Sunday, November 7, 2010

Jamie Lee Curtis feels harassed...

Yes, it's been awhile, but someone sent me these videos and I thought it would entertain everyone until I can get back in motion.

Jamie Lee Curtis is harassed by Alex Forrest followed by Jodie Foster, and finally Joe Pesci.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Jeanne Crain in "Pinky"

Jeanne Crain received her only Oscar nomination for playing Patricia Johnson a.k.a. Pinky.

Pinky is a ridiculously awful film about a light skinned, young black woman, who returns home from college to help out her grandmother. This movie is wanting to say something so bad, it all ends coming out like vomit. And most of the problems can be traced to one person in particular...

Jeanne Crain plays Pinky, a smart, poor girl who finally got to get away from the swamp and make something out of life. Now, let's start with the obvious: Jeanne Crain, a pale white woman, is no light skinned black woman. It's as simple and offensive as that. Where there no black actresses around to play Pinky, at least, it would have some sort of creditability.

Now, the not so obvious: Jeanne Crain's inability to act. The ridiculousness of the story is there, and Crain seems to regale in it. Watching her get nearly molested and look like she's enjoying it, yet say "stop it", does this make sense for anyone. Or seeing her scream "I'm a Negro!!!" in the least convincing way possible, not to mention it looks silly since here's a white, very white actress scream these lines about being a black person. The best way to put it, she's on one singular note, if she's being warm with her grandmother or trying to defend herself in court, she stays the same. No emotion, no technique, and most importantly, no critique.

Jeanne Crain certainly could never overcome the ludicrous miscasting of being a white actress playing a black woman, but certainly she could have had more then one emotion in this movie, that didn't involve scrawling her face for 2 hours. She more or less does nothing in connecting Pinky's real feelings with the audience, instead relying on the audience to figure them out for themselves. In the end, Jeanne Crain gives a ridiculously bad performance, that shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as an Academy Award.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Olivia de Havilland in "The Heiress"

Olivia de Havilland won her second Oscar for playing Catharine Sloper, in The Heiress.

The Heiress is a well made, well written, and all around well acted film. The story follows an awkward young woman, who is bearing down on becoming a spinster, which is horrible for her father, a rich doctor (Ralph Richardson). He does whatever he can for his quiet, uncharismatic daughter to become more sociable and fancy. Her life immediately changes when a young man (Montgomery Clift) takes an interest in her...

Catharine is a woman who has always been frowned upon. She can't live up to her dead mother's image, or her father's dream and perfect image of her. She's not dumb or naive, she's simply a shy, clumsy woman who's never had the acceptance of anyone. So, it's only obvious that when handsome, charming Morris charges into her life, she falls completely head over heels, but the romance is doomed, since Catharine becomes only prey for Morris.

Olivia de Havilland starts out very normal in the film, just like Catharine. There's not much special about her, but she's always interesting. It isn't until there romance takes a fateful turn, when Catharine slowly starts to change her outlook on life. From that point on, she turns into a hateful, vindictive woman, forever changed by the perceptions people wanted her to be. De Havilland holds this character so well, the transition from shy, awkward girl to hateful, cruel woman is astonishingly real. Whenever she is waiting for Morris to come, and finally breaks down after all the pain and lost love, she does it so well, without overdoing the emotions of the shy girl or the cruelness of the woman.

It certainly proves you can give a great performance without having a flashy role or as in the 40s, a "strong" woman. From what it seems, she held back nothing in the part of Catharine, and it all shows. The slow arc from what Catharine used to be is brilliantly played by de Havilland, with intense, fascinating results.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Deborah Kerr in "Edward, My Son"

Deborah Kerr received her first Oscar nomination for playing Elvyn Boult, in Edward, My Son.

Edward, My Son is bland melodrama that never knows if it wants to be a alcoholic drama or a melodrama between a husband and wife. Maybe it's both, but the story really never lifts off the movie. Spencer Tracy is mediocre as usual, and no one really stands out in the cast either. The story follows Arnold Boult, a man who tries his best for decades to help his son become a success, but ultimately his disease ends up harming the son more then he ever expected.

