Thursday, November 14, 2013

Best Actress 2010 Ranking

5. Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone (3.5/5 stars)

Jennifer Lawrence gives an amazing breakthrough performance in Winter's Bone. This is a case where her win was just being nominated alongside these other amazing performances. She plays Ree with such determination and she holds her own when John Hawkes is on-screen with her. The movie has a really dark and eerie feel to it but Jennifer Lawrence is what holds the movie together and prevent it from absorbing the viewer into it's darkness.

4. Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right (3.5/5 stars)

Annette Bening's performance as one half of a lesbian couple is terrific. It's a really good, layered performance and it took repeated viewings for me to appreciate Annette's work. Her chemistry with Julianne Moore was impeccable and she was amazing when confronting Mark Ruffalo's character. The character of Nic isn't really a showy part and Annette handled that really well especially when it came to the the scenes when she was confronting Julianne Moore's Jules. She was angry and sad but she restrained herself and did not go over-the-top with calling Jules out. A magnificent performance by an actress that is overdue on winning an Oscar.

3. Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine (4.5/5 stars)

This is where it got really difficult to choose the top three performances. Michelle Williams is an amazing actress and she is a revelation in Blue Valentine. She gives a brutally honest and heartbreaking portrayal of a woman who is falling in love/falling out of love with a man. The scenes when Cindy is falling in love with Ryan Gosling's Dean are so sweet and they have the chemistry to pull it off. The scenes when Cindy is falling out of love are simply devastating and this is in part due to the amazing chemistry between Ryan and Michelle. If it were not for that chemistry, I don't believe viewers would be as moved as we were. We see Cindy slowly drifting away from an oblivious Dean and it is really heartbreaking to see her pulling away. The scene when she tells Dean that she feels nothing for him did it for me. A near perfect performance by a phenomenal actress.

2. Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole (4.7/5 stars)

Rabbit Hole is one of my favorite movies. Yes, it's a slow-paced movie with really depressing subject matter but it is handled perfectly by it's director and the actors. Nicole Kidman gives the best performance of her career as Becca, a woman that continues to struggle with the death of her son. Nicole Kidman's performance is really restrained and the character really calls for that. Which makes the scenes when she snaps absolutely unforgettable. The scene at the meeting when she pretty questions God's reasoning for needing another angel is breathtaking. My favorite scene however is when Becca snaps at her mother (played by an amazing Diane Wiest) about the difference between the death of her own son and her mother's son. I could talk at length about Nicole's work in this movie, and I haven't even brought up her chemistry with Aaron Eckhart. A truly stunning performance by one of the best actresses working today.

1. Natalie Portman in Black Swan (5/5 stars)

Fisti, you were right! I know you don't agree but you were right about my choice for #1. 2010 was just Natalie Portman's turn. I had never really been interested in Natalie Portman's acting but Black Swan was just amazing. Black Swan is what I consider to be an okay movie that could be slow at times but it is totally worth it to see Natalie's Nina transform. She really gives the performance her all and it paid off. The character of Nina goes from being really sheltered to giving it all in her final performance of the movie. It was spectacular watching Natalie's Nina go from being coddled by her mother to the whole "It's my turn!" scene. A well deserved five!

What did you guys think?

(Sorry for my LONG absence, I've been adjusting to college life but now I'm back and I'm ready to run my blog. Does anyone have any suggestions for what year I should review next? It could be from the Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor category. Or if you have a specific movie you'd like for me to review. Fisti, any suggestions, since you were able to predict my number 1?)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Best Actress 2010

Hey! It's been a while but now I'm back! I have decided to rank the amazing performances that were nominated for Best Leading Actress in 2010.  If any of you want to guess as to how the ranking will go, please feel free to comment.

The nominees are:

  • Annette Benning in The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone
  • Natalie Portman in Black Swan
  • Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Midnight Cowboy (1969) Review

Midnight Cowboy is famous for being the first (and only) X-rated movie to win the Academy Award for Best Picture The story revolves around Joe Buck (portrayed brilliantly by Jon Voight) who leaves Texas to go to New York and become a male prostitute. While there he meets Enrico Salvatore "Ratso" Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) who at first scams him but then they end up becoming friends.

