Hottie of the Day: Jessica Chastain


JESSICA CHASTAIN

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Well, I might as well get on the Jessica Chastain bandwagon. She’s the latest pick for “Hottie of the Day” and also another addition to the redhead selections that’s growing (but still not the number 1 redhead on the site).

Jessica Chastain seemed to have come out of nowhere in the last two years. While she has been acting for many years before 2010 it wasn’t until 2011’s release of Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life which finally got her noticed. Since then she has been such films as Corialanus, Take Shelter, The Help, The Debt and Lawless. In each and every film she has been singled out as one of the highlight performances and from what I’ve seen she’s definitely deserving of the praise she’s been receiving.

Yet, it’s in 2012’s Zero Dark Thirty that Chastain may have finally gone from ingenue stage to full-blown star. She carries Kathryn Bigelow’s film from start to finish and all the accolades and acclaim she has been receiving for that performance may just snag her a Best Actress Oscar award next month. Even the box-office is not immune to the redhead’s growing star power as the top two films in North America for the weekend of Jan. 18-20 has her in the starring role with Zero Dark Thirty and the horror film Mama.

Born near my neck of the woods of Sonoma, California, Jessica Chastain is a graduate of the famed Julliard School in New York City and worked her way through the Hollywood system by getting supporting roles in tv series after tv series before her breakout role as the mother in The Tree of Life.

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PAST HOTTIES

No Guts, No Glory, Part II: Lisa Marie Goes Down Into The Oscar Pool And Gets Wet


Since every other film blogger and wannabe Awards diva is doing so, I figured I might as well post my predictions as to who and what will actually win when the Oscars are handed out on Sunday.  Please remember, these are not the films and performers that I personally would choose to honor.  (Indeed, I’ve never disagreed with the Oscar nominations more than I have this year.)  These are just my predictions and random guesses at what will be honored on Sunday.

Best Picture: The Descendants

Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Best Actor: George Clooney in The Descendants

Best Actress: Viola Davis in The Help

Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer in Beginners

Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer in The Help

Best Original Screenplay: Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris

Best Adapted Screenplay: The Descendants

Best Animated Feature Film: Rango

Best Foreign Language Film: In Darkness (Poland)

Best Documentary Feature: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

Best Original Score: War Horse

Best Original Song: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets

Best Sound Editing: Hugo

Best Sound Mixing: Hugo

Best Art Direction: The Artist

Best Cinematography: The Tree Of Life

Best Makeup: Albert Nobbs

Best Costume Design: The Artist

Best Film Editing: The Descendants

Best Visual Effects: Hugo

Agree?  Disagree?  Confused as to what just the Hell I was thinking when I made some of these predictions?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

If Lisa Marie Determined The Oscar Nominees….


The Oscar nominations are due to be announced on Tuesday morning so I figured now would be a good time to play a little game that I like to call: “What if Lisa had all the power?”  Below, you will find my personal Oscar nominations.  These are the films and the performers that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for selecting the nominees and the winners. 

For those who are interested, you can check out my picks for last year by clicking on this sentence.

Please understand, as you look over this lengthy list of deserving films and performers, that these are not necessarily the films I expect to see nominated on Tuesday morning.  In fact, I would be hard pressed to think of a year in which I have disagreed more with the critical establishment than I have this year.  For whatever reason, the films that truly touched and moved me in 2011 appear to be the films that are totally and completely off the Academy’s radar.  These are not my predictions.  Instead, they are my personal choices and they should not be interpreted as representing the opinion on anyone else affiliated with this site.  So, if you’re angry that David Fincher’s Girl With The Dragon Tattoo didn’t receive a single imaginary nomination, direct your anger at me and me alone. 

