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Oscar bits and bites

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“On the first movie I met this girl [via Make-a-Wish], and I can’t tell this story without crying. […] She had scars all over her body—burns—and she was telling me she was always so ashamed of the way she looked and she was so embarrassed, and now she has the nickname the Girl on Fire, but she loves it and wears it proudly. It gives her confidence. That was the first time in my entire career that I actually felt like there was a point in this. Not to sound rude, but it is stupid. Everybody’s like, ‘How can you remain with a level head?’ And I’m like, ‘Why would I ever get cocky? I’m not saving anybody’s life. There are doctors who save lives and firemen who run into burning buildings. I’m making movies. It’s stupid.'”
The whole quote by Jennifer Lawrence in Vanity Fair

Paul Clifford looks at three adaptations – The Hobbit, Life of Pi and Les Miserables

David Edelstein, the first critic to herald the coming debate about torture in Zero Dark Thirty does a follow-up for CBS Sunday Morning, “But there’s nooooo question “Zero Dark Thirty” says the CIA was led to the courier who led to bin Laden by illegal torture, and that anyone opposed was a wussy unwilling to go to what Dick Cheney called “the dark side.” Is it true? The administration says no. So does Diane Feinstein, author Peter Bergen, and even some in the CIA. Others say yes, among them screenwriter Mark Boal’s CIA sources, and “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden. But to say, as Bigelow and Boal have, that their position isn’t pro-torture, they’re just reporting the facts, is disingenuous. Even the context is pro-torture.

Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir writes an interesting, important piece about the new Civil War, and how post-war America invited a continuation of this brand of thinking:

You can’t boil one of the most tumultuous periods of American history down to one paragraph, but here goes: Lincoln was assassinated by a domestic terrorist and replaced by Andrew Johnson, who was an incompetent hothead and an unapologetic racist. Within a few years the ambitious project of Reconstruction fell victim to a sustained insurgency led by the Ku Klux Klan and similar white militia groups. By the late 1870s white supremacist “Redeemers” controlled most local and state governments in the South, and by the 1890s Southern blacks had been disenfranchised and thrust into subservience positions by Jim Crow laws that were only slightly preferable to slavery.

So even though it’s a truism of American public discourse that the Civil War never ended, it’s also literally true. We’re still reaping the whirlwind from that long-ago conflict, and now we face a new Civil War, one focused on divisive political issues of the 21st century – most notably the rights and liberties of women and LGBT people – but rooted in toxic rhetoric and ideas inherited from the 19th century.

36 Comments on this Post

  1. Is it true? The administration says no. So does Diane Feinstein, author Peter Bergen, and even some in the CIA. Others say yes, among them screenwriter Mark Boal’s CIA sources, and “Black Hawk Down” author Mark Bowden. But to say, as Bigelow and Boal have, that their position isn’t pro-torture, they’re just reporting the facts, is disingenuous.

    The government, the CIA. How fucking trustworthy. Believe them, who have pretty huge reasons to lie and deny what the film states, or believe Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal, who have no reasons to lie.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXoNE14U_zM

  2. Aragorn

    That quote could help or hurt J.Lawrence’s Oscar chance.

  3. Oh, it’ll only help, if anything. Her sense, intelligence and honesty are extremely winning. I can’t think of a reasonable way to use this against her. There’ll be some cunts who try, though, you just know.

  4. Aragorn

    Paddy, you never know…she is not the favorite, especially in this site:)

    Yes she comes out humble and honest…

  5. She’s intriguing, but sometimes she comes off as an airhead.

  6. sometimes she comes off as an airhead

    When’s this? Do explain.

  7. @Aragorn
    How can saying actors are not equal to doctors and firemen who save lives daily hurt someone’s Oscar chances? Didn’t realize that was a controversial thing, if so I’m glad she said it. Do people in Hollywood really have their heads that far up their own butts that they think actors should be elevated above doctors? That’s a level of narcissism I will never be able to understand. Good for Lawrence for having her head on straight and her parents for not raising an entitled brat.

    >> This torture “controvesy” around ZD30 has gotten stale. The public doesn’t care, they are flocking to the film like bees to honey. Sony is going to make a killing when it goes wide and AMPAS is going to reward it with a BP award.

  8. Mohammed

    Years from now a Lawrence best actress win will most likely look like when Crash won best picture.

