Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ellen the Monarch Slayer

I first heard about Juno, a comedy about a pregnant teen giving her child up for adoption, a month or two back. But I didn't know what to make of the fetal buzz. After all, buzz from people paid to create it is hit and miss... sometimes the baby is beautiful, sometimes it's something only its mother could love). I was not a fan of writer/director Jason Reitman's last film Thank You For Smoking (I considered its satire too compromised by its emotional content and vice versa).

Reitman's follow up Juno, a comedy about a pregnant teen giving her child up for adoption, has been garnering steam since festival season began. At first this was easy to write off as traditional festivalitis. One of the symptoms of that peculiar ailment is that warm comedies get overpraised because they feel even warmer and funnier surrounded as they are by a huge throng of arty dour types.

Once Juno had Roger Ebert's endorsement (he did help Crash to its Oscar win, may God forgive him) it had to be taken more seriously. But this quote from Salon's Stephanie Zacharek is the kicker. She writes about Juno
...played by the peppery Ellen Page, who gives a performance that's just one eyelash away from being exhausting to watch
Can't most of the crowdpleaser-slot acting nominees be similarly described? Ellen Page and Juno are winning converts regularly now from Telluride to Toronto (the film opens in the US on December 14th)

So I'm starting to feel Page's Oscar nominationschances. She's done the unlikely before, hasn't she, wrestling away the only critical prize last year that didn't go to Queen Helen Mirren ...and for a sexual predator drama no less (Hard Candy). So, that's it: I'm putting her in my Best Actress predictions (now updated) and dumping Queen Cate who is getting a less enthusiastic reception up north following the premiere of that long gestating Elizabeth sequel, The Golden Age.

Cate Blanchett will have the 'been there/done that/hey look at what she does in I'm Not There' factor to contend with during her Oscar campaign since The Golden Age isn't whipping anyone into a frenzy. The Academy does love it when famous actors play famous historical people but even they might be beginning to see that this trick is over rewarded (45% of the last five years of winners --yeeesh) and even if they don't they can still indulge this preference with Blanchett as Bob Dylan.


Anonymous said...

LOL I love that Halle Berry cartoon!!

Anonymous said...

ever since i saw the 2nd trailer i knew blanchett was on shaky ground as b/actress frontrunner and now the raves are for i/m not there that dbl nom seems ess and less likely,i have seen atonement and knightley is in but a win not so sure,foster is i nthe big hit and like tommy lee jones she seems to be being embraced again the role is a juicy one too,christie may have faded,cotillard won't be forgotten they love the biopics,page could be our com nominee and there's always one of those,the final spot i don't know but something tells me it'll go to jolie.

Anonymous said...

I saw Atonement this weekend as well...can we say overrated!!!

While the first half of the film is good the second half drags by and by the end I was left feeling nauseous. James McAvoy was good and so were the two young actresses playing Briony, if I were you Nathaniel I would change Knightley's spot with Cotillards, now thats an Oscar nomination worthy performance.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel; Your Actress Prediction updates look good, but Kidman should be higher in contention.

As far as critics reviews go, there is no possible way that Jennifer Jason Leigh could be said to be outshining Kidman. It simply isn't happening. Either critics rave Kidman and Jason-Leigh together as a double act, or else Kidman is singled out as the major performance in the film, while Jason Leigh hardly merits a mention. Kidman is getting the best reviews for Margot At The Wedding. I think the idea that Jennifer Jason Leigh would outshine Kidman was an urban myth created by a couple of early screening nerd reviews from AICN. It's not playing out like that in reality.

Kidman is getting some serious, career best type raves ( ie being compared to Aurora Greenway in Terms Of Endearment by Anne Thompson) and I think she's actually come out of Toronto with more "buzz" than her co-star. If they campaing this smartly, with the reviews she's getting, Kidman is looking at nomination no.3.

Cinesnatch said...

Well, I would have kicked myself for not picking Blanchett "Golden Age" in the Actresssexual competition if she ended up getting a nom. I mean, look at how many thought the same?

