Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy 4th of July (Starring Actresses, Who Else?)

Last year at this time I wished you a Happy 4th from the Film Experience's Holy Trinity (American Division) plus one. But in the interest of expanding my cinematic spirituality beyond, quoth reader Robert,
In the name of the Meryl, the Julianne and the Holy Pfeiffer
I've decided I should commemorate this particular patriotic day with photos of a few randomly selected young American actresses I like. Loving rising talent is quite easy (everyone does it) but for me, as an actressexual, it's also fraught with anxiety. Nobody ever quite comes right out and asks me why I'm so continually focused on the 30+ movie star sector but it's for that reason. When actors are teens or twentysomethings you never know if your fandom will be rewarded. They might have long pleasurable careers one can obsess on for years after like the Holy Trinity but they might not. Unfortunate fates are many: flash in the pan popularity, bad breaks, repetitive dull performances, "exhaustion" (usually followed by rehab), marrying Tom Cruise, arrests, TV gigs, scientology, sudden retirement with an eye on politics (I made that one up), no growth talent-wise even though practice should make perfect...

Loving rising stars is a gamble and an investment and, as such, easy to lose. But it's a holiday weekend so... positivity. May all of today's sparkly young stars continue to give off fireworks for years to come.

Happy 4th of July!

Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Natalie Portman (actually born
in Israel but has lived in the States most of her life), Ari Graynor, Kirsten
Dunst, Shareeka Epps, Saoirse Ronan (she was raised in Ireland but born
here in the US... so I suppose I cheated unknowingly in that that's like
calling Nicole KidmanAmerican -- she was born in Hawaii -- when she's
Australian. I have no idea about their visa situations or whether they have
dual citizenships. I was just playing around in photoshop ;)

If you're one of many foreign readers, please excuse this exclusionary post. Obviously some of the best and most fascinating young actresses out there are French, Australian, British and [insert your country here].

After the holiday:
foreign film Oscar hopefuls for 2009, August: Osage County casting ideas, new films, vodcasts, Meryl Streep in the 90s, Brüno, Humpday, I Love You Beth Cooper, Grey Gardens and whatever else comes up.


Fanboy said...

Is it just me, or has Kiki Dunst completely fallen off the radar?

Anonymous said...

Really? If anyone has fallen off the radar it'd hvae to be Natalie Portman. What has she been up to recently? Have I just not been paying attention?

Jorge Rodrigues said...

My Top10 Young American Actresses:
- Evan Rachel Wood
- Saoirse Ronan
- Zooey Deschanel
- Natalie Portman
- Abigail Breslin
- Scarlett Johansson
- Anne Hathaway
- Amanda Seyfried
- America Ferrara
- Ellen Page

If I were to go international, I'd include Keira Knightley and Emily Blunt in the list...

TheMedwenitsch said...

Michelle Williams! Michelle Williams!Michelle Williams!Michelle Williams!Michelle Williams!

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst are kind of lost. Same thing with Rachel McAdams (hopefully this will change with this year's Time Traveler's Wife)

Natalie will get back on track with this year's Brothers. The trailer is AWESOME.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

Oh I forgot about Michelle Williams :) I thought she was over 30...

adri said...

I agree with Jorge and Med+ about Michelle Williams, Zooey Deschanel, Ellen Page.

I'd like to add Rachel McAdams.
And in the younger set, Jena Malone and Amanda Bynes. Bynes is an accomplished comedienne, and I know that sure doesn't get any respect, especially for a woman. But think how much poorer we'd be without Judy Holliday, or Lucille Ball, etc. etc.

And I think Jorge has got it completely right when he lists Abigail Breslin. I was slow to get on the train (you can tell I've been watching SYTYCD) with Breslin, but she has, at this time, every bit the skill and depth of an adult actress. We mostly don't see it because we're not going to see the family-type movies she's doing.

But then who knows? Nathaniel is totally right. When I tried to watch the second Parent Trap recently to watch Natasha Richardson, I just couldn't. I had totally believed that Lindsay Lohan was going to be a terrific and enduring actress.

adri said...

Oh, and for falling off the radar, I nominate Julia Stiles.

Benji said...

When is "Pictures from the Outside In" coming back?

ABC said...

Mmmm, let's see...

Flash in the pan popularity - Rachel McAdams? Most attractive but talent deprived actresses (i.e. Jessica Alba, etc.)? Doesn't it also seem as though Keira Knightley's on this path?

Bad breaks - Alicia Witt? Anna Paquin? Practically ANY young black actress?

Repititive dull performances - Scarlett Johansson? Claire Danes? Christina Ricci? Though most of Ricci's recent performances have been more uninspired than actually dull

"Exhaustion" followed by rehab? - ??? Lindsay Lohan maybe?

Marrying Tom Cruise - Katie Holmes obviously but did you really see much potential there?

Arrests - Lindsay Lohan again?

TV gigs - Eliza Dushku? Ginnifer Goodwin? Anna Paquin again?

