Sunday, October 17, 2010

Actressing, Swag, Oscar Updates

Heads up: I interviewed Juliette Lewis (!) a few days ago and that piece will hit on Thursday. In November... TILDA. Stay tuned. The fall film season always brings fresh golden excitement to The Film Experience.

Speaking of pick-me-ups...

This T to your left, is my favorite piece of swag for precursor season thus far. They passed some law that bloggers are supposed to tell you what gifts they get, right? It's really not complicated in my case. I get what other members of certain critics groups get (I'm a member of the BFCA): some screeners, the occassional film book, random infrequent goodies such as this. It's a little hard to see but basically it's a Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom) bust with her sure-to-become classic line "You've done some bad things, sweetie." scrawled under her face.

The Supporting Actress Race is, as you've presumably surmised (being the smarty that you are) unpredictable at the moment. Almost everyone who people think might be in the running is an uncertainty.

The obstacles to certainty
  • Helena Bonham Carter (The King's Speech) AMPAS has resisted all but one of her worthy perfs. And even that one time (The Wings of the Dove) when she absolutely deserved the actual win, she lost.
  • Dianne Wiest (Rabbit Hole) has a small film emerging in the annual December glut.
  • Miranda Richardson (Made in Dagenham) is fun but the role is kind of easy, if you will. If they're in the mood to hand her a career acknowledgement, it's a go but otherwise...
  • Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom). Hollywood doesn't know her and might not see her film.
  • Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit). The actors branch is, for whatever reason, semi-resistant to Coen Bros pictures.
  • Melissa Leo & Amy Adams (The Fighter) are in the same film that few have yet seen.

  • Sissy Spacek (Get Low) is in a film where the men get almost all the attention.
  • Barbra Hershey & Mila Kunis (Black Swan) are in a film that might be too outre for the acting branch and one in which the lead actress is hogging all the attention anyway. Weirder still: though Hershey and Portman are the ones with the nominatable roles, Kunis is the only one to win anything thus far (Venice by way of Quentin Tarantino).
  • Kristin Scott Thomas (Nowhere Boy) has the Bonham Carter problem, doesn't she?
  • Saoirse Ronan (The Way Back) has a small film with a huge cast in the annual December glut.
  • Rosamund Pike (Barney's Version & Made in Dagenham) is quite a good actress but she never seems to generate buzz. Incidentally, she gets two of the very best moments in Made in Dagenham but still people aren't talking about her and you only hear "Miranda & Sally".
  • Dale Dickey (Winter's Bone) is in a small film where the lead actress hogs the attention.
  • Marion Cotillard (Inception) is in a movie that's not exactly an "actor's movie"
  • Loretta, Whoopi, Janet, Kerry, Thandie, Phylicia, Anika, Macy, etc... (For Colored Girls) They have the internal competition problem times infinity. For any traction whatsoever one or two of them will have to steal the entire show.
And so on and so on. DISCUSS.

Incidentally, at least one film writer wants Annette Bening to move to supporting for The Kids Are All Right. While it's true that she could probably win the category with ease were she to be nominated there, I doubt the Academy would buy the classification. For one thing, she's top billed, which has not been the case in other instances where they've demoted a co-lead to supporting. And they don't always buy the ridiculous re-classifications, anyway. I mean, trying to sell The Bening as supporting Julianne Moore would as foolish as trying to sell the idea that Jamie Foxx was supporting Tom Cruise in Collat--- oh f***, never mind.

Oscar Prediction Index


Michael said...

Remember when everybody thought Marion Cotillard was a lock for Best Supporting Actress nom. RIGHT AFTER they saw Inception? That seems to have changed quite a bit.


haha. that's why i always caution against the word. plus i always caution against deciding someone is in early in the year. nobody listens to me (sigh)

buzz will always explode around opening weekend if people actually like a film. It doesn't mean it will have any staying power in terms of awards season.

that said with the way supporting actress is so unformed. who knows. maybe Cotillard will campaign hard?

jbaker475 said...