As far as JJL and NK for "Margot," AAMPS is always hesitant to recognize their work (JJL doesn't even have a nom yet). They were both overlooked for 1995 (a very competitive year). Obviously, JJL's perf. was in contention, because her costar got a nom for the little seen film. And NK won the GG for comedy. Besides that, JJL should have at least one supporting nod by now for any one of the many good perf's she's delivered. And NK should have gotten a supporting nod for Eyes Wide Shut.

Anonymous said...

is kidamn supp in ews i felt she was a lead.


12:10 anonymous (geez people, just type in your name before you hit publish! it's easier to have conversations that way)

agreed that Cotillard is definitely in the running (it was mere whim to exclude her at this point) though I don't agree it's a worthy shortlister.

12:15 anonymous we're not at consensus point yet with only a few festival notices to consider --so i wouldn't say anything has yet gone any particular way --in terms of reaction to Kidman and Leigh and/or Kidman OR Leigh.

I'm seeing it next week but I agree with vince that AMPAS voters aren't particularly drawn to either actress (Kidman had a two year Oscar run but she had the distinct advantage of being in a beloved film MR! in her entering the pantheon year followed by a very baity typically Oscarable role --that's hard to deny even if they aren't big Kidman fans)

so, we'll see.

nobody in SQUID & WHALE was nominated and it's nearly impossible to beat the type of raves that Jeff Daniels got that year so you never know

Anonymous said...

How would Kidman be a lead in Eyes Wide Shut? She's around a lot at the beginning, but then disappears, really for the whole thing, until the very end.

Anonymous said...

That said, she definitely deserved a supporting nom.

Anonymous said...

Good, bold predictions. Salud!

Knightley is definately in, her only weak spot is the lack of screentime which might cause her to not win.

I would rate Nicole higher, since she has started to get very good reviews as opposed to being "the other actress" in JJL's Oscar movie.

Page is one of those bold moves, but definately not impossible. I hope she gets in.

Linney's spot I would give to Nicole at this point, moving her down to number 6 or 7.

Cate is indeed out, unless the movie proves to be some sort of a runaway smash hit with the mass audience, which I ery much doubt.

Anonymous said...

That Halle Berry cartoon made my day, Nat. Kudos!

As for these raves NK is getting - can someone tell me where I can find them? Are they being published on the 'net? Because the reviews I am finding are generally mixed (about the movie) and generally give precious little time to the actual perfs.


Beau said...

She should've won the damn thing for 'Hard Candy'. I'm sorry, but that role called for so much talent and precision that I'm still stunned even today by her achievement.

Anonymous said...

Cate will be nominated in the Best Actress category. A win not so likely however. The movie will do well with the mainstream audience. I call it the "Gladiator" effect.

Cate stands a much bigger chance, and most likely her second win, for Best Supporting Actress. Actually, who had won two acting oscars and both were for supporting in the Oscar history? Kinda sad since Cate is truly one of the best lead actresses working today

Anonymous said...

Please note the for Golden Age, while the reviews have been mixed in general (1/3 hates it while the remaining likes it), most of them have singled out Cate and commended on her work in the movie -- so the academy won't ignore this. Nathaniel, I know you are not pro-Blanchett but I think it's too premature to remove her from the Best Actress line-up.

H. Alan Scott said...

Should I feel as dirty as I do about my crush on Michael Cera? I fear that I've reached an age when I start questioning crushes on younger men. Ugh, I'm only 25, this can't be happening so soon!

Anonymous said...

RedSatinDoll; I'm too lazy to type any links, so I'll just give a bunch of selected quotes that praise Kidman in Margot (the film is itself getting quite good reviews from the festival, though a few really dislike it);

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone; " Kidman's best and riskest performance in years".

Anne Thompson, Variety: Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jack Black are strong and funny, but Nicole Kidman's complicated smart unhappy bitch-woman is remiscent of Aurora Greenway in Terms Of Endearment. You do feel sympathy, partly because she loves her family, even as she tortures them".; "toss Kidman's name into the oscar race"; "Kidman is superbly venemous as Margot"

Stephen Rea, Philidelphia Inquirer: "Kidman and Leigh are amazing together".

