Monday, December 13, 2010

NYFCC's 2010 Wins: "The Social Kids That Are All Right Network"

The New York Film Critics Circle forms, together with LAFCA (Los Angeles Film Critics Association) and the NSFC* (National Society of Film Critics), the holy trinity** of critics awards. LA & NY combined can be a potent influential mix... not that they often agree. But this year they did, further underlining the dominance of The Social Network this awards season. The other big boost went to The Kids Are All Right, Lisa Cholodenko's warmly funny family-at-crossroads film, which picked up three major wins (Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay)

Picture The Social Network
Director David Fincher for The Social Network
Actress Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right
Actor Colin Firth for The King's Speech

We already knew that Best Actress was shaping up to be a Bening vs. Portman showdown. But it was not confirmed in a neatly bi-coastal way since Portman did not take LAFCA yesterday. She wasn't even runner-up. Nevertheless, it's still firmly on track to turn out that way, a two-person battle, since they're the likely Globe winners in Comedy and Drama, respectively.


Supporting Actress Melissa Leo for The Fighter
Supporting Actor Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right
Screenplay Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg for The Kids Are All Right
Cinematography
Matthew Libatique for Black Swan
Animated Film
Sylvain Chomet's The Illusionist
Documentary
Inside Job
Foreign Film
Carlos
First Feature
David Michôd's Animal Kingdom
Special Prize
is there one this year? I haven't seen one specified online and their site has not been updated.

Having been a big fan of Animal Kingdom all year, I am pleased for David Michôd's win, since the praise has usually reduced the film to the Jacki Weaver show. Weaver aside, the entire cast is strong and so is the film so good on NYFCC for noticing.

Animal Kingdom's cast: Frecheville, Stapleton, Ford, Weaver,
Joel Edgerton and Ben Mendelsohn

In other film critics org news today, The Southeastern Film Critics Association named The Social Network the years best and also hilariously named True Grit's Hailee Steinfeld the best "supporting" actress of the year. What she's supporting, other than her entire Coen Bros picture, we don't know. They used to call that "carrying" a film and that's only done by lead actors. What the Christ? She's even more of a lead than Frances McDormand was in Fargo! See also: BFCA Nominations for this year's most egregious Category Fraud party. Every year has one.

*in recent years it seems that the NSFC has been fading -- so perhaps the only powerful critics orgs are now LA & NY... at least in terms of media interest -- given NSFC's late voting and the ever expanding roster of film awards.

74 comments:

Yavor said...

If Lesley Manville doesn't win here or doesn't get a SAG nomination, she's gone and forgotten. The Golden Globes won't do much for her nor will BAFTA.

Apart from the 4 obvious Best Actress slots (Portman, Bening, Lawrence and Kidman), the 5ht might indeed be Michelle Williams or probably Julianne Moore?

If we indeed have Portman, Bening, Kidman and Williams at the Oscars it's gonna be one of those very powerful years for actresses. Saw "Rabbit Hole" last night and was absolutely impressed by Nicole Kidman. The scenes with the teenager were the most touching to me. I'm no longer sure about Dianne Wiest's chances; she was great but the film is not paying any attention to her, it's a total Kidman affair.

I'd love to see Jeremy Renner snatch another Oscar nom in 2 consecutive years.

I love Andrew Garfield in "The Social Network".

Lucky said...

you know, I don't enjoy hating on a little girl, except when the cause of my hate is not her fault, but why are all these critic groups buying the category fraud?!

Arkan said...

Because they want to rubber stamp the oscar season, not demonstrate a mind of their own.

Lucky said...

oops, replace "except" with "especially"

NATHANIEL R said...

Lucky & Arkaan -- exactly. I have nothihg against Hailee. It's a good performance of a very difficult part actually but it is unquestionably the lead role -- like Jamie Foxx Collateral and Casey Affleck in Jesse James lead role... only EVEN BIGGER since she's in every scene.

but doing well with a difficult first lead role is supposed to set you up to be well cast in the future. Not to win "supporting" prizes.

Lucky said...

gah, I hate loving awards season

adam k. said...