At this point in the "race," I'd be overjoyed if Jacki Weaver got some awards love. For the most part I wasn't blown away with Animal Kingdom's acting (Frecheville was almost too blank-faced), even though it's still my favorite film of the year. Weaver, however, was so eerily electrifying to watch, especially in the killer second half. And I agree that the "You've done some bad things, sweetie" line deserves to become a classic. That whole scene in that office made me so anxious; great, great stuff.

Anonymous said...

To see either Barbara Hershey or Miranda Richardson nominated this year would be grand. To see BOTH? Wow!


Michael said...

I'd say the Coens have a great reputation with Oscars because when their films get nominated they tend to win.

2 out of 4 in acting
2 out of 4 in Screenplay
1 out of 3 in Picture

That's a pretty good ratio. Firth should look over his shoulder for Bridges.

Alex said...

I don't get it, Bening could EASILY be a double nominee for "The Kids Are All Right" (lead) and "Mother & Child" (supporting), and the latter film fits all the criteria (she's not top-billed, it can be looked at the angle of being Naomi Watts's film, long-suffering mother, kind of the same situation Clooney had in 2005, etc.). In the past 30 years, only two films ("Terms of Endearment" and "Thelma & Louise") have had two actresses nominated from the same film but there have been countless cases like Juliette Binoche, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Julianne Moore (ironically) nominated for co-lead performances in supporting with their co-stars nominated in lead. I think they can pull the category fraud off with Moore, but not Bening.

Mike M. said...

I mostly agree with your lead actress picks, but I would drop Julianne Moore for Sally Hawkins. Moore's work was generally liked and respected in The Kids Are All Right, but Bening got the raves. I can't see her getting many #1 votes, and the film was only a minor success. Hawkins has a recent snub working for her, strong early reviews, and a textbook Oscar clip.

As for Supporting Actress, I'm going with my knee-jerk reaction and saying that Amy Adams takes it. The role seems like the cliched obviousness that AMPAS loves, and she's pretty and young.

I'm preparing myself for the possibility of a Bonham Carter snub. She seems to have everything going for her at the moment, but the woman has given magnificent performances time and time again and been overlooked. Perhaps AMPAS just isn't ito her :[

Anonymous said...

Like...Annette supports Julianne in "Kids." 75% of the movie is focused on Jules & Paul's relationship, rather than Jules & Nic's.

Annette just needs to concede and be "demoted" to Supporting. She'd be a lock for the win!

Such petty diva-ism...*sigh*

MRRIPLEY said...

Will Bening win in actress against Moore as they are both overdue and i seem to feel this is the last true chance for both in lead they are over 50 and neither is a box office draw like Streep.

OFF TOPIC - Nat you look sexy in your t - shirt sweetie!!

Michael said...

I'm a little disappointed my favorite supporting actresses so far don't even rate a mention - Greta Gerwig in Greenberg and Olivia Williams in Ghost Writer. Not that you're predictions are off, but still, quality work there.

Unknown said...

Julianne Moore is not over 50, is not even 50, she's 49 at the moment. THANK YOU

I'm happy you included Kidman into the top 5 again :-) she'll get a nom, you'll see.

Ibad said...

Unlike the male lineups you got, our lead/supporting actress predictions are 90% similar! The only difference is Michelle Williams — I think even if the MPAA doesn't accept Harvey's appeal for Blue Valentine's NC-17, the coverage has definitely peaked curiosity for it (especially since everyone knows its BS) and Harvey will take every advantage of it. The issue was whether or not it would be seen, which was looking difficult as it was getting lost among the bigger Picture contenders, but now it's definitely entered the conversation and I do believe the actors are gonna see it.

But Moore is my sixth choice for lead predix and I do think that she has more of a shot at joining her co-star than people think.


Ibad, as much as i loved both performances in BLUE VALENTINE i'd be shocked if either made it in. but i'm happy to see people rooting for them nonetheless.

Hayden said...

