March 31, 2014

1937 - 10th Academy Awards

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and the nominees were:
Charles Boyer, Conquest
Fredric March, A Star is Born
Robert Montgomery, Night Must Fall
Paul Muni, The Life of Emile Zola
Spencer Tracy, Captains Courageous
Irene Dunne, The Awful Truth
Janet Gaynor, A Star is Born
Greta Garbo, Camille
Luise Rainer, The Good Earth
Barbara Stanwyck, Stella Dallas

Oscar turns 10! And what better way for me to appreciate his first decade of life than watching a hokey movie starring a kid, two movies starring Greta Garbo, another biopic with Paul Muni playing another Frenchman, and a movie with Paul Muni and Luise Rainer playing my ethnicity in my honor </sarcasm>. I'll start off by saying that I'm only looking forward to seeing two of the Actor nominees and I'm actually not excited about any of the Best Actress nominees. Coming in with low expectations can only lead to a somewhat positive outcome, right? Let me know which one of these you've seen/are your favorite :)

March 25, 2014

Gladys George, Valiant is the Word for Carrie

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Melodramatic is the word for Valiant is the Word for Carrie. In fact, it's probably one of the most melodramatic films the best actress category has ever seen--and that's a bold statement to make given all the thirties films I've seen up to this point! At times it feels as though the author of the original novel looked up the definition of "valiant" in the dictionary and then set off to write a story entirely around the adjective without any respect to narrative fluidity. The plot itself takes a ton of bizarre turns, but to star Gladys George's credit, she manages to do the best she can as waves and waves of ridiculous narrative crash onto her (and us).

March 23, 2014

Gary Cooper, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

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It is said that Gary Cooper was Frank Capra's "first, last and only choice" for the role of Mr. Deeds. I've been trying to figure out why that was, because my perception of Gary Cooper has always been that of a solemn and detached actor. So his casting as an eccentric and gentle man struck me as very strange, because surely there were naturally quirkier alternatives who'd have been more fitting for the role. But I can't fault Capra for knowing what he wanted, and so with that we have Cooper in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, a somewhat interesting yet not very gratifying performance in a somewhat interesting yet not very gratifying film.

March 9, 2014

Carole Lombard, My Man Godfrey

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Irene Bullock is a curious little creation. For starters, this is a role that's at a threshold where it feels about right to deem her as a lead character, yet her sole purpose in My Man Godfrey is to support William Powell's character. Secondly, Irene doesn't go through much character development. There is no a ha! moment in which she learns a lesson or transforms from A to B, she's just sort of written to be exactly the same from the second we meet her to the second the film ends. I've read comments from people on the internet where they complain that Irene never grows up or develops throughout My Man Godfrey. I for one could not care less about that. I thought Lombard was positively glorious in this role. It's a tricky character to pull off, and a less talented actress probably would have made Irene more annoying. However, Lombard brings so much life and joy into the film and her performance. She hits all the right notes, so much so that I found it impossible not to smile while watching her.

March 7, 2014

William Powell, My Man Godfrey

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William Powell has a charisma to him that I think few actors have. Aside from his handsome looks, there's an almost palpable intelligence to the way he presents himself onscreen. The way in which he speaks and reacts to other people has a confident smoothness that really makes you feel at ease with the characters he plays. Whether he's flirting with danger as Nick Charles or wooing us as Florenz Ziegfeld or butling in disguise as Godfrey, my interest in Powell is always consistently high. He's got a great mastery of his movie star powers, that even if he's not exactly wowing me with one of his performances, he can still hold my attention on the sheer basis of his charisma.

March 4, 2014

Über Early Actress Predictions

So ends another Oscar season, which has felt a lot more strenuous than in previous years, what with the delayed date due to the Winter Olympics and all. That said, while we've got about six months before the madness starts up again, it's never too early to predict the ladies who may or may not be at the Dolby this time next year. This time last year, I was predicting Streep, Dench, Naomi Watts for Diana, Nicole Kidman for Grace of Monaco, and Marion Cotillard for Nightingale.

Chances are, at least two of these predictions will flop hard later on in the year. But below are my (very) early picks, in order of likeliness. (Or rather, likeliness from the mindset of March 2014):


Amy Adams is basically the female Leonardo DiCaprio at this point. She's been through enough nominations to warrant that "hardworking actress who's overdue" narrative we all know and hate. She's likable. What's worse, she's playing a real person and her movie is being distributed by Weinstein. I despise the notion of actors winning awards for any reason outside of them truly having the best performance of the year, so here's hoping that Adams kills it in this film, but judging from the synopsis...I'm not really feeling it.

