Monday, 2 January 2017

Best Leading Actress 1981: Marsha Mason - Only When I Laugh

Only When I Laugh is quite an enjoyable film that is especially interesting, if you are aware of some paralells with the actual life of Neil Simon. But apart from that, it's a great exhibition of some wonderful performances.
Marsha Mason plays the leading character Georgia, who we see getting back from the rehab. She used to be an alcoholic and now she is starting a new life. She portrays the joy very well. She is determined to begin a completely new chapter, yet she's not naive about it. In fact, I think that many feminists these times would welcome a film like this in the present. Georgia a strong woman and a very showy part to play. Here must be said that Mason uses all of the given potential.
She has got two great friends, who are waiting for her. One is a gay man played by James Coco and the second is a woman her age, who cares too much about her appearance played by Joan Hackett. Chemistry between Mason and Coco is outstanding. I really believed them, that they have known each other for a long time. The easiness and comfort they talk to each other with, is something that I miss with the chemistry between Mason and Hackett. Especially at the beginning of the film, I felt as if they were some further relatives, rather than close friends. This is mainly Hackett's fault, because in her first scenes she really seemed very reserved. It gets better later in the film, but I thought they are not as close, as with Coco. But it isn't a complaint, because it seems logical on the other hand. Hackett has got her own family to take care of. Coco is single and therefore he might have had more time to spend with Mason.
One excellent part of the film is Georgia's relationship with her daughter. They haven't seen each other for quite a long time and Georgia wants to take care of her. We see in Mason's behaviour the enormous trying to be the best mother. This is portrayed flawlessly and the more their relationship seems to be good, the more devastating will the dramatic change at the end of the film be. Both of the actresses (Mason, as well as Kristy McNichol) did their best and delivered first-class performances.
There is a scene in Only When I Laugh, in which her daughter organised a blind date for Georgia and the daughter's teacher. Georgia thinks the teacher wants to talk to her and he thinks she wants to talk to him. How Georgia finds out what's going on, is very well handled by Mason. What I liked even more was a small conniption. It is overacted, there's no doubt about it, but it fits the character 'I am an actress and you're not going to fool around with me!'
Another example of a great overacting is in her scene at the theatre rehearsal. She plays that she is playing and douring this scene I even had shivers. That's exactly a great example of the overacting I love. There is also a great change between acting and a real emotional outburst, that doesn't seem forced and is also very enjoyable.
There is a scene, in which Mason is supposed to be drunk. She plays drunk extremely well. She doesn't overact the drunkeness, she overreacts just like a drunk person does. She is effective in this scene, as she shows equally well, how her character is having a good time, as well as how serious the situation is.
I really liked this performance. Mason was really great. The only blame I'd have is the occasional inconsistency between the authentic real acting and overacting. Both of them I enjoyed, but together, as a part of one performance they don't work as well as they probably should and could have.
The chances of winning an Oscar: She was worshipped in her times and she was Oscar-less. There must have been some overdue factor and the strong character factor. In spite of that, the year and the campaigning was strong and maybe the film's reputation didn't help. She was the fourth.  

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Best Leading Actress 1981: Susan Sarandon - Atlantic City

This performance has been the topic of many discussions, since it was campaigned in the supporting category, but it got nominated in the leading. It's the same case, as with Kate Winslet's win, but both of the times I think the Academy got it right. Both ladies are clearly female leads of their film.
Susan Srandon plays Sally, a woman who has had some problems with her life and she starts having an affair with an old retired mob Lou, played by Burt Lancaster. At first their relationship is not very close.
But some time around the first hour of the film, Lancaster's character Lou changes a bit. He starts doing business and it changes him. He starts to be very gentle and kind to Sarandon's character Sally. Sarandon is very good at her reactions to this change. We can clearly see just through her eyes what she thinks about it, but she wants to stay polite, because she needs his help. But then later in the film, their relationship develops too quick, from Sarandon's side. The director and even Lancaster are trying ot make it as slow and realistic, as possible, but Sarandon maybe pushes a bit too much. This is very obvious in a scene at the restaurant. I don't know, if she was trying to play a bit drunk, but if yes, then it wasn't enough and if no, then it was too quick.
On the other hand, later in the film she again gets to those tiny reactions that express she's not interested in Lou. Though they are very well handled by her, they simply don't work in context of the film.
Sarandon has got a overview over her character, which would normally not be bad, but this time it's transformed in the performance in the worst possible way. She became underwhelming throughout her entire performance. It's very disappointing to see it happen, since her character could in fact have been a juicy part to play. (SPOILER ALERT) For example, in a scene, where she sees her husband dead. There is a long take on her face, but there was nothing I could see in her eyes. She doesn't even try. I know that her relationship with him wasn't very good, but it must have done something to her. (SPOILER ENDS)
What is very strange about this performance is the fact that it seemed to me, as if Sarandon didn't know, what attitude Sally has towards Lou. It's like a roller-coaster. Sometime she plays disinterest, sometimes confusion, sometimes she is all right with it and even provokes Lancaster. When those scenes are cut one after another, it really seems odd and improbable.
I must as well say that this performance does have its good parts. For example the scene in the casino at the end of the film, in which she screams at everyone. After this scene she suddenly uses what's given to her and plays just like her previous scenes should have been played.
We all know that Sarandon is not a bad actress. She handled her character this way on purpose. But most of the time I just found it too underwhelming to like it. It's not a bad performance. It's rather a disappointing one.
The chances of winning an Oscar: The category confusion and the fact this is her first nomination weren't very helpful. Another case of 'just happy for the nomination'...

