Never Nominated: 16 Actresses Who Were Never Nominated For An Oscar


The late actress Deborah Kerr was nominated for six Oscars over the course of her distinguished career.  She never won and, in fact, she currently holds the record for the most Best Actress nominations without a victory.

But, at least, Deborah Kerr was nominated!

The 16 actresses below have never been nominated for an Oscar, despite some excellent and compelling performances.  10 of them still have a chance to be nominated.  Sadly, 6 of them are no longer with us.

  1. Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt came close this year.  She received a SAG nomination for her performance in Girl On The Train and some of the critics groups also honored her work.  However, when the Oscar nominations were announced, Meryl Streep was nominated for a film nobody saw and Emily Blunt was nowhere to be seen.  This year, she’s in good company, as neither Amy Adams nor Annette Bening picked up expected nominations either.  Personally, I didn’t care much for Girl on the Train.  I would have much rather seen Blunt nominated for Looper, Sicario, or even Edge of Tomorrow.  Blunt will be nominated eventually.

2. Dale Dickey

You may not know Dale Dickey’s name but you’d recognize her if you saw her.  She usually plays characters who are strong, outspoken, and occasionally a little scary.  You never want to get on the bad side of someone played by Dale Dickey.  To date, Dickey’s most award-worthy role was in Winter’s Bone.  She also had a memorable (if small) role in Hell or High Water, playing the bank teller who, when asked if the men who robbed her were black, replies, “Their skin or their souls?”

Melancholia

3. Kirsten Dunst

As a result of Bring It On, Dunst is often thought of as being the ideal cheerleader.  But, by far, her most award-worthy turn was in a film that was about as different from Bring It On as possible, Melancholia.  Dunst was just twelve when she was first mentioned, for her performance in Interview With A Vampire, as a potential nominee.  She was also very good in Marie Antoinette and the overlooked Crazy/Beautiful.  Dunst fell off the radar for a while but she’s been quietly making a comeback.

4. Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig is my spirit animal.  She deserved a nomination for Francis Ha and for Damsels in Distress before that.  She’ll be nominated some day.

5. Rebecca Hall

Rebecca Hall received some Oscar buzz last year for Christine.  I haven’t seen Christine but I think that her performances in 2008’s Vicky Christina Barcelona and especially 2010’s Please Give were criminally overlooked.

6. Katharine Isabelle

Though Isabelle is best known for Ginger Snaps, I think she deserved a nomination for last year’s underrated 88.  One of the best actresses working today, Isabelle will hopefully get a role worthy of her talents.

Film Review Under the Skin

7. Scarlett Johansson

It’s a bit of a shock that Scarlett Johansson has yet to be nominated.  Her work in Lost in Translation was just as important to that film’s success as Bill Murray’s.  And her performance in Under the Skin remains one of the bravest pieces of acting to ever be put on screen.

8. Ashley Judd

Unfortunately, Ashley Judd now seems to be more concerned with political activism than acting.  It’s been a while since she’s appeared in a really great role (and no, the Divergent movies don’t count).  Judd’s best work came in the 90s, when she gave award-worthy performances in Ruby in Paradise, Heat, and especially Normal Life.

9. Kelly MacDonald

Scottish actress Kelly MacDonald doesn’t make enough movies but it’s still hard not to feel that she’s been overlooked by the Academy.  Not only did she hold her own in Trainspotting but her performance in No County For Old Men provided that otherwise cold film with a much-needed heart.

Kristen Stewart

10. Kristen Stewart

Kristen Stewart managed to survive the Twilight films and has emerged as a consistently interesting actress.  Her work in Clouds of Sils Maria won her a Ceasar but was overlooked by the Academy.  Before that, Stewart did excellent work in Into the Wild, Adventureland, Still Alice and Welcome to the Rileys.

Sadly, these six unnominated actresses are no longer with us:

  1. Rita Hayworth

That the wonderful Rita Hayworth was never nominated — not even for Gilda — is nothing less than mind-blowing.

2. Myrna Loy

Myrna Loy was an actress who was such a natural that she made it look easy.  Perhaps that’s why she wasn’t even nominated for The Thin Man.

Marilyn

3. Marilyn Monroe

Perhaps one of the most tragic actresses in the history of Hollywood, Monroe was never nominated despite giving some of the most iconic performances in film history.  I would even make the case that she deserved a nomination for her tiny cameo in All About Eve.