Scientology - Katie Holmes

No growth talent-wise - Johansson, Danes and Ricci again?

And how abaout a growing disinterest in the cinema? - Sarah Polley? And don't most really young actresses seem to just vanish (Oksana Akinshina? Rachel Hurd Wood? the Bolger sisters?)

Or trading in movies for music? - Juliette Lewis? Zooey Deschanel?

ABC said...

Sorry for dwelling on those that didn't quite make it. Positivity right?! Well then, I bet you Amy Adams and Emily Blunt both manage rich and exciting careers into their 30s and 40s.

Jorge Rodrigues said...

I didn't go with Rachel McAdams in my top10 because she's 31... I had her instead of America Ferrara...

Sarah Palin said...

Sarah Palin is a joke! But obviously she's got a new job already.
Sarah Palin job offer

Anonymous said...

Seriously, what the fuck has happened to American film actresses?

ABC was disturbingly accurate with most of those critiques

All the truly consitently important film actresess come from outside America. I can't believe their was seriously a point when people were touting the likes of Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst to be potentially the best actresses of a generation. These girls just float through movie after movie, adding nothing particularly. substantial. They've gotten more breaks than any one, and they don't seem good enough to do them justice. Johansson in particular, is one-note and seems to be the worst part in most films she's in. Both Portman and Johansson made a fairly tepid duo in The Other Boelyn Girl (alongside poor man's Russell Crowe, Eric Bana). The British Emily Blunt has only had a hadnful of major film roles, and it's already clear she's a far more developed talent than these two (and she has the star quality of a young Kate Winslet). Bryce Dallas Howard was overhyped because she was Opie's daughter. Evan Rachel Wood is more famous for screwing Marilyn Manson and Billy Elliot than for her actual performances.

I've got some hope for Ellen Page (she's Canadian though, so that's another non-American). Michelle Williams is a good actress who doesn't seem cut out for stardom. America has enough "fringe" actresses who do nothing but "indie" work. America needs real "movie stars", who are actually great actresses...there used to be an entire generation of these women. Sigourney Weaver, Streep, Pfieffer, Glenn Close, Kathleen Turner, Jessica Lange. Jesus, even Cher was better than most of what we've got now.

Even the "veteran" American generation is slipping. I don't care how much Nathanial loves her her, Michelle Pfieffer is a major film actress is Ovah! And has been for a very long time. No amount of Cheri's is going to revive interest.

Sad to say, Julianne Moore is nearly in the same boat as Pfieffer. Her roles have just become repetitive and her performances uninspired, and she in no way inspires the sort of adulation that she probably deserved from Nathanial in the 90's or early in this decade.

Streep is still going strong. But she's Streep, which makes her a singular exception.

Otherwise, it's looking pretty ropey for the young American set. Dunst, Johansson and Portman were supposed to be Kate Winslet level star-actors. That's clearly a load of hogwash. I don't see any Winslet's, Kidman's, Blanchett's in this brood. I don't even see any Naomi Watts'. I suppose if they are really lucky, they might find a Charlize Theron (fairly uninspired most of the time, but capable of the occasional Monster).

Anne Hathaway has talent and more star quality/charisma in her little pinky than the likes of Johansson has in her entire body. But she's clearly torn between being a "serious actress" (Rachel Getting Married) and being the next Julia Roberts (mostly everything else, ie Bride Wars, Get Smart Princess Diaries and the upcoming Valentine's Day). Being a part-time serious actress isn't going to cut it.


Janice said...

I have to agree with David on several points. First off, his list of great actresses/stars of the 80's-90's (Sigourney etc) reminded me of how "womenly" those women were, even when young, compared to the "Girlishness" of the current crop. Secondly, sad to say Pfieffer's career has not really endured, remember she's been off the radar screen for years, and her comeback has been fraught with landmines thus far. She needs an agent who can pick better projects/scripts (although Cheri probably looked great on paper.)

I also second Benji's question - When is Oscars from the Outside In coming back? I've missed that series very much. I know there's three of you working on it so it's probably hard to co-ordinate.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to add, that this seems to be a recent pattern started by young American star-actresses with Gwyneth Paltrow.

I remember Paltrow cam one to the scene, dazzled everyone with a succesion of British accents, won an Oscar, and then proceeded to stop growing as an actress. She just became a tedious screen presence, and at a relatively young age. Paltrow was once hyped as THE actress of her generation (particularly by Harvey Weinstein). Watching her play the thankless ingenue role in Iron Man today, how ridiculous does that seem.

The likes of Dunst, Portman and Johansson seem to suffer from the same affliction as Paltrow. Started out with a bang, but quickly got boring and ran out of tricks.


Jorge Rodrigues said...

David, thanks for the Ellen Page remark :)

And you are SO right!

