Wednesday, June 29, 2011

B.S.A.P: Mary Astor in The Great Lie (1941)

Mary Astor received her 1st and only oscar nomination, and won for playing pianist Sandra Kovack in 1941's The Great Lie.

The Great Lie starts out terrific, with Bette Davis wonderful playing a young woman named Maggie who is in love with a man named Pete, who is married (Well, not legally) to famous concert pianist Sandra Kovack. Mary Astor is fabulous here, milking the rich, charismatic side of Sandra for all it's worth. She and Davis are terrific together in these scenes, showing their hate, yet respect for each other and their love for Pete. I also love her scenes where she is a pianist, unfortunately their not very elaborated on, but Astor make them grand and entertaining.

Unfortunately , the movie goes downhill when it is revealed that Sandra is pregnant, and Maggie , since it is believed that Pete is dead, wants the baby, for Pete's sake (No pun intended!, and will make sure Sandra is financially secure for the rest of her life. So, Maggie takes Sandra to a secluded cottage in Arizona, where she makes sure she is taking care of the baby and to keep an eye on Sandra. These scenes are the weakest and most unbelievable of the movie, and both actresses, despite trying hard to make the material work, are affected by it, and never recover. Astor's acting is still good, but a sour feeling of soapy melodrama hangs over her, which is unfortunate. Things improve though after it is revealed that Pete is really alive, because Sandra now wants the baby and Pete back. The material is still dreadful, but Astor is very fun to watch as she clashes with Davis.

So, Mary Astor gives a very entertaining and effective performance that adds to the film wonderfully at first, but falls down once the film took that awful plot twist. Still, a worthy winner. She gets

Monday, June 13, 2011

B.S.A.P: Peggy Ashcroft in A Passage To India (1984)

Peggy Ashcroft received her first Oscar nomination and won the Oscar for playing Mrs. Moore in A Passage To India. Mrs. Moore is an elderly woman who is traveling with her son's fiance (Judy Davis, my recent winner of Best Actress 1984), to meet her son and to see India. While there, she is disgusted by all the snobby English people around her and is appaled how they treat the people of India. She meets a young man named Doctor Asiaz, who she is enchanted by and he the same way.

As I've said, A Passage To India is a mixed movie for me. It's really lacking in the 2nd half, and it's not very engaging, but there's a lot of beauty and impressiveness about it too. Peggy Aschfroft's Oscar-winning performance is a big plus to the movie. She plays all her scenes with such dignity and strength, making Mrs. Moore an impressive, mysterious, and loveable character. She and Judy Davis work well together, though they don't really have correspond. Her scenes with Doctor Aziaz are terrific, both seem to have a lot of respect for each other, and their scenes have a special power to them that adds to the film. When they go into the cave, Ashcroft is able to convey her fears and the strange unsettling feeling that the echo in the cave gives her, it's very convincing. And there's another thing, Peggy Ashcroft completely disappears into this part, there's no sense of acting.

My only complaint would be that their some scenes with Judy Davis that don't really fit with the character, where's she's playing the "wise old lady". It doesn't feel true to the spirit of Mrs. Moore. Still, this is a great performance, whose presence is alive through the whole movie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Best Supporting Actress Project

As you might have read back in March, I decided to move on from Best Actress for now, and start covering the Best Supporting Actress category. But instead of covering it year by year, I'll instead cover two decades at a time, watching each winner from the decade. Like, if I did the 90's and the 60's first, I start with Diane Wiest in Bullets Over Broadway, and then I'd do Shirley Jones from Elmer Gantry, and then another 90's winner, then another 60's winner, ect, ect. I probably will rank all the performances at the end, probably in single-number sequence, but perhaps not, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. I'm so sorry for all the delays and empty promises that have been happening for the past nine months! I've just been so busy! It's been a hard year, but a rewarding one, and this summer, I'll make sure to do a lot of activity on here! And 1984 is FINALLY finished! Anyway, I'm extremely excited to begin this project and I hope you are too!

So, the first two decades I'll be covering are the 1980s and the 1940s! Hope you enjoy!

P.s: As for 2010, I think I'll wait until I get plenty of winners under my belt until I start it again, I want to focus on Best Supporting Actress

Ranking of Best Actress nominees and years so far

1. 1974

2. 1969

3. 1968

4. 1976

5. 1988

6. 2006

7. 1977

8. 2002

9. 1993

10. 2003

11. 1984

1. Julianne Moore in Far From Heaven (2002)

2. Judi Dench in Notes On A Scandal (2006)

3. Maggie Smith in The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

4. Liv Ullman in Face To Face (1976)

5. Katharine Hepburn in The Lion In Winter (1968)

6. Charlize Theron in Monster (2003)

7. Kate Winslet in Little Children (2006)

8. Holly Hunter In The Piano (1993)

9. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (1977)

10. Sissy Spacek in Carrie (1976)

11. Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasions (1988)

12. Faye Dunaway in Network (1976)

13. Liza Minnelli in The Sterile Cuckoo

14. Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under The Influence (1974)

