Month: July 2015

Oscars 2014 (sort-of) Round-up

Have not seen: Whiplash, Into The Woods

*Disclaimer: It has been months since I saw these films, so I’m really basing my thoughts purely on memory. Will not comment of the supporting categories and best picture since I haven’t seen all the nominees yet.

Best actress:

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1) Reese Witherspoon in Wild (5/5): I usually cannot stand this actress but over here she’s fantastic. The raw emotions and pain of her character are so fantastically brought to life that I instantly gave her the win. Watching the character gradually letting go of the demons holding her down was one of the most inspiring and moving experiences. The scene in the car where she says that she was going to “walk herself back” to the person her mother wanted her to be was my favourite acted scene of this year.

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2) Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night (5/5): Marion Cotillard is a damn fantastic actress, and like Witherspoon, she brings the characters pain and sadness to screen. Her depiction of depression and panic attacks is very realistic, but what works the most is how naturally she shows her character’s way of conquering her fears. The performance complements the realistic tone of the film, and that final “I’m happy” scene really warranted the 5 for me.

Holy crap, she’s beautiful here

3) Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl (4.5/5): I was initially crazy about Gone Girl, but now I realise that the story is pretty ridiculous. Still, when watching the film I instantly felt that the role of Amy was Pike’s to play. Her cold beauty fits the cruel, murderous and manipulative Amy Dunne and I think she added many layers to this character even though the script didn’t necessarily call for it. Even though the bitch is crazy, I actually understood where she was coming from, and I felt sorry for how her marriage turned out.

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4) Julianne Moore in Still Alice (4.5/5): In my mind, Julianne Moore should have won Oscars for Far From Heaven, Boogie Nights and The Hours, but I still highly respect her Oscar win for Still Alice. I know many people find this performance underwhelming but there’s this quiet dignity and pride in her performance that I thought was impossible to replicate. The speech was the highlight for me, but as a whole, there’s something very poetic about this performance that I liked, even if it is not the flashiest or “Oscary”.

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5) Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything (4/5): She’s the highlight of her underwhelming film, but I kinda wish that there was more power and presence to her part (despite the screentime, it feels a bit supporting). It’s still a very good performance, and I liked how she handled the inner conflicts of her character and her changing feelings towards Hawkings. That “I have loved you. I tried my best” was a 5 star moment for me because of the emotional power, but I kinda wish the rest of the performance was like that too. Still, a good performance.

How my best actress lineup would have been: Essie Davis in The Babadook (5), Reese Witherspoon in Wild (5), Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night (5), Jessica Chastain in The Disapperance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (4.5), Julianne Moore in Map to The Stars (4.5), followed by Pike, Moore and Jones like above

Best actor:

1) Michael Keaton in Birdman (5/5): I’l have to admit that I don’t love this performance as much as people do, but I still think it’s a damn fantastic one. He brings the humour, the heartbreak, the fun and the craziness to his character and makes it all work. The scene where he ran down the streets in his underwear is pure gold, (along with the direction, sound and camerawork). I can’t explain why I just don’t feel that drawn to his work here to declare it the best of the decade so far, but I still think it is original and fascinating.

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2) Bradley Cooper in American Sniper (4.5/5): I think he is an overrated actor, but this is probably my favourite performance of his. The silent strength, the tormented eyes, the toughness and the patriotism never feels fake to me. The killing scenes were also pretty chilling at times, and I liked that he added this mysterious angle to the character. I know it is a very quiet part but there is something very heartfelt in his work that made me feel for the character throughout the film.

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3) Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game (4/5): I just blogged about this so I won’t say much. He gives a great performance, but it’s a standard great performance that doesn’t really scream amazing or original to me. Still, there were some heartbreaking scenes that were really effective and overall, I liked the performance.