Ty Burr, Boston Globe; " The performances are sublime. Kidman let's her hair down in a way she hasn't since, I don't know, "To Die For".

Jonathan Hickman, E!; "With exquisite work from Kidman, it's easy to dismiss Black's uneven portrayal of Malcolm.

Scott Tobias, The A.V Club; "Nicole Kidman may be the festival's most terrifying character outside of Javier Bardem in No Country For The Old Men, doling out passive aggressive slight that sabatoge the already neurotic characters in her orbit".

Planet Sick-boy; " features what might be the greatest performances to date in the careers of NIcole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh".

Matt Mazur,PopMatters; "Kidman's performance as the title character ranks with her greatest achievments. This was the character she was born to play".

J.D. said...

Ellen Page is a genius actress. She was absolutely incredible Hard Candy, which may not be the most rewatchable movie, but she can make it all worthwhile with one look.

God, to hear her name with "Oscar-nominated" before it would be a truly divine gift. LOVE HER.

Anonymous said...

Ellen Page over Cate Blanchett? Seriously? That's kinda ridiculous, but whateves. Cate's getting nodded for "The Golden Age" and "I'm Not There", to the chargrin of Blanchett haters everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Time for my periodic dose of a reminder, I have contended from early on that the "consensus" picks for the top five slots in the Best Actress prediction contest will not hold more than two slots on the Oscar ballot, and possibly none.

Let's see where they are now (including the entry tied for fifth):

Cate Blanchett - "The Golden Age"
She and the movie had to be at least as good as "Elizabeth"; mixed reviews to this point say no.

Julie Christie - "Away From Her"
Still a chance, but the Academy will need a weak field and long memories and/or a perfectly timed screener delivery. Is there room for two nominations from movies opening prior to September?

Angelina Jolie - "A Mighty Heart"
Not a standout performance (I hear more about Irfan Khan than I do about her) and, if only one performance comes out of the summer, then Marion Cotillard will take it.

Nicole Kidman - "Margot at the Wedding"
Actually looking good, if there is no move to separate her from Jennifer Jason Leigh by pushing Nicole in Supporting.

Natalie Portman - "The Other Boleyn Girl"
Gone. See you in '08.

Marion Cotillard - "La Vie en Rose"
The hyperemoting over-the-top performance that simply refuses to die (unlike the character). Am I the only person that thinks the set medic spent most of his time getting splinters out of her teeth? In for sure, sad to say.

Of the six top vote-getters, one (Portman) is out, two (Blanchett, Jolie) are in serious trouble, and another (Christie) will need outside help to make it. From six, we are down to two or three who still have a solid shot.

And it's only September!

You were right, really is not as easy as it looks.

From the guy with only three points so far (but no performance from the top six).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review snippets, Anon.3.38 (Nat's right - type a name folks! Any name'll do!)



Carl I thank you, I thank you. It really is not easy. There's no such thing as a sure thing. Repeat and rinse.

various anons (again seriously people. You don't even have to have an account to comment. but please type a name at the end of your posts so we know who is who)

I feel very confident in dropping Blanchett. And it's not because I don't like her. and anyway... my dislike has been greatly exaggerated by my willingness to say what I really feel about each new performance and not automatically rave it due to the name attached.

If I'd been typing away in the mid90s you woulda even heard my bitching about Pfeiffer's work in Up Close and Personal. I think Meryl Streep is a genius but I thought she was bad in The Manchurian Candidate and I said so.

I do not hate Cate.

I thought she was hilarious in Hot Fuzz . She won my silver medal in 2004 for The Aviator. I also love her work in Talented Mr Ripley, thought she deserved her nod in Elizabeth, and I almost was gaga for what she tried to do in The Good German in which she looked like a gazillion bucks. Seriously... yum.