Midnight Cowboy is an incredibly amazing movie with a very bleak ending. (Spoilers?) Upon arriving in New York, it is evident that Joe Buck is extremely naive and thinks that it must be easy to become a male prostitute. He has more difficulty than he thought he would have on finding his first woman.

When he finally comes around to finding a woman to sleep with, Cass (Sylvia Miles), it turns out that she is not a customer and she is a prostitute herself. Sylvia Miles earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her five-minute contribution to this movie. Her scene worked really well and showed good acting and if it were lenghtier maybe something would have come of it but thinking back to the movie there would really be no more need for character.

Following that incident, Joe comes along and meets Rico who is a sick man that says he wants to help Joe find customers. Rico scams Joe but eventually Joe finds Rico and is made to move in with him since he can't pay for his hotel and they're not giving him his luggage.

The movie relies heavily on the amazing chemistry between Hoffman and Voight. It is incredible to see there characters going from being ambivalent about each other to actually caring for one another. The scene after the weird party when Rico falls down the steps and Joe wants to make sure that he is alright is great. Both actors work really well together and the chemistry that they create makes the ending scene that much more heartbreaking.

Another great scene that reveals the chemistry between Rico and Joe is when Joe buys medicine and gloves for Rico. We see that Rico is succumbing to his disease but he's still too proud to say thanks and says that he could have stolen them from someone. You can see that Rico is grateful and Joe is genuinely concerned.

Overall, the movie is extremely entertatining and heartbreaking and that is due to Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman's chemistry.

5/5 stars

What did you think? 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mrs. Brown (1997) Review

Mrs. Brown focuses on a period of Queen Victoria's life in which she is in deep mourning over the death of her husband Prince Albert and a servant, John Brown, is brought in to help her out of her depression. Mrs. Brown is truly a great movie and I believe that it is mostly because of the amazing chemistry between Judi Dench and Billy Connolly.

Judi Dench does an extraordinary job at capturing the sadness felt by Queen Victoria. The Queen was desribed as being inconsolable and it is proven in the first scene in which John Brown addresses her by being surprised at how depressed she is. Judi's acting is right where it should be and it makes the scene powerul. Judi Dench also does a great job at revealing the growing dependency that Queen Victoria has on John Brown. She relies on him to help her through her grief and does not allow for anyone to speak against him.

Billy Connolly also does an amazing job at expressing the pride that John Brown takes in being the right hand man of the Queen. He does not allow for anyone to speak ill of the Queen and he will defend her at the expense of his pride. The scene in which after John Brown was beaten up and his brother is helping him with his wounds is great at revealing the devotion that he has for the Queen. Although he is extremely hurt he does not allow his injuries to keep him from serving his Queen.

Again, the chemistry between the two leads is electrifying. The scene toward the end is absolutely compelling. When Queen Victoria is admitting to John Brown that she has not been a loyal friend like John has been to her and then John attempts to reassure her by saying that he will continue to look after her. That scene is so fascinating.

Of course the movie also benefits from having such a spectacular supporting cast. Geoffrey Palmer as Ponsonby and Antony Sher as Prime Minster Disraeli. The sets and costume designs also add to the movie's greatness.

The story is really good too and it allows for Judi Dench to show the mourning of the the complicated figure that was Queen Victoria. It might not have been the most intriguing story but it made for an entertaining movie.

Mrs. Brown is an incredibly entertaining film and it owes much of its merit to the incredible performance by Dame Judi Dench.

4.5/5 stars

What do you think about the movie?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

She Done Him Wrong (1933) Review

She Done Him Wrong was an overall good picture, in my opinion. I thought that some parts didn't make sense and at times I found it a bit difficult to pay attention even though the movie was only about an hour and four minutes long.

The amazingly talented Mae West plays Lady Lou and she is a singer/entertainer at a bar/cabaret. Mae West was great as Lady Lou and she delivered her lines amazingly well. I would have nominated her performance for an Oscar because I enjoyed her that much!

I did have some problems with the movie though. I thought that it only served to showcase Mae West's talents and her humor and not much more. I found some of the plotlines rather silly, if I'm being honest. The one where her lover escapes from prison is kind of silly. I also didn't really feel any chemistry between Mae West and Cary Grant (although his performance was rather enjoyable on its own).