Best Picture

The Artist

Bridesmaids

The Guard

Hanna

Higher Ground

Hugo

Shame

Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Young Adult

Best Actor

Michael Fassbender for Shame

Brendan Gleeson for The Guard

Gary Oldman for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Michael Shannon for Take Shelter

Rainn Wilson for Super

Best Actress

Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia

Vera Farmiga for Higher Ground

Elizabeth Olsen for Martha Marcy May Marlene

Saoirse Ronan for Hanna

Charlize Theron for Young Adult

Best Supporting Actor

Albert Brooks for Drive

Bobby Cannivale for Win Win

Jonah Hill for Moneyball

Patton Oswalt for Young Adult

Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best Supporting Actress

Anna Kendrick for 50/50

Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids

Carey Mulligan for Shame

Ellen Page for Super

Amy Ryan for Win Win

Best Director

Vera Farminga for Higher Ground

Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist

Steve McQueen for Shame

Martin Scorsese for Hugo

Joe Wright for Hanna

Best Original Sreenplay

Bridesmaids

The Guard

Hanna

Shame

Young Adult

Best Adapted Screenplay

Higher Ground

Hugo

Incendies

One Day

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Animated Feature

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots

Rango

Rio

Winnie the Pooh

Best Foreign Language Film

(Please note that I do this category a bit differently than the Academy.  Whereas the Academy asks nations across the world to submit a nominee, I’m simply nominating the best foreign language films that I saw in a theater last year.  Those who follow the Oscars will note that I’ve both nominated and awarded the brilliant Canadian films Incendies, which actually was nominated for a real Oscar in this same category last year.)

The Double Hour

Incendies

Of Gods and Men

The Skin I Live In

13 Assassins

Best Documentary Feature

Bill Cunningham New York

Buck

The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Jig

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

Best Original Score

The Artist

A Better Life

The Guard

Hanna

The Tree Of Life

Best Original Song

“The Star-Spangled Man” from Captain America: The First Avenger

“Mujhe Chod Ke” from DAM999

“The Keeper” from Machine Gun Preacher

“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets

“Pop” from White Irish Drinkers

Best Sound Editing

Drive

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

Best Sound Mixing

Drive

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

Best Art Direction

Bunraku

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Cinematography

The Artist

Hugo

Melancholia

Shame

The Tree of Life

Best Makeup

Beastly

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Insidious

Sucker Punch

X-Men: First Class

Best Costume Design

Bunraku

The Help

Hugo

Sucker Punch

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Best Editing

The Artist

The Guard

Hanna

Hugo

Shame

Best Visual Effects

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Hugo

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Sucker Punch

The Tree of Life

List of Films By Number of Nominations:

10 Nominations – Hugo

7 Nominations – Shame, Sucker Punch

6 Nominations – Hanna

5 Nominations – The Artist; The Guard; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy; The Tree of Life

4 Nominations – Higher Ground, Young Adult

3 Nominations – Bridesmaids, Drive

2 Nominations – Bunraku, Incendies, Melancholia, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super, Win Win

1 Nomination – Beastly, A Better Life, Bill Cunningham New York, Buck, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, DAM999, The Double Hour, 50/50, The Help, Insidious, Jig, Kung Fu Panda 2, Machine Gun Preacher, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Moneyball, The Muppets, Of Gods and Men, One Day, Puss in Boots, Rango, Ressurect Dead, Rio, The Skin I Live In, Take Shelter, 13 Assassins, X-Men: First Class, White Irish Drinkers, Winnie the Pooh

List of Films By Number of Oscars Won:

3 Oscars – Hanna

2 Oscars – Bunraku, Shame, Sucker Punch

1 Oscar – Beastly, Bridesmaids, The Cave of Forgotten Deams, Dam999, Higher Ground, Hugo Incendies, Melancholia, Puss in Boots, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super, Young Adult

So, will the Academy agree with my picks?  Well, probably not.  Indeed, it’s probable that they won’t agree at all.  And to that, I say, “Oh well.” 

The Academy Award nominations will be announced Tuesday morning.

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night: The Help (dir. by Tate Taylor)


I actually watched several things last night, including the season premieres of The Bachelor and Intervention.  However, neither one of those is an Oscar contender.  The Help is, so I decided I better take the time to watch the film via OnDemand.

Why Was I Watching It?

