Saturday, September 23, 2017

Best Actress 2017: Salma Hayek in "Beatriz at Dinner"

Now that we're approaching October, performances that will contend for Best Actress this year are actually becoming available to view. Namely, Jennifer Lawrence in mother! and Emma Stone in Battle of the Sexes. Since Meryl is going to almost certainly be on everyone's radar for her upcoming performance in The Post, I'm planning on providing my two cents this fall on many of the possible frontrunners.

Meryl's performance may ultimately be the last I actually see, since it's not going to be released nationwide until mid January. Similarly, Margot Robbie's performance may not go wide until a similar time, but it's been seen by many people already at the Toronto International Film Festival and we know that I,Tonya is likely going to be a factor.

This year is particularly stacked with notable performances from women on screen, something that is not always the case. Cracking into the top five in votes for the Best Actor category on Awards Watch generally indicates a much-lauded performance. With the preponderance of male-led films each year, it can be difficult to stand out. It's nice to see that on the women's side it's far from a done deal as we approach the last quarter of 2017.

I'm going to start my assessment of this year's performances with one I was actually able to rent already on Itunes: Salma Hayek in Beatriz at Dinner. Before it was released, it was predicted that Hayek might be in the mix for awards, and she still may be, but the buzz has dwindled significantly. It doesn't help that the film was a summer release. But as a dark comedy, her role might show up at the Globes, and with some calling it "the first great film of the Trump era," I think it's worth covering.

I don't want to get into a super detailed synopsis, but the story surrounds Beatriz (Hayek), a holistic healer who's car breaks down at a wealthy client's home, resulting in her staying for dinner and interacting with three couples who represent stereotypical privileged whites whose biggest concern seems to be whether to decide on halibut or steak for dinner. Beatriz in particular clashes with Doug (John Lithgow (this guy's having a great year)), a CEO-type real estate magnate whom Beatriz at first mistakes for the man who ruined her Mexican town with his predatory development. Things get awkward as she uncomfortably confronts him on his way of life.

Hayek does a wonderful job in this picture. Her performance provides such a sharp contrast to the setting and viewpoints of the other main players. She's a healer, sensitive to needs and pain of other living things. Thrust into a scenario where she's surrounded by people who are anathema to everything she believes about the world, Beatriz can't help but draw attention to that contrast and shine light on the carnage that can be left behind from unbridled American capitalism.

I don't expect this film or Hayek's performance to go too far with awards. If anything, as I mentioned, a nod for Best Actress in the Musical/Comedy category is a possibility, but even there I see her as coming in at number six or seven currently. Again, it's a stacked category in 2017. In most other years, she'd likely be in the conversation for an Oscar nom. But it's anyone's guess as this point...

 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

More pics from the set of "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!"

There have been a few pics of Lily James in Croatia this week, where they're currently filming  Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!  I sort of breezed by them because they all seemed like just random shots off set. I realized today however that there were indeed a few taken of James with her co-star Jeremy Irving during what looks like an actual scene from the film:


                                 


Irvine plays the young version of Pierce Brosnan's character from the original. The full set of pics can be seen here


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Streep wins Emmy for narrating "Five Came Back"

Well what a pleasant surprise. Last night, the Creative Arts Emmys were handed out and Meryl took home the gold for narrating the Netflix WWII documentary Five Came Back. She was not in attendance of course, as production is underway for Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!  Streep will now have three Emmys in her trophy case, this most recent in addition to those she won for her performances in the miniseries Holocaust (1978) and Angels in America (2003).  Now if we can just get The Nix into production, we can expect that she'll contend for her fourth!

Congratulations, Meryl.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

The state of the 2017 Best Actress race

Now that we're into September, a lot of the movies that will include contenders for Best Actress at the Oscars have been screened. Film festival season is upon us and the prognosticators are out in full force, each providing their two cents on whom they think will end up on the top spot. It's still early of course, but we're far enough along now that I figured I'd take the pulse of the race and give my own thoughts as well.

