was baffled if the effect was because of the performance or the story, but for most of the time I didn't even have doubts that I was affected by the great performances.

After this, Naomi's part is only demanding physically and she doesn't have to care about building up the development of the character. Her only task is to keep up the intensity in every scene, which she solves quite easily, actually. Still, it's impossible not to be moved by her work: Maria is trying her best to survive for the sake of her son is just incredible. She doesn't get obvious Oscar scenes like Ewan McGregor so she had to make do with her own opportunities: desperate looks, screaming and her character floating between life and death. She doesn't follow Emmanuelle Riva's dignified way, Naomi's performance becomes no-holds-barred after the tsunami and yet she was able to solve this much better than she did in 21 Grams (in my opinion).

The problems come when her character is in the background. Unfortunately, her screen time is not enough to completely keep up that intensity throughout the film. Mostly she just lies on a hospital bed and has gruesome physical reactions (the make-up was also amazing) and suffers but after a while she pales a little bit in comparison with other story lines with more active characters and emotional scenes. I was quite sorry about this because with more scenes and a more development in the character, she would have been able to bring the house down and give a truly earth-shattering performance that would make me admire her performance as much as her fellow Hollywood actors.

To sum up, Naomi Watts gives a really effective performance in The Impossible, which may not have blown me away, but I was still impressed by it. She does the best she can with her character and has a lion share in making the movie as dramatic and devastating as it really is. I just feel that besides the physical and dramatic part, there wasn't much going on with the character and that's probably the reason why she's not more of a contender for the actual award. I just wish there was more focus on her character and then she could have been a shoo-in for Oscar's and my own vote. Still, a powerful and intense piece of work that deserves a

What do you think?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Emmanuelle Riva in Amour

Emmanuelle Riva received her first Oscar nomination for playing Anne, a slowly dying elderly lady whose sufferings are portrayed in Michael Haneke's masterpiece, Amour. Although Emmanuelle won over critics and filmmakers around the world, her performance was snubbed by both SAG and the Globes, which made her a long shot for an Oscar nomination. Fortunately, the Academy was more open to embracing the stunning performance of a French actress who's primarily known to cinephiles. From the long shot position, she quickly moved up to the status of a possible front-runner (?) thanks to a Bafta win and well, nothing else (definitely not campaiging), except for her exceptional work that speaks for itself.

As I said, Amour is a masterpiece and I hope it picks up as many awards at the Oscars as it possibly can. I did my wish-list of nominees right before the announcement and the ones concerning Amour all came true. While it could have been only Foreign Language Film, it also got in for Picture (!), Director (Ben who???) and Original Screenplay. Although I'm not revealing my picks for all the categories until Oscar Sunday, I must say I couldn't argue against any of those five nominations translating into Oscar gold. However, I'm still extremely pissed that Jean-Louis Trintignant wasn't nominated (I don't even dare mention Isabelle Huppert) who, in my opinion, gave the best male performance of the year. It seems that whenever a female co-star of his gets nominated, he gets overlooked by the Academy despite the fact that his character was just as crucial and his acting was just as fantastic.

Still, the snub doesn't make Emmanuelle Riva's any more pleasing. Recognition for this often overlooked, great actress was overdue, especially considering her marvelous, legendary turn in Hiroshima, mon amour. Somehow, I feel that it's no co-incidence that both movies have the word "amour" in the title. Emmannuelle is an incredibly expressive and sensitive actress whose performances contain an unbelievable amount of tenderness and nobility, which is so much like her fellow nominee, Jessica Chastain and her co-star Isabelle Huppert. Therefore, she's really an actress and woman to fall in love with. You completely understand why and how all these men in the films fell for her: her stunning beauty and shining personality grabs you and doesn't let you go.

Therefore, Emmanuelle's aura was perfect for Anne's character. At the beginning of the film, we see a happy, satisfied elderly intellectual lady, seemingly still in love with her husband after 60+ years. Emmanuelle almost overdoes the beauty of Anne and one just doesn't understand the whole purpose of this becomes clear after you see the slow and disturbing process of Anne dying: the idyllic beginning makes Anne's sufferings even more painful and effective.