Unknown said...

well all I can say is I see HOPE in my beautiful and lovely Emily Blunt, I know it's gonna sound absurd, but the moment I saw her saying "great! human resources certainly have and odd sense of humour" I knew she was it! and most importantly, I saw "The Young Victoria" 2 days ago and I'm impressed. NO! It's not gonna earn her an Oscar nom, but shows her talents and diversity. She's completely different from what she was in Prada, graced the screen from start to finish and did what she had to do perfectly, I can really see how Portman or Johansson would have gone over the edge in a period piece of such sort, but Emily didn't! ( "Emily? Emily.." ) I shouldn't even start with Keira Knightley, she has the same face glued to her head in all of her movies, it's a powerful face, but I'm bored of it. Last but not least, I really wanna see how Hilary Duff is gonna blow the horn and make a monkey out of herself in the Bonnie and Clyde re-make, Faye Dunaway may be a bitch, but she's a talented, oscar-winning bitch and knows what she's talking about when and if she made those comments.

Alex said...

Well, Julia Roberts was able to have the ability to be a star (My Best Friend's Wedding), a serious actress (Erin Brockovich), and sometimes both (Pretty Woman). I've always admired her versatility in that respect.

Diane Keaton, Laura Linney, and Annette Bening are probably the next rung down from Meryl, Julianne, and Michelle in my opinion. Wow, ages even seem to match up!

I'm really looking forward to what everyone has to say about "August: Osage County" casting. If someone who isn't Kathleen Turner or Stockard Channing gets Fattie May, I will be PISSED. I'm sure the producers will see Violet, Barbara, and Fattie May as real award-worthy opportunities and will cast them smartly. Right now, I'm pulling for Sigourney Weaver (so overdue it's not even funny) and Jodie Foster (in need of a career revival) for the leads.

john said...

David you're right on the mark, all the important film actresses (i.e. with talent) at the moment come from Europe and Australia, the actresses that were supposed to have been on top have burnt out like your Gwyneth's, and then your other actresses who are younger.
To be honest these young american actresses just aren't up to it in terms of talent and as interesting screen presences.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Saoirse was born in America but she considers herself Irish as that's where she grew up.So technically she isn't an "American actress"

I agree with whoever said that the young American actresses aren't the same as in the older days.

I am more interested in the non-American young actresses, Blunt, Saoirse Ronan, Romola Gorai, Carey Mulligan (see how she goes) Maria Valverde, Mia Wasikowska e.t.c.

These actresses are really showing range in their acting.

Guy Lodge said...

I had no idea Ronan was American-born. I thought of her as Irish through and through.

FilmFreak said...

adri, I agree with you on Bynes. I think she's great but has not achieved any credibility.

Love me some Laura Linney, Anne Hathaway (I forgive her for Bride Wars), and Julianne Moore. But with all of them they seem to make 1 good film (IMHO) out of every 3 or 4 projects they choose.

I am UPSET said...

Gloria Stuart (Titanic) turned 99 today.

I miss you update with something about her, Nat.

ABC said...

Julia Stiles! Yeah, another one who started big and tapered off. Thora Birch seemed to vanish too. She gave a great performance in Ghost World and BAM! nothing else materialized. I guess it has something to do with the fact that she isn't the svelte, blonde type. Nikki Blonsky, unfortunately, is taking that same turn.

And as far as David's post goes - Wow, and I thought I was being a little too "negative." I think though that our culture now (the internet, reality shows) favors flash in the pan successes more so than enduring ones. I don't however think that Dunst, Portman, and Johansson are incapable actresses. The three of them have just spent far too much time in middling material all the while growing comfortable in their celebrity.

Dunst seems to work best when paired with a strong director (like Sofia Coppola) but has otherwise proven that she is far and away a more vibrant presence onscreen than most young actresses, American or not. Portman and Johansson, on the other hand, peaked fairly early (Portman in her debut and Johansson in her breakout year of 03) and have since not played to their particular talents.

And as for Anne Hathaway. I guess I'm the only one to find her wildly overrated. Yes, she was tremendous in Rachel Getting Married, and I hope that film signals the beginning of a new career trajectory. BUT, elsewhere she has proven to be consistently blah. She was blown off the screen by Streep, Blunt and Tucci in Prada, was the worst of the fine ensemble in Brokeback Mountain (bit players -- Anna Faris and Randy Quaid -- and all), and hasn't been in a single other film that was worth my money.

Gwen said...

I think that some of the best are these ladies :

Ellen Page- With her we have got to look past Juno. Roles like Hard Candy, The Tracey Fragments, and An American Crime really showcase her abilities well. Hopefully, she'll do well in Whip It! and Peacock.

Evan Rachel Wood-She'll be on Broadway so maybe she'll be more successful there than she has with her recent films.

Abigail Breslin-I think she's had some great roles lately.

Jena Malone-If she got better roles and opportunities to showcase her abilities, she could be very successful.

Natalie Portman-She will hopefully have success with Brothers.

Kristen Stewart-I know I may get a lot of hate for this but I think that if she had just not taken the Twilight train she could have showcased her abilities in other roles. I guess we'll she with the Runaways movie.

