Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Performance Review: Bette Davis in Jezebel

Bette Davis receved her 2nd Best Actress nomination and won the Oscar for playing Julie, a stubborn southern belle ahead of her time in Jezebel.

Jezebel is one mess of a movie. It starts out rather mild and pleasant, but as the film goes on, it turns into soapy melodrama. I also was stuck with lousy sound and the accents are so thick it made things hard to understand at times. But the acting is overall strong, especially by Bette Davis.

Bette Davis plays Julie Marsden, a young woman who is ahead of her time. She is rebellious and full of life. However, this makes her cause trouble and she is very spolied. Her boyfriend Preston (Henry Fonda) is fed up with her, especially after she wears a red dress to a ball (An unmarried woman had to wear white to formal occasions in those times) and a year later, comes back and marries another woman.

Bette Davis does a terrific job in the 1st half of the film. She is spoiled, free-spirited, and full of soythern fire. She is extremeley fun to watch and has captivating presence. Her chemistry with Fonda is also great, especially that famous red dress scene. The two actors do brilliant jobs with it. She also injects the character with a lot of underlying subtlety. She shows the internal battle and all the internal feelings going on in her head.

Unfortunately, the film starts to become ridiculous and this affects Davis's performance. She is still very strong, but the mediocrity surrounding her brings her down a bit. But she still has many fabulous scenes, like the scene with her and Fonda in the garden. She is so luminous and alluring! Her end scene is also wonderful, although the ending is rather unbelievable too.

So, overall, a very memorable and strong performance that is brought down a bit by the material, but is always above it. A worthy winner.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Performance Review: Lila Kedrova in Zorba The Greek

Lila Kedrova received  her 1st Oscar nomination and won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Madame Hortense, an aging, lonely hooker in Zorba The Greek.

It's incredibly hard sometimes to determine the frontrunners/dark horses of winners from 40 years ago  and before. Yes, we have books like Inside Oscars among others to tell who were the locks/surprises, but they don't always tell us this in their analysis of the year's races. Anyway, I assume Lila Kedrova's win may have been a surprise given Agnes Moorhead had won the G.G for her performance in Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

Anyway, Zorba The Greek is one crazy movie. It is brilliantly made and acted, but it is sometimes confusing and hard to follow. Still, you've never seen a movie quite like this before!

Lila Kedrova plays Madame Hortense, a larger then life, flamboyant prostitute who's life has become extremely lonely. She has no one to talk to in the village,she no longer gets the men she used to get, and everyone seems to laugh at her. Things start to improve slightly when Zorba (Anthony Quinn)and his boss Basil (Alan Bates) come from Britain  and stay at her hotel. He courts her, and Madame Hortense mistakenly  believes he is in love with her, or more likely, she latches all her feelings on to him in a desperate way.

Kedrova is simply incredible in this movie. Her performance is so full of zest and sadness. In the beginning, Kedrova is very lively and infectious, filled with stories about her youth. You can't help but be intrigued by her and can't stop watching her in these moments, but when Basil laughs at her, she is heartbroken. Kedrova makes her loneliness so real and heartbreaking, and we so want her to have a happy life again.

As the film progresses, her life continues to go downhill. Zorba loses interest in her, and she starts to become more obsessed and hopeful that he will come back. This is where she REALLY is devastating. Despite how sad her work and character is, when something good happens to her, she seems to come to life again. I especially love the moment when she tells Basil to order wedding silk for her. She is now so grand and commanding, like a French Queen. I love it! I also must mention that she disappears into the role completely. You can tell that Lila was 100% committed to the part and the transformation is astonishing.

She is equally riveting towards the end,when she is dying. Kedrova plays it so compelling, and I was moved to tears! Not to mention the horrible aftermath of her death. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, but it is awful!

Lila Kedrova gives a stunning supporting performance that is now in my Top 10 and perhaps my number #! favorite winner ever! She leaves me speechless...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Performance Review: Glenda Jackson in A Touch Of Class

Glenda Jackson received her 3rd Oscar nomination and won her 2nd in Best Actress for her performance as Vicki Alessio in A Touch Of Class.

