Monday, December 31, 2007

the movie year. 2007. acting up

Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"? Let's see. She puts on a wig and a pair of sunglasses, mumbles her dialogue and a bunch of impressionable critics (who should know better) are reduced to drooling fools.

I don't get it.

Ellen Page in "Juno"? Exactly what's the fuss? She plays a creepy, preternaturally articulate teenager who actually talks like a jaded, middle-aged screen writer and, well, jaded, middle-aged critics are reduced to writing veritable love letters to her.

I don't get it.

Daniel Day-Lewis in "There'll Be Blood"? He comes out of "retirement" like clockwork every five years and the critics immediately start talking Oscar. In this case, he does an extended vocal impersonation of John Huston, although not nearly as good as Albert Finney's in "Annie" (which was actually directed by Huston).

I don't get it.

So exactly who gave the best performance of the year?

My vote goes to Chris Crocker, the 20-year-old Britney Spears fan whose tearstained My Space plea, unofficially titled "Leave Britney Alone," has totaled something like 45 million plays so far. Beyond that, it's a tight, tidy performance that's simplistic in execution and that actually builds convincingly in power. He makes his heartfelt point in far fewer minutes than most overlong Oscar-bait movies.

Am I serious? Am I kidding? My answer to one of those questions is no.

In the meantime, here are the professionals who impressed me:

Best Actress: Laura Linney, a criminally neglected actress, always overlooked, who knocks out all the competition with her turn as one of the two grown children in Tamara Jenkins' "The Savages."

Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, so good this year in "The Savages" and "Charlie Wilson's War," actually topped himself (and every other actor) in Sidney Lumet's "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead."

Best Supporting Actress (shared): Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave who individually take on the crucial role of Briony Tallis at different ages in Joe Wright's "Atonement." The gifted Ronan has been reaping most of the praise, but it's that reliable chameleon Garai who has the most difficult, transitional role here.

Best Supporting Actor: Hal Holbrook, a grizzled vet who had his belated breakthrough in films last year in Sean Penn's "Into the Wild."

Best Ensmble: The cast of Adam Shankman's
"Hairspray" - Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Michelle Pfeiffer, Queen Latifah, Christopher Walken, Zak Effron, Allison Janney, Elijah Kelley and Brittany Snow. Not a bad performance among them.

(Artwork: Laura Linney, with Philip Seymour Hoffman, in "The Savages"; Britney fan extraordinaraire Chis Crocker; Saoirse Ronan as the young Briony in "Atonement," and Christopher Walken and John Travolta, representing the ace ensemble of "Hairspray")

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Anyone interested in perusing some 2060 of my film reviews, dating back to 1994, can do so by simply going to RottenTomatoes.Com


Betty Morgan said...

Laura Linney is a national treasure. Thanks for acknowledging her

joe baltake said...

I'm going to devote a post to all the great work she's done, listing her films. I think you'll be impressed by how multi-facted she is. Julianne Moore had her day in the sun, Cate Blanchett is currently enjoying hers. Now it's Linney's turn.

jbryant said...

Linney is my favorite of the three you mention. I think the only time she's disappointed me was in The Truman Show. I recall finding her a bit broad for my taste in that one. Moore has been great, especially for Todd Haynes, but she's picked her share of clinkers. I respect Blanchett's talent, but I must say I wasn't blown away by some of her most acclaimed roles, such as Elizabeth and The Aviator. Haven't seen Notes on a Scandal or I'm Not There yet.