Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ellen Page in "Juno"

Ellen Page received her first Oscar nomination for playing Juno McGuff, in Juno.

Juno is horrible....there I said it. Diablo Cody owes her Oscar to the hype about her being a former stripper. I say this because, this is what kills Ellen Page's performance, the material.

Juno is not your average teenager. She is cynical, self aware, and loves to constantly give one liners, like when she calls her friend and says "no, it's Morgan Freeman". I'll wait while you laugh.

Anyways, Juno is a self protective young girl, who holds up many barriers to everyone she meets, but we're supposed to believe she sleeps with her best friend randomly?

Okay, moving on, enough with the terrible screenplay. Ellen Page is trying with this movie very well, and thankfully, she succeeds in ways. Honestly, I couldn't see anyone else playing this character.

Page is able to show Juno's weaknesses and insecurity and that is hard to do for such a young actress. The problem is Juno is not likable (the screenplay's fault again). She's overly annoying and smartalic to everyone around her, with the exception of maybe her parents. She wants to give her baby away, yet there's never a moment when she is crying in the car or having a crush on the man who is going to take her baby, where I actually believe it.

Juno is a horribly written character, yet Ellen Page does her absolute best with it. The crying in the car scene, is completely random, but Ellen Page nails this moment; the tears come very natural and it doesn't seem forced. Also when she is in the abortion clinic, that scene is fantastic because Page has to communicate her feelings with just her face, and no "quirky" dialogue. And again, Ellen Page really has the attitude and quirkiness down of Juno. The problem is, it's horribly written.

Good job Ellen Page for trying, and she has some very good moments, but overall, the writing brings it way down.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 2007

The next year I'll be dissecting is:
The nominees were:

  • Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age

  • Julie Christie in Away From Her

  • Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose

  • Laura Linney in The Savages

  • Ellen Page in Juno
So who will come out swinging?

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 1950: My Ranking

5. Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday

- Judy Holliday tries really hard with her material, and has some good moments, but overall it's rather disappointing. She invests alot of charm in Billie, but not alot of life.

4. Anne Baxter in All About Eve

- Anne Baxter does a great job conveying the manipulative Eve's plans and dreams, and ends up giving a great performance that contrasts well with the film.

3. Eleanor Parker in Caged

- Eleanor Parker gives a real tour-de-force performance as naive, innocent woman who is hardened by her time in a corrupt prison, she perfectly plays up the woman's naivety and the woman's eventual hardness.
2. Bette Davis in All About Eve

- Bette Davis gives her best performance, as an aging diva, and Davis adds so much energy and emotion to her performance, the results being a fantastic performance.

1. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard

- Gloria Swanson is simply magnificent as a forgotten silent screen star who living in a dreamworld, while never going completely over the top, Swanson perfectly plays her tragic star with stunning results.

Honorable Omissions: None.

Gloria Swanson in "Sunset Boulevard"

Gloria Swanson received her third Oscar nomination (and last) for playing forgotten silent movie star Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset Boulevard follows Joe Gillis, a struggling writer, and his relationship with the forgotten actress.

The best thing I can say about Gloria Swanson is: what a performance!

Once Joe Gillis becomes more entangled in Norma's life, he soon sees she is deeply troubled. This provides the material for Swanson to exile in. She shows Norma is not really crazy, just tragic. Holding on to insane dreams, she is still famous and her film career will be revived. She offers Joe to live in her mansion (and her dreamworld) and proposes he help her write a screenplay that will be her long awaited cinema comeback. In the midst of all this, he becomes her lover.

Norma Desmond is a character that requires the actress to go over the top, and still make it believable. Amazingly, Gloria Swanson, not only nails it, but gives a mind blowing performance.

She adds so much texture and layers to Norma Desmond's personality, and in all respect, this must have been from Gloria Swanson's own life. While she was a great star, she practically disappeared when the talking pictures came into play, so this makes it all more amazing, because Swanson isn't playing herself, just adding her own experiences to a brilliantly written character.

