Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Crawford + Cain Equals a Pierce-ing Exercise in Melodramatic Noir

As one of the top film noirs, and as the best representation ever of what constitutes a 1940’s 'Joan Crawford vehicle,' I more-than-a-tad-anxiously awaited the county library’s showing of 1945’s remarkably durable Warner Brothers melodrama, Mildred Pierce. The packed house at the screening proved plenty of Mildred fans are alive and well and living in my fairly rural neck of the woods. The audience was thoroughly sold on this florid and sordid adaptation of the James M. Cain classic novel (adapted by Randal MacDougall in a trenchant, hard-boiled screenplay that features plenty of impressive, smart dialogue), watching this supreme murder mystery unfold with a spellbound attentiveness worthy of the Pied Piper’s minions.

If only allowed one performance to place in a time capsule, Crawford’s Oscar-winning signature role wouldn’t be the one to write home about (the film may be among her best, but she pushed herself much deeper as an actress immediately following her Oscar win, in Humoresque and, especially, in 1947’s Possessed). Crawford’s so identified with this iconic role, few ever mention the fact the suffering, sacrificial title character, a woman who endures abuse after abuse all for the sake of an uncaring child’s love, isn’t an ideal fit for the powerhouse personality, steely resolve, and terse acting style of the tough, defiant star. However, Crawford was floundering (career-wise, at least) in the mid-forties, and she wasn’t about to let a little thing like miscasting prevent her from making one of Filmdom’s most impressive comebacks. Wandering onto a dank pier at the film’s outset in stables, high heels, and a slightly disoriented state, the statuesque screen legend defines the term “Movie Star” to such an extent Crawford’s sheer star voltage overshadows any of her subsequent unconvincing, flat line readings or aloof behavior (some of the detached iciness found in the star’s later work is already apparent here). Fortunately, Mildred is also a survivor who mid-film does a drastic image overhaul, as the stay-at-home mother and wife reinvents herself into a take-charge, successful businesswoman unshakable in her determination to rise to the top, and with her blazing, hypnotic gaze and low, commanding voice Crawford has no problem handling the character’s resoluteness, nor does she have difficulty diving into the highly melodramatic mien that imbues the story during the film’s second hour (when Mildred finally snaps and tells her spoiled, ungrateful offspring, "Get out before I kill you," you know this is one woman who really will make good on the promise, if necessary). One has to admire Crawford’s determination and spirit in rising above any professional adversity she faced during this difficult period of change, as she gave her all to ensure Mildred would restore her prominent place at the head of the Hollywood pack.

With her cold, rancorous countenance, Ann Blyth vividly enacts possibly the most horrendously vapid and pernicious daughter the cinema has even known (her Veda is a 95% mixture of hate and materialism, with the other 5% going to a sympathetic side shown in rare, all-too-brief moments of self-reflection, wherein Veda realizes, “Hey, I really am the most vicious, underhanded and selfish person who ever walked the planet. Oh well.”). Considering she was only sixteen at the time of filming, Blyth is fairly amazing in the role, showing maturity and sophistication beyond her years as she occasionally manages to fuse some complexity into the one-dimensional character (Veda’s meeting with Mildred in a dressing room is a good example of how well Blyth grasps the largely unfeeling Veda’s conflicted nature concerning her relations with her mother). However, more often Blyth feasts on the juicy part with a spiteful relish, playing to the rafters with a flagrant bitchiness that would make a female impersonator blush as she spits out lines to her mother such as “Oh, grow up!” or "With this money I can get away from every rotten stinking thing that makes me think of this place or you!!!" with a memorably vengeful brashness. Her colorful, no-holds-barred vindictive venting may lack variety, but the film would be far less enjoyable and memorable without Blyth fearlessly sneering her way through the role. Futhermore, a calmer, more naturalistic approach could make her confrontations with the formidable Crawford less enthralling and convincing- with Blyth imbuing venom into every syllable, one starts to believe this pint-sized starlet at least might be able to one-up her overwhelming costar. Blyth would go on to have a reasonably successful career as a leading lady, alternating between dramas and light operettas, but her work as Pierce’s villainous, havoc-causing teen easily remains her most indelible work on film.

