"Instant gratification takes too long"Can you name the Best Actress nominated movie that that classic quote is from?
If the Film Bitch Awards were held today, your nominees would be:
Gretchen Mol as "Bettie Page"
The Notorious Bettie Page
Keke Palmer as "Akeelah"
Akeelah and the Bee
Meryl Streep as "Miranda"
The Devil Wears Prada
I raved about Mol and Streep in the last roundup. Am I doing this again too soon? (Probably. Shut up). Palmer's adorable lead work in yet another spelling bee movie holds up still, too.
So let's move on the newbies.
Maggie Gyllenhaal as "Sherry" in Sherrybaby
You will probably read a lot of reviews or hear a lot of media coverage that will mention Maggie Gyllenhaal's "bravery" and her "lack of vanity" in tackling the titular role in this new indie. She plays an ex-con and recovering junkie who is trying to win back her young daughter. But don't believe the hype. These types of things are always said about actresses who take unglamorous roles... as long as the performance is at least adequate these things are said. You must approach accolades carefully if any actress has roughed herself up in anyway onscreen. Critics (and Oscar voters) love de-glamming as much as Sherrybaby loves heroin.
That said, Maggie Gyllenhaal is a superb actress. But --and here's my point-- it aint for lack of actorly vanity. If anything, Sherrybaby has plenty o' the stuff. This is a showcase performance piece and Maggie knows it. She takes off running with it. This is 70s style actorly bravado. For me it's very much in the Jane Fonda Klute vein, so it earns my respect. Note the way Maggie demands that you look at her (by being, well, excellent at her job) and then punishes you for looking. You can practically imagine Sherry spitting out "what the f*** are you looking at?" after all of Maggie's best scenes.
In other words: mesmerizing but hostile --so, don't count on her having an easy ride to an Oscar nomination. Sherry is a maddening character. She doesn't care what you think of her. And if there's anything that can put a chill on Oscar's de-glam lovin', it's that. Even Charlize's Monster, for all of her murderous rage, was desperate for your love.
If I love this Sherrybaby star turn a teensy bit less than everyone else is likely to, it's only because I've seen Maggie do this trick before and rather exquisitely in Happy Endings (FB Bronze Medal, 2005) . Plus, I liked her singing better in that one.
Sook-Yin Lee as "Sophia" in Shortbus
For the fifth slot I went with the actress I liked whom I was least familiar with. My apologies to Anne Hathaway in Devil Wears Prada (who is growing on me), Maggie Cheung in Clean (too restrained for me this time), Fernanda Montenegro in House of Sand (wasn't given enough to do) and Shu Qi in Three Times (Uneven. It's definitely the second time wherein my problems with the film and her performance reside.)
When Shortbus opens in a month I'm sure it'll be divisive --being very polysexual, political, and graphic --but even for people who don't respond to it, I suspect the performances will still be a pleasant surprise. Most of the lead players manage to serve the dramatic, comedic, and sexual demands of the film with roughly equal measures of success and without much visible strain in any particular one of those areas. Sook-Yin Lee emerges as one of the two characters that are at the movie's heart. She plays a couples counsellor with orgasm problems. Her face is sometimes opaque and sometimes revealing but her performance is always interesting to watch.
Tags: Maggie Gyllenhaal, shortbus, Oscars, films, Academy Awards, movies