Another amazing aspect of Swanson's performance is how she handles the more crazy scenes. Without seeming too fake, she really makes you believe the woman is sad, lonely, and borderline insane.

I try not to think of a performance's iconic status when I watch it, but I'll make the exception here. This performance is iconic. Many people have tried to imitate, copy, or illuminate the beautiful performance Swanson brought to the screen, and most have failed.

And her exit....that scene alone is worth an Oscar if you ask me.

For her brilliance of bringing a forgotten silent star, trying for a comeback, whilst trapped in a dreamworld, Gloria easily gives one of the best performances of all time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bette Davis in "All About Eve"

Bette Davis received her eighth Oscar nomination for her role as aging, diva actress Margo Channing in All About Eve.

Margo has long been one of the best actresses on the stage, but she's beginning to show her age. Soon, her a woman named Eve, who claims to be her biggest fan, enters her life and soon, things start to change.

All About Eve is often referred to as Bette Davis's best performance, and I would have to agree.

Bette Davis's career was going through some trouble around this time, and the role fits her like a glove. Every line reading, every movement, Bette Davis nails it.

Margo basically is a diva in the beginning, clinging to her fading career, and her theater friends. Once Eve enters the picture, she starts to be more bitchy, more annoying, because she can see, before anyone else, Eve is up to something. Margo isn't just having trouble on the stage, she is having problems with her personal life, and her director/lover Bill.

Like Anne Baxter, Bette Davis has some underlying current beneath her performance. Bette Davis injects so energy into her performance. Everytime she appears on screen, there is so much energy and lightening, it's fantastic.

Bette Davis was always an actress who could seem over the top, but never goes completely over. Margo is an over the top character, but it never becomes too much for me. She shows Margo's insecurities and her false shield she uses in public.

She outshines most of everyone in the movie, especially with Gary Merrill. But, her scenes with Anne Baxter are great, and both of them play well off of each other.

Bette Davis's best performance, of a betrayed, aging, diva actress, is a fantastic accomplishment that is unforgettable.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday"

Judy Holliday received her only Oscar nomination, and won the Oscar, for recreating her stage role as Emma 'Billie' Dawn in Born Yesterday.

Billie Dawn is an ex showgirl, whose the the mistress of a loud and annoying man named Harry Brock. Brock soon hires a man Paul Verrall, to help Billie talk better and function more in society.

Billie is dimwitted, but not stupid. She likes to be called stupid, because this allows her get whatever she wants  from Brock. As the movie continues on, her relationship with Paul becomes more of a love, and she begins to become more intelligent, and begins to think of things in her own way. She is basically living in an ignorant bliss, until her eyes are finally opened.

Born Yesterday, is a horrible movie is you ask me, and this is because of the so called "comedy". None of it works, part slapstick, part witty dialogue. None of the actors due well with it either, except Judy Holliday.

Let me just say, I can respect Judy Holliday's performance, but not love it. I can obviously tell she was an intelligent actress, who had been doing this very dull role on stage, and it still probably didn't work there.

And the biggest problem I had...the voice. I understand how people can love it, but for me, it's over the top. She stretches out every word, and it all feels like she's doing it to get your attention.

And yet another problem I had was Billie after she has become more intelligent. It seems like the last part of the picture is basically just about her having to chose between the two men, and it's very uninteresting, and a letdown, because maybe Billie could have actually been more interesting after she finally opens her eyes up to the world.

However, Judy Holliday still has some good moments. I really liked the scene with the radio and her sudden dance, the gin game, and I can't deny Holliday is very interesting as Billie and it is very easy to watch.

And again, it's obvious Judy Holliday knows how to play the character. She the fresh air this movie has.