As Ida, Mildred’s true-blue confidant, the lanky, fashionable Eve Arden saunters off with many scenes, using her glib, appealing style to add a dash of comic spice to the film's heavy dramatics. Arden puts over some real zingers regarding the complicated situations evolving around her (she gets the film’s best lines, including the most famous one, and Arden sells them with verve). Caustic, saucy, and earthy, Arden’s Ida is a modern woman who knows the score and takes no guff from man, woman, or beast(ly) Veda (faced with one of the brat’s snide putdowns, Arden beams and, in a magnificently sarcastic tone, retorts, “I like you, too!”). Butterfly McQueen also nabs her share of the limelight as Mildred’s friendly, scatter-brained maid, Lottie. With her unique, high-pitched voice and trademark affable dithering, McQueen has an unbelievable rapport with the audience (there was laughter and excited exclamations of recognition at McQueen’s first onscreen utterance, and she had the bemused viewers with her all the way in any scene she appeared in thereafter).

Among the men, Bruce Bennett is competent and often forceful as Bert, Mildred’s stern (but loyal and noble) husband, while Jack Carson is properly flippant and rakish as Wally Fay, Mildred’s amorous would-be suitor and, later, her valuable business partner. However, as Monte Beragon, the oily but seemingly forthright and romantic high-society rapscallion who ends up causing Mildred a wealth of trouble, Zachary Scott makes the biggest impact. Offering an intelligent spin on his unsavory character, Scott fills his role with enough charm, class, and arrogance to make it understandable why Mildred would be both draw to and repelled by this opportunistic-yet-charismatic cad.

With his marvelous versatility, Michael Curitz (The Adventures of Robin Hood, Casablanca), the proven master of just about any film genre, helms Mildred’s fantastically compelling proceedings with flair and vigor, keeping things exciting and entertaining throughout, whether he’s showcasing the heated exchanges between Mildred and Veda, focusing on Arden’s wisecracking, or highlighting Mildred’s ambitious quest for success in the restaurant business. The incredible black and white cinematography by Ernest Haller offers some of the best imagery found in any noir, while Max Steiner’s score also contributes heavily in setting the tone of moody desperation which hovers over the entire film, even during the somewhat optimistic ending. Mesmerizing and robustly entertaining, Mildred Pierce serves as a first-class testament to the rich abundance of pleasures a viewer can find by taking a walk on the cinema’s darker side.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hear The Women Roar, In Numbers Too Big to Ignore

The wonderful classic film series sponsored by the local county library reached a frenetic pace with a screening of MGM’s classic bitch-fest, 1939’s The Women, based on the Clare Boothe Broadway success, which lasted an ominous 666 performances. Featuring an array of the studio’s top female stars of the era, this dated but frequently amusing film is filled to the brim with so much Girl Power the screen nearly becomes a life force. The studio’s typically high production values (Direction by George Cukor, Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons, Costumes by Adrian, etc.) add extra sheen to the film's already-impressive credentials.

He reportedly disliked being referred to as a “Woman’s Director,” but George Cukor definitely had a deft way with the ladies onscreen, and few members of the 130-plus cast (composed entirely of the female gender) let him down during this major undertaking. Working from the Anita Loos and Jane Murfin screenplay, Cukor keeps the wealth of colorful personalities in order, even when the most chaotic of circumstances are unfolding onscreen (no small feat, considering the powerhouse divas he was working with).

Although most of the cast members bring plenty of juice to their creative characterizations, unfortunately top-billed Norma Shearer is anything but the life to the party. With her high-toned, Great Lady pretentiousness and forced, synthetic acting, Shearer’s abrasive performance style has never resonated with me and, although the outdated, largely humorless lead role of Mary Haines, the patient, understanding wife who seemingly exists only to serve her husband (Mary can’t imagine any life without her philandering man) does Shearer no favors, she seldom has a moment in the film that appears natural or spontaneous (I wondered what Bette Davis, or just about any other woman in The Women’s roster of stars, might have done with the role). Her acting is so artificially ‘worked-out’ it becomes a drag to watch her, especially during her long, unending phone conversations, wherein Shearer appears to be pitching for another Oscar more than actually talking to a human being. As Mary’s mother, Lucille Watson’s no-nonsense demeanor and straightforward delivery of her lines further point out Shearer’s maddening mannerisms, and a viewer hopes the “Like mother, like daughter” adage will kick in. It doesn’t, and Shearer remains ultra-actressy and slick until the final fadeout. To be fair, I haven’t seen Shearer in many other vehicles, but after viewing her in this, I can’t think of any compelling reason I’d want too.