    Regarding ZD30: It’s an action film that, unlike most films about the “war on terror” doesn’t take a stand against one of the most critisised aspects of it. In that aspect it’s as unchallenging as the Bourne series. An action film done by people who know what they are doing.

  9. >Jennifer Lawrence (SLP) winning is just like Crash = I’m pissed that Jennifer Lawrence (SLP) is winning over my personal favorite. :D
    >The King’s Speech win is a poor win just like the win for Crash = I’m pissed that TKS won over my favorite movie.
    > Bitterness all around. LOL.

  10. Daveylow

    Thanks for that Paul Clifford essay. Much more rewarding than a critic tearing apart a film!

  11. Thanks Sasha for posting the Vanity Fair quote accurately…..the folks @Gold Derby (http://www.goldderby.com/news/3806/jennifer-lawrence-james-bond-russell-crowe-entertainment-news-34647681.html)are making seems like she’s self-centered. I know that the founder is a buddy of yours———please encourage him to post the entire quote or to take it off; this is totally unfair to Ms. Lawrence who was being sincere and her quote, as you know, was taken out of context.

  12. Jennifer Lawrence’s false humility is getting tiring.

  13. If she’s not a genuine goofball, which is adorbs, then she’s doing the best acting job of being a genuine goofball ever. Either way she wins. :P What I also like about her is she’s not some stick figure of an actress. She’s a good role model for girls in terms of body image.

    I feel left out. This whole torture controversy is gonna be over before me and the rest of America even get to see ZERO DARK THIRTY. What a jip.

  14. Mark F.

    “We’re still reaping the whirlwind from that long-ago conflict, and now we face a new Civil War, one focused on divisive political issues of the 21st century – most notably the rights and liberties of women and LGBT people – but rooted in toxic rhetoric and ideas inherited from the 19th century.”

    Pure left-wing silliness, there is no chance of an actual shooting war, and all evidence is that we’ll have a transition to full civil rights for gay people with very little fuss. 75% of the public supported the change in military policy, and same sex marriage may already have majority support.

  15. steve50

    “She’s intriguing, but sometimes she comes off as an airhead.”

    Those words + that photo = Valerie Perrine

    This whole torture debate is becoming….torture. OK! I did it! The gold is in the crawlspace!

  16. Film Fatale

    Sasha, can you clarify your feelings about Zero Dark Thirty? I recall your initial piece being one of very, very high praise for Bigelow and the film. But you singled out Jessica Chastain in your headline, which I believe read “Jessica Chastain gives far and away the best performance by a woman this year” — that much was clear.

  17. Amazing to em that JLaw has haters. Her personality in interviews is really funny and kooky. Also from what I gather, she does not take her self as seriously these haters do. Her Oscar will be well deserved.

  18. I like Jennifer Lawrence as much as the next guy but I don’t know how can anyone look at her performance and think it’s superior to Emmanuelle Riva’s, Jessica Chastain’s, Naomi Watts’, Marion Cotillard’s or Rachel Weisz’s.

    Having said that, I like her so I wouldn’t be too pissed if she won. MUCH worse things have happened in this race.

  19. Aragorn

    Jerry,

    Yes I said that her quote could her chance as I had already seen that comment in other places but not as a full quote, only partially, with a headline “acting is stupid”. Imagine some academy members are getting ready to vote for acting categories. They see the headline but dont read the full quote. What do you think they would think? Would they vote for someone that they would said “acting is stupid”. Yes we all know that acting is not being a doctor, saving lives. But if you think that someone is insulting your profession, you may still be hesitant to vote for that person to name him/her as the best actor/actress.

    I liked J. Law as I said many times before in different threads. I also liked Jessica C. In fact, I like them both overall as actresses so if one of them wins I will be fine with that. But in my opinion the best performance was between Marion Cotillard and Naomi Watts, and I dont think either will win, unless Naomi Watts pulls a surprise.

  20. Bob Burns

    there’s no question the film’s depiction of the efficacy of torture is false and irresponsible. clearly not many people who write about film give a rats ass…. or understand the implications of their positions.

    at this point my guess is that ZD30 will win, Bigelow is so brilliant…. and hardly the first embedded film maker to be duped by the CIA.

  21. The Japanese Viewer

    Thanks for the bits and bites, Sasha.

