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Five Best Oscar Best Actress Lineup in History   13 comments

One thing I like about the Oscar Best Actress lineup this year is that it is inspired. We’re treated to a wide array of female performances that caters to different demographics. On one hand, it’s impossible (no pun intended) to ignore Naomi Watts’ performance in The Impossible as she embraces  into the physical requirements of the role of a suffering mother. Then, you also have the subtlety of Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty. Her role can be considered as too quiet and passive, but it is through this silence that you can feel the emotional commitment she puts in the role of Maya. Youngest Best Actress nominee Quvenzhane Wallis carries Beasts of the Southern Wild with so much charm and appeal that it’s hard not to root for her and see the potential that lies within her acting skills. Silver Linings Playbook‘s Jennifer Lawrence avoids the scenery chewing approach and was also solid in a way that it impresses you and makes you wonder where she tugs all these emotions in her portrayal of Tiffany. Lastly, Emmanuelle Riva of Amour just makes your heart break as she transcends her performance to the viewers, thanks to an effective combination of emotional and physical combination that the role required.

Refreshing isn’t it? Just like this year, these five years stand out as the best of the Best Actress lineup in the 85 years of the Academy.

1988

05. Best Actress 1988

The nominees were:
Glenn Close, “Dangerous Liaisons”
*Jodie Foster, “The Accused”
Melanie Griffith, “Working Girl”
Meryl Streep, “A Cry in the Dark”
Sigourney Weaver, “Gorillas in the Mists”

1988 is definitely a strong year for Best Actress. For once, this is the year where we had a triple tie at the Best Actress Drama category at the Golden Globes with even snubbed Shirlay Maclaine for Madame Sousatzka snubbed for a nomination. With that said, let’s start with probably the “weakest” of the bunch, Melanie Griffith. In Working Girl, Griffith displayed a charming approach to a woman who wanted to matter in a corporate world. In some ways, it is through Griffith’s appeal that carries Tess when the writing starts to get borderline cliche. Glenn Close just gave the performance of a lifetime a year earlier via Fatal Attraction, but that did not stop her in giving back to back tour de force performance when she followed it up with her turn in Dangerous Liaisons. It is quite similar to Watts and Riva this year wherein they were lying on a bed most of the time, but Close’s facial expressions gave justice to an otherwise pretty helpless character. Sigourney Weaver gives a one two punch performance that year both in lead ans supporting, but her more interesting performance is the one for which she was nominated here. As concerned monkey expert Diane Fossey, Weaver made us attached to an otherwise unknown woman and made us care for what she cares about. Cannes Best Actress winner that year was for A Cry in the Dark‘s Meryl Streep. It’s such a shame that she already has two Oscars by the time this movie was released, but it probably ranks as my favorite Meryl Streep performance ever. Beyond nailing the Australian accent perfectly, it is the emotional attachment that Streep carved that made Lindsay Chamberlain not only a sympathetic mother but a real human being. Plus points to anybody who can deliver the line “The dingo killed my baby” with a straight face. Eventually, the winner was Jodie Foster in The Accused. The movie was pretty much an acting vehicle, and Foster was game all the way. For that alone, I commend her. And that probably is what puts her over the edge that year.

If I was a voter, I would vote for: Meryl Streep hands down. That would have been a very deserving third Oscar win for her.

2006

04. Best Actress 2006

The nominees were:
Penelope Cruz, “Volver
Judi Dench, “Notes on a Scandal
*Helen Mirren, “The Queen
Meryl Streep, “The Devil Wears Prada”
Kate Winslet, “Little Children”