Most of Deborah Kerr's Oscar nominations were for playing girlfriends/wives, and sometimes I wonder if she had this against her when it eventually came to the award, since it's been a trend for the Academy to give the actual award to strong women type roles, espeically in the leading category. Here she plays Evelyn, who barely has a storyline at first. She loves her son, that's about the only thing she gets to do there. Then, as the years go by, and her son eventually dies, she becomes more withdrawn and bitter.

Simply, she's not very good here. She sleepwalks through the first half, relying on her charm, and in the second half, she's one of the least believable drunks I've seen. She overdoes it with stretching out her words like "Arrrrrrnooooold" and there's even moments that were unintentionally funny. She does however have a great last scene that seems so misplaced compared with the rest of her performance. But, Deborah Kerr's connection with Evelyn is missing. She relies too much on the drunken gimmick and relies too little on how the audience will see her emotions, her bitterness towards her husband.

Deborah Kerr didn't necessarily have a nicely written part to begin with, but she ruins what could have been, with not shining enough in the beginning, and overdoing it in the latter half of Edward, My Son.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Loretta Young in "Come To The Stable"

Loretta Young received her last Oscar nomination for playing Sister Margaret in Come To The Stable.

Come To The Stable was clearly not a movie that I was going to enjoy right from the beginning. Two French nuns show up in a small American town, unexpectedly, and decide to build a children's hospital! Didn't like this movie at all or the corny sentimentality that seemed to seap through every scene.

Loretta Young plays Sister Margaret, the more sassier of the two nuns. I'm not even sure how I should approach this performance, since to be honest, there is barely anything to write about it. Sure, Loretta Young is the star of the movie, but the biggest highpoint of her performance is wearing the habit. She mostly stands around, or talks about God or say she will never give up on building a children's hospital. I mean, there is simply nothing here for me to praise!

Neither is her performance entertaining or insightful, or even properly done. They're French, but Loretta Young sounds like she has a light British accent. It's a harmless, nothing performance that within the context of the film, works just fine. Come To The Stable is nothing that was going to remember for years and years, so a couple of forgettable performances wouldn't hurt being shown in it. Unfortunately, Oscar also had to recognize it, which could be chalked up to religious sentimentality.

Loretta Young gives a harmless, worthless, uneven performance that might fit well in her movie, but was no great performance by any means.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 1949

And now another year of leading actresses!

And the Academy selected:
  • Jeanne Crain in Pinky
  • Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress
  • Susan Hayward in My Foolish Heart
  • Deborah Kerr in Edward, My Son
  • Loretta Young in Come To The Stable
So, will I agree with the Academy or name someone else the best of 1949?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ellen Burstyn in "The Exorcist"

Ellen Burstyn received her second Oscar nomination for playing Chris MacNeil, an actress, in The Exorcist.

I'm not sure entirely what to make of The Exorcist. While it has some undeniably, frightening, out of this world scenes, it's also features some plastic dialogue. I also don't think it's the scariest movie ever made. For me, frightening films come in all sorts of different varieties, but I find it has to be some realistic to actually scare me. I think for the most part, The Exorcist is a drama (which it succeeds at) about a mother trying to figure out what is the matter mentally with her daughter.
It's really up to Ellen Burstyn to set a dramatic foundation for the film, while Linda Blair adds the horror foundation. Actually, Ellen Burstyn does alot in this film, besides fighting the demon inside her daughter. Chris is an actress, it's never very clear if she's a popular actress, but I'm assuming she's not. Chris is also dealing with the fact her ex-husband wants nothing to do with Regan, and she's struggling with excruciating stress, because Regan is starting to become more mentally strange, and no one seems to know what's going on.

I was quite surprised when I originally watched The Exorcist, and saw that Ellen Burstyn really took her work seriously here. She adds little ticks and facets to Chris, making her caring, if a little high strong woman who doesn't like being under pressure. Like when she argues with the doctors in her house or when she first finds out Regan used a curse word, she's extremely realistic and impressive in focusing on Chris's large amount of emotions for her daughter. She fearlessly takes on this role, which a big bonus from me. She's holds nothing back, even in her quietest moment, Burstyn grabs hold of Chris's grief and utter confusion.

