gonegirl
Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne in 2014’s “Gone Girl” directed by David Fincher.

When you’re the daughter of two opera singers, and spent your childhood observing your parents onstage in classic melodramatic fair, it’s safe to assume that you know how drama and suspense work. Actress Rosamund Pike is the aforementioned daughter of two opera singers, and it seems as if her flair for the dramatic has helped her with her latest project, Gone Girl. Adapted from Gillian Flynn’s  best-selling 2012 novel of the same name, the movie is just as suspenseful as the book. Not only that, but Pike’s performance as the complex Amy Dunne is astonishing to watch. Nominated this year for both a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role, Rosamund Pike gives a performance few actors would be able to achieve. Amy’s nuances and complexities are accompanied by the fact that viewers never really know which aspects of her personality are truthful. British-born Pike, plays New York native, and Missouri transplant Amy Dunne to a tee. Without giving away major plot points, I will say, that she plays all the layers so perfectly that for the time being, it’s hard for me to not vote for her for the SAG Awards. She legitimately plays an honest-to-goodness sociopath, and it’s fascinating to watch her transformation. Director David Fincher has always been one of my favorites, and he doesn’t disappoint. However, with both Flynn’s novel and her screenplay (which she adapted herself), I will ask her this: What’s up with that ending? 

Want to know more? Gone Girl is currently available On Demand, Amazon Prime, and also stars Ben Affleck and Neil Patrick Harris. Gillian Flynn’s novel is available both online, and at your local bookstore.

Ben-Affleck-as-Batman1Ever since the birth of drama, actors have worn costumes. In Shakespeare’s day, men dressed in drag and played women. Today, Superman vs. Batman director, Zach Snyder, released the first photo of actor Ben Affleck donning the famous bat suit. Lots of actors have played Batman. Most recently, Christian Bale played the dark knight in the Christopher Nolan films. George Clooney played the caped crusader in the now infamous box-office bomb Batman & Robin. Clooney was also famous for pointing out that the costume for his version had nipples on it. Former heartthrobs Val Kilmer and Michael Keaton also tried to save Gotham City from disaster. So, what makes Ben Affleck so different? Why are people freaking out? Is it is his famous Boston accent? Is it that Affleck playing the famous comic book hero can make a great hashtag? #Batffleck

I have a theory. In theater, when a play is originated, it has the actors who created those roles. Oftentimes, they are so iconic that it is unfathomable that other actors could do the role justice. Take Marlon Brando in Tennessee Willilams’ A Streetcar Named Desire for example. Brando took the role which he originated in Stanley Kowalski, and brought him to the big screen. Since it premiered in 1947, dozens of actors have portrayed Brando’s iconic role on stage ( i.e. Gary Sinise, Aidan Quinn, Blair Underwood, & John C. Riley) and film (Treat Williams in 1984 and Alec Baldwin in 1995 made for TV adaptations.) However, the only actor that has become synonymous with the famous “STELLA!!” line has been Brando. All of the other actors could have done damn fine jobs in the role, but it was overshadowed by one performance.  

In the case of the Batman character and its portrayal on film, I think it comes down to one key point at the present moment. The current cinematic landscape has recently become over-saturated with the character–and not just Batman, Spider-man and Superman as well. Many actors have played those roles on film. There have been SO many versions, sequels and “reboots” that I think as an audience, we’re getting a little sick of the same thing over and over. Unlike the theater, where people are used to seeing different actors play the same roles in various productions, film forever encapsulates a particular character. This might make it hard for an audience to believe several different actors playing the same character. It’s been done time and time again, and it’s not all bad;  it does beg the question as to whether or not so many adaptations are needed so soon after each other. Granted, they are money-makers, but I think we are sacrificing quality of the work for quantity of sales and box-office. But who knows? Batffleck’s portrayal might be the best one yet. We’ll just have to wait and see. For now, he’s just an actor wearing a costume.  Oh, Did you see those biceps? Good work Ben Affleck. Good work.

 

Hollywood loves Boston. 2007’s Best Picture winner was The Departed, after all. The cops were tough and didn’t take any crap from anybody.  During this past week, I have been visiting my parents in the Boston in suburb which I grew up. Never in a million years would I have thought that two bombings, 4 deaths, nearly 200 injuries, and massive manhunt would happen over the course of the week. It’s only a matter of time before Person of Interest, CSI, or even Boston native, Ben Affleck, condense these events into some sort of Hollywood epic.

