Still Alice… Still sad, sorrowful Julianne Moore

I haven’t seen Still Alice yet but I appreciate Julianne Moore’s performance is meant to be quietly brilliant. It’s won her a Best Actress Oscar, so it should be.

And you have to hand it to her, no one does sad, sorrowful and full to the brim with pain and anguish quite like Julianne Moore. The film poster for Still Alice is masterful in its simplicity and use of vibrant colours to contrast Moore’s expression.

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Looking at her filmography, she took supporting parts for years across a number of different genres. Maybe she has now, in recent years, found her niche?

This may sound like a rant, of sorts. But it’s really not. I’m a fan. But now she’s got the Oscar for sad, why not mix it up? I’d love to see happy, feisty, aggressive, bitchy and bad ass Julianne Moore. I’m sure she’s got those qualities in her locker.

So how about it Julianne, fancy embracing a new career direction?

On my mind… Charlize Theron

the_burning_plain19Having just watched The Burning Plain it’s become clear that we need to discuss the career of Charlize Theron. She doesn’t get anywhere near enough love (or interesting roles) and that needs to change. This isn’t an intervention or a rant. Simply put, this is a frank acknowledgement of talent.

As all the great actresses of our generation tend to do, she mixes blockbusters and smaller projects with consummate ease. Another point to mention is that, like some of Hollywood’s most beautiful actresses, she’s not afraid to remove the glamour and strip things right back, leaving little to hide behind except her performance. This is evident in Monster, but it’s also a strong theme in all of her work highlighted below. Still… I’d love to see her in more. Hollywood, it’s time to step up and send her scripts!

Anyway, here’s my pick of her best performances to date:

The Devil’s Advocate (1997)
She largely burst onto the scene here – opposite Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino – with a beautiful, tormented and captivating performance. One which set her career standard.

Monster (2003)
A deserved Oscar win for what is considered a powerhouse performance. When one of Hollywood’s most beautiful women transforms herself to this level you sit up and take notice.

North Country (2005)
Continuing a fine run of form she got a best actress nomination for this role in what some critics have argued – in some ways – was a more complex character to portray than her Oscar winning one in Monster.

The Burning Plain (2008)
Guillermo Arriaga (the writer behind Babel) directed this tale of loss and guilt and, whilst the film is somewhat confusingly edited, Theron shone in her scenes with another fine display.

Young Adult (2011)
There’s no doubt that director Jason Reitman’s tale here was both tough, tender and funny throughout. A large part of that was, once again, down to Theron, who balanced the film’s comic and tragic moments with equal skill.

The evolution of Scarlett Johansson

don-jon-scarlett-johansson-jgl-interview-1085920-TwoByOneIs Scarlett Johansson in danger of becoming the female Johnny Depp? I mean this in a good way. In terms of picking her roles she’s moving away from blockbusters; or at least moving towards slightly more leftfield choices that seem to push her boundaries. Perhaps actively seeking to distance her glamorous image as one of Hollywood’s most attractive actors? (Incidentally, this is something Depp has been doing for years.)

Looking back, Lost In Translation was the film that got me hooked on all things Johansson. Loneliness, connection in a big foreign city. Her performance emphatically spoke to me. There was a beautiful vulnerability and purity to her; something which, I’d argue, she’s managed to hang onto throughout her career.

She’s smart in her choice of directors too, having worked with some of the best out there: Woody Allen three times (Match Point, Scoop and Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Brian de Palma (The Black Dahlia) and Christopher Nolan (The Prestige).

3178940502434e3eadc79f5a87ffAnd she’s mixed things up with up-and-coming indie types, auteurs and wildcard mavericks too: Sofia Coppola (Lost In Translation ), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), Spike Jonze (Her) and Jonathan Glazer (Under The Skin, this one out soon, see the trailer below).

The final film I mentioned could represent a real shift in the way in which people view her as an actress. She’s still got the big blockbusters ticking along, but this sort of film could really open the door for her to get stuck into some meaty roles.

Much in the way Matthew McConaughey was typecast as the sexy – and often somewhat shallow – lead for years. Until he had had enough and his McRenaissance began. Will Under The Skin be the same turning point for Johansson? Time will tell.

What I do know is that a fairly leftfield film turned me onto her in the first place so, for me, this type of role is where she should be… And I haven’t even seen it yet.

