Thursday, July 31, 2008

Melissa Leo and Frozen River

I can't recall whether the first shot of Frozen River is a wide shot of an actual frozen river or a tight closeup of actress Melissa Leo, inhaling nicotine outside a battered trailer... but both images are equally frosty and unforgiving. Combined in quick succession as they are, they neatly forecast both what's pedestrian and what's impressive about writer/director Courtney Hunt's debut feature which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. The movie isn't always surprising and it's not visually expressive in the way one wishes cinema to be but it is unusually intimate and perceptive as a character study about women in the inclement climates of hard living.

Melissa Leo is really very good in the demanding lead role but I'm not sure how far her future rave reviews will take her (they're coming --just wait) on the road to a coveted Oscar nomination. It's a small film and she isn't famous enough to win huge points for that beloved "deglam" trick (she's far more attractive in person than she ever lets her character "Ray Eddy" be) but an Independent Spirit nomination seems very likely once awards season hits late in the year.

I had a chance to meet Melissa and the film's director recently and I've written about the film over @ the Tribeca Film Festival site. Enjoy.


verninino said...

This is the first review of FROZEN RIVER I've read where the QT bomb wasn't dropped. I was braced for it again and again but it never showed up.

What does that mean?

I've had enough harrowing experiences in my life (including not catching the Dark Knight mania) that I try to avoid this kind of realism, but with all this Oscar baiting I'm intrigued.

Anonymous said...

Support for actresses this early (even though it's not as early as Cotillard and Christie last year) is usually a good thing, as women are particularly susceptible to disappoint the critics and falter in later releases. I can see the critics going for this performance at their awards do's.

Although Tom O'Neil seems to be trying to start an anti-Leo backlash already.

Anonymous said...

I think Leo has better chances instead Jenkins for an Oscar Nomination. Leo is a consolidate and talented actress who, beside she isn't famous of an A-List, she's busy with a lot of projects in TV and Films. she could be a dark horse in this season. Patricia Clarkson, Terrence Howard, Catherine Keener and Amy Ryan are good examples for an Oscar Nomination, not only for the performance, is for the career.

I saw the film and she's marvelous. Her performance needs a good campaign for Oscar consideration.

Michael B. said...

The Jack-

Tom O'Neil is a MORON. He isn't very good at what he does. He's just famous becuase he has a contract with the LA Times.

Janice said...

I just read your full review/article at the Tribeca site - this sounds exactly like the sort of pic my sweetie and I always complain we never see (ie films about the lives of women, REAL women, middle-aged women, poor women....etc etc etc) I hope this comes to CT - definitely one to look for. Thanks for the heads up, Nathaniel.

Anonymous said...

nat i think you are underestimating she is likely well loved by the biggest voting branch actors she is not starry enough for a win but easily a nom,critics darling i think this year will be her.

she was robbed of a supp actress nom in 2003 where you never even metioned her!!!! shame on u going ga ga for patty c when leo was best in show in her film.


mrripley... sometimes i don't know what you're talking about ;)

patty c? for what in 2003? i can't remember... what movie did she make with Leo. Hmmmm...

also. I am a known hater of 21 Grams. So yeah, I stand by the no nomination for Melissa Leo that year but she was really good in this movie here.

Anonymous said...

i'm with you on that one mrripley

Leo was outstanding in 21 grams. She made the most of a thankless role.

Nomination-worthy ? Maybe not.

Anyway, I hope LAFCA and ISa throw her a bone next year