Emily Blunt Rosemary DeWitt and Mark Duplass carry this intimate indie with aplomb. Your Sister's Sister starts with a strange premise that could be the basis of a manic romcom but is kept grounded by an excellent cast and script.
Jack (Duplass) has spent a year mourning his dead brother. He's a total mess but his best friend Iris (Blunt) also the ex-girlfriend of Jack's dead brother steps in with some tough love and directs him to take a sabbatical at her family's home on an island off the coast of Seattle. Unfortunately her older sister Hannah (DeWitt) is also there in search of solace after breaking up with her long-term girlfriend. Hannah and Jack mourn their lost loves over a large bottle of tequila and wake up with monster hangovers…and a surprise visit from Iris.
Your Sister's Sister a messy funny and sometimes sad love story about family. Who do you choose to be in your family? What exactly can you forgive when people you love go too far? Writer/director Lynn Shelton starts with an odd farcical proposition similar to her debut Humpday wherein two buddies decide they have to prove their friendship their open-mindedness and their heterosexuality by making a porn movie together. Shelton takes similar risks with ideas about the fluidity of sexuality and love but pushes it forward in Your Sister's Sister. Its emotional risks are more real. The bond between Iris and Hannah is tangible and complicated. Iris worships her older sister she climbs into bed with her and whispers secrets to her in the dark but she is also a grown woman who is abruptly forced to face Hannah's all-too-human flaws. Jack is he weakest character but Duplass plays him as the likeable but screwed-up shaggy dog type he's known for in the indie world. DeWitt and Blunt are perfectly matched although one would be hard-pressed to otherwise cast them as siblings albeit half-sisters. They play off each other perfectly and the best example of this is a joke Hannah lobs at Iris during dinner that DeWitt ad-libbed.
Like its characters and writing the cinematography feels wider in scope and more breathable in Your Sister's Sister. Cinematographer Benjamin Kasulke captures both the intimacy of three people trying to keep secrets from each other in a small house as well as sweeping views of the woods and water surrounding them. The direction is more sure-footed and less dependent on the intense close-ups that dominated Humpday. The end result is a fleshy delicious love story. It's savory and joyous and leaves the viewer with some hope for love — all types of love.
There are no constants in this year's Oscar race.
Sure, Sissy Spacek and Russell Crowe seem shoo-ins to get nominated (and most likely win) for Best Actress and Actor, respectively, and Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind has Oscar sweep potential.
But the rest--and I do mean all the rest--is up for grabs. While this may not be a big deal for some, for Oscar fanatics like me, it makes things much more difficult...and interesting. It's kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach simultaneously.
Oh well, I guess I'm going to actually have to think, really think, about who is going to get an Academy Award nomination when they are announced on Feb. 12. Watch out, this may hurt a little.
Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind
Gene Hackman, The Royal Tenenbaums
Will Smith, Ali
Billy Bob Thornton, The Man Who Wasn't There
Denzel Washington, Training Day
This is not an easy category to pick just five. Crowe is guaranteed a spot for the third year in a row with his brilliant performance as John Forbes Nash Jr. in A Beautiful Mind, as is first-timer Smith for his over-the-top portrayal of the legendary Muhammad Ali in Ali. Golden Globe winner Hackman will probably get a nod for his ailing patriarch in The Royal Tenenbaums.
Washington has been getting the accolades for his complicated villain in Training Day. It could be a good political move to nominate him--and wouldn't the press just buzz about two African-Americans being nominated in the same category?
Finally, I think Thornton will snag a nomination for his work in The Man Who Wasn't There, simply because he's turned in too many good performances this last year, including Monster's Ball and Bandits. He's got to be recognized for something, and playing the barber in the Coens' film noir was the best showcase for the actor.
Others in contention may include Tom Wilkinson's understated performance in In the Bedroom. Wilkinson certainly deserves it but the film's acting Oscar nods may go to its women, Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei; see below. Longshot and Golden Globe nominee John Cameron Mitchell may make the list for his colorful work as a transsexual in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but the Academy would really have to swallow hard to allow that one.
Halle Berry, Monster's Ball
Judi Dench, Iris
Nicole Kidman, Moulin Rouge
Sissy Spacek, In the Bedroom
Renee Zellweger, Bridget Jones' Diary
The top four are pretty much set in stone, but it's the fifth nomination that's the tricky one. Berry has been praised up and down for her performance as the troubled young widow in Monster's Ball and will most likely get her first Oscar nod. Veteran Dench keeps churning out Oscar-worthy performances year after year, and does so again this year. Dench portrays novelist Iris Murdoch, who was stricken with Alzheimer's Disease, in Iris.