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4) Steve Carell in The Foxcatcher (3.5/5): Yeah, I know people bitch about this one a lot but I still liked it to a certain extent. There were certainly miss moments here and there, such as the mannerisms (I was especially disappointed in the scene with Vanessa Redgrave), but for some reason, I found myself interested in the character and his thought processes. There were also some pretty creepy moments scattered here and there, such as the helicopter scene and the one where he fired the gun at the ceiling, and it’s probably moments like this that add to his work.

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5) Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything (3/5): I don’t want to sound like I’m belittling an Oscar winner here but I feel like Redmayne’s Oscar win would have made more sense in the 40s better than today. I’ll give him credit: it’s one of the best physical transformation I have seen on camera. Unfortunately, the whole flawless scientific genius thing doesn’t work for me, and I’m someone who appreciates the emotional aspects and nuances of performances more than the physical transformation. The nature of his performance also caused him to be (imo) completely overshadowed by Jones in the second half of the film and I was more interested in her work than his. There’s nothing I can fault with his actual performance, but it just feels too safe to me.

How my best actor lineup would have been: Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler (5 and ROBBED), Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar (5), Michael Keaton in Birdman (5), Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel (5), David Oyelowo in Selma (4.5), followed by Bradley Cooper and the rest

Concluding thoughts: I’m glad that I finally got the categories I’m most interested in over with. I may/may not do the supporting categories in the future since I will most likely watch Streep’s performance next but I’m probably going to focus on other performances I’m interested in. Looking at my ratings, I feel like I may have been too harsh on the 2014 initially, but I still think it’s an underwhelming year, even if it is waay better than 2009/2010. Still, I liked the actress lineup well enough. Ah well.

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Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game (2014)

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Benedict Cumberbatch received his first Oscar nomination for playing Alan Turing in The Imitation Game (2014).

I finally decided to watch The Imitation Game after I finished Park and Recreation and was feeling as if there’s nothing meaningful left in my life (sighs, I especially love Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson and strangely enough, April Ludgate). I didn’t think it was as bad as people say. In fact, I thought it was pretty good and earned its best picture nomination, although a win would have been way too much. I didn’t think Morten Tyldum needed to be nominated for his direction though, because it does feel at times that the movie is trying to juggle too many balls, covering the war and homosexuality while trying to be a biopic at the same time. It certainly had its flaws, like the childhood scenes that felt disjointed, but overall, I thought it was an enjoyable enough film. This might also be my favourite Keira Knightley performance, considering that I usually can’t stand her. Her presence was very welcoming, and even though her role was really thin, I really liked her character and performance. It’s nothing amazing, but she might even be my pick for best supporting actress (or Emma Stone ) only because the lineup is sooooo underwhelming.

I don’t want to incur the wrath of the cumberbitches but I’m not the greatest fan of Benedict Cumberbatch. He sort of reminds me of Anne Hathaway/Meryl Streep/Dustin Hoffman at their worst: Talented? Yes. But has this self-awareness and at times, arrogance in their acting choices that can be off-putting. I feel like Cumberbatch is best at playing eccentric characters like Sherlock (which he should have won the Emmy for) because his mannerisms and delivery are so distinct that it becomes distracting when he plays “ordinary” characters, like in August: Osage County. Still, I think he’s a very good actor and I actually like his real life personality and voice.

One complain that people often have about Cumberbatch performance is that he is way too mannered. Actually, I agree that it can be a bit distracting at times, especially the stammering which I find fake. That being said, the movie was going for the angle implying that Turing was autistic (he allegedly was), and to me, Cumberbatch’s performance makes sense in this context. The refusal to make eye contact, the anti-social behaviour and abrasive personality is actually pretty well-depicted, especially is you have seen people with autism. I also felt that it became more natural in the later half of the film (either that, or I just got used to it).

Another problem I had was how I just wasn’t really interested in the character. I get that he was supposed to be this genius who wasn’t likable, but unlike, say, Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, I just wasn’t really drawn to the character or compelled to find out more about him. I know this sounds weird, and to me this is more of the script’s fault but I felt that the “tortured genius” part of the performance wasn’t really fleshed out. It’s kinda the reason why I find it hard to write this post: While the performance is very good, I just don’t find this urge to rave about it or go crazy about it.