Glenda Jackson scored a major surprise win back in the 70's for her comedy performance in the Best Picture nominee A Touch Of Class. My guess is that the race was so unpredictable that nobody was the favorite, so Glenda triumphed again. Does anyone know if her Women In Love win was a surprise?

Anyways, A Touch Of Class is rather mediocre. Yes, the screwball jokes are funny and it is entertaining, but the script isn't strong enough to make the plot work and it simply hasn't aged well. But I still would watch it again if I wanted to, and much of that is due to George Segal and Glenda Jackson. She plays Vicki, a divorced woman who works at a fashion designing place (?). She meets Steve Blackburn (Segal) and the two begin to have an affair by deciding to go to Spain for a week. But the trip soon becomes a traveling nightmare and the two bicker constantly.

Glenda Jackson gives a terrific, very enjoyable performance in this film. The character of Vicki is razor sharp intelligent and has many one-liners, and Jackson brings everything she can to the part. Vicki is a very fun character to watch and maybe the only really good thing in this movie. There's also something strange about her that draws me to it: There is a certain allure to Vicki and perhaps to Glenda Jackson herself that says you just can't your eyes off her.

She also is able to show that there is a very vulnerable young woman underneath her smart exterior. In such scenes such as the first time they're making love or towards the end where she confronts him about the affair, we get the sense that Vicki is really an insecure young girl. Her chemistry with George Segal is also great. You'd never think these two actors are a likely pair, but somehow, the dysfunctional nature of their relationship makes everything work.

I did have a few problems though. Sometimes her mannerisms bother me. I know she's a great actress, but there are times when it felt too mannered. And also, the film doesn't do a very good job of developing her character and takes the easy way out by not really resolving the relationship. But I still think its a wonderful performance that is indeed Oscar-worthy and I'm really glad I decided to make her the start of my Performances Project.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Performances I Want To Review and WILL review!

Yes, I've changed my mind again, LOL. But I think I've come to a decision. Here's a list of the performances that I will review in the future!My main goal is to build enough Best Actress reviews to do a straightforward ranking of all the Best Actress winners (Like Fritz did on his blog for B.A and B.S.A) and eventually Best Supporting Actress as well. Any requests for ones I can do first? Or ones I can add? I've thrown in some random ones too, both from Best Actor and from non-nominees.

Brenda Blethyn in Secrets And Lies

Ruth Gordon in Rosemary's Baby

Jeremy Irons in The Reversal Of Fortune/Glenn Close in The Reversal Of Fortune

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence Of The Lambs

Patricia Neal in Hud

Jo Van Fleet in East Of Eden

Natalie Wood in Splendor In The Grass

Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot

Jennifer Jones in The Song Of Bernadette

Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose

Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovich

Halle Berry in Monster's Ball

Jessica Lange in Blue Sky

Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter

Glenda Jackson in Women In Love

Jane Fonda in Coming Home

Glenda Jackson in A Touch Of Class

Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line

Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls

Linda Hunt in The Year Of Living Dangerously

Jane Wyman in Johnny Belinda

Jennifer Jones in The Song Of Bernadette

Bette Davis in Jezebel

Greer Garson in Mrs. Miniver

Ginger Rogers in Kitty Foyle

Bette Davis in Dangerous

Kate Winslet in The Reader

Anne Baxter in The Razor's Edge

Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holliday

Anna Magnani in The Rose Tattoo

Susan Hayward in I Want To live

Linda Hunt in The Year Of Living Dangerously

Grace Kelly in The Country Girl

Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce

Ruth Gordon in Rosemary's Baby

Holly Hunter in The Piano

Kathy Bates in Misery

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ranking of Best Actress years so far

1. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)
2. Whoopi Goldberg in The Color Purple (1985)
3. Geraldine Page in The Trip To Bountiful (1985)
4.  Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake (2004)
5. Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full Of Grace (2004)
6. Jessica Lange in Sweet Dreams (1985)
7. Meryl Streep in Out Of Africa (1985)
8.  Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby (2004)
9. Anne Bancroft in Agnes Of God (1985)
10. Annette Bening in Being Julia (2004)

Congrats to my winner and now # 1 Kate Winslet!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best Actress 2004: The Results!