However, there is a time and a place for everything. Honestly, it’s going to take time for healing to happen; both for the victims who lost their limbs and those who witnessed the horrific events. Even when we were stuck in our homes yesterday, with our eyes glued to various local news stations, it seemed like an out-of-body experience. It was as if we were watching something unfold as part of movies like this year’s Argo, or Ben Affleck’s other directorial effort, The Town. In fact, having SWAT teams and police officers go door to door in Watertown seemed as if it could have only been written by someone in Hollywood. It was as if Ed Harris’ character from The Truman Show were real and someone behind the scenes was calling the shots.

As we digest the past few days, and go forward into the next few weeks and months, we have to remember that this was in fact, real. Real lives were lost, real people became heroes. That’s one thing that Hollywood can’t duplicate. They will never be able to recreate the spirit of Boston residents, the sheer panic that we felt when it was happening, or the relief that we felt when it was all over . Some situations are best left alone and not tampered with by Hollywood. Allow us time to heal, grieve and yes, even be wicked pissed off that these horrific events have happened on our home turf. I may have moved to New York City six years ago, but my heart and my family are all in Boston. I will ALWAYS be a Boston gal. ALWAYS.  BOSTON STRONG FOREVER.

Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams in “The Fighter” (2010)

I’m a Boston gal at heart. When I moved to the Big Apple nearly 6 years ago, I retained something that could be considered a setback: my accent. I remember the first day of class at Circle in the Square Theatre School and the late K.C. Ligon telling me, “We need to work on that” upon hearing me speak. K.C. was a well-respected speech coach within the industry and I credit her and Ken Schatz with helping me ease up on my native dialect.  Fun Fact: K.C.’s mother was stage actress, Nora Dunfee, famous for her performance alongside Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump as the Elderly Southern Woman on the bench towards the end of the movie.

Being a Boston girl, I am always aware when actors can and cannot do a good “Boston Accent.” Most commonly, people think of the Boston accent as it is when done by Mark Wahlberg, Ben Affleck, or Matt Damon. But, like any accent, there are certain subtleties that set different sections of Massachusetts apart from another in terms of dialects. Katharine Hepburn, for example, had what is known as a Boston Brahmin accent which is more refined and often considered more “upper-class” than my standard, Boston accent. All I need to do to retain my accent is talk to my parents and I automatically revert back to my natural tongue.

On film, it always helps when there are actual Boston natives involved on the screen or behind-the-scenes within the production if set within the Boston area. Amy Ryan is said to have refined her speech from Jill Quigg, a local whom Ben Affleck ended up casting alongside Ryan in Gone Baby Gone (2007.) Quigg went on to appear alongside Christian Bale and fellow Boston native Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter (2010.)

As a person with a native Boston accent, I can tell you right now, that the actors I have found to be the most convincing with the accent (in recent years) are as follows: Christian Bale (The Fighter) Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone)  Blake Lively (The Town) Amy Adams & Melissa Leo  (The Fighter.) But, there are those who tend to go overboard with their dialect and it sort of  sounds like they are making fun of us.  Not cool. To illustrate how good these actors do their accents, here are some clips. None of them are natives. Although, in all of these movies, at least one or two native speakers are in the films with them. Also, my acting coach, Ken Schatz, has always said that I need to get rid of my “moshpit” in regards to how I speak. You’ll notice that oftentimes, for as much as we elongate our “A”s and drop our “R”s, we also tend to mumble sometimes. These actors seem to pull of that characteristic well.
Blake Lively (The Town):

Amy Adams & Christian Bale (The Fighter):

Melissa Leo (The Fighter) She is probably the most stereotypical in terms of how people perceive the accent :


Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone):

And for the record, we don’t all swear that much. Well…maybe we do.

Other than the fact that I think Emilio Estevez is awesome because he just so happens to follow me on Twitter, he is also one of my favorite directors. More people know him from his work as an actor (The Breakfast Club, Mighty Ducks Trilogy to name a few) or his famous family (Charlie Sheen is his brother and his father, Martin Sheen also stars in The Way.) As a director, though, he shines. Much like this year’s man of the moment, Ben Affleck, Emilio directs and co-stars in nearly all of the movies he has directed (Wisdom, Men at Work, The War at Home, Rated X, Bobby and The Way.) It’s not a bad thing to do, especially if it is done well. In both the case of Ben Affleck and Emilio Estevez, they pull off such feats quite remarkably well.

Here’s the wonderful trailer:

What’s most impressive other than the obvious fact that Emilio Estevez directed his own father in the film, is the literal journey they took during the filming. The short summary of events, according to IMDB is, “A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while traveling the “El camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself.”  According to trivia on IMDB as well, filming took 40 days which, as a Catholic, I find kind of funny seeing as the Lenten season lasts 40 days. But again, my sense of humor tends to be sort of warped seeing as I went to Catholic school my whole life (even college.) Anyways, Estevez does a brilliant job at capturing the emotion of the story and the beauty of the locations within the film.