RANDOMNESS ALERT: Am I the only one getting really invested in a Black Swan makeup nomination? The makeup in that film was GORGEOUS. Mostly Natalie's Black Swan getup. Jesus Christ. But also all the other dancers, Natalie's various scratches and whatnot, the bloody eyes, and all those crazy effects (some of which I'm assuming had to do with makeup). I think it deserves the win, frankly.

And I really hope they go for it in places like cinematography, score (doubtful since many of the bets bits were Swan Lake score), sound, and editing. Just creative tech work all around.

Murtada said...

I surprised by all the love in the last couple of days for Black Swan. I liked it a lot but didn't think it would do so well with critics because the reviews were not ecstactic.

Also hope The Kids Are All right picks up more momentum.BFCA certainly shafted it.

NATHANIEL R said...

adam k -- i really doubt it will find room in score. for one thing it's not even clint mansell's best work and they've ignored him every time.

i could see makeup happening and agree it's terrific but they're usually averse to nominating things outside of old age makeup and weird character designs in fantasy films so it's a crapshoot.

murtada -- i feel certain the Globes will give KIDS a big boost tomorrow.

Clover said...

TKAA just got the boost they needed from the NYFCC

RJ said...

Eh .... not setting the world on fire with this line up. Too many precursors!

stjeans said...

I am SOOOOO happy for Bening. I was REALLY starting to worri...I saw Black Swan last night. I am not THAT impress with Portman. So my vote is Bening ALL THE WAY!

Volvagia said...

The reviews of Black Swan: Love it or hate it, but mostly positive. (To the tune of 87% on RT) Not pretty much unanimous like The Wrestler's reception (98% on RT). But considering The Wrestler was a low-key, hyperreal movie while this is one of his flights of fancy, like the Fountain, I am both peeved for the negative reception and understanding of it. (It took Bunuel a couple generations to worm his way into the film culture in a positive enough way to be funded consistently. Never forget that.)

Marsha Mason said...

Have they even been campaigning Hailee for supporting actress yet, or do voters just know instinctively to ignore logic and reality, and instead reflexively place children in supporting? Ugh. Can I sue somebody for fraud?

dinasztie said...

It's GREAT that Bening won, she might win. Now I have a theory for why she might just win after all.
Against Natalie/For Annette:
Against Natalie:
1)Nobody denied that Rourke would win (deservedly) two years ago in an Aronofsky movie. Let's face it, he's a jinx for actors. Ellen, Mickey, Marisa... Natalie?
2)Bening is an Academy Governor. Not giving her the Oscar might look like the French Revolution, killing the king and everything.
3)Lawrence cannot win the Oscar, but if she gets many critics' awards she takes the steam away from Natalie and then Annette is a more likely thing.
4)Annette Bening has many friends. She did not win in 2004 since Eastwood had more friends.
5)Natalie is not even 30. But that may not matter (Theron, Witherspoon).

OtherRobert said...

Could we be up for a Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider surprise with Hailee Steinfeld when the Oscar nominations come out? She was campaigned as supporting the whole season, picked up a few nominations for young actor/actress and supporting, then was thrown in with the big girls with the nomination. I could see something similar happening here. This isn't an "is she or isn't she" situation like other borderline leading roles in the past; Steinfeld is the lead just like Castle-Hughes was the lead. That could be enough to propel her to the right category when one of the slots is constantly in flux.

Murtada said...

Love that Both Bening and Ruffalo won. Althought thought KIDS was bening'character story with Ruffalo coming in as antagonist. The two performances stand with each other. He is what makes Nic crumble and then stand up and fight. What she has is what makes him want to change his life. Congrats, both much deserved.

Criticlasm said...

I liked Bening, but frankly it's nothing compared to what Portman did, on pointe. It's apples and oranges.

What may go against Bening is that it's a comedy. What may go for her is that it's about lesbians which might make the academy feel inclusive after shutting out Brokeback. Who knows?

I just know that I really want Portman to win. There, I've said it. I've seen it twice and she's amazing.

Supporting actor to Ruffalo is a surpise to me, too, though.