The ever-popular Kidman will probably get her first nomination for her performance as the doomed courtesan Satine in the musical Moulin Rouge. Kidman put in another good turn in the creepy The Others last year, but Rouge will be her signature piece. She sings, for heaven's sake.
Oscar-winning Spacek, however, is the closest thing to a sure bet in this Oscar race. She's won just about every critic's award and the Golden Globe for her tortured mother dealing with grief in In the Bedroom, so don't be surprised if we hear another down-to-earth acceptance speech from the Texan native.
Who will get the fifth nomination? I've picked Zellweger for her chubby, wine guzzling, chain smoking heroine in Bridget Jones's Diary. The Texan was just too convincing as a British lass (think Gwyneth Paltrow). But the incredible breakout performance by Aussie actress Naomi Watts playing duel roles in Mulholland Drive might sneak in there, as might the disturbing turn by Tilda Swinton as a mother protecting her child in The Deep End.
Best Supporting Actress
Cate Blanchett, Bandits
Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind
Helen Mirren, Gosford Park
Marisa Tomei, In the Bedroom
Kate Winslet, Iris
Yet another really tough category to choose just five nominees: Connelly seems to be the front runner with her Golden Globe win as the patient wife in A Beautiful Mind. Many are touting Mirren's self-sacrificing servant in Gosford Park as the stand out in a cast of thousands.
Also making the cut are Tomei's performance as a mother with a rocky past in Bedroom and Winslet's portrayal of the young and feisty Iris Murdoch in Iris. Blanchett has to make the list due to the sheer volume of work she produced last year (the Billy Bob Thornton syndrome), and it's her hilarious take on a woman torn between two men in Bandits that stands out as her best.
A few others to consider could be Maggie Smith's acerbic matron in Gosford Park, Anjelica Huston and Gwyneth Paltrow as mother and daughter in The Royal Tenenbaums and possibly Cameron Diaz's jealous girlfriend in Vanilla Sky--although that's really pushing the envelope, even if she did get a Screen Actor's Guild nomination.
Best Supporting Actor
Jim Broadbent, Iris
Steve Buscemi, Ghost World
Hayden Christensen, Life As A House
Ben Kingsley, Sexy Beast
Jon Voight, Ali
Certainly an eclectic bunch of actors, don't you think?
Broadbent leads the pack with several critic's awards and the Golden Globe for his portrayal of the elderly John Bayley, Iris Murdoch's long-suffering husband, in Iris. However, Kingsley as the evil gangster in Sexy Beast and Buscemi as the pathetic loner in Ghost World, have also been racking up points.
Voight's amazing turn as sports announcer Howard Cosell in Ali should give the veteran actor his fourth nomination. Rounding out my list is 20-year-old newcomer Christensen, for his performance as the troubled teen in Life As A House, which gives the category some fresh young meat for the voters to work with.
Ian McKellen may make the list for playing the wizard Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, a part he seemed born for. (It would be the only acting nod that the film might receive.) Jude Law's robotic gigolo in A.I. Artificial Intelligence has also been thrown around as a possibility, and wouldn't it be fun if Carl Reiner got a nomination for his hysterical con man in Ocean's Eleven? I think so.
Robert Altman, Gosford Park
Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind
Peter Jackson, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge
Ridley Scott, Black Hawk Down
Amazingly, none of these guys has ever won an Oscar. Altman and Scott have been nominated several times, but walked away empty handed each time.
This could be newcomer Ron Howard's year, though, with A Beautiful Mind emerging as the strong frontrunner. And even though Altman was shut out of the Director's Guild Awards, the 77-year-old Altman is certainly due for an Oscar. He probably shouldn't win for Gosford Park since it isn't his best work, but if Altman does, it'll once again prove how the Academy likes to award people for their body of work.
Although Black Hawk Down didn't ring any bells at the Golden Globes, Scott will probably make Oscar's list for the second year in a row. He's already got the DGA on his side. This leaves Jackson for Lord of the Rings and Luhrmann for Moulin Rouge, a New Zealander and an Australian, respectively, who both directed tremendous films of great undertakings. They each deserve their own spot.
The winds could shift, however, in favor of David Lynch for his twisted Mulholland Drive, or even in favor of first-time director Todd Field for his drama In the Bedroom. Interestingly, the DGA thought to give Christopher Nolan a nod for Memento, but Nolan is more likely to receive a nomination in the Best Screenplay category.