Amber Tamblyn- Like with Jena Malone, she just needs better roles and more opportunities to showcase her abilities.

beeps4444 said...

I have full confidence in Emily Blunt- nothing cookie cutter about her . She is effortlessly sexy , smart, edgy, brilliant, and versatile. She swipped scenes from Meryl Streep from "Devil Wears Prada".

Most of the young actresses are too girlish & too similar.

ABC, I found Anne charming in "Devil Wears Prada" and solid everything else ( besides "Bride Wars") She is such a natural actress. Their is a modesty & genuineness to her acting that I enjoy. I truly believe Anne Hathaway is one of the few young American actresses that will have a long career. How many young performers can pull off, receiving rave reviews ( every top NYC Theatre Critic ) for Shakespeare in the Park's Twelfth Night (her Shakespearian debut), wonderful hosting of SNL( especially her unforgettable Mary Poppins skit) , the brilliant song & dance number with Hugh Jackman (at the Academy Awards), and her great edgy & dark performance "RGM", all in the span of one year. That is not easy to pull off. She is exploring her artistry and taking risks. I predict her doing theatre every couple of years, mixing commercial films & important independent films. Hathaway is in it to win it. This fall, she is filming "Love and Other Drugs" , which is one of the hottest & best written scripts (this 2007 Blacklist nominee is an edgy cross between "Thank You For Smoking" & "Jerry Maguire" )

PS. She has that gift of being a natural star. Whenever I watch her talk show interviews, she is always quick on her feet, appealing, articulate & funny. Recently, she made even Jimmy Fallon look like a good interviewer.

Andrew David said...

This post really made me realise how little I like most American actors. Trying to list my favourite American film actresses under 30 is hard! I love Anna Paquin and Kristen Bell, but even though they're film actresses I love them mostly from "True Blood" and "Veronica Mars"... although they've been consistently great in their film work, I'm still waiting for something major.

I really like Anne Hathaway but I think I've fallen under the spell of general goodwill. I'm not sure WHY I like her so much... I haven't even seen "Rachel Getting Married".

@Jorge Rodriguez... Just watched the trailer for Brothers and it actually looks really good. I really don't think much of Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal or even Natalie Portman but Tobey Maguire in particular looked amazing. If he can pull off the whole movie like he does in some of the clips shown in the trailer, it'll be a very pleasant surprise.

Glenn said...

I think actresses like Natalie Portman and Kirsten Dunst is that they're in a really awkward age where they can't keep playing young characters, but there just aren't enough good roles for women at that age (or the makers don't think they're capable of playing them). Just think of it. How many really great characters are there for women of that age? I'm thinking more in regards to lead roles, especially.

Cinesnatch said...

omg nate your holy trinity can replace anything that my catholic upbringing conditioned me with xoxo.

Ben said...

I agree with Romola Garai. She was utterly fantastic in Angel and, along with Saoirse Roman, was my favourite thing about Atonement.

Anonymous said...

Glenn; I can understand what you are saying, but ultimately I think it more boils down to Portman and Dunst not having enough chops or natural authority onscreen. They get plenty of good parts. Better tparts than the majority of actresses in their age/peer group.

The Other Boelyn Girl (for example) is not a great film. But it's a great part for an actress of Portman's age. But she doesn't really maximise the potential of the role (and neither does Scarlet Johansson in the same role).

Imagine The Other Boelyn with a pair of more assured actresses, of a similar age. Say Emily Blunt and Romola Garai...the performances would have been so much better, imho.

I even thought Portman's role in V For Vendetta had the potential for a much stronger performance than she delivered, with another actress in the role. Maybe the up and coming Aussie, Abbie Cornish, for example.

Ulitimately, it's not the roles that are a problem for Portman. She just feels like a lightweight. Dunst is more of a middlewight. She's got more heft than Portman, but still not enough to suggest she's destined for greatness (Dunst is just a less attractive version of Gwyneth Paltrow imho. Capable actresses, but often a bit too whitebread and bland).

I think if the likes of Abbie Cornish, Ludvigne Sagnier, Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, Emily Blunt got most of Natalie Portman's roles, we might already be talking about them in the same terms as Kidman, Winslet or Blanchett.


Stijn said...

One of the best young actresses in Europe is Cécile de France. NOT from France, but Belgium. People forget that sometimes :)


fanboy -- Dunst has fallen off the radar yes. I'm hoping for a comeback. Obviously she's lost some of her screen mojo so i hope she can get it back. Her enjoyment of acting once seemed to just radiate off the screen and now she just seems bored (and seems to be boring people and those things go hand in hand)

jorge i was actually going to do a top ten but then got depressed because all the best ones are european. Not that that really matters but then you go: WHERE ARE THEY? referring to the type of actresses David cited. But those 80s actresses were mostly in their 30s when they hit. Or in their very late 20s and then the defining work came in their 30s (ala streep in 78-85 and pfeiffer in 88-93 Kidman in 95-04)

that's the age range where actresses tend to get their best juiciest roles (or at least get them most regularly) and if those roles are handled superbly they become big stars or if they're already stars (which Hathaway and Portman are in their mid to late 20s) they start to become legendary if they nail those prime years lead roles.