She's stuck in a horrid mess, but Judy Holliday is able to give a very interesting, and slightly entertaining performance, that has some very good moments.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Eleanor Parker in "Caged"

Eleanor Parker received her first Oscar nomination for playing Marie Allen, a wrongfully arrested woman in jail, in Caged.

I love Caged, it's the ultimate women in prison movie, and alot of this has to do with Eleanor Parker. She has such a pure and innocent look to her, that really contrasts the darkness of the prison life.

She plays 19 year old Marie Allen. Her husband was killed during robbery, for which she was present, therefore she is an accessory, and in my opinion, wrongfully arrested. She goes to prison, finds out she is pregnant, and begins to experience the horrors of prison.

Eleanor Parker is almost like a rabbit or a kitten; she is almost the definition of innocence, and seeing her go into the dark underbelly of the prison is fascinating.

She has many amazing scenes, including after her baby is born and she wants her mother to have it until she gets out, but her father refuses the idea, so she has to give the baby up for adoption, and she never sees it again. And like Meryl Streep in Silkwood, Eleanor Parker has a very shocking scene, where, as punishment, her head is shaven. Now, I checked, and Eleanor Parker actually shaved her head for the part, and that is incredible for 1950, and the scene is, in my opinion, incredibly terrifying.

Marie is subjected to cruelty by warden Evelyn Parker, played by the mind-blowing Hope Emerson. I give Eleanor Parker major props for not letting Hope Emerson completely controlling the scenes, she truly holds her own against her.

The role of Marie is hard to play. Parker has to find the right note to portray her in the beginning, so by the jaded ending, we get the sense she has changed. The ending is great, she has became a hardened woman from the absolute horrors she has experienced in prison, and it's her best moment, where she walks out of prison....but like Agnes Moorehead said, she'll be back.

Like Caged, Eleanor Parker's is very underrated. It's an hard performance to get just perfect, but Eleanor Parker does, and the results is an amazing example of a naive, innocent woman, who becomes hardened by prison.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ida Kaminska in "The Shop On Main Street"

Ida Kaminska received her only Oscar nomination for playing Rozália Lautmannová, a near deaf, elderly Jewish shop-owner in The Shop On Main Street.

The story concerns a young carpenter Tono (Jozef Kroner) who, in an agreement, takes over the old woman's sewing store. The role of Rozalia calls for an actress to be dumb, but not completely stupid. The old woman is clearly smart, but oblivious to the chaos and evil outside of her shop.

Ida Kaminska was a veteran stage actress, and some of her scenes show this. She also has a tendency to be overly annoying in some of her earlier scenes. But, I'm sure this is what the filmmakers were going for. Ms. Lautmannova is dumb, but there's always something underlaying that. She can barely hear, but once she figures everything out, about her situation and herself, she is as effective as a performance can get.

While the early scenes are a little too theatrical, the last scenes are almost incredible. Kaminska totally turns her character is too a heartbreaking creation, and it's hard not to cry when she's in trouble.

I give her major props for not turning her character into a hopeless old woman either. We actually care for her, and want her to finally wise up to the world around her.

Ida Kaminska gives the kind of performance that is perfect within it's limits. It's a little too much in the beginning, but turns into a solid, heartbreaking work in the latter part of the movie. I do wish there was a little more with handling her background, but, overall, it's a great, effective performance.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Vanessa Redgrave in "Morgan!"

Vanessa Redgrave received her first nomination (along with her sister) for her performance as Leonie, a sophisticated wife in Morgan!

Vanessa Redgrave's performance has to be one of the most interesting performances to ever have been nominated, and that's not exactly a good thing.

Morgan! is just a mess. The outlandish "comedy" doesn't work for me, and the main character is thoroughly annoying and it's hard to care for him at all. The movie is about a man who has a terrible case of some sort of mental illness, or that's what I took away from the film.

Leonie is his ex-wife who is trying to stop from getting remarried. Vanessa Redgrave's performance could have been boring and a complete failure, but with some nice subtle turns, she is able to turn it into something special.