15. Ellen Burstyn in Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974)

16. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

17. Patrcia Neal in The Subject Was Roses (1968)

18. Faye Dunaway in Chinatown (1974)

19. Valerie Perrine in Lenny (1974)

20. Genenieve Bujold in Anne Of The Thousand Days (1969)

21. Joanne Woodward in Rachel, Rachel (1968)

22. Jane Fonda in Julia (1977)

23. Jodie Foster in The Accused (1988)

24. Jane Fonda in They Shoot Horses Don't They (1969)

25. Meryl Streep in A Cry In The Dark (1988)

26. Diahaan Carol in Claudine (1974)

27. Angela Basset in What's Love Got To Do With It? (1993)

28. Barbara Streisand in Funny Girl (1968)

29. Renee Zellweger in Chicago (2002)

30. Jean Simmons in The Happy Ending (1969)

31. Diane Lane in Unfaithful (2002)

32. Vanessa Redgrave in Isadora (1968)

33. Marsha Mason in The Goodbye Girl (1977)

34. Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give (2003)

35. Penelope Cruz in Volver (2006)

36. Emma Thompson in The Remains Of The Day (1993)

37. Judy Davis in A Passage To India (1984)

38. Marie Christine-Barrault in Cousin, Cousine (1976)

39. Signourney Weaver in Gorillas In The Mist (1988)

40. Helen Mirren in The Queen (2006)

41. Anne Bancroft in The Turning Point (1977)

42. Naomi Watts in 21 Grams (2003)

43. Jessica Lange in Country (1984)

44. Nicole Kidman in The Hours (2002

45. Keisha Castle Hughes in Whale Rider (2003)

46. Sally Field in Places In The Heart (1984)

47. Shirley Maclaine in The Turning Point (1977)

48. Samantha Morton in In America (2003)

49. Vanessa Redgrave in The Bostonians (1984)

50. Debra Winger in Shadowlands (1993)

51. Melanie Griffith in Working Girl (1988)

52. Stockard Channing in Six Degrees Of Separation (1993)

53. Sissy Spacek in The River (1984)

54. Talia Shire in Rocky (1976)

55. Salma Hayek in Frida (2002)

Best Actress 1984: The Resolution!

5. Sissy Spacek in The River: Besides some very brief moments of depth, Sissy Spacek is a dud in this awful, extremely odd film. All she's saddled with is the boring part of a wife who just lives for her family and she fails to spark up the role miserably.

4. Vanessa Redgrave in The Bostonians: Though she has a few good moments, this performance is nothing special and the role is so limited that it becomes confusing. What did the academy or Redgrave herself see in this film?

3. Sally Field in Places In The Heart: Sally Field gives a very good, but inconsistent performance, on one hand, she does a good job of making us feel who Edna is and for her situation and some of her moments are terrific, but on the other hand, she never goes far enough with the part, not putting enough energy or going deep enough into the character. But she's stuck in a sentimental, confusing film, and I give her a lot of credit for trying.

2. Jessica Lange in Country: Lange has a very one dimensional part, but unlike Spacek, actually tries and surprisingly completely succeeds in commanding the screen with her performance. It's not perfect since the role really isn't interesting enough to become great, but Lange is great to watch.

1. Judy Davis in A Passage To India: My heart said Jessica, but my head said Davis, and I went with the latter. As with nearly all the performances this year, Davis's character is not that interesting, still, Davis gives a subtle, extremely strong performance that hits it's peak during the court scenes, where Davis shows how excellent of an actress she can be.

Wow, a year that is as weak as it looks! None of these performances except for maybe Davis, measure up to the usual standard that I expect from the Oscars and although they make some strange nominee choices (Talia Shire, Stockard Channing, Debra Winger), I think that they could have chosen better then this.

My ranking of the nominated films:

1. Country
2. A Passage To India
3. Places In The Heart
4. The Bostonians
5. The River

Best Actress 1984: Vanessa Redgrave in The Bostonians

Vanessa Redgrave received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Olive Chancellor, an overly controlling woman who is a member of a woman's rights society, and has taken a young woman named Verena Tarant (Madeline Porter), who is an extremely gifted speaker, under her wing, but seems to control her every move, and becomes extremely jealous and angry when Verena and her cousin (Christopher Reeve) begin a relationship.

The Bostonians was a film I found odd and tiresome at first, thought it grew on me, mostly due to Madeline Porter, who should have received an Oscar nomination for her performance. She was fantastic. But the movie is nothing very special, and the same goes for Vanessa Redgrave. I felt she was terrific in Isadora, though the film was a mess, but her role is very limited here and Redgrave just doesn't have a strong enough part. I'm pretty sure her character is supposed to be in love with Verena, and a problem with her performance is that I don't think Redgrave did a strong enough job showing her love for Verena. The love was more obesseive, and I know love is obessive, but it felt to me that it would have been better if Redgrave had portrayed her love for Porter more romanticly instead of obessively. Vanessa does do a good job of showing her anger and fear of losing Verena to her cousin, she plays it with a powrful subtlety that reminds me of Glenn Close in Dangerous Liasons, not nearly as good though. Her scenes with Porter are also good, but Porter steals and overshadows her performance so much that I just didn't care that much about her. That basically sums up my feelings about her, she has some strong moments, but it never takes off and her part is too limited to really become great. She gets

Friday, June 10, 2011

Open thread! #2

Summer at last!!!! I promise I'll finish Best Actress 1984 this weekend! PROMISE!!!!!! Since it's summer, they'll be WAYYYYYYYYYYY more free time, so expect more on this blog, even though I do have a summer job, but it's only two to three days a week, and it isn't extremely demanding, so there definetely will be more stuff coming along. But what? Here's my topic:

Do you want me to a Best Supporting Actress project like I said? Or do you want me to do more Best Actress profiles, specifically finish 2010? Or do you have any other ideas?