My go-to resource for getting a sense of who the contenders are has for some time now been Awards Watch. Their aggregate predictions on nominations are very accurate. Gold Derby also has their "Expert" picks up now, but I typically find Awards Watch more valuable. As of today, with 243 Awards Watch users casting votes for Best Actress, the top ten are:

1. Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water) 87.24%
2. Meryl Streep (The Post) 82.30%
3. Kate Winslet (Wonder Wheel) 77.37%
4. Jennifer Lawrence (Mother!) 42.39%
5. Annette Bening (Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool) 36.63%
6. Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) 35.80%
7. Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) 35.39%
8. Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul) 28.81%
9. Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes) 23.46%
10. Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman) 12.35%

I should mention that until Sally Hawkins's film debuted recently to rave reviews for her, Meryl was solidly in first place. We won't have any reactions to The Post until likely late November, so Meryl's predictions are based solely on the pedigree of the filmmakers. Judi Dench dropped quite a bit recently after reviews were so-so for her film, likewise for Annette Bening, but to a lesser degree. Saoirse Ronan shot up this past week as well, and I'm expecting that Emma Stone will be higher than ninth in October's first poll, after her reviews for playing a young Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes were fantastic.

As recently as yesterday, I, Tonya, the biopic of Tonya Harding had sort of fallen off the radar as it was not set for a definitive 2017 release. After being screened yesterday at the Toronto International Film Festival to mostly great reviews, including for Margot Robbie in the title role, I'm expecting it to get snatched up by a distributor soon and contend for awards.  Expect Robbie to potentially be in next month's top five.

Jessica Chastain will contend for Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game, and Claire Foy stands a small chance with Breathe, starring alongside Andrew Garfield in a film that looks remarkably similar in tone to The Theory of Everything. It would be a wonderful milestone were Chilean Daniela Vega to sneak in, as she'd be the first transgender actor ever nominated for an Academy Award. I'm disappointed, however, that after strong representation last year, the top ten I've listed includes no person of color.

I have seen zero of the films listed above, but come January, I'll have seen most, if not all. If I had to make my own guesses for a top five right now, I'd have to go with Hawkins, Streep, Winslet, Bening and McDormand. I'd list Lawrence and Dench close behind, and watch out for Margo Robbie. This is a very strong year for women in film, particularly those over 40. I certainly want to see Meryl nominated, but the best circumstance would be that she's not only nominated, but the film does well both critically and financially. Everything is in place for that to happen...on paper.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Entire original cast reportedly returning for "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!"

Dominic Cooper, who will be reprising his role of Sky in the currently filming Mamma Mia! sequel, has apparently confirmed that the entire original cast will be joining the remake.  I'm not really sure how a newspaper in North Dakota scooped this info, or maybe I totally missed that the news was previously confirmed, but before today I was still unsure if Julie Walters, for example, would complete the Dynamo trio.

The larger cast has also been updated on IMDb. Although I've never been a big fan of the original original, with everyone returning and the fact that it'll be a decade since it was released, I'm getting a little nostalgic for the movie and will probably end up watching it again soon.

Looking forward to seeing the first pics of Meryl on set!


Saturday, August 26, 2017

"The Papers" switches title back to "The Post"

Deadline is reporting that Steven Spielberg's upcoming Pentagon Papers film starring Meryl and Tom Hanks is switching its title back to The Post.  Evidently the official title was Untitled Steven Spielberg up to this point and The Papers was a previous title.  I'm glad they have it figured out, as the film is set to be released in under four months.  I wager that we might even get a teaser trailer as early as late September.

Friday, August 25, 2017

First set pics from "Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!"

The Daily Mail posted the first pics from the set of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!  Sadly, none of the photos are of Meryl, but we're treated to several of Lily James, who plays the younger version of Meryl's character Donna:


The Dynamos from L to R: Alexa Davies (young Rosie), Lily James (young Donna) and Jessica Keenan Wynn (young Tanya)

The Dynamos from L to R: Christine Baranski (Tanya), Meryl Streep (Donna) and Julie Walters (Rosie)


Some rockin' 70's fashions in these pics!  The film is set for release on July 20 next summer.