4. Maureen O’Hara

Despite great performances in classic films like The Quiet Man and Miracle on 34th Street, Maureen O’Hara was never nominated for the Oscar she deserved.

detour1

5. Ann Savage

You may not recognize the name but if you’ve ever seen Detour, you know Ann Savage.  Savage largely appeared in low-budget noirs and she always gave performances that were just as fierce as her last name.

Edie!

Edie!

6. Edie Sedgwick

Sadly, Edie never got a chance to play a truly award-worthy role.  Actually, since almost all of her films were underground Andy Warhol movies, it’s debatable whether she ever played a role at all.  During the 1960s, as one of the top models in New York (a so-called “youthquaker”), Edie was best known for being herself.  But, whenever I see Edie in an old Warhol film like Vinyl or even in something like Ciao! Manhattan, I see what a great actress she could have been if she’d only been given the chance.

Edie Sedgwick (1943 -- 1971)

Edie Sedgwick (1943 — 1971)

Film Review: Hell or High Water (dir by David Mackenzie)


The Texas-set film Hell or High Water features four excellent lead performances.  There’s Chris Pine and Ben Foster, playing brothers and robbing banks.  And then there’s Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham, as the two Texas Rangers who are attempting to hunt the brothers down.

But for me, my favorite character was the waitress who, during the latter half of the film, serves lunch to the two Texas Rangers.  When Bridges asks her how she’s doing, she replies, “Hot and not in the good way.”  When the two Rangers start to order their food, she stops them and tells them that everyone who comes in the diner orders the same thing except for one “asshole from New York” who tried to order a trout.  “We ain’t got no goddamn trout!”  It’s a short scene but it’s one of my favorites because, if you’ve ever spent any time in West Texas, you know that this scene is probably the most realistic in the entire film.

My second favorite character was a banker teller played by the great Dale Dickey.  When the Rangers ask her if the men who robbed her bank were black, she replies, “Their skin or their souls?”  You just have to hear the way that she delivers it.  In theory, that should be an awkward line but Dale Dickey makes it sound totally natural.

In fact, everything about Hell or High Water seems totally natural.  For a film about bank robbers, it’s actually a deceptively low-key film, one that is as memorable for its quiet moments as its shoot outs.  When the violence does come, it’s all the more jarring because the movie has spent so much time focusing on the tranquil stillness of the West Texas landscape.

(That said, I should point out that the film was actually shot in New Mexico.  But, quite frankly, New Mexico is pretty much just West Texas with more Democrats.)

Hell or High Water is a film that’s all about the little details.  The film opens with a bank robbery and, as the camera gracefully circles the bank, we catch a glimpse of graffiti announcing that the artist did 4 tours in Iraq and that “bailouts (are) for banks, not for me.”  At its heart, Hell or High Water is about the many people who have been left out of this so-called “economic recovery,” in which we’re all supposed to have such faith despite having seen little evidence of its existence.  While the rich get richer, the struggle of the people in Hell or High Water is ignored by everyone but them. And so, the people do what they can to survive.  For some, that means robbing banks.  For others — like a wonderfully snarky group of witnesses in a diner — that means refusing to admit that they saw anything happen.  If you want to see a realistic portrait of economic uncertainty and populist revoltuon, don’t waste your time with the cutesy bullshit and bourgeois Marxism of The Big Short.  Watch Hell or High Water.

Of course, not everyone is willing to turn a blind eye to the bank robbing brothers.  Hell or High Water is not just about economic anxiety.  It’s also about the unique struggle of being a bank robber in a part of the country where literally everyone has a gun.  (During one robbery, Pine asks an old customer if he has a gun on him.  “Damn right I got a gun on me!” the old man snaps back.)  As opposed to so many other films, Hell or High Water gets West Texas right.

(It’s probably not a coincidence that we’re told the brothers robbed a bank in Archer City, the home of legendary Texas writer, Larry McMurtry.)

As for the film’s cast, Jeff Bridges and Ben Foster get the two “showiest” roles.  Jeff Bridges plays a Texas Ranger who is only a few days away from retirement and who enjoys needling his partner.  (One of the main delights of the film is the comedic interaction between Bridges and Gil Birmingham.)  Ben Foster is the more reckless of the two brothers, an ex-con who declares that everyone is his enemy but, at the same time, shows himself to be willing to do anything to protect his brother.  Both Bridges and Foster give excellent performances and Foster, in particular, reminds us that he’s one of the most exciting actors working today.