The main thing that works for me are the emotional aspects of the performance. Although Turing wasn’t very expressive, I really felt for his character. I actually thought the best scene was when he distributed apples and awkwardly tried to crack a joke – I know many people would say that the last breakdown scene was the best (as baity as it was, it was still great), but I really felt for him at that point. I think Cumberbatch found an emotional connection to this character that can be heartbreaking at times, and I think the emotional torment that the character went through can really be felt.

I may have sounded extremely critical, but I actually liked and respected Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as Alan Turing. To me, it’s great work, but it’s great in a standard way, if that makes sense. Maybe it’s because I am not a huge fan of his style, but I think he managed to bring something special to the performance that keeps you watching. Still, it’s a deserved nomination.

Film: 4/5
Performance: 4/5 (I am more enthusiastic than I actually sounded in this post)

Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine in The Turning Point (1977)

Anne Bancroft

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Anne Bancroft received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Emma Jackson, an ageing ballerina in The Turning Point (1977).

I am trying not to launch into a lengthy post about how Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn and Geraldine Page are 3 of my top inspirations. Maybe not my most favourite actresses (although they no doubt are among my favourites), but definitely the few that I admire the most. Which is strange, considering that I actually haven’t seen a lot of Bancroft and Page’s movies (I have only seen 3 of Geraldine Page’s movies). When I was doing theatre in school, I remember repeatedly watching youtube clips featuring the greatest moments from these 3 actresses (like the table fight scene in The Miracle Worker, the seduction scene in The Graduate, the church scene in Interiors and the red dress monologue in Requiem for a Dream). Of course, it sounds as though I was treating a uni play way too seriously (there was an actual acting coach present though, so it was pretty intense), but watching these clips really motivated me and inspired me. I felt as if I learned so much about acting from these 3 actresses. Of course, I’m not saying my actual performance ever hit that level (I wish), but it was a really wonderful feeling to draw inspiration from them for my own craft.

Anne Bancroft was a really fascinating actress. She was incredibly versatile, natural, and she had this power in her work that will really hit you in the guts. It’s amazing, considering that she actually rarely goes over the top or chew scenery in her performances. I know we often describe how certain aspects of a performer are their “assets”, such their eyes or their voice, but in Bancroft’s case, I feel as though she radiates acting strength. Of course, her voice is fantastic, but you can really sense how she is always in total control of her body and emotions when she acts, which is just incredible to watch.

The role of Emma, for me, is the highlight of The Turning Point. People often point out how limited Bancroft’s screentime is and how she should be more of a supporting character. I will be perfectly honest here and tell you that I actually didn’t even notice how limited her screentime was because I was so captivated by her performance. I found her presence so strong that she turns her story into the main one of the film, and I frankly cannot classify her as a supporting role. It’s a very similar situation to Patricia Neal’s best actress win in Hud.

What I loved the most about Bancroft’s performance is the numerous layers she adds to Emma, and how naturally she does it. Emma is actually a pretty kind and nice person by nature, and it is sort of easy to see why she is so respected by her peers. Bancroft uses her unique presence to her advantage – even though she doesn’t really dance in the film, there’s this aura she emits that suggests she is (or was once) a pro.

The bitterness and fears are all brilliantly handled by Bancroft. I really felt her desperation when she is starting to lose the roles to the younger dancers, but there is this pride and dignity about her that is really respectable. She doesn’t even really cry or anything; there was one fantastic scene where she started having hiccups after being turned down for a role. It seemed like such an odd reaction and yet to me it spoke volumes about the character.

We also got to see the manipulative side of Emma, where she started treating Emilia (Leslie Browne) as her own daughter. What works for this part is how naturally it came to the character, so much so that I wouldn’t even exactly say that the character is manipulative per se. To me, it is just something that happened, because Emma has always longed for a family and I felt that the motherly way she treated Emilia was a subconscious thing. I love her reaction when she was asked to mentor Emilia; the way her eyes lit up really made me feel for her.