A Beautiful Mind
Black Hawk Down
In the Bedroom
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The brilliant A Beautiful Mind is on everyone's A-list and could quite possibly win it all. It'll also be refreshing to see the Academy recognize a good old fantasy epic like Lord of the Rings. Remember Star Wars? Good times...
The tense war drama Black Hawk Down should make the cut now that all the Academy voters have had a chance to see it. It's a film that appeals to the country's patriotism right now. And In the Bedroom will probably edge out Mulholland Drive in the smaller, independent film category. Bedroom is a more mainstream tragic drama while Drive is just too weird for the Academy's taste.
Shrek is definitely a long shot, but so what? If Beauty and the Beast can get an Oscar nomination, than so can this delightful animated comedy, even though it's a lock to win the animation category. Yet, a practical look at the Academy's history tips Moulin Rouge to take the fifth spot. Of course, the British comedy of manners Gosford Park might slip in, as well.
Let's see how close I get.
This film is based on Elegy for Iris literary critic John Bayley's biography of his late wife the brilliant writer and philosopher Iris Murdoch. Iris is unconventional in the sense that it does not adhere to a structured plot or story line but instead focuses on their relationship by flashing back and forth between the present and 40 years ago when the two first met. In the sequences taking place in the past Kate Winslet plays a young confident Murdoch in her formative years a woman revered by men and openly bisexual. Hugh Bonneville plays the young and apprehensive Bayley hopelessly pursuing her. The present however reveals a drastic role reversal for the couple: We see Murdoch in her 70s as played by Judi Dench and witness her descent into Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on her husband played by Jim Broadbent. The once-subservient husband has been thrust into a caretaker position and painfully tries to cope with his beloved wife's illness and loss of sanity.
Dench deservedly received a best actress Oscar nomination for the fabulous job she does as the older Murdoch. She is convincing as a brilliant thinker and even more believable as her condition worsens--check out the heartbreaking scene when Bayley locks himself in the study to get away from her irrational behavior and she scratches the windowpane on the glass door like a cat while looking at her husband with utter helplessness. Dench conveys her character's vulnerability in a single glance. As an older Bayley Broadbent is as impressive as Dench especially as he struggles to be assertive yet avoid being too harsh. Bonneville as a young Bayley could almost be Broadbent's clone. At first glance he looks like the same actor made to look older through some sort of makeup or special effects wizardry. Bonneville skillfully hatches the young Bayley's traits and tics later perfected by Broadbent. Winslet also Oscar-nominated for Iris (in the supporting actress category) well plays Murdoch's early audacity and boldness.
Director Richard Eyre does a beautiful and seamless job flowing from the past to the present throughout the film. Although the film barely delves into Murdoch's work the importance of her writing is established with scenes from a BBC interview or a luncheon given in her honor. Eyre also does an exceptional job conveying Bayley's hopeless predicament: he fusses over Murdoch like an overprotective parent intermittently lashing out at her only to apologize sobbing afterward for having done so. It's sweet and pitiful especially since Bayley believes that the Iris he fell in love with is still in there somewhere. But while the film is visually exquisite and convincing the subject matter is not necessarily entertaining. We know Murdoch will eventually succumb to her illness but it's even more dreadful to have to watch every agonizing step. By the time Murdoch was reduced to playing in the dirt and watching Teletubbies I found myself wondering When is she going to die already?
Iris, about brilliant British writer Iris Murdoch, her rise to fame and her unfortunate suffering from Alzheimer's disease in last few years of her life, just earned Britain's reigning queen of stage and screen Judi Dench's fourth Oscar nomination in five years.
Is enough ever enough?
"It makes me think a lot of people are saying, 'Oh my God, not again,'" Dench told The Associated Press with a laugh after the announcements were made Tuesday.
She added, "It never ceases to be exciting. And as I've always said, the nomination bit is the exciting bit; it's horrible when someone has to go and win it all."
Dench's past Oscar nominations included Best Actress for her work in 1997's Mrs. Brown and Best Supporting Actress for 2000's Chocolat. She won Best Supporting Actress in 1999 for her small but powerful turn as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare In Love.
Dench feels particularly gratified by her nomination this year because of the hard work she put into playing Murdoch.
"It was quite hard to get the film put together, so for that reason it's good," she said.
Also nominated from Iris are Kate Winslet in the supporting actress category (for playing Murdoch as a young woman) and Jim Broadbent as Murdoch's long-suffering husband, John Bayley.
The 67-year-old actress said she was sorry that director Richard Eyre and co-star Hugh Bonneville, who played the younger Bayley, weren't nominated as well.