I wasn’t planning on seeing this movie when it first originally opened in theaters because, just based on the trailer, it looked like it would be your typical, terribly self-congratulatory mainstream films.  I’ve seen far too many films that promote the same old stereotypes in the name of progress and tolerance, as if good intentions can make up for bad filmmaking.  But, so many of my girlfriends came to me raving about how much they loved this film and then my Aunt Kate just about disinherited me when I told her I hadn’t seen the movie (or read the book that it’s based on) and eventually I realized that I had to see the film.  Add to that, chances are that this film is going to be an Oscar contender.

What Was It About

In segregated Mississippi, aspiring writer Skeeter (Emma Stone) decides to write book about the life of the African-American maids and nannies who work for her best friends.  After some initial difficulty, she wins the trust of two maids (Viola Davis and Octavia Spenser) and gets down to exposing the truth.

What Worked

First off, The Help is a perfect example of a well-made, entertaining mainstream film.  I laughed at the funny parts, I cried at the sad parts, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film, even though it kinda fell apart during the 2nd hour.  There’s a lot of very legitimate issues that you can raise about how the film portrays life in the segregated South but the film itself is entertaining and well-made.

It’s also one the best acted films of 2011 with Viola Davis, Octavia Spenser, and Emma Stone all giving great performances.  Jessica Chastain is funny playing a clueless newlywed and Bryce Dallas Howard does a typically good job playing the type of bitchy Queen Bee that we’ve all know and  have all secretly hoped would end up fat and divorced.  I also thought Allison Janney, who plays Stone’s mother, gave an excellent and underrated performance.

This film was directed with a perfect eye for the details needed to make even the most minor of characters memorable.  If nothing else, I enjoyed watching it just to see what everyone would be wearing from scene to scene.

The film’s first hour is probably as perfectly paced and tonally balanced as any film I’ve seen.  However, things fall apart during the second hour (more on that below).  Luckily, the film’s ending is powerful and partially redeems the film’s uneven tone.

What Didn’t Work

The film is moves along pretty well until the 2nd hour, at which point it smashed into a wall created by the inability of mainstream film to truly honestly deal with racism.  At the start of the second hour, civil rights leader Medgar Evers is assassinated by a member of the Ku Klux Klan and I found myself waiting for some sort of expression of anger (or really, any emotion other than stoic suffering) on the part of “the help.”  Instead, we get a scene where both Viola Davis and Emma Stone are watching Evers’s funeral together and both are impressed to see John F. Kennedy show up.  In the next scene, Davis has put a picture of President Kennedy up on her wall next to a picture of Jesus.  So, in other words, this film reacts to the murder of a black man but deifying a white man.  After showing us a clue of violent reality, it’s as if the film can’t figure out how to balance out the ugly realities of racism with the film’s need to appeal to the widest possible audience.  As a result, the next hour of the film feels rather disjointed and uneven.  Even though the film partially redeems itself with one of the best endings of the year, it’s still hard not to feel as if we’re watching a feel good film about something nobody should feel all that good about.

Like a lot of mainstream films about racism, a good deal of this film centers on the friendship between blacks and a few white people who, magically, don’t appear to have a shred of prejudice within them despite the fact that they were raised in the same racist culture as every other white person in the film.  As a result, the racism seen in the film doesn’t really seem like it’s an ingranied part of culture as much as it just seems like the result of a couple of bullies acting like jerks.  As a result, despite its very good intentions, a film like The Help will often unintentionally minimize just what a struggle the fight for civil rights was and is. 

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Needless to say, I totally related to Emma Stone’s character in this film. 

Lessons Learned

It’s difficult to make a feel-good movie about racism.

Here are the 39 songs eligible for a Best Original Song nomination


Yesterday, the Academy announced that the following 39 films are eligible to nominated for the Oscar for Best Original Song of 2011.  Considering how the awards season has gone so far, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that few of the songs that I truly enjoyed hearing this year are eligible.  Still, it is nice to see that Capt. America will have a chance to score a nomination for “Star-Spangled Man.”

Then again, it would also be nice to see something from The Muppets win because I’m sure Bret McKenzie would give a perfectly charming acceptance speech.

One final reaction to this list: there’s a movie called White Irish Drinkers?  

