Wednesday, December 26, 2007

 

Whatever It Is, Kill It.

By Josh R
I am writing this brief preamble after having already completed this piece, because the nature of following paragraphs requires something in the way of explanation. I started out with every intention of writing a review of La Vie en Rose. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go astray, and that’s not what I wound up doing. So for those expecting a critical discussion of the film, you’re not going to find it here — the film itself is not summarized or barely even discussed. Somewhere midway through the writing of this piece, my instincts pulled me in a different direction, and it became about something else entirely. Call it righteous indignation, bile or just plain whining — whatever it was, I was overtaken by the spirit (in the evangelical sense), and for whatever it’s worth, here is what the spirit had to say:


The hardest thing to place is the walk.

Most everything else about Marion Cotillard’s bizarre, fussy performance in La Vie en Rose — allegedly a biography of legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf, but really more of an extended drag act with subtitles — strikes an instant chord of recognition. The exaggerated overbite makes her a doppelganger for Strangers with Candy's Jerri Blank, the kooky creation of demented satirist Amy Sedaris. In the Comedy Central series detailing the exploits of a reformed crack whore going back to high school, the character’s aggressively protruding chompers were intended as a sight gag; in La Vie en Rose, they’re meant to be taken seriously. The voice — a guttural hiss that shifts into an adenoidal, nails-on-a-chalkboard shriek when Edith loses her shit, which she frequently does — is pitched somewhere between The Lord of the Rings’ Gollum and the cartoon hag in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (when she laughs she goes “heh heh heh”). The stoop-shouldered, saucer-eyed look, accompanied by a strenuous sucking in of the cheeks, which Cotillard affects for her representation of Edith in her 20s, is pure Marty Feldman circa Young Frankenstein. Again, it should be mentioned that when Feldman played Igor, his faces were intended to draw laughs — here they’re done with such wormy sincerity that they suggest Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match Girl, trying to look as pathetically undernourished and bedraggled as possible, in order to maximize her profit margin soliciting change from guilt-ridden passers-by.

But it’s the walk — comprised of many different components, none of which appear to have been executed without a certain degree of intense physical pain — that had me stumped for the better part of the film’s interminable 140 minute running time. With the aforementioned posture, which can only be described as Quasimodoesque, Cotillard has added this spasmodic jerky little gait that resembles nothing to be found in the realm of human motion. She looks a bit like a bobblehead doll walking on eggshells, which seems at once mechanized (like an automaton on a theme-park ride) and strangely Muppet-like. After a while, I concluded that what it reminded of me most was Sesame Street's Grover, mainly owing to the swaying motion that accompanied the convulsiveness. My mother, who is completely ignorant on most matters relating to pop culture, surprised me about midway through the film by hitting the nail on the head. “Yoda,” she crisply ventured, and with a note of thinly veiled disgust, as we watched the older Edith clumping her way across the screen with the twitching laboriousness (or laborious twitchiness, if you like) of an overburdened pack horse on a bad acid trip.

In fairness, I need to say that I am not particularly familiar with Edith Piaf, beyond having listened to a selection of her recordings. Having no real sense of the physicality of the real-life woman, I am prepared to allow for the possibility that she did indeed look, sound and act like a troll. Performances in celebrity biopics are inevitably based in mimicry, and it is obvious that Cotillard is mimicking someone — or something. I must duly stipulate that never, in my 20-some years of moviegoing, have I ever witnessed a more heavily stylized piece of acting in a film that was clearly intended as an exercise in realism. In a fantasy-based film, such as a Lord of the Rings or that Tom Cruise turkey Legend (with that creepy little hissing blue-elf thing, which the actress also occasionally evokes), it would make a modicum of sense. La Vie en Rose does not fall into that category, and Cotillard’s approach does not suggest anything even remotely resembling that which might be drawn from the realm of recognizable human behavior. It’s as she’s on a mission to make Faye Dunaway’s Joan Crawford impersonation look like Liv Ullmann in earth mother mode.

