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Marriage Story Review

"They're saying this is for Adam Driver what Kramer vs Kramer was for Dustin Hoffman. More about him than about her.  Scarlett, to me, is the open question. By now it's Driver vs Phoenix for best actor." - Melchiades - Andrew

"Mini-shutout to Alda, whom I loved and thought did absolute wonders in his what, 3 or 4 scenes. Great review!" -Alex

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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The Films of 2015. The 16th annual FiLM BiTCH Awards





Best Actress
Cate Blanchett
"Carol Aird"
Brie Larson
Rooney Mara
"Therese Belivet"
Charlotte Rampling
"Kate Mercer"
Saoirse Ronan

 When Blanchett went next level with Blue Jasmine, she wasn't playing! On the surface she's all hard glamour but in her scenes with Abby (and later w/ Therese) she's girlish sweet, fragile even. Bonus points: never softens Carol's "ugly people" qualities: the predatory flirting, diva impatience, the loaded gift-giving

After demonstrating her considerable facility with child actors in Short Term 12, Larson makes her leading lady move w/ this terrific drama, as a damaged young mother who loves her son desperately but increasingly lashes out from self-loathing. Bonus points: that emotionally blocked interview scene.

 A singular piece of acting: she absorbs and fully reflects back everything the script says or implies about her and every beat from her scene partners and yet she remains something of an island; fascinating, and alien... even to herself. How do you act "flung out of space"? Mara finds a way.
 The slight high concept story demands that the actors bring their A game. Like all greats she gives good face but the true genius of this turn might be in its sublime marital body language, less warmly shared, more tentative/shaky as we progress. That final sharp yank of her arm!

Because there are few cinematic joys that can match a strong actor coming into their own Stardom. Her Eilis is full of pure feeling and surprises (the consistent but subtle sense of humor is a nice touch) and always beautifully rendered, she complete sells the gradual but emphatic blossoming


Finalists: What a year for actressing. I wanted to have nine nominees as all four of these women were also nomination-worthy brilliant: the inimitable Lily Tomlin as sharp-tongued Grandma; Alicia Vikander nailing the complicated object/subject "Ava" at the center of Ex Machina; Juliette Binoche great angsty Star Actress in Clouds of Sils Maria; and Nina Hoss's spectral single-mindedness in Phoenix

Semi-Finalists: Regina Case (The Second Mother); Blythe Danner (I'll See You In My Dreams);Blythe Danner (I'll See You In My Dreams); Bel Powley (Diary of a Teenage Girl) Disclaimer: I could keep going -- really I could -- because it was such a strong year but unfortunately our rules allow only 12 notices a category. I mean Ricki and the Flash was my favorite Streep performance in years and she couldn't even make top 12? And there were other strong female leads too: Charlize, Carey, Karidje, Jennifer, etcetera...


Best Actor
Matt Damon
"Mark Watney"
Paul Dano
"Brian Wilson"
Michael Fassbender
"Steve Jobs"
Michael B Jordan
"Adonis Creed"
Jacob Tremblay

An effortless star turn with a whole movie on its shoulders. He uses the character's innate humor wisely as both armor and companionship, letting fear and loneliness peek through and really pop when they do. 

 Because it's not just the sound mix that lets you hear the music in his brain but the actor, too. His cadences, the abrupt key changes in personality. He sells the siren call of inspiration "New sounds... new harmonies" pulling him from the moment.

  The movie's perpetual pre-launch structure is always waiting for the spotlight he's already standing in; His übermensch is not just "playing the orchestra" but the stage manager and the audience; A toxic puppet master impatient with all our tangled strings

 Jordan's facility with tough/tender dichotomies are put to perfect use here; all the headgear in the world won't protect Adonis from feelings. The eyes always give him away: hope and hurt and homecoming sparring together in the ring

A complete natural he leans beautifully into each of Jack's moods and steps towards a fuller understanding: childlike wonder, figuring-it-out curiosity, awestruck paralysis (that escape scene!) and the tiptoe'ing around messier adult emotions.