I don't hate her. I just don't want her to be in 4 movies a year and I don't think she's oscar worthy every time she opens her mouth.
It's as simple as that.

as for OSCAR nominations. Think about this... assuming of course that oscar and the public feels similarly to these early reports about Golden Age, why would they vote for her there? She isn't a) overdue provoking their sympathy
b) unOscared provoking their sympathy

if Blanchett is as spectacular as people are saying she is in the Dylan picture, won't her retread of Elizabeth (if as unspectacular as people are saying) seem even less spectacular in comparison. When December hits and everyone is giving out statues and honors why would they feel the need to reward her twice?

The only instance I can think of for a double nomination for someone who was already Oscared and totally not overdue was Emma Thompson in 1993. And both of the films she was nominated were Best Picture nominees.

Otherwise the double nominees SIGWEAVIE, LANGE, PACINO, FOXX, MOORE hadn't yet won (or still haven't) and were either experiencing breakthrough years or provoking cries of WHERE IS THEIR OSCAR? In what way could Blanchett generate enough fire to keep away the young rising sensations, the other working superstars, and the older legends all at once for a performance she's already given once IF they don't love the film?

Maybe I shoulda dropped her further than #8


oh and i still haven't seen Hard Candy but I guess i'll have to now

MichaelMcl said...

In my world, Cate Blanchett would get all five Best Actress nominations. The world needs a break from people who are not her. :-D

- The Luhrman-hating Santaolalla-loathing Blanchett-loving Australian

J.D. said...

Blanchett is one of my favorite actors. I mean, she does have three Chloes (my awards), which is incredible.

And yes Nay, see it now.

Catherine said...

Oh and John Stewart's the confirmed host. Eh. I'm pretty ambivalent about that.

Anonymous said...

Ya gotta see Hard Candy. Ellen Page is terrific, as everyone has said, but Patrick Wilson is absolutely right in a difficult role too (and as hot as ever). But you will squirm throughout, for all sorts of reasons. And I was left with a sour aftertaste, but definitely worth seeing.

Anonymous said...


Cate only has 2 movies out this year -- and you can't blame her if both were notable. Next year she will have 2 as well -- and you think that's a lot.

She is a great and talented actress -- and don't knock down her performance in the Elizabeth: The Golden Age until you have seen it yourself. After all, 9 out of the 10 reviews you on the movie singled out her performance, be it a positive or negative review.


Abbie said...

Isn't any Cate Blanchett-as-Elizabeth performance subject to comparison with the first? Generally, sequels have a hard time - there are too many expectations to compete with, and they often have to really surpass the original to make much of a mark. At this point, if the movie isn't getting many raves, I doubt the academy will go wild for it, and I think the odds of them nominating her again for the same role is unlikely...she'd have to turn in a truly legendary performance. Ellen Page was remarkable in Hard Candy, so I'd be thrilled if she was recognized in some way for her talent. I'm with Nathaniel on this one. He has a much better track record on this subject than I do, anyway.

and scottblog: i feel a little bit dirty/guilty every time I see Micheal Cera too, and I'm only 21. Maybe it's not us - maybe it's him?


Ethan I absolutely agree that Cate is a talented actress. But what I'm trying to get at is you can't always trust reviews about anyone who could be considered a sacred cow. Most people don't have it in them to criticize that type of actor.

As I have discovered on this blog, being underwhelmed by her does not win me fans ;)

but if you're Blanchett you get raves. Period. That's just what happens.

That doesn't mean you get an Oscar nomination. See: The Gift, Missing, Pushing Tin, Oscar and Lucinda, Charlotte Gray, The Good German, The Life Aquatic, Heaven, Bandits, Lord of the Rings, The Man Who Cried, The Talented Mr Ripley, The Shipping News, Little Fish, Babel, An Ideal Husband for proof


to those with *feelings* for Cera. It's probably just because he looks 15 (he's actually 19)


i mean, the guilt. not your feelings. ha ha

Anonymous said...

