Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A pen ... but it takes the whole family

Monday, January 24, 2011


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

(Click here to read part one of this post)

The Kids Are All Right was a gorgeous and poignant film. This is not news. Annette Benning was incredible as one half of a lesbian couple fighting for their marriage after their two children’s biological father enters the picture and proves to be the wildly destabilizing element in the family dynamic.

Annette_bening_Julianne_moore_kids_are_all_right While Benning is receiving much deserved attention (critics predict that the battle for Battle Actress will be narrowed down to her and Portman), what about her co-star Julianne Moore? Moore was just as excellent as Benning was, and in my mind, is one of Hollywood’s most underappreciated actresses. Sure, she gets a lot of work, but when it comes down to awards, Moore is seldom recognized.

Perhaps the lack of attention Moore is getting has to do with the fact that many reviewers had major problems with her character. She was criticized for sleeping with Mark Ruffalo, another underappreciated actor in this film’s terrific ensemble. Some critics charged that this turned what started out as a progressive film into a piece of everyday heteronormative Hollywood rubbish. What went over these reviewers’ heads, however, was that The Kids Are All Right is a movie where labels simply don’t exist.

Just because the two protagonists are lesbians does not mean they are limited to a certain definition of what their sexual activities entail. The Kids Are All Right is not a movie about LGBT issues so much as it is about the basic human desires to feel needed, wanted, and even loved.

(Fixating on the fact that these are two women married is in fact somewhat homophobic on the part of any reviewer who cannot see that eliminating set definitions and labels is in fact hugely progressive in terms of LGBT portrayal in cinema).

Benning and Moore’s lesbianism is not the focus – rather it is their marriage. Hence why I get so irked when people talk about this as “that lesbian movie,” because that completely misses the film’s point. Moore did a superb job with her character and thoroughly deserves to be in the running against Benning, Portman, and Winter Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence.

Blue-Valentine-Movie-Review Another gorgeous movie about the struggles of marriage is Blue Valentine. In fact, I’d argue that I have never seen a more moving film about what it means to commit to a lifetime with someone else. Originally slapped with a dreaded NC-17 rating due to a few semi-graphic sex scenes, the film was ultimately released with an R rating.

However, it is not the sex that is the rawest part of Blue Valentine -- rather it is the emotionally devastating performances of its two stars, Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
(Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom where that one dude literally rips that other dude's heart out? That's how you'll feel after you watch Gosling and Williams in this film.) 

They're so fantastic and convincing as their characters Dean and Cindy, that you forget you're even watching a movie -- and instead feel like an intruder observing these characters' intimate lives.

Although Gosling and Williams both received Golden Globe nods for their performances, insiders don’t predict that either one of them will receive Academy recognition since they’re up against higher profile stars and films. Between Blue Valentine and her scene-stealing role in Shutter Island, however, Williams should be a shoe-in for a nomination. If Rabbit Hole's Nicole "Zombie Face" Kidman gets one instead, I'll probably pull a Marion Cottilard-in-Inception and jump off the ledge of a hotel room balcony. 

(And don’t even get me started about how Blue Valentine did not get Golden Globe recognition for Best Picture … whereas shitty movies like Burlesque, Alice In Wonderland, and The Tourist can all claim that they did. Like … WHAT?!?!?!?)

That doesn’t exhaust the list of underappreciated films in 2010.  Frozen, a movie about three friends stuck high on a chairlift after a ski resort has closed down for the week, was a nail-biting thriller that chilled me to the bone (see what I did there?).

Easy A was such a smart teen comedy that I was shocked Tina Fey didn’t write it. It joined the ranks of Heathers, Clueless, Jawbreaker and Mean Girls, all films that not only understand their niche genre, but are able to expand on it and appeal to much larger audiences. The same can be said about Dare, a Cruel Intentions-style teen dramedy that almost nobody even heard of, let alone saw. 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World blew my mind with its mix of comedy and video game vs. comic visual effects. Cyrus and Please Give both made me laugh out loud and tugged at my charcoal heart strings.  Exit Through The Gift Shop and Catfish were trippy documentaries that made my head spin twenty times more than Inception did, and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work shed new light on both a comedy icon, as well as what it means to make it in Hollywood.

(In my ideal world, the Oscars would go to Black Swan for Best Picture, Natalie Portman (Black Swan) and James Franco (127 Hours ... even though he was also fabulous in Howl) for Best Actors, Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) for Best Director, Vincent Cassel (Black Swan) and either Mila Kunis or Barbara Hershey (Black Swan) for Best Supporting Actors, Christopher Nolan (Inception) for Best Original Screenplay, and Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) for Best Adapted Screenplay (can you tell I really, really liked Black Swan?). 

We’ll have to wait until February 27th until this year’s winners are announced, but let’s hope that the Academy does not overlook certain phenomenal, gut-wrenching performances before Mo’nique formally announces the nominations tomorrow. 

And a note to everyone out there: do not stand near any mirrors if Natalie Portman gets shafted because I WILL be having my own “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SWEET GIRL?” moment. 

Originally published on Crazytown Blog