    Lawrence is either being straightforward or more or less effectively charming us while strategically sounding natural on paper. In an ultimate sense, whether or not she really meant it, what she said is true regarding doctors vs actors – at least for that poor girl. (Side note: Last year’s December I chanced upon her on xxxTube and found her awkward and, to be honest, to have come off as possibly not so candid as otherwise expected during an interview or two. Don’t get me wrong – I love her as a celeb.)

    By the way, my take for the alias “Girl on Fire” is that they’d given it to her, and eventually she made peace with it somehow. If that’s the case, regardless of the way she’s come to establish a sense of that nickname, I still find those who so did to be rude and inconsiderate. (If it was her who first came up with the idea, then I guess she might be trying to deal with the ordeal in her own way or as clinically[?] recommended.)

  22. rufussondheim

    I don’t think the film endorses torture nor does it say with any certainty that torture is effective. Only one using poor reasoning skills would come to that conclusion. Nowhere in the movie is someone being tortured and they give out information.

    It’s entirely possible these people would have given info without being tortured. It’s also possible that the torture only strengthened the resolve of the prisoners and they held the information until they got tasty fruit.

    Either way, I don’t think it matters. It’s an arguement for other people to have. And it’s a side issue.

  23. Winston

    Wow. Someone actually bothered to look up what Jennifer Lawrence actually said and quoted it. Who knew that was possible?
    What started this dumb episode was that Vanity Fair had a misleading online preview of the article in which the VF editor’s did some questionable editing to sensationalize the story. What made it worse is that a lot of people, including journalists and bloggers, are functionally illiterate and could not tell the difference between a word placed in brackets (not a quote) and a direct quotation. When so-called journalist don’t even know the most basic rules of grammar, it’s actually depressing because people are relying on nitwits for information.
    So kudos for the actual quote.
    Would love to see Jennifer Lawrence win because I think she gave the best performance among the actresses. But as long as she gets the nomination she deserves. Hollywood is a interesting place.

  24. I just saw SLP tonight. I thought Jennifer Lawrence was good. But Oscar worthy … meh. Bradley Cooper was outstanding, and if anything, he elevates Lawrence’s performance. Seeing Julia Stiles on screen, I thought she’d make a much more interesting Tiffany. I don’t find anything truly unique about Lawrence. Her voice isn’t unique, she’s very pretty, but a lot of actresses are. She’s OK. If she wins an Oscar for this, it would be a shame. Also, what’s up with the basement billing for Julia Stiles in SLP? She’s not even included in the SAG ensemble. That sucks.

  25. christiannnw

    As much as I like Jennifer Lawrence (her lack of pretense, her normality, talent, beauty), I would hate to see her win an Oscar for her performance in Silver Linings. My main gripe is that she’s a supporting character; she serves no purpose in the plot except to instigate growth in Bradley Cooper’s character, details of her personal life are barely touched upon, and the script saddles her with some truly unbearable contrivances (the letter, overtly emphasized sex-drive, those damn football stats).

    Thankfully, Lawrence develops Tiffany beyond the framework given to her by the screenplay. But nominate her in Supporting Actress and stick a form in it, for god’s sake. I don’t agree with the common wisdom that this is a weak year for the Best Actress category. Off the top of my head, I can think of ten female performances that are both leading roles and phenomenally performed:

    Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)
    Rachel Weisz (The Deep Blue Sea)
    Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
    Marion Cotillard (Rust and Bone)
    Michelle Williams (Take This Waltz)
    Helen Hunt (The Sessions)
    Juliette Binoche (Elles)
    Nadezhda Markina (Elena)
    Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
    Sally Field* (Lincoln)

    * I’m considering Sally Field as lead due to the gut punch impact of her performance despite her limited screen time. Think Patricia Neal in Hud.

    Just to reiterate, I like Jennifer Lawrence a whole lot. But this urgent need to give her a Lead Actress Oscar at the age of twenty-two can’t do her career any favors. Just ask Marlee Matlin.

  26. rufussondheim

    Well, Marlee Matlin was a bit limited on the roles she could play.

  27. Winston

    Lawrence deserves to be nominated because she gave the best performance of the year. And her character is a lead role. Quite a few critic’s society’s have already agreed. You look at all the performances and you decide which one was the best. Having seen all of them, Lawrence gave the best performance this year. That’s what it boils down to, or should.