People often say that the weaker aspect of this performance would be the catfight scene. To me, Bancroft pulls it off even though I agree that it seemed incongruent with the rest of her performance. Frankly, I blame this on the writing more than anything. There is way too much class in Emma to engage in this kind of ridiculous hair pulling and spanking, and it probably shouldn’t have turned out this way. Both actresses managed to save it with the laughter, but I always felt that this part was a weak link for the entire film.

To conclude, I will say that I really loved Anne Bancroft’s performance in The Turning Point. I can understand the major issues people have with it, such as the limited screentime and its non-flashiness, but I really took away a lot from her work here. In fact, while I definitely don’t think she should win over Keaton, I feel like performance would have been the kind of Oscar win that people don’t mind too much, even if they don’t agree with it. A great performance by a gifted performer that gets 4.5/5. I’m not over-enthusiastic.

Shirley MacLaine

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Shirley MacLaine also received her fourth best actress nomination for playing Deedee in The Turning Point. I disagree when some people say that MacLaine had a high chance of winning because of the “overdue” factor. The Oscar was the only award she was nominated for, which just seemed unlikely. And frankly, while I think she is a movie star in her own right, I don’t think there was enough hype for the voters to suddenly swing in her direction. Of course, I am purely speculating here and I am not familiar at all with the situation back then, so feel free to correct me

Unlike Anne Bancroft, I don’t really want to talk that much about Shirley MacLaine. Do I think she’s a damn good actress? Yes. But there is something about her personality that I dislike, and unfortunately, her arrogance does show in her lesser roles. I still enjoy her performances in general though, and I do respect her a lot as a performer.

Although MacLaine has a lot more screentime than Bancroft, I frankly find her the less interesting character. There are some who prefer her over Bancroft, and there are some who do not (including me), but I will say that she does have quite a lot of great acting moments scattered throughout the film. What bugs me is that even though she is more lead than Bancroft (by virtue of screentime), you realise that her character is not as layered and she actually doesn’t really do much in the screentime she has. She has conversations with the other characters, she looks after her children, but it doesn’t really reveal anything about the character or introduce some sort of inner conflict. It’s just a portrait of a woman who has given up her career and decided to be a mother instead.

Of course, the main thing that plays out extremely well is Deedee’s regret over giving up her career for her family. MacLaine succeeds in portraying Deedee’s insecurities, and you can tell that the decision has bugged her for a very long time. Unfortunately, the performance starts to run thin and for me, it makes the character less interesting. I wouldn’t say she’s boring like some do, because I do feel for Deedee and her regrets, but compared to the complexities of Bancroft’s Emma, it’s just not that interesting. There are also a lot of great brief moments here and there, such as her happiness and pride when she sees her daughter dancing, or the jealousy in her eyes when she sees Emma’s relationship with Emilia. A lot of it has got to do with the way the character is written, but I do wish MacLaine would have went all out in bringing out the character’s flaws instead of showing flashes of it here and there. I just think that unlike the graceful Emma, Deedee’s personality requires more force and less class.

The highlight of the performance is probably the catfight scene, but to be honest, I felt that MacLaine was outacted by Bancroft in the confrontation scene. Even though Deedee is the one throwing out the accusations and “attacking” Emma, Bancroft just calmly shoots her down in this “bitch, please” way that makes her pale in comparison. The line “I’m too good” that was delivered by Bancroft pretty much sums up the whole scene. That may also have been the intention behind the scene, but I felt like MacLaine didn’t really match the level of intensity that Bancroft was giving.

The catfight scene, however, is probably more of MacLaine’s moment than Bancroft. It’s horrible writing but the “NOT MY DAUGHTER” scream really worked. I know this is going to sound weird, but I actually think that MacLaine is at her best when she gets to ham it up a little. There’s so much force and anger here that was lacking in the early scene with Emilia (cause Browne was so underwhelming too), and it made me realise what was needed for this performance. It was like a largely absent but necessary contrast to Bancroft’s quieter role.