I am still stunned by the fact that non of this years' nominees for Best Actress gave traditional Oscar performances. Even when the parts sound baity on paper, the unusual approach of the actress distinguishes it, just like in the case of Emmanuelle. The role of the dying old lady is something that awards' bodies usually eat up. However, Riva gets rid of the sentimentality attached to such characters and instead, she underlines the true effect of this state on Anne and her relationship with her husband.

Although this journey of Riva's character is both painful and draining, it doesn't go over a certain point and knows exactly well how much tha audience can take. This doesn't mean, of course, that she holds herself back in order to make it easier to take, she just knows the delicate balance between devastating reality and overbearing overacting overeverything. Make no mistake, it's incredibly difficult to witness Anne's decay and Riva's incredibly realistic interpretation, but Emmanuelle doesn't push to make it as horrible as possible. Instead, she focuses on the emotional connection with the audience, which is most definitely the reason many people can sympathise with her.

Riva's task is made even more difficult by the fact that the movie tones down the showiness of such a performance and doesn't let her have big scenes, let alone development. If anything, we see an almost low-key devolution of a lady we've cared for since the beginning of the film. And the way Riva embodies Anne, physically, mentally and spiritually, makes her performance a complete revelation. Although her acting is not calculating for a moment, she totally takes control of her character as well as also becoming her and (if you excuse my smobbish European attitude) it's something that's rarely seen in Hollywood. Emmanuelle is always in charge of Anne, not the other way around. She uses her own body as a tool which leads to amazing believability. Yes, this sounds incredibly clumsy but it was hard to believe that Riva herself didn't suffer a stroke.

And naturally, her chemistry with Jean-Louis Trintignant is just brilliant. I mentioned in my review of Jennifer Lawrence that Jen and Bradley Cooper were one of the two greatest duos on the screen last year. Well, surprise! The other two people are Riva's Anne and Trintignant's Georges. In one shared glance you see a lifetime of happiness and amour displayed without any side of cheesiness or sentimentality. It's a completely fascinating to watch these two geniouses interacting. And it's great to watch them for completely sentimental, selfish reasons: it's so great to see the European cinema of the 60s resurrecting in 2013. It's like one extra curtain call for these wonderful artists that we don't discuss as often as we should (haha, that's about to change on this blog!!!).

Overall, this performance is nothing like I've seen in the Best Actress category and comparing it to other Oscar nominees seems really weird as a result. She may not win the Oscar for this stunning, career-crowning achievement, her performance (and Jean-Louis Trintignant's) will go down in movie history, as it should be. A deeply haunting, disturbing, depressing, mesmerising and amazing performance by an often overlooked, great talent. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook

Jennifer Lawrence received her second Best Actress nomination for playing Tiffany, a mysterious and wounded young woman in David O. Russell's Best Picture nominated film, Silver Linings Playbook. Jennifer basically won every important award for her performance in this film, which places her in the status of the front-runner at the Academy Awards (I suppose that SAG and the four acting nominations for the film sealed this). However, I don't think that this win will be an easy one: Emmanuelle Riva is very close to her and Jessica Chastain could also be a threat if they decide to make up for the snub of Kathryn Bigelow. The reason why I think Jennifer is winning is simply because there's so much competition among her fellow nominees and that will give the edge to the front-runner (just like in Melissa Leo's case).

As I've already explained it in a previous post, I find Silver Linings Playbook to be an amazing movie that deals with a very tough subject in a most unusual and yet totally convincing and realistic way. The movie is not ashamed of having a silver lining and not deciding to write a tragic end to the story (in my humble opinion, this underlined the message of the movie so wonderfully). Come Oscar night, I'd very much love to see an upset in basically every category in which it's nominate, even though it's not necessarily my pick in most of them. 

We get to see a twentysomething nominee in the Best Actress category every year, who's enjoying her first nomination (with a slim chance of winning) and the possibility of a great career. And here's Jennifer Lawrence, 22, receiving her second nomination in two years (being the youngest actress to receive two nominations in that category) having received critics' awards, a Globe and a SAG. Many people would have probably bet on Carey Mulligan to gain a second nomination and an Oscar earlier and yet here we are with Jennifer who didn't have the "star is born" hype the last time (since Natalie Portman sucked out the air of anyone's possible campaign with hers).