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Best Leading Actress 1981: Meryl Streep - The French Lieutenant's Woman

The French Lieutenant's Woman is a very fine film with a wonderful leading performance of Jeremy Irons. There is another leading performance in the film given by Meryl Streep. Was her performance equally wonderful? Let's find out.
At the beginning of the film, Streep's character Sarah is kind of a mysterious woman. She is sad from something and she has a secret. It's all very well transformed into Streep's performance, yet I quite don't understand, why she was cast into this role. She succeeded in the acting part of the role, but somehow I didn't think that if I met such woman, I would have cared for her. Probably I wouldn't even notice her. It's about charm, or beauty, or some pizzazz that Streep misses.
Then after some time passes, we find out that she is called among all the town people „the french lieutenant's whore“, because she slept with a married man. We get to know the story of how it happened from Sarah's view. But even after we find out, what her story is, she always seems so mysterious. And that is probably the least juicy part for an actor, because if he doesn't have enough screen charisma, he becomes very bland. And that's exactly what happened in this case. Don't get me wrong, I love Meryl. But I can't help myself, I always found some of her primary performances to be a bit boring.
When Sarah and Jeremy Irons' character fall in love, it seems kind of forced. Their relationship simply doesn't have a development, it just happens. Me, as a man, couldn't see, why Irons would fall for her so madly. But when he did, Streep suddenly plays a woman in love and she is very good at it. She becomes very active and she wonderfully portrayed her happiness. It somehow works with her previous behavior. Beacuse later on we find out another truth that is a bit shocking, but I couldn't somehow take attitude towards it in terms of Streep's performance. Her previous performance is so ambiguous that after this shock, my reaction wasn't that her previous behavior somehow made sense. My reaction was simply: Okay, so now it's all different. It didn't affect me anyhow.
The other thing I have to mention is the fact that the film is separated in two parts. The main story that takes place in the past and the present, which is about the actors playing those parts. Streep is extremely bland in these scenes. She is very good at an axact characterization of a woman, but she is overshadowed by her co-star Irons, who has much bigger screen persona. I don't believe I am writing down these words, because Meryl is really my favourite actress, but it's how I felt about it. She only makes it up for me in her last scene that is her emotional outburst that is just wonderful. And that is exactly why this performance doesn't work for me. Because it is like a roller-coaster.
Meryl herself has recently said that if she has to point out one performance she's not satisfied with, it's this one. And I understand it. I'm even glad she said it, because I don't feel so bad for criticising her, now. She's not bad, but she's probably the least good in this.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I guess she was the second. Sarandon was a newcomer, so she was happy to be nominated, in addition the campaign in suppoting category wasn't very helpful, either. Mason's film wasn't that big and it's Razzie nod must have lowered down her chances. Keaton was considered great, but she had won recently. And according to the reviews Streep must have been the second. Who knows, if she had won for one of her best performances in Sophie's Choice, had had she won a year prior.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Best Leading Actress 1981: Katherine Hepburn - On Golden Pond

The first thing that is needed to be said about On Golden Pond is that it's quality depends on the two leading performances. The filmmakers should have this issue worked out, because they had cast Katherine Hepburn and Henry Fonda, living legends of their times. Luckily, both of them could handle roles that required their wonderful performances.
Between Fonda and Hepburn there is an excellent screen chemistry. Sometimes they're better than an actual couple would have been. They act so well together, I have never had a problem believing that they had spent their lives together.
Hepburn, as well as Honda are both able to be very funny and charming in the first half an hour of the film, without making their roles a caricature. They create real human characters, whose life isn't easy at its edge, yet they use humour to handle all of their troubles.
There could have be a bit problem for an actress playing this part to be overshadowed by the Fondas and their real relationship that got so mirrored into this film. But Hepburn never allows that to happen. She fits Fondas very well and it seems as if they had lived together for a long time. I even didn't have problem believing that Hepburn had raised Chelsea (Jane Fonda).
Though her performance sometimes is just reactionary, Hepburn never failed to create a real human character out of it. And even though there are moments (especially at the end of the film) that she overplays a bit, it's always in favor of the character. What she was able to achieve, along with Henry Fonda is that we really like her character Ethel and even create a relationship with her. Somehow we will miss her after the film ends and that's a proof of her wonderful performance.
All right, it might not be the showiest part for an actress to play and it's not even Hepburn's juiciest role. But it's so adorable and simply irresistable that you absolutely understand, why she won her fourth Oscar for it.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Next Year: Best Leading Actress 1981