Back to Mae West though, the movie is clearly made to showcase all her talents and I've read that it was criticized and lauded for launching Mae West's career so fast. The way she says her lines is great as it adds to the humor that is supposed to be in the film. I believe that it was Mae West's performance that made the film interesting because at other times I thought it was somewhat dull.

Mae West's musical numbers were also done pretty well. "A Guy What Takes His Time" was definitely the most memorable to me especially because of the dialogue that came before it when she was talking about being nervous.

The costumes were another thing that I found especially enjoyable, particularly the dresses worn by Mae West through out the movie.

All in all, I enjoyed the movie and would recommend that one watches it. It's easy to see why it is considered a classic by some and that's because of Mae West's star-making performance as Lady Loud. The movie offers some good old fashioned humor and has enough drama to keep one interested for a bit.

3/5 stars

What do you think if you've seen the movie?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Best Supporting Actress Ranking

5. Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook (3/5 stars)

Although she had a very small role and no one was expecting a nomination from her, Jacki Weaver was able to deliver a cute loving performance as the mother in a family where mental illness is prevalent. Upon watching SLP again recently, I noticed that although she didn't have much dialogue her presence in scenes when she's just smiling or looking concerned make her presence felt. If she had more lines or like maybe even a monologue scene about how she's affected by all of the problems she might have had more of a chance but overall it was an extremely enjoyable performance from an actress that needs more recognition, in my opinion.

4. Amy Adams in The Master (3.5/5 stars)

To be completely honest, I personally thought that this was Amy Adams second strongest performance in this category. (With the first being her exceptional performance in Junebug) The problem with Adams' performance however is that the movie is pretty much the Phoenix/Hoffman show. The few scenes that she does get, however, are nothing short of brilliant. That scene where she was "assisting" Dodd and telling him to "cum for" her was quite uncomfortable just because of the nonchalance in her tone. Her big scene was the "we have to attack" and if she had more scenes like that one she would have had a higher ranking. 

3. Helen Hunt in The Sessions (3.7/5 stars)

Let's be honest, this felt like a leading performance and it was handled amazingly well by Helen Hunt. Her subtlety in how she delivered her performance felt so earnest. The emotion she put into the scenes where she knew she was getting too involved with Mark after he had written her the poem. She was able to pull of the feelings of being disconcerted without much dialogue. I also know that at some point she had a Boston accent and at other points in the movie she didn't but that didn't detract from her overall performance. This was a phenomenal performance from an actress I know not much about in an extremely great movie. 

2. Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables (4/5 stars)

There's no denying that Anne Hathaway's turn as Fantine in the musical phenomenon Les Miserables was nothing short of spectacular. She moved through her scenes really well and was able to express the agony and pain of someone who has fallen to rock bottom but still has to go on for her daughter. Her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" has become synonymous when even referring to the movie itself. Personally, I liked her  very few scenes she had after her big "I Dreamed a Dream" number a little bit better as it showed a truly broken woman. There's no denying the amazing talent that Anne Hathaway possesses and that allowed her to win the actual Oscar.  

1. Sally Field in Lincoln (4.7/5 stars)

My personal choice for the best of this year goes to the amazing Sally Field for her performance as Mary Todd Lincoln in the the Steven Spieldberg epic Lincoln. It could have been easy for Sally to get lost in the epicness of the movie and the amazingness that was Daniel Day-Lewis' performance, but she more than holds her own as the troubled first lady. My personal favorite scene is the argument scene in which Mary Todd falls to the ground to show how truly heartbroken she was over the death of her son. That scene alone made me pick Sally as my top choice. Not to say she doesn't have to any other great scenes, like her scene in the Grand Reception. While I've heard some complain about Sally "over-acting", I beg to differ. There's no great way of underacting someone who was potentially mentally ill. All-in-all, a great performance by a great actress.

