Best Actress Birthday Party, Week 2
Still trying to figure out the best way to collate comments on these Birthday Party reviews, and also to keep you posted about who's next up for her tribute. Let's try this.
Born January 10January 14:
Click here for the full list of entries
Jan 12: Luise Rainer (102)
New Review: The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937)
Luise's Best Work: She has very strong sequences in The Good Earth, even though Anna May Wong should have had the part. The studio had to decline Wong because, according to the Hays Code, her casting would have implied "miscegenation" with Paul Muni, the white star playing her "Chinese" husband!
I've Also Seen: Generously Oscared and NYFCC'd in The Great Ziegfeld (my review; Best Pictures from the Outside In); trapped inside already-familiar mannerisms in The Great Waltz
Where to Go Next: No one seems too fond of Big City or Toy Wife from the 1930s; I'm more curious about Luise's small comeback, half a century later, in the Hungarian director Károly Makk's The Gambler, based on the Dostoyevsky story, and starring Michael Gambon, Polly Walker, Jodhi May, Dominic West, and the recently deceased John Wood.
Jan 14: Faye Dunaway (71)
New Review: Barfly (1987)
Faye's Best Work: How many actors of either gender can claim three classics as bulletproof, and as bullet-riddled, as Bonnie and Clyde, Chinatown, and Network (my Favorite Films entry), scoring Oscar nominations for all three?
I've Also Seen: Saucy and smart in the original Thomas Crown Affair; somehow holding that dress up in The Towering Inferno; interesting and laudably bold in Mommie Dearest; The Handmaid's Tale; quickly seen but great for atmosphere in James Gray's strong sophomore feature The Yards, where she's almost upstaged by her glasses; and, though I don't remember her in it, The Rules of Attraction
Where to Go Next: Even with some of Faye's 70s catalog still to peruse (Little Big Man, The Three Musketeers, Three Days of the Condor, The Eyes of Laura Mars, even the turgid-sounding Puzzle of a Downfall Child and Voyage of the Damned), the only real competition Barfly had as the Dunaway title I'm most eager to catch up with is Arizona Dream, her collaboration with director Emir Kusturica and co-star Johnny Deppand, from what I hear, a film and a performance of which she's very proud. Eventually, I'll want to poke around more of her 90s character work, too, in Drunks, which sounds like Barfly Redux, and in the Spacey-directed Albino Alligator, which is set in a bar. (Is a healthy liquor budget built into her contract?)
Jan 14: Emily Watson (45)
New Review: The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004)
Emily's Best Work: Breaking the Waves is the obvious and correct answer, but where were all her nominations and gongs for being so flinty and credible in Gosford Park, while Maggie Smith just did her Thing?
I've Also Seen: Interesting as George Eliot's Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the Floss (my review); wasted in The Boxer (my review); deservingly nominated for Hilary and Jackie; a standout in Cradle Will Rock; rewardingly un-typecast in Punch-Drunk Love and Red Dragon; a voice in Corpse Bride; exemplary in The Proposition; understanding an odd project beautifully in Synecdoche, New York, my favorite film of 2008 (my review)
Where to Go Next: Reader recommendations poured in for The Luzhin Defense, Separate Lies, Wah-Wah, and Cemetery Junction, any of which I'd be up for, as I would be for the peculiar-sounding but slightly too Giamatti-heavy Cold Souls. I'm most upset with myself, though, for missing the weeklong Chicago runs of two recent Watson tours-de-force: Within the Whirlwind, a buried awards play that screened as part of the Polish Film Festival at Facets, and Oranges and Sunshine, for which she scored a modicum of awards heat. Emily's also currently up for SAG and Golden Globe awards for the serial-killer TV drama Appropriate Adult, in which I gather she has the Clarice Starling role, more or less. I would iTunes that so fast...
I'll look in the comments for your responses to this week's reviews and for recommendations of further viewingor suggested re-viewing, if you think I've gone wrong somewhere!