Vanessa Redgrave turns Leonie is a real person. She could have very well made her into a stone faced woman, instead we get some nice, delicate moments where she looks worried, some moments were she is having fun, and some moments where we actually think she cares about her mess of an ex-husband. Redgrave is completely charming in the part.

However, this performance is far from perfect. While Redgrave is completely charming and understand as the ex-wife, that's really all she is. We are never allowed to enter her mind, and get some understanding. We do get these moments where she seems excited about her ex-husband's outrageous behavior, but we're never allowed to explore that. And near the end, she becomes the one we care about, yet it's pretty much too late.

And like her sister, Redgrave has a very random, spur of the moment dance/singing scene that almost ruins her performance for me.

So, it's a very charming performance, but an incomplete character in a horrible movie.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lynn Redgrave in "Georgy Girl"

Lynn Redgrave received her first Oscar nomination for playing Georgina, a vivacious, but homely young woman.

Georgy Girl is a dated movie, it's one of those "had to be there" type movies that centers on the early 60s culture of London, and it's pretty obvious Lynn Redgrave's performance must be "groovy" in order to comply with this.

Georgina, is, well a bunch of things. She has no talent, yet she has musical skills. She's not pretty, yet men find her irresistible, it's all very erratic. But, Georgina apparently thinks all of this. She knows she has her limits, but the world is becoming more and more fond of her, including her parent's boss played by James Mason. He is about 50 and has been watching her grow up, and has always been keen on her...but now, it's turning romantic. Lynn Redgrave handles these scenes very well, she let's Georgina grow, instead of making her burst out there with her oddity.

Her roommate is a cold, careless woman, whose only worries are boyfriends and abortions. Her new husband soon takes a liking in Georgina, and the two start a relationship. And here's where my problems with this performance arise. First of all, I find it hard to believe such a homely and pudgy woman would have all of these men chasing after her. And Redgrave doesn't do anything like making Georgina surprised or pleased at all of this new found attraction, she just lets it flow.

Another problem I had was with some dance scenes, that seem completely out of character with the character. There's also the scenes with her roommate Meredith, Charlotte Rampling completely dominates these scenes (and deserved an Oscar nomination) and Redgrave really never plays off of her well. I also think Redgrave has a hard time handling Georgina's emotions. Sometimes the scene calls for Redgrave to be sad, yet she never seems to be sad, and all of those faults lie with Redgrave.

But, her scenes with Mason are really good. She stays a bit quiet and lets the scene happen, instead of letting Georgina's quirks come out. I also think she quite good in the ending once she finally decides to marry him. Again, Redgrave brings out her friendliness and odd beauty here, and again, she is quite good. She also has some great scenes where she is taking care of her roommate's child, who she has grown to love.

However, it's an extremely weird performance to rate. She is quite charming in some scenes, and dreadfully annoying in other scenes. But, overall I was taken with her Georgy.

"Actress In A Leading Role" 1966

It's time to revisit another year!

And the nominees were:
  • Anouk Aimee in A Man and A Woman
  • Ida Kaminska in The Shop On Main Street
  • Lynn Redgrave in Georgy Girl
  • Vanessa Redgrave in Morgan!
  • Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jane Alexander in "Testament"

Jane Alexander received her fourth nomination for playing Carol Wetherly, a loving housewife who deal with a nuclear apocalypse.

Testament is a tough movie to watch. The movie basically is about the world ending and how one town in California is able to withstand the impact.

Carol Wetherly is a very loving housewife, who takes care of her three children. In the beginning, Carol seems like a terrific woman who loves simply being with her children. Suddenly, the TV comes on and the world begins to end.

Carol immediately doesn't know how to react, which isn't strange, because out her window she is seeing everything disintegrate.

