Best actress in a leading role: Oh please don’t let it be Angelina
Okay, that’s a little mean, I admit, especially because Changeling is the one movie, among this group, that I didn’t see. I couldn’t. The previews were so unbearable I knew I couldn’t stand two hours of it. I think Angelina Jolie can be good. But this movie just smacked of the same kind of Hollywood drivel that afflicted Benjamin Button. (I guess she and Brad were in lightweight mode this year.) So, what am I looking for here? Nothing less than a whole-hearted lunge into the character.
Anne Hathaway, Rachel Getting Married. At times, I thought Hathaway was brilliant. The toast scene, in which Hathaway, an unpredictable recovering addict takes the microphone at a pre-wedding dinner and proceeds to deliver a toast that made me want to crawl under my seat, is a tour de force. It was wonderfully written, and Hathaway ran with it. There were other times, though, were I was thinking, “eh, princess-y Hollywood pet is trying to be ugly.” That’s not what you should be thinking in the presence of an Oscar-worthy performance. So…I don’t think so. (But I suspect the academy might vote differently.)
Angelina Jolie, Changeling. Didn’t see it. Don’t want to see it. Please don’t make me see it. To quote my two-year-old: “No, no, NO!”
Melissa Leo, Frozen River. Leo is so convincing as a down-and-out woman living on the edge that I was shocked to see her looking considerably less stressed out in a photo in the NYT. I loved her in this. It’s one of those movies that almost didn’t get made, finally got funding and eked its way out. Which is to say, it was a labor of love for the director and Leo, who was attached to the project for a long time. And it shows. I adore the beginning, in which we see Leo, sitting in her beat up car, realizing she’s been ripped off by her husband (and from this, all the action ensues), and the end—which manages to side step the usual movie clichés.
Meryl Streep, Doubt. You know, I enjoyed this performance, but…I don’t know. It doesn’t feel BIG enough, somehow, for the little gold guy. Yes, we have Meryl Streep in a nun’s habit. (I heard her, on The View, saying she loved the habit—covered all kinds of body issues.) Yes, we have her with a slight Brooklyn accent. Yes, we have her being kind of a bitch, which is kind of fun. But…Streep, at this point in her career, faces an extra challenge—can she be good enough to make you stop thinking, Oh, there’s Meryl Streep in a nun’s habit? Not quite, for me, at least. And I think Leo’s performance was gutsier.
Kate Winslet, The Reader. What can I say? I have yet to see Winslet be anything but 1,000% in character. I love her taste, and the fact that she’s deliberately circled around the kinds of movies that make me quote my two-year-old. She’s getting a bit of Meryl Streep syndrome, i.e. hey look, there’s Kate Winslet dressed like a dowdy haus frau! This is accentuated by the fact that she’s in two big movies this season (loved Revolutionary Road). I actually liked her a little better, in RR, I think. But also thought she was great as the brusque and slightly tender Hannah Schmitz, ex-Nazi prison guard with a bit of a heart—albeit one we will never understand.
My vote goes for Leo, but I don’t think she’ll actually get it. That’s because I doubt anyone in the academy owes her a favor or wants her in their next blockbuster, etc etc….I’m betting it’s going to go to Hathaway or Winslet…probably Winslet. And, honestly, she’s earned it. I would be disappointed for Leo, but happy to see it go to Winslet.
I had the normal upbringing with regard to movies, which is to say I went occasionally but nobody, including me, made too big a deal out of them. That changed in my mid-twenties, when I lived, for a brief and unhappy year, in Chicago. I knew few people, didn’t have a lot of work, was lonely, and needed to entertain myself. I discovered that I loved going to movies alone. That they left me in a contemplative, introspective state of mind that I really enjoyed.
When I moved to New York and began freelancing, I found that going to movies helped me write. I’d review my notes on a story, go to a movie, come back, sit down and the story—which had nothing at all to do with the movie—would just pour out. Maybe I was letting my subconscious work while the rest of my brain enjoyed itself. Maybe it was that contemplative state of mind I was talking about. Who knows? The only thing I really knew for sure was that it worked.
When I was writing my first book, I often saw a movie every morning as a prelude to the afternoon’s work. That meant I saw A LOT of movies, some great, some awful. You can’t be too picky when you’re seeing movies at that pace. My favorite movie experience during that time was when I went to see “Lord of the Rings.”
I had not read the books. It was long. I hadn’t read any reviews—I almost never read reviews (too many spoilers, and the critics’ views have a way of worming their way into your brain). I wasn’t totally thrilled about it, but I had few other choices. It was lunchtime, and on the way I stopped, on impulse, at Murray’s and got a sesame bagel with whitefish salad. And I picked up my customary enormous diet coke on the way in.
Well. The movie was beautiful—it was shot in New Zealand—and enormously entertaining. It had Ian Mackellan in it (a big plus), and the bagel with whitefish salad and (it almost goes without saying) the diet coke were sublime. And it was a LONG movie. So I really got to relish the experience. It was, in short…perfection. And that, my friends, is how this blog--which is, in essence, a movie lover's diary--got its name.