Miranda Richardson, Helena Bonham Carter, Barbara Hershey, Diane Wiesst are all in play this year? Talk about names I never expected to see near Oscar nominations again, talented as they are.


hayden -- exciting yes? it's all about getting cast in roles in major films and then delivering and with certain actresses you know they can deliver.

which is why it is so very weird that Hollywood never asks for the delivery. ;)


mrripley -- thank you :)

michael c -- good point on the Coen winning thing. but it's getting nominated that is the problem. So many strong performances in those movies and they regularly get ignored. but i've found in general that work within "auteur films" tends not to get much play acting-wise as the director is always viewed as the star.

Anonymous said...

hmmmm...I'm thinking CZJ in, even bigger star perhaps, than Zeeeee at the time...demoting did the trick, no?

mrripley said...

Bit down at the mo,depression and anxiety,not like me the b/f is being v good about it all,loves me to bits.

your blog keeps me going,esp when you don't feel like leaving the house and it is autumn her ein the uk.

cheers nat.

cal roth said...

Yes, Catherine Zeta Jones. That's a good precedent. It's a winner precedent.

Hayden said...

I feel like there just aren't enough actressexual casting directors. I'd approach elusive/fading actresses all the time and BEGGING them to take parts.

Look at Jonathan Demme casting Debra Winger in Rachel Getting Married. Look at the way people fawn every time Julie Christie lands a great role. Look at how the "oh look, Barbara Hershey!" factor made the Black Swan trailer that much more intriguing, or Juliette Lewis no doubt made Conviction that much more palatable.

There's something about watching an underappreciated/underused/semi-retired actress' career spark that enhances the whole experience.

/3rtfu11 said...

Julianne Moore doesn’t have enough support within the Academy to defeat the competition for Best Actress this year. Annette has a narrative to draw sympathy and votes. Professionally losing twice to Hilary Swank as led many to feel she’s overdue whether who like Annette or not Swank hasn’t lived up to the responsibility of being a two-time Best Actress winner. Bening’s personal life with her daughter making a gender transition (will do wonders with the gay friendly Academy voters). Coupled with theme of the film and giving Focus Feature the “queer cinema” monopoly – I suppose many will feel comfortable giving a slighted older actress (JM being the younger of the two) the big victory. The Academy hasn’t given an older actress an Oscar for Best Actress since Helen Mirren won everything for The Queen in ‘07.

A supporting actress that should be getting a definite campaign and I will do all I can within my limited means being a poster online to scream to anyone working for Fox Searchlight Marisa Tomei. She’s had good luck previously for My Cousin Vinny and The Wrestler – if she can land this fourth nomination her controversial win should officially shut down the skeptics.

For Colored Girls is getting a lot of attention for Kimberly Elise. However I believe that Janet Jackson or Whoopi Goldberg can steal some of the attention and awards off the strength of their celebrity.

OtherRobert said... to the ladies of Shutter Island? My woefully outdated because I haven't seen any real acting contenders in Oscar-type films list is hurting my predictions, I see.

Hayden said...

I would also watch out for Gwyneth Paltrow in Country Strong.


Hayden - agreed. But this is a feeling only felt by the actressexuals and our numbers are proud but few (in the grand scheme of movie watching). sigh.

what we need is more directors like QUENTIN TARANTINO and JAMES CAMERON and PEDRO ALMODOVAR who nearly always obsess on the women within their films even when they aren't the leads (it's interesting that Tarantino's first is Reservoir Dogs because in this way it's very unlike the rest of his filmography). The problem is that most directors are more like the SCORSESEs, NOLANs, SPIELBERGs, and FINCHERs and tend to be far more interested in men's stories and male points of view.

Cinesnatch said...

I think it's safe to say that Swank is in the blue category. Personally, I think Hawkins is there too and has dropped down to at least #8. But I agree with the other seven.