Then again, although I might have sounded too critical, I actually have no problems with MacLaine’s performance here. I had no problems with her deliveries or her acting choices, and if you would have noticed that a lot of what I said was about what “it could have been” rather than what “she should not have done”. It’s really not a bad performance (it’s pretty good actually), and it fits the movie well, I just don’t think it is the highlight. I can live with the nomination and give it a strong 3.5/5.

The Turning Point (1977)

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Alright, this is my unofficial start of my 1977 best picture reviews. As usual, don’t expect me to complete this extremely fast – in fact, don’t be surprised if I complete this by the end of the year (which I definitely will). Of course, I hope to complete this asap too but I expect myself to not have a lot of free time in the future.

I decided to start my first 1977 best picture nominee with The Turning Point, which is the only film out of all 5 that I have not watched. Furthermore, I was very interested in watching it cause the several reviews I’ve read about it said that it was horrible, so strangely enough, it got me curious.

The Turning Point also has the distinction of being the only film, other than The Color Purple, that received 11 Oscar nominations and zero wins. And is it worthy of such acclaim? Personally, I think 11 nominations are a bit much since there are at least 2 that we can do without (more on that later). But to be honest, I actually found the film rather watchable and not as horrid as people say. Maybe this is due to the numerous horrible best picture nominees from the 40s that I’ve put myself through, but I actually thought The Turning Point was an okay film. Having said that, that’s all I think it is: an okay film.

The story revolves around two ballerinas, Deedee (Shirley MacLaine) and Emma (Anne Bancroft), who were once close friends from the same dance company. The main focus of the story is on the regrets of both characters, namely Deedee’s decision to leave her career because of her pregnancy, and Emma’s ageing and loneliness. There were some pretty complex layers behind both characters that made me interested in finding out more about them. Both actresses were nominated for best actress and gave fine performances – I’ll elaborate more in a separate post. I know many people accuse the story of being ridiculously soapy, but I was actually rather interested in it. I think what worked for me was the characterization of the two female leads (yes, including Bancroft). The gradual build-up of the feud between them, as well as the exploration of their regrets, sadness and inner demons were no doubt the driving forces behind the story. The other aspects leave a lot to be desired.

The script, unfortunately, is probably not the most subtle and borders on ridiculous sometimes. I mean, did the whole confrontation between Deedee and Bancroft really needed all those metaphors about bullfrogs and toads? Did the dance sequences really needed the voice overs of the characters? And don’t even get me started on that overblown, ridiculous catfight on the rooftop – it was sort-of saved by the talents of both actresses, but it just seemed like the weirdest and cheesiest “climax” ever. The supporting characters were also one-note and uninteresting, such as Martha Scott’s Adelaide and the other dancers in the dance company that you couldn’t care less about. The overall direction of the film is also nothing really special to me, and in fact, the story can drag out unnecessarily at times.

Still, I think the film succeeds in capturing the highly competitive, exhausting and yet fascinating nature of the profession. As someone who has zero interest in dance and knows nothing about ballet, I was really impressed by the dance sequences. The dancing talents of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Leslie Browne are on full display in this film. It doesn’t even take an expert to know that these 2 people are bloody good dancers. I still, however, question the way the dance sequences were inserted into the film. It’s as if it suddenly became a recorded dance concert towards the end. It’s not really bad since these scenes were actually enjoyable to watch, but it just felt a bit disjointed.

