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Once, longer than a while ago, at this time of year, I would make a list of what were, in my opinion, the year’s ten best and ten worst movies. I was writing a column, on movies, for Marvel’s Epic Magazine, and I saw that as part of the job. Not that anybody told me that it was something I had to do, or even should do. But isn’t that a movie critic’s duty? Make these year-end lists? Then, after a year or two, I realized that I was blowing about ten percent of the annual column inches available to me on the year’s worst list and…accomplishing what?
Not much. Nothing, in fact. Unless you count taking easy shots – one liner-type – at other people’s work. Might have made me appear…oh hell, what? Clever? Sophisticated? Maybe witty? Or was it snottiness masquerading as wit? »
- Mike Gold
Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer in Leo McCarey's Love Affair Leo McCarey on TCM: Going My Way, Duck Soup, Love Affair, Make Way For Tomorrow Leo McCarey's Love Affair (1939) is now mostly forgotten, whereas its 1957 remake (also by McCarey), An Affair to Remember, remains a romance classic. In the original, in place of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr we have Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne as the star-crossed lovers. Boyer would become a fantastic dramatic actor in later years (e.g., Max Ophüls' Madame De…), but here he's just Hollywood's boring version of the "suave continental." Irene Dunne, on the other hand, was one of the best actresses of the '30s and '40s. She's fine in Love Affair, though it's not one of her greatest performances. (Warren Beatty and Annette Bening starred in a widely panned 1994 remake, that also featured Katharine Hepburn in the role played »
- Andre Soares
Model and actress Doe Avedon Siegel, best known for her marriages to photographer Richard Avedon and to Dirty Harry movie director Don Siegel, died Sunday in Los Angeles. She was 86. Born Dorcas Nowell (on April 7, 1928) in Westbury, New York, she was discovered by Avedon, who married her in 1944. (Avedon herself told journalists she began her acting career while working as a waitress.) A highly romanticized version of their courtship was turned into a would-be play by Leonard Gershe, Funny Face, which finally was produced as a Paramount musical in 1957, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn under the direction of Stanley Donen. By then, the Avedons had been divorced for six years. Doe Avedon's stage debut took place in 1948, in the Broadway production of N. Richard Nash's The Young and Fair, which also featured Julie Harris, Rita Gam, and future Oscar winner Mercedes McCambridge. For her efforts, Avedon was »
- Andre Soares
The Diva Wears Prada Sweaters and Jeans for her TV profileDid any of you catch Meryl on "60 Minutes" on Sunday? She got one quarter of those minutes. Someone else noted this on Twitter, not I, but it's wonderful to imagine her prep work for these interviews. 'Oh, 60 Minutes is here? I'll just run a comb through my hair.'
My favorite bits from the 15 minutes
• On the realness of her work becoming the characters: "I'm not insane. I do know that I'm acting!"
• The moment where she "acts" her own voice to demonstrate that she and Thatcher both have "light" voices and you need to take them deeper for dramatic resonance or to be taken seriously. She was also the morning announcer at her high school so That Voice was always drawing attention to itself.
• The actreses she loved when growing up, were not contemporaries but classic movie queens: Carole Lombard, »
- NATHANIEL R
Much of our lurid film community is of the belief that America’s acting prowess died with its classic stars like Marlon Brando, James Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, and Grace Kelly. However, I’m here to argue that America’s actors are stronger than ever and can match up toe to toe with the likes of both Europe and Asia.
The list will be split into two parts: in part one, I delve into the modern world of Hollywood actors with actresses soon to follow in part two.
Part one: Top Ten Actors Working In Hollywood Today
Actor With The Most Potential To Hit It Big: Paddy Considine
Before I begin the list, I want to take a moment to discuss an actor whom I believe has enormous potential. While not American born, British actor Paddy Considine has been in his fair share of American films like In America, »
- Connor Folse
Some Serbians may be furious at Angelina Jolie and her first directorial effort, the Bosnian War drama In the Land of Blood and Honey, but the Producers Guild of America feels differently. Jolie's socially conscious film has been named the recipient of this year's Stanley Kramer Award given to "a motion picture, producer or other individual, whose achievement or contribution illuminates provocative social issues in an accessible and elevating fashion." In In the Land of Blood and Honey, a Bosnian woman is held captive — and used as a sex slave — at a Serbian prison camp while her former lover is fighting on the side of the Serbs.
- Andre Soares
I love to watch Little Women in December. Perhaps because the story begins at Christmas, when the genteel-y poor March girls decide to give their Christmas feast to a family even poorer than they are, and use their Christmas money to buy presents for their dear Marmee. That does sound uncharacteristically sentimental of me, doesn't it? I confess I always cry at That Tragic Scene in the movie, too. (I won't spoil it for the few Joey Tribbianis out there who haven't read the book or seen any of the films.) Really, I like Little Women because Jo is so very wonderful.