The thing that I find most interesting about the story of The Way, is the premise seems like such a simple one. Yet, the complexities of human nature and relationships that develop throughout the film stand out as one of the highlights. Much like this year’s Argo, at the heart of the film, it’s about the people in the story. With The Way, there are no special effects and there is virtually no budget. It’s low budget, indie film making at it’s best, “Filmed with a small crew of fifty people and a couple of cameras for filming. No trailers were used, and, as Estevez jokingly remarked, neither was a director’s chair.”

The fact that Martin Sheen is one of the most remarkable actors of the past 50 years bears repeating. He’s fantastic. He’s Method. He truly takes what his current circumstances are and infuses them into his roles. As the grieving father, Tom, Sheen takes the same journey (literally) that his character is taking. In some ways, I think the physical journey helped the actors portray their characters in a more truthful light. Since the moment I saw this film, I loved it. I have to apologize for not summarizing or going more in depth about the film. That being said, everyone takes a different journey. Someone might have a different view of the film than myself and it might effect them differently than it did me. I think it’s one of the those films that makes you turn inward and examine yourself, your life and your relationships. It’s fantastic and I think more people need to see it. For what it’s worth, it’s available for both rental and instant stream on Netflix. The Way is a film that, whatever your religious beliefs, spiritual or not, it’s message of love and the power of human interaction is truly amazing. See it. Now. And Emilio Estevez, if you’re reading this, I just want to let you know that you and your father are on my list of people I want to work with one day.

Anne Hathaway showed too much nipple;  Jennifer Lawrence didn’t show any; And Oscar host Seth MacFarlane sang a song about it all. Oh, and Daniel Day-Lewis won. Surprise! <—We DID see Jennifer Lawrence trip on her way up to accepting the Best Actress award for her work in Silver Linings Playbook and the internet went crazy creating memes, gifs and bad jokes related to the Hunger Games.  Granted, if I was dressed like I was a bride-to-be on my wedding day, I’d probably trip too. Nonetheless, Jennifer Lawrence handled it with grace and humor like she always does even at the tender age of 22. She even gave a shout-out to fellow nominee Emmanuelle Riva who was celebrating her 86th birthday on Oscar night (making her as old as the Academy Awards themselves.)

Daniel Day-Lewis became the first actor EVER to win 3 Oscars in the Lead Actor category for his work in Lincoln. Even though no one was surprised, what I found the most heart-warming was the gracious, humorous and utterly breath-taking acceptance speech that DDL gave. Not surprising, given the fact that he’s won every major award for that role this season, he’s probably had a lot of practice and time to think about what he’d say on Oscar night.

Anne Hathaway took home an Oscar for Les Miserables which surprised no one as well. The fellow nominees in that category were actually looking directly at  Hathaway the entire time the category was being announced. Everybody knew. No one was shocked. Sally Field was really happy for Anne. Awesome. Did anyone notice that it was Captain von Trapp who presented the award to Fantine? Yep.

Christoph Waltz took home Oscar number two in 3 years,becoming one of the most bad-ass Oscar winners ever in my book, for his stellar work in Django Unchained.

What was most surprising of the night was the win for Best Director. The upset over that category was already brewing due to the fact that Argo director Ben Affleck was snubbed and everybody knew it. Ang Lee took home the statue for his CGI-heavy direction of Life of Pi, shocking everyone, even Lee himself.  Life of Pi, unbeknownst to me, has been the subject of quite a controversy.Since my own knowledge on the subject is foggy, you may read more about it here.

Argo won Best Picture (again, not really surprising, but really really awesome) and Ben Affleck finally got to get back up on the Oscar stage. What I find most surprising, and I’m going to play devil’s advocate at the moment, is that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, helped announce the winner for Best Picture. Ironic? I think not. Some have even been saying that Argo is a propaganda film and to be quite honest, I can see why. I can also see that had Argo NOT won, the First Lady would have been in quite an awkward position and it might have been a tad uncomfortable.

All in all, the awards were good. Not great. But good. There was a solid opening by Seth MacFarlane who ending up hosting quite a long show. For those of us on the east coast, it got over the next day, but it was still fun to watch. Something tells me he’s going to be getting a lot of calls from Broadway producers in these next few weeks due to his kick-ass singing voice.

