Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Jenny, David and Rudy's Best Actress Movie Reviews - 1987

Best Actress Nominated Films - 1987

Inspired by the excellent Be Kind Rewind YouTube Channel, I've given myself the challenge to watch Best Actress nominated films from random years throughout Oscar history, inviting my good friends and talented paper doll artists David Wolfe and Eileen Rudisill "Rudy" Miller to join me.

Since we live in different parts of the country, I devised a questionnaire to share our movie watching experience with each other... and you! I hope you'll be inspired to watch with us!

First up, 1987 films starring Meryl Streep in Ironwood, Holly Hunter in Broadcast News, Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, Cher in Moonstruck and Sally Kirkland in Anna. Stay tuned for 1939.

BEWARE: Reviews contain spoilers.

 IRONWEED (1987)
Meryl Streep nominated for Best Actress as Helen Archer
Co-starring: Jack Nicholson as Francis Phelan
Drama directed by Héctor about the relationship of a homeless couple during The Depression.

Jenny’s Review - Ironweed (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. Jack Nicholson’s vulnerable performance.
2. Excellent representation of the Depression Era.
3. The tenderness and care expressed by some of the characters, especially Francis.

Two things I disliked.
1. The red makeup around Meryl Streep’s eyes!
2. I had trouble hearing the dialogue (mumbling, quiet talking) so had to use closed captioning.

What surprised me.
Nathan Lane!

Who should have won the Oscar? Meryl Streep or Cher?
Cher! Her performance was more engaging, relatable and enjoyable. And it was more of a starring role.

Rudy’s Review - Ironweed (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. Jack Nicholson's performance! So nuanced and tender and human.
2. How authentic it felt to me.
3. Love seeing Tom Waits in anything. (For another stellar Tom Waits performance watch The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, 2018 Coen Bros. film.) I also loved that his character was named "Rudy” (hee hee).

Two things I disliked.
1. It was too long!! The built up in the first part depicting their sad and squalid lives was so painful to watch and very drawn out. Felt a bit uneven to me. At times I hated it, then at times I found it quite compelling. it almost felt like two different movies to me—the first half and the second half.
2. I'm sorry to say that Meryl Streep's character got on my nerves.

What surprised me.
How tender it was at times. Especially the part where Nicholson goes back to his family.

Who should have won the Oscar? Meryl Streep or Cher?

David's Review - Ironweed (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. I liked Jack Nicolson’s performance which surprised me because I think he so rarely sublimates his usual “smart aleck’ persona. I found Francis to be a surprisingly sympathetic character. And in fact, the film’s gentle approach to the melancholia and violence was something pretentious Quentin Tarantino will NEVER understand.
2. I LOVED Meryl’s performance her usual brilliant tour de force, so “cleverly crafted” that Jack’s toned-down delivery seemed like an impressive deep dive into a soulful, mortally wounded man. I found myself wondering which came first, the baby’s death or Jack’s schizoid hallucinations (which I did not think were even necessary.
3. I very much admired the Depression ambiance and attention to detail. I was very much impressed with the “filthy, discolored teeth on the entire cast…also liked Jack’s “intentionally inept” hair-cut. I liked Meryl’s red-eye make-up and her total “look.”

What I disliked.
I found Nathan Lane’s appearance to be a distraction, knowing what was yet to come in his career.

What surprised me.
The big surprise for me was Carrol Baker’s de-glamourization/transformation into sweetly gentle Annie. I was deeply moved by the film and confess that I had a tear or two at its end. Who should have won the Oscar? Meryl Streep or Cher? I remember rooting for Cher to win the Oscar but that was just because I felt I knew her as a “’friend” so well. Of course I DON’T know her as friend (despite the fact we were seated next to each other at an obscure fashion show long, long ago and it was her first time attending the NY shows and she didn’t know that deal about celebs making a late grand entrance. She actually asked me if I could help her get tickets. I explained she’d have no trouble and I told her “handler” how to contact the right people.)

Holly Hunter nominated for Best Actress as Jane Craig
Co-starring: William Hurt as Tom Grunick, Albert Brooks as Aaron Altman
Romantic comedy-drama by James L. Brooks about the three characters who work in television news.