2006 is probably known as the year where Helen Mirren steamrolled her way to the Oscars. It was one of the instances where in as early as September, it was already clear on who will win the Best Actress Oscar. While Mirren was every inch deserving, the whole category was such an embarrassment of riches in terms of the nominated performances. Kate Winslet was on her fifth nomination already for Little Children, and she was able to portray the complexities of a suburban housewife who was longing for something that will elicit interaction to her, even if it means having an affair to the one of her neighbors. If there’s one thing I commend about Winslet, it’s her willingness to use her body as a part of her total display of emotions, and it was highlighted here. Meryl Streep was such a hoot in The Devil Wears Prada. In this, she showed another facet to her as an actress, and she avoided Miranda Priestly to be a total caricature which was a total delight to watch. I wasn’t a fan of Penelope Cruz’s English language features, but she was totally in her element in Volver. Despite being a part of a strong huge female ensemble, it is still Cruz whose at the front and center and she totally was up to the challenge. Like Meryl Streep, Judi Dench was able to show another side of her, this time in an unlikable villainous role in Notes on a Scandal. It wasn’t an easy task, mind you, as Dame Dench probably has one of the most endearing performances that it’s hard for someone to not like her. But she did it with so much raw intensity that she totally disappears into the role of a stalking old woman. Lastly, I don’t think there’s any adjectives left that wasn’t use to describe Helen Mirren in The Queen, and she was able to convey the role of the Queen not as a public figure but as a human being, and that’s what makes the performance remarkable and stand the test of time.

If I was a voter, I would vote for: Helen Mirren. As much as I think it’s a three way race among her, Dench, and Cruz, she’s just a hair better as she carries the whole film stronger and in a more vital manner.

2010

03. Best Actress 2010

The nominees were:
Annette Bening, “The Kids Are All Right”
Nicole Kidman, “Rabbit Hole”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Winter’s Bone”
*Natalie Portman, “Black Swan”
Michelle Williams, “Blue Valentine”

As 2009 ended with a Sandra Bullock win for The Blind Side, the current decade starts strong with these five performances that are arguably better for the other nominations that these actresses got in the past or after this year. Let’s begin with Jennifer Lawrence in Winter’s Bone. Sure, she was more charming in Silver Linings Playbook, but the potential was already there way back in her first lead role status. Most of the time, we just follow her journey as Ree finds her father, but she encompasses it in a raw manner that it’s not hard to see the greatness that lies with her acting talents. Annette Bening’s fourth nomination comes from her role as lesbian Nic in The Kids Are All Right. In any other weaker year, I can totally see this performance dominating the awards circuit. In Kids, Bening was devoid of the easy way out with her performance as the “man” in a lesbian relationship. Her Nic was tough but sensitive, possessive but vulnerable, and Bening brings another layer to it effectively. The secret to Blue Valentine was probably the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams. Williams was totally as giving as Gosling was; shedding away not only her clothes, but also her emotions as she deal with a relationship that at first was ideal, but in the end was complicated. The same sadness was encompassed by Oscar winner Nicole Kidman, though, in her case, it was about a grieving mother who lost her only son. What I like about this performance was that Kidman didn’t make it as a pity party for Becca. She was unlikable,and you can see that, but it was her grieving process that tales center stage, and Nicole was more than aware of that. Lastly, Natalie Portman in Black Swan was probably the role of her lifetime. Her commitment to the role is already an accomplishment, but beyond that, she was more than willing to enter the role that Darren Aronofsky set up for Nina. Admittedly, my favorite part of her performance was the famous “phone call” scene where she told her mother that she passed auditions, but this is a totality body of work that one can be proud of, and Portman was deserving to win this year.

If I was a voter, I would vote for: Nicole Kidman. Becca was such an interesting character study devoid of the over the top histrionics that one can expect, and Kidman was the effective means to connect Becca to the viewers.

1995

02. Best Actress 1995

The nominees were:
*Susan Sarandon, “Dead Man Walking”
Elisabeth Shue, “Leaving Las Vegas”
Sharon Stone, “Casino”
Meryl Streep, “The Bridges of Madison County”
Emma Thompson, “Sense and Sensibility”