Honorable Mentions:

Ann Dowd in Compliance (4/5 stars)

There's no way that Ann Dowd was a supporting actress as she pretty much lead the movie (like Helen Hunt) but perhaps because she was in an indie she was made to campaign as a supporting actress. Anyhow, Ann Dowd was truly spectacular in Compliance. I often found myself upset at Sandra for easily falling into the trap and going through with everything the "cop" was telling her to do, but Ann Dowd portrayed Sandra as someone who was just trying to follow the orders of someone who was supposed to guide her in the right direction. The final scene in the interview is truly a revelation of how amazing Ann Dowd was because it shows her as Sandra trying to hold on to her pride. She is basically asking "what would you do?" but not at all trying to deny the fact that she was somewhere in the wrong. It's a shame that she didn't get nominated. 

Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy (3/5 stars)

To be completely honest, I'm not sure how to feel about the movie and that kind of affects how I feel about the performance, which I know it shouldn't. Nicole Kidman played Charlotte Bless, a trashy woman who writes letters to men in prison and gets engaged to one. On one hand, I think that it was a good role and that Nicole was great in it. On the other hand, I think the movie detracts from her performance in that it's polarizing, to say the least. I think the movie is worth a watch, if just so one could make their own opinions about Nicole Kidman. She's been called "terrifically good" in this movie and so that might be a reason to watch it.

Samantha Barks in Les Miserables (4.2/5 stars)

Samantha Barks definitely held her own in the musical epic, playing Eponine, yet another tragic character in the movie. She perfectly portrayed the yearning and desire that the character was experiencing which made her demise saddening. Like Anne Hathaway had "I Dreamed a Dream", Samantha Barks had "On My Own" and she was fantastic. I honestly thought that she might be able to pull off a nom but it looks like everyone was more concerned with getting Anne Hathaway her first Oscar. When people go back and watch Les Miserables, I feel that they will be able to appreciate Samantha Barks performance and see that it was worthy of an Oscar nom. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook

Jacki Weaver received her second Oscar nom in this category for playing Dolores Solitano, mother of a son with a mental illness and wife of a man who is also potentially suffering from a minor illness. Can I just begin by saying that when Jacki’s name was called out in the nominations, that I was surprised? I’m pretty sure people were expecting Nicole Kidman in the Paperboy or even Ann Down for Compliance (what a great performance!) but we got Jacki Weaver.

I was so excited when Jacki got her nom because I thought that she played her character to the best of her abilities with the little dialogue that she had. To be honest, she may have only gotten the nom because of the all the Best Picture buzz SLP had. I have often said that although she had little screen time, she had a big presence on-screen (with or without dialogue). All of the scenes, she’s in, she works her character in to trying to keep the peace in this family that’s bordering on being completely dysfunctional.

The only other movie I have seen with Jacki Weaver is Animal Kingdom and I loved her in that, so I don’t have much to go off of when reviewing her acting abilities. In this movie, rather than play a manipulative matriarch of a family of criminals, Jacki plays a caring mother who strives to keep her family together. I know that the Academy has a thing for actresses who play mothers, since that year that Jacki was nominated Melissa Leo won for playing Alice mother to Micky Ward.

The scene when she picks up Pat from rehab center is one of my favorites because, it sets up how her character would be right from the get-go. Dolores is a caring mother who cares deeply for her family. Although there is no major character development as the film progresses, there is a consistent feeling that comes from watching Dolores on screen.

One of my favorite scenes from the film is when Pat is looking for his wedding video and then he accidentally knocks her down. Then, Patrizio comes in, starts fighting with Pat and Dolores is just yelling at them to stop and I was amazed at how well you could see her trying to keep her family together although they’re far from being together.
Although her character was likable, I don’t think that she had that many “Oscar scenes”. In most of the scenes she’s just shown smiling or looking worried but I got the sense that she was being genuine, which is something I love in a performance.  I was surprised that they managed to dig one up for when they were announcing the nominees at the Oscars. I think Jacki probably came in last in voting and she never really had a chance at winning seeing as she missed many of the important noms (GG, SAG) I did think that by the time the Oscars came that we all knew who was going to win.

 In conclusion, I think that this performance was great, even though she had little screen time. Jacki was ableto make her character extremely likable and play the part extremely well although it wasn't extremely demanding. She managed to convey so much emotion just by being present in a scene doing something as simple as smiling or looking worried. Had this year not been full of so many great performances and had she more screen time, Jacki might have been able to win. All in all, a great performance that was lucky just to be nominated.

How'd I do for my first review? Comment, please.