Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE CINEMATIC UNDERDOGS OF 2010 (PART ONE)

Too many fantastic performances are not getting the recognition they deserve.
By Alex Nagorski

2010 wasn't a great year for Hollwyood. I will never understand how dreadful films like Skyline, Little Fockers, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or I Love You Philip Morris were even financed. I’ll also never understand how Paul Rudd, who is usually so funny, lost all of his humor this year between shit-tastic movies like Dinner For Schmucks and How Do You Know.

But I guess not everything was terrible. Where there were ten terrible movies, there was one great one. And while many of these good films are receiving a ton of Oscar Buzz, a lot of fantastic performances and movies have somehow slipped under the cracks of the award circuit.

Let’s start with Black Swan. Yes, Natalie Portman was amazing (I’ll spare you the overused and cheesy clich├ęs about her dancing her way into our hearts). Ever since I watched her unleash a little bat-shit craziness in Cold Mountain and inspire all the lyrics to Panic! At The Disco’s first album whilst gyrating wearing a pink wig on a stripper pole in Closer, whether or not she is a mega-talent has not been a question to me.

When I walked out of Black Swan, the first thing I did was turn to my boyfriend and vow that if Natalie didn’t win best actress at the Academy Awards this year, I’d boycott the ceremony from here on out.

Then again, I said that every year Kate Winslet didn’t win and still hosted Oscar parties every February (#reasonsyouknowyou’regay). But I digress.

While Natalie was inarguably the star of the film, it would be a travesty to let her co-stars go unrecognized. I’m glad Mila Kunis is getting the attention she deserves because she had that whole bohemian, laid back, eats-burgers-instead-of-grapefruit, frenemy thing down pat, but um, hello, what about the two other pivotal characters of the movie? 

Barbara Hershey and Natalie Portman in BLACK SWAN_1 Although nobody stands a chance against The Fighter’s Christian Bale in the Best Supporting Actor  category, Vincent Cassel was fantastic as the I-know-you’re-kind-of-a-creep-but-you-can-touch-me-anyway head of the ballet company. And how about Barbara Hershey as Natalie’s obsessive and overbearing mother?

(Note to Aronofsky: please make a spin-off film about this character)

Bitch made Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest look like she deserved the parent-of-the-year award. Hershey’s display of resentment and jealousy of her daughter—followed by her flash of genuine pride--earns a nod to compete against Mila, that really tall fetus from True Grit, and the ladies of The Fighter.

And while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about The Fighter. Christian Bale did some crack and pulled another The Machinist-type body transformation. I get it. It’s called method acting. He was as incredible as Mark Wahlberg’s burnt-out, junkie brother/trainer as his voice in the Batman films is creepily deep.

And Melissa Leo, kudos to you. You made me hate your character so much, which according to my cinematically-challenged best friend who I watched the movie with, means that you “were really good.” No arguing that.

But what about the star of the movie? Marky Mark was excellent as the man trying to step out of his sibling’s shadow and make a name for himself (cue Ashlee Simpson’s "Shadow”). Mickey Ward is the most delicate and complex character that Wahlberg has ever played (think of him as the opposite of his character in the deliciously campy 90’s hit Fear). Never has he been as convincing as he is as the gentle giant within the bulky Tommy Hilfiger underwear model exterior.

My other dilemma with The Fighter comes in the form of Amy Adams. Don’t get me wrong girl: I thought you were great. But were you really good enough to be getting all this Golden Globe/Academy Award attention?

I understand that this is probably the first role you’ve played since Tara’s sister on Buffy that your audience didn’t think that you were going to go home and cuddle with stuffed unicorns on fluffy pink sheets spread on top of your bed of rainbows after the camera stopped rolling. But I’m not sure that necessarily means you deserve an Oscar.

Town_blake Personally, I was more impressed with Blake Lively as Ben Affleck's ex-girlfriend and baby mama in The Town. The  fact that Lively is not getting any award attention whatsoever is clearly because everyone is afraid of  giving an acting award to the star of Gossip Girl. After watching twenty minutes of one episode of that show, I completely understand that.

Unfortunately, I do think that television stars frequently get unfairly shafted on the silver screen due to the work they do on the small screen … or the 42 inch HD flat-screen. Whatever.

Remember back in 2002 when Jennifer Aniston was still on Friends? Of course you do. But do you also remember the dark little indie drama she made that year, The Good Girl? Probably not. Aniston was fantastic as a depressed, unsatisfied, blue-collar housewife. It was impossible not to feel for her or to root for her affair with Jake Gyllenhaal’s character to give her new, positive experiences. It was a truly heart-wrenching and beautiful film that showcased Aniston’s fantastic dramatic abilities, but nobody even considered an award due to her status as one of the world’s biggest sitcom stars at the time.

Or if this example dates too far back for you, anyone who saw this year’s Rabbit Hole will tell you that Grey’s Anatomy star Sandra Oh, although in a small role, nailed the part of the pothead in Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman’s support group and who ultimately becomes Eckhart’s temptress into potential adultery. But wait, Oh is also on a cheesy primetime television show, so her name won’t even be on the waiting list of the awards ballot.
 

So to Lively and Oh, just know that at least one person recognized your work this year.

Originally published on Crazytown Blog
Part two coming 01/24/11