NicksFlickPicks said...

"In recent years it seems that the NSFC has been fading—so perhaps the only powerful critics orgs are now LA & NY... at least in terms of media interest—given NSFC's late voting and the ever expanding roster of film awards."

Then again, the NSFC, by refusing to move their announcements right into the fray of all the other announcements, and holding onto arguably the most distinguished roster of all the critics' groups, and continuing to go out on greater or lesser limbs with Pan's Labyrinth, Waltz with Bashir, Renner, Schneider, Schygulla, Moreau, Marsan, Streep, Harris, Greengrass, Cronenberg, Head-On, Moolaadé, etc., is continuing to carry a torch for being distinctive in their choices, rather than structuring themselves for maximal PR exposure. I'm all for it.

Joe Reid said...

Re: the Black Swan score, is it ever really about the work itself, though? Mansell's been snubbed before largely because "Requiem" was too intense for the acadamy outside of Burstyn, "The Fountain" was viewed (unjustly) as an unworthy flop, and "Moon" was too far off their radar. As much as the tech groups are little fraternities unto themselves, they still largely take their cues from the movies themselves. "Black Swan" is a much bigger fish.

James T said...

Go The Bening!

I'm not sure Portman will win the Globe.

1) She already got it in 2004
2) They awarded an Aronofsky lead the last time he made a film.

I think Kidman has a good chance. Mega-celebrity, great (supposedly) perf, maybe they missed her etc

adam k. said...

Okay it seems to be shaping up to be a serious Team Bening v. Team Portman thing now, to the tune of 1998, 2001, 2004, 2007, etc. (is it an every three years thing with Best Actress getting tense?) Though I think both are great and would prefer to stay neutral, I reluctantly choose Team Portman: I feel the need to defend Natalie a bit here and point out some basic facts:

1) Natalie not being 30 doesn't hurt her AT ALL. Late-twenty-something status is any starlet's ticket to a Best Actress oscar, especially when up against a 40/50/60-something veteran.

2) Bening's popularity didn't net her the win any other time she was nominated. And frankly, Portman > Swank, as far as competition is concerned.

3) Darrenofsky is not a jinx for actors at all. He just makes movies that are weird and hence hard for lots of people to vote for, in terms of wins. But having (soon to be) 3 out the 5 films you've ever made earn lead acting nominations is pretty impressive, if you ask me. Getting the lead in the new Darrenofsky pic basically assures any actor of a career-best performance and an oscar nod. Dfsky's cred only helps his star here.

4) Ironically, one main reason Dfsky's last leading lady lost was because she was UP AGAINST SOMEONE WHO WAS YOUNG AND HOT. Another (arguably) was that she was not the center of her film the way Julia was. See Bening/Portman this year.

5) Every time a hot young thing giving a physically demanding, career-best performance is up against a veteran in a more low-key role, the hot young thing wins. Always. Yes, the veteran usually already has an oscar. But I don't think Annette's oscarless status is enough here.

1997: Hunt beats Dench.
1999: Swank beats Bening.
2000: Julia beats Ellen.
2001: Halle beats Sissy.
2003: Theron beats Keaton.
2004: Swank beats Bening again.
2005: Witherspoon beats Huffman.
2007: Cotillard beats Christie.
2008: Winslet beats Streep.
2009: Bullock beats Streep.

etc.

Yay Annette for winning today, but this changes very little. Portman will win the oscar, will wear a beautiful gown to the ball, and will probably cry.

I hope Moore and Bening are both nominated so they'll be able to feel better about neither winning.

adam k. said...
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adam k. said...
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NATHANIEL R said...

Nick -- that's true. Good on them. But it does seem like less and less people are listening, which is sad.

dinasztie -- 29 years of age is actually the most common age to win Best Actress (so that counts for Natalie... ) I'd like to think that Bening has a ton of friends in the academy but sometimes i wonder. I mean that second defeat from Swank was just UGH. Swank was the least of the whole category. Ugh x 5.

James -- please edit to erase the "supposedly" she is FAN-TAS-TIC in the movie :)

adam k. said...

