Tag: Cate Blanchett

The Ten: Best Actresses of All Time

I’m the fifth person to take up this task. I’m batting post-clean up. I’m the Center on this basketball team. I’m Billy Preston. Here are my progenitors:

I suppose I should tell you what the heck I’m talking about. This is a running list of sorts. A relay race with each blogger removing one actress from a list of the ten best of all time and adding in their own selection. So far Jessica has removed Marilyn Monroe and added Liv Ullmann, Martin Teller has removed Natalie Portman and added Barbara Stanwyck, and Bondo has removed Tilda Swinton and added Emma Thompson. So now I will present the list as I received it and then tell you who I’ll bump and add. Bondo predicted I’ll add a Frank Borzage girl. WILL HE BE RIGHT!?!?! Probably, yes.

The List

Cate Blanchett

Julie Delpy

Katharine Hepburn

Frances McDormand

Julianne Moore

Barbara Stanwyck

Meryl Streep

Emma Thompson

Liv Ullmann

Kate Winslet

Removal

To whom should I bid farewell? I’ve never seen a movie starring Liv Ullmann (I know, I’ll get to Scenes from a Marriage and Persona and all of them at some point), but I can’t kick her out from ignorance. That wouldn’t be fair, I don’t think. So, the others. I’d count Blanchett and Streep and Hepburn among my personal favorites, so they’re safe. Winslet’s performance on Extras (eerily foreshadowing her Oscar win for The Reader) is genius. Emma Thompson has the same last name as me. Stanwyck is in The Lady Eve which is amazing. Julianne Moore is in my current Best Movie Of All Time, Magnolia, and is phenomenal in it. Frances McDormand gives one of the best performances of all time in Fargo, I can’t kick her off knowing that. This leaves us one Julie Delpy. I’ve seen two of her films, but probably not the ones that “count” for things like this. If you’re expecting any of the Three Colors trilogy or Before Sunrise or Before Sunset you will be sadly disappointed. No, I’ve only seen The Three Musketeers and An American Werewolf in Paris. Of those two, I only remember her in the latter. She’s very good, but not good enough to remain on this list. I’m sure I’ll regret this decision once I catch up with those five films, but I’m fine with the decision at the moment. Now, the fun part!

Addition

I could pick a Borzage woman here. There are two supremely awesome actresses that worked with him several times: Janet Gaynor and Margaret Sullavan. Each would rank up with Blanchett and Streep and Hepburn. They’re very capable doing whatever he asks of them. There is, however a problem. Between the two of them I’ve only seen one movie not directed by Borzage. That movie, Ernst Lubitsch’s The Shop Around the Corner starring Margaret Sullavan, is also fantastic, but I feel I should know more of the actress I pick for such a coveted spot. So I reflected back on who was on the list so far. Is there somebody that matches up to the likes of Streep (I don’t foresee her getting the boot any time soon)? And then I remembered my favorite Streep film and one of my favorite films of all time in terms of acting and emotion. That film is Doubt, and there’s one scene in that film that gets to me every time I even think of it because of how powerful it is. The scene is the conversation between Streep’s nun character and the mother of the child who was possibly abused, played by Viola Davis. This scene is about eight minutes long and it is just awesome. Davis is fearless, leaving nothing behind and letting it all hang out there. It’s vulnerable, it’s intense, it’s enough to get her on this list. But she doesn’t stop there! The Help is a movie that got more flack than it deserved and Davis gives a great performance in it, ending up on my year end best list. And she’s given some good supporting performances, too, in films like State of Play and Solaris and Antwone Fisher. She’s good, really good, and I’m fully confident in her spot on this list.

 

Up next is Steve Kimes at Just Another Movie Blog. Good luck! Be our James Harden!

2011 Film Awards: Part 1

It’s the beginning of the new year which means it’s the end of the film year. With the Oscar nominations soon to be announced I figured it was time to give out my own awards. These are kind of my top five in each category along with some other fun categories. I’ll write a little bit after each section just for fun. Enjoy.

Best Picture

  1. War Horse
  2. The Adventures of Tintin
  3. Hanna
  4. Drive
  5. The Tree of Life
War Horse

That’s two Spielberg films at the top. I wouldn’t consider him one of my favorite directors but I guess he’s pretty ok. Hanna is just a lot of fun. Drive is stylistic as hell and a great time. And The Tree of Life is beautiful and meaningful. A good year.