Jenny’s Review - Broadcast News (1987)

Three things I liked:
1. Holly Hunter! I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. It felt like the part was written for her. One of my favorite quotes… Network executive: It must be nice to always believe you know better, to always think you're the smartest person in the room. Jane: No. It's awful.
2. It’s amazing to watch the behind-the-scenes of a newsroom. It freaks me out how those folks can think, talk and listen at the same time. I have a good friend who is a news producer and I'm happy I had the opportunity to visit a real newsroom a couple of years ago.
3. It’s simply a pleasant movie to watch. The script was good enough to stay engaged and I didn’t have to put my emotions through the wringer. I was rooting for Jane and was happy she moved on from ding dong Tom and ho hum Aaron. Loved seeing Jane in a sophisticated outfit at the end, leaving her frumpy frocks in the past.

Two things I did not like:
1. The height difference! Holly Hunter looks like a little girl next to William Hurt.
2. Was something left on the cutting room floor? Early in the film I could have used a segue scene between Tom and Jane’s decision to meet for drinks and their intimate conversation in her hotel room.

What surprised me:
Duh. I just got the irony. Jane had her crying spells, which appeared forced, and she broke up with Tom because of his forced crying in his news piece.

Who should have won the Oscar? Holly Hunter or Cher?

Rudy's Review - Broadcast News (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. I loved the scenes where they were producing the news.
2. Holly Hunter was a fast talking power house.
3. I loved the repartee between Holly Hunter's character and her best friend played by Albert Brooks.

Two things I disliked.
1. OK, you know how the way your relate to the same movie can change over the course of your life? Well, I remember loving this movie back in the day. I was 33 years old in 1988 when I first saw this. I was single and just starting my job as a product designer at the Franklin Mint. I related to Holly Hunter's character big time. Now, as a much older woman in a very different place in my life, I found the Holly Hunter character's inability to make up her mind about these two men really trying. I guess that means my older self would find my younger self really annoying. Haha.
2. I hated Holly Hunter's hairdo when she was all dressed up for her date with William Hurt.

What surprised me.
I forgot how good looking William Hurt was!!

Who should have won the Oscar? Holly Hunter or Cher?
Holly Hunter was great, but I'm still going with Cher.

David’s Review - Broadcast News (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. The look inside a Newsroom in 1987.  I wondered if I was watching an accurate portrayal of a TV newsroom of the time? I suspect not because it was all too “nice” and I distrust the veracity of the film’s workplace ambiance. In fact, I found the whole movie, the cast and the situations to be more suited to the “Hallmark” channel than to reality.
2. I liked the concept of a not-very-romantic romance movie giving the audience of that time a look into a TV newsroom.
3. I like the fact the moviemakers attempted to address the “entertainment versus real news”… the birth of Fake News? I confess to being happy to see gorgeous, sophisticated model Lois Chiles trying to act.  Sorry, Lois.

Two things I disliked.
1. Holly Hunter…sorry but I found her performance cloying. Or was she supposed to be 12 years old? I would have been happier if her character had been a college (or high school... or JUNIOR high school) intern. Molly Ringwald would have been just ducky, as far as I am concerned.  WTF about Holly’s “glamorized” night out with a perm that made her hair look like a Brillo pad? I shouldn't comment as I had the same perm way back then.
2. I wish Joan Cusack could have been better utilized… then I would have believed the movie was really a sit-com. Her hair! All in all, I found the movie to be too “fluffy.”

Best Actress Oscar: Holly Hunter vs. Cher
NO Oscar for Holly Hunter from me. Too shallow. I stick with wishing Meryl had won.

Glenn Close nominated for Best Actress as Jane Craig
Co-starring: Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, Anne Archer as Beth Gallagher
Psychological thriller directed by Adrian Lyne about a casual fling that becomes an obsession.

Jenny’s Review - Fatal Attraction (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. During the book launch party, Jimmy’s description of Alex following his attempt to flirt with her: “If looks could kill.”
2. The dinner party when Dan talks about climbing the corporate ladder, moving to the suburbs and leaving his friends behind, joking: “In fact, this is our last dinner with you.” A light moment in the disturbing plot line.
3. Glenn Close plays a good psycho.

Two things I disliked.
1. 1987 style! Pillowy shoulder pads, terrible perms! Why in Sam Hill was the 6-year old daughter dressed in adult sized shirts?
2. The 1980s trend of showing bare breasts in movies. Alex was just as provocative, if not more so, when her chest was covered. What surprised me. I had forgotten who was killed in the end, so that was a surprise to me. It was indeed a fatal attraction. Who should have won the Oscar? Glenn Close or Cher? Cher!!

Rudy’s Review - Fatal Attraction (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. It was incredibly suspenseful!
2. The acting was top notch.
3. It was a really well done psychological thriller!