If you detect a note of anger in my tone, it’s because I have been of late incredibly disturbed — and genuinely saddened — by the tendencies of many Oscar-obsessed bloggers to bash Julie Christie’s work in Away from Her as means of promoting what they perceive as the superiority of Ms. Cotillard’s achievement. As those who follow the awards season are doubtless aware, Ms. Christie has bested Cotillard in many key contests leading up to the big Oscar showdown. This has sent Gollum’s partisans careening into red alert mode; I’ve read an alarming number of posts, some penned by bloggers whom I admire and respect, that take the tack of disparaging Christie’s work as an offensive strike against the prospect of her winning. This is nothing new — I’ve been guilty of voicing my disdain for films and performances with more vehemence when it becomes clear that they’re on a collision course with golden glory — but I’m perplexed and troubled by the rationale that serves as the basis for the Christie attacks.

Anyone who’s read my previous pieces on this blog knows where I stand on the prevailing wisdom about what constitutes great screen acting. There’s a school of thought which holds that the measure of greatness lies in the extent to which an actor can disappear into a role — not just by inhabiting it simply and naturally, but through techniques involving extreme physical or vocal transformation. In order to give a great performance, an actor needs to get as far away from themselves as humanly possible, to the point where their peers can say, with a note of awe in their voices, “I forgot I was watching Charlize Theron.” Above all, the effort needs to be visible — the unforced naturalism of previous generations of actors has become anathema. Champions of Cate Blanchett — a talented actress whose studied, controlled approach of late has won her widespread acclaim while leaving viewers such as myself mostly cold — would cite her chameleon-like ability to assume any physical or vocal characteristic under the sun as proof of her genius. The thought and care and intense preparation that have gone into each performance is always made explicit. Contrast that with Julie Christie, who breathes life into her role with such effortless simplicity that she hardly seems to be acting at all — she is that woman, gradually slipping away into the haze of Alzheimer’s, as opposed to giving a showy, strenuous representation of how the disease ravages the mind, body and soul.

I try to be tolerant and respectful of people whose opinions differ from my own — I actually served as the referee during a heated debate that occurred between friends two night ago over the merits of Tim Burton’s adaptation of Sweeney Todd — but these people need to shut the fuck up. Their attitudes represent everything that is glib, facile and wrong-headed about the popular standard by which acting is evaluated — which holds that style is substance — and their short-sightedness is slowly but surely contributing to the ruination of the cinematic art form. They’re breeding a generation of actors who will favor shtick and mimicry over honesty and feeling, and that’s a fucking shame. It’s acting as pyrotechnics, in which big, flashy special effects will have taken the place of subtlety and nuance. If one likes that sort of thing, then that is the sort of thing one likes; I'll take the other.

So now that I’ve gotten that rant out of my system, let’s dispense with the petty insults (the Muppet references, et. al.), and see what it all boils down to. There was not one moment of Ms. Cotillard’s performance, or the messy, slipshod film fashioned haphazardly around it, that rang even remotely true for me, in any way, shape or form. For all I know, the actress may have been drawing from a place of genuine feeling — but the performance is so mannered, so stylized, so forced in its execution, that the emotional truth that may or may not be fueling it never pierces through the thick, hard shell of artifice that contains it. I can’t imagine that the goal was to make Edith Piaf as repulsive and grotesquely un-humanlike as possible, but that’s the practical effect of the actress’s approach. You keep waiting for Sigourney Weaver to show up with a blowtorch gun and blast her to smithereens. The people who love this performance — and there are many of them out there — regard it with something verging on awe. As do I…albeit for entirely different reasons.


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Comments:
Dear John R:

I couldn't agree with you more. I adore Julie Christie in Away From Her. She delivers a subtle, moving performance. I hope she goes on to Oscar gold.
 
It's Josh R, anonymous, hon. John R is my pops, dig? I just saw Juno, so everything I write is coming out in Juno-speak. My bad.

Love Christie to pieces. Darling, for cryin out loud. She's still one hot ticket. No wonder You're So Vain tapped that ass. Having just seen Juno, though, feeling very conflicted about which way my vote might go. Dunno how to split this baby.

Man, I'm still doing it.
 
John R., your review sounds like she hit the Edith Piaf imitation right on the nose. Now I can't wait to see it.

I'll be seeing Juno tomorrow, but if this is the way I'm gonna talk after the movie, I should probably go see something else.

And by the way, You're So Vain didn't tap Christie's ass. You have the wrong person, John R. At least you're not John Q. That was such a bad movie...
 
Yes, it's just a rumor that You're So Vain was about Warren Beatty. Everyone now knows it was about Mark Felt (waits for the silence as fewer and fewer people get the Watergate reference).
 