Although other elements abound which clearly mark the film “of its time” (all men are dogs, most women are either catty fiends or mousy idiots, that color fashion show, etc.) there’s enough- and at times, maybe too much- lively energy and high-style comedy to fret over shortcomings and Shearer. Director Cukor deserves credit for keeping the fun going for most of the movie’s 133-minutes, but the girls get the majority of the critical plaudits. Joan Crawford, seizing her chance for a comeback after a series of critical and box-office duds, commands the spotlight every time she appears as Mary’s man-eating nemesis, Crystal Allen. Crystal’s sly, tough, coarse manner is ideally suited to Crawford’s emerging image as one of the screen’s most invulnerable broads (she’d seal this persona with 1940’s hits such as A Woman’s Face and her big one, Mildred Pierce), but there’s a substantial difference between the latter Crawford roles and what she does here: as Crystal, Crawford still retains some of the light, good-natured charm found in her earlier work (witness Crawford’s bemused, resigned reaction to her final denouncement, which is one of the best things she ever did on film), thereby preventing the stereotypical role from becoming a total caricature (and monster). Largely forgoing any signs of heavy-handed theatrics, Crawford’s skillfully conceived work as Crystal fits right into the spirit of things, to the extent audiences may find themselves rooting for the bitch to overcome Mary’s counterattack (well, I know at least I was waiting for this to happen).

Rosalind Russell also makes a huge impact in her star-making role as Sylvia Fowler, simultaneously the cinema’s most annoying and most amusing busybody (and Cukor must have told Russell to use the term “busybody” literally, as she invests the crass Sylvia with so much over-the-top, lowbrow comedy and jerky physical energy that at times Russell threatens to bounce off the screen right into the audience’s lap). Fortunately for viewers, she stays put, and only manages to wreak massive havoc on the lives of any celluloid companions who come within a ten-mile radius of this constantly-cackling, tactless (but funny) witch. Furthermore, among stiff competition Russell easily claims the prize for “Fastest Talker,” warming up for her even better (and, possibly, her best) work opposite Cary Grant in the following year’s His Girl Friday.

Although the opening sequence of the film, featuring a bevy of cast members babbling away in rat-a-tat-tat- delivery style at a women’s health spa, is incredibly fast-moving in a manner similar to the pace found in many of the screwball comedies of the era, the sparks really start flying midway through the film, when real-life adversaries Crawford and Shearer finally meet in a dressing room, and start verbally sparing to a fare-thee-well (it’s part of Hollywood legend that Crawford resented the great opportunities Shearer received due to her marriage to MGM’s powerful producer, Irving Thalberg). Even though Mary and Crystal are supposed to hate each other, the friction onscreen between these two formidable ladies is so strong the audience begins to feel that, even if they were portraying kind-hearted nuns who also happen to be siblings, Crawford and Shearer would still try to kill each other onscreen at the first available opportunity.

Subsequent focus on Shearer’s plight start to slow the film down again, but fortunately Mary finally ends up on a train to Reno, whereupon she runs into Mary Boland and Paulette Goddard, portraying the much-married (and discarded) Countess DeLave and the quick-witted, genial showgirl, Miriam Aarons. With her sing-song, bubbly vocal rhythms, unwavering, joyful optimism despite a life filled with countless setbacks, and frequent exclamations of “L’amour, l’amour, toujours l’amour,” Boland’s Countess effortlessly upstages her costars (and Cukor clearly knew what he had: the director wisely keeps Boland front and center throughout her scenes, and the laughs keep coming). Amid all the high-camp mudslinging, Goddard proves to be the least fussy and most warmly human performer on the screen, adding a touch of class to her depiction of the spicy showgirl. Even when partaking in the film’s most famous scene, her showdown tussle with Russell, Goddard manages to maintain a cool sensibility while, in beautiful contrast, the bellowing, screaming Russell makes the Tasmanian Devil look like the picture of composure. In other roles, the lovely Joan Fontaine has some affecting moments as a fluttery young bride, even if she comes across a bit too good and naive to be real, and Marjorie Main brings some of her folksy, rural charm to the proceedings as Lucy, owner of the Reno ranch wherein the principals converge.