/3rtfu11 said...

what we need is more directors like QUENTIN TARANTINO and JAMES CAMERON and PEDRO ALMODOVAR who nearly always obsess on the women within their films even when they aren't the leads

Notice the commonality they’re all writer-directors!

Alex said...

I would agree, but Scorsese sure has put out some fascinating supporting actress performances from his filmography. He's gotten some career-topping work from actresses like Jodie Foster, Lorraine Bracco, Cate Blanchett, Barbara Hershey, Juliette Lewis, Winona Ryder, and even some great lead performances from Liza Minnelli, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Sharon Stone of all people. I mean, to get a fantastic performance from Sharon Stone, you have to be incredibly talented.

Walter L. Hollmann said...

Can you believe Animal Kingdom was playing in my town three wks and I MISSED IT?!

You know, I don't see why it's more conceivable to put Moore in supporting rather than Bening. It feels like Moore gets more screen time, and Bening's role is often...reactionary, isn't it? Like she's never doing anything, she's always reacting.

I'd put them both as lead, personally, but bumping Bening makes more sense to me than Moore.

Hayden: See, that's why I'm trying to get into casting. I need to represent!

Aaron said...

Nathaniel, just out of curiosity, why would you be shocked if Michelle Williams and/or Ryan Gosling received nominations? I thought Blue Valentine was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G but now that it has been stamped with the life-killing NC-17 rating, I guess their chances have plummeted... regards to Black Swan, I'm wondering if it could pull out two nominations for supporting actress (Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey). It seems like the only film this year that has the potential (the other being The Fighter, but I've thought for ages that this film is going to tank).

...and I really like that Fox Searchlight is campaigning BOTH Bening and Moore in the lead actress category, where they both belond. I'm feeling Bening makes it, but I have strong doubts about Moore. The fact that that she couldn't make it with a highly acclaimed performance in the supporting actress category last year--which, in reality, was a WEAK year--makes me think that the Academy isn't as in love with her as they were a few years ago.

cal roth said...

MOst directores are like Scorsese and Nolan because they are MEN. They shouldn't be blamed for having a male point of view.

How many women directors have a male point of view? Only Bigelow? You can't blame Campion for having a female point of view.

What we need is a good number of women directors. Then we'll have a lot of movies with a female point of view. It's that simple.

*I know this thing of gender and point of view is much more complicated, but that's another debate.

Scott said...

I wish the spring/summer discussion of Olivia Williams had carried over into this fall. Loved her work. Cotillard's too for that matter. As to that, given how broadly that film might be nominated, and her previously seen willingness to campaign hard for awards, I'm hoping she'll return to the mix. Besides, what awards group wouldn't want her on their red carpet?

/3rtfu11 said...

– cal roth,

Nathaniel isn’t criticizing male directors’ rights to have a male point of view. He is criticizing their usage of actresses. Someone brought up Scorsese’s track record with directing women to nominations and wins but I wouldn’t label him as someone who’s fascinated by women – particularly in his films.

Writer-directors like James Cameron, Tarantino and Almodovar fundamentally understand women have so much more to offer cinematically. Men are restricted in film by the social laws of masculinity. When a man shows variation he is often the subject of ridicule from the audience and the filmmakers. We are conditioned to see men in a certain way. Only women can be shown outside of the norm with a public willing with open arms to embrace something new.

cal roth said...


I don't agree with this AT ALL. I love Cameron, Tarantino and Almodóvar, but they aren't deeper or better directors than any director because they are fascinated by women. You say people and directors always see men in clichés, but the same goes for women, with their fear of being single and interest for fashion.

A director interested in men as a human being won't show them "restricted in film by the social laws of masculinity", the same way the women of Almodóvar are not fashion rom com baby dolls.

A movie about women doesn't have more to offer cinematically because they are about women. That's nonsense.

You know, Almodóvar's best movie, Talk to Her, is about men. And that's because he has a great eye for human beings, no matter their gender.

/3rtfu11 said...

