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Oscar nominations announced


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#16 Calliope

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 03:16 PM

I do think ROTK is the lock for best film. Since they shot all 3 films in sequence and didn't give it for the first (or the second). If you consider the trilogy as one film, since it was filmed at the same time, it really is a remarkable achievement, regardless of whether or not it's fantasy. Although, after having seen all 3, I really like the first one the best. Maybe because there was so much "human" to it. I also think it's amazing that the film ROTK nominated for best film with none of the actors nominated, for that alone, I think a Best Picture would vindicate their work.
I love Lost In Translation though and have to admit, was shocked to hear Coppola was the first female American nominated, I thought for sure Streisand was, but then again, Martin Scorcese still doesn't have one, so go figure.
I'm also suprised Scarlett Johannsen wasn't nominated, she would have made Supporting Actress interesting, even if Zellweger is pretty much the favorite.

I would love to see Theron accepting as Wuornos and kissing Brody, it would be fittingly appropriate!

#17 BW

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 06:53 PM

I also think it's amazing that the film ROTK nominated for best film with none of the actors nominated, for that alone, I think a Best Picture would vindicate their work.

I'm with you Calliope. I could easily cast my votes for a number of the actors in this film.

#18 Ed Waffle

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Posted 02 February 2004 - 08:13 PM

How is it that some actresses manage to gain critical acclaim but cannot dress, stand and speak like grown women at awards ceremonies (or on Charlie Rose, or virtually any other venue)? 

Because they aren't grown women--in the sense of mature, socialized, integrated individuals. Additionally many if not most of them are not really actors--the same is true males, of course. Anyone even nominated (almost anyone) for the big four acting awards is, by definition, a movie star. One doesn't need to have training of an actor on the stage to be a movie star. One doesn't have to, for example, speak Shakespeare's verse intelligibly, nor does one have to know how to cross a room elegantly, project one's voice, even if speaking in a whisper, nor convey emotion without speaking.

A movie star has to look good when his face is shown on a screen 20 feet high. He doesn't inhabit a role--you never forget that you are watching Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts no matter what character they are trying to impersonate. He has to connect with people who buy movie tickets--they go to the movies to see Tom Hanks or Sandra Bullock, not to see how they will interpret a character.

Nicole Kidman is an excellent example of this. She is a true movie star and has been one since she was 24 years old. She has been employed in front of TV or movie cameras from the age of 15. She probably knows as much as anyone whose education stopped in their teens.

She is terrific in the right movie--"The Others", "Flirting" "To Die For". She might have been good in "Birthday Girl" but it was edited into incomprehensibility. She was the best thing (for me) in a number of not very good films--"Malice" "Billy Bathgate" "Practical Magic" "Cold Mountain". I saw "Moulin Rouge" six or seven time. The movies with Tom Cruise were unwatchable.

But have no interest in what she thinks about anything, nor what she does or says when she is not on screen. Just as I am not interested in what Sean Penn thinks about foreign policy, Mel Gibson thinks about religion or what William H. Macy thinks about this years sugar beet crop (if he does).


Maria Bello should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "The Cooler".

I hope Marcia Gay Harden wins for "Mystic River" (which I haven't even seen yet) because she is such a terrific movie actress who I have loved since she was in "Miller's Crossing." I am sure Rene Zelleweger will win it though.

#19 BW

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Posted 03 February 2004 - 09:19 AM

I do tend to agree with your generalizations, Ed.

That said, I am wondering if this movie star vs actor thing is more common now than it was, say 30 or 40 years ago? Or, is it just the bell curve effect due to tremendously large number of movies that are being produced these days?

#20 dirac

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Posted 03 February 2004 - 10:40 AM

Ed, a very thought-provoking post, but may I suggest that the late Lillian Gish, to take only one example, was a mature, socialized individual? :( And she was a teenage movie star before turning to the stage in mid-career. Nor was she especially inarticulate. If you want a more recent example, may I suggest Jodie Foster, who seems to be a very sharp lady and who's been acting in movies at least as long as Kidman?

I think it's possible to compare film acting to stage acting without having to disparage one or the other. The requirements are different. (Laurence Olivier was a better actor than Marilyn Monroe, who was not a trained actress. However, she is much better in "The Prince and the Showgirl" than he is – less mannered, more vivid, more attuned to the requirements of the camera.) Not long ago, Ned Beatty committed a faux pas and suggested publicly that his co-stars in "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof," Ashley Judd and Jason Patric, were lacking in certain basic skills needed to project a character on stage. I haven't seen the production but I don't disbelieve him.