Packed with enough star power and catty repartee to fill a dozen such movies of its breed, The Women proves a fascinating blend of MGM gloss and raunchy wit. With its colorful, nonstop prattling and the many outrageous situations created by the title characters’ general dislike for their fellow females, The Women resonates as a vivacious, nasty take on a certain type found among the feminine species and, in the words of singer Meredith Brooks, you know you wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Audrey Hepburn Prevails Over War and Peace

After years of putting it off, recently I finally got around to perusing my way through the 1,400 + pages of Leo Tolstoy’s most famous work, and I immediately rewarded myself with a first showing of the Paramount film adaptation of War and Peace. 1956 definitely was Hollywood’s year for all-star three-hour plus epics, with Giant, Around the World in Eighty Days, and The Ten Commandments also premiering. In comparison to these critically-lauded blockbusters, the milder box office returns and mixed reviews which greeted War’s release marked the film as something of a disappointment; however, Dino de Laurentiis’ epic production (costing six million dollars, nothing to whistle at in the 1950's) stands as a worthwhile first attempt to capture the novel on film and, although flawed, holds a viewer’s interest for much of its 208-minute running time.

A significant problem with the film, which time and again manages to throw the tone of the movie off to a dismaying degree, lies in the decision to dub many of the actors. Some of the dubbing is in sync, but often it’s clear the actor is not jiving with the audio, which understandably has an adverse effect on the quality of some scenes. Also, in at least one important instance the decision to dub an actor makes absolutely no sense: as Princess Elena, Anita Ekberg is given a deep, cultured English speaking voice ill-suited to her, while the very Italian Vittorio Gassman is allowed to retain his rich, flavorful, and natural voice in his sexy, charismatic depiction of Natasha’s personal Waterloo, the magnetic Prince Anatol, who happens to be Elena’s brother (hey, Ekberg’s Italian, too; why not give the girl a chance to speak for herself?). What is especially frustrating concerning the Ekberg dubbing issue is the fact the actor and Tolstoy’s physical description of the beautiful, voluptuous Princess are a perfect mesh (reading the novel, I easily could picture Ekberg as Elena, constantly betraying her noble husband Pierre with her many liaisons). Furthermore, judging by her lively body movement and appropriate facial expressions/reactions, Ekberg seems to also have a fine grasp on Elena’s vapid, selfish nature. The dubbing just about kills the performance, though, and I just want to scream over this near-miss, even fifty years later.

The dubbing situation contributes to the curious, disjointed quality which sets in early on and hangs over the film; the movie never really becomes cohesive enough to grab the audience and hold them, ala a Gone With the Wind. Readers of the book can admire the many screenwriters’ deft incorporation of most of the book’s major thematic elements and memorable characters into a workable script, and the film certainly has grandeur and scope; however, despite Hepburn’s amiable presence and some rousing moments in the impeccably-staged battle scenes, not much humor or excitement occurs as the film slowly unfolds. Fortunately, in his penultimate film director King Vidor does contribute some remarkable work, as he manages to keep a semblance of order amid such a complex tapestry of plot and characters. I have to admit, though, that at times I was hoping Vidor would lose control of his senses a bit, so the audience could witness some of the florid passion found in his wonderful potboilers Duel in the Sun, The Fountainhead, Beyond the Forest, and Ruby Gentry. The director (perhaps appropriately, considering the highly-respected source material) keeps his film firmly anchored, however, which I’m sure is a very wise thing to do, even if the subsequent results don’t offer viewers the enjoyably-torrid moments found in Vidor’s less reputable, but a lot more fun and colorful, movies.

In the central role of Natasha, Audrey Hepburn (in her first major dramatic assignment) does much to redeem any of the movie’s shortcomings. Although Hepburn hadn’t quite developed the acting depth she would show in The Nun’s Story and Two For the Road, it's obvious Hepburn cares deeply for the characterization, and is intent on making her scenes come alive, as her Natasha evolves from a doe-eyed innocent into the strong young woman found at the close of the film. Hepburn also is as beguiling as ever, and she’s possibly never been more beautiful or radiant on film. The ultra-American (and here, rather willowy) Henry Fonda seems an improbable choice for the robust Pierre, but his unwavering professionalism, steely resolve, and serious demeanor are a good match for the character. In the other major role, Mel Ferrer (Hepburn’s husband at the time) captures Prince Andrei’s dreamy, aristocratic glamour, and he’s properly romantic with his leading lady (especially in their final scenes together, wherein Ferrer’s soft intonations suggest a poetic, even fragile aspect exists in Andrei’s personality). In other scenes, Ferrer’s glacial, unemotional acting style and sometimes-stilted line readings often keep him removed from the proceedings, and therefore distanced from the audience as well. Herbert Lom’s blustery, forceful interpretation of Napoleon may appear one-dimensional at times, but Lom actually offers a dead-on representation of Tolstoy’s portrayal of the Emperor as an inept buffoon. Along with Hepburn, Oscar Homolka gives perhaps the most artful and skillfully crafted performance as the experienced, weary General Kutuzov who, unlike his French adversary, takes into serious consideration the consequences any of his actions will have on him and his troops.