Forgive my passion, but I just saw Black Swan yesterday, and I truly loved it.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I have been so resistant to the idea of Annette Bening winning all year and I couldn't put my finger on why. It just didn't feel right, despite the fact that I like the performance. It was very similar to how I felt about all the talk of Streep winning for Julie & Julia last year, not to denigrate The Kids Are All Right by mentioning in the same thought as...that movie. I think it's simply because of this category's penchant, especially of late, for choosing dramatic performances versus comedic ones. None of the best actress winners from the past yen years have come from comedic films or even dramas with a comedic edge (like The Kids Are All Right). Plus the PYT factor, as pointed out by Adam K...that tips things in Natalie Portman's favor, I guess.

If it were to be Portman's first nomination, there would be more of a hurdle to overcome for the win. But given that it'll be her second, and the broad support for Black Swan (especially compared to The Kids Are All Right), she may squeak by. Plus Portman is one of those actors who everyone assumes is going to win eventually anyway, regardless of how uneven her career has been (I love her Black Swan performance, but let's not rewrite history people...)

James T said...

The Pretentious Know it All - I agree on Streep in J&J but, for me, it's different with Bening this year because:

1) I liked the perf better

2) I liked the film better (shouldn't be relevant but...)

3) I didn't doubt Streep would get another chance. Not sure about Bening

4) If they felt like they had to finally (whahh??) award Bullock for *that* perf, it would be so annoying if they didn't feel the same way for Bening this year.

scott said...

hey nathaniel, i saw black swan a few weeks ago and thought it was lovely. and after seeing bening in TKAAR and even though i love bening as a person, the performance isnt at the same wave length unlike Portman, who i honestly dont think is as gifted an actress as bening. to keep this short, even this one win, could this mean big things for bening or are people wishing more than anything else? lets be fair, she was great, but not like nina sayers

Anonymous said...

The only thing more insulting than Portman's completely obvious performance being awarded (you could see he rehearsing her acceptance speech in that masturbation scene) would be a sneak attack by Hilary Swank for CONVICTION.

Beatty, MacLaine,
I beseech you to get on the phone. I don't care if Bening wins honestly - philosophically, she already has (at least twice)...

MrJeffery said...

I would love to see both Bening and Melissa Leo win Oscars this year!

Danielle said...

I am SO thrilled for Ruffalo. He's given my second favorite performance of the year so far, right behind Kidman. He was just incredible. I hope he's able to at least get nominated for the Oscars.

adam k. said...

I actually think the fact that Leo or Weaver is probably winning in supporting actually helps Portman even more. They like to balance the young and hot with the old veterans.

And really, she didn't even need a previous nomination to win this year. More often than not - see 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 - the best actress winner has no previous nominations before the oscar season in question... just a lot of fame and youth and hotness.

Michael J. said...

My apologies to the Bening fans, but her winning Best Actress this year would be terribly unjust. I feel like the main reason for wanting to reward her is because she's lost three times in the past, and is so well regarded within the Hollywood community. She's married to Warren Beatty! She's politically active! She has curtailed her career to raise her children! She hasn't had plastic surgery! Yay Bening!

...But the Best Actress prize should go to the best performance of the year. I don't know how anyone could see Black Swan, Blue Valentine, or Rabbit Hole and not think the headlining ladies were substantially more impressive than Bening in TKAAR.

I hope it can be about the performance and not the politics this year.

Volvagia said...

Well: Kidman shouldn't have the Oscar she has right now. (The Hours: YIKES. Is Stephen Daldry not the most average director scrambling to tie Kubrick in most consecutive films nominated for Best Director!? The only other director close to Kubrick's consecutive films with director noms count is Wyler. And they can't seriously think Daldry's in that league, can they? (He's not. Wyler's made quite a few A and A- level movies. Daldry hasn't made above a B+ movie at best.)

Graham Greenlee said...

I like OtherRobert's thinking... Would love to see Hailee end up with a lead nomination (if the Academy goes crazy over True Grit) due simply because it's the right category for her AND it would throw a big surprise into the race. (Don't think she's winning either way though: Lead is clearly Portman vs. Benning and Supporting is shaping up to be Leo vs. Weaver, if she can get nominated.)

adam said...