And yet, for me, the true anchor of the film is Chris Pine.  Chris Pine, of course, is best known for starring in the last three Star Trek films.  And while he was always an adequate lead in those films and he gave a wonderfully self-aware performance in Into The Woods, none of his past films prepared me for just how good a job he does in Hell or High Water.  Pine gives a quiet and rather subtle performance and, when we first see him, we automatically assume that he’s been dragged into the criminal life by his more flamboyant brother.  But as the film progresses, we start to realize that there’s more to both the character and to Chris Pine as an actor.  By the end of the film, we’re forced to reconsider everything that we previously assumed about everyone.

Speaking of end of the film — let’s just say that Hell or High Water has one of the best final scenes of 2016.  Like the film itself, it’s deceptively low-key but it leaves you reeling.

It took me a while to see Hell or High Water but I’m glad I did.  Come Hell or high water, you should see it too.

Embracing the Melodrama #57: Winter’s Bone (dir by Debra Granik)


winters-bone

I can still remember what it felt like, back in 2010, as I stepped out of the theater where I had just watched Winter’s Bone.  I had just spent 100 minutes engrossed in that film’s world and it was somewhat jarring to suddenly find myself back in my world.  The air around me was still.  The clear sky above me seemed to be a totally new shade of blue.  The sounds of passing cars and overheard conversations echoed in my head.  When I walked, I felt as if I was moving at a different, dreamier pace than everyone else, as if I was still only partially back in my world.

That’s the type of film that Winter’s Bone is.  It’s a film about life on the fringes, a portrait of a very real part of America that a lot of people don’t even realize exists.  It’s a film that sticks with you and dares you to try to forget the people who it has introduced you to and the stories that it tells.

Winter’s Bone takes place in the Ozarks, a society and world that is dominated by meth and secrets.  Speaking as someone who still has family who live on the outskirts of the world depicted here, I can say that Winter’s Bone gets both the big picture and the little details right.  Everything from the unbreakable cycle of poverty to the defiant resilience of the people is depicted just as it is.  Make no mistake about it — the people in Winter’s Bone may not have much but they do have their pride.  It’s portrayed best in the scene where meth head Teardrop (John Hawkes) glares down the county sheriff (Garret Dillahunt), letting him know that, regardless of who is wearing the uniform, this is Teardrop’s world.

Teardrop is the uncle of 17 year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence), who is considering joining the army once she graduates from high school but, for now, spends all of her time taking care of her mentally ill mother and her two younger siblings.  Her father, who is one of the county’s best meth cooks, was recently arrested and has a court date approaching.  However, he has apparently skipped bail and disappeared.  When Ree is told that, unless her father shows up for his court date, she and her family will lose their house, Ree sets out to try to find him.

05_Flatbed_1 - JANUARY

Ree, however, knows that her father would never have jumped bail and she also knows that there’s no way he died in a meth lab fire, as some people are claiming.  She knows that her father has been murdered but, unlike Teardrop, Ree has no interest in getting revenge.  She just wants to find his body so she can prove that he’s dead and her family can keep their home.  Unfortunately, even this brings Ree into conflict with the local crime boss.

Taking place on a blasted landscape of dilapidated farms, rusty pickups, and the burned ruins of abandoned meth labs, Winter’s Bone is an unusually powerful piece of Southern gothic. It’s also a film that — unlike a lot of other acclaimed movies — actually gets better with repeat viewings.  When you first see it, you’re overwhelmed by the film’s bleakness.  When it ends, you’re not sure if you should be happy or sad.  The second time, however, you can better appreciate the skill with which director Debra Granik tells her story, the way she frames Ree against the landscape as if Ree was the lone hero in a classic western and how the scenes where Ree searches for her father in a swamp are full of shadows and menace.  The third time, you can better appreciate the performances of characters actors like John Hawkes, Garret Dillahunt, and especially Dale Dickey.  The fourth time, you no longer have any doubts.  Winter’s Bone is one of the best films that you’ve ever seen.

And, through it all, Jennifer Lawrence is there and reminding you why she became a star in the first place.  She may have won her Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook and she may be best known for being the face of The Hunger Games franchise but Winter’s Bone remains Jennifer Lawrence’s best and bravest performance.  Without a hint of vanity or reluctance, Lawrence portrays Ree as a resilient and unsentimental survivor and you can’t help but cheer her on as she refuses to back down to any authority, legal or otherwise.  By the end of the film, you know that Ree is probably as trapped as anyone but you can’t help but hope that she’ll somehow find something better.

If you haven’t seen Winter’s Bone, you need to.