Movie stars are sometimes bad actors, but more commonly they just have a limited range – not the same thing. And Tom Hanks has a solid technique. What does happen with a certain kind of stardom is that the roles a star plays become increasingly limited, frequently through choice, alas. (Hanks is still a good actor, but he's a much less interesting one than he used to be, IMO. Gibson, same thing.)

Having said all that, I do suspect that actors with extensive stage training are, on average, better. Those of you who watch "Law and Order" may have noted that the acting of the supporting roles is often exceptionally fine, and it's because many of those actors are hired from the N.Y. stage. You don't see that kind of performing in series shot in L.A., and I don't think that is a coincidence.

I agree with Ed about Marcia Gay Harden -- she's always good -- but since she already won Best Supporting for "Pollock" I don't think the odds are in her favor this year.

#21 dirac

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Posted 03 February 2004 - 03:06 PM

Calliope, in re Streisand, there was a gossip item today that said some Academy members may vote for Coppola as Best Director as a sort of affirmative action demonstration that the snubbing of Streisand for "Yentl" was personal and not against women generally. I'm inclined to disagree – I don't think dislike of Streisand would be so intense if she were a man. ("Yentl" wasn't a great movie by any means, but it was at least as good as Costner's "Dances with Wolves" or Gibson's "Braveheart," IMO.) So maybe Coppola will beat out Peter Jackson because she's a woman (??)

#22 Calliope

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Posted 04 February 2004 - 05:24 AM

I saw that tidbit in one of the NY papers about Streisand. I asked a friend about it who's family is entrenched in the industry and academy members and she said it was true, apparently a few years back Streisand tried dinner parties and everything to sway votes, but unfortunately didn't invite everyone.

As for the movie star vs. actor. Year after year, the women get up there and talk about the lack of roles and parts that are of substance. I don't think you can fault some of those women for that. Foster was a good example of someone who is an actor but a movie star as well (who has been acting far longer than Kidman) Holly Hunter, Naomi Watts, Marcia Gay Harden are actors. Most stateside consider Watts a movie star and she's known more here for being Kidman's best friend than her roles.
Julia Roberts is a movie star, but she doesn't really take roles that require her to act too much.
I think the public is always looking for the new "it girl" even Sofia Coppola to a degree is that this year. And Scarlett Johanssen as well, it takes one look at this month's Vanity Fair cover to show the lopsidedness of Hollywood.

#23 Funny Face

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Posted 08 February 2004 - 09:44 PM

Tried to post awhile back, but had connection problems, so will make this succinct.

First, I don't think I've been tough at all in my comments -- in fact, I think I'm being rather soft.

Kidman comes across as vapid no matter what venue I see her in.

I don't think "Malice" was mediocre. It was underrated.

As to star versus actor, I recall when I danced in "Interview With A Vampire," the buzz among the crew at the time (remember, Anne Rice did NOT want Cruise for that role!), was that Cruise was merely a star and Pitt was an actor. Well, I have never heard so much BS. I wish all of you could have seen Cruise's work ethic in action compared to what's his name. Yes, he is a people pleaser, but what's wrong with that? He made a point of thanking the dancers at the end of 16-hour days. He flashed that amazing grin as the two of us turned out to be extremely allergic to the mutant mosquitoes on the plantation where the film was being shot -- he kept on trying to kill the little buggers and laughed as we had to be swabbed over and over again by the attendant nurse. He gave Neal Jordan 200% attention and focus, hanging onto every bit of direction. When the little girls hired as extras began to droop from standing in doorways holding baskets of flowers and were yelled at by the assistant director, he chucked them under the chin with a smile and a sympathetic word. His children were in the same daycare center at the time as those of a close friend of mine, and he was equally sweet in that setting, making a point to tell her what beautiful little girls she had. If that's a "star" -- being focused while also being nice 24/7, I'll take it over the chainsmoking, aloof behavior of that other guy, who couldn't wait to get things over with for the night and party in the French Quarter. We get to do quite a bit of small parts and dancing in films down here, and to see a lot of behavior of actors/stars in the process, and I could tell you stuff that would surprise (and probably shock) a lot of you.

We remember these things long after the set has been stricken.

#24 dirac

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 10:34 AM

I've never thought Cruise was a bad actor, but he surprised Rice and a lot of other people in "Vampire" – many expected him to be bad, and he carried the movie.