I am sick and tired of people saying Bening's performance is not on the same level as Portman, Kidman, Lawrence, etc.

Why?

Because she didn't masturbate? Or physically transform herself? Her toe nails didn't fall off? She didn't scream in her best awards baiting tone her head off at Aaaron Eckhart? She didn't play a man or a serial killer? She didn't play a real life person? Talk in a rural southern accent? She wasn't gang raped on a pin ball machine?

Please. I am so sick of the more is good crowd. Such because a performance is loud and in your face does NOT mean its better or in another universe. Bening didn't even say a word in 1 scene in Kids and impressed me more than any of the other competitors.

But don't feel the need to keep kicking on old lady Annette. There's a young ingenue in the race and she physically transformed. She's hip young cool beautiful. The Oscar is assured for those reasons alone regardless of the competition.

adam k. said...

Well, sadly, that's usually the way it works, yes.

NATHANIEL R said...

adam k -- you can't add 'sadly' when you're the one pushing for it this time ;) u gotta calm down on the pro Portman anti Bening thing.

Michael J. said...

"Bening didn't even say a word in 1scene in Kids and impressed me more than any of the other competitors."

I was quite impressed by this as well, considering her idea of acting in American Beauty and Being Julia was, apparently, to be as shrill and grating as possible.

Bening has just as many, if not more, advantages that have nothing to with acting as Portman does. Warren Beatty can have his AMPAS pals over for a private screening of TKAAR. She is the president of the acting branch. She rarely wears makeup and has refrained from plasstic surgery (a gimmick's a gimmick!)

Furthermore, some people have this idea (I don't know what for) that she's been wronged in the past, and now is the time to make up for it by giving her a golden boy.

I firmly believe politics will win Bening the Oscar, but it will be looked upon the same way the Tandy/Pfeiffer race of '89 is today.

adam k. said...

Hey I was Team Christie '07, Team Bening '04, and team Monster-is-overrated '03... just trying to have some balance ; )

In truth, I'm just happy this year has no Swank/Bullock type party-crashes looming on the horizon. Regardless of who wins this year, it will be the best Best Actress year in a decade.

I just really think that if Bening wins this year, in 20 years people will then be thinking, "damn, Portman shoulda won for that amazing Aronofsky movie she made back in her prime, now she'll never win" and thus the cycle will continue.

I admire you for keeping your cards close to the vest on this one, Nat : ) I still have no idea whether Bening, Portman, Swinton, Kidman, etc. will fare in your own awards.

will said...

Fair point, Adam. But as one of the few who prefers Moore over Bening, I kind of feel the same way that you do in your assessment of Bening vs. Portman. The general sentiment seems to be that Bening did all the heavy lifting in The Kids Are All Right because she played the BUTCHER of the two partners. That Moore wasn't REALLY playing a lesbian because her character slept with a man. That Bening's role required more ACTING because it was more of a departure from her true-life persona.

I really do think that both were excellent. But my point is, there seem to be plenty of people who think that Bening underwent a major transformation for this role (if not such an extreme one as Portman for Black Swan) that makes her worthy of awards recognition. In the mean time, Moore is getting completely overlooked. And while I recognize that many people legitimately preferred Bening to Moore, I refuse to believe that this is all about performance, and not in part about transformation.

All I'm really trying to say is that the notion of "more is good" is a very, very popular one. And despite some of the comments on this blog, I think that in some ways Bening is benefiting from it as well.

Kris said...

I'm on board with Bening!

adam k. said...

Michael J: Exactly. I think history will look on this as Portman's year, regardless of whether she actually wins. They might as well get it right.

Bill said...

I don't buy the theory that Bening will win because of her connections within the Academy. If that were true she would have beat Skank in 2005. I mean, Skank already had an Oscar going in last time. It would have been easy for them to give it to Bening but they didn't.

Portman is the new M'oNique.