Despite the film’s occasional drawbacks, the solid screenplay, some fine emoting, competent direction, and the beautiful camerawork of ace cinematographer Jack Cariff supply the 1956 version of War and Peace with enough quality components to deem a viewing of the film necessary for fans of the book, Audrey Hepburn, and/or classic cinema (fortunately for me, I happen to fit in each category, so the 208 minutes was time well spent).

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Garbo Cements Her Legend as a Luminous Camille

There's a wonderful moment early on in 1968's Funny Girl during the "I'm the Greatest Star" number wherein Barbra Streisand (as the young Fanny Brice), attempting to prove her incredible dramatic finesse, lowers her voice, throws her head back in mock rapture and sensually proclaims:

Now can't you see to look at me/
That I'm a natural Camille

As Camille I just feel/
I've so much to offer

Many feel the role of Marguerite Gautier, Alexandre Dumas' "Lady of the Camellias," serves as the greatest challenge for an actress this side of Streetcar's Blanche DuBois. MGM's opulent, carefully crafted 1936 version of the tragic romance between the world-weary courtesan with a heart of gold and her loyal, impressionable younger lover affords Greta Garbo the opportunity to gain her greatest celluloid triumph, as the cinema’s most elusive star magically conveys every facet of Marguerite's plight in vivid, glorious fashion. Backed by a first class director (George Cukor), a fine cast of solid professionals, and the studio's trademark 14-karat production values, Garbo leaves an indelible mark on film history in her most fully-realized screen characterization.

Garbo's so in sync with the role there's never a moment wherein she appears to make a wrong acting choice- her commitment to the part is total in a manner not seen in most of her work, as she combines all of her overwhelming beauty, mystic, intelligence, and acting ability to create an instinctive, fluid characterization second to none. There's a spontaneity and naturalness in everything Garbo does, whether she’s adopting a light laugh in the earlier scenes to impart Marguerite’s joie de vivre attitude towards life and towards her destiny or, as in the later scenes, Garbo’s combining a trance-like state with slow vocal rhythms and a calm, detached voice to convey the now-fragile character’s rapidly deteriorating physical state. Possibly most impressive of all of Garbo’s many Camille achievements is the phenomenal economy found in her acting during the renowned final scene, wherein she skillfully provides a blueprint for actors seeking to discover the best way to perish in a movie without fuss or delay (few have managed to permanently retire so convincingly, or quickly, on screen). Full of sensitivity, life, and color, Garbo's rich performance as Marguerite has justifiably been mentioned as one of the finest ever captured on film (and as one of the biggest injustices in Oscar history, as Garbo lost out on her best chance to take the Golden Boy home when Luise Rainer nabbed the Best Actress prize for her competent work as Olan in The Good Earth).

As Armand, Camille's true love, Robert Taylor is as beautiful as Garbo is and, although his acting is pretty green, he's properly ardent and romantic in displaying his total devotion to Marguerite. As comic rivals, Lenore Ulric and, especially, Laura Hope Crews liven things up with their rambunctious, good-natured boozing and catfighting (it's a mark of George Cukor's careful, seamless directorial style that he somehow makes these ladies’ flamboyant emoting fit right in with the film's more somber aspects, without throwing the tone of the movie off at all). Although Crews, as Prudence, at times appears to be warming up for her signature role as Gone With the Wind's scattered-brained Aunt Pittypat, the seemingly dim nature of her playing pays off big in her best scene, wherein Crews suddenly forgoes any signs of her former lovable comportment when Prudence forcefully and shrewdly informs Marguerite she can't leave for the country with Armand until all of her accounts, including those to herself, are settled. However, it is Henry Daniell, portraying Baron de Varville, Marguerite's affluent, controlling suitor, who proves to be the only player to come close to stealing any of Garbo's thunder; in his artful depiction, Daniell easily captures the cold, domineering nature of the Baron, yet he prevents the character from being an out-and-out villain by also finding moments to illustrate the deep attachment the Baron feels toward Marguerite. In his two key scenes with Garbo, the famous "piano" sequence, and the later scene wherein the Baron agrees to help Marguerite overcome her financial difficulties, Daniell imbues the Baron with a spiteful malevolence, while at the same time also managing to make it clear to audiences the emotionally enslaved Baron, unable to break free from his mistress' seductive spell, is a man deserving pity along with any feelings of hostility a viewer is compelled to throw the Baron's way.