1. Who knows how the more mainstream critics are gonna react to Elizabeth. If you look at the big three (Screendaily, Hollywood Reporter, Variety), two of the three were positive and all three liked Blanchett.

2. Blanchett's advantage is the fact that her competition is all over the map. Outside of Christie (raved performance by a veteran) and Knightley (admired performance in film poised to be sweeper) who is there? Cotillard is a foreign star, and non-English performers need more buzz than English language performers (Cruz was a known quantity w/ a "didn't know you had it in you" performance last year). Ellen Page is an unknown quantity in an offbeat comedy (a la Maggie Gyllenhaal in Secretary, with the same D'Angelo praise even). Foster's in a film that'll be outright loathed by many (divisive films don't go over all that well). Linney is being sabatoged by her release date (shades of Bill Murray in Rushmore).

3. I'm not sure I buy your logic regarding double nods, Nathaniel. I'd argue they don't happen often enough to have any sorta backgrounding like you suggest. Essentially, double nods happen when the category is weak (particularly with oscarbait contenders)

4. I know you don't "hate" Blanchett, but your kneejerk running her down seems so much like Eastwood last year it's not even funny.

Anonymous said...

I totally support criticism of Blanchett, possibly the most overrated actress working. I didn't even like her in Elizabeth. I would love if she wasn't nominated at all...


Anonymous said...

I've decided one of the five best actress slots can go to Maggie Cheung for just being herself.

The other four belong to Cate though.

- The Blanchett-loving Desplat-loving Australian

Anonymous said...

You wonder, for Knightley, "a 2nd nomination so soon?"

Am I missing something...What was her first?

Yaseen Ali said...

I like Ellen Page. But if she gets a nomination for Juno this year, I'll probably boycott the Oscars in protest.

(Geez, if I'm feeling this way now, imagine how bad things will get in December.)

Anonymous said...

The reason I (and I'm guessing many Academy voters) would vote for Cate Blanchett in lead actress for "The Golden Age" is b/c they want to see her with a lead actress Oscar and think that she deserved it the first time she played the role in "Elizabeth". Yes, she's not "overdue" in the sense that she must have an Oscar at all costs b/c she's never won one, but it's mainly a sense of dueness. People are clamoring for Meryl to get her third -- it's just wanting to acknowledge so-called greatness when the time is right. Early reviews don't bother me too much about "The Golden Age", b/c virtually all of them have singled out Blanchett regardless of being lukewarm about the film. And I feel like this will be her year with this and the Bob Dylan role. That's why I'm firmly keeping her in my predictions for two nominations.

Anonymous said...

You wonder, for Knightley, "a 2nd nomination so soon?"

Am I missing something...What was her first?

Pride & Prejudice!

You didn't know that, seriously?

Anonymous said...

You wonder, for Knightley, "a 2nd nomination so soon?"

Am I missing something...What was her first?

Pride & Prejudice!

You didn't know that, seriously?

Wow, I totally blocked that out of my head. Thanks.

Glenn Dunks said...

It's been interesting reading the reviews for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Poland was particularly harsh on the film and Blanchett "look angry here. look sullen here". Not sure if Ellen Page could overcome her age (if Evan Rachel Wood coulnd't for Thirteen I can't help but imagine the star of, what will surely become, a cultish comedy can make it in. Most of the buzz I've heard about Juno is actually for, shockingly, Jennifer Garner.

Glenn Dunks said...

Okay, I just read Ebert's article. Hmm... I'll bite.

Anonymous said...

Julianne Moore SO low?! Sad... And Michelle Pfeiffer ABOVE Moore?!? I'm sorry, but the "I could never be your woman" trailer looks so boring and rather like a stereotype romantic comedy... (actually it reminds me of "Prime" - almost same story).
And the Moore is receiving rave reviews for "Savage Grace" and from the several clips I've watched I can say her performance seems to be spectacular - the best for years (and the reviews agree).
For months there was almost nothing to read about Moore at But what is so special about "I could never be your woman" ?!

Anonymous said...