Target Practice

Review: True Blood S5E12 “Save Yourself”


(BE WARNED!  SPOILERS AND PROFANITY AHEAD)

As I sit here writing this, it’s been about an hour since the 5th season finale of True Blood and I’m still trying to figure out how to start my review of the episode.  Foolishly, I’ve got the finale of that terrible Aaron Sorkin male egofest, The Newsroom, on for background noise and I’m hoping that it ends with the entire cast getting staked and exploding into red goo.  It’s only a distraction though from confronting the issue of what happened during the final five minutes of True Blood tonight.

Seriously — what the fuck was that?

Up until Bill drank what remained of Lilith’s blood, the season finale was playing out in a rather predictable fashion.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was exciting and there were plenty of good scenes but it all felt somewhat familiar and I was fairly sure that Eric and Sookie would confront Bill and Sookie would be able to talk some sense into him.  I knew there would be some sort of macabre twist at the end because it is True Blood and all.  I thought maybe Lafayette’s demon would pop up or maybe Roman would suddenly materialize out of thin air.  What I was not expecting was that Bill would dissolve into a red puddle just to then suddenly rise out of the pool of blood as some sort of male Lilith.  As Sookie so correctly put it, “Fuuuuuuuuuck….”

Though tonight’s finale was dominated by the fall of the Vampire Authority, there were a few other things going on.

First off, dumbass Andy is now a father as Maurella, the faerie he impregnated earlier this season, gave birth to four girls.  Somewhat inconveniently for Andy, she did so at the exact same time that he was trying to explain the situation to Holly.  Even more inconveniently, Maurella then promptly vanished, leaving Andy to raise the four babies.  To be honest, I wasn’t really a huge fan of this plotline when it was introduced last week and I’m still not.  That said, it could be interesting to see, in season 6, how all the show’s vampires react to having four new sources of faerie blood in Bon Temps.  Especially since it now appears that humans, vampires, and practically everyone else is going to be very much at war with each other.

Speaking of war, the war for control the wolfpack was finally resolved during tonight’s episode and, not surprisingly, it was won by Alcide who not only defeated J.D. but killed him as well.  A friend of mine e-mailed me during the show to say, “I know you ladies love this Alcide guy but the werewolves bore me shitless…” I have to say that my friend is right on both counts.  We do love Alcide and yes, the werewolf storylines are never as interesting as whatever’s going on with the vampires.

And, believe me, a lot was going on with the vampires tonight.

Last week ended with Russell, having just feasted on a faerie, now approaching the faerie night club while Sookie and friends vainly tried to hold him back.  Tonight’s episode began with Eric and Nora conveniently showing up and promptly saving the day by killing Russell.  That’s right — Russell exploded into red goo.  He’s dead and you know what?  I’m going to miss him.  Denis O’Hare brought such a wonderfully decadent sense of evil to the show and, to be honest, it was hard not to feel that he (and the character) deserved a better send off than just being killed during the pre-credits sequence.

I was probably not alone in hoping that the Rev. Newlin would be killed right alongside Russell but instead, the sleazy little toadsucker managed to scurry off and was missing for the rest of the episode.  This, however, did prove convenient for Sam and Luna because, with Newlin nowhere to be found, that allowed Luna to shift into Newlin’s form and then try to walk out of the Authority HQ with Emma (who was still in adorable wolf puppy form).  In the past, I’ve often felt that Michael McMillan has gone a bit overboard with his performance as the Rev. Newlin but he deserves all the credit in the world for his performance in tonight’s episode.  Luna-as-Newlin was a wonder to behold.

Unfortunately, right when Luna/Newlin is on the verge of escaping on wolf puppy, she’s grabbed by a very angry Rosalyn.  Apparently, the video tape of Newlin and Russell attacking that frat house has been released by the U.S. Government and Rosalyn drags Luna/Newlin downstairs to the media room so that she can do an interview and practice a little damage control.  However, during the interview, Luna/Newlin starts to have convulsions and shifts back into Luna form.  Before she apparently faints, Luna manages to tell the world that humans are being held captive at the Authority HQ.  I’m not really sure what was happening to Luna, if it was a lingering effect of her having been shot earlier this season or something even worse.  Fortunately, for Luna, she was saved from Rosalyn’s wrath by Sam who, having shifted into a fly earlier, flew into Rosalyn’s mouth and then apparently shifted back to human form inside of her, causing Rosalyn to explode into one big mess.

While this was going on, the Authority HQ was being attacked by Eric, Nora, Sookie, Tara, and Jason (who, oddly enough, is now having hallucinations where his dead, and surprisingly bigoted, parents talk to him).  After killing every vampire that they come across and freeing Jessica and Pam (which leads to a Pam/Tara makeout session), Eric and Sookie go to confront Bill, who has just finished staking the final member of the authority, Salome.