When the nominations for the 74th Academy Awards® were announced today in Los Angeles, Miramax Films received a total of 15 overall nominations, the most for any studio, including a Best Picture nomination for In the Bedroom, and a Best Foreign Language Film nomination for Amélie.
The Best Picture nomination is the company's 11th Best Picture nomination over a span of the last 10 consecutive years (1992-2001), the longest streak for any company since the Academy limited the Best Picture nominees to five films in 1944.
"We are very humbled that the members of the Academy have honored and celebrated such a wide range of Miramax's films over the past ten years," said Harvey and Bob Weinstein. "It is a great tribute to the writers, actors, directors, producers, cinematographers, composers, costume and set designers, editors, sound technicians and everyone else who made these films possible."
In the Bedroom, directed by Todd Field, stars Tom Wilkinson, Sissy Spacek, and Marisa Tomei.
Set on the coast of Maine, In the Bedroom tells the story of a couple whose only child is involved in a love affair that ends tragically and the characters' evolving response to the loss.
"I am grateful to the Academy for acknowledging the film in this way, although I am reluctant to use the word I, because it is we who are grateful--my co-writer, my producing partners, and the actors, whose performances transcended my expectations for these characters in every way," said Todd Field, writer, director, and producer of In the Bedroom.
Academy Award winner Sissy Spacek was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Ruth Fowler in In the Bedroom, for which she also won a Golden Globe and received a BAFTA nomination and SAG nomination. In 1981, Spacek won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Coal Miner's Daughter.
"I am so thrilled to be recognized by the Academy and it makes it so sweet to be nominated along with Tom and Marisa," said Sissy Spacek. "It's wonderful for a film of this nature to get the recognition and support that it has. What a gift."
Tom Wilkinson was nominated for Best Actress for his role as Dr. Mark Fowler in In the Bedroom, for which he also received a BAFTA nomination and a SAG nomination.
"I am very thrilled that all our work on In The Bedroom has been thankfully recognized," said Tom Wilkinson. "And I hope this will encourage more people to see the film."
Marisa Tomei was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Natalie Strout in In the Bedroom, for which she also received a Golden Globe nomination. In 1993, Tomei won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny.
"I am tremendously excited to be put in the company of my fellow nominee's and to be recognized for a film and a role that I loved so much," said Marisa Tomei. "I am so thankful to the Academy for honoring me in this way."
Amélie received five nominations, including one for Best Foreign Language Film, which is Miramax's 20th nomination in this category over the past 14 years. Amélie was also nominated for Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Sound and Best Original Screenplay.
Amélie is a fanciful comedy about a young woman who discreetly orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making.
"I am thrilled and honored that the Academy has recognized this great team who collaborated on Amélie, said Jean-Pierre Jeunet, writer and director of Amélie.
Academy Award-winner and British legend Dame Judi Dench was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Iris Murdoch in Iris. Last year, Dench received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Miramax's Chocolat.
"I am very moved to receive this nomination," said Judi Dench. "My performance is very much due to the work of director Richard Eyre and Jim Broadbent, and Richard (Eyre) and Charles Wood, who wrote such a delicate, beautiful film."
Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the Young Iris Murdoch in Iris.
"I'm absolutely thrilled and amazed," said Kate Winslet. "I would not have received this nomination if it wasn't for Richard and his brilliant direction. It was enough of an honor to support Judi Dench in this film, and to be nominated along side her and Jim Broadbent, not to mention the other nominees in my category is like all my Christmas's at once."
Jim Broadbent was nominated for Best Actor for his role as John Bayley in Iris.
Renee Zellweger was nominated for Best Actress for her role as Bridget in Bridget Jones's Diary.
"I am shocked, honored, grateful and shamelessly laughing and dancing around my apartment," said Renee Zellweger. "I am just happy--so happy!"
Sting was nominated for Best Achievement in Music (Original Song) for "Until..." from Kate & Leopold, for which he also won the Golden Globe. Last year, Sting was nominated for Best Achievement in Music (Original Song) for "My Funny Friend and Me" from The Emperor's New Groove.
"I'm thrilled and delighted by this honor particularly because it is for the song 'Until...,'" said Sting. "I was sent this film to watch shortly after September 11th at a time when we all felt numb. The movie was filled with love and optimism and inspired me to write a song that would be as romantic and positive as the film itself. I'm pleased that those sentiments have been met with such enthusiasm. Trudie and I had such a wonderful time last year at the Oscar's and I'm glad to have been invited back."