But which movie version of Little Women to watch? My favorite Jo is Katharine Hepburn in the 1933 adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott book, directed by George Cukor. Hepburn is convincingly boyish and delightful, I could watch her in this role for twice as long. But in recent years, »
- Jette Kernion
Bond girl, fashion icon, renowned stage actor, Gurkha champion: Joanna Lumley has had a wonderful career. But it is her portrayal of Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous that is stamped on the nation's consciousness. She talks about the new episodes of the show
Perhaps, in retrospect, it was a mistake to mention Eleanor of Aquitaine's nipples to Joanna Lumley. And yet it seemed irresistible. After all, in the 1968 film version of James Goldman's Broadway play The Lion in Winter, Katharine Hepburn makes great play of them during Eleanor's so-called desolation monologue.
Picture the scene: it's Christmas, 1183, at the Château de Chinon. Eleanor, who has been imprisoned by her husband King Henry II of England (Peter O'Toole) since 1173, to be let out only for the holidays, has spent most of the action sparring with him and his hotsy-totsy mistress, or taunting her sons, compost-smelling John, historically neglible Geoffrey and future Lionheart, »
- Stuart Jeffries
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, impersonation is fast becoming our culture's favourite form of acting. At least since Nicole Kidman's nose won an Oscar for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours, famous actors have been applauded for pretending to be other famous people: Helen Mirren as the Queen, Michael Sheen as David Frost, Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn, the list of actors nominated for Oscars for impersonating famous people goes on and on. Now we have two more to add to the list, in star turns already accumulating predictions of Oscar nominations: Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, and Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. »
- Sarah Churchwell
Watching the best of the studio's output – Singin' in the Rain, Meet Me in St Louis – is to indulge in pure joyous artifice
Fred Astaire strolls into a toyshop with a walking stick and spats, whistling. He snatches an oversized Easter bunny from a small boy and proceeds to do a tap dance using a series of conveniently positioned props that happen to be lying around on the shop floor. "I'm plumb crazy for drums," he sings, for no obvious reason. Then he takes his bunny – without paying – and nonchalantly strolls out again.
This – a scene from Easter Parade (1948) – is the sort of thing that could only happen in the fantastical Technicolor world of the MGM musical. Such trifles as logical plot development and plausible human motivation have no place here. What matters is getting as quickly as possible to the next song and the next dance and letting the stars do their thing. »
- Bee Wilson
In an already cut-throat industry, Hollywood is especially hard on actresses. The importance put on youth and a certain, narrow kind of beauty, is stifling. Even respected actresses of the caliber and ability of, let's say Julia Roberts, have to cow to the trade's criteria of being the right weight, having the right skin, the right hair, and the right smile.Every so often though, there is a flashpoint. Sometimes, a performance emerges, in the perfect film at the perfect time, that is so strong, and refined, it destroys all criteria, and smashes the boundaries that stand before it. Actresses who have battered down stereotypes and wrested the deserved respect of Hollywood include Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Ingrid Bergman, Olivia de Haviland, Julie Christie, Barbra »
Ann Roth’s Emmy nominated costume design for Mildred Pierce has received considerable press, mainly for Kate Winslet’s richly tailored suits and Evan Rachel Wood’s glamorous Katharine Hepburn-esque lounge ensembles. Yet the show’s outwardly dowdy housedresses and waitress uniforms are just as interesting. Further to our earlier essay on the former, we shall analyse the displaced sex appeal of the latter.
The sex appeal of the uniform, in this case Mildred’s plain white cotton waitress uniform, buttons at the front, trimmed in brown gingham with a simple rever collar, is entirely one-sided. Lecherous customers grope Mildred as if they have somehow earned the right. These men are aroused by Mildred’s uniform, not because it draws any specific attention to her form, »
- Chris Laverty
Sidney Poitier, Sydney Tamiia Poitier Oscar-winning Actor Sidney Poitier and actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier attend the 2011 Governors Awards in the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland in Hollywood, on Saturday, November 12. [Photo: Matt Petit / ©A.M.P.A.S.] James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope, the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies) was a long-distance Honorary Oscar honoree, as he's co-starring with Vanessa Redgrave in Driving Miss Daisy on the London stage. Veteran makeup artist Dick Smith (Forever Young, Sweet Home, Dad), however, was present at the ceremony to receive his Honorary Oscar. TV celebrity Oprah Winfrey, a 1985 Best Supporting Actress nominee for Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple, was the recipient of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win an Academy Award for a leading role — in Lilies of the Field (1963). Other Poitier movie credits include Stanley Kramer's The Defiant Ones, with Tony Curtis; Paris Blues, »
- D. Zhea
George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) has had it with the movies in "The Artist"Over at Fandor's Keyframe blog I'll be musing about the Oscar race on a biweekly basis. This week's topic is the unusual abundance of movies about movies in this year's Oscar race from Marilyn Monroe (My Week With Marilyn) to George Melies (Hugo) to Hollywood's seismic sound shift in the late 20s (The Artist). But one thing I didn't dwell on too much in the article (which I hope you'll go and read!) is the lack of Oscars won for movies about movies.
