East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

They deserve the Oscar nominations

Helen Mirren: J. Dark pans: "The other thing that critics just love is lead characters who are fundamentally inexpressive, at which point capital-A Actors can haul out their minimalist retinal tics, lip quivers and eyebrow twitches, allowing critics to blather on about how nobody so eloquently indicates a complex inner life with nothing more than a glance, a crinkled earlobe, blah blah blah. We should never have to read that sentence again. Sure, it's a skill: a mildly technical skill that's no more challenging than being appealing or sexy, witty, smart or funny, awful or fearsome." What he doesn't note is that all those final adjectives apply to Mirren's performance here (expect, er, sexy). Point taken: Mirren isn't any better here than in Last Orders, for which she won not much. But still, granted that I've yet to see Inland Empire, it's the best 2006 Best Actress-eligible performance by a non-Asian actress I've seen, except for...

Meryl Streep: Her relaxed banter with Lily Tomlin in A Prairie Home Companion suggest she's finally relearned to be warm. But don't worry: she's still a terrific supervillain. Any other actress playing that role with an eye on Oscar would work in at least one screaming fit. Streep has the confidence in her ability (and reputation) to destroy minions at normal volume. Two caveats: she couldn't carry Anne Hathaway to a good performance (Hathaway knows when to roll her eyes and when to pout, but she's awkward compared to the rest of the cast; hey, why didn't Emily Blunt get nommed?), and she couldn't redeem the movie's product placement (Miranda a Starbucks drinker? Come on.)

Forest Whitaker: If you're a black actor who wants Oscar attention, your role options are saint, monster, cop, convict, musician, athlete. More than one of these would be better; given this, it's surprising Denzel's never played a singer. Whitaker only uses one option -- monster -- and really runs with it. Unlike Streep, he shouts -- a lot -- but he's also charismatic, even seductive in his evilness.

Other justifiable nominations: those for Letters from Iwo Jima (first Eastwood joint I haven't had serious problems with), Paul Greengrass (!), Marky Mark.

Probably deserving, will see them soon: Pan's Labyrinth (the Foreign Film list is unusually relevant), Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson, Pretty Old Tool in Venus.



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