February 27, 2015

Bette Davis, Now, Voyager

as CHARLOTTE VALE
 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 9.59.51 PM.jpg

"Oh Jerry, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars." so utters miss Bette Davis in that iconic final line of Now, Voyager. In a way the line brings meaning to my relationship with Davis thus far, this being her seventh performance I've written up in a little over a year. (Bette is leading the pack as the most covered actress on this blog, with good 'ole Kate Hepburn right behind her) It's been strange--I think I always come into a Bette Davis film expecting her to give me the moon, and am subsequently disappointed when she serves me with stars instead. As a result my patience with her has gradually worn thin as of late, and thus I came into Now, Voyager... expecting stars. And of course, Davis served me those stars, but what a great set of stars they were.

February 25, 2015

Ronald Colman, Random Harvest

as CHARLES RAINIER/SMITH
 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 2.18.00 PM.jpg

After having trekked through some pretty shit movies over the last month, Random Harvest proved to be a breath of fresh air. Sure it's a bit melodramatic, and loses a lot of stream in its last act, but it's all held together wonderfully by Ronald Colman and Greer Garson (in the performance that she should have been nominated for, but I suppose this one wasn't propagandic enough.) As you may already know, I had loved him in Bulldog Drummond, so expectations were pretty high this time around. And for the most part, I'd say he delivered.

February 24, 2015

Über Early Actress Predictions

Two days ago the 87th Academy Awards came and left and Julianne Moore can now die with the words "Academy Award/Oscar winner" permanently attached to the front of her name. But it's NEVER too early to make proactive predictions. So who'll be the lucky ladies in contention for next year's statue? A previously nom'd actress? An actress who has never been nominated before? One of the last four winners?

So herein lies my predictions. Last year my ladies of choice were Amy Adams for Big Eyes (a lot of folks predicted her for the win too...ha! But she got pretty close to another nomination), Jessica Chastain for Miss Julie (Whoops!), Michelle Williams for Suite Francaise (Huh?), Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl (Yippee!) and Cate Blanchett in Carol (about that...). As we may already know, early early predictions never amount to anything, and I'll be lucky to accurately predict 2-3, but here goes:


+++


1. CATE BLANCHETT, CAROL
Who could resist Great Cate? What's more, who could resist Cate as a gorgeous repressed lesbian housewife in what will surely be a gorgeous Todd Haynes flick? I've been eagerly waiting for this one since Cate started filming for it following her Blue Jasmine win, and the very thought of her in a reverse Far From Heaven scenario is too much to resist.

ANTICIPATION: 5/5

2. JULIANNE MOORE, FREEHELD

Looks like our newly minted Best Actress will be riding that new wave of acclaim that started at last year's Cannes straight into next year. Sure, I watched the 12 minute Freeheld sizzle-reel on the web and was left a little indifferent by the footage, but this is as baity as it gets. For starters, its source material won an Oscar. Plus, Moore is playing a terminally ill lesbian, repressed by the man, fighting for the gay right to give Ellen Page her pension after she dies. Add in some Best Actress afterglow love and the Lionsgate distribution and it's looking like Moore will be well on her way to a sixth nom. 


ANTICIPATION: 3.5/5


3. ANGELINA JOLIE, BY THE SEA

I'm well aware that this could go the obvious route--that being Angelina Jolie's shoddy directorial history and the fact that this seems like it could fall into Revolutionary Road territory. But I'm rooting for it to go the route that I want it to go, that being: AWESOME AS HELL. I am one of the few who adored Revolutionary Road as well as Kate Winslet's performance, and who in God's name wouldn't be excited to see Brangelina joining forces on the big screen again? In fact, if By the Sea absolutely kills, it wouldn't be out of the question to envision the Academy handing a second Oscar over to the Queen of Hollywood herself.