we'll see. cross your fingers.

yavor completely agree that Emily Blunt could be major. cross your fingers. (you didn't mention summer of love but she's quite fantastic in that as well and different than in the other movies.

glenn you're right about that weird age... the mid20s... and when do they stop playing teens or "the girlfriend" and start busting out their own Kramer Vs. Kramer revelation or Married to the Mob showcase or To Die Do revelation.

because if they don't they don't last... at least they don't last as "stars" though some will obviously work their whole lives even if they lose their A list status. I'm thinking of Christina Ricci who seems to work a lot but in widely varying types of films and tv but not with many primo opportunities.


and by "To Die Do" (ha) I actually meant "To Die For" (1995) aka the moment that changed perceptions of what Kidman was capable of (when she was 27/28 years old) ... and probably led to 2001's double whammy superstar ascendance (at 33/34 years of age)

and as i've noted many times the Jesus year and the 34th year of age have a weird synchronicity with actresses having their legendary (and/or oscar winning) moment.

Arkaan said...

Wow. I feel the need to interject, but I don't know where how.

Okay, let's start at age. I think we all agree that Weaver, Close, Pfeiffer all came of age in the 80's. So, for interest's sake, their ages at the time...

Glenn Close: Using 1982-84 as the breakthrough (three oscar nominations back to back to back) she was 35-37.

Sigourney Weaver: Alien was 1979, making her 30.

Michelle Pfeiffer: We'll go with Scarface through Into the Night/Ladyhawke, making her the youngest at 25.

Now, compare the trio of actresses mentioned.

Natalie Portman is 28. Kirsten Dunst is 27. Scarlett Johansson is 25. So, they're younger then when the 80's trio made their major breakthroughs (for the most part). And each have had breakthroughs, sometimes in their teens. AS the focus of stardom zeroes in on youth (see the recent adoration of the Jonas Bros, or Zach Efron etc), the idea of stardom is much more transient. I don't think you can blame them for that.

Do they deserve some blame? Well, yes. Johansson's taken on some distressingly poor roles (Michael Bay?) and doesn't seem to act as much as her stardom suggests. But I'd argue you're giving British actresses far too much benefit of the doubt that you're not giving to the American ones.

Emily Blunt has given two great performances, imo: The Devil Wears PRada and My Summer of Love (Gideon's Daughter was good but TV, haven't seen The Young Victoria but reviews were solid if not enthusiastic).

Abbie Cornish, the same: Candy, Sommersault.

Now, Johansson may not be THAT much father ahead, but I'd argue her performances in Ghost World, Lost in Translation or Girl With a Pearl Earring are better than anything Cornish/Blunt have come up with.

It remains to be seen if Blunt/Cornish can raise their game in the future. I'll also point out that Cornish could do nothing to raise her role in the vapid The Golden Age, and on paper, that looked good as well (I also didn't see The Other Boleyn Girl, because... really, why?).

I'm not a fan of Kristen Dunst or Natalie Portman, so I'll allow their acolytes to defend them

Garai's an interesting example. I definitely would like to see more from her: she had the trickiest segment in Atonement and nailed it.

Michelle Williams? Rachel McAdams? They'll do what they want. They genuinely seem to have no interest in stardom. McAdams in particular fascinates me because she's got that star quality, but she's sorta told Hollywood to fuck off somewhat regularly.

Arkaan said...

But, in the end, my main contention is that real stardom - the kind that lasts decades and has people talking about you long after you stopped working (the kind that Barbara Stanwyck, or Carol Lombarde, or Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Ava Gardner, etc had) is a thing of the past. Which is distressing and sorta stupid on Hollywood's part.

Glenn said...

"Imagine The Other Boelyn with a pair of more assured actresses, of a similar age. Say Emily Blunt and Romola Garai...the performances would have been so much better, imho."

Didn't Blunt try that with The Young Victoria (romantic costume drama based around famous historical figure) and look how that turned out. I do contend that it's just a very odd age. Actors (male or female - but males can get away with it for longer) are still trying to figure out their place. I think even Portman can say that costume dramas are not her thing. But just how many movies are out there that would allow her to excel. How many movies like Closer are there? I'm surprised she hasn't appeared in one of the many Juno or Away We Go type movies since she gave one of her best and most praised performances in Garden State.

Even Anne Hathaway is trying lots of different things (action star, musical star, comedy star).

In regards to ScarJo, I think her problem was that she found out her place very early (the quiet solemn girls in Ghost World, Lost in Translation, Pearl Earring) but wanted to break out of that and... it hasn't worked. To be fair though, for almost anyone else, appearing in a big budget Michael Bay blockbuster would be good for your career.