I saw a screener of I'm Not There a few months back, and while I'm happy that the film (which, unless major changes have occurred before the final version, is AWESOME) is getting awards buzz... I'm kind of surprised it's for Blanchett. I mean, she has the most screentime (by a nice margin), and her segment might be comparatively accessible, but I'd thought that the whole thing was just too Out There for the stodgy Academy. I'd be very happy to be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Scott, I'm there with you. Recently turned 23 and now feel weird any time I start fancying an 18/19-year old. Makes me feel a teensy bit pervy - have to remind myself that I'm not yet over the hill.

Re: Knightley - she's in for a nomination. She has 65 minutes screentime (I stopwatched the leads 2nd time I saw Atonement and FYI: McAvoy has 90; Saoirse has 50; Romola has 25; Redgrave with 8). At the moment, she's my number one of the year (but there's still many to see, I know...)

For what it's worth I Heart Blanchett almost all the time (especially in Ripley and Notes on a Scandal). But with what will surely be a crowded Actress race, maybe they can resist doing the double this time, lest a really good lead performance is dropped as a result.

Anonymous said...

PS. Ellen Page really really REALLY pisses me off big time - and I don't know why. Maybe it's just her face, or her voice, or that attitude which she gives to all her characters. Don't Like It One Bit. Saw a clip of Juno at the press launch for London film fest today and, again, she annoyed me beyond belief. It's an irrational hatred I know.

Michael B. said...

If Kidman is getting those raves for Margot and gets even better reviews for The Golden Compass, she is in. Right now I say she's #4...


jean-paul its basically because Savage Grace doesn't have an American distributor.

so i don't actually believe it's coming out this year. That's why it's so low.

Anonymous said...

Oooh, how about Kidman for a double nod?

Anonymous said...

Why not? that would be lovely...

"The golden compass"(Dec. release) will be a monster hit, at least in Europe and Asia (average in the US)
It was awesome casting........ Kidman as Mrs. Coulter!!!


Anonymous said...

I think while you may not hate Cate, you seem to demand higher standards from her to be impressed than other actresses. Every performance of hers doesn't attract an Oscar, but most attract some kind of recognition/award ( and I see no evidence that the Academy has taken a "so what" attitude to her diversity.

I think she's well placed for a double nomination: The Golden Age may not be getting the reviews of Elizabeth, but some reviews have been full of praise, and almost all rave about Cate's performance, so a #8 ranking at the moment is a little odd.

Anonymous said...

Keri Russell for 'Waitress' should be in the top 6. Why isn't she even in the top 25? Otherwise it looks ok. Nicole should be at no7 and Knightley should drop a couple of spots. Marion should lead.

Anonymous said...

I think Julie Christie and Marion Cottilard are in. The fact of Marion Cotillard's performance is not in english increases her chances for a nod. In the last years there was one place for a foreign language film performance in Best Actress category even if the year was strong (Cruz and Sandino Moreno).
Laura Linney is a well respected actress, the film is being raved and her perfomance. It's enough to be nominated.
Ellen Page is a raising star and she's a breakthrough. She's the ideal actress to break the age record. It's so obvious that AMPAS wants make history into give an oscar to a young actress since the last years the nominated where much younger than in the past.
The fifth spot could go to Halle Berry in Things We's Lost In The Fire. I think they'll be happy to see her returning to good shape. Knightley has a strong chance, but she has her nod for P&P and the lack of screentime against her.
About Jodie Foster, Nicole Kidman and Cate Blanchett, the answer is in RottenTomatoes. A Blanchett's fan said that Foster had no chances because of film's reviews, but The Brave One is ahead of The Golden Age. I don't remember an actress to be nominated for a so bashed movie.
We need to wait for Marcia Gay Harden in Rails and Ties since she's loved by AMPAS and she's playing a woman dying of cancer.

Anonymous said...

Not only is atonement is BETTER than Juno, the overrated piece of shit, but it's better than all of Page's crappy filmography put together. Screw ellen page and her shitty acting and screw Juno.