It’s Movie Christmas!

Anyone who has read here for a while knows that when it comes to awards shows… I KEEP UP.

This morning, Oscar noms came out, and frankly, I’m pretty irritated by the machine of the Academy. Here are some initial thoughts and my picks.

(Disclaimer: I have not seen The Imitation Game, American Sniper, Foxcatcher, Two Days One Night, or Nightcrawler)

BEST PICTURE
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
Birdman
The Theory of Everything
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Whiplash
Selma
American Sniper

For my money, Boyhood is easily the best film of the year, and possibly the best film of the last five years. It is simply groundbreaking, subtle, intensely powerful work, and an exploration of the amazing power film has at its disposal. I’m okay with this list, although I think that Gone Girl should be on it.

BEST ACTRESS
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Okay, this was a shitty year for actresses. Objectively. Of these, only Moore and Witherspoon were truly leading actresses (in other words, not shared focus with a man). I have no idea what Marion Cotillard is even doing there. I didn’t see Still Alice, but my vote goes to Julianne Moore because I like her a lot. I’m glad Pike got the nom, and Jones did deserve a nom, but really. Just the worst year. My god.

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

BEST ACTOR
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
WTF no Oyelowo? I saw Selma last night and he KILLED. I can’t imagine being a not-particularly-well-known British actor and have the balls to play an American hero. And he just kills it. He was King. Also, this is like the whitest boys band of nominations I’ve ever seen. Seriously! Redmayne was great, and the nom and his GG win was well-deserved. And Michael Keaton WILL and SHOULD win. But Oyelowo, Oyelowo, Oyelowo.

David Oyelowo in Selma

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge
I haven’t seen Foxcatcher or The Judge, so I can’t really say here. I WILL say that it’s a stacked category (funny– no female category is stacked) and of the three performances I have seen, all are deserving. My vote goes with Simmons, because it’s such a major role. However, both Norton and Hawke gave career performances.

JK Simmons in Whiplash

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Emma Stone, Birdman
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Laura Dern, Wild
Okay, color me CONFUSED. Where is Carrie Coon from Gone Girl? Where is Emily Blunt (who was better than Meryl) in Into the Woods? And suddenly I realize that there were NO GOOD SUPPORTING WOMEN except for Patricia Arquette. I did not think Stone was awards-worthy, Meryl is just doing goddamn Meryl (which is amazing, but I think we can take a breather maybe), and I didn’t see either Dern or Knightley so what can I say. Ladies, this can’t happen again. This industry can’t keep doing this. GSDLGAFSKJLAS

Carrie Coon in Gone Girl

BEST DIRECTOR
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Yay to the top three (and tough choice between Boyhood and Birdman— though it should be Boyhood simply because of how ballsy Linklater was). But WHERE is Ava DuVernay for Selma? Seriously? How does a movie nominated for Best Picture NOT have noms for Best Actor or Best Director? HOW? Also, nominating DuVernay would be groundbreaking– the first woman of color to even get a nomination for director. Nope, this year is all about the white men. Also I think Gone Girl is some of Fincher’s best work but apparently no one listens to me.

David Oyelowo and Ava DuVernay on the set of Selma

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
I have only one basket in this cart and SHE’S NOT EVEN NOMINATED. I walked out of Gone Girl and was like, “wow, I have never seen a better book to film adaptation than this.” It was fucking brilliant. Adaptations are kind of a precious point for me– I have a lot of opinions about them– and this one was brilliant. Utterly genius. But no, it’s more important to add more white men writing about white men. Did you notice all the writers are white men and all the movies are about white men? Yeah.

L to R: Kim Dickens (Det. Boney), Rosamund Pike (Amy), Gillian Flynn, and Carrie Coon (Go)

Here are some final thoughts:

  • How did The Lego Movie not get a nomination?
  • Why does the Academy hate Gone Girl so much?
  • I’m about to get political, but I kind of can’t bear to see all the accolades for a movie (American Sniper) whose hero is a guy who took enormous pleasure (yes, pleasure) in killing people. I’m sure the movie is fine, but it makes me feel icky. When you put it side to side with something like Selma, I think we should feel icky about which got more noms.