And that, of course, led us to this season’s final scene — Bill being reborn as some sort of blood God.

So, is Bill now truly evil?  Are Pam and Tara a couple?  Is Jason going crazy?  Is Luna dying?  Can a war between humans and vampires be prevented?  And who, in their right mind, would trust dumbass Andy with one baby, let alone four?

For answers to all of those questions, we’re going to have to wait until season 6…

Random Observations

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 60.
  • I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with tonight’s finale.  It’s not that it was a bad episode as much as it just really annoyed me that, after taking so long to reach this point, tonight’s finale still didn’t resolve or explain much of anything.  Nor did it even really attempt to.  That said, I’ll still return to watch season 6 so, obviously, tonight’s episode must have done something right.
  • Again, I was disappointed with how easily Russell was finally dispatched.  I also wish that Rosalyn and Salome hadn’t been killed off as they were both interesting characters and I think the series could have done more with them.
  • I also felt bad for Chelsea, the receptionist.  My sympathy is always with the receptionists.
  • Does Lafayette still have that demon inside of him?
  • Is Emma going to be in Wolf Puppy form forever?
  • I have mixed feelings about season 5 on True Blood.  It definitely was not a season to use to introduce someone to True Blood for the first time.  That said, I also think that this season featured a lot of really good moments and I’m looking forward to Season 6.
  • Hopefully, Season 6 will not feature any Iraqi fire demons.
  • I also had a lot of fun recapping each episode here on the Shattered Lens and thank you to everyone who read them!  It was fun!
  • By the way, The Newsroom did not end with Jeff Daniels getting a stake driven through his heart and that’s a shame.

Review: True Blood S5E10 “Gone Gone Gone”


Before I talk about tonight’s episode of True Blood, I have to offer up an apology to you, my wonderful readers.  I’m running a bit behind on writing this review because, as a result of bad weather in my area of the world, I did not get to see tonight’s episode when it was first broadcast.  Instead, I had to wait for the second showing and now, I find myself rushing a bit as I attempt to write up my thoughts on “Gone Gone Gone”

My initial response to “Gone Gone Gone” was one of very genuine surprise.  As a character, Hoyt’s been pretty annoying as of late.  Over the course of this season, he’s managed to establish himself as such an irredeemable dumbass that even Andy has started to look better by comparison.  I mean, seriously — how much sympathy can you have for someone who nearly gets everyone killed just because he somehow managed to accidentally join up with a bunch of murderous rednecks?

And yet, the best moments of tonight’s episode all centered around Hoyt.  Having finally figured out that there’s nothing left for him in Bon Temps (which, incidentally, mirrors the fact that showrunner Alan Ball has probably figured out that there wasn’t really anything left to do with Hoyt as a character), Hoyt announced his intention to move to Alaska and get a job working with a drilling crew.  However, before he left, he had a final meeting with Jessica and Ryan and, in a scene that was surprisingly moving, Jessica erased Hoyt’s memory and finally granted him the peace that he’s spent this season so desperately searching for.

As powerful as that scene was, it was nothing compared to Hoyt’s final appearance in the episode (and, I assume, the series as a whole).  When Jason pulled the oblivious Hoyt over for speeding, Hoyt greeted him by asking if he was related to Sookie.  Despite the fact that Hoyt no longer remembered him or their friendship, Jason still got a chance to say goodbye to his former best friend before going back to his cruiser and sobbing as Hoyt drove off.  This scene was especially well-played by Ryan Kwanten, who has really come into his own as an actor this season.  More and more, it’s hard not to feel that Jason has become the show’s moral center and who would have guessed that when season 5 first started?

In other Jason news, he and Sookie discovered a parchment that was hidden under the floorboards in Sookie’s bedroom.  After several attempts to get the odd writing on the parchment translated, they took it to the faeries who informed them that the parchment was a contract that essentially promised the first-born Stackhouse of fairy origin to someone named Warlow (who, I’m assuming, is the same vampire who killed Sookie’s parents).

The rest of tonight’s episode was pretty much centered around the vampires.  Because of the “terrorist” bombings of the True Blood factories, vampires are starting to feed on human beings.  (Among the unfortunate human victims is the county coroner who, after he turns into a vampire, ends up attacking Sookie and, in a funny if implausible twist, gets staked by a pair of chopsticks.)  Elijah, the greasy-haired sheriff who showed up at the end of last week’s episode, made the mistake of attempting to bully both Tara and Pam.  Tara reacted by killing him and for that, I say, “Yay, Tara!” because Elijah was seriously not a character that I was looking forward to spending too much more time with.  