In fact, the one that has cemented her place so easily has been Keira Knightley. I think she's solidified her place early. She knows what she's good at and she likes it and good on her. She's well on her way to, like Hathaway, becoming one of this generations more longstanding stars, I can tell.

Nat, seems so weird to think that Kidman was only 27 when To Die For came out. Crazy.


arkaan... well people have been saying that real stardom is over for a long time. And yes, the old studio system golden age type of stardom is over. Though i think it's worth noting that not all of who we think of as the classic stars were successful for their whole careers. Many had "box office poison" labels at one time or another. But stardom as it was couldn't last with TV and then the internet completely changing our interactions with celebrity.

that said, I cannot figure out why adults seem to have the same interests as tweens and teenagers in entertainment these days. So many adults talk about miley cyrus and zac ephron like they're somehow relevant to them... and i wonder if this is just a phase or if its hear to stay. I find it strange and not at all, historically speaking, like other decades. I mean there were always teen and child stars but they weren't -- apart from maybe Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple in the 1930s -- THE #1 stars, you know? And even in the 30s before any of us were alive those stars actually had big filmographies to bolster that fame. Now people are obsessed over people with very little on their resumes. just because Disney is backing them or something.

I'M TOTALLY EXAGGERATING THE PROBLEM ...sorry about the hyperbole ;) In reality there's quite a few 30something actresses that are getting a lot of attention exactly when entertainment/cultural history suggests they should be peaking: Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Marion Cotillard, Hilary Swank...

but i guess i'm just kind of weirded out because it's like i, personally, skipped a decade. I'm very interested in some 20somethings (hathaway, michelle williams, blunt, dunst, portman, ludivine sagnier... who just turned 30 this week!) and obviously i love the 40somethings... but I've remained a little love-detached when it comes to the big movie star women in their 30s. I like quite a few of them but it's like intense love skipped a decade.

arkaan yeah McAdams is a strange case. But I think her career choices don't totally lineup with the conception that she doesn't care abotu stardom because it's not like she's taking very challenging I'M AN ACTOR! roles either.

if you ask me she seems more indecisive than anything else.

david interesting thoughts on Portman. I keep changing my mind about her. When she's "on" i think she's fantastic (the professional, beautiful girls, closer, garden state) but when she isn't on i'm like "um, what's going on there Natalie?"


glenn you're probably totally right about the "awkward age" thing in terms of stardom and persona. That's true of real life too since the 20s are the college/what do i want to do with my life? searching years.

Ben said...

I read a quote somewhere that said that when she was a child, Natalie Portman had made a career of playing women and that now she's a woman she's making a career out of playing children. Although I think her career has been more interesting than this quote would suggest, there's at least an element of truth there I think.

Arkaan said...

You see, Nathaniel, I'm not sure I believe that entirely.

There were stars who came out after the first TV age (like Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman). Stars that came out of the eighties (Toms Cruise and Hanks, Julia Roberts). And for the most part, they're still stars. And if they're not, they've been stars for such a long time. Hollywood seemed to understand that longevity was important. Yes, stars wax and wane, and sometimes explode (Cruise's meltdown is the most obvious example).

But by zeroing in on youth, they've made the idea of stardom much more transient. The rise of the internet age along with the DIY art just made it even more notable. I mean, take a quick glance at EW's Year in Review from ten years ago. How many of those people are still "stars?"

Nathaniel, I don't think McAdams thinks of herself as an "ACTOR" in terms of her choices either. I just think she views acting as a job. She doesn't take on huge blockbuster roles (turned down Iron Man, Fantastic Four). She doesn't mind "working" (a role in TV's "Slings and Arrows"). She didn't do that Vanity Fair shoot. She just seems to be in it to do what she wants. I'm not saying she has the greatest taste in terms of roles (though she looks quite good in the dreary Sherlock Holmes trailers), but I can't help but be entirely fascinated by her in Hollywood. She's an oddity.

Alex said...

Just an idea, but maybe these young American actresses aren't as good as the young talent from the 80's and early 90's because they have a different background. Meryl Streep, Stockard Channing, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Annette Bening, Joan Allen, Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden. Hell, Glenn Close was 34/35 when she made her film debut because she had always been doing theatre.

I'm not saying all actresses between the ages of 45 and 65 are from the theatre, but we just have so few people who do that now, and those who try have a really hard time breaking in. Now, it's choose one or the other.

As much as I adore her, I look at Michelle Pfeiffer kind of fitting the Anne Hathaway mold in the "no one takes her seriously and then BAM" sort of thing. The Hollywood Nights, Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen, and, of course, Grease 2 come to mind.

I have hope for some, but a lot of the older actresses who've been talked about (Weaver, Close, etc.) did have that theatrical background and that makes me wonder a little bit.


arkaan. you're right. i was making a broad generalization. Each generation will always produce a few mega stars. But the support system and the cultural structures for their existence being multiple, if you get me, has vanished.

ben - ooh i wanna read the original quote.


Alex -- i wholeheartedly agree that that's a problem. And I've considered doing a whole piece on it. In that... WHY isn't Meryl Streep more influential?