A performance that could easily go unappreciated considering this is a film that is supposed to be the scariest of all time, someone might looks for the thrills or stunts, but Ellen Burstyn doesn't let Chris go unnoticed, and on top of that, The Exorcist isn't a typical horror film. She gives a realistic performance in an unrealistic situation.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 1973

And moving right along to another year:

And the Academy selected:
  • Ellen Burstyn in The Exorcist
  • Glenda Jackson in A Touch Of Class
  • Marsha Mason in Cinderella Liberty
  • Barbara Streisand in The Way We Were
  • Joanne Woodward in Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams
So, will I agree with the Academy or name someone else the best of 1973?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 2005: My Ranking


5. Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line

- Reese Witherspoon doesn't know how to play June Carter, whether she is trying her best to sing or failing to be sassy or remotely interesting.

4. Keira Knightly in Pride and Prejudice
- It's clear from the beginning, Keira Knightly is going to give one forceful performance, but what isn't clear is how she knows Elizabeth, the one Jane Austen wrote, not what the one her director wanted.

3. Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents

- Judi Dench doesn't take Mrs. Henderson seriously, but she also fails to add any clairty or reason behind her character's actions, which turn the performance into something uninteresting and boring.

2. Charlize Theron in North Country

- With so much effort, Charlize Theron shows the dignity and courage of a woman who has been harrassed for the last time, in a man's world. Her performance takes many twists and turns but in the end she always holds it together.

1. Felicity Huffman in Transamerica

- Felicity Huffman gives a performance that is perfect in many ways. First of all, there is no gimmicks, whatsoever attached to her performance. Yes, here is a woman playing a man becoming a woman, but she adds many layers, facets, and complexities to her character with sadness and even humor. A brilliant performance.

Honorable Omissions: Lauren Lee Smith in "Lie With Me", Gretchen Mol in "The Notorious Bettie Page" and Zhang Ziyi in "Memoirs Of A Geisha"

Charlize Theron in "North Country"

Charlize Theron received her second Oscar nomination for playing Josey Aimes in North Country.

North Country is anything but a perfect movie. When handling such serious subject matter like sexual harassment, one has to really make the film stand out, and not just another one of those corny Lifetime movies. North Country decides to do both. It hits you over the head with it's subject matter, but never let's go of the sentimentality that these types of movies always have. But, Charlize Theron completely saves it.

Josey Aimes had had some bad luck. Her husband has beat her up for the last time, and she decides to take her kids and move back in with her parents. Josey has always been a woman who has been put down upon. Even her own parents seem to have little patience or respect for her. She gets a job in the mines, and it's clear from the beginning, this is a man's world, and the women who work there are constantly harassed by the men.

Charlize Theron is one of the best actresses working today, and no, it's not just her famous turn that will be discussed in the future. I feel I always have to defend her, because some think she's simply a one hit wonder. Well, if there's any proof she has artistic talent, it's here. She not only controls her movie to the inth degree, but she establishes her character as a "mad as hell" woman who will not suffer the abuse that so many has before her. Of course, this isn't a mind-blowing or iconic performance by any means, but she is able to turn in great work without overdoing it or staying where her material wants her too.

Theron creates a worn out woman, tired of the world being oppressive to her. She never over plays the fact her character is constantly abused and tormented by what seems like everyone. A very fine performance from a great actress.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents"

Judi Dench received her fifth nomination for playing Laura Henderson in Mrs. Henderson Presents.

First off, you have to have a very distinct taste to enjoy a movie like Mrs. Henderson Presents. It wants to be a musical comedy whilst being a serious drama about World War II, and it falls flat on it's face. The acting isn't that much better, but there is one thing that sort of keeps it afloat.

Judi Dench plays Mrs. Laura Henderson, who has just become a widow. Instead of being alone and growing old, she decides to lighten up her life by buying a theatre. The theatre becomes a huge success, but quickly becomes a fad, so Mrs. Henderson decides to add all nude girls to the shows. Eventually it becomes the talk of the town, and even survives WWII.