1995 was considered as the greatest year for lead female performers during that decade. While this line up is strong, think of these non-nominated performances during that year: Nicole Kidman in To Die For, Kathy Bates in Dolores Clairborne, Alicia Silverstone in Clueless, Toni Collette in Muriel’s Wedding, Julianne Moore in Safe and son on and so forth. Anyway enough about the snubees, let’s begin. Emma Thompson’s safest niche is probably British period pieces. And just like her winning performance in Howards End, her performance in Sense and Sensibility connects easily to viewers not solely because of the familiarity of the novel, but because of how she makes her presence felt in it. With that said though, I like her screenwriting credits for this movie better than her acting in it. Sharon Stone can be considered as a borderline supporting in Casino, but her role as Ginger stands out in this film that’s dominated by the men. Stone wasn’t able to match her performance int his and has been a Hollywood joke for years now, but this is always a good reminder of the talents that she had. Meryl Streep. Can you ever get tired of her? I surely don’t. If she mastered the Aussie accent in A Cry in the Dark, here she went all Italian. And once again, she nailed it. Streep has this habit of rising over the material, and while most of the time, that’s not a good thing, in The Bridges of Madison County, it’s the opposite. This makes you fell more for her Francesca, and the breakdown at the near end of the deal sealed the deal for me. It’s quite sad when people connect Leaving Las Vegas as solely the Nicolas Cage show, because Elisabeth Shue was darn fantastic in it. On the outside, Shue can easily be summed up as a hooker with a heart, but her performance is a straight connection to the viewers that it’s just spectacular to watch her in it. I can even go as far as saying that she steals the show for me. Lastly, Susan Sarandon wins after four failed attempts for Dead Man Walking. In it, she gives a devoted performance as Sister Mary Prejean to Sean Penn’s character, and she does not rely to histrionics but focused to the bigger picture of a nun committed to help.

If I was a voter, I would vote for: Elisabeth Shue. It’s not really hard to vote for this one. She was simply magnificent.

1950

01. Best Actress 1950

The nominees were:
Anne Baxter, “All About Eve
Bette Davis, “All About Eve
*Judy Holliday, “Born Yesterday
Eleanor Parker, “Caged
Gloria Swanson, “Sunset Boulevard”

And we’ve finally reached the best line-up at the history of this category at the Oscars. This is probably one of the years where I change my personal winner every single time. There’s something to commend about all these performances that makes them not only iconic, but as a representation of acting masterclass. Let’s begin with the least familiar performance of the bunch. Eleanor Parker probably wasn’t as remembered as the other names or movies like her co-nominees, but Caged is an underrated gem that shows Parker’s versatility as an actress. Her ability to convey multiple emotions from her audience is a testament of how this performance should always be remembered. Then we have the All About Eve actresses. On the left corner, we have Anne Baxter in the role of an inspired up and coming actress Eve. Her role required her to do a lot, and while I see some flaws here and there with her approach of the character; nevertheless, she made her mark with it instead of the other way around. Then we have the fabulous Bette Davis in a comeback memorable performance as an aging actress that lives with the threat of her age being a detriment to her fame. Davis fires one liners like no other, one after the other, and it was just fantastic to watch her do that right in front of our eyes. Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard was another “diva” that was such a joy to watch. It was commendable to see Swanson stretch herself to all the demands to her character, and she displays each of them with such panache that’s inevitable to ignore. But the Oscar that year went to none other than Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday. Academy rarely rewards comedic performances that’s why it’s such fun when you see actors get rewarded for them. Holliday never relied on baity scenes, but instead focus on creating a whole picture that stands on its own rather than several clips to justify her performance.

If I was a voter, I would vote for: Gloria Swanson. One of the performances that I’d probably recommend to every aspiring actor/actress. How she effectively answers these different needs of the character is uh-mah-zing.

That’s it! What are some of your favorite Best Actress line-ups? Who would you have chosen as your personal winners in these set of nominees? Pipe them in below!

And as always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

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10 Things You Need to Know About the 85th Academy Awards Nominations   4 comments

