New Line Cinema via Everett Collection
Last year alone, films like Blue Jasmine, 12 Years a Slave and Philomena were driven by the brilliant transformations of actresses like Cate Blanchett, Lupita Nyong'o, and Judi Dench. And as we celebrate Women's History Month (looking forward to more exciting performances from these and other great actresses), let's take a look back at just a few of the many, many life changing performances in some of the best biopics and period pieces from recent years.
Q'orianka Kilcher, The New World
You thought you knew the story of Pocahontas until director Terrence Malick introduced us to a whole new world. Kilcher's performance was so awe-inspring it practically re-told and re-wrote history itself.
Kirsten Dunst, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Julia Stiles, Ginnifer Goodwin, Julia Roberts, Mona Lisa Smile
Yes. Pretty much every actress you love is in this movie. Set in the 1950s, this amazing film tells the story of a group of Wellesley students who get their lives shaken up when Julia Roberts shows up as their free-thinking art professor.
Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose
When Cotillard won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Lead Role for her role as beloved French singer Edith Piaf, nobody in the world cried foul. Because there aren't enough awards in the world for what she did in La Vie en Rose. A stunning, haunting, fitting tribute from one French star to another.
Viola Davis & Octavia Spencer, The Help
Spencer took home the Academy Award in 2012 for her portrayal of Minny Jackson, a black maid working for a particularly cruel white woman in the '60s, and costar Davis was nominated. As far as the clip above, one YouTuber describes it as "The most satisfying scene in cinematic history." We're inclined to agree.
Cate Blanchett, The Aviator
Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn? Damn near flawless.
Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth
But Blanchett as Queen Elizabeth? EVERYTHING!
Angela Bassett, What's Love Got to Do with It
No offense to Tina Turner, but Angela Bassett was the best Tina Turner of all time.
Laura Linney, Kinsey
It may have been Liam Neeson's flick, but Linney played the wife of the famed scientist and, for many of us, absolutely stole the show.
Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn
If you've somehow managed to go through life not being in love with Michelle Williams, then you clearly have not seen My Week with Marilyn. Do yourself a favor and make it happen. NOW!
Jennifer Lopez, Selena
If you can make it through J Lo's performance of Selena Quintanilla's life and work without crying, you are a martian robot lacking the full understanding of Selena Quintanilla.
Kate Winslet, The Reader
Granted there are other Kate Winslet movies to choose from. But when you really get down to it... no. No, there aren't.
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Sunday nights are generally a good night for television fans – between HBO’s lineup of addicting shows, Downton Abbey’s continued dominance of British dramas, and whatever major sporting event is on, there’s plenty to watch, and usually, it’s relatively easy to space out your viewing schedule for the evening. However, this Sunday was surprisingly packed with must-watch shows and events, all of which you just know your friends and co-workers are going to be talking about all day.
It was impossible to watch everything that aired on Sunday night as it was premiering, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel left out of the conversation. We’ve rounded up the buzziest shows of Sunday night, and given you everything you need to know about what went down, and how to fake it until you’re able to catch up on everything properly. You can thank us later.
THE WINTER OLYMPICS
You Watched this If: You like bragging about your awesome ski weekend, and you’ll usually talk about the condition of the “powder” on the mountain. What Happened: There were three big medal events on Sunday night: team figure skating, women’s slopestyle snowboarding, and men’s downhill alpine skiing. Russia won their first gold of the Olympics in the team skating, thanks to winning performances from vet Evgeni Plushenko and new superstar, 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya. Gracie Gold took home the silver in the individual women’s short program, and Charlie White and Meryl Davis won the pair’s ice dancing, but neither of those victories were able to help the U.S. earn better than a bronze medal. Meanwhile, Jamie Anderson won the first ever women’s slopestyle gold medal, and her fellow American Sage Kotsenberg did the same in the men’s competition on Saturday; however, gold medal favorite Bode Miller placed a disappointing eighth in the men’s downhill. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: Ashley Wagner Is Not Impressed, the sequel to 2012’s Olympic meme McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed. Expect it to appear in your Twitter feed at least once a day for the next two weeks. How To Fake It: “How insane is that 15-year-old skater? Although, I thought Gracie Gold’s score could have been a bit higher. And Meryl and Charlie have that pairs gold in the bag.” “I just really feel like Jamie Anderson and I could be friends. She seems so cool, and she’s super talented.” “Can you believe what happened to Bode Miller?”