In terms of "bad" acting, you won't find it here with Judi Dench. If you are looking for something mind-blowing or insightful, you might as well keep looking. Dench knows she's not doing hard work, and unfortunately, she plays it exactly like that. There's not depth, no emotional connection, just lively Mrs. Henderson and her naked gals.

More appropriately she is set on automatic, and never fully let's us understand why Mrs. Henderson has a desire to do the thing she does. And really, she's not even the main attraction of the film, the colorful musical numbers are. All we get is an odd relationship with a married man, that is the most pointless storyline in the film.

Again, is she terrible? No. Is she good? Not really. Judi Dench is always watchable, and always adds some little nice things to her character, but here, it's like she just forgot. I also blame the script for doing that dried up cliche of "old lady who curses", but how could this great actress, just be so...bland?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Reese Witherspoon in "Walk The Line"

Reese Witherspoon won the Oscar for playing famous country singer June Carter Cash in Walk The Line.

Walk The Line is one of those standard biopics, except Walk The Line relies on the acting to take it into great territory. And unfortunately, the acting in this movie ranges from mediocre to just plain bad. Joaquin Phoenix is barely establishing Cash as a character, instead he works more on his voice, which isn't that good either.

Johnny Cash first encounters June Carter when he is touring. It's quite an entrance, or quite a good written entrance, when June is trying to run out on stage and gets stuck on Cash, and uses her funny attitude and charm to not let herself get embarrassed. Again, good writing, but a bad performance. Reese Witherspoon, simply, should not have played June Carter Cash. In this scene, she comes off as annoying and doesn't know how exactly to play her character. If her acting didn't help, her singing was on the same level. Carter's singing style was very distinct, like a sweet, rugged voice. Reese Witherspoon sounds like a drunk ditz friend at a karaoke bar.

From that moment on, Witherspoon is usually in the background, doing practically nothing, maybe throwing a beer bottle bombastically or failing to deliver sassy line readings like "BABY BABY BABY!" These are supposed to make June quite a lovable, free minded woman who Johnny and us could fall back on. In the hands of Witherspoon, she's just an annoying woman who can't make up her mind. I just feel annoyed and angry when I watch Walk The Line, and see such a performance that fails in every way possible in impressing me.

2005 was surely a low-point in the Academy's history, but really. Maybe it was the fact Reese Witherspoon was showing some range by taking an unlikely role, or maybe it was because it was the film most saw out of the nominees. Or maybe they just liked it, who knows. But, for me, she fails in every department. Besides the scene at the end where Johnny proposes to her, her acting is on the level of amateur, and her singing is nowhere near what the real woman sounded like. As I said before, a real low-point.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Keira Knightly in "Pride and Prejudice"

Keira Knightly received her first Oscar nomination for playing Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice.

Having read the book many years ago, this version of the story simply doesn't live up to the novel. It moves to fast and the director is too "modern" with his approach to the material. The acting is less then satisfactory, expect Judi Dench who completely steals the movie. Pride and Prejudice is the tale of 5 sisters, and how their goal in life is one thing, finding a husband. The movie mainly focuses on Elizabeth, the more free thinking daughter.

So, you can assume I was not impressed with Keira Knightly. In the book, Elizabeth is clear in her views...a woman who is almost free spirited, but totally fun loving. Instead with Knightly, we get a naive, empty headed girl and once she starts to feel love, a self righteous, empty headed girl. Completely matter how much the director wanted it to be more modern. Knightly stares off into space and fake laughs alot, but this is not the point of Elizabeth at all.

Which brings me to another point: her obviousness. In every moment of every frame, Keira Knightly suffers from "obvious acting", meaning you're always aware you are watching someone act. Her fake laughing, smiling, and her awful delivery of lines surely hurt her performance more then it can recover. And if this poor girl didn't have enough problems with me, she also is incredibly Boring. Why should I care about a girl who seems like she can't make one move without being told to do so? We are never able to get into the mind of Elizabeth, which is horrible, because in the book, she is such a likable and interesting spirit.