Hey everybody! How are you all doing? So yeah, Pandora’s box was finally opened as Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone unveiled the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards. For now, I’m still nursing a heartbreak due to Nicole Kidman’s snub, but then again, so are many of the supposed to be contenders. My predictions this year were just okay getting more or less 3-4 of the nominees per category (except for my 2/5 in Song and 1/3 in Make Up), but I have no 5/5 prediction for this year. Sucks to be me I guess. And by this moment, I’m wondering if you’re still reading this or you just closed the window already because what the hell am I still talking about when I can’t even get my predictions right. But so is the rest of the predictors as this has been one of the shocking years in terms of actual nominees. Anyway here  are ten things you need to know about the 85th Academy Awards Nominees:

besties

THE CURSE OF THE 2007 FEMALE OSCAR WINS

2007 Best Supporting Actress winner Tilda Swinton was shafted at the final minute last year despite getting BFCA, Globe, SAG, nad BAFTA nods for her turn as the mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin. It was the first time in awards prognostication history where in a performance hit all precursor noms only to miss in the end (likely, for Rooney Mara). That seems to be the exception to the case though. However, this year, a similar occurrence happened to (incidentally) 2007 Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard who received the same precursor support for her performance in Rust and Bone only to miss again. Mind you, both of these actresses have churned out some of the best post-Oscar resumes in history and they have been shafted countless times since their win. Swinton had Julia in 2009, I Am Love in 2010, and Kevin in 2011. Cotillard had Nine in 2009, Inception in 2010, and even in BP nominee Midnight in Paris last year. What does it take for these gorgeous women to be called back again for another nomination? Hmm.

costume

SNOW WHITE vs… SNOW WHITE?

While one Snow White themed movie Blancanieves failed to connect with the Foreign Language voters, there are two other Snow White films which are in contention…for the same category. Colleen Atwood was nominated for Snow White and the Huntsman while Mirror Mirror‘s Eiko Ishioka was the other one in competition. While there’s a large possibility that both designers will lose to Jacqueline Duran for Anna Karenina, can we do a write in vote that says Snow White is the most fashionable fairy tale character? Yes?

amour

AMOUR RECEIVING A LOT OF AMOUR 

One movie that received a lot of amour (that means Love if you still don’t get it by now) is Michael Haneke’s Amour receiving four major nods this year for Picture, Directing, Lead Actress for Emmanuelle Riva, and Original Screenplay together with a Foreign Language Film nod. While the possibility of the film making it to all those categories is not far fetched, it’s still unbelievable that voters went all the way to give it nods for such. This is the first film since 2000′ s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to make it both to best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, and the consecutive Palme d’or winner to be Best Picture nominated after last year’s Tree of Life. Of course, there are others that even won such as 1957’s Marty but what I’m referring here is back to back nods.

directed

MOVIES THAT DIRECTED THEMSELVES

Best Director is the biggest fuckery this year (and probably ever?), as both Ben Affleck and Katheryn Bigelow were snubbed after hitting BFCA, Globes, DGA, and BAFTA nods (plus critics prizes for both of them). Who replaced them? Benh Zeitlin of Beasts of the Southern Wild, and to a lesser extent, David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook. While I was over the moon happy about Haneke getting in (which there was a really huge probability of happening especially with the BAFTA Director nod, and he was always in fifth place), but this category just felt weird with no Affleck and Bigelow in it especially since they’d probably be winning the televised awards. To be fair though, both Argo and Zero Dark Thirty are in a good company with the likes of The Color PurpleSense and SensibilityMoulin Rouge!The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Inception who all received Best Picture mentions without their helmers getting the nod.

vlcsnap-2013-01-11-13h11m09s59

BEST NOMINATION ANNOUNCEMENT EVAH!

Since the 60s, it has been a tradition of the Academy to have its current president together with a past Oscar acting nominee to present the nominations. It was a in a formal manner where the ten major categories are announced and the names of the nominees were alphabetically one by one mentioned starting from Best Supporting Actress up to Best Picture. However, for this year, we got host Seth MacFarlane and still Oscarless actress Emma Stone to do the presentation job and boy was it the best announcement evah. Starting from Stone’s fake entrance as if she was called to win an award to the Hitler joke in between up to Bryan Cranston’s teeth, this was such a breath of fresh air in terms of announcing. Not only that, but names were randomly announced too that adds the pleasure of the prediction process. If this is an indication of MacFarlane’s hosting stint, then count me in.