Meanwhile, Rev. Newlin and Russell are continuing their creepy little courtship and Newlin is still keeping wolf puppy Emma as his personal pet.  Fortunately, Sam and Luna shifted into two of the most adorable white mice that I’ve ever seen and, as tonight’s episode concluded, they had managed to infiltrate the Authority’s underground bunker.

Bill, meanwhile, appears to have truly gone over to the other side as, during tonight’s episode, he continued to drink Lillith’s blood and even “arranged” for Eric to have a vision of Lillith killing Godric, a vision that apparently convinced Eric to come over to the Authority’s side.  As I’ve stated before, I’m not a huge fan of born again Bill and I’m still holding on to my ever dwindling hope that all of this is just some elaborate scheme of his.  On the plus side, Eric didn’t seem all that sincere about his conversion.

If there is something that might keep Bill from totally going over to the “dark side,” it’s that Russell is obsessed with drinking faerie blood and being able to walk around in daylight.  Russell is so obsessed with this idea that he gets into a violent brawl with Salome when Salome says that it’s not Lillith’s plan for them to walk in the daylight.  Denis O’Hare has always been so wonderfully decadent and evil as Russell but tonight featured some of his best moments since the third season.

After a few episodes the bordered on almost being frantic with activity and intrigue, “Gone Gone Gone” was nice change of pace with scenes (and characters) being allowed to naturally develop and the show’s signature melodrama a bit muted to make room for reflection.  The result was a surprisingly moving episode that will be remembered as one of the best of season 5.

Random Thoughts and Observation:

  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 32
  • They killed off my favorite minor supporting character tonight.  Molly, the wonderfully sarcastic techie vampire, was staked and wow, didn’t Rev. Newlin just go so excited by it all?  I really hope somebody stakes Rev. Newlin before the end of this season.  He’s a putzhead.
  • How neat was it when Lafayette and Sam were both taking care of those rednecks in the bar?  I like it when Sam gets to be all manly and stuff.  Not as much as I like it when Alcide does it but, unfortunately, Alcide is apparently still hanging out in that trailer with his drunk dad.
  • There’s an art to acting confused and Ryan Kwanten has mastered it.  Seriously, his performance of Jason has been one of the season’s highlights.
  • Only two (count ’em) more episode left this season!

Review: True Blood S5E9 “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”


(SPOILERS)

Tonight’s episode of True Blood saw the apparent conclusion of two storylines.

First off, do you remember how, two weeks ago, I predicted that the Dragon would turn out to be Bud Dearborn (William Sanderson)? 

Well, I was kinda right.  The Dragon wasn’t Bud Dearborn.  Instead, the Dragon was Sweetie, the plump woman who Bud had taken up with since leaving his wife.  We really didn’t find out too much about the Dragon, beyond the fact that she’s a bit on the heavy-side and she enjoys square dancing and, quite frankly, I felt a little bit let down by the revelation that, after all the build up and mystery, the Dragon was just a broadly drawn stereotype.  It is true that, in the past, True Blood has effectively used stereotypical characters to make a bigger point but tonight, the revelation that Sweetie was the Dragon just fell flat.

I have mixed feelings about how the whole “Obamas” plotline was wrapped up during tonight’s episode.  At its best, the storyline managed to show how prejudice is often the product of people feeling as if they have no power over their lives, no hope for the future, and that they need a scapegoat to hold responsible for their own failures.  As well, I also appreciated that the show actually had them wearing Obama masks because, quite frankly, it’s the closest any show has come to poking fun at the President since the South Park election episode way back in 2008.  It has nothing to do with the Obama’s politics or my own beliefs.  I just happen to believe that all leaders, regardless of who they are or what they represent, should be frequently ridiculed. 

(Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom may get more critical acclaim but trust me — Aaron Sorkin will never have the guts to write an episode featuring a murderer in a Barack Obama mask.)

After a nice build up, however, it was hard not to be disappointed with how conventional and predictable the conclusion to the whole Obamas subplot eventually turned out to be.  Sookie, with the aid of helpful spirits that happened to be hanging out in her bedroom, figured out that Bud Dearborn might know who killed her parents.  She went to see him about it and ended up getting knocked out by a frying pan-weilding Sweetie.  