All young actresses look up to her but almost none of them actually follow in her footsteps or do what she herself always says actors should do (i.e. lots of training and time spent doing repertory) she was a college graduate who had already spent years honing her craft before she ever made a movie.

Alex said...

Nathaniel - Up until "She-Devil" (which kicked off that series of comesdies not including "Postcards from the Edge" and then she did "The River Wild") did Meryl Streep make a bad movie? She's the ultimate example of picking the right movies. I even liked "Falling in Love"...

It just seems that too much of young Hollywood wants to be movie stars rather than actual actresses and there will come a time in 20 some odd years when a movie like "American Beauty" or "The Ice Storm" is being pushed to get made and some studio exec will shrug and say, "Scarlett Johansson?"

I think even Kate Winslet, who we all love, did local community theatre until Peter Jackson discovered her for "Heavenly Creatures." It used to be that our most highly esteemed actresses were like Meryl in the sense that they had a degree in theatre and studied their art for years and years before their film debut.

I'd love it if you did a piece on that. Meryl month isn't over yet! :)

Jack said...

Are we counting Saoirse Ronan as American now?

Anonymous said...

Ok, I read all the posts and was a little surprised at how people just seem to have such short memories. It is easy to say Natalie Portman has lost her mojo just because she made some bad choices in bad movies in the last couple of years(just as Streep - Mamma Mia, Moore in everything, etc), but how can you deny her potential after seeing her remarkable work in movies such as
Leon, Beautiful Girls, Cold Mountain(best in show), Garden State, Closer, Free Zone and yes, V for Vendetta(what was wrong with her perf there?). How many actresses at 28 years of age can say that they have had these many unforgettable performances? I think she will have a bright future in acting or whatever she decides to persue. She is obviously really smart and will challenge herself as the opportunity arises. Brothers is her first real adult role and I thinkn she looks good in the trailer. In 3 years time she will be unstoppable if that is what she wishes.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention Anywhere but here. She was really impressive in that role (Golden Globe nomination there).

Arkaan said...

Hated everything about Garden State, but her performance in V for Vendetta is surprisingly strong.

Anonymous said...

Arkaan; I was actually really impressed with Blunt in Young Victoria. The film is a pleasant diversion and there's nothing really "oscar calibre" about it (kind of like Finding Neverland, which seemed to get nominated for a shitload of awards anyway) but Blunt was just effortlessly confident and commanding onscreen. It's more or less one of those "early Kate Winslet" roles (ie Jude, Hideous Kinky, Holy Smoke, Enigma) that won't win her many awards, but suggested Winslet would be a highly confident and consistent screen presence. Comparing Blunt in Young Victoria to Portman and Johansson in The Other Boelyn Girl does the latter two no favors at all. Scarjo and Portman just seemed awkward, as if they were concentrating really hard on not messing up the accents. Blunt, in her role, was fairly effortless.

The reviews from Cannes for Abbie Cornish in Bright Star (Jane Campion's latest about the romance between John Keats and Cornish's character) suggest that Cornish might be in the awards race this year. The girl got some very impressive notices. So she seems to be heading in the correct direction, and strikes me as an interesting screen presence. But if the Bright Star reviews are to be believed, she's raisig her game already.


Anonymous said...


Kidman and Blanchett both did professional theatre work and trained in theatrical schools before their film debuts.

Most of the young British actresses (ie Blunt, Garai) have theatre backgrounds.

On the other hand, someone like Naomi Watts, who is pretty highly regarded, started out as a model and a soap actress. She doesn't have the theatre background of her fellow Australians, Kidman and Blanchett, but spent a decade in crappy American B-movies (like Children Of The Corn 5) learning her craft, before getting a breakthrough in Mullholand Drive.


Mony said...

[quote]It just seems that too much of young Hollywood wants to be movie stars rather than actual actresses[/quote]

Agreed, all of them want to just be stars and most of them need to do some acting classes. Can't fully blame them because these directors seem to just be picking these young ones who are popular but are not great actors/actresses. All of a sudden these young ones are being executive producers or having a say who gets chosen when they aren't even good enough for that and haven't proven themselves. I hope it is just a phase, because there are so many good young stars that don't get jobs because of people picking ones who are popular.

[quote]"Are we counting Saoirse Ronan as American now?"[/quote]

Ronan is Irish, I really don't see why she is listed on the 4th July thing either.


well Ronan is an American citizen (born here in New York) but I didn't realize that she considers herself Irish. Unless someone is my favorite I tend not to investigate their life offscreen unless it's shoved at me -- Angelina Jolie ;)

I was searching for teen and 20something actresses that had done good work and just checking where they were born -- which is why i didn't include Ellen Page.


correction: don't know if she's an American citizen. I have never studied America's legal agreements with Ireland or Australia and don't know if they allow dual citizenships. With some countries dual citizenship is automatic if you're born in one place of parents from another.

but i am not an immigration or visa expert. I was just quickly making a list of actresses and may have erred.