I've been trying to decide which performance I hate more - this one, or Travolta in Hairspray. Ultimately, I think I have to go with Travolta, because he ruined what otherwise should have been a good, fun film. With La Vie en Rose, there's nothing to ruin. If I had actually decided to review the damn thing, I would have have talked about how badly they botch the mixed chronology, which is done in the most random way possible. The film lurches backwards and forwards in time so awkwardly that it feels like it was cut by English-speaking editors before subtitles had been added.
 
this was such a pleasure to read since i have been attacked since the summer for my hate of this film.

I don't hate the performance as much as you do but I don't like it much either. I think there's AT LEAST 15 to 20 lead actresses this year more deserving of months of discussion of their respective merits. ButI also understand that mimicry is the be all and end all of acting talent these days (as common perception goes. sigh)

Nevertheless, this year's solid anti-Blanchett / anti-Cotillard blocks of fatigued acting lovers do give me the hope that the tide is turning against the biopic and the automatic praise for performances within the same... or at least that's what I hope it means. Because really. There are so many things that can make a performance great. Why do we have to be so tunnel visioned about what greatness is.

Can't we move on?

p.s. Julie Christie? To quote the film "I never wanted to be away from her." so glad to see her back in a leading role.
 
I saw Juno today, and I left the theater asking myself why I didn't see Michael Cena's balls. His shorts were so short that they made Daisy Dukes look like Bell Bottoms. I'd sue Fox Searchlight if my penis were digitally removed from a movie. That's what the Fox Searchlight searches for--penises. So it can remove them. The Fox S.L. also edited them out of The Full Monty. Anti-dick studio!

Last night I dreamed that Soy Bomb shot Cate Blanchett in the face with a bazooka (there's a reference even more obscure than Mark Felt, Ed. Soy Bomb was that guy who jumped on stage to dance while Dylan was singing on that awards show a few years back). I don't know what the hell people are talking about vis-a-vis Blanchett in I'm Not There. She was terrible! I thought she was playing drugged up Harpo Marx.

The more you guys beat up Cotillard, the more I want to see this movie.

As for You're So Vain, everyone knows it's about Heinz Ketchup.
 
Oops, mistype! Michael CeRa, not Cena!
 
Haven't seen I'm No There yet, but I feel like we almost know what to expect from Blanchett at this point: studied and controlled. She's cited Streep as her greatest influence - and she reminds me of Streep at her most premeditated (French Lieutenant, Out of Africa). I still think she's a very talented actress - I've liked her in a few things. I'd just like to see her loosen the reigns and be a little more spontaneous.

To top it off, her Bob Dylan impersonation sounds like the very definition of a stunt performance.
 
THANK YOU! I can't agree with you more. I wrote several months ago on my own blog that I thought Cotillard's performance was all screaming, make-up, hunchback walks and weird facial expressions. To be fair though, the film's abysmal nature in general and it's complete and utter lack of coherence doesn't help in allowing me to see Cotillard's performance as one through line. It just comes off as "okay, we're 20 years later so throw on a wig, walk in a paunch and whisper!"
 
I just saw Walk Hard. John C. Reilly does a wicked Bob Dylan impersonation. It's better than Cate Blanchett's.
 
Wish I knew how to link...y'all should read this - it's short, and it's worth it.

http://www.filmthreat.com/index.php?section=reviews&Id=10138
 
Josh R., you are famous! Vanity Fair quotes a big piece of your vitriol!

I have La Vie En Rose here now, but I'm too tired to watch it. Since I'm going to be partying like it's 2008 tomorrow, I may wait and watch Gollum Piaf after I'm good and droonck.
 
The whole Christie v. Cotillard fight is totally ridiculous. Both performances are fine, but neither is particularly awardworthy in a strong year. Chillax and wait for Best Actress next year.
 
I got through about fifteen minutes of this film (which friend calls The Passion of the Piaf) before turning off the DVD, so I thank you for your review, which confirms my instincts and dread of what might've come. I do think responses have to do with the quasi-religious nature of the suffering as much as the mimicry-- it's not just whether or not Cotilard "gets" edith piaf, but that edith piaf's life is so full of pain and melodrama (and I love her singing, but still...) that we're expected to watch it all with a straight face ("I was ACTing!" "Genius!" "Thank you!"), a tendency which leads us to overpraise mordent, self-serious dramas and undervalue comedies and musicals, among other genres.
 
