Meryl Streep

Some of you may already know me by my Twitter handle: @thefilmcynic. It’s a name I’ve gone by for nearly a decade (so, before current social media outlets), because I’m very cynical about the film industry and try to keep my expectations low. I’m also very cynical about the Academy Awards and awards season in general, because we devote so much focus on them — with a wide spectrum of positive and negative angles — and they’re really a bunch of malarkey (much like the V.P. debate, which has inspired my newfound obsession with that word). So, the higher ups at FSR have asked me to write a cynical column devoted to the Oscars. The first one is inspired by the films Seven Psychopaths, Looper and Lincoln and their celebrated performances. As someone who has studied acting (I’m not very good at it), I’ve long taken issue with the way people look at film performances, because there are just so many different kinds. But there are two real distinct types that we tend to recognize while watching and writing about movies that aren’t acknowledged by the Academy: realistic and artificial. The former has been a big favorite since method acting came into play, though it doesn’t necessarily apply to that style nor does that style necessarily always mean realism. The latter could be more expressive and therefore goes back to the dawn of cinema and its silent performances or could even be more stiff, if that’s what’s intended. Directors who […]

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It’s quite convenient that David Frankel’s Hope Springs kicked its original title – Great Hope Springs – because such a tiny edit saves the film from a rash of mocking spins on its name. Just Okay Hope Springs. Totally Adequate Hope Springs. Hey, Not So Bad Hope Springs. The film, which centers on the crumbling marriage of Kay (Meryl Streep) and Arnold (Tommy Lee Jones) and their apparent last ditch effort to save it by way of an intensive relationship workshop with therapist Dr. Feld (Steve Carell), is perfectly acceptable stuff, but it’s by no means “great” and it’s not nearly as frank, honest, and mature as it would like to be. Instead, it’s a gentle enough take on the romantic comedy for the older set that struggles to find its tone and aim, before settling into something that’s strangely pleasing and oddly compelling. Hope Springs is both a rare bird (how often do we see mature studio films that examine faltering marriages and place importance on the value of lovemaking?) and a strange duck (how many films about faltering marriages encourage a first act of chuckles and titters before dropping the emotional boom, and repeatedly?).

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Good luck untangling the twisted mess that is the family tree at the center of Tracy Letts‘ soon-to-be-adapted play, August: Osage County. Of course, that’s all part of the story of the Pulitzer Prize-winning production, but it makes confirming casting notices for John Wells‘ film version a real beast. Letts’ play centers on the Weston family, led by patriarch Beverly Weston and his sick, pill-popping wife Violet. Set during the month of August in the Weston’s hometown of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, the play opens with a prologue that features Beverly as he attempts to hire a nurse for his, for lack of a better word, cracked out wife (to be played by Meryl Streep). While that introduction might make it seem as if it’s Violet who will soon wither, Act One hits us with the hard truth – Beverly has committed suicide, leaving Violet alone to deal with his death and the rest of their family. They are not a happy family. And they have much bigger issues to deal with than just one measly suicide. Most of the conflict of August: Osage County is between the various Weston women – especially between Violet and her eldest daughter, Barbara Fordham (Julia Roberts) – but there are two other Weston girls to cast, and it’s now been revealed that rising star Andrea Riseborough will be one of them.

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Just look at Meryl Streep, looking austere and keeping her upper lip incredibly stiff. Unimaginably stiff. The stiffness alone is enough to make The Iron Lady a formidable movie, and now you can own it on DVD for free. We’re giving away 2 copies, and all you have to do is hop down into the comments section and tell us how you’d fix the government. It’s a contest only open to US residents (sorry about that world), but feel free to fix any country’s government you want. Two (2) winners chosen at random will each win a copy of The Iron Lady on DVD. Now, fix the world:

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What is Movie News After Dark? If you don’t know already, then it might not be for you. Wait.. wait… wait… Don’t leave. Trust us, it’s for you. We begin tonight with a shot of Mark Wahlberg in Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain, the small movie that Bayhem will direct in between the last and the next Transformers movies. It’s being called a sort of “Pulp Fiction meets Fargo” story about a bodybuilder turned kidnapper. Wahlberg is beefy. There’s a 712% forecast of explosions, despite the promised sense of reality. Say hello to your mother for me, and carry on for more news…

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Editor’s Note: This article will be updated in real time as the winners come in during the Academy Awards broadcast. Please join us for our Live-Blog tonight (because we ask nicely), and while you wait for the winners, check out our Oscar Week Series, where you will find breakdowns and predictions for all of the major categories. It’s finally here! The time of year where I can write a paragraph that no one will read because they’ve already scrolled down to see who’s won. But even though this won’t be seen by humans, here’s a personal reminder that this night may be about politics and back-slapping, but it’s also about the splendor of cinema. It’s about the magic of movies. The genius of thousands of images all strung together with blood, sweat and tears to create characters and a journey through the heart of a story. There are some great stories on display tonight. That’s what matters second most. What matters most, of course, is crushing your enemies, seeing them driven before you and hearing the lamentation of their women. Let’s get to the winning, right? And the Oscar goes to…