Finalists: To be honest it was a tossup between Matt Damon's botanist in The Martian and Tom Hanks's lawyer in Bridge of Spies. Both stars effortlessly carry entire pictures with a light touch but firm grasp of characterization and how to make each scene pop - they make it look easy but it isn't or every actor would be a beloved superstar; Tom Courtenay recessive compartmentalized work in 45 Years is a beautiful contrast to Rampling's external reaching and curiosity

Semi Finalists:  Christopher Abbott (James White); Sir Ian McKellen (Mr Holmes); Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation); Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw); Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)



Best Supporting Actress
Rose Byrne
"Rayna Boyanov"
Cynthia Nixon
"Gail White"
Sarah Paulson
"Abby Gerhard"
Kristen Stewart
Kate Winslet
"Joanna Hoffman"
The final installment of a meta trilogy (Bridesmaids, Neighbors, Spy) in which Byrne announces herself as one of the great screen comediennes. Diva superior yet weirdly sympathetic, and just hilarious. Bonus Points: 'Sad Bulgarian clown'
  Theater experience sure comes in handy when a director is wise enough to let powerhouse actors merely be for the camera and not cut away. Not that you don't want to look away from Nixon's brutally intimate portrait of this cancer-ridden mother, her erratic moods and increasingly vacant eyes on the brink of death.

Haynes and Nagy deploy Hollywood's current MVP Supporting Actress with absolute precision and Paulson rewards their smarts with both forceful direct feeling and heaps of intimated backstory. Her Abby is so potently rendered it's easy to fantasize about an alternate cut from her POV.

 A naturalistic wonder and the new gold standard in chemistry with your lead. Her eyes never leave her Star and you feel a less familiar woman (emerge in the rare moments when she's thinking of something else or playing the non-hired friend. Love that actorly business / phone juggling like its second nature

Winslet's busybody attentiveness to her boss is filled with old patterns and yet she never feels staid or dimly servile. Winslet allows Jobs to exasperate Joanna anew each time. Watch her wait for each chance to parry, never wasting a jab to redirect him: her duty and her privilege as his only true confidante.

Finalists: Elizabeth Banks took a saintly but empty role (supportive love - that's it) on the page of Love and Mercy and elevated it with emotional intelligence and reactive nuance; In the olden days of Oscar, Julie Walters landlady in Brooklyn would have been a shoo-in for honors and deservedly so. She brings so much humor and character to every boarding house scene.

Semi-Finalists: Angela Bassett (Chi-Raq); Elizabeth Debicki (The Man From UNCLE); Julianne Nicholson (Black Mass); Kristen Wiig (Diary of a Teenage Girl); Nina Kunzendorf (Phoenix)


Best Supporting Actor
Benicio Del Toro
Nicholas Hoult
Oscar Isaac
Michael Keaton
"Walter 'Robby' Robinson"
Sylvester Stallone
"Rocky Balboa"

It's somehow fitting that the title character of this slow burn is backgrounded for so much of its running time, but Del Toro makes the most of his innate mysteries as he comes into dangerous focus
 "Witness me!" Bless actors who get, absorb and reflect back their movie's most singular traits. Hoult commits madly to this dystopia's brainwashing but tempers it with childlike wonder and yearning for approval

 This mad scientist antagonist is a weirdo wonder in Isaac's inspired hands, continually popping in to throw the rats in his maze (and the audience) off balance. He continually suggests the fermenting of years of isolation and superiority

is so dependant on its fine ensemble that it feels strange to single someone out but if McAdams is its ears, and Ruffalo its sense of justice than Keaton's subdued gravitas is the conscience that gives it its soul.

  Returning to his signature role, Stallone never attempts to steal the picture. He's so fused to Balboa that he too is content to pass the torch with beautifully low-key support and end-of-line vulnerability 

Finalists: Mark Rylance is saddled with some of Bridge of Spies most obvious writing tricks but he's beautifully still and direct and that final scene sure is a beaut. More time on the big screen please sir; Nearly everyone is great in Spotlight but among them Stanley Tucci and Liev Schreiber were next in line for these honors. 

Semi Finalists: Kyle Chandler (Carol); Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation); Martin Starr (I'll See You In My Dreams); Paul Bettany (The Avengers: Age of Ultron)