Two things I disliked. Honestly, I can't think of any. I wouldn't call it my favorite movie, but I have to say that it held up really well after all these years, and it was a pleasure ( if you can call it that) to see it again. For me, it did everything it was supposed to do and was a very satisfying genre piece.

What surprised me.

It’s so well known, it's almost a cliche, so as I got ready to watch it, i was thinking ok, so I will endure this. But I really thought it was great!! I saw it many years ago and so many of the scenes are so famous, I knew what was coming... but I was still on the edge of my seat throughout the film. Of course, Glenn Close is renowned for playing this against-type character so well, but I think Michael Douglas isn't given enough credit. He is so good at playing the arrogant ladies’ man, but I have to say, he compelled the movie forward. I could feel his fear, and anxiety and desperation once he realized how sick Alex was. Quite the morality tale!!

Who should have won the Oscar?
Glenn Close was excellent, but Cher is still my sentimental favorite.

David’s Review - Fatal Attraction (1987)

Three things I liked: 1. Super-slick production that delivered a fail-safe formula film artfully crafted with very sophisticated visualization. I liked the pace although I think I would have enjoyed a more complex deeper dive into the main character''s motivation.
2. Glenn was sooo crazee right from the moment we met her and Micheal was sooo shallow and it seemed he was Tefloncoated when it would have been more interesting if his cavalier behavior had been more than merely self-gratifying.
3. Anne Archer (whatever happened to her career, I wonder?) was an emotional punching bag and sooo forgiving.  I loved the fashion and beauty extreme chic ‘80s style. Now that so many years have passed, we can laugh a lot over the perms and shoulder pads.

Two things I disliked:
1. One dimensional storyline minus a real "mystery/"  If only we hadn't known exactly what each of the main characters provided to propel this psycho-sexual tale which was regarded as shocking in its day.
2. Glenn's performance was so over the top that sometimes she  reminded me of Faye Dunaway in "Mommie Dearest."  The performances were too obvious to be Oscar worthy, in my opinion.

Cher vs. Glenn for the Oscar?
I still believe Meryl deserved the award.

MOONSTRUCK (1987) Cher WINNER for Best Actress as Loretta Castorini
Co-starring: Nicolas Cage as Ronnie Cammareri, Danny Aiello as Johnny Cammareri, Olympia Dukakis as Rose Castorini, Vincent Gardenia as Cosmo Castorini
Romantic comedy directed by Norman Jewison about an Italian-American widow who falls for her fiancé’s younger brother.

Jenny’s Review - Moonstruck (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. I LOVE this movie! Cher brings us into her story and we’re along for the ride.
2. The gestures and facial expressions, whether subtle or grand. Johnny Cammareri’s dramatic head scratching prior to his engagement speech: “My scalp is not getting enough blood sometimes.” That’s just funny. At the bakery, when Loretta asks for Ronny, Chrissy gives her the bug eye and then looks her up and down. No words needed. The father! So dramatic-Italian all the time!
3. A strong ensemble cast (Olympia Dukakis, Danny Aiello, etc.) and brilliant dialogue. There are so many witty lines without being obvious jokes. “She’s dying, but I could still hear her big mouth.” “Old man, you give those dogs another piece of my food and I’m gonna kick you ’til your dead.”

Two things I disliked.
1. That’s tough because I super love every moment of this movie. If anything, Cher’s Brooklyn accent doesn’t seem quite right.
2. Loretta’s fireplace scene—the soft music, the glass of wine, the looking at the shoes—it’s all a little too contrived.

What surprised me.
The thing that surprised me about this movie is me! When this movie was released in 1987 I was just 21 years old, without the life experience to appreciate the histrionics of these Italian characters. It wasn’t until I lived near Gloucester, MA, heavily populated with Greeks, Italians and Portuguese, and married into a Greek family, that I “got it.” Originally I thought Cage’s character was so unappealing and even scary—“Chrissy, bring me the big knife… I want to cut my throat.” But now I recognize it’s just his overdramatic way of expressing his misery. These days I enjoy my own host of dramatic outbursts and gesticulations.

Who should have won the Best Actress Oscar?

Rudy’s Review - Moonstruck (1987)

Three things I liked.
1. Cher.
2. All of it! The story, the characters, the romance, the opera, the humor.
3. There are so many great lines: When Nick Cage tells Cher he loves her, she smacks him across the face and says, SNAP OUT OF IT!! When Grandpa cries at the breakfast table and when he's asked what's wrong he says, I'M CONFUSED. COSMO'S MOON. And so many more...

