filmmixtape’s Best Actress of 2015

What a year for leading actress performances. The first longlist for my Best Actress picks yielded over thirty serious candidates and it was like pulling teeth to narrow down to a final five. Fan favorites and personal darlings had to be dropped with thoughtless abandon, so forgive the many exclusions. The lineup I’ve chosen was ultimately the ones that lingered hardest in my brain and wouldn’t leave my mind.

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Cate Blanchett – Carol

  • She’s physically indicative of Carol’s mental state and intentions, but never delivers a mannered or cheaply telling moment. Her every longing and regret is so present in her physicality that she creates an aura of unspoken emotion around herself. Once she finally speaks her mind, Blanchett becomes the source of the film’s catharsis and appropriately unfetters Mara’s Therese (and the audience) anew.

Emily Blunt – Sicario

  • Blunt plays Kate as a knotted muscle of blind morals and ambition, becoming the surrogate for the audience’s increasingly unbearable tension. The film wouldn’t click without the humanity she brings to the role and her economy in suggesting Kate’s unspoken depression. The threat of violence and potential for irreparable sacrifice is plain on her face from the word go.

Brie Larson – Room

  • Filled with specificity of Ma’s pain, but open enough to acknowledge that there are things about her experience that will remain unknowable to her loved ones and the audience. She makes Ma more than a savior, but a complex woman frozen by trauma into the immature mind of a teenager. Like the film itself, Larson modulates her anguish for the sake of Jack and the audience while remaining fiercely honest.

Rooney Mara – Carol

  • Her Therese is changed by love both in the moment and over the course of the film in clear ways, but Mara never cheapens them with obviousness. She may be flung out of space, but she’s also unexpectedly plain spoken, allowing Mara’s natural screen presence to take hold. From her sense of longing, to her anger, to her cold heartache, she is always the perfect compliment to Blanchett’s Carol.

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

  • A performance that’s at its most transformative in the silences, with whole revolutions happening on Rampling’s face as her understanding of her marriage crumbles. Her consciously dissipating connection to Courtenay as she becomes more interior predicts the conclusion’s sharp turn without diminishing its impact. To put it cheaply, it’s as if she’s living on the screen rather than acting in it.

The Winner is after the jump!

Continue reading “filmmixtape’s Best Actress of 2015”

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filmmixtape’s Best Actor of 2015

The lineup below is one far quieter than is usually seen in Best Actor lineups – look anywhere on the internet and you’ll see that the current generation of film is all but completely centered on male protagonists in grand heroic or tragic stature. I found the field of leading male performances underwhelming this year, and narrowing down to a final ballot mostly easy for the few I viewed passionately. Oscar prefers things a bit more showy, and you’ll find my only crossover to be the most ostentatious of my lineup.

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Tom Courtenay – 45 Years

  • He’s thrown by the discovery of his lost love’s body, but his own recent brush with death haunts with unspoken pathos. His regrets and failings shine clearly while the narrative gaze is on his wife. Courtenay acing Geoff’s transition from despair to acceptance as partner Charlotte Rampling is on the exact opposite course is crucial in establishing her devastating arc.

Paul Dano – Love and Mercy

  • Finally given a role that puts his soulfulness center stage, Dano is more open-hearted and accessible than he’s ever been. From his charm and deep well of sadness, he makes you hear “God Only Knows” as if for the first time. He plays Brian’s invading mental illness with a helplessness that informs so much on Brian’s situation in the film’s 80s portion.

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

  • Fassbender is usually cast in roles that demand introspection or physical externalizing of buried emotion, so naturally his work in Jobs is invigorating for his verbal dexterity and stymied emotional communication. Acing the challenge shows him as an actor who can truly master any role, and one who should be considered among the top tier of his generation.

Jason Segel – The End of the Tour

  • Segel underplays each moment much in the way that David Foster Wallace tried to brush aside his sudden success. The marvel of Segel’s work is the tension built within silences, and the slow reveal his Wallace lets down his guard while revealing his deepest defenses.

Jacob Tremblay – Room

  • The complete reverse of Brie Larson’s Ma: as open and x as she is unknowable and removed. His understanding of Jack’s post-Room trauma and thawing goes beyond director-led and builds intuitively. His chemistry with Larson rivals that of any two seasoned adult actors this year.

The Winner is after the jump!

Continue reading “filmmixtape’s Best Actor of 2015”

A Peek of The Hollywood Reporter’s Annual Actress Roundtable

Every Oscar season, the major media outlets get the year’s most talked about artists in rooms for delicious conversations on their craft. The one I naturally anticipate the most: The Hollywood Reporter’s Actress Roundtable. This year’s participants are Cate Blanchett (Carol & Truth), Jane Fonda (Youth), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Helen Mirren (Trumbo), Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), and Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs).

You can read the major points online now, along with some brief clips, but the full conversation should be online in the weeks to come (also to be available on Sundance TV beginning January 10). Be sure to also take a look at filmmixtape’s current Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress predictions!

If you haven’t seen the teases on Twitter, Variety’s always charming Actors on Actors series is coming soon as well.

Side note: kudos on the colors ladies! Brie’s sharp vermilion, Carey’s smooth mustard, Jennifer’s cozy sage! I’m starting to hate the phrase, but this is what YAS QWEENs are made of.