It is obvious that you are unfamiliar with Piaf. If you had even bothered to even find a performance or interview of hers on youtube, then maybe you would see that she did carry herself hunched over and her arms were kept stiff. She did have bad teeth. Her hairline was shaved back and her eyebrows were penciled in. Her voice was low and raspy, her laugh distinct. Cotillard's embodiment of Piaf is, in my opinion, a crowning achievement.

What I don't understand is the hypocrisy of this article. You are offended by Cotillard supporters going after Christie's performance (I am not one of them) and yet you sit here calling Cotillard -- and, by proxy, Piaf -- a troll. Gollum. Yoda. Grover. Igor. A hag. You didn't enter into the film with an open mind and it shows; your opinion is clearly tainted by encounters with some of Cotillard's supporters. You must be aware, then, that many Christie supporters are no better. You are no better than the rabid Christie supporters who do everything in their power to disparage Cotillard's work in La Vie en Rose, except that you seem to view yourself as some sort of authority on all things film related.

I'm not saying you have to like Cotillard's performance or the film, but I am, ah, what was it? Oh, right. I am "perplexed and troubled by the rationale that serves as the basis" of your attack on her work.
 
Kay, darling...I don't claim to be an authority on anything. The point I was trying to make is that you don't have to be an authority on Edith Piaf to be sensible to the fact that Cotillard's schtick does not represent anything to be found in the realm of human behavior. It's like La Faye in Mommie Dearest - even if I'd never seen a Joan Crawford movie, I still know ham when I see it. And, by the way - now that I've seen some Piaf clips on youtube, I can say, yes, without hesitation, that Cotillard's performance is waaaay over the top.

As to approaching the film with a closed mind, au contraire - I was perfectly prepared to like Cotillard's performance. I didn't actually start reading snarky blogger comments until after I'd watched the film, so it didn't influence my opinion in any way, shape or form (and as for being a rabid Christie booster, I should add that her performance in Away from Her isn't even my favorite by a leading actress in 2007).

So you need to chill out a little. It's okay for people to have opinions that are different than yours. What's not okay is trying to tear down someone else simply because you think you can influence the outcome of an awards contest by harming their chances. I do not consider myself guilty of this - I am simply reacting to what other people have already written. I can only hope that your response is tendered in the same spirit...
 
See, I am a Cotillard fan and I think Christie was wonderful in Away from Her and believe she is fully deserving of a nomination. It would be very boring indeed if everyone agreed on everything, and I also don't understand all the animosity between fans of Cotillard's performance and fans of Christie's. I'm incredibly open to varying viewpoints and criticisms so long as they're balanced and articulate. This particular take on Cotillard's performance just seemed hateful and unfounded. I don't know how you can read what you wrote and think, "You know, this assessment isn't as petty or catty as any of the ones I've read regarding any other performance this year." And then, what I don't understand, is that after using nothing more than a string of unpleasant references to describe Cotillard's performance, you bring Christie into the mix.

They were different types of performances in completely different films. I feel that both women are worthy of Oscar recognition, you don't. You wrote a blog and I was voicing my opinion. I think we should just leave it at that.
 
Kay -

First of all, I respect the fact that you disagree with my opinion. Neither of us is "right" or "wrong", per se...we simply have different views, and I appreciate the fact you can voice yours with clarity and intelligence as opposed to simply going into name-calling attack mode (there's too much of that going on in the blogosphere already...)

So, to address some of your remarks:

Catty, yes. Let it never be said that yours truly doesn't know how to bring the catty. That said, everything I've written here is an honest and genuine reflection of my reaction to the performance; I'm not going to soft-pedal, smooth over or otherwise mince words about what I thought, because I don't believe that criticism - whether you're writing a rave, a pan, or something in between - should be grounded in diplomacy. So, yes, I don't hold back when voicing my feelings - the "creatures" I've cited (muppets, trolls, etc.) were actually what came to mind while I was watching Cotillard; if her performance had evoked fond recollections of Judy Garland, Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter, or Edith Piaf herself, I would have been just as willing to write about that. As to my reaction being "unfounded" - again, that's a matter of opinion.

