By Alex Nagorski
(Click here to read part one of this post)
The Kids Are All Right was a gorgeous and poignant film. This is not news. Annette Benning was incredible as one half of a lesbian couple fighting for their marriage after their two children’s biological father enters the picture and proves to be the wildly destabilizing element in the family dynamic.
While Benning is receiving much deserved attention (critics predict that the battle for Battle Actress will be narrowed down to her and Portman), what about her co-star Julianne Moore? Moore was just as excellent as Benning was, and in my mind, is one of Hollywood’s most underappreciated actresses. Sure, she gets a lot of work, but when it comes down to awards, Moore is seldom recognized.
Perhaps the lack of attention Moore is getting has to do with the fact that many reviewers had major problems with her character. She was criticized for sleeping with Mark Ruffalo, another underappreciated actor in this film’s terrific ensemble. Some critics charged that this turned what started out as a progressive film into a piece of everyday heteronormative Hollywood rubbish. What went over these reviewers’ heads, however, was that The Kids Are All Right is a movie where labels simply don’t exist.
Just because the two protagonists are lesbians does not mean they are limited to a certain definition of what their sexual activities entail. The Kids Are All Right is not a movie about LGBT issues so much as it is about the basic human desires to feel needed, wanted, and even loved.
And a note to everyone out there: do not stand near any mirrors if Natalie Portman gets shafted because I WILL be having my own “WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SWEET GIRL?” moment.
By Alex Nagorski
2010 wasn’t a great year for Hollwyood. I will never understand how dreadful films like Skyline, Little Fockers, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, or I Love You Philip Morris were even financed. I’ll also never understand how Paul Rudd, who is usually so funny, lost all of his humor this year between shit-tastic movies like Dinner For Schmucks and How Do You Know.
But I guess not everything was terrible. Where there were ten terrible movies, there was one great one. And while many of these good films are receiving a ton of Oscar Buzz, a lot of fantastic performances and movies have somehow slipped under the cracks of the award circuit.
When I walked out of Black Swan, the first thing I did was turn to my boyfriend and vow that if Natalie didn’t win best actress at the Academy Awards this year, I’d boycott the ceremony from here on out.
While Natalie was inarguably the star of the film, it would be a travesty to let her co-stars go unrecognized. I’m glad Mila Kunis is getting the attention she deserves because she had that whole bohemian, laid back, eats-burgers-instead-of-grapefruit, frenemy thing down pat, but um, hello, what about the two other pivotal characters of the movie?
Although nobody stands a chance against The Fighter’s Christian Bale in the Best Supporting Actor category, Vincent Cassel was fantastic as the I-know-you’re-kind-of-a-creep-but-you-can-touch-me-anyway head of the ballet company. And how about Barbara Hershey as Natalie’s obsessive and overbearing mother?
Bitch made Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest look like she deserved the parent-of-the-year award. Hershey’s display of resentment and jealousy of her daughter—followed by her flash of genuine pride–earns a nod to compete against Mila, that really tall fetus from True Grit, and the ladies of The Fighter.
And while we’re on the topic, let’s talk about The Fighter. Christian Bale did some crack and pulled another The Machinist-type body transformation. I get it. It’s called method acting. He was as incredible as Mark Wahlberg’s burnt-out, junkie brother/trainer as his voice in the Batman films is creepily deep.
And Melissa Leo, kudos to you. You made me hate your character so much, which according to my cinematically-challenged best friend who I watched the movie with, means that you “were really good.” No arguing that.
But what about the star of the movie? Marky Mark was excellent as the man trying to step out of his sibling’s shadow and make a name for himself (cue Ashlee Simpson’s “Shadow”). Mickey Ward is the most delicate and complex character that Wahlberg has ever played (think of him as the opposite of his character in the deliciously campy 90’s hit Fear). Never has he been as convincing as he is as the gentle giant within the bulky Tommy Hilfiger underwear model exterior.
My other dilemma with The Fighter comes in the form of Amy Adams. Don’t get me wrong girl: I thought you were great. But were you really good enough to be getting all this Golden Globe/Academy Award attention?
Personally, I was more impressed with Blake Lively as Ben Affleck’s ex-girlfriend and baby mama in The Town. The fact that Lively is not getting any award attention whatsoever is clearly because everyone is afraid of giving an acting award to the star of Gossip Girl. After watching twenty minutes of one episode of that show, I completely understand that.
Unfortunately, I do think that television stars frequently get unfairly shafted on the silver screen due to the work they do on the small screen … or the 42 inch HD flat-screen. Whatever.
Or if this example dates too far back for you, anyone who saw this year’s Rabbit Hole will tell you that Grey’s Anatomy star Sandra Oh, although in a small role, nailed the part of the pothead in Aaron Eckhart and Nicole Kidman’s support group and who ultimately becomes Eckhart’s temptress into potential adultery. But wait, Oh is also on a cheesy primetime television show, so her name won’t even be on the waiting list of the awards ballot.
So to Lively and Oh, just know that at least one person recognized your work this year.