Monday, January 24, 2011

The Aughts Oscar Fever

Screening the Best Picture winners of the past was a huge inspiration for continuing to write about something, or anything for that matter. It was something steady that became easy to crank out a product daily, and then lead into starting this blog!

(Home of the Oscarsss)
With the 2010 Academy Award nominations being announced tomorrow, it only felt right to have, yet, another Oscar post of some kind.

In the 2000's (or the Aughts) I went from middle school to high school and all through college! Terrifying! Lots of growing up and the years in which I could really begin to appreciate the movies that were being released. Because of this, the 2000's define film and culture to me more than any other time.

So, why not look over the great Oscar nominated performances from these glorious years?

Pregnant teens, devilish magazine editors, the man in black, and a bored housewife all were honored with Oscar nominations at one point in the last ten years, but they walked away empty handed.

Sometimes the person who actually won, can be instantly forgettable. Here are the performances that I find to be memorable out of those who kept their, "Oh, I'm just honored to be nominated" face on when another name was called.

Also, some were utterly ROBBED.

Laura Linney- You Can Count On Me (2001, Best Actress)

You Can Count On Me defines what I love most about movies. A simple, beautifully told story about the life of a sister (Laura Linney) and brother (Mark Ruffalo).

Linney welcomes her brother back into her life after he was MIA for years. They have problems, but who doesn't? Linney perfectly exudes a protective sister, who then has to struggle with her own problems taking care of a young son. This was the movie that made me love Linney, and I've never looked back.

Joaquin Phoenix- Walk The Line (2006, Best Actor)

Oh, memories. Back in 2006 is when Pheonix was still up high on my appreciated actors list. After this year...I have trouble looking at him the same. We can move on though and reflect on the good times.

Phoenix taking on the gruff as nails voice of Johnny Cash in one of the best musician bio pics is the kind of movie I wish he would get back into making again.

Colin Firth- A Single Man (2009, Best Actor)

Costumes, cinematography, and Colin all make A Single Man extraordinary. Firth, has had women falling in love with him for years, playing Mr. Darcy to Miss Bennett and Bridget Jones, respectively, but he finally found the right movie that shows off the depths he can play as an actor.

Of course we all love him diving into ponds, but this performance has only continued to further his more serious acting career. When he finally gets that deserved Oscar this year, for The Kings Speech (not trying to jinx it) I want a montage of clips from Mamma Mia! and the dancing in leather pants scene from What A Girl Wants. Incredible.

Kate Winslet- Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2005, Best Actress)

Not only one of my favorite movies, but, hands down, one of my favorite performances by any actress.

Crazy blue/orange/red/green haired Clementine (Winslet) trying to erase her relationship with Joel (Jim Carrey) who then tries to erase her, turns into a love story for the ages.

Meet me in Montauk...

Ellen Page- Juno (2008, Best Actress)

People seem to look back at the inclusion of Juno at the Oscars as ridiculous, but au contraire, I have something to say about that. At first Page seems to just be rattling off the jargony, pop culture laced dialogue, and the movie gets pushed aside as just that movie promoting teen pregnancy (yeah, I heard this from people in a film class, blah).

What gets overlooked is how Page makes you believe she is a witty, tough cookie, who can handle anything on the outside, but then she also perfectly captures the girl utterly crumbling to pieces in the emotional final minutes in the hospital. Some other actress would not have been able to handle both aspects of a story like this so well.

Streep- Devil Wears Prada (2007, Best Actress)

The greatness of Meryl Streep as magazine tyrant Miranda Priestley can be summed up in one perfectly restrained rant of a monologue about cerulean sweaters. That's all.

Dench- Notes On A Scandal (2007, Best Actress)

I forgot how amazingly evil and creepy Judy Dench was in this movie until I re-watched it recently. Utterly terrifying, though also hilarious at times, because of her ludicrous attitude.

Dench discovers that her coworker (played by Cate Blanchett) at a local school is having an affair with a student, and uses it to gain a potential new best friend forever. Have I said how much I love crazy people in movies?

Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain (2006, Best Actor)

People of my generation grew up with Ledger as a knight and also a modern day bard serenading Julia Stiles with "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You", and it was just as he was moving into adult roles, that now, he is no longer with us. 

The final moments of Brokeback Mountain, where Ledger is gripping the shirt of his love, makes my heart hurt just thinking about it and sum up why this performance still resonates today.

Julianne Moore & Ed Harris- The Hours (2003, Best Supporting Actress and Actor)

The Hours, though very depressing, is a movie I end up watching often. Listening to the Philip Glass score doesn't hurt or watching the perfectly thrown together cast either. Both Moore and Harris always stand out to me the most as I watch this over and over again.

Harris, playing a man dying of AIDS, gives a physically demanding performance, where Moore's is all about playing into quiet desperation. One scene with Moore and Toni Collette (who should have been nominated for Supporting Actress, but that's another discussion), just two 50's housewives sitting in a kitchen talking, says it all.

Samantha Morton-In America (2004, Best Actress)

I remember when my parents rented In America right after the Oscars. It was one of my first experiences in watching a non mainstream movie. Since then I have forever been in love with this story following an Irish family trying to make it in NYC. 

Patricia Clarkson- Pieces Of April (2004, Best Supporting Actress)

I know, I know, I love Patricia Clarkson and I mention it a lot, but this movie is where it all started.

Starring Katie Holmes (and the only movie I applaud her for) as a daughter trying to prove herself to her family by cooking them Thanksgiving dinner. Part of the movie shows her cooking struggles and the other half focuses on her family, including her mother, played by Clarkson, and their adventures on the road (Do they even want to go? No.) as they drive to converge at Holmes' urban NYC apartment.

As a ballsy, tell it like it is kind of mom (motivated by a problem that I won't reveal), Clarkson steals every scene she is in, from stealing a ride on a motorcycle to finally emotionally reconnecting with her daughter.

Frances McDormand & Kate Hudson- Almost Famous (2001, Both Best Supporting Actress)

Frances McDormand has been awarded with an Oscar, in her day, for an all time favorite of mine (Fargo), but I can't go on without mentioning these two ladies from Almost Famous.

McDormand scores again as a protective California mom in the 70's who's son gets kidnapped by rockstars. Not really, but she is imagining the worst as her son becomes a touring journalist with the band Stillwater.

Speaking of bands, there is no band without fans, and the biggest fan of all is Miss Penny Lane. Hudson has never been better than her breakout role, that had everyone wishing music was still cool, so we could all twirl around in an empty concert hall to Cat Stevens "The Wind". Oh, was that just me?

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