NATHANIEL R said...

adam and michael -- i don't disagree that history will probably look on this as Portman's year. But i resent the comparison to my least favorite year of all time (1989) because Tandy was just OK and Pfeiffer was magical.

that year will pain me until my dying day which i hope is super super far away so that i can live through as many oscar nights as possible ;)

The truth is that both Bening & Portman are awesome this year so at least there's that.

will -- that's very true.

adam k. said...

And I think part of my issue here is also the subconscious assumption of "OMG she played a lesbian so convincingly! What a transformation!" that plays into much of the Bening love. Sorry, but frankly, playing a character with a sexual orientation that diverges from your own is NOT that hard. I myself have done it plenty of times. Training 8-hours-a-day for a year to be able to dance on pointe is much harder. Anyone who's ever tried to dance even a little bit understands this.

This transformation was not about losing weight, putting on ugly makeup, or any of the usual crap. It was about training athletically in order to learn and execute challenging choreography. That is WORK.

But anyway, I will calm down now. It's really not that serious. I love them both.

adam k. said...

Sorry, Nathaniel : (

You're right, 1989 was way off in it own league of injustice. A league it shares with Crash, the "Best Picture of 2005".

NATHANIEL R said...

adam -- but again. you're giving acting points to a phsyical challenge. It's like saying that Hilary Swank deserved her Oscar because she got so into shape for Millino Dollar Baby.

i really don't think physical training should play that much in to our judgement of people's performances other than to go: yes, they worked hard.

adam k. said...

I guess I just respectfully disagree on this point. Everything you do with your body, voice, mind, and spirit is part of your performance. And to me, what Portman did was just plain more impressive. And it also played into her movie star persona so incredibly well.

The physical stuff is not the only element, not at all, but hell yeah I give her bonus points for it.

I'm a bit biased, I admit, because I am someone who can (more or less) act and sing, but not dance. Whilst I've watched my sister do ballet for most of her life. Good dancing impresses the hell out of me. Especially on someone who hasn't been doing it her whole life.

So yeah, that's just me. But I reject the notion that there's this rule that "great acting" is somehow separate and distinct from the grueling physical work required to play a role. The performance is the performance. It's like saying Ewan McGregor or Julie Andrews or Barbra Streisand or whoever was not really that great in such and such role because you shouldn't count the singing (except worse, because singing doesn't require the same kind of training). I don't buy it.

Criticlasm said...

@Nathaniel - I agree that physical challenge shouldn't be the only thing looked at, but in Portman's case, I would figure it in.

It's hard enough just to play the character she was playing, but to do it in point shoes and look natural doing it is another challenge completely. A friend who is a pro-dancer said she bought Portman but not Kunis because she had an inner stillness that Kunis didn't have that all ballet dancers, and dancers in general she's ever worked with, have. I think that's a challenging thing to capture. Being emotionally available or playing a role well is difficult at all, but adding having to do it while doing something insanely physically challenging is just a different thing. I don't think someone deserves an award just for doing it, but it does figure in to how we perceive the perf. If Portman had been obsessed with just staying on her feet and trying to dance, the role wouldn't have worked.

Frankly, that's one of the reasons Streep's role was so thrilling last year - her physicality. It can't be discounted.

Stefano said...

I'm so so happy for all the "Kids" love from New York critics!!! I simply adored Annette's performance in the film, and I actually find Mark Ruffalo also very deserving. Plus, the Best Screenplay award is really a fantastic thing (I still hope "Kids" could beat "The King's Speech" in the same category at the Oscars... it has one of the most beautiful screenplays in recent years).
GO ANNETTE!!!!!! :)

adam k. said...

Criticlasm: I totally get you on Portman and Kunis. As much as I enjoyed Kunis' performance, I didn't really buy that she was a ballerina, cause she doesn't have that inner discipline and poise. But I kinda just went with it, since she's not supposed to be a technically great dancer anyway.

Still, that's the best explanation I've heard as to why Kunis is not award-worthy.

Beau said...

BORING. YAWN.

REALLY? FIRTH AND BENING?