Who are our American heroes?

Reviews schmu-views

Okay, okay, I’m about to be a bit of a diva.

I’m currently in a play that has done fairly well as far as reviews go. 3 GREAT reviews, including 1 from the New York Times, and one negative. In all of them, a few actors (usually at least 4) of the six person cast are getting specific write-ups. This includes the 10 year old boy who has like, two scenes. Me? Nothing. Grouped in with everyone else, or not mentioned at all except next to my character’s name.

Am I THAT forgettable?

Really?

It’s a stupid thing to care about. What you don’t want is a BAD review, but still… I care. And I’m trying not to but I do. And it makes me feel kinda bad.

Silver Linings

First of all, my heart goes out to all the victims, the families, and others affected by the tragic shooting in CT yesterday. My heart is broken. It’s unthinkable violence.

And now, onto me (ugh, terrible transition, forgive me).

It’s been a crazy week, and not really a good one. I’m moody and overwhelmed and anxious about going home on Monday with A. I had two auditions (got one callback), but nothing I’m over-the-moon excited about. You know? I think I’m just ready for home. It has been since April.

So A and I saw Silver Linings Playbook, the new David O. Russell movie, this afternoon. Those of you that have been following my blog for a while know that I LOVE movies and I devoutly follow the awards season. It’s just one of those fun things that you can do if you don’t like sports but like the strategy game. So.

Anyway, I like Russel’s work in general– Three Kings, parts of I Heart Huckabees, and The Fighter, but this… I struggled. The ads looked stupid– like rom-com bullshit stupid– but after I got drinks with R, she convinced me that it’s actually a wonderful movie “about mental illness and family, and the genetic ties of mental illness…” so I figured maybe I was wrong. Russell is a great director, and it sounded like something I’d like. Plus, all the reviews were raves.

Well. Unfortunately. I was right on first instinct. There were moments that rang true, and there were moments I laughed, but I feel like Russell didn’t succeed in treating mental illness with weight and understanding AND making a very traditional rom-com (two crazy people find each other, make each other mad, fall in love with each other, and are perfectly crazy together). It felt scattered, and so neither side felt true.

This goes against what most of the press is saying, so I’m going to draw upon a Salon article that I think deals with this point in a clearer way than I have.

After talking about various critics’ praise/judgement of the film, L.V. Anderson wonders why they seem to be missing what, to his mind, is the major crux of the film.

“Mostly because Silver Linings Playbook is a mess. That messiness is at least partly by design. .. But in addition to that choppy style there is a choppiness in the storytelling when it comes to depicting, and defining the contours of, mental illness.”

“Russell doesn’t seem particularly interested in the question of what distinguishes a person’s mental illness from his or her personality, or the question of whether medication is as effective a treatment for bipolar disorder as a pretty girl and a dance competition. Russell doesn’t highlight whether or not Pat is medicated at any given time in the film’s narrative. Though we hear Pat complain of lithium’s side effects—sluggishness, weight gain—early in the film, we don’t see him actually experience any of these side effects once he starts taking his meds. As David Denby writes in his critical New Yorker review of Silver Linings Playbook, “What’s supposed to be clinically wrong with [Pat] is inseparable from what is merely infantile in him as a character.”

“And Pat’s storyline isn’t the only one that makes Russell’s handling of mental illness baffling. Pat’s father, played by Robert DeNiro, seems to have a pretty serious undiagnosed disorder—manifesting itself in sports superstitions and a gambling addiction—but it’s his gambling that gets the plot rolling in the direction of Pat and Tiffany’s happy ending. One of Pat’s friends, played by John Ortiz, has a frightening latent violent streak that echoes Cooper’s own episodes. And Tiffany can only win Pat by lying to him repeatedly about the goal of their dance sessions—but is nonetheless presented as a perfect romantic partner for him at the end of the film, implicitly because of her own, unnamed illness.

“(Silver Linings Playbook falls into the annoying trope of implying that mentally ill people can only truly be understood by other mentally ill people, the details of their respective illnesses be damned.)”