I appreciate the effort that goes into period piece acting, because it's extremely hard to convince the audience, due to the fact the material is over 100 years old. But, it's astonishing that Keira Knightly gets nearly everything wrong Elizabeth. Her constant airheadness and occasional failure of a one liner, makes it almost embarrassing. Elizabeth is an unconventional character, but here, she's ordinary and more "teen" like. A real miss.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica"

Felicity Huffman received her first Oscar nomination for playing Bree Osbourne, a pre-op transsexual in Transamerica.

I really liked Transamerica. Even though the story gets a little unbelievable at points, I thought it was very entertaining, funny, and even sad, which kept me engaged. Plus, the acting, all around, is great.

Which brings me to Felicity Huffman. She plays Bree, a man who is in the act of finalizing his sex change. He is one week away from his operation, when he gets a call from a boy claiming to be his son. Due to his therapist's wishes, he goes to New York to see the boy, and decides to bring him back with him on a road trip. Along the way, we discover Bree's struggle, dislikes, and especially his vulnerability.

An acting exercise to be sure, but ironically, it's one of the least showy parts the Academy has ever nominated. It's simply because Felicity Huffman plays Bree the exact right way. He's always prime and proper, and always insecure about how the world will view him as a transsexual. Huffman keeps Bree afloat and alive with quick wit and a no-nonsense approach to the judgmental world around him.

I really don't know what the strong hold this performance has on me. I mean, this could have incredibly terrible had they hired someone who didn't know how to handle such a complex and difficult character. But, Felicity Huffman has an presence surrounding her performance, full of rich characteristics. And again, it's even humorous! Bree handles his sad state with his prime and proper attitude he has adopted for himself. Once Bree becomes a woman, it is not your typical, bland way. He is simply now a she, and ready to live her life the way she always wanted too.

As I said before, I don't know what draws me to this witty and unsuspecting performance. There's effort here for Felicity Huffman to act like a man acting like a woman, but oddly, it never gets in the way. And it's the talent and wit she adds to her performance instead of concentrating on the physicality of her performance. A brilliant performance that still leaves me wanting more.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 2005

Moving right along to the next year:

The Academy selected:
  • Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents
  • Felicity Huffman in Transamerica
  • Keira Knightly in Pride and Prejudice
  • Charlize Theron in North Country
  • Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line
Rather controversial year, but we will see who I name the best of 2005!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 1936: My Ranking

5. Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey
- Yes, I used to very much appreciate Lombard's nutty performance, but seasons change, and now I just find it irritating and boring. Her comic talents don't really work with me anymore either.

4. Norma Shearer in Romeo and Juliet

- If her extreme age difference wasn't enough, Norma Shearer adds little annoying, strange habits in her performance that simply are ridiculous. However, her performance redeems itself in more ways then one, and in especially her final scenes.
3. Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld

- A performance that grows with repeat viewings, with Rainer being good during most of her performance. There are lots of obvious acting here at hand, but her last scene really makes up for it.

2. Gladys George in Valiant Is The Word For Carrie

- More obvious acting, but Gladys George still gives a good performance that relies on how much she can pull at the audience's sentiment. A nice performance in a muddled film.

1. Irene Dunne in Theodora Goes Wild

- Irene Dunne was quite the comedian, and her talents shine bright here. Her tight lipped, but secret wild girl is handled very well by her, not to mention highly entertaining.

Honorable Omissions: Katharine Hepburn in "Mary Of Scotland"

Carole Lombard in "My Man Godfrey"

Carole Lombard received her only Oscar nomination for playing Irene Bullock, a ditsy socialite, in My Man Godfrey.

My Man Godfrey is an ensemble comedy about a butler, Godfrey Smith, and how he is brought to work at the kooky mansion of some rich family. Frankly, I don't quite get My Man Godfrey. It tries so hard to be a riot comedy, even make a political statement, but it fails. The screwball comedy is all wrong here, mostly because the writing simply sounds terribly when spoken.