THE BEATLES 50TH ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE
You Watched This If: You don’t listen to the Top 40 drivel on the radio, you listen to “real music.” What Happened: Musicians from all different genres got together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, the Eurythmics reunited, as did Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr for a few of their greatest hits. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: The return of Pharell’s giant Grammys hat – the event was filmed the day after the awards, in the midst of the hat jokes. How to Fake It: “Doesn’t Dhani Harrison sound just like George?” “Who decided to have Pharell and Brad Paisley sing together?” “I know ‘Hey Jude’ is overplayed, but it was cool to see everyone sing it with Paul and Ringo.”
You Watched This If: You constantly feel as if nobody appreciates your creative genius. What Happened: Hannah took a job in the advertising department of GQ, which prompted her to worry about her selling out, and wasting her talents in a pointless corporate environment. Adam got a call back for an acting gig that he swears he doesn’t want, Marnie and Ray are becoming closer, despite embodying everything the other despises, Shoshanna is missing Ray and is forcing herself into a relationship with a guy she met at school who she thinks is incredibly dumb, and Jessa… didn’t do much of anything this week. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: How much they can't stand Hannah. Also how Marnie continues to be the worst. Wow, your friends really hate Girls.How to Fake It: “I kind of hate to admit this, because she’s super self-involved, but I kind of get where Hannah’s coming from.” “Ugh, Marnie is so annoying, but Allison Williams is so pretty.” “Did you know that Shoshanna’s new guy is played by Zosia Mamet’s real-life boyfriend?”
You Watched This If: You truly believe that everything from the UK is vastly superior to its American equivalent, and you won't listen to anyone who says otherwise. What Happened: Lady Edith considered terminating her unexpected pregnancy, but changed her mind at the last minute after seeing how the procedure affected other women at the clinic. Lady Mary has decided to be less “aloof,” and fed some pigs with Charles, and she helped secure Thomas the position of Robert’s valet while he’s in America. Anna continues to pretend she was attacked by a random thug, but Bates has figured out who was really behind the assault on his wife, and he’s probably going to kill him. And the Dowager Countess continues to be sassy and wonderful. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: Can you believe that Downton Abbey actually broached an abortion storyline? How To Fake It: “Oh, poor Edith! I really want something nice to happen to her for a change.” “I’m glad Bates is going to protect Anna, but I don’t know if I can sit through another Bates-is-a-murderer-storyline.”
You Watched This If: You’re just really into the McConaughssance, okay? What Happened: Rust and Marty discover that Ledoux is working for the Iron Crusaders, a biker gang that Rust infiltrated during his time undercover. He decides to go undercover again, steals cocaine from evidence to help sell his act, and he agrees to take part in a robbery in order to win over his contact. Unfortunately, the robbery goes wrong, and Rust is forced to run, calling in Marty for backup. Meanwhile, Marty’s ex-girlfriend showed up at his house and revealed everything to Maggie, who promptly kicked him out. What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: That twist of an ending. Let’s be real, it’s all anyone will be talking about. Be prepared for people to declare it the “hands down, best episode of television ever!” How to Fake It: “How crazy was that ending? I couldn’t believe it when it all went south and Rust was caught in the middle of the whole thing. I can’t wait for the next episode, I need to find out what happens next!”
THE WALKING DEAD
You Watched This If: You are, somehow, still holding out for this show to get good again.What Happened: Rick and Carl hole up in an abandoned suburban house, growing tense over the latter's budding contentiousness. Michonne has acid flashbacks and slaughters an entire herd of zombies. There's a big can of pudding.What Your Friends Will Be Talking About: How much Carl sucks, and Michonne's nightmarish memory of her pre-apocalyptic days.How to Fake It: “F**king Carl.”
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.