Okay. So back to my words.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a kid. I’d say that I could no longer be classified as bipolar, and childhood bipolar is different from that in adults. There WERE moments of the film that rang true in terms of mental illness (Pat’s in a good mood, but his parents are concerned that his happiness is “too happy, too up”– manic– something I’ve experienced with my own parents), but for a movie that is supposed to be catalyzed by mental illness, making the mentally ill compassionate protagonists in the story, in some way normalizing the experience of mental illness in the framework of a rom-com, Russell leaves problematic holes.

As someone who has (and will forever) suffer from mental illness, I couldn’t just let go the fact that Pat’s mood was unchanged by taking or not taking meds (nor did he have side effects, which he even referenced). I didn’t believe that Tiffany was actually struggling, and couldn’t understand why, if she indeed was, no one helped her get help. AND WHY OH WHY would anyone let the incredibly triggering situation in the final scenes of the movie possibly take place?! Pat’s therapist was in the room when the parlay was planned– and it is clearly the worst idea EVER THOUGHT UP for at least three diagnosable mentally ill characters.

Bradley Cooper does a good job. There’s some sweetness, there are some laughs. Robert DeNiro and Chris Tucker are great (I can’t talk about Jennifer Lawrence because she just takes all the parts for young women with depth).

But there’s just this part of me that felt talked down to, and felt uncomfortable with the way mental illness was ultimately handled. Are we cured by love? Does exercise provide relief from lifelong bipolar disorder? Are meds not even WORTH trying? Does mentally ill just mean “adorable mess” when it comes to women?

Things to think about. Any of you see this movie?

(Also, P.S., my favorite films of the year: Lincoln, The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Argo. Yet to see are Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi. I’ve seen a ton more, but these are my picks for faves of the year.)

The Times’ They are A-Changin’

Times review came out.

It came out halfway (at least) through the show tonight. I have a Google alert on my name so I got it during scene 2 in Act I.

It’s not great. In fact, it’s pretty bitchy towards the play and the theatre that produced it.

However. And the big however.

He liked me. And I quote: “Thanks to competent actors under the direction of [director], this hodgepodge manages to achieve some semblance of reality. The honey-voiced Mr. S does his best to make the obviously written [character] appear not too openly villainous at first, while Ms. B invests [my character] with considerable youthful fervor.”

It’s a testament to the power and strength of this cast that we didn’t reveal that we ALL had seen the article until tonight, as we were enjoying a glass of wine after the show. And of course… pretty much all of us (who have any technological skills at all) had gotten the alert and read the review.

Truly, and maybe this is my personal bias about this play and my personal bias about what I want my career to be like…. I can’t see it hurting us. I guess the playwright’s agents (who had previously beem full throttle interested in a NYC transfer) wanted to talk to him tomorrow. BUT. BUT. For me… this can’t change my belief that this play will transfer to NYC and succeed off-Broadway and change my life. I truly, truly believe that this will not be the end for this play. And that thought gives me such unbridled joy and enthusiasm, I can’t even express the level to which I feel it would influence my emotional life (which, like it or not, is tied to my theatrical life).

My parents loved it. My grandmother liked it, and she loved me, which is actually,betterthan I had expected. Truly. I wasn’t sure if she’d survive the New Jersey experience and remember my performance positively. Apparently she didn’t even know I was the lead? Hm. Sounds like selective memory to me. (Oh, and did I mention my grandmother grew up with Marlon Brando and didStreetcar Named Desireon Broadway with him in the ’40s? Cause that happened.)

So basically I can’t see this review derailing the train of this play. I firmly believe (for, fair enough, selfish interests) that we will transfer somewhere in NYC in the Fall (it has to be fall because I am quickly aging out of the part.)

Although, after most everyone had gone to bed (the playwright and his actress wife snuggled up taking care of each other like a goddamn little happy family goddamnit), it was just me and R, the older man (old enough to be my dad), left, finishing off our glasses of whiskey.

“You’re not going to listen to this.” he said to me, slurring a bit but clearly on a track. “You are going to have a career. You’re not done yet. You’re going to be FINE.”