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In a couple of hours, we’ll start live-blogging our little hearts out as Neil pretends to know what “chiffon” is, and after the red carpet, we’ll sink into that fifth drink while reveling in the sheer majesty of the 2012 Academy Awards. Stifling cynicism can take a taxi outta town for a while, because no matter what, if you want to see it, there’s still something magical about this night. Part of that magic is being completely wrong. We’re confident now, but when the winners are announced, there’s always the tiny possibility of a big surprise. So who did you put down in your office pool to take home gold tonight? Our team spent all week tossing out their best analyses, and it all comes down to this. Here’s who we picked. Would you take us up on these bets?

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Oscar 2012 Predictions: Best Actress

In recent years, the Best Actress Oscar has been a far more compelling race than the Best Actor Oscar. Where Best Actor winners have been those whose time has come (like Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart or Colin Firth in The King’s Speech), the Best Actress Oscar has been a tighter and less predictable race. The roles that have won Best Actress have been increasingly edgy over the past decade or so, as well as honoring relatively younger actresses (including Natalie Portman, Reese Witherspoon, and Hilary Swank). This year offers an interesting mix of candidates who cover a range of ages and experiences. The actresses in Hollywood should be proud that their top roles are about such challenging subjects as sexual identity and female empowerment. This is a more radical turn from the Best Actor field, which has roles dealing with relationship drama, sports and spying. To quote an old cigarette campaign for Virginia Slims, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” It’s been a long way from the early days of Hollywood where more traditional damsel roles were far more prominent. The meatier roles and blockbuster heroes continue to go to male actors, but the real depth of character and challenging subject matter has been making its way to the women of Hollywood, if in a smaller degree at least a more noticeable degree. Read on for the nominations and my predicted winner in red…

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This is big news for people who like super famous actresses. August: Osage County is an adaptation of a Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning play of the same name. It tells the story of Violet, the pill-popping head of a family who must gather her daughters together in the face of a crisis. The film version will be directed by The Company Man’s John Wells, and it has the Weinsteins sitting in producer chairs. But that’s not why we’re all here reading this article, we’re all here to gush over the two actresses that they’ve cast in the leads. Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts have signed on to play the mother and one of the adult daughters in this film. Maybe you’ve heard of them? Oscar winners? They’re kind of big deals. Of course, when a movie is able to pull a casting coup like this, there are a lot of self-congratulatory quotes that go around in press releases. To that end, Julia Roberts has already said, “After seeing Meryl Streep’s mesmerizing portrayal as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, it has me even more excited and proud to co-star with her.” The two have been attached to the film since back in 2010, but the Weinsteins have finally confirmed the pair in an official press release, along with the news that the film will start production this fall.

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It’s been a year filled with silent screen stars seeking redemption, the 1920s coming alive in Paris, a young boy searching for the first great director, sex addicts in New York City, horses going to war, maids of dishonor, and skulls getting crushed in elevators. Now it’s time to celebrate all of those things and more with the 84th annual Academy Awards. They’ve come a long way since the Hotel Roosevelt in 1929 (although sex addicts have almost always been a fixture). Get to ready to smile, ball your fists with snubbed rage, or be generally unsurprised. Here they are. The 2012 Oscar nominees:

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An old woman enters a small corner shop in London for milk and finds herself shuffled about, ignored and treated like just another no-name pensioner. What the clerk and other customers don’t know though is that this elderly lady in a head scarf, glasses and overcoat is actually their former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. She played an integral role in the shaping of the Western world due to her policies and length of time in office, and was at one time as reviled as she was revered. The Iron Lady is similar in that the film’s outward impression is far removed from the inner truth. The film should be, and by all accounts is meant to be, a look at the fascinating and historical life and times of the UK’s first and only female Prime Minister. But instead, the movie lets all of that fall by the wayside as it focuses on Thatcher as an old woman struggling to let go of her dead husband. Meryl Streep (and the film’s make-up department) brings the historical figure to life with an amazing and expressive performance, but it’s wasted on a film more interested in lost love and the onset of dementia than it is in telling an engaging and relevant story.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr looks at his list of New Year’s resolutions. However, since he was a little drunk when he wrote them and his handwriting is sloppy, he thinks it reads to “exorcise more” instead of “exercise more.” So, he hops a plane to Rome and sneaks out to the theater late at night to check out the latest first-of-the-year release, The Devil Inside. After waking up from a quick nap in the theater as a result, Kevin heads back to the states to catch some last-minute award films in limited release.