KEEP WITH THE GROOVE AND GO WITH EISENBERG AND PORTMAN. THEY HAD BETTER ROLES IN BETTER FILMS AND GAVE BETTER PERFORMANCES.

BIG EFFING YAWN. UGH.

AT LEAST FOR ACTRESS YOU COULD HAVE DONE KIDMAN, MANVILLE, WILLIAMS, OR LAWRENCE. OR SWINTON!!!!!!

BOO.

Beau said...

Had to get that out.

I am worried for Portman, however.

There's a lot of love for Bening and, yes, she gave a good performance and that Mitchell scene rocked.

But Portman took that role and SANG with it.

Though I am worried that she'll suffer the Eddie Murphy Syndrome, however.

When your next three films to be released include 'No Strings Attached', 'Thor', and 'Your Highness', that's not a sign that you're taking your career in a positive direction.

They want to reward you for turning a corner in your career, not faceplanting on the sidewalk repeatedly for some dolla bills.

Just sayin'.

I mean, no one expects 'No Strings Attached' to be good, and 'Thor' looks like
*pleasestabmeinthetemplewithaknifesharperthansomethingreallyreallysharp*.

Volvagia said...

Losing weight is one thing. Learning a skill is another. You learn to play a guitar for a role? Quite a few points. You learn to dance? A lower amount of points. You gain or lose a freakish amount of weight? You're dedicated, I'll give you that, but it doesn't improve or lessen your performance.

NATHANIEL R said...

i'm not saying physical challenges aren't part of acting. I guess I just wish they weren't counted MORE than other things (and they usually are). it's one reason why mimicry is such a guaranteed help to wins.

I just get to tired of gimmicks winning performances and not performances winning.

not that Portman was gimmicky but i'll just say this. That scene in the bathroom where she calls her mom and regresses to that little girl voice? Favorite part of the performance and had nothing to do with dance training.

NATHANIEL R said...

i'm just sensitive to this issue after all the praise VCharlize Theron got for the makeup artists' genius in Monster. :) i get highly senstiive abotu these things.

shutting up now.

adam k. said...

I understand, Nat, but even in 2003 you could use a much more positive example and say that yes, Uma Thurman's performance was that much more impressive because she was flying around killing people with swords.

Getting great makeup applied to your face is VERY different from training to do awesome things with your body.

I'd even argue that dancing is more impressive, performance-wise, than, say, Swank's boxing, since dancing is an expressive performing art, not a sport.

I don't mean to keep harping on this, but I think it's a fascinating debate, and one worth having.

adam k. said...
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Stefano said...

Nat, do we know who the runners up at the NYFCC Awards are? I'd like to know who came in second place...

Amanda said...

Adam, you do know thta she didn't do most fo the dancing? That both she and Kunis had doubles who were in fact professional dancers? She did some of the rehearsal scenes, bar stretching but she did not do most of the dancing herself.

And as good as her body work was, her lines were not those of a life long professional dencer. She was not flexible enough.

NATHANIEL R said...

Stefano -- i haven't seen that information online and they were tightlipped about their process this year as they didn't have the live announcements.

Adam said...

Portman did, in fact, have a double, but Aronofsky has said she was used only rarely. The majority of the dancing was done by Natalie herself.

Amanda said...

well, that's not what I read. And I, as someone who has studied dance for 20 years of her life and has done such witch companies such as New York City Ballet and the National Ballet of Cuba, have a hard time believing it.

It is one thing to be a amateur dancer who does it for the fun of it, of because it is a good exercise. It is something else entirely to be a professional dancer. And it is yet another thing to be a prima ballerina in one of the most prestigious companies in the world. She could never dance as one, no matter how hard she tried. It's seen on her body.

I have read professional dancers discussing the scenes and most of them said that she did little of her own dancing, and in the coreographed scenes it was mostly the double and there were the cuts to her face but it was the double doing all the hard dancing.

There's a scene in the trailer in which she is stretching at home talking to her mom and in that brief moment you can tell that she is not a professional dancer. Those are not the lines, the posture and the flexibility of a professional dancer aiming to become prima ballerina.