My admiration for Carole Lombard's performance has almost disappeared. Originally, I thought she gave a very funny, crazy performance. Fast forward to today, and now I think it's very in sync with the movie, not very good. She plays Irene, a kooky, almost idiot socialite, so uncharacteristically. The role is supposed to be played with nativity, not idiocy.

And while Luise Rainer and Gladys George suffer from "early" obvious acting moments, Carole Lombard probably has the worst showcase of this. Her comedy timing doesn't work, her chemistry with William Powell is strange, and when she given dramatic moments, she ruins them with her unusual idiot approach to her character.

Still, she has her moments, I guess. When she gets to be sarcastic or just being quiet, Lombard is quite enjoyable, but it's not enough for me to say this is a great performance anymore. Working with the material (which just doesn't work for me) Carole Lombard completely misses the real spirit of the character, instead we get a strange, uneven performance that makes Irene seem like a complete idiot. She also has some unbearably obvious acting moments. I can see the love for it, but I'm not on board anymore.

Norma Shearer in "Romeo and Juliet"

Norma Shearer received her fifth Oscar nomination for playing Shakespeare's Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet.

This version of Romeo and Juliet is very lavish. For a 75 year old movie, it's impressive for it's well made sets. But, its just your standard adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. I personally, love the 1968 version.

Oh, boy...where to start with Norma Shearer. Let's start with a horrible mistake on the part of everyone...age. Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard are incredibly too old to be playing teenagers Romeo and Juliet. Now, I've seen performances before where the performer was miscast because of their age, but if works because of how they approached the character. Here, Norma's age is so in your face, it's hard to even concentrate on her acting.

Which brings me to another point. So, with any Shakespeare adaptation, the actors have to engage in ancient dialogue, and Norma Shearer, bless her, doesn't do it well. It literally sounds like she is mumbling her lines espeically in the "where for art thou" scene, you can barely understand what she is saying. And if she didn't have enough problems, her performance certainly tries to be subtle. But, Juliet is supposed to be played with naivety, and with Shearer, you don't get that. You get a whiny woman who wants what her parents won't give her.

She has one good scene, the ending. But, honestly, couldn't anyone do this death scene and be better or worse? Seriously, I've seen high school Juliets and all of them were better then Oscar winning Norma Shearer. So, I really don't know how to approach rating Norma Shearer's bad interpretation of Juliet. She fails in almost every area, including being interesting, yet in a way, her last scene sort of redeems her performance from being awful.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Gladys George in "Valiant Is The Word For Carrie"

Gladys George received her only Oscar nomination for playing Carrie Snyder in Valiant Is The Word For Carrie.

Valiant is a standard, 30s melodrama that had to have been risky for it's time due to it's racy subject matter. The film is about Carrie, a prostitute who strikes a odd relationship with a young boy. She is ran out of town because the boy simply will not leave her alone and the grumpy little town is getting the wrong idea. The little boy ends up running away and finds her, and the two start a successful laundry business, and soon become rich, and also adopts the young boy and another young girl.

As you can see, this movie is far from being perfect, but one thing is great, Gladys George. Her early scenes as a prostitute are far the best scenes of the movie. She is fearless for an actress in 1936, where she plays Carrie with no shame or morals. It's the little boy who really starts to change her opinion of herself.

It's these middle scenes that really hurt her overall performance. The film becomes more of a focus on a trail, instead of Carrie, but when she does get to shine, Gladys George doesn't disappoint. She's a woman with morals now, and she doesn't want her unfriendly past to come back. So, it's George who is carrying this movie. She has a showy role that doesn't disappoint.

But, I don't want to overrate it, because sometimes bland "early" acting rears it head. Some sort of obvious fake grabbing at ones self (the same thing Luise Rainer did) or overdoing one's line readings, Gladys George falls victim to it. Still, her performance is reliant in how she approaches her early scenes, and those alone may overshadow the letdown of the rest of it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Irene Dunne in "Theodora Goes Wild"

Irene Dunne received her second Oscar nomination for playing Theodora Lynn in Theodora Goes Wild.