I can’t speak for Nathaniel but I never implied that those three were superior because of their female fascination. If you love actresses I would certainly recommend them highly because of their use of women. They’re writer-directors who aren’t afraid to make actresses useful outside of just victims, whores (the other woman, prostitutes, grown women who sleep with underage boys, vamps who are out to ruin Michael Douglass) or anything else women are generally accepted to be which are unacceptable.

I love Pedro and I don’t agree that Talk to Her is his best film.

Aaron said...

A conversation about female inclined directors cannot continue without David Lynch. He has given Naomi Watts and Laura Dern the best performances of their lives...

cal roth said...

/3rtu11 You said: so much more to offer cinematically

For me, it's a no-no.

cal roth said...

You said:

Writer-directors like James Cameron, Tarantino and Almodovar fundamentally understand women have so much more to offer cinematically.

I say: Not because of women.

You said: Men are restricted in film by the social laws of masculinity. When a man shows variation he is often the subject of ridicule from the audience and the filmmakers. We are conditioned to see men in a certain way. Only women can be shown outside of the norm with a public willing with open arms to embrace something new.

I say: Same goes for women.

/3rtfu11 said...

Cal Roth,

I give up.

James T said...

1) Richardson or HBC or Weaver
will win. No shit, right? :p I
think I give HBC the advantage.

2) I love the dialogues you add.
Except for what The Bening says.
That's obviously what she really
says. (I'm bowing)

3) TILDA??? I mean... !!!!!!!
I'd love it if you took
suggestions from me... I mean
"us", on what to ask. I mean, of
course, besides your own ideas.

Bryan said...

The Academy has demonstrated in the past that they are wary of category fraud (remember Kate Winslet's campaign for Supporting in The Reader?). So, there at least seems to be some precedent for Annette Bening and Julianne Moore to both be nominated where they belong.

However, AMPAS might view the category fraud differently this time, considering that Bening and Moore are from the same movie. It seems like they only like category fraud if its purpose is to prevent two co-leads from being nominated together.

Bryan said...

Also: I don't see Kunis nabbing a spot. There are two many pedigreed actresses she would have to displace.

Rose said...

Tilda next!??!?!?!??!??!?!! I'm so jealous. Like, I seriously screamed a little bit with excitement when I read that....

/3rtfu11 said...

The Academy has demonstrated in the past that they are wary of category fraud (remember Kate Winslet's campaign for Supporting in The Reader?).

/3rtfu11 said...

That wasn’t about category fraud. The Academy just preferred The Reader to Revolutionary Road. It was Winslet’s Best Actress Oscar to lose.

cal roth said...

On Kunis: lack of pedigree is not a problem in best supporting actress. AMPAS wants their supporting actresses to be fresh. That's why we always see Tomei-Davis situations.

par3182 said...

trust me, oscar voters not knowing jacki weaver is actually a huge plus for her; animal kingdom is the only time in her lengthy career she's given a good performance

and she's even worse on stage

Cinesnatch said...

Film history has shown us plenty of male directors who have an eye and appreciation for strong female characters. We just live in a time where their numbers are currently low. Yeah, we need more female directors to represent the ladies, but I am empathetic to the need for more female-character obsessed directors in general, male or female. I can't assert that female characters have more to offer the world of cinema than their male counterparts, but their potential is vastly underexploited. Personally, I find the ladies more interesting.


vatz -- agreed about the numbers just being low now.

par -- wow. you're the first australian i've heard bitch about her. everyone else is like "national treasure!"

bryan -- i don't see it either (Kunis). I think Tarantino led the internet down a funky only in Tarantino's head wild goose chase there.

cal -- i have to disagree here. Men ARE more restricted by social mores in terms of representation. This is what happens in a patriarchal society. Women are allowed to wear men's clothing, to have different personality types, to stay at home OR pursue a career etcetera. Men do NOT have as much freedom of expression or choice without more ridicule/judgment. It's why "Mr Moms" are so often regarded as comedic. THE MAN DOESN'T STAY HOME. Nobody freaks out when a woman goes to work. It's just a price for being "in charge"... your choice or roles become more limited. It's kind of reverse intuitive but that's how it is.