Everyone predicting a win for The Artist (2011) before the nominations are even announced should consider the following list and sobering fact: No movie about movies has ever won Best Picture.
Movies About Movies: How Do They Do With Oscar?
(Best Picture Nominees are in red)
Janet Gaynor (already an Oscar winner) was nominated again »
- NATHANIEL R
Not even a decade after Martin Scorsese's decade-spanning Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, Warren Beatty is planning his own take on the industrialist and Hollywood icon. With Beatty set to play Hughes, Deadline reports he's found his female lead in Felicity Jones, the British actress currently breaking out in the small-scale indie Like Crazy. Though you might remember from The Aviator that Hughes had relationships with several Hollywood icons, including Ava Gardner and Katharine Hepburn, Jones will be playing none of them. With Beatty playing Hughes himself, obviously in his later years, Jones will be playing a young woman who starts a relationship with Hughes's driver-- actors currently being looked at to play that role include Justin Timberlake and Alden Ehrenreich. It's unclear exactly how a love story between two young people will have anything to do with Hughes, who in his later years succumbed to obsessive-compulsive disorder and »
In our writers' favourite films series, Tony Paley saddles up for a heartwarming tale of friendship and courage in the old west
• Did this review miss the target? Fire away with your own attempt here – or get set for a showdown in the comments
Move aside Hitchcock, Welles, Ozu and Ophüls. They only managed to make what I consider the greatest movies. Howard Hawks made the ones I love.
Rio Bravo, not to be confused with Rio Lobo or the director's other pale imitation, El Dorado, is Hawks's masterpiece. And a weekend BBC movie matinee slot some three decades ago was a perfect introduction. Watching Rio Bravo demands the best part of an afternoon or evening and a particular frame of mind. It is a nigh-on two and a half hour western in which the tumbleweed lazily rolls across the main street from one character to another. Of course there are shootouts, »
- Tony Paley
Bea Arthur famously sat around the kitchen table and sliced into cheesecake week after week as Dorothy Zbornak on TV's The Golden Girls. In real life, it seems, the late actress was a more health-conscious eater. In The Dead Celebrity Cookbook, author Frank DeCaro has collected and presented an array of recipes by beloved (and dead) stars - everyone from Arthur to Frank Sinatra to Katharine Hepburn to Lucille Ball. "I miss those days when celebrities still had mystery about them," DeCaro, formerly the movie critic for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, says about his decision to write the book. »
Joanna Lumley has gone from top model in the 60s to TV stardom across four decades. Her regal charm has her cast now as a real queen. But beneath her poised surface there's a fierce personality ready to snap against injustice
Everything with Joanna Lumley is legendary. Or phenomenal. Or extraooordinary. Unless it's awful. Or ghastly. Or appaaaaalling. Nobody enunciates with the kind of clarity and emphasis that Lumley uses. Especially when she employs added urgency. At times, it's a bit like trying to have a conversation with the entire cast of the RSC. Or Henry V, on the eve of battle. But then, there are moments when Joanna Lumley, the heroine of the Gurkhas, and scourge of immigration ministers, is a bit like Henry V, on the eve of battle. Any minute now, I think she might suggest we may step once more unto the breach.
But then, there »
- Carole Cadwalladr
Vanessa Redgrave Academy Salute: From Pariah to Honoree [Photo: Vanessa Redgrave, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Natasha Richardson, as ballerina Isadora Duncan in Isadora.] Later on, at the behest of producer Daniel Melnick (Straw Dogs, Making Love) screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (The Goddess, Network) prefaced his announcement of the Best Screenwriting Oscar with the following (also via Inside Oscar): Before I get on to the writing awards, there's a little matter I'd like to tidy up … at least if I expect to live with myself tomorrow morning. I would like to say, personal opinion, of course, that I'm sick and tired of people exploiting the Academy Awards for the propagation of their own personal propaganda. I would like to suggest to Miss Redgrave that her winning an Academy Award is not a pivotal moment in history, does not require a proclamation and a simple "Thank you" would have sufficed. Chayefsky's use of the Academy Awards to make that particular political statement — that no political statements should »
- Andre Soares
Audra McDonald rehearsing for "Porgy & Bess"Theater geeks who read The Film Experience (there be crossover!) might have been wondering what happened to the stage door column. The truth is we just haven't been seeing much. This is never a question of "nothing to see" but always a matter of finances and for one quarter of each year the the not-so-small matter of Oscar Mania keeping us busy with pre-recorded actors instead of live ones. But when I'm not seeing it I enjoy it vicariously through avid theatergoing friends and through blogs. My favorite is The Broadway Blog so if you're into theater, check it out. Here's four quick film / theater crossover tidbits I wanted to share.
Audra in Rampart
- NATHANIEL R
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