Mony said...

I understand what you're saying, I am not sure if she has dual citizenship. She was born in America but left soon after and is growing up in Ireland, her dad was working in America when she was born.

From interviews and stuff, she always considers herself Irish.

I do agree though, she seems to have a bright future.

Unknown said...

Re: Dunst

Is it really fair to say her mojo's been missing? She just hasn't been in much lately, but when you look at her recent career in terms of her actual projects, she's still consistently strong (I thought she was fantastic in Eternal Sunshine and Marie Antoinette)

Glenn said...

Nicole Kidman is a duel citizen because she was born in Hawaii, but her parents were Australian and that's where she lived. Ronan lives in Ireland, right? I remember her saying something about it during the Atonement publicity. Or maybe not.


glenn -- kidman and ronan are very similar. born in the states. lived in states the first three years of their life and then moved to their parents home country (australia and ireland, respectively)... which means their citizenship totally depends on the agreements between those countries and the US. sometimes it's dual sometimes people have to choose, etcetera.


stephen i guess i'm thinking more of the way she's been in the media and in the spider-man movies. progressively more bored and definitely more hated by the press/public. plus there was that how to lose friends... movie that seemed like it didn't even exist at all and the glum response to elizabethtown

i am sstill rooting for her and agree that she's been fantastic in several films. (obviously i love since she was super high in my top actresses of aughts countdown)

Ben said...

I thought Dunst really shined in How To Lose Friends And Alienate People, despite it being a very mediocre movie full of thankless roles played by people that I actually really like (Simon Pegg, Jeff Bridges, Gillian Anderson etc.). It was enough to make me sad that she didn't have quite as high a profile as she used to. There's always been something about Dunst that I can never quite grab - almost like a strange undefinable sadness maybe - that has made me gravitate towards her for years. Unlike some of her peers, she's also managed to make an awful lot of teen movies (Bring It On and Crazy/Beautiful being the standouts) without it damaging her chance of doing more challenging work like The Virgin Suicides or The Cat's Meow. Weirdly enough, I think the Spiderman films might have been a misstep for her in that Mary-Jane is a fairly underwritten and boring role that nevertheless seemed to edge her into the A-list. I definitely wouldn't bet against her though. As Stephen says, she was great in Marie Antoinette and her next film, All Good Things, with Ryan Gosling and directed by Andrew Jarecki (Capturing The Friedmans) sounds promising.

Glenn said...

Yeah, how come How to Lose Friends and Alienate People wasn't a huge hit? It starred the most popular and most googled actress in America - Megan Fox!

adelutza said...

I used to really like Natalie Portman until the Star Wars revival. I will give her a second chance if she comes up with something but it didn't happen yet.
As for stardom, it looks like there's very few people besides teenagers (and internet film buffs) that really care about movie stars anymore. Nobody cares and then the actors themselves don't care anymore about becoming stars. They have a few box office hit movies, make some money. Then they will want families and a life outside the movies. And this trend is goign too continue, I'm afraid. I mean, why do poeple watch The Closer on TV but they wouldn't go to a movie with Holly Hunter? Can't understand.

Cristhian said...

FYI, Natalie Portman was born in Israel...

Karl said...

Amanda Seyfried vs. Meghan Fox in a Diabolo Cody screenplay directed by Karyn Kusama... Trailer for Jennifer's Body...


glenn most googled has never meant most "drawing power" at the box office. It only means that people want to gawk at photos of you online ;)

cristhian goddamnit! i shoulda checked. This whole post equals fail which is sad because it seemed off the cuff but it took me forever because it went through like 5 different incarnations about what it's going to be about.

next time. if a post changes its personality 5 times, i just ain't posting it.

Unknown said...

this might be off topic, but yesterday me and some friends of mine met for lunch then watched The Others with Nicole Kidman ( it was my 3rd time watching it ) and I said to myself "God.. this woman is really amazing, especially HERE!" and then 6 or 7 hours later we met other friends and watched The Reader ( it was my 2nd time watching it ) and Kate's performance somewhat left a bad taste in my mouth how could this performance actually beat Meryl in Doubt?

to NATHANIEL: was Nicole really more deserving of a nom for Moulin Rouge or The Others back in 2001; and I somehow loved her in Birth, especially the ending on the beach with the wedding dress killed me.


Yavor... when 2001 was in progress my vote was originally for THE OTHERS in terms of a performance... i think i said at the time (pushes herself to new levels as an actress in The Others and to new levels as a movie star in Moulin Rouge) but the more i watched moulin rouge! (i think i saw it 5 times in the theater which is a record for me since high school) i couldn't part with the moulin rouge performance. so i would have voted for it. It's a lot more complicated and transcendent as a performance goes though she's probably more perfect scene by scene in The Others if that makes any sense.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the Bolger sisters Sarah is still acting but the other one has dropped off the radar..and about Saoirse both her parents are Irish so being born in America is about as american as she will ever get.