Of course, I tossed my hair self-consciously and said, “oh, oh, sure… haha, thanks…” But hearing those words from someone who by NO means has to give them? And who continues on by asking how I do what I do and play 14 so convincinly? I believed him. I allowed the compliment and the faith he had in me to inject past the soft fleshy bits, dogding the firm, stodgy bone, and squeeze out right into that wonderful heart muscle, that pumps me full of self-worth (sometimes) when there’s some great compliment that made it there. And that one? More than any of the others I’ve gotten so far… that one made it. And I let it bloom quietly in my little personal happiness greenhouse… where I can tend for the blooms of good feeling and good will that sprout; where I can keep them calm and secret and purely mine; where I can enjoy them without the guilt of owning them… my personal garden of sweet, sweet statements.

On a totally other note.

My body. Obviously. What else is new.

Isn’t it remarkable how every day your body can look completely different? For some reason today, my legs looked lean and thin today… my stomach looked extra flat… my collarbones said hello more than once. I obviously did not lose weight in 12 hours. So… it’s clearly just my mind. But is there some way to control that, so I can hold onto the beauty of how i see my body at this moment and reject the days where I want to slice every non-essential lump off with a machete?

I mean, no. No is the answer. But that’s how I feel many days. And perhaps, in my dreams, in my dreams of career and jobs and future and more than anything else in the world, the kind of life I need, want, crave…. I will be able to experience each day, each feeling, each body sensation as fine. I will not have days where I feel as though I have 8 chins and flabby thighs. Or if I do have those days I will let them go. I will not dream of being a waif because I will see my body as strong and important and in a totally “normal” place.

As a recovering bipolar, balance is the place I crave, normal is the place I dream of…. and I think I will be fighting to find that place, those places, for the rest of my life.

And I do believe I’m up to that war. I’m just going to have to fight one battle at a time.

xoxo to all.

And EXTRA SPECIAL THANKS to those of you who commented on my last post. Truly. You made an enormous difference in how I felt. I am beyond grateful for your continued interest in my silly little life and your support when it goes off the rails. I am here for you too. Seriously, email me, write me, whatever. I am consistently amazed by your strength and your ability to share those strengths with me. My heart is very full of you right now. 🙂

Sleep well, my loves. Until next late night in my little regional theatre world…
xoxo B.

Pins and Needles

My last post didn’t post… grrr WordPress. This has happened before and it’s the most annoying.

So. I’m back in the city till Thursday afternoon, when we reconvene in NJ to continue the run of the show. Opening night was last Saturday (all of this was in my last post, blerg), and it was great. The development producers loved it, the subscribers loved it, the casting director who gave me her card (!) loved it… All is well. It’s weird not doing the show at the moment, but it’s okay to be back in the city.

I can’t stop binging, though. Part of it is definitely that I’m on my period, but I have just been eating too, too, too much. It’s not crazy, out of control binging to death levels, but I am eating everything in the house. I only needed to supply myself enough food for a few days, but each day, I’ve eaten all of it. What the fuck? Part of the problem is that I’m way too focused on my weight right now. I need to calm the fuck down. Easier said than done, obviously.

Went to the doc on Monday and she told me flat-out what my BMI was and that it was “perfect.” Which truly did make me feel good… but also not good enough. I really enjoyed being called “healthy” by this doctor, but it didn’t change my currently obsessive desire to lose about 15 pounds. And like THAT is gonna happen anytime soon. Shit.

Anyway, many critics have come to the show so far, but we’ve only gotten one review, from the NJ Star-Ledger. The New York Times came on Sunday, so I am literally googling my name every hour like an asshole just WAITING for it to show. For some reason I’m not nervous… (I don’t think I’d be singled out as bad)… I just want to SEE it.

The first review, though, was a rave. And in particular about my performance.

“And [my character] is marvelously portrayed by B. She can give a sharp retort when it’s called for, but she’d just as soon be nice to everyone. To watch B try to maintain her composure when events conspire against [my character] makes for a heartbreaking performance.

[Director], [Playwright] and all the characters make clear how much they admire [my character]. So will many who make their way to [the show].”

So THAT feels good.

Hold onto that, B, hold onto that.

you are enough.