The rest of the movie focuses on how the little town survives the apocalypse. And this is when the film becomes tough. Soon, everyone starts to die, including Carol's own children, and the movies becomes very, very depressing.
So, in order to make this very depressing movie work, Jane Alexander has to make everything work. She turns Carol into a loving housewife, then a frantic woman, always on the edge, due to the tragic situation. She literally lets her emotions run, never holding back or seeming sympathetic.

Alexander has many great scenes. I think the best is when her daughter asks what making love is like. Jane Alexander is downright brilliant in this scene. She holds absolutely nothing back.

Jane Alexander is immense in a scene where she listens to her dead husband on an answering machine, then takes the batteries out so they can be used for something else. She is heartbreaking.

Jane Alexander gives a disturbing, brilliant performance, that shows the horrors that could befall the world. Truly a piece of acting that haunts.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shirley MacLaine in "Terms Of Endearment"

Shirley MacLaine received her sixth Oscar nomination (and last to date) for her role as Aurora Greenway, an eccentric mother.

What I never understood about this movie, is they never explain why Aurora is so over the top, they just let it flow. From the first scene, we see Aurora isn't very fond of her daughter. From there, we get the sense these two have a complicated relationship.

Shirley MacLaine gets the lighter story, while Debra Winger gets the heavy storyline, and they both balance each story perfectly. Like I said in my review of Debra Winger, their chemistry is amazing. We really get the sense these two don't get along, but still have a deep love for each other.

Even the plot with Jack Nicholson is entertaining. Aurora is such an uppity *bleep* and to see her finally let loose and live a little, it's very entertaining to watch.

MacLaine's best scenes come with Winger. When she becomes sick, it really becomes all about Aurora and how will she deal with her daughter's illness. Her huge "GIVE MY DAUGHTER THE SHOT" is a brilliantly acted scene, not to mention my favorite scene, when she finds out Emma has died, and how she deals, it's just so quietly intense.

There are some problems I have with this performance, that I was afraid would arise after re-watching the film years later. I think Shirley MacLaine completely nails the strong and stubborn, but loving at heart Aurora, but again, we are really never explained why she's so off the wall.

Of course, Shirley was going to win the Oscar. She was overdue, she was in the Best Picture, and she gives the most interesting performance in the movie, but that doesn't mean she didn't give a good performance. It's an unforgettable portrayal of an eccentric character that continues to grow on me.

Debra Winger in "Terms Of Endearment"

Debra Winger received her second nomination for playing Emma Greenway Horton in Terms Of Endearment.

Terms Of Endearment follows the life of Emma and her eccentric mother Aurora (Shirley MacLaine, who I will talk about more later).

Terms Of Endearment excels everything it sets out to do. To make you laugh, and make you cry, and part of this belongs to Debra Winger. She seems to be completely in-captured in her performance, never letting it dawn on the audience she is not trying.

Debra Winger obviously get the more laid out storyline of the two women. She loves, she leaves, and she dies, and Winger does it all fabulously. Her chemistry with Jeff Daniels is great. The two work really well off of each other. The whole storyline with John Lithgow is pointless, yet Winger is still able to make it all interesting and keep the audience enthralled in her complicated life.

But, the charm of her performance, and the heart of the film, is her relationship with her mother. Winger and MacLaine are magical together, like the scene where the two discuss Aurora's budding relationship with an astronaut (Jack Nicholson), the two are simply terrific together.

When Emma is on her death bed, it does bother me that Winger doesn't exactly look sick, but I guess that's one minor complaint that lies with the filmmakers and not Winger.

It's an impressive accomplishment of a somewhat simple woman who has a tumultuous life, and is beautifully played by Winger.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Julie Walters in "Educating Rita"

Julie Walters shot to stardom with her role as Rita White (aka Susan) in Educating Rita.

Susan is a seemingly intelligent hairdresser living in Liverpool who decides to enhance herself, to start studying literature and try to educate herself. She soon is met by Frank (Michael Caine) who is assigned to help her with her education.