Speaking of singing, Shirley Bassey brought down the house and showed us all what a real DIVA can sing like with the tribute to James Bond. Side note: Where were all the Bonds? I mean, they had the perfect opportunity to bring them out onto one stage.  Jennifer Hudson showed us just why she got an Oscar for her first film and Catherine Zeta-Jones tried to relive her glory days by re-creating and lip synching to “All That Jazz” from Chicago. Adele is reaching for EGOT status with her win for penning and adding her sweet vocals to the theme from Skyfall. All she needs now are the Tony and Emmy awards. Barbara Streisand matched the backdrop as she sang “The Way We Were” during the  In Memorium segment. Like Michael Buckley said in his recap, “The mirror has two face-lifts, and I like them both.” Truth. She can still sing and she looks good while doing it.

The most awkward moment of the night was when those who won awards in the minor categories seemed to come out of the wood-work. Literally. Did they shove them all in the coat room? What was with the booths to the sides? Were they not worthy enough to sit in the main area? Come on.

Kristin Chenoweth should also host the Oscars next year simply due to the fact that I wanted to hear her sing more. They truly save the best for last, and her send-off duet with Seth MacFarlane was the best.

It’s Oscar weekend! YAY!! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you’re in the business or just an avid movie buff. For the sake of time, and so this article doesn’t go on forever, I am only going to focus on the major categories: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay & Best Adapted Screenplay. And for fun…Best Cinematography.

Best Cinematography has always been a bit confusing to those who don’t really understand what it is. Basically, the cinematographer is responsible for the general visual look of the film. According to Wikipedia, they “could also be referred to as the film director’s main visual collaborator.” On a set, the cinematographer is generally known as the “DP” or “Director of Photography.” Essentially, they are the ones that the actor is going to have the most contact with (aside from the director) on the crew side. The DP can make you look amazing or make you look horrid (So don’t piss them off. Hehe.) The nominees this year run the gambit:
Nominees:

Anna Karenina (2012/I): Seamus McGarvey

Django Unchained (2012): Robert Richardson

Life of Pi (2012): Claudio Miranda

Lincoln (2012): Janusz Kaminski

Skyfall (2012): Roger Deakins

My pick for best cinematography this year is Life of Pi. I think in terms of a visual look, Pi has this one locked. It’s a visually stunning piece. However, Skyfall could also be one to watch.

For Best Adapted Screenplay, this year especially, it’s difficult. There was so much great source material that helped make great films.
Nominees:

Argo (2012): Chris Terrio

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin

Life of Pi (2012): David Magee

Lincoln (2012): Tony Kushner

Silver Linings Playbook (2012): David O. Russell

Argo might win this one because the source material is from a 2007 article in Wired magazine. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (my roommate’s favorite book,) Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick and Lincoln were all adapted from books.

Lincoln, adapted by Kushner from the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, poses a issue with me, especially when it comes to the title. I know a lot of people who went into viewing the film thinking it was going to be a genuine bio-pic of Lincoln himself. However, a lot of people I’ve talked to were a tad disappointed because they thought the title was misleading. If one is going to have a film about a specific moment in history such as the passing of the thirteenth amendment, then why not call it “Team of Rivals?” The answer is simple. Daniel Day-Lewis is the star.

Beasts of the Southern Wild was adapted from a one-act play that Lucy Alibar had previously written, so difficulty of adapting it to the screen was rather slim. And Oscar voters seem to go for complexity.

My pick (simply due to difficulty of adaptation and a fantastic script): ARGO.

Best ORIGINAL Screenplay is another story all together.
Nominees:

Amour (2012): Michael Haneke

Django Unchained (2012): Quentin Tarantino

Flight (2012/I): John Gatins

Moonrise Kingdom (2012): Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal

Zero Dark Thirty seems to be receiving a really bad reputation at the moment which I think is going to hurt the chances of it winning in both the writing and acting categories. I think it’s a toss up between Django Unchained and Moonrise Kingdom. Both are so unique and different from your normal cinema fare. But I think Quentin will take home the gold. If he doesn’t, I think the shocker would be if Michael Haneke took it.