Best Director

  1. War Horse – Steven Spielberg
  2. Hugo – Martin Scorsese
  3. I Saw the Devil – Kim Jee-woon
  4. Drive – Nicolas Winding Refn
  5. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Tomas Alfredson
Drive

War Horse perfectly captures the classic Hollywood style of John Ford and Frank Borzage and feels perfect throughout. Scorsese’s film is old and new at the same time, with wonderful 3D. I Saw the Devil is a film I don’t wholly love, but it moves like a rocket and works so well. Drive, like I said before, is super stylized, but the mood is perfect. And Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is the most packed movie I’ve seen this year, both visually and thematically. It’s subtle and intense without any action.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Attack the Block – Joe Cornish
  2. The Guard – John Michael McDonagh
  3. The Tree of Life – Terrence Malick
  4. Rango – John Logan
  5. Submarine – Richard Ayoade
Attack the Block

Four of these guys also directed their films (Rango’s John Logan is the only outlier) and three of them are debut films (only The Tree of Life and Rango, again). Each of these films are the very definition of original, whether it be the plot or the style of the writing or both.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Adventures of Tintin – Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish
  2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan
  3. Drive – Hossein Amini
  4. Winnie the Pooh – Stephen J. Anderson and company
  5. War Horse – Lee Hall and Richard Curtis
The Adventures of Tintin

Are you starting to see a trend here? War Horse just keeps showing up. It is that good, though. For real. Also, Tintin has three of the best screenwriters going and Winnie the Pooh captured the feel of the original stories perfectly. It doesn’t shy away from the meta aspects and the songs are great.

Best Actor

  1. Brendan Gleeson – The Guard
  2. Andy Serkis – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  3. Michael Fassbender – X-Men: First Class
  4. Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  5. Hunter McCracken – The Tree of Life
Brendan Gleeson in The Guard

I’ve always liked Gleeson and his role in The Guard is genius. Andy Serkis (and the animation crew) somehow made a chimp an effective and emotional character. Fassbender is Fassbender (and might get replaced by the Shame version of himself if it ever shows up around me). Oldman is quiet and very real. Hunter McCracken is a talented young actor with a big role that he played very well.

Best Actress

  1. Saoirse Ronan – Hanna
  2. Viola Davis – The Help
  3. Elena Anaya – The Skin I Live In
  4. Brit Marling – Another Earth
  5. Sally Hawkins – Made in Dagenham
Viola Davis in The Help

Hanna continues Ronan’s work with Joe Wright and she’s just as good as she was in Atonement, if not better. Viola Davis first broke my heart in Doubt and she continued to do so in The Help, a surprisingly ok movie. Elena Anaya does very well for herself playing a complicated and difficult role. Sally Hawkins makes her character real and powerful.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Alan Rickman – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  2. Michael Fassbender – Jane Eyre
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  4. David Tennant – Fright Night
  5. Brad Pitt – The Tree of Life
Benedict Cumberbatch in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Alan Rickman started his movie career with one of the best villains of all time (Hans Gruber) and has now brought to life one of the best conflicted characters in modern cinema. Fassbender is, again, Fassbender. Both Cumberbatch and Tennant proved that they can play roles other than the ones that they played on BBC shows. And Brad Pitt fully embodies his stern father role. I lost him in the performance, which is a pretty great feat for such a movie star.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Cate Blanchett – Hanna
  2. Elle Fanning – Super 8
  3. Jessica Chastain – The Help
  4. Sally Hawkins – Submarine
  5. Emily Blunt – The Adjustment Bureau
Cate Blanchett in Hanna

I know a lot of people hated Blanchett in Hanna but I loved how arch she was. She played a great fairy tale evil queen. Elle Fanning is a new talent, just watch the acting scene in this film for definitive proof. I know most will probably go with Chastain in The Tree of Life for this category but I really liked what she did with her role in The Help. Sally Hawkins was basically the opposite of her role in Made in Dagenham and wonderfully weird. Emily Blunt’s chemistry with Matt Damon was the best part of The Adjustment Bureau, outside of the hats.

Best Ensemble Cast

  1. War Horse
  2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
  3. Super 8
  4. The Tree of Life
  5. Midnight in Paris
Super 8

I love everybody in War Horse, especially Hiddleston and Cumberbatch and Emily Watson. All of those sad men in TTSS were great (again, Cumberbatch). Super 8’s kids were wonderful, along with a few key adult roles. The Tree of Life, too, mixed great kid and adult roles. Midnight in Paris magically combines modern day elites and old-timey artists, all played to perfection (if exaggeratedly).