Julie Walters is just charming as this working class girl, with a quick wit. Susan is not stupid, in any way shape or form, she really just has a low level of educating and is looked down upon because of this, so to get some respect from various people, she decides to let Frank teach her.

Susan is manipulative, ballsy, and really very unkind when someone seems to be smarter then her. What I love about Julie Walters is how she never really lets this hold her back from seeming very loving. Michael Caine's Frank is somewhat of a mess, I can understand he is playing his character in a realistic way, but he always comes off as being very uninterested in the work he's doing. And Walters is the complete opposite, for this to be her first movie, she is amazing as Susan.

I love the part when she says her name is Rita, so people won't know who she really is. I can completely relate to Susan, and Walters, again, does a terrific job at conveying her emotions throughout her entire learning process.

This was the kind of performance I wanted from Carey Mulligan this past year. Without totally overdoing or underdoing it, Susan comes across as being smart and brassy.

It's an underrated performance, and near perfect accomplishment from Julie Walters.

Meryl Streep in "Silkwood"

Meryl Streep received her third consecutive Oscar nomination for playing real life, Karen Silkwood.

Karen Silkwood was a normal woman who found herself caught up in corruption. Meryl Streep, at her prime, nails this role. Meryl Streep always seems very intelligent to me, and to see her somewhat dumb herself down for Silkwood. But, Karen is not a dumb woman, she is actually very smart, but in an understated way.

Meryl uses her many acting skills here. It's incredible to see such a performance from such an actress, because this was Meryl's fifth nomination and she continually creates a vivid character and gives a riveting performance.

There are many great moments from Streep. Including a shocking scene where she receives a radiation bath, and it is still shocking after several viewings. She's also incredible once she finds out she knows more then she should, and the look of fear of her face is unforgettable.

Her chemistry with Kurt Russell is a little bogged down, due to him, but Streep is able to hold these parts up. Her parts with Cher are just amazing, we really feel these two are soul mates and have a deep connection.

There really isn't anything bad I can say about this performance, which makes it all the more better.

It's an incredible feat, by an actress at her prime, that gets:

Friday, March 12, 2010

"Actress In A Leading Role" 1983

I was thinking about it, and I thought I would do some Best Actress profiles kinda like Fritz does. I'll try to do some of the years I haven't covered yet in my rankings already show, so the first year I'll cover is 1983.

The nominees in 1983 were:

  • Jane Alexander in Testament
  • Shirley MacLaine in Terms Of Endearment
  • Meryl Streep in Silkwood
  • Julie Walters in Educating Rita
  • Debra Winger in Terms Of Endearment

Friday, March 5, 2010

Amazing Moments #4: "Ed Wood"

Here's two scenes from the fantastic Martin Landau in Ed Wood and for the heck of it, I added a interview of him explaining his role:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Acting Wins For 2000-2009

So here are my wins (favorites) from the whole decade of the 2000s

I included Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress.

(click picture for better view)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The Pink Angels is a very strange movie. I'm guessing that the filmmakers of this movie probably wanted to make some sort of satire based off of Easy Rider.

But, The Pink Angels is completely original, and very strange. The story revolves around six bikers who are on their way to Los Angles. We don't know why they are going, but we do know they are a typical biker gang. Soon, they have a food fight, and we learn that they, and they are on their way to a drag ball in LA.

The Pink Angels works as a comedy. It is funny, and the more dramatic parts (like the ending) work fine on their own, but like I said earlier, I think the producers wanted to make some parody movie of Easy Rider, because in a way, it's just like it.

But, there are alot of good things about the movie. The acting is top, the production values are surprisingly good, and the folk music that plays sounds like Don McLean's less talented little brother, but it still fits in fine with the atmosphere for the movie. I like that Pink Angels, took a risk and did something different, showing a group of gay bikers and how the "man" is coming down on them. For all of this, I give it a: A+