The seductive world of Salma Hayek

Curves to die for, seduction incarnate. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Salma Hayek Jimenez.

Born in 1966 in Mexico (she’s 47 if you can believe it), she rose to fame in the title role of a telenovela called Teresa in 1989. Seeking greater fame she moved to LA in 1991, where she caught the eye of Robert Rodriguez and bagged a lead role in Desperado opposite Antonio Banderas. From there her plan to seduce the world began…Salma_Hayek_dogma
Desperado (1995)
Most of us got our first introduction to Hayek as a woman who could cause traffic accidents, literally. Demonstrated in this great scene in Robert Rodriguez’s guilty pleasure action movie. Like a dirty shot of tequila this film is sweaty, sexy and a lot more fun than you care to admit.


From Dusk Till Dawn
(1996)
You’ve not lived until you’ve had a seductive snake dance in a vampire-infested bar on the edge of the Mexican border. Or so I’ve been told. I doubt Tarantino was even acting reacting to her dance: wailing guitar, fire breathing, pouring whisky shots down her leg. Simply spellbinding.


Dogma
(
1999)
Pink underwear, pigtails, cute geek glasses… damn you Kevin Smith. Or Salma. Someone’s to blame for this scene. I say blame, it’s a brilliant scene. As soon as you hear Candy Girl by New Edition kick in you’re there with Chris Rock’s Apostle, grooving to the beat.


Frida
(2002)
The trailer calls the title character – played by Hayek – as ‘one of the most seductive women of ours or any time’, which is pretty accurate as this performance got her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. A high point in Hayek’s career in terms of an acting showcase.


Puss in Boots
(2011)
Ok, Kitty Softpaws is an animated character but… it’s still Salma Hayek and her voice is very much part of her appeal. And it was great to see her working with Banderas again, they have wonderful chemistry – even if they were furry little cats who like to steal things.

On my mind… Rebecca Hall

Born on 19 May 1982, Rebecca Maria Hall is a few months older than me. That fact isn’t significant in itself, it’s just one of the little ways I like to think that I identify with her.

She’s the daughter of theatre director and founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Peter Hall, and opera singer, Maria Ewing. Her siblings include theatre directors, designers, writers and painters. So it’s fair to say she’s from a creative background.

And looks wise, she’s striking. A sort of classic yet contemporary English rose. However, it’s worth noting that, whilst she has an English father, her American mother is of Dutch, Scottish, Sioux and African-American origin which, let’s face it, just makes her even more interesting.

Then there’s her acting. starterfortenSince breaking onto the scene with the first film in my list below, she’s quickly gone from strength to strength, picking her roles in a savvy way. She exudes a natural intelligence that’s hard to hide in the parts she plays (not that it needs to be hidden). Here’s my pick of her top performances:

Starter for Ten (2006)
It says something when gorgeous Miss Hall is cast as the geek. Alice Eve played the sexy one in the sweet, coming-of-age tale, yet it’s Hall’s performance we warm to as the wonderfully endearing love interest to James McAvoy’s rather annoying central character, Brian.

The Prestige (2006)
A magic trick has three parts: the pledge, the turn and the prestige. Did this role represent Hall’s ‘pledge’? Well, it was somewhat of a showcase and a big step up career wise invicky-cristina-barcelona-vicky-cristina-barcelona-08-10-2008-05-09-2008-17-g Chistopher Nolan’s convoluted and rather tragic tale of two rival magicians. And Hall more than held her own as the long suffering wife of Christian Bale’s magician.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Making something of a name for herself playing ‘second fiddle’ to more overtly glamorous women (Alice Eve in Starter for Ten, Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz here) she shone in this movie – one of the best from Woody Allen in recent years – and gave her character real warmth; a performance which got her a Golden Globe nomination.

The Town (2010)
Another role playing the love interest of a mildly conflicted protagonist. This time opposite Ben Affleck’s sensitive bank robber. The film received strong praise for the ensemble performance of its cast, no doubt in part down to Hall’s convincing performance.

Next up for Miss Hall?

Transcendence – UK release 25 April 2014
Wally Pfister, long time cinematographer of Christopher Nolan, steps up to direct for the first time with this one: featuring leads Johnny Depp and one… Rebecca Hall. Another leap forward career wise, opposite one of cinema’s most bankable stars in this sci-fi thriller.