I think that star versus actor can be a useful device for comparing and contrasting if used carefully. One example that springs to mind is that of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, who are married and have appeared frequently together, making comparisons easier. Much as I love him, it must be said that for much of his career Newman just wasn't a very good actor – he was okay but no Brando, and in his youth he was often downright bad. I've never seen a bad performance from his missus, and in their films together she outclasses him regularly, but she's never had quite the charm and charisma to make her a star on her husband's level.


I rather liked "Malice" myself. It has great cinematography by the late lamented Gordon Willis, and Alec Baldwin is terrific.

Kidman is an interesting case. She's good, no question, but overrated these days.

#25 Helene

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 12:19 PM

Anyone see "Thirteen?"  I'm curious about this one, given the history of how it was written. 

Reviewing Thirteen in The New Yorker critic David Denby wrote one of my favorite critical descriptions of all time, a sentence that transported me immediately decades back to early adolescence:

It could be set in a lot of other places  [than LA] in a country that knocks young girls off their feet with waves of consumer fetishism, the need to be cool, to be fast, to grab the attention of boys—in general, to compete every day in a marketplace of desire so relentless that they can imagine no real happiness outside of it.



#26 dirac

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Posted 09 February 2004 - 02:15 PM

I thought "Thirteen" was an updated version of those Fifties What Is Happening To Our Youth flicks, with Evan Rachel taking the place of another Wood, Natalie. Didn't take it that seriously.

I don't know that I'd call Kidman vapid, although her performance in "Cold Mountain" comes pretty close to that description. Fortunately she didn't get nominated for it.

#27 perky

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 04:45 AM

The problem I have with Kidman is that she is everywhere! She has been in 7 films within the last 3 years, with 3 more to come this year. She has given some wonderful performances in some of those films yet I find it hard to really make an emotional connection to her as a performer when every three months you see her on a magazine cover promoting yet another movie. Take a break girl!

On the issue of movie star/actors the performers I admire and look for mostly fall in the serious actor catigory. Daniel Day Lewis, Gary Oldham, Kevin Kline, Christopher Walkin. Someone I did like very much but lost interest in was Nick Cage. Used to be a very quirky interesting actor. You had no idea what he was going to do next, which lent his performances an edgy slightly dangerous quality that was thrilling. Then he went and became a movie star, acting in Hollywood's most vapid overstuffed turkeys. He not only lost his edge he lost his soul. Hopefully with the great work he did in Adaptation he is emerging from the "dark side" and will give us more of the unusual spendid work he used to do.

Tom Cruise is not my favorite movie star in the world, however I do admire his work ethic and his eagerness to learn. He really pays attention to detail and seems very sincere about his craft.

#28 Funny Face

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 07:15 AM

Cage's career does seem to be uneven. You know, I remember years ago when Siskel and Ebert were opining that Michael Douglas received the Oscar for the wrong film because it's harder to make an ordinary man look interesting (as in "Fatal Attraction") than it is a souped up character, as in "Wall Street." I see this time and again with other actors. I actually like Cage a lot in "The Family Man," particularly in his interaction with the little girl who played his daughter.

We do tend to overlook some of those people who play "Everyman" time and again. Years ago, when people were focusing on so many others, I thought Jack Lemmon was the actor of our day, such as in "The Apartment," or "The Days of Wine and Roses," or "How To Murder Your Wife." Ditto for "The April Fools." He still haunts me in "Missing," a riveting film.

In more recent years, I've felt that way about Jeff Bridges. So many underrated performances, such as in "Arlington Road," or "See You in the Morning," or "Fearless." All three are movies in which he plays the ordinary man in a way that grabs us. A not so ordinary man, but one I love nonetheless, is "Starman."

#29 perky

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 08:16 AM

Yes, Jeff Bridges is underrated. He gives consistantly fine performances year after year. He is not a showy "look at me" kind of actor, which is why he is overlooked at award time. I also think the same of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.

The same could be said for some men in ballet. I'm thinking of dancers like Ivan Nagy and Jock Soto. I'm sure I could think of more. Again these dancers gave or give consistantly fine performances season after season. They are sensitive and giving partners and fine dancers on thier own. Yet sometimes they get overlooked in favor of the more showy bravura men.

By the way speaking of underrated actors let's not forget the women! Helen Mirren, the above mentioned Marcia Gay Harden and Hope Davis are a few. :wink:

#30 dirac

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 10:02 AM

perky, maybe Nicole is just trying to make hay while the sun shines. In a few years she'll be pushing forty and it gets much tougher for top actresses then. You don't see other actresses as often, but it may not be by their choice – they don't get the offers. (If she'd gotten nominated this year, it would have been for the third year in a row – a record.)


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