Best Supporting Actress: Weep and Win?
Nominees:

Amy Adams for The Master (2012)

Sally Field for Lincoln (2012)

Anne Hathaway for Les Misérables (2012)

Helen Hunt for The Sessions (2012)

Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Oscar voters and viewers love the “Give me my Oscar” moments. The only one who has been consistently winning throughout awards season in every major category is Anne Hathaway (and maybe DDL, but we’ll get to him in a few.) This brings me to a question that I am asking of all of the acting nominees (whether current or past): Do you need to weep to win? Crying, weeping, sobbing, hyperventilating…they all seem like viable things to do within a role to win an Oscar. Helen Hunt did it in 1998 with As Good As It Gets. And Sally Field won 2 Oscars for playing down on her luck characters. Now, enter Anne Hathaway…playing a down on her luck single mother. AND she does it within the first 30 minutes of the film. She cries, hyperventilates, acts AND LIVE SINGS her way to an Oscar nom…and to be honest, yeah, she’ll win. I didn’t really see any other actress in that category have a “GIVE ME MY OSCAR” moment…other than Sally Field playing well, every character she’s ever played. Ever. Only with a big poofy dress. Oh, and Helen Hunt spends 90% of her movie naked, Jacki Weaver plays a supportive mother, and Amy Adams helps Philip Seymour Hoffman jack off in the bathroom. I love Amy Adams, I’m a huge fan, but an Oscar nom for that role is kind of a joke.

My Pick: Anne Hathaway. Plus, I’m a little biased because I know the back story and actually met her. Whatever. She deserves it.

Best Supporting Actor: They’ve ALL WON BEFORE!
Nominees:

Alan Arkin for Argo (2012)

Robert De Niro for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master (2012)

Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln (2012)

Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained (2012)

Alan Arkin does what he always does but his schtick got him an Oscar for Little Miss Sunshine, so he’s not all bad. However, if anyone in that movie should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor, it should have been Bryan Cranston or John Goodman. I doubt the voters will give him an Oscar for doing the same work he’s always done.

Robert DeNiro steps out of his normal tough guy persona and plays a dad who just wants to help his son get back on his feet and delivers one of the best monologues I’ve ever heard. He truly had a “Give my my Oscar” moment. And I hope for his sake, it pays off.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is one of my favorite actors. We studied at the same school with the same coaches. I love his work. But much like Amy Adams, I don’t really think he’ll win. Not because his acting was terrible, but because I honestly forgot he was nominated.

Tommy Lee Jones…you’ll probably win. If not you, then it’ll be Christoph Waltz.

Again, I’m pulling for Robert De Niro. I really want to see him win.

Now for the toughest categories (in my opinion.)

Best Actress:
Nominees:

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Emmanuelle Riva for Amour (2012)

Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Naomi Watts for The Impossible (2012)

First off, you have the oldest nominee ever (Emmanuelle Riva) and the youngest nominee ever (Quvenzhane Wallis) in the same category…in the same year… Then, you have nominees who won the Golden Globes in each of the lead actress (Drama & Comedy) categories: Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence. Although it seems like the battle of Jess & Jen, I wouldn’t discount Naomi Watts. She was nominated in 2004 for 21 Grams which is an amazing film. If you haven’t seen it, put it in your Netflix queue. Now. Part of me feels like The Impossible should be subtitled The Impossible: Desperately Seeking Oscar. I felt like the whole film was Naomi Watts screaming for an Oscar. I have to say, this category is anyone’s game.

I voted for Jennifer Lawrence in the SAG awards. I think she might just take home that Oscar.

Best Actor:
Nominees:

Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln (2012)

Hugh Jackman for Les Misérables (2012)

Joaquin Phoenix for The Master (2012)

Denzel Washington for Flight (2012/I)

Come on, even the nominees know they’re going to lose to Daniel Day-Lewis. But if anyone can beat him, it might be Hugh Jackman or Joaquin Phoenix. But seriously…do I even have to predict it?

Daniel Day -Lewis for the win.

And now for the most snubbed category: Best Director:
Nominees:

Michael Haneke for Amour (2012)

Ang Lee for Life of Pi (2012)

David O. Russell for Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Steven Spielberg for Lincoln (2012)

Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

I really hope whoever wins this decides to give it away to Ben Affleck. He got robbed. But if anyone were to win over him, I really want it to be David O. Russell. And as a side note, Spielberg…we know, you’re the best. Ben Affleck still deserved your spot.

Finally: Best Picture:
Nominees:

Amour (2012): Margaret Ménégoz, Stefan Arndt, Veit Heiduschka, Michael Katz

Argo (2012): Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck, George Clooney

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012): Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Michael Gottwald

Django Unchained (2012): Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone

Les Misérables (2012): Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh

Life of Pi (2012): Gil Netter, Ang Lee, David Womark

Lincoln (2012): Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

Silver Linings Playbook (2012): Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen, Jonathan Gordon

Zero Dark Thirty (2012): Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow, Megan Ellison

My money is on Argo. It’s an amazing film and if Ben Affleck can’t win an Oscar for directing this fantastic film, he better get one for producing it. Again, this category is filled with amazing films, but honestly…Argo for the win. Maybe Les Misérables if the voters are feeling particularly musical. Who knows?

HAPPY OSCAR WEEKEND!!!!