Yay!

  • “The World I Knew” from “African Cats”
  • “Lay Your Head Down” from “Albert Nobbs”
  • “Star Spangled Man” from “Captain America: The First Avenger”
  • “Collision of Worlds” from “Cars 2”
  • “Dakkanaga Dugu Dugu” from “DAM999”
  • “DAM999 Theme Song” from “DAM999”
  • “Mujhe Chod Ke” from “DAM999”
  • “Rainbird” from “Dirty Girl”
  • “Keep On Walking” from “The First Grader”
  • “Where the River Goes” from “Footloose”
  • “Hello Hello” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
  • “Love Builds a Garden” from “Gnomeo & Juliet”
  • “Bridge of Light” from “Happy Feet Two”
  • “The Mighty Sven” from “Happy Feet Two”
  • “Never Be Daunted” from “happythankyoumoreplease”
  • “Hell and Back” from “Hell and Back Again”
  • “The Living Proof” from “The Help”
  • “Coeur Volant” from “Hugo”
  • “It’s How We Play” from “I Don’t Know How She Does It”
  • “When the Heart Dies” from “In the Land of Blood and Honey”
  • “Ja Nao Estar” from “José and Pilar”
  • “The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher”
  • “Life’s a Happy Song” from “The Muppets”
  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
  • “Pictures in My Head” from “The Muppets”
  • “Summer Song” from “The Music Never Stopped”
  • “Imaginary Friends” from “Olive”
  • “Sparkling Day” from “One Day”
  • “Taking You With Me” from “Our Idiot Brother”
  • “The Greatest Song I Ever Heard” from “POM Wonderful Presents The Greatest Movie Ever Sold”
  • “Hot Wings” from “Rio”
  • “Let Me Take You to Rio” from “Rio” 
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio”
  • “Shelter” from “Take Shelter”
  • “Gathering Stories” from “We Bought a Zoo”
  • “Pop” from “White Irish Drinkers”
  • “Think You Can Wait” from “Win Win”
  • “The Backson Song” from “Winnie the Pooh”
  • “So Long” from “Winnie the Pooh”

Lisa Marie Is Too Annoyed To Show Off Her Golden Globes


I would offer to show you a pair of  golden globes but, quite frankly, looking at this year’s Golden Globe nominations from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has filled me with a soul-crushing sense of ennui.  The other critics groups and the SAG have at least been interesting and unpredictable.  The Golden Globe nominations, however, appear to be the result of the usual combination of Bandwagon hopping and celebrity ass kissing.  Seriously — the Ides of March for best film?  And George Clooney for best director?  I guess they were really anxious for him to show up.  And don’t even get me started on Rooney Mara’s nomination.  (Seriously, I’m sure Rooney Mara is very sweet for a girl who has never had to actually work a day in her life.)

And, for that matter, just who the Hell is actually in the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and how did they get to be the big Oscar precursors? 

Anyway, here’s the major nominations with some short, vaguely angry commentary from yours truly:

BEST PICTURE: DRAMA

“The Descendants”

“The Help”

“Hugo”

“The Ides of March”

“Moneyball”

“War Horse”

(I haven’t seen War Horse or the Artist yet so obviously, my big angry complaint here is the nomination of The Ides of March.  Seriously, what total BS.)

BEST PICTURE: COMEDY OR MUSICAL

“50/50”

“The Artist”

“Bridesmaids”

“Midnight in Paris”

“My Week With Marilyn”

(I’m happier with these nominees, despite the fact that I think Midnight in Paris was way overrated.)

BEST DIRECTOR

Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”)

George Clooney (“The Ides of March”)

Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”)

Alexander Payne (“The Descendants”)

Martin Scorsese (“Hugo”)

(Really?  So, if you’re a celebrity, you can get a best director nomination even if the film you made was a turgid, sexist, condescending mess of a movie.)

BEST ACTOR: DRAMA

George Clooney (“The Descendants”)

Leonardo Dicaprio (“J. Edgar”)

Michael Fassbender (“Shame”)

Ryan Gosling (“The Ides of March”)

Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”)

(Was the HFPA so determined not to show any love for Drive that they had to nominate Ryan Gosling for The Ides of March instead?)