When she came to, Sookie discovered that she was tied up and trapped in a pig pin with Hoyt (and I have to say that I cringed a little at this because I grew up near enough farms that I have first hand experience with just how disgusting pigs really are).  Luckily, it turned out that Dearborn and Sweetie were the type of villains who can’t ever just kill anyone without delivering a lengthy monologue beforehand.  This, fortunately, gave Sam, Luna, Andy, and Jason time to show up at the barn and save the day.  It also gave Andy a chance to prove his worth as a lawman by gunning down Bud Dearborn.

Meanwhile, in this episode’s other major plotline, True Blood factories across the world are being bombed and both vampires and humans are in a panic.  Tara, at first, suggests to Pam that they should stock up on their supply of True Blood but Pam informs Tara that they will keep selling True Blood and, once they run out, they will discreetly feed on humans.  Meanwhile, the Rev. Newlin is condemning the bombings, despite the fact that the Authority is secretly responsible.

That’s right.  The new Salome-led Authority has figured out that the easiest way to provoke a war between humans and vampires is to cause a True Blood shortage.  When Eric asks Bill if he truly thinks this is a good idea, Bill replies that he’s not sure but that he does know that he saw Lillith  earlier.  When Eric and Molly, the cool techie vampire who is my favorite new character this season because she just seems so annoyed with everything in general, attempt to escape from Authority Headquarters, they are apparently betrayed by Bill.  So, is Bill now a true believer or does he have a plan of his own?  I’m betting on the latter.

Speaking of manipulative vampires, Russell and the Rev. Newlin paid a visit on the wolf pack where, after putting J.D. in his place, Russell proceeded to take Emma (in wolf puppy form) out of Martha’s hands and gave her to the Rev. Newlin.  While I’m always happy to see wolf puppy, this development made me go, “Agck!”  Seriously, Rev. Newlin’s perpetual smile is so creepy!

Along with the Obamas, another subplot concluded with tonight’s episode but it was a subplot that nobody ever really cared that much about so I’ll just say that Terry finally killed Patrick and the fire demon appeared to be satisfied.  So, good for Terry and Arlene.

Random Thoughts and Observations:

  • I have to admit that tonight’s episode was not one of my favorites.  Part of the show’s appeal has always been its willingness to go to extremes but tonight’s episode felt over the top even for True Blood.
  • I also felt a bit cheated that the scene that popped up in all the previews for this episode — Bill apparently biting Sookie — turned out to just be an elaborate hallucination on Bill’s part.  It’s hard not to feel that the show didn’t play fair as far as that was concerned.
  • Tonight’s unofficial scene count: 45.
  • Performance-wise, this episode really belonged to Chris Bauer.  Andy may not be the smartest character on the show but Bauer brought some much needed depth to the role on tonight’s show.
  • Though she only had about a minute of screen time, Dale Dickey continues to make a strong impression in the role of Martha.
  • I would have to go back and rewatch the previous seasons to know for sure but some people online are complaining that Bud Dearborn’s villainy seemed to come out of nowhere.  Simply going by my own faulty memory (and please remember, I do not claim to be a True Blood expert, merely a fan of the show), I can see their point.  The episode seemed to suggest that Sweetie was the one who brought out his evil side but still…
  • William Sanderson, incidentally, is one of my favorite character actors.  He has a special talent for creating Southern eccentrics (which may be because he apparently is a Southern eccentric himself) and I have to admit that I was a little sad to see his character so casually killed off tonight.
  • “I ain’t gmail for dead bitches!”
  • “I may be like a week old but I ain’t an idiot.”
  • Only 3 more episode left in the season!

Review: True Blood S5E8 “Somebody That I Used To Know”


Tonight’s episode of True Blood was memorable for many reasons but especially for being the directorial debut of Stephen Moyer.  Moyer, who plays Bill and is married to Anna Paquin in real life, directs the Hell out of this episode and I mean that in absolutely the best way.  Whether it’s the way that Moyer allows the camera to prowl restlessly through each scene or the hallucinatory feel that he brought to the staging of some tonight’s best moments, Moyer brought both a sense of mystery and an atmosphere of genuine menace to tonight’s episode.  Those are two qualities that True Blood has occasionally struggled with this season and it was nice to see them so present tonight.  As a result, tonight’s episode was one of the most memorable of the 5th season and I hope that future seasons of True Blood will find Moyer returning to the director’s chair.

Tonight’s episode also gave us what we’ve been waiting for all season: Naked Alcide. 

Yes, apparently Alcide had moved on from his night with Sookie because tonight, we got an extended sequence of him having sex with his new werewolf girlfriend, Rikki.  Rikki and Alcide talked quite a bit while they were doing it and I’m sure that they may have said something important but, to be honest, that scene was all about Naked Alcide.