5. Annette Bening in Being Julia: Being Julia is an awful film, and Benning's performance falls right into that mix. I wouldn't say she's bad, but I'm just not a fan of her overly theatrical style. Some good moments, but not a worthy nomination to me.

4. Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby: Swank is working with better material then Benning is, but she just can't elevate her character from anything but a cliche. She has some great scenes, but a win or even a nomination is too much. Still, not as bad as some say.

3. Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full Of Grace: With realism and just the right touch, Moreno is able to give a great performance here. She is excellent at showing all the sides of her character and she has some truly powerful, haunting scenes. Not amazing work, but I'm very glad the Academy nominated her.

2. Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake: Although I wish the film had focused exclusively on her and given her more development, Imelda Staunton still comes through with a fantastic performance here. The nice and cheery facade of Vera is fascinating to watch, and when it's shattered, Imelda provides some of the most powerful and most devastating acting on film.

1. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind: An amazing film that is one of my absoulute favorites features a simply great performance. Winslet is so unique and natural and her Clemintine is a wonderful creation that I love. I was thinking about changing her rating due to not loving her quite as much as I used to, but I decided to stick with a five.

Overall Thoughts: A year that is a little overrated to me. It's a very strong year, but I wouldn't call it an amazing one. She had some competition from Imelda, but overall, Kate is a clear winner for me. Swank's win is kinda a bummer, but she was still better then Benning, IMO, and is not as bad as most people say, IMO as well, LOL.

My ranking of the films:

1. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
2. Maria Full Of Grace
3. Million Dollar Baby
4. Vera Drake
5. Being Julia

Best Actress 2004: Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full Of Grace

Catalina Sandino Moreno received her 1st Oscar nomination for her performance as Maria, a confused young, pregnant teen who becomes a drug mule in Maria Full Of Grace.

Maria Full Of Grace is a very good, and well made film. It was a lot less gritty and depressing then I expected, but it packed a punch all the same. Parts of it are underdeveloped though: Like the fact that Maria is pregnant, it all seems so random and doesn't really fit in with the story.

Catalina Sandino Moreno gives a very good and natural performance here. She is completely believable as a teenager, despite the fact that she looks nothing like one! She captures Maria's fire and stubborness and her unbreakable spirit. Once she starts getting into drugs is when the performance really starts to take off: She brilliantly shows all the painful changes that Maria has to go through while traveling to N.Y and the internal battle inside her head, wondering if this was the right thing to do. She doesn't have a lot of showy moments, but Morino plays it just right.

She has great chemistry with her costars and I find her to very impressive. But I can't praise the performance much more though. She does a commendable job, and it's very powerful at times, but I can't say I was bowled over or blown away. But overall, it's an excellent performance that Moreno plays with 100% commitment and realism. She gets

Friday, August 10, 2012

Future posts/activity

Hey, you all!!!! Sorry I've been away for so long!!! I've been in Chicago for about a week, but now I'm back! Ever been there? If so, tell me your thoughts!

Anyway, 2004 will be finished soon, but after that, I think I won't be doing any more profiles. I know, I know, I made a poll,and I was planning to continue with them. But I simply find them too exhausting and time-consuming. They seem to take away energy from my singing, which is the most important thing to me.

But my posts are certainly not ending: I've decided to do a post once a week, and that will be a performance/film review. After reading so many amazing Oscar profiles, one wants to watch performances that seem to be praised a great deal, or not praised a great deal. That's why I sometimes get tired of the B.A profiles, because you must watch all the nominees and some of those films I don't really care for. I don't mean to sound like a whiner, but sometimes, I want to watch films I really want to watch! However, if someone really wants me to do a B.A profile, I can watch the performances once a week and it'll take 5 weeks to finish.

Another thing I wanted to do was revive my Best Supporting Actress project. To those who don't recall, it was my plan to watch all the B.S.A winners and do profiles on them. Given Best Actress is covered so much on here and I haven't seen as many Best Supporting Actress winners as I'd like, I think it would be a lot of fun.

Here's a list of performances that will soon be reviewed:

Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line

Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls

Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady

Linda Hunt in The Year Of Living Dangerously

I hope you're not too dissapointed! Please tell me what you think! And if you have any requests for future performances, please tell me those as well!