However, Jennifer's last nomination came for the independent film Winter's Bone, where the cast and crew was able to ignore Hollywood's rules with the raw, unapologetic style of filmmaking. I suppose this attitude was the one that appealed to most Academy voters last time and that's what helped Lawrence's meteoric rise to stardom. She's so uncompromising in her acting and so free of tactics that one could even ignore the term "acting decisions" in her case. Instead of choosing to overanalyse her character, she relies completely on her own instincts and lets her soul drive her performances instead of her head, which may not lead to what we call "great actressing" but what is essential to creating a character that the audience can relate to and connect with certain aspects of their lives. Nowadays reviewers are almost pervertly obsessed with the little details and external aspects of performances that we often tend to forget what it's all about. Primarily, it's not about constantly showing an actor's tools and/or skills, it's more about embodying a believable character that contributes to the story.

I couldn't understand these at all the last time I encountered her as an Oscar nominee, but years taught me to see behind the surface and now I'm just amazed by her talent. And as weird as it sounds from my mouth, I believe we might have found our next Jane Fonda, an actress who creates on her own terms and acts with her soul and flawless instinct. She may not display all those "perfect skills", but her characters are painfully deep and vulnerable, which lead to enourmous effects (on me, at least).

Although Jennifer is much younger than Tiffany should be according to Matthew Quick's novel, her youth adds another layer of vulnerability to Tiffany's character. Nothing that she says about her husband sounds completely believable from her mouth, which confuses you more and makes you uncertain about everything you would think about her and this ultimately leads to a mysterious aura around her that makes it so easy to identify with Tiffany's pain. The fact Jennifer makes the emotions of the character almost touchable makes her acting affect even more deeply.

Moreover, the chemistry with Bradley Cooper makes them one of the two greatest duos that graced the screen last year (guess who were the others). Although there have been complaints about the fact that the whole purpose of Jennifer's character was to support Bradley Cooper's unstable Pat, I'd say that's one of the many-many misinterpretations about this movie or at least it's not a very accurate one in my opinion: Tiffany's character, as unstable as she is herself, brings redemption to Pat's life, just as much as she's saved by Pat. Bradley Cooper's clumsy and obsessive character is the polar opposite of Jennifer's Tiffany and yet they are just as implusive and vulnerable.

And since this chemistry is at the centre of Silver Linings Playbook, it's no surprise that their scenes are the one sticking with you the most. Their argument at the diner and in front of the movie theater is both electric and devastating, perfectly demonstrating how these two human beings are exposed to their traumas and their sudden realization of this is nothing short of heartbreaking.

But really, in the end, it all comes down to my favorite scene all year, the dance contest that is one of the most unusual and memorable scenes I've ever seen in my life: there's a brilliant balance between outrageously funny comedy and a deeply upsetting drama. It has a "last shot at happiness" feeling to it that makes you (or at least me) feel a kind of euphoria, which is perfectly shown on the face of Jacki Weaver in that scene. The bittersweet reality that Lawrence and Cooper both bring to this scene is quite simply astonishing. It's too bad that we're influenced by our own cynicism and our expectations of great "actressing" or "acting" and we forget to enjoy. If anything, Silver Linigs Playbook was a memento for me to examine all my conceptions and opinions about acting and filmmaking in general

Overall, contrary to all the Oscar reviewers and just like everyone else in this world I've totally fallen under the charms of Jennifer Lawrence who gives an unbelievably amazing, beautiful performance and creates a three-dimensional character with such extraordinary passion and depth that it sets the screen on fire and makes you fall in love with her characters despite (or maybe even because of) her flaws. A wondeful portrayal which according to me deserves a

What do you think?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Next Year


So the nominees are:
  • Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook
  • Emmanuelle Riva in Amour
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts in The Impossible
Since I have very little time left, I have to interrupt 1999 (which will be finished immediately after 2012, don't worry) so that I can finish 2012 before the ceremony (I'm planning to write a more thorough should win/will win than usual). I can say one thing in advance: what a year! And I tell you, according to my own estimations, it will be a real Sophie's Choice between not two, but three (!) performances (very much like 1996). And I love it that none of these performances are usual Best Actress stuff. 

What do you think? Who's your pick? Who do you think will win the Oscar? And more importantly :P, what's your prediction for my ranking? :)