Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Best Actress 2017: Judi Dench in "Victoria & Abdul"

I managed to get myself to the theater recently to catch a showing of Victoria & Abdul. It was 1997 when Judi Dench sort of burst onto the Oscar scene for her performance as Queen Victoria in Mrs. Brown. I'm sure to this day, many believe she was deserving of the award for Best Actress, which she lost to Helen Hunt in As Good as It Gets. Fast forward twenty years, and she's portraying the same character, this time in the queen's final years, when she meets and forms a bond with an Indian subject named Abdul Karim. 

The film itself is fine. I'm a big fan of movies depicting British monarchs, so I'd have been OK seeing it even if there weren't buzz around Dench. I definitely prefer Mrs. Brown, as V&A was pretty predictable and sanctimonious at times. They did a nice job of depicting how awful her family was to Karim (and to her), as her affections for this man disrupted the normalcy of the royal family. 

At this point in the season, Dench is most likely not going to crack the top five for Best Actress. But she does have a few things going for her: one, she's Judi Dench, and the Academy loves her. Two, it's a rather good performance from her, even if the film itself is only at 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. Three, it's been doing quite well at the box office (at least foreign), as it's taken in $60 million worldwide. 

This wouldn't be the first time an actor was nominated twice for the same role. Coincidentally, Cate Blanchett did it for portraying another English Queen, Elizabeth I in Elizabeth, and then nine years later for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I happen to think both she and Dench were robbed for the former of their two films. 

Right now, although The Post has yet to screen (I believe the first will be for Academy members on Sunday in New York), the top five contending for Best Actress seem to be fairly firm at this point, with Meryl, Frances McDorman (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird) and Margot Robbie (I, Tonya). Even though there will apparently be an embargo on reviews after The Post's screening this weekend, I'll keep an eye out for any prediction changes from pundits who were privy to reactions from the Academy. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Anna Wintour interviews Meryl Streep about "The Post"

I thought this was a joke when I first saw the headline, but it's not. And it's amazing. I love listening to Meryl talk about stuff like this and didn't think it was possible to enjoy her any more than I already do, but this may have done it. Check out the special Vogue December cover below. Let the campaign officially begin.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

First trailer for "The Post"

I was up pretty late watching the returns come in for the Minneapolis mayoral race and thank goodness I did, as just before I was about to close my laptop and head to bed, I got an alert that Stephen Colbert premiered the first trailer of The Post on his show tonight:

As is typical, when I've been impatiently waiting for something like this to drop, it's difficult for me to be objective right out of the gates. Main reaction is that the trailer really puts Meryl front and center, in that this is a story chiefly about her character. Many pundits have questioned how large of a role she'd have.  This, in my opinion, puts that curiosity to rest.

Friday, November 3, 2017

New production stills from "The Post"

A pair of new production stills were released today by Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times:

Both are of Meryl with Tom Hanks. I'm guessing the first one might be from one of, if not the very first scene of the film, in which Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee get introduced to us and we learn about their prickly relationship over a lunch meeting. The two photos make the cinematography and production design look very high quality. Janusz Kaminski (director of photography) works with Steven Spielberg on almost all of this films, and the window lighting in the top pic seems very much him.

With the handful of stills that have been released over the past two days, my guess is that we can expect the trailer this week, hopefully sooner than later. Gird your loins.