Watching this classic anew with 50-60 others last night at a film series sponsored by the county library proved that, in terms of quality, the film has aged very well. The host of the event preceded the film with a lengthy discussion wherein he opined that although Garbo was a Hollywood icon with remarkable screen presence, she was more a movie star than an actor, and she never really made a good film. Unfortunately for him, our host picked a showing of the wrong Garbo vehicle to make such a proclamation, as the transfixed audience raptly watched the movie, anchored by Garbo's magnificent, subtle, and spellbinding work, unfold (and hold up) in fine style seventy years after its initial engagement (however, the film did manage to leave at least one viewer unsatisfied as, in the funniest moment of the night, one sassy octogenarian, while pushing her walker hurriedly towards the exit immediately following the movie, seized her moment to steal the spotlight by dryly stating, "It was better when I was twelve"). As for the remainder of the crowd who stayed to discuss the movie, the shared opinion was that Camille and Garbo still suit each other to a "T." Even our heretofore-unimpressed host admitted the film was better than he remembered, and Garbo's work couldn't be bested by any of the current crop of female stars. Her masterful, intuitive work as Marguerite provides this Camille with true distinction, allowing the often sentimental tale to remain timeless and moving.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Golden Girl Catherine O'Hara Deserves Some Serious Oscar Consideration

In choosing one performance for submission to the Lulu of a blogathon Stinky's concocted over here, I tip my hat to Catherine O'Hara for her funny, touching, and daring portrayal of Marilyn Hack, a dedicated, reliable actor working in independent films who finds her profile abruptly rising after her small-scale career witnesses a dramatic turn of events. Serving as the centerpiece figure in For Your Consideration, O'Hara lends a measure of realism to the film's frequently frenetic proceedings, while also managing the difficult task of keeping Marilyn's very imposing character arch real with great style and skill. Similar to O'Hara's intelligent, faultless work in A Mighty Wind, her indelible creation certainly warrants far more accolades than O'Hara has been granted thus far.

RED ALERT!!! **Spoilers Ahead!!** Go watch the film first!!

Has any other performer this (or any) year moved so effortlessly from comedy to pathos with the insightful deftness O'Hara displays? Although O'Hara is clearly in on the film's joke, she chooses her lighter moments carefully, while never playing for easy laughs and/or slipping into caricature (for example, the awestruck demeanor she deploys while computer novice Marilyn describes the joys of printing off the internet is hilarious and believable). Even more impressive is the powerful acting chops O'Hara displays during the final scenes of the film, wherein Marilyn has become a pitiful, disturbing shell of her former respectable self. Compare the tranquil, pleasant Marilyn shown during the film's outset with the blubbery, self-absorbed lush of the latter scenes and ask yourself what other performer could have pulled it off with the dexterity and complexity O’Hara brings to the role. Overall, the movie may not be up to some of director Christopher Guest and his merry company's earlier efforts (the laughs often seemed strained as performers try to keep the fun going, and a lot of scenes don't come off as amusing as they’re intended to be); however, days after viewing Consideration it’s impossible to shake off O'Hara's multi-faceted, bittersweet work.

Alas, it seems unlikely O'Hara's unsurpassable performance will be acknowledged come Oscar time. It's no secret harboring any form or sense of humor in your work isn't the easiest way for actors to find themselves at the podium come the Big Night. Combine this with the fact O'Hara is offering a terrific take on a certain type of fame-craving, nomination-whoring celebrity (as in the "look at me!! I'm acting here!!" ilk) in a film which uses the ridiculous nature of awards season as its primary plot line, and even the chance of a nomination for the worthy O'Hara starts to look bleak. Although the National Board of Review came through, granting their Supporting Actress Award to O’Hara, she missed out when most of the others critics prizes were announced, and her omission from the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild's shortlists (both of them should have known better as these groups, especially the Globes, do manage to single out great work in comedy films) doesn’t bode well for O’Hara when the Academy Award nominations are announced. Hopefully, audiences interested in witnessing some of the richest, most penetrating and moving acting seen in a long while won't pass on Catherine O'Hara's impressive, accomplished, and sure-to-be enduring (Oscars be damned) portrait of Marilyn Hack, the sweet, fragile, and ultimately tragic heart and soul of For Your Consideration.