The Nominees:
Diane Keaton - Reds
Katherine Hepburn - On Golden Pond
Marsha Mason - Only When I Laugh
Meryl Streep - The French Lieutenant's Woman
Susan Sarandon - Atlantic City

What do you think of the nominees? What is youre ranking? What is your predictions for my ranking? Tell us in comments! 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015

5. Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
McAdams took the easiest possible approach to her performance - she just played what was written in the script, she was not even trying to make something more out of this dully written character. There is only one scene that stands out for me and even in that one she didn't have a lot to do.

4. Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
Vikander is wonderful alongside her partner Redmayne in a less challenging role, but she pulls it off rather well. She is not overshadowed by him and the emotional impact of her performance is not small. It'd still prefer her performance in Ex Machina to be nominated (or even won her gold).

3. Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs
Winslet is great as always in a role of the only woman in Jobs' life that he listens to. She's got a great on-screen charisma and the chemistry with her colleagues is wonderful. She flawlessly understood the tone of the film and is very supportive to the plot. Some accent flaws are therefore very forgivable...

2. Rooney Mara - Carol
She is wonderful in a leading role of Therese, who falls in love with an older woman. Her portrayal is very subtle, but it's flawless. Her and Blanchett have got an excellent chemistry and Mara's Theres is simply adorable. Her shy Therese is the character to fall for. I'd especially like to point out one particular scene in a train that is the proof of a pure acting perfection.

1. Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
It is impossible to choose between the two ladies, but I decided to go with Leigh, as she really is supporting. Her Daisy is the most memorable supporting performance of 2015 and of the best from Tarantino films. Leigh is enjoying her role and so are we enjoying watching her. I simply loved this performance...

My Nominees:
1. Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
2. Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina
3. Helen Mirren - Trumbo
4. Rose Byrne - Spy
5. Marion Cotillard - Macbeth

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Rooney Mara - Carol

Carol is a beautiful film. It is probably my favourite film of the year. The way it expresses the relationship of two lesbians is simply flawless. It has got a unique atmosphere and I definitely prefer it to Brokeback Mountain, which has a similar topic.
Rooney Mara plays Therese, a young woman, who falls in love with an older lady played by Cate Blanchett. The fact that Mara was put into the supporting category is the most ridiculous case of a category fraud I've seen in years. The whole story is portrayed through Therese's point of view and if one of the these ladies is supporting, it would be Blanchett, but the truth is that both of them are co-lead.
Mara's performance is very very subtle, yet it's so fascinating to watch. By her subtlety, Mara was able to become somehow cute and that's the best way to approach this character, because we can more easily sympathize with her. She portrays a shy and inexperienced young woman, who is still searching for herself. She doesn't understand the feelings she gets, she doesn't know how to act, she's a bit confused of the whole situation. This is wonderfully showed in scenes with her boyfriend, for example.
I really loved the emotional moments of Therese, as Mara takes a great approach to them. Most of them are portrayed solely through her eyes (such as the first dinner with Carol, or their first meeting at the shop). Mara is somehow irresistable because of this.
There is a wonderful, yet very brief scene in the film, in which Mara is on a train and she cries. Not only was she able to carry my attention, but she raised such emotions in me that I have never experienced by any other film performance in a very long time. Though it's a short moment, I suddenly felt so sorry for her, asking why is she crying and I wanted to soothe her. This would probably be her best scene.
What proves the perfection of this performance, is the fact that we don't wonder, why this character falls in love with an older woman. Both of the actresses are so realistic in creating their relationship that it's a pure joy to watch.
The chances of winning an Oscar: When the nominees came out, I thought she was the frontrunner. As the time went on, I realized it was not so possible. Right now, I guess she was the fourth...