ANTICIPATION: 5/5


4. SAOIRSE RONAN, BROOKLYN

Stellar reviews coming out of Sundance, and the fact that she has graduated gracefully from bright child star to ingenue, having done solid, consistent work since her first nomination as a baby nearly a decade ago, could mean that she's ready for her second nomination. Plus, reading the reviews on the film itself has gotten me pretty excited about this one. 


ANTICIPATION: 4/5


5. CHARLOTTE RAMPLING, 45 YEARS

Even more ecstatic reviews coming out of Berlin, plus the fact that she has never, ever gotten a nomination could mean that this is Rampling's chance to nab the Emmanuelle Riva position on the shortlist. My slightest qualms would be a) she has never been recognized by the Academy, so why would she be now? and b) Sundance Selects/IFC isn't the most sure-fire distributor to have, but hey, they did pretty well with Boyhood and got a certain French flower an unexpected Oscar nomination this year, so who knows? 

ANTICIPATION: 4/5

February 17, 2015

Greer Garson, Mrs. Miniver

as KAY MINIVER
 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 10.00.30 PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actress
As you might have already read, I wasn't a fan of Mrs. Miniver. But my discontent with the film doesn't totally sync with my feelings towards Greer Garson. I'll start off by saying that I think she's perfectly fine in this part--the part being that of the warm, radiant, strait-laced upperclass lady. But I'm not interested in that. I care more about what Kay Miniver goes through and whether or not Garson can impress beyond the dull confines of the film as well as the confines of what we expect from her. And typically I'm pretty sold with one-woman shows à la Erin Brockovich or La Vie en Rose, but this one was a little lacking in the excitement department.

February 14, 2015

Walter Pidgeon, Mrs. Miniver

as CLEM MINIVER
 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-03 at 8.47.02 PM.jpg
The movie is called Mrs. Miniver. Walter Pidgeon plays Mr. Miniver. Mrs. Miniver is not about Mr. Miniver. Cue the big, bright red flag. It's funny because we often see unrewarding, glorified supporting performances coming from women the form of faithful and strong wives, and here's Pidgeon, breaking that glass ceiling for all men everywhere with his Oscar nomination for one of the most basic if not the most basic Best Actor nominated-performances I've seen thus far. What little I've seen of Pidgeon so far hasn't been too bad. He seems like an interesting enough actor. But man, is this nomination is a joke.

February 9, 2015

James Cagney, Yankee Doodle Dandy

as GEORGE M. COHAN
 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 11.26.01 PM.jpg
Won: Academy Award - Best Actor | New York Film Critics Circle - Best Actor
Yankee Doodle Dandy is quite literally a two hour commercial about how great America is / a two hour WWII recruitment video. I wanted nothing more but to straight up hate it (and I pretty much did for much of the first half) but ultimately beyond the shitty dialogue it's still a solid song and dance show, and I love me a good song and dance show. I had my qualms with James Cagney--because like Gary Cooper before him, I wondered if he had won the Best Actor prizes that year because the picture and role pandered flawlessly to America's fears and mindset at the time. Like Alvin York, George M. Cohan is damn near saintly, without a single flaw to be mentioned of (though apparently the picture ignored the fact that Cohan was married twice). You and I both know that there was most likely a sentimental bias that factored into Cagney's victory, but I was pleased to find that he's pretty good.

February 1, 2015

Monty Woolley, The Pied Piper

as HOWARD
 photo Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 12.43.35 PM.jpg
Monty Woolley and The Pied Piper are another two cases of an actor and a film which are only remembered by a select few (you, myself, and a handful of other Oscar obsessives) today for their Academy Award nominations. And on paper it’s a no-brainer that a film and a performance like these would get attention back then. It’s a story about an old man who is in charge of bringing a hoard of children to safety in the midst of World War II. And if you’re a cynic like me, then you would assume that Woolley’s nomination is wholly due to the heroism of the character and the tangential respect people might have had for his bravery rather than the actual merit of Woolley’s work itself. But as much as I wanted to hate it from the get-go, I couldn’t. It’s much more bearable than I was anticipating, and that alone can be attributed to Woolley.