Best Non-English Language Film

  1. The Skin I Live In
  2. I Saw the Devil
  3. Trollhunter
The Skin I Live In

These are the only foreign language films I’ve seen. I am ashamed. They’re all good, though. The Skin I Live In is melodrama and horror mashed up into one glorious concoction. I Saw the Devil is a violent revenge tale, superbly directed. And Trollhunter takes the found footage horror film and amps it up a bit. Also, trolls.

Best Animated Film

  1. The Adventures of Tintin
  2. Winnie the Pooh
  3. Rango
  4. Batman: Year One
Winnie the Pooh

This was not a great year for animated films. Tintin is a whole lot of fun. Winnie the Pooh felt like an instant classic. Rango is a spaghetti western pastiche that works as a kids movie. Batman: Year One is basically Batman: The Animated Series, so it is great.

Best Documentary

  1. Bill Cunningham, New York
  2. Tabloid
  3. African Cats
  4. Cropsey
  5. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
African Cats

Bill Cunningham, New York is a pretty straightforward doc about a fascinating person (a fashion page photographer for the New York Times) but there’s a scene at the end that is truly amazing. Tabloid looks at an interesting case through the lens of the British tabloid system. African Cats is a movie about baby lions and cheetahs, narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, so it is awesome. Cropsey examines an urban legend and takes a bit of time to talk about the horrible way the mentally ill were treated at one time in our recent history. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold takes a Super Size Me-esque look at the product placement industry. It’s fun and informative, even if I don’t think that product placement is the most evil thing in the world.

Sometime next week I’ll make the next post in this two part series. Exciting categories like Best Editing and boring ones like Best Comedic Scene and Best Line. Join me! Tell me what I missed!

Movie Review: Hanna

I just want her to stop saying vomitorium, alright?

What’s half fairy tale, half revenge movie, and half coming-of-age film? Hanna! And, to ruin the surprise, it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year. It’s not perfect, it’s not unimpeachable, but it’s a load of fun and has a grace and style that propels it past any negative points.

Hanna is the latest film from director Joe Wright, whose earlier Atonement had a lot going for it but never quite congealed into something great. He brings back the breakout star of that film, Saoirse Ronan, to play the title character, a girl raised by her dad (a serviceable Eric Bana) in the snowy wilderness somewhere in Europe. He didn’t just teach her how to play with dolls, though. Her lesson plan includes hunting, multiple languages, combat training, and a story about an evil woman who would kill her. Of course, she can’t stay hidden away in the frozen Tundra, so she activates a beacon which tells the evil woman where she is. What follows is a cat-and-mouse movie where the cat and the mouse change positions and sometimes chase their own tails.

The things that Atonement did right, namely the directorial flourishes and sense of pace and acting, are all done even better here. Hanna is a wild romp through Europe complete with strange campsites and even stranger abandoned amusement parks. The sense of location weighs heavy on Hanna’s shoulders. She’s never been away from her house in the woods and everything is new to her, enhancing the already strong feeling of being out of place. She never stays in the same place for long, but each spot is extremely evocative and you get the feeling that a whole movie could take place at every one of them and there’d still be more to film. In an early prison-break scene a cold-war era building gives Hanna plenty of places to hide from the bad guys and Wright a plethora of backgrounds for his frenetic and inventive camera work. This isn’t one of those super shaky action movies, but the action doesn’t slow down at all. I had no trouble following what was happening in the action scenes, which makes sense, because that’s what Hanna feels most comfortable doing. It’s during the scenes where normal human interaction happens that Hanna feels out of place, and the camera bears that out. Wright manages to get in one of those long takes in here, too, and this one is even more awesome than the one in Atonement.

The problem with Hanna is probably in the character motivations. There’s no real reason for Hanna to hate what amounts to the Evil Stepmother character, played marvelously by Cate Blanchett, outside her father’s brainwashing. Everything works from scene to scene but you just kind of have to accept everybody’s motivations from the get-go and everything will work fine from there. There’s a particularly wonderful set of scenes involving a vacationing British family that are hilarious and sad at the same time. It’s the life Hanna should have had but never will. I love the ending of this movie, also. The location, the direction, the acting, everything works. It’s a spectacular scene, one of the best of the year.

Hanna is a strong, intelligent young woman. A real role model, if such a thing exists. She’s kind of like Alice, wandering through a weird world where little makes sense. Alice with a bow and arrow. And a rocking score by The Chemical Brothers. And people trying to kill her.

Hanna – Directed by Joe Wright