skyfall

BOND. JAMES BOND.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise, Skyfall was the first Bond movie in 31 years to receive nominations in any Oscar category. Add to that is the fact that it got five(!) nods for Cinematography, Original Score, Original Song  (for Adele’s Skyfall), Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, and it becomes the most nominated Bond movie ever. As for a quick Bond history with Oscar, prior to Skyfall, there have been only nine nominations since its inception winning two; one is for Goldfinger in Sound Effects in 1965 and a Visual Effects win for Thunderball the following year. The last nomination though was in 1981 in the Original Song category for For Your Eyes Only from the Bond movie of the same title.

silver linings playbook

MAJOR, MAJOR ACTING NOMINATIONS

Four acting nominations for a film is really possible within the Academy. In the past few years, Chicago and Doubt managed to achieve that feat. However, it’s more interesting when the four acting noms came from the four acting categories. After 31 years, Silver Linings Playbook becomes the 14th movie in Oscar history to grab nods for the four acting categories for its stars Bradley Cooper (Lead Actor), Jennifer Lawrence (Lead Actress), Robert de Niro (Supporting Actor), and Jackie Weaver (Supporting Actress). There’s a huge possibility that with this, SLP is expected to win at least one acting trophy (as per history), and our bet is on Jennifer Lawrence to take Best Actress. From the thirteen prior films that managed this feat, only two went Oscarless in all four acting categories: My Man Godfrey in 1936, and Sunset Boulevard in 1950.

riva wallis

BEST ACTRESS… OLD AND NEW

Presenter Emma Stone already mentioned this yesterday, but for Best Actress, a record was made when we had the oldest and the youngest Best Actress nominees ever and they happened to be competing with each other. French actress Emmanuelle Riva, currently at 85 (though her birthday will exactly be on the Oscar telecast), becomes the oldest Best Actress nominee ever for her turn as the wife in Amour. Previous title holder was 1989 winner Jessica Tandy for Driving Miss Daisy who was 80 when she was nominated and won the Oscar. On the other hand, the youngest now is Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild who was nominated at the age of 9. It’s pretty fascinating to learn that while shooting the movie, Wallis was just 7. She beats previous record holder, 2003’s Keisha Castle Hughes, who was nominated for Whale Rider at the age of 13. Moreover, co-nominee Jennifer Lawrence became the youngest actress to receive two Best Actress nods by the age of 22.

levitt

THE JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT SCREENPLAY CURSE

If you’re an aspiring Hollywood writer, there’s no better person to write a screenplay for than Joseph Gordon Levitt. Maybe it’s because of his immense talent, or he really has just a knack for interesting stories, but for the past four years, Joseph Gordon Levitt has made films whose screenplays always receive Oscar buzz particularly in the Original Screenplay category. However, there always seems to be a hurdle at this. The buzz is there, but the nod is not. In 2009, his 500 Days of Summer despite getting WGA and NBR wins failed to make it to the final list. The same can be said for his cancer movie last year 50-50. And despite getting critics nominations and a WGA nod again, Looper also failed to make it to the final line up. You know what the exception was? The one film he starred that nabbed an Original Screenplay nom is the one where he was in supporting… Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

amy adams

ALWAYS THE BRIDESMAID… FOREVER THE BRIDESMAID?

In a span of eight years, Amy Adams has already received four Supporting Actress Oscar nominations for 2005’s Junebug, 2008’s Doubt, 2010’s The Fighter, and this year again for her role in The Master. Pretty impressive achievement I must admit. However, with no such luck, she still wasn’t able to snatch an Oscar of her own for the four performances (yes, four, because Anne Hathaway has that thing locked up). Now while it’s an achievement of its own, I fear for dear Amy, sweet Amy, that she’ll belong to the list of voters just want to nominate but not win. After all, eight years is pretty quick to gain 4 Oscar nods (Julianne Moore got 4 in five years), what lies for her future Oscar chances? Among all actresses, Thelma Ritter, Deborrah Kerr, Glenn Close (the only one left still alive) hold the record for most nominations without winning (6), followed by Irene Dunner (also gone now) with five. From those living, Adams is currently in the same page as Annette Bening, Jane Alexander, Marsha Mason, and Julianne Moore that can still win despite four losses while Rosalind Russell and Barbara Stanwyck are the other four time Oscarless winners who were already departed. Here’s wishing the next time Amy Adams get nominated, she’ll finally win.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl