Tag Archive: octavia spencer


 

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Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

Mary J. Blige – Mudbound

Allison Tanney – I, Tonya

Lesley Manville – Phantom Thread

Laurie Metcalf – Lady Bird

Octavia Spencer – The Shape of Water

Who I’m Cheering For: You know how a part of you always remembers someone from the first time you saw them?  Octavia Spencer will always be ‘Lady in Alley’ from S.W.A.T (the movie) to me.  Silly I know, but it’s an ‘actor paying their dues, moving up the ranks’ thing.  I know this isn’t her year though.

Who Should Win: One of the two ‘difficult mother’ characters; their movies fall apart without them.  I think Allison has more goodwill at this moment.

Who Will Win: Allison Tanney.  Fine by me.

 

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I get it.  I get why this is the frontrunner.

‘The Shape of Water’ checks off so many boxes, even to a film geek like me.  Non traditional love story? Check.  Feels super original in the land of remaking everything? Check.  Non verbal lead character? Check.  Character actors who character actors worship (Michael Shannon and Michael Stuhlberg?) Check check check.

In a year where all the Best Director nominees will argue their man (or woman!) did the best job this year, it’s going to be hard to argue against Del Toro’s vision here.  A…’creature’ is captured in Cold War era America and brought to a secret location.  He forms a bond with a mute cleaning lady and the two fall in love.  I mean…COME ON!!!

It’s del Toro so you know it’s beautiful to look at; the creature looks ‘real’ within the world they’ve created; the cast is solid from top to bottom.  The biggest nit pick (if you want to call it that) is if the viewer is willing to go all in on what’s essentially a fantasy film.

The nominations would say yes.  We’ll find it in another month if that translates to wins.

 

 

‘Hidden Figures’

 

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What a cast!

That was my first impression after watching the number one movie on MLK weekend.  Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae star as the trio of black women who were instrumental to the success of NASA and the space program in the 60s.  Aldis Hodge and Mahershala Ali have supporting roles as the men who doubt but ultimately support their women; Kirsten Dunst and Jim Parsons play masters of microaggression as the middle management bosses who are clearly threatened by the new blood rising; Kevin Costner gets to play another ‘man of his time’ who ultimately chooses to stand on the right side of history.

The title is a fantastic pun; even a lot of us who take pride in knowing black history couldn’t immediately quote back to you the story of these three real women: Katherine Johnson (Taraji) was instrumental in working out the math that helped America win the space race; Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia) was the first African-American supervisor at NASA; Mary Jackson (Monae) was one of the earliest black aerospace engineers and used her own foothold to help other women and minorities get their foot in the door.

These ‘based on a true story’ movies can veer in a lot of directions, but it’s easy to see why this one has been a critical and commercial favorite.  Definite recommend.

Fruitvale Station

 

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Finally got to see Fruitvale Station tonight.  Taking one last deep breath before I start this one.

The film is based on the real life story of Oscar Grant, who a few years back was killed at the BART station in San Francisco this film is named after.  As directed by Ryan Coogler, we follow Oscar (as played by Michael B. Jordan) on his last day.  The beauty of how the story is told, is that, starting with the real life cell phone footage of Oscar’s murder, we as the audience know this is Oscar’s last day.  So (like all of us) you see the different roles and contradictions within him as he interacts with his girlfriend, his daughter, his mother, random people he meets.  When the cops show up at the train station for what should be a fairly routine ‘everybody settle down’ call, the chills go down your spine.  Again I credit Coogler here, but even the murder itself doesn’t come across as overtly malicious.  But the bottom line is he’s dead.  As Biggie famously said, ‘Death, there ain’t no coming back from that.’  Octavia Spencer plays Oscar’s mother in the film, and she may be a bigger lock for an Oscar nomination than anyone else in the film.  The tears were flowing in the screening I was in, and I know it was far from the first time.

Michael B. Jordan came out for a quick Q&A after the screening and talked about the making of the film and his own (still very young) career progress.  He’ll always be Wallace to me so it was nice to hear him talk a little about taking acting as a serious craft while on the Wire, and he talked about his own ‘7-11 diet’ (whcih I might have to steal) before you hit that turning point where ‘overnight’ you’re pegged as the next Guy.  He came across as very genuine and grateful for the whole process, which did nothing to diminish my hope the kid gets to build whatever type of long term career he wants to have.

One way or another, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this film again early next year, so I’ll go in deeper again at that point.

Today we look at the ladies…

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Who I Want to Win: I might get outcast for saying this, but being partial to comedy anyway, I thought Melissa McCarthy stole every scene in the best comedy that came up last year.
  • Who Should Win: She’s kind of been the black sheep as far as awards season goes, but Berenice Bejo more than carried her share of the weight in the film everyone’s been jocking this year (‘the Artist’.)
  • Who Will Win: no reason to think the Oscar won’t go to Octavia Spencer at this point.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Who I Want to Win: I can’t penalize Viola for whatever feelings I may or not have for ‘the Help’ as a movie.
  • Who Should Win: There’s an argument to be made for Meryl (as always), but I’ll say Viola should win it.
  • Who Will Win: Hear me out; it won’t happen, but what if Meryl and Viola somehow split the vote and Michelle Williams sneaks in for ‘My Week With Marilyn’? It’s a performance people seem to like, it just came out on the ‘wrong year’ as they say.  Just throwing it out there…

Tomorrow, breaking down the actors…