BEST ACTRESS: DRAMA

Glenn Close (“Albert Nobbs”)

Viola Davis (“The Help”)

Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”)

Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”)

Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”)

(I hate to say it but I’m really starting to resent the fact that I’m going to have to actually sit through The Iron Lady.)

BEST ACTRESS: COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Jodie Foster (“Carnage”)

Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”)

Kristen Wiig (“Bridesmaids”)

Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”)

Kate Winslet (“Carnage”)

(I’ve been hearing terrible things about Carnage but I guess if the Ides of March is one of the best of the year, than Carnage must be pretty good.)

BEST ACTOR: COMEDY OR MUSICAL

Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”)

Brendan Gleeson (“The Guard”)

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“50/50”)

Ryan Gosling (“Crazy, Stupid, Love”)

Owen Wilson (“Midnight in Paris”)

(At least someone finally showed Brendan Gleeson some love.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Berenice Bejo (“The Artist”)

Jessica Chastain (“The Help”)

Janet McTeer (“Albert Nobbs”)

Octavia Spencer (“The Help”)

Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”)

(So, I guess it’s official now?  We’ve decided to honor Jessica Chastain for The Help as opposed to her better performance in Take Shelter? Then again, Michael Shannon wasn’t nominated for Take Shelter either.  Well, when you’re dealing with a cinematic masterpiece like The Ides of March, what hope does a little film like Take Shelter or Drive have?  Seriously, good job, HFPA.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Kenneth Branagh (“My Week With Marilyn”)

Albert Brooks (“Drive”)

Jonah Hill (“Moneyball”)

Viggo Mortensen (“A Dangerous Method”)

Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”)

(Odd.  The HFPA missed a chance to toss out another nomination to the Ides of March here.  Still, at least they gave some attention to Hill’s performance, which was the only thing that really made Moneyball a memorable film to me.)

BEST ANIMATED FILM

“The Adventures of Tintin”

“Arthur Christmas”

“Cars 2”

“Puss in Boots”

“Rango”

(Good thing that George Clooney didn’t direct a cartoon this year.)

Here’s the full list of nominees from the Toadsuckers themselves.

 

 

 

Lisa Marie Is Kinda Mad At The Screen Actors Guild


The Screen Actors Guild nominations were announced on Wednesday morning and I’m just going to be honest.  I am not happy.  The SAG nominations have a pretty good track record as an Oscar precursor, largely because the Actors’ Branch is the largest branch of the Academy.  The Actors Branch, of course, is totally made up of members of the SAG though not every member of SAG is in the Actors’ Branch.  As such, there’s usually one or two SAG nominations who don’t get an Oscar nomination but, on the whole, SAG is a pretty good precursor of who is ultimately going to receive an Oscar nomination next January.

So, why am I upset?

Well, the SAG nominated some very good and deserving performers this year but somehow, they did not nominate Michael Shannon for Take Shelter.  They did not nominate Carey Mulligan for Shame.  They did not nominate Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  They did not nominate The Guard’s Brendan Gleeson. And, worst of all, they did not nominate Michael Fassbender for Shame.

My personal theory is that Fassbender’s brave performance left the other members of the SAG feeling small, in more ways than one.

Here’s what did get nominated:

Outstanding Performance By A Cast In A Motion Picture
Bridesmaids
The Artist
The Descendants
The Help
Midnight in Paris

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Leading Role
George Clooney, The Descendants
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
Leonardo DiCaprio, J. Edgar
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Leading Role
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Outstanding Performance By A Male Actor In A Supporting Role
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Armie Hammer, J. Edgar
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Supporting Role
Octavia Spencer, The Help
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

On the plus side, the SAG showed absolutely no love for David Fincher’s rip-off of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  Also, it’s nice to see Jonah Hill’s performance in Moneyball hasn’t been totally overshadowed by Brad Pitt’s more showy performance.  Also, it’s looking more and more like Bridesmaids is going to be a factor in this year’s Oscar race and the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of that.