How excited I am about this one: 3/10


I think it's safe to assume that Chastain will be getting a third nomination next year. It looks as though we're in for another huge year from her, what with this as well as Interstellar, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, and A Most Violent Year. And while she could get nominated for a different film, I'm going to make a hunch and bet on this one, especially seeing as she'll be directed by the legendary Liv Ullmann herself...what more could a Best Actress fanatic want? Plus, throw in Colin Farrell's quote about the shoot:

It's tough, as tough as this job can be. It was the toughest time I have had in 15 years by a mile. It was hard, it was brutal…The behavior and the sustained cruelty and trauma are just brutal. It was cool, it was interesting but it was tough. I was glad to be done with it, like a few others. It was very challenging but it will be interesting to see what it becomes

...And my body is ready. 

How excited I am about this one: 10/10


Funny enough, Williams was Ullmann's first choice for Miss Julie, but she couldn't do it due to scheduling conflicts (perhaps it was because she was making this one?) Williams is another one of my favorite actresses. I adored her nomination for Blue Valentine and while I didn't care that much for her My Week with Marilyn nod, I'm going to assume that if she's half good in this one, she'll be in. Again, it's distributed by Weinstein. It's also a WWII pic. And Williams plays a Frenchwoman who falls for a German soldier. THE DRAMA! There's nothing that would get me more hot and bothered than a Chastain vs. Williams showdown for gold (Sorry Amy)

How excited I am for this one: 9/10


In the same tradition of past contenders like Memoirs of a GeishaThe Reader and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I'm currently in the middle of reading Gone Girl. I thought that Rooney Mara flourished under David Fincher's direction, and thus I can't help but be thrilled by Rosamund Pike's prospects as Amy Dunne. For as much as I've read so far, hers is a pretty juicy and complicated role, and if she kills it (which I think she will), she could nab that newcomer spot. There is that curious case of whether she'd be put in leading or supporting, and I could see arguments for both, but that really depends on how the film and the book will differentiate from one another.

How excited I am for this one: 8/10 


Cate Blanchett playing a 1950's lesbian in a Todd Haynes movie equates to as sure a thing for an Oscar nomination as you could get. I am still high off her amazing work in Blue Jasmine and I'm itching for more excellent material for her to sink her teeth into. Shooting begins in a few weeks, so hopefully this means that Carol will see a release by the end of the year. (The only reason why I have her last is because I'm not positive about the release date) And I suppose I'm excited for Rooney Mara as well, but c'mon. One of them will be thrown in supporting and it'll probably be the one whose character isn't named after the movie. I got Blanchett fever!

How excited I am for this one: 10/10

...And some other possible contenders:

Marion Cotillard, Macbeth Cotillard as a villainous Shakespearean character is more than enough for me to throw my money at her. But is she supporting? Is the film even coming out in 2014? (Excited: 10/10)
Keira Knightley, Can a Song Save Your Life? Plot doesn't seem that interesting to me, but Weinstein's confidence plus The Imitation Game piques my interest. (Excited: 5/10)
Reese Witherspoon, Wild This sounds like a hybrid between Into the Wild/All is Lost/Gravity. Also sounds like something Oscar would like. (Excited: 1/10)
Carey Mulligan, Far from the Madding Crowd I like Mulligan quite a bit, and she's in a period piece which was originally a novel (a la Knightley in Pride & Prejudice), not to mention a role that Julie Christie has already played. I'm in. (Excited: 7/10)
Natalie Portman, Jane Got a Gun An August release plus messy production drama makes me less excited about it, but I'm still curious how it'll turn out. (Excited: 7/10)
Nicole Kidman, Queen of the Desert Kidman in a grand Werner Herzog picture. She does seem to have trouble landing Oscar's attention though. Brownie points for The Railway Man and Grace of Monaco. (Excited: 6.5/10)
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods It was brought to my attention today that the role of The Witch has frequently garnered Tony and Drama Desk noms…sometimes in lead, sometimes in supporting. Still, I'm sure La Streep will rock it. (Excited: 8/10)