Some people (though certainly not me — no never!) would argue that all this episode needed to be memorable was for Alicde to show up naked.  However, some other pretty interesting things happened as well…

For instance, Luna turned into Sam!  That’s right.  While Sam and Andy were off interrogating the fat redneck that Sam captured during the previous episode, Luna stumbled over to the mirror in her hospital room and discovered that she had shifted into Sam.  This was one of those great “WTF” moments and Sam Trammell did an excellent job playing both Sam and Luna tonight. 

(And, to be honest, it never feels like a true season of True Blood unless something batshit crazy happens with Sam.)

That said, I do wish that tonight’s episode had done a bit more with Luna transforming into Sam.  For all the possible ways that tonight’s scenario could have played out, the show was content to have Luna sneak out of the hospital and join up with Sam and Andy as they continued to track down the murderous rednecks.  Eventually, Luna nearly collapsed (because, after all, she was in the hospital for a pretty good reason) and transformed back into herself while Sam held her.  It was a sweet moment for the two characters but, at the same time, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more of Luna as Sam.

Speaking of the rednecks, they managed to kidnap Jessica and presented her to Hoyt as a “gift” of sorts.  They handed Hoyt a gun and then, rather conveniently, all but one of them left the house so that Hoyt could murder his ex-girlfriend.  Now, last week, I declared that Hoyt had managed to claim Andy’s former title of being the biggest dumbass in Bon Temps.  However, tonight, Hoyt somewhat redeemed himself by not only refusing to kill Jessica but by helping Jessica kill the one redneck left behind to guard them. 

Since the sun was out, Hoyt left Jessica behind in the house while he went to get help.  However, even though Hoyt may no longer be the biggest dumbass in Bon Temps, he’s still a contender and he promptly managed to get himself lost.  Finally, Hoyt managed to flag down a passing truck just to have the unseen driver pull a gun on him.  I’m going to guess that the driver is also the dragon who was mentioned in last week’s episode.

The rednecks’ attempts to offer up Jessica as a sacrifice were paralleled by not one but two separate vampires on tonight’s episode.  Pam invited Tara to feast on an old high school rival down in her club’s dungeon.  Even more importantly, Bill drank the blood of a human girl who was offered to him by Salome.

This was an especially important scene because, up until this point, Bill has been a very outspoken supporter of mainstreaming.  By his actions on tonight’s show, it would appear that Bill has now come over to the side of Salome, Nora, and Russell.  Indeed, all of the members of the Authority were so impressed by the appearance of Lillith during last week’s episode that they’ve all pretty much abandoned Roman’s precious mainstreaming. 

All of them, that is, except for Eric.  Alexander Skarsgard had some of his best scenes of the season tonight as he brooded over the actions of his fellow vampires and argued with his “sister” Nora.  Judging by tonight’s episode and the preview for next week, we appear to be heading for a major confrontation between the “born again” Bill and the always skeptical Eric and I, for one, can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Speaking of vampires, Sookie and Jason went to the faeries to try to discover which vampire killed their parents.  With the help of the faeries, Sookie was able to enter her mother’s mind and see the attack that led to the death of her parents.  However, she couldn’t get a clear view of the vampire’s face and, strangely, she also found herself entering into the mind of the vampire.  This sequence, with its frequent jump cuts and distorted camera angles, was perhaps the best evidence offered up tonight that Stephen Moyer should direct more episode of True Blood once season 6 starts production.  

Meanwhile, Lafayette has finally gotten smart enough to start demanding some sort of money for continually allowing himself to be possessed by dead people.  He charges Arlene $300 to perform a séance where they attempt to convince the fire demon to stop chasing after Terry and Patrick.  The ghost of dead Iraqi woman replies that the curse will only be lifted if Terry kills Patrick or Patrick kills Terry.  Patrick responds by running out of the séance.  Seeing as how Scott Foley is only a guest star, I’m going to guess that, one way or another, Patrick is going to be toast. 

And did I mention that tonight’s episode featured Alcide naked?

Because it totally did.

Random observations:

  • Largely because of the sequence where Sookie flashes back to her parents being attacked and killed, this episode ended up with an unoffical scene count of 57.
  • I really hope that Bill comes to his senses soon.
  • How neat was it when Sam turned into that snake?
  • Was it just me or was Jason really cute tonight?  This has really been a pretty good season for those of us who love Ryan Kwanten and his performance as the well-meaning but occasionally just a bit dense Jason.
  • I totally related to what Sookie was saying about waiting in line at the bank.  Jason’s reaction was adorable and priceless.
  • Only 4 more episodes left!