Theodora Goes Wild is a very funny film about a Sunday school teacher, Theodora, who is writes a sexy novel under an assumed name. When the novel becomes huge, she travels to New York City to try and get signed to a contract, where she goes "wild". Unintentionally, she gets drunk at a party and ends up being blackmailed by the illustrator of the book, and comedy ensues.

Irene Dunne seemed to be really at home in comedies. She had a comedic timing that few could touch. She walks a fine line between comedy and drama, and nails it.

The script isn't really terrific, but Irene Dunne gets the most of the material. She has to be very prime and proper while hiding her very "wild" secret life. And the chemistry between her and Melvyn Douglas is great! The two of them make a great comedic pair. She's got sarcastic remarks and she hits the mark with them, unlike Luise Rainer who seemed very lost with her humorous lines.

In terms of difficulty, Irene Dunne's performance doesn't look hard. In fact, she pretty much sails through this movie with her charm, but it's a wonderfully funny, charming performance and she does deserve some credit for not totally falling on her face when it came to handling drama and comedy. So, again, I find it hard to say it's an amazing performance, but she definitely gets alot of the material and an incredibly charming performance.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Luise Rainer in "The Great Ziegfeld"

Luise Rainer won her first Oscar for playing French singer, Anna Held, in The Great Ziegfeld.

The Great Ziegfeld is a blown up, exhausted epic about Flo Ziegfeld, the legendary Broadway showman. His life, his success, and espeically his romances. One of those romances was Anna Held, a well known French singer, who he transported to America to become a huge star.

When it comes to film history, Luise Rainer is a star, but when it comes to lasting appeal, she comes up short. Rainer was new to film, and even newer to Hollywood when she took on the demanding role of Anna Held, and at times, you get embarrassing "obvious" acting moments. Like when she grabs her shirt and yells or when she misses the punchlines of her jokes.

But, still it's hard to deny Rainer is the sunlight in her film. She enters this stuffy movie and opens a window with her hummingbird looks and humorous persona. Anna Held is a self aware woman who wants alot, and gets little, especially from Flo. Rainer, again, portrays Anna with so much character and persona. It's those embarrassing, obvious moments that get in the way of her performance being great.

Which brings me to her last scene...the infamous telephone scene. This scene alone makes up for almost her entire rating. In this one scene, she conveys so many emotions, as she fake congratulates her ex-husband on his success. It's one of the best scenes you'll see by an Oscar winner.

But, I guess it doesn't help either that Luise Rainer barely has enough screen-time to do alot in, but her presence and humorous acting in the beginning, and sorrowful acting near the end are proof that it is a fine performance. However, I can not get past those obvious acting moments that are scattered around her performance.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Actress in a Leading Role" 1936

So, moving right back to the leading actresses:

And the Academy selected:
  • Irene Dunne in Theodora Goes Wild
  • Gladys George in Valiant Is The Word For Carrie
  • Carole Lombard in My Man Godfrey
  • Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld
  • Norma Shearer in Romeo and Juliet
So, will I agree with the Academy, or name another one of these actresses the best of 1936?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Actress in a Supporting Role" 1976: Results!


5. Jane Alexander in All The President's Men

- Instead of being terrified, Jane Alexander makes Judy Hoback seem like she's about to pass out from boredom. Unsurprisingly, she does the same thing to the audience.

4. Lee Grant in Voyage Of The Damned

- Without doing much, Lee Grant is able to leave a big impression after her film is over. She tackles her character's emotions effortlessly.

3. Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver

- Even if I criticize it, Jodie Foster is still extremely good as Iris. Her approach to the character may be wrong for me, but every scene is evacuated perfectly and not to mention entertaining.

2. Piper Laurie in Carrie

- Piper Laurie is frightening as Carrie's bible thumping mom, and creates a huge impact on the viewer. A surprising frank look at a religious fanatic, that Laurie tackles wonderfully.

1. Beatrice Straight in Network

- In just six minutes, Beatrice Straight is able to do more then some people could do with an hour. Her disgruntled, wrong wife is a brilliant aspect of the film, with many emotions and many layers. A masterpiece of acting.

Honorable Omissions: Alexis Smith in "The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane" and Shelley Winters in "Next Stop, Greenwich Village"