NATHANIEL R said...

amanda -- thanks for sharing. i always wonder about those things (from professionals. to actedd things)

Anonymous said...

It would be too much to expect Portman to reach the level of prima ballerina, but what she offered was very, very competent.

I suppose they could've cast a real dancer for the role of Nina, but heck, that wouldn't have been half as fun.

Portman's performance really gets better after repeat viewings, I have to say. One scene that stood out was **SPOILERS** right after she falls on stage during the Swan Lake ballet, she looks down and expresses her silent anguish, goes right back to arms of the Swan Prince, and then.... she dances on pointe towards the curtains, tears streaming down her face as Tchaikovsky's score blaring in the background.
I mean, wow.

adam k. said...

I just heard today about Portman not doing her own dancing. I guess it remains to be seen just how much she did. Let the backlash begin...

From a lamen's point of view, the dancing seemed plenty competent, and it didn't distract from the authenticity of the rest of the performance. She obviously wasn't going to be prima ballerina-level. But it's a fair point that the dancing wasn't all her.

This may turn into more of a horserace if Kids regains momentum, and Natalie experiences backlash about the dancing. But I still say Natalie takes it. And I think she deserves it. But that's assuming people like Swinton and Huppert never get close to a nomination, and I still haven't seen Manville, Kidman, or Williams.

Carl said...

And on a less than shrill note -

Good on the Southeastern folks for showing "Winter's Bone" some love. Regional bias for the Ozarks, perhaps, but this is still in my top three (admittedly, with several contenders yet to see), and I still have hope for Dale Dickey once the Academy members see the film. A plus for "Bone"...it is one of the few films that loses almost nothing going from screen to 'screeners'.

Janice said...

I'm going to be a contrarian here and say that Bening's loss in 2004 didn't bother me then and doesn't now. I like Bening, but just didn't get the love for the performance - and yes, I saw both Being Julia and MDB at the theaters when they came out. (And, the film was a "comedy", and a very uneven one at that. We all know they prefer drama.) Bening was very competent in it, not much more. I'm not saying there weren't more deserving nominees or winners that year than Swank.

I dislike giving out awards based on "deserving and we should have done it that other time!" as "so and so if famous and hot right now!" But I know sentiment factors into awardage, just as it factors into the conversations here and elsewhere.

NATHANIEL R said...

Janice -- i'm pretty sure that if Bening had not previously lost to Swank, there wouldn't have been so much sentiment about it, i'd agree. but being bested by an actress to whom you are far superior has got to sting.

if Bening does eventually win an Oscar (i'm guessing she won't) she should probably thank Swank for the buildup of sentiment. Because it takes a LOT of sentiment for the Academy to break their age bias and vote for an older actresses. The statistics are just so against it. (more on that later today or tomorrow)

Murtada said...

First of all let me say I'm on Team Bening and hoping she wins this year.Because she gave the best performance in my opinion. Natalie is great but Annette was subtle, natural and had such truth in her emotions.

However she did not desrve to win against Swank. I think most can agree that Swank was more deserving the first time out for Boys Don't Cry. As for the second time, Million Dollar Baby was just a much better movie than Being Julia. It did win Best pic so it had lots of appeal. If i was voting I'd say Winslet for Eternal Sunshine.

Criticlasm said...

Nathaniel, it's so funny you mention that moment when she gets the role, as that's the moment most people I've talked to really connected to, especially the performers.

I saw it the first time with a friend who danced professionally for over 20 years in New York with a major company, and was really impressed with her dancing. I thought that was a good vote.

And though I don't want to play into the showdown thing - I like Bening, and I've seen her on stage. I feel like she does here what she does well - give deep emotion to a controlling, in-control character. Natalie's role, for me, was (forgive the pun) a stretch. And much more exhilarating. So, love it.

And loved Tilda Swinton in I Am Love, but it looks like that's not happening. Triste.

Lily said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/debra-levine/natalie-portmans-evil-twi_b_789564.html

Interesting article on Natalie's doubles. I would really like to know exactly how much dancing she did, but with the CGI face replace I guess we'll never know.