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight

I love The Hateful Eight. It's definitely one of the top three Tarantino films for me and I don't quite get the controversy around the film and this particular character, so I'm gonna ignore it in this review, because it would take too much time and I wouldn't be nice to feminists.
Jennifer Jason Leigh received her first Oscar nomination (which is kinda ridiculous) for portraying Daisy – an outlaw, who is being 'arrested' by a bounty hunter played by Kurt Russell. She plays the only significant female character one the film. It is portrayed in the screenplay, but in Leigh's acting, as well that Daisy is not normal in her head. Leigh shows it wonderfully from the very beginning by the way she looks around, or speaks.
The most important thing about the performance is how enjoyable it is, while it stays complex. Leigh greatly shows that her character has got nothing to loose. It's as if Leigh personally didn't have anything to loose, as well. Not only with her acting approach, as it really doesn't fit any acting method, but also with the fact she agreed on playing this character, because it took acting many risks.
Leigh is also excellent in creating a secret around Daisy. It is revealed in the last chapter of the film and in Leigh's hands it doesn't seem forced, at all. On the top of that she gets much many acting opportunities after the revealing and she uses it perfectly! In her final scenes she reminded me of Carrie (I guess it was on purpose) – it is a strange person, who is sadistic, wicked, crazy, but it's difficult not to fall for her. Leigh achieved a wonderful thing – we like Daisy and feel sorry for her, but we dislike her at the same time.
As the only woman of the cast, Leigh stands out not only in terms of acting, but her character as if didn't fit the plot. It's something that is done on purpose and she was great in showing this.
All I can say at the end is that after Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, we got another brilliant female supporting turn in Tarantino film.
The chances of winning an Oscar: I think they're higher than most of other people do. She's my dark horse for the film. I guess she's the second behind Mara. 

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a wonderful biopic about one of the most interesting figure of the recent history. In 2013 we've had an opportunity to see a film about him, starring Ashton Kutcher, but this one is much better, which was obvious just by the look at the name of the director.
Kate Winslet plays Joanna Hoffman, a Polish assistant of Steve Jobs. Winslet herself has said on various occasions that this woman looks nothing like her or talks like her in real life. I would probably say she was a miscast before watching the film. But then after doing so I have to admit that Winslet is able to overcome the differences between her and the woman she's portraying. Though sometimes her accent comes off as a little bit inconsistent, it's forgivable, as it doesn't distract you from the scene.
Winslet wonderfully understands the tone of her character and is very supportive to the plot, as to Jobs as a person. She knows, where her place is and she doesn't try to steal any scene for herself, because she knows it wouldn't fit the film. Except from one particular scene, in which she confronts Steve about his daughter. This scene is focused mostly on her character and this is an opportunity for Winslet to shine. We uses it perfectly and we are witnessing a perfect piece of acting. If I were to choose an Oscar clip, I'd certainly go with this scene.
What I love about Winslet in general, is her excellent screen-charisma. It is visible here, as well and Winslet uses it greatly and it's a pleasure to watch her working (just like any other time).
Joanna Hoffman is the only woman is Jobs' life to have an influence on him. She's the only one, who stayed there for him, who supports him. All of this is very well portrayed in Winslet's performance.
The cherry on the top of this film (and performance) is her chemistry with Michael Fassbender. These great actors are a pleasure to watch. I take for instance the scene at the very beginning of the film. They start the film with such energy that stay with it till the end.
The chances of winning an Oscar: As the time goes on, they seem smaller and smaller. She's won a Golden Globe, but it doesn't seem to matter. I guess she's the third, or the fourth. But this year is so wide open in this category that she might upset.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Best Supporting Actress 2015: Rachel McAdams - Spotlight

Some performances get rewarded and I will never understand why. You all know I'm not a fan of too natural performance (e.g. Paul Newman in Nobody's Fool or Marion Cotillard in Two Days One Night), but I can give some credit to them (both of the performances received four points from me), so that I'd stay objective. But there is something that I can't reward. It's the roles that give an actor nothing to play and when an actor is lazy to do something about it. Unfortunately, that is the case of this Oscar-nominated performance.
Rachel McAdams plays her character exactly, as it written. This might have been a compliment, if the character hasn't been written blandly. There is really nothing to this role. It's a woman. That's all I can say about it. The role of Sacha Pfeiffer has only got some lines that reveal simply nothing about the character. (It's not the only such character in the film. In fact, all of them are so.) But the biggest blame against McAdams is that she doesn't add anything to her character. She reads her lines (and she reads them just fine, to make that clear), but we don't find out anything about her character's character.
She has got some better moments, for example in the scene Sacha comes to the priest. She shows just the right amount of energy and eagerness as a young reporter, who wants to squeeze everything out of the story she's working on. But that's probably it. On the private matter, we don't find anything out about her.
I'm thinking, why she even got recognized is that she's the only woman in an ensemble full of men. It's not a bad performance. It's just a weak one.
The chances of winning an Oscar: Let's just hope the best picture heat is not going to push her to the win. I guess, it won't. She's the last one in the game.