The two supporting nominations of Baryshnikov and Browne are probably among the most unpopular nominees ever, and I will have to agree that they are undeserved. I’m not going to bash them since you can go read an IMDB board for that. For me, I found Browne’s performance to be the more watchable one because her character actually had potential and I did feel for her at times, but her delivery was noticeably emotionless and plastic. She also obviously had problems handling her character. The changes she went through, such as her sudden anger towards her mother, felt so sudden and out of the blue that I was actually confused. Still, I thought Baryshnikov was just laughable – fantastic dancer, yes, but some of his line readings really made me laugh because he seemed so uncomfortable with them. But the worst thing is, his character is really just a prop in the entire story. Honestly, you know nothing about him and he is basically there just to show his fantastic dancing abilities then sleep with the female dancers. Even if it was played well, it wouldn’t have warranted a nomination imo.

All in all, I might have sounded overly critical of The Turning Point but believe it or not, I really had no issues watching the film. I was actually interested in watching it all the way to the end, especially because of the two lead actresses. The dancing, while overly drawn-out and out of place, was also a highlight for me. I have no problems in giving it a 3/5, although I’m leaning towards 3.5/5.

Jurassic World and Spy (2015)

I haven’t been blogging much lately for various reasons: I was busy moving to my new house and there was no wifi for four weeks (!!), I was too busy settling the administrative stuff for my internship, and the worst of all, I had an awfully high fever that pretty much killed my interest in doing anything. I know I haven’t done the 70s best picture thing for a while, and I assure you, I will definitely not give up on it (I really wanna rewatch Taxi Driver and Annie Hall). I just haven’t exactly been in the mood and I wanted to focus more on film performances, which you would have noticed I have been doing over the past few months. Also, my initial plan was to focus on the Oscar nominees of 2014 but holy crap, this lineup is really boring me. I still have Whiplash and The Imitation Game to watch, and although I heard Whiplash is pretty damn good, I will confess that I have zero interest in watching both films. I’m not even sure if I will complete the best actor lineup because I’m not the biggest fan of Benedict Cumberbatch and I’ve already seen three male performances (Gyllenhaal, Oyelowo and Fiennes) that were miles better than the actual best actor nominees I’ve seen (except Keaton I guess). I will try to watch The Imitation Game but urgh…

Anyway, I watched Jurassic World and Spy and I thought I’d share my brief thoughts on both films.

Jurassic World (2015)

Rating: 3.5/5

Positive: Chris Pratt is probably the best aspect of the movie for me. He creates a fairly likable hero without resorting to any cliche acting choices. I have my issues with the whole relationship with the raptors thing, but I think he sells it. I like Bryce Dallas Howard in general and I think she’s a great actress (Does anybody else love her in The Help?) and I actually think she does a good job over here. I know her character is a walking stereotype but I think she actually gives the character humanity. And she runs in heels! I felt my legs aching as I watched her. I mean, I’m  a guy and I don’t wear heels but that looked painful. Kudos to her.

Oh, and call me a sadist, but I thought Zara’s death scene was disturbingly great. Oh wait. I take that back. Ah who cares, she was totally a cardboard character anyway.

Negative: I am a HUGE fan of the first film, and in my opinion the animatronics>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> CGI. I realised over the years how little I actually like CGI technology and I always find them so…unauthentic. Give me makeup and robots anytime. I’ll admit I kinda rolled my eyes at the whole raptor/T-Rex collaboration thing, but it wasn’t a huge deal or anything. The film also tried to infuse several humorous/romantic moments throughout which felt awkward to me. I felt like they were trying to pay homage to the style of the first film, but that one still did it much better. I mean, who kisses when there are pterodactyls (or something else, they looked kinda different) flying EVERYWHERE? There were many lines scattered around that were obviously meant to be funny but came off as unnatural. Also, the supporting performances were a bit weak, like Vincent D’Onofrio (ridiculous character and storyline), but ahhh who cares? This isn’t the kind of movie about acting anyway.

Overall thoughts: You know what, I liked Jurassic World for what it was. I could continue nitpicking on its flaws, like whoever thought the gyrosphere was a good idea is clearly an idiot, but this is not the kind of film that is meant to be analysed and dissected to no end. I took it as a thrill ride which I enjoyed while it lasted. The CGI dinosoars took away some of the thrill factor for me because I couldn’t really buy it, but it’s a fine film. Don’t overthink it and enjoy it.