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Is there really any doubt? With Meryl Streep‘s consistent successes and the added bonus of a win for The King’s Speech last year, all that The Iron Lady has to do is prove that it’s not a carbon copy with a female in the lead to make Academy voters happy. There’s a shot in the new UK trailer for the film where Streep, as former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, stands tall with her chest out and her chin held out in the air. It’s followed immediately by a somber shot where she hangs her head low while seated in the shadows. I can only assume that the film will focus on both aspects of her life, the trials and triumphs, the personal and the political. She’s joined by the brilliant Jim Broadbent, and the whole basket of crumpets was directed by Phyllida Lloyd (Mamma Mia!, Macbeth). It’s a gorgeous trailer. Check it out for yourself:

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The resemblance isn’t nearly as striking as Meryl Streep’s turn as Julia Child, but it’s a safe bet that the phenomenal actress will make The Iron Lady her own and sink right into the role as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This is definitely not the first time Thatcher has appeared on film (as herself or played by an actor), but it’s the most high profile to date. This is the second feature from Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd. No word yet on whether it will be a musical, but it is in its second week of filming. Check out Streep as Thatcher for yourself:

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As the only literate Reject, it’s my duty to find the latest, the greatest and the untouched classics that would make great source material for film adaptations. I read so you don’t have to. A hospital full of doctors, nurses and patients looks out on a city under siege by the deadly force of a category 5 hurricane. The water level is rising, the electricity will give out eventually, and a group of medical practitioners that are exhausted by 40+ hours of work without sleep have to make the crucial decisions about who has a chance of living and who doesn’t. Sound dramatic enough? Of course it does. Because it happened. The hurricane is Hurricane Katrina, the hospital is Memorial in New Orleans, and the decisions were impossible. Yes, it would make one hell of a movie.

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If there’s one thing that every single human being on the planet is talking about right now, it’s the Home Shopping Network. They just can’t get enough of the damned thing. All the cubic zirconium and credit card fraud and shiny inhuman smiles. It’s even more popular than Facebook. This message, of course, is brought to you by the 1980s and Uncle Jasper’s Removable Shoulder Pads For Women. Universal continues to stay on the cutting edge with a new project about said televised storefront that’s being written/directed/produced by Sex and the City and Sex and the City 2: Hot Flashes writer/director/producer Michael Patrick King. The parts (that haven’t been written yet) were developed specifically for Oprah, Meryl Streep, and Sandra Bullock. Fortunately, they have taken the roles. Unfortunately, Sandra Bullock took Meryl Streep’s role. Fortunately, Streep is playing Oprah. In other news, the Home Shopping Network still exists. [Cinema Blend]

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The Streep/Tucci love affair rolls on… Per THR, Meryl Streep will be starring in the new film, Mommy & Me, for director Stanley Tucci. Streep will play the mommy, and Tina Fey will obviously play me. The story specifics haven’t been revealed yet aside from a general and generic description that it explores “the thorny and funny sides of mother-daughter relationships.” Hard to get excited based off that alone, but the pairing of Streep and Fey is actually pretty exciting. Streep has recently found a career resurgence (of sorts) in more comedic roles like Mamma Mia!, It’s Complicated, and Julie & Julia, and Fey is simply one of the funniest people working in TV and film right now. This is Tucci’s fifth feature behind the camera, but odds are it will be seen by more people than his other four combined. It’ll also be his third film with Streep. He played one of her underlings in The Devil Wears Prada and was most recently seen as her husband (and one of the film’s highlights) in Julie & Julia. There’s no word yet if Tucci with actually appear in Mommy & Me or just direct, but I can easily envision him in a small role as a perverted neighbor who kidnaps and kills Streep’s daughter. Or not.

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Meryl Streep Margaret Thatcher

Meryl Streep is in talks to re-team with Mamma Mia! director Phyllida Lloyd for Thatcher, a biopic of the former British prime minister. The movie will center on Thatcher’s attempts to save her career in the 17 days leading up the Falklands War in 1982. She was also, for those who don’t follow history, the only woman to ever hold the post of Prime Minister in Britain’s history.

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Movie Drinking Games

The worst thing that can happen this week in the world of DVDs and Blu-ray is for your mom to call you up and invite you over to watch It’s Complicated. After all, who wants to watch old people doin’ it with their mom in the room? So, grab a bottle of wine and get your three sheets to the wind before the real jumbly bits start to show up in this senior citizen rom com.

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Oscar Predictions: Best Picture

This year has been a strange one for acting performances. In a big way, the only category to fully reflect the new diversity that the Academy seems to be going for is the Best Actress category in which we see a Southern mom, a famous author’s wife, a young girl finding her purpose, a young girl finding her purpose through intense hardship, and a former spy who wants to take cooking lessons.

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