Rachel McAdams is supersmart for doing more romantic weepies after The Notebook earned her a steady spot as an A-list actress. They can't cost very much to make, do well in theaters, and have a very long afterlife on cable and DVD. This way she can do movies with Terrence Malick, Woody Allen, and Brian De Palma without ever having to show up as the fifth lead in ensemble rom-coms focused around holidays. I just wish she'd do more comedies, since I worshiped her as Regina George in Mean Girls and don't care much for melodramas that culminate with weddings and death.
Silver: I find my complete indifference to this trailer vexing. For a film written and directed by Judd Apatow I feel like I should have been laughing more. Even the bits with Apatow ringers like Jason Segel and Melissa McCarthy only elicited a smile from me. In just three films (This is 40 being the fourth) Mr. Apatow has proven that he’s successfully stolen the melodrama torch away from Cameron Crowe (for the time being). Apatow makes such a concerted effort for his films to tonally and thematically slalom down the narrative hill between humor and drama that films like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up felt unnecessarily long, and a film like Funny People played like two different movies. So for a trailer positioning a film as THE holiday comedy it would have been nice to have a few legitimate laugh-out-loud moments (“Ah! Kelly Clarkson!”). Nevertheless, I’m going to chalk this up to bad marketing, this is a film (and filmmaker) I am more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt.
The new Iron Man sequel. Ever since a friend drew my attention to the SNL sketch "Meryl Streep: Ice Show at the Garden" (with Abby Elliott as Meryl Streep) that is the only thing I can think about any time I see Meryl Streep. A friend of mine claims this movie hinges on Streep playing up Thatcher's pursed-lip sexuality. You'll have to judge for yourself, as there is no way I am going to personally verify that.
The end of any Oscar season also marks the end of all of that season’s narratives, and when those wrap-ups are unexpected, you retrace your steps and try to figure out which signals you missed. In this case, there’s not a lot of retracing to do, since even the surprises of Oscar night didn’t feel especially surprising. (For those of you who kept score, I went a mediocre 14-for-24 in my predictions — but of the 10 awards I got wrong, eight went to movies I said would be the runners-up in two-way races.) The biggest of the official “upsets” was in Best Actress, where the complicated narrative of Viola Davis and the history of African American Oscar contenders and the opportunities they do and do not receive proved to be no match for the simpler story of Meryl Streep, which was that a 29-year wait for another Oscar was more than long enough.
The Academy Awards spectacular is only a few nights away, and the big question on everyone’s mind is: Who am I wearing? (That’s a secret between me and my wardrobe dude, Rodney.) What I can tell you is how to make a few jermajesties off the gala event.
Most of the categories are already decided. The Artist for Best Picture (-900). Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) for Best Director (-600). Christopher Plummer for Best Supporting Actor (-4000). Octavia Spencer (-2000) for Best Supporting Actress. All are cost-prohibitive locks. But luckily I was able to find a handful of profitable opportunities that will fill your pockets with loot you can lose in a few weeks on the play-in game of the NCAA tournament. Have I ever steered you wrong? Nevermind. I miss football.
Back in 2010, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts were tentatively attached to the adaptation of Tracy Lett's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, August: Osage County. The 13-character ensemble play — about a dysfunctional Oklahoma family, the Westons, all brought home by the disappearance of father Weston — was a huge hit with the critics on Broadway. It's also a sprawling, ambitious production that runs over three hours. Which is to say: a high-profile, elite-acted movie transition seemed inevitable. But, then, the deal stalled out. It didn't seem to matter much to its principals. Streep took the time to transform into Margaret Thatcher for The Iron Lady, and copped another Oscar nomination (with an all-time best 17 nominations overall, she is the Boston Celtics of acting). Julia Roberts made Larry Crowne and the upcoming Snow White revision Mirror Mirror, and generally continued living her life as Julia Roberts.
On February 26, we are, I think, likely to see Viola Davis walk to the stage to accept a Best Actress Oscar for playing a maid. It will have been about 26,000 days — is that a lot or a little? — since Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for her role as Gone With the Wind’s house slave Mammy and tearfully expressed the hope that she would “always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry.” How far we’ve come. How far we haven’t.
As the Academy continues to discuss an accelerated awards calendar for future Oscars (coming in 2013: Goodbye, paper ballots; hello, electronic voting and endless conspiracy theories about hacking!), there’s one thing I hope the Board of Governors will bear in mind: They need to allow one week for generalized postnomination rage. This wasn’t necessary before the Internet, which tends to reinforce in everyone the need to express, via blog, tweet, or status update, the conviction that anyone who doesn’t share their taste must by definition be dumb or corrupt. This year’s anger seems to have taken two forms:
Some years, it’s a stretch to come up with five decent candidates for Best Actress; such are the seemingly permanent inequities of the movie business. So it’s a pleasure to report that, despite a deeply problematic set of films, this year’s field is actually stronger than the roster of Best Actor candidates — the women contending for nominations this year did more with less. (But why should they have to? That’s another story.)
"I don’t know why people are always willing to accept and even like flawed male characters. We’ve seen so many lovable anti-heroes who are curmudgeons or addicts or bad fathers and a lot of those characters have become beloved icons and I don’t see women allowed to play the same parts. So it was really important to me to try and turn that around." - Diablo Cody
It's true that Atticus Finch aside, most great male characters are more like Travis Bickle, Norman Bates, or Jack Torrance: alienated, unhinged, cool as shit. When the Oscars made 1992 The Year Of The Woman, it felt like a mean commentary on the thing we all long realized: that the bulk of prestigious films are made by, for, and about men. This year, the whole old morally complicated white guy breaking the law formula turned out to not be completely infallible. Despite the continued acid reign of Breaking Bad, you shouldn't bet the farm on Luck -- and Mad Men is so beloved because it has equally complex/interesting characters of both sexes.
Let’s start with a rant. Last week, in a long New York Times lamentation, the paper’s two lead film critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, argued that talking about the Oscars this far in advance, specifically in the context of film festivals, is “a drag” that sucks up “all the air in the room” (Dargis), that “the machinery of hoopla and trivia…overshadows everything else” (Scott), and that awards jockeying is an “unwelcome guest” in the conversation (the headline writer). Dargis and Scott are two of the smartest and most engaged critics around, and when they’re both pissed off about the same thing, it’s worth confronting.
Ladies, start your accents! It may be summer, but today marks the beginning of the Hollywood award season with the first glimpse of The Iron Lady, a stirring drama about a respected but counted-out woman’s triumphant quest to dominate the opposition and win another Oscar. Of course, it’s also about Meryl Streep donning her best Academy-pleasing British-isms in order to portray Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom’s first female Prime Minister, in a film from the director responsible for Mamma Mia!. We’re sure there will be a stirring rise to power, some sexism, a soupçon of conflict and (hopefully) a terrible Ronald Regan impression (we know someone who’s available!). But this trailer is cut more like an action film, as two stentorian sorts quibble over their future leader’s ladylike appearance leading to the big, crowd-pleasing (or crowd-infuriating!) reveal. Though given only a few winking moments of screen time, Streep seems well-cast and comfortably at ease in her trademark pearls — though her coquettish smile seems a bit much for a woman blamed for effectively crushing the UK’s proud tradition of trade unions. Still, Thatcher was undeniably successful in her single-minded pursuit of victory — something we’ll no doubt be saying about Streep, as well, come next February. And if the potential lionization of such a polarizing figure sticks in your craw, we recommend counterbalancing it with a little light music.