Spy (2015)

Rating: 4/5

Positive: I really liked this film. I think Melissa McCarthy gives her best performance and I’m not gonna lie, I think she deserves a Golden Globe nomination (Oscar nomination would be a bit much, though not totally undeserved). I know some people are very tired of her shtick but I actually think she’s a great comedienne and an awesome person in real life. The supporting performances are all very funny and great in general, especially Jason Statham, Rose Byrne and Miranda Hart. The plot is also not too bad, I mean don’t expect anything too amazing but it was good for what it was. The action sequences were actually really good and Melissa actually makes a good (and hilarious) action star! I loved the vulgar humour and creative insults that were thrown back and forth between the characters too – some will definitely find it a turn-off but I laughed a lot.

Negative: Nothing really. Unfortunately, I didn’t watch it in the theatre *clears throat* so the quality wasn’t the best and I missed quite a few of the funny lines. If you don’t like this brand of humour you will not enjoy this film but I do (and I enjoyed The Heat and Bridesmaids too, so no apologies there). Obviously, it’s not meant to be taken too seriously and it works.

Overall thoughts: I’ve pretty much summed up my thoughts above, so there. It’s an entertaining, no-brainer film that you watch to destress and laugh.

Diane Keaton in Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

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Diane Keaton received her fourth Oscar nomination for playing Erica Barry, a neurotic writer who falls in love again in Nancy Meyers’ Something’s Gotta Give.

I suspect that Keaton came the closest to beating Charlize Theron because she was the only other nominee who was nominated for the Golden Globe (and won as well). Thankfully, the Academy had enough sense to recognise a phenomenal performance when they saw one. I’m not saying Keaton is bad (she’s not), but there’s a reason why Theron’s performance is often regarded as one of the most deserving Oscar wins ever.

Something’s Gotta Give is standard Nancy Meyers stuff, which means, don’t expect anything too groundbreaking in terms of artistic value. Actually, I enjoyed it even though the whole thing was a) way too long b) kinda superficial and vapid at times. I mean, it’s basically a movie about rich people and the love problems, nothing more. Jack Nicholson was really playing himself, especially in the beginning, but I found him more tolerable towards the end. That opening monologue about his “love” for the younger women was really creepy though. Frances Mcdormand manages to shine despite how brief her role was.

I happen to have mentioned this before but I love Diane Keaton. I’m one of those people who thinks that shes a truly great actress, and I think she has great dramatic and comedic range. She’s more well-known as a comedic actress but I actually prefer her dramatic roles like Reds and Looking For Mr Goodbar. Annie Hall, of course, is an exception.

People often say that Diane is very “Diane” as sweet Annie Hall, which I agree and both disagree. I’ve always thought her real-life personality was more “Erica Barry” than anything – neurotic, sharp, a bit abrasive and crazy. The role isn’t the most complex or anything but I think she injects her usual greatness into it. Her comic timing is spot-on – she never misses the humorous moments. I know some find the character extremely irritating but for me she is the most interesting part of the movie. It’s clear to me that Diane herself is enjoying the role a lot, and it helps in making Erica such an interesting presence. The neurotic tics of the character is never overdone, and only Keaton can pull them off without looking annoyed or anything. I mean, that insane crying scene was so bizarre and unlikely, but she manages to sell it, making it one of the highlights of the film.

Still, the best part of the performance comes from Erica’s transformation from a tightly-wound, neurotic mess to a woman who learns to love again. Despite how unlikely the script is, Keaton and Nicholson sells their 3 days love story very effectively. Believe it or not, there’s something strangely beautiful about watching Keaton fall in love on screen, and I’ve always suspected it’s because she has a thing for Nicholson in real life (pure speculation on my part here).

Of course, if she had won the Oscar over Theron I would have flipped several tables, but at the end of the day, I think that Diane Keaton is very funny and charming as Erica Barry. Nothing amazing, just lovely work. 4/5.