Nick has actually written some interesting things about the topic of why actresses are more interesting (generally speaking) and I wish i could point you to the specific article but it was about how much more variety they're allowed within their characterizations and how much more nuance and depth of characterization they're EXPECTED to bring. where male characters are so often asked to be plot drivers first and foremost. men of action and ideas but not fully articulated and complicated human being so much as 'heroes'.

there's definitely divisions of genders in the movies, whether we like it or not.

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

That wasn’t about category fraud. The Academy just preferred The Reader to Revolutionary Road. It was Winslet’s Best Actress Oscar to lose.

Yes, I think it was more about them wanting her to win a Best Actress Oscar than a Best Supporting Actress Oscar at this point.

Of course, sometimes category fraud does backfire (Scarlett Johansson), but I'm expecting at least one nominee to have everyone, including me, complaining about category fraud.

Unknown said...

the biggest uncertainty for me is actually, whether Lesley Manville will be campaigned in Supporting (which I think she should) or not... Also, I would love for Cher to have some killer scenes in "Burlesque" and sneak in somehow. At least at the Globes...

cal roth said...

Nathaniel, I see your point, but these clichès only apply if we're talking about our ordinary middlebrow blockbuster, and not that directors you first mentioned.

Of course their men still have social backgrounds and restraints, but they are as complex as any female character written by Jane Campion or Almodóvar.

For example, James Gray. He has a very very male point of view and his character are strongly influenced by family, society and have strict roles to play, but all those things don't work as handicap in terms of depth of characterization for the actor. Last year we've had A LOT of strong female parts, but no one was as interesting as Phoenix's.

Your theory may work in general (shit for shit, Meg Ryan is more interesting than Stallone), but not when we reach the league of Scorsese, or even Fincher. If a director is this good, not being obsessed with women doesn't make him a guy with something less to offer cinematically.

vivi ferreira said...

Nathaniel, i love your blog and predictions but i see in predictions in the category of best score that you don´t know yet that Alexandre Desplat are made the score of the movie The Kings Speech...with the buzz os this movie and the power of this amazing composer, probably he will be nominated for this score don´t you think? Kisses, vivi

Glenn said...

I love that you have kept Jacki in the top five. I reckon she'll be nominated, too, and I don't say that as somebody who wants her nominated. I keep wondering who he critics will get behind and the likes of Carter, Wiest, Leo, Adams and Hershey just don't seem like the kind of performances that they'll give prizes too. Steinfeld? Perhaps, but is that where they'll reward the Coens? Richardson? Perhaps, but her film seems a bit light for the critics. So on and so on. Who knows, really? But I hope they go for Weaver, anyway. She gives what has been undeniably the most critically acclaimed performance of the year in that category.

PS; I want that Jacki shirt!

As for Best Actress... That's the top five I'd go with, too, although I still worry about Manville. I keep getting visions of Naomi Watts and Scarlett Johansson.

I so hope nobody within Focus changes their mind about campaigning Bening and Moore as lead. It'd be a shame that one of them got nominated in the supporting category, meaning someone such as Weaver got kicked out, just because people want to nominate them.

Manuel said...

Nathaniel: Are you gonna have a podcast with Tilda Swinton!!???? Wooooow

Well its seems that EVERYONE is forgetting about Olivia Williams who gave an outstanding performance in The Ghost Writer. She is my nunero Uno for supporting actress this year of what I have seen

Why is it so that she is so easily forgotten?

Danielle said...

I think you have the right idea with Best Actress, but you're underestimating Jennifer Lawrence... there's been a trend over the last few years to nominate a young, new actress in the category and she's our only hope this year. She'll probably rack up all those "breakthrough" awards as well.

I have the same #1-4 (go Nicole!) as you, with Lawrence as #5 and Moore and Hawkins as #6 and #7.

Wish Williams would have more of a chance.