  28. rufussondheim

    I think most serious actors would go for Jessica Chastain over Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence was good but was seriously undermined by a weak script and some awful direction. I felt bad for her at times since the movie was so awful.

  29. Winston

    I see it differently. I think when people focus on the actual craft of acting (creating a character, creating a mood) they would favor Lawrence. The way I see Chastain vs. Lawrence is simple. I think Lawrence is the more naturally talented actress and could pull off ZDT (she already had tougher roles in Winter’s Bone and The Poker House), whereas I don’t think Chastain could pull of Tiffany in SLP. SLP is a performance based film while ZDT is a screenplay based film. Then again maybe Riva will sneak in and take it all. As long as the right people are nominated I don’t really care who wins.

  30. christiannnw

    I have to disagree with Winston on the Lawrence in ZDT claim. Jennifer Lawrence has a naturalistic, almost effortless approach to her acting, and this approach has led to great performances thus far. Jessica Chastain, on the other hand, is a chameleon, able to adapt to any given character and circumstance. Take, for instance, her frivolous, kind-hearted Celia Foote in “The Help” as opposed to her icy, take-no-prisoners Maya in “Zero Dark Thirty”. Please, if you would, indicate two similarly polar-opposite approaches to character delivery in Lawrence’s filmography.

  31. The part of Tiffany in SLP is so slight, with no real arc, I really can’t believe people are talking Oscar. Cooper, yes. Lawrence, no (not that she isn’t good, but it’s not much of a part).

  32. Winston

    In my mind, people have to get over the type of role or whether it plays to formula, and focus on the quality of the acting. The frustration that I encounter in discussing acting awards is that the ultimate issue, who delivered the best prformance, gets constantly buried by extraneous details. What I particularly appreciate about Lawrence in SLP is that she took a role that was not getting a lot of hype, that was not the formulaic Oscar type role, and made it one by sheer ability.
    Actually having that chameleon-like ability is what Lawrence is so well noted for. Quite a few reviews of Winter’s Bone expressed astonishment that the actor that played Ree wasn’t a local girl from Ozark region. David O. Russell recently said the same thing. Contrast the character Lawrence was playing in the Bill Engvall show with Winter’s Bone (filmed when she as 18) which she filmed at the same time; those characters don’t seem to have the same DNA. There is a reason Lawrence has gotten so much recognition.
    In fact I would say that naturalistic ability plays against her. Many people are used to seeing a more stylized approach by actors who don’t have that ability. (For example in Lincoln, there is no doubt that Sally Field is “acting”, although she was playing a very annoying character). Ironically, when they do not see the outward signs of acting they don’t appreciate the quality of the performance. Yet not noticing that an actor is acting is the platinium standard. I always thought Gary Oldman was not properly appreciated on that basis. From what I’ve seen Lawrence inherited some of that Oldman gene.
    Anyway I couldn’t see Chastain pulling off Poker House at 17 or Winter’s Bone at 18 or SLP at 21. Actually don’t think she could pull them off now at 35. That’s just my opinion. Doesn’t mean she’s not a good actress. I just think Lawrence may be a great one unless fame drives her insane.

  33. @christiannnw…You wrote “Please, if you would, indicate two similarly polar-opposite approaches to character delivery in Lawrence’s filmography.”
    That’s a joke question, right? Katniss in THG and Tiffany in SLP are about as polar opposite in character and actor portrayal as you can get. The fact that Jennifer Lawrence only had a couple of weeks off in between filming the two roles is amazing. With Katniss, she is stoic, determined, and very guarded, whereas Tiffany just lays everything out there, as she sees it…she’s open hearted and a bit fiery. Lawrence did a great job with these very different characters. I’m still baffled when I see messages on these and other boards that question her talent as an actress; she has the potential to be one of the greats.

  34. There would have been no Lawrence backlash had she been nominated for the right role in Best Actress (The Hunger Games) and right role in supporting actress (SLP).

  35. There is no real backlash against Jennifer Lawrence, internet hipsters being mad because she might be beat their faves for the oscars doen’t equal backlash.

  36. Winston

    I hate hipsters. I have an opinion. I just don’t think my opinion walks around on stilts. And there is nothing disqualifying about my opnion aligning with the general consensus.
    Here is how I would like to see Best Actress: Lawrence, Chastain, Cotillard, Riva, Watts. And no six year olds please.

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