Two things I disliked.
I love everything about this movie.

What surprised me.
This is one of my all time favorites and I've seen it many times. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing it all over again! It gets better with each watching.

Who should have won the Oscar?

David’s Review - Moonstruck (1987)

What I liked.
1. The courage Cher demonstrated by deglamorizing herself while maintaining the heartfelt warmth of her personality. I like her! I really like her! And with each of her films I always felt I had "discovered" her. Without Cher I think the movie would not have been so magical.  It was that rare thing... an adult fairy tale that wasn't all pixie dust and dastardly villains.
2. I very much admired the kind, lively, realistic supporting cast. I remember being irritated by Nicolas Cage when I first saw the film, but I have forgiven him and was totally charmed.

What I disliked.
I did not dislike anything about this movie. It is a "small" story, perfectly told.

Should Cher have won the Oscar?
Cher gave a perfect performance but I expect tour de force acting to earn an Oscar  and I don't feel that's what I saw. I'm sticking with Meryl's genius to take home the Oscar.

ANNA (1987) Sally Kirkland nominated for Best Actress as Anna
Co-starring: Paulina Porizkova as Krystyna
Starry-eyed Czech immigrant travels to New York City to meet her hero, a once-famous actress from her homeland. Directed by Yurek Bogayevicz.

Jenny’s Review - Anna (1987)

Three things I liked. 
1. Getting a glimpse of the New York theater scene from the perspective of a foreigner. 
2. Sally’s portrayal of a Czechoslovakian actress was believable. 
3. Paulina Porizkova is strikingly beautiful. 

Two things I disliked. 
1. There were a number of things that bothered me. I disliked the score. The tinkly instrumentals reminded me of a lame made-for-TV movie. Anna’s ex-husband looked more like an accountant than a movie star. Gratuitous nudity again! There was no need to show Anna’s bare breasts in the bathtub scene. The play in which Anna was hired as an understudy was so weird! Are some acting auditions as demeaning as depicted in this film? Krystyna learned English way too quickly to be believable. Anna told Krystyna to use her backstory as her own, and when she does, Anna has a nervous breakdown. Well, duh. You told her to do it. 
2. This was an odd movie for me. It felt like I watching a foreign film in English. It was a sad story but I didn’t invest in the characters enough to care what happened to them. 

What surprised me. 
Hair and fashion was not typical ’80s style. Also, I was also surprised to learn this film was based on a true story. 

Who should have won the Oscar? Sally or Cher? 
Cher for sure. Sally’s performance did not warrant the Oscar nod. Barbra Streisand should have taken that spot for her performance in Nuts

Rudy’s Review - Anna (1987)

What I liked/did not like. 
I was very ambivalent about this film. I alternately liked it and didn't like it. It intrigued me, but overall, didn't grab me. I liked Sally Kirkland. She was quirky. I liked that it was about acting and I liked the acting scenes. It was "All about Eve" but not as well done. What surprised me. I noticed in the end credits that Sofia Coppola played Noodle. (The person Krystyna was writing to) I love making those kinds of discoveries. 

Who should have won the Oscar? 

David’s Review - Anna (1987)

What I liked: 
To my great surprise, I liked this oddly intense bizarre little movie. I remember when I saw it 1987 there was a great deal of hype about it. I liked this film’s heavily “European Indie” mood. I found myself comparing it to Moonstruck as it was similar in that it was driven by a female who was so emotional: angry, frustrated, suffering, loving. Anna really gripped me and I’m so glad I saw it again. I don’t recall much about Sally Kirkland other than this film. I found her performance to be sad and sweet. 

What I disliked: 
What I didn’t like about this movie was what made it so European… not slick and polished, but messy and surprising, unexpected. I was stunned when Anna shot Kristina on the beach. Surprise! I wish that the play would have been more believable not so crazy. What surprised me: Model Paulina Porizkova was the big surprise to me. I think she was enchanting: klutzy and willowy, innately elegant and childlike. I loved Paulina hair! So like spun silk. 

Sally vs. Cher for the Oscar: 
I think that Sally’s performance was more Oscar-worthy than Cher’s as I suffered along with Anna whereas I felt that Cher’s dynamite charisma got in the way of her subtle portrayal. However, Barbra Streisand should have been nominated for her performance in Nuts instead of Sally. Barbra probably would have beat Cher's Oscar.