In terms of my being guilty of what I've charged others with - namely, bashing one performance as a means of building up another - that isn't how my argument has been framed. I'm not saying Cotillard's is a bad performance that shouldn't be recognized because Christie's is better - which is the approach many have taken, only with the equasion inverted. Rather, the point I'm trying to make is that I don't personally agree with the standard by which greatness in film acting is judged (by some), and that I don't appreciate it when people disparage someone else's work simply because they perceive them as a to threat to their favorite in the awards sweepstakes.

I don't like Cotillard's performance. And I don't subscribe to the school of thought that says if it looks really hard, it must be great acting. And that if people want to love Cotillard's performance, that's fine, but don't express it through the denigration of others. Perhaps if I'd addressed these concerns in a more general way, rather than bringing Christie into it by name (which I felt I had to do, given that she was the specific object of the attacks I was referring to), it would have been clearer what I was getting at.

In avny event, this piece should not be interpreted as "Vote Christie! Not Cotillard!".
 
Josh R., I wanted to love this performance so badly, if only so I could continue our ECOF screwball-comedy antagonism, but after watching La Vie En Rose, I think we're in the last reel of said comedy. This is when I look at the picture of Josh R. and realize, my God, maybe I do like him a little, and that's why I was so mean to him. "Josh R. is right," I say in my best Hepburn, "rally he is!" Of course, I'm going to wind up with Cary Grant instead, but at least I realized you were right, Jimmy Stewart.

2007 seemed to be the year of the over-the-top perf vs. the restrained, underplayed perf. The over-the-tops have been getting a lot more undue praise, which confuses me because I thought scenery chewing was considered a bad thing. Daniel Day-Lewis makes Rod Steiger look like The Mummy in There Will be Blood and he's the shoo-in to win the Oscar. While I disagree that Cotillard looks like Gollum, she's just as CGI-like as Gollum. There is nothing in this performance besides mimicry, as if she watched hundreds of hours of Piaf on the wrong speed, then played this part.

She also has so much make-up on that I could have played this role with the same amount of Max Factor. I think her makeup was what made her hunch over. I'm surprised she still has a face.

The entire movie was all in service to her performance instead of the other way around. Even if Cotillard weren't the bundle of tics, mannerisms and overacting she is, she wouldn't have been able to give an effective performance because this film is hacked to pieces for no reason. Maybe her performance is the way it is because she's trying to outrun the editor.

When Jamie Foxx played Ray Charles, the movie tried to give us some insight into Charles' life and persona. I forgot I was watching Jamie Foxx, because he became Ray Charles with more than mimicry. He was such an asshole too, a far cry from what I perceived him to be from watching 80's Diet Pepsi commercials and 70's variety programs.

What the hell did I learn about Edith Piaf after watching this mess? That she looked like hell and freaked out every 30 seconds? Was that this woman's life? If this was all she was, as the movie seems to imply, then I guess Cotillard should be commended for her performance. Somehow I doubt that this was all Piaf was, and if the movie has so little respect for her, why should the viewer care about Cotillard's work? Why not just put Edith Piaf in every frame of this movie? Fuck, they put Fred Astaire in a vacuum cleaner commercial and Olivier in Sky Captain, so it could have been done.

I'm not writing this because I want Christie to win--I'm not sure who I'd pick for best actress at this point. But I do know this: Even if I were, I'm smart enough to know that my opinion doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. I'm not an Academy voter, and the nominations haven't even come out yet. The problem with the blogosphere boils down to people thinking that just because they can type, their opinion carries more weight than others. Grow up, people. Opinions are like assholes, and so are a lot of the opinionated.
 
Odie -

I said she sounded like Gollum, not that she looked like Gollum. Twit. You wanna make peace with me? Is that what you wanna do? Josh R doesn't play that game. After all the hours of glorious animosity we've lavished on one another, don't expect me to break out into any chorus of "Kum Bay Ya" anytime soon.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr....
 
Sigh. Let's face it. We've been in sync (not N*SYNC) lately. We agree on Rice Piaf, we agree on Christie, and we agree on Juno. Admit it! I'm gettin' to you. (Pointing at temple like Laurence Fishburne) I'm in here, Tina!!

Off to see The Great Debaters, then to sneak into Julia as the Heat Miser, I mean Charlie Wilson's War.
 
Anything that sidestepped any good she did in her life, to focus on some half-written story that's hacked to pieces and not even coherent enough to make sense of her tragedies, is not only "disingenuous" but also disrespectful to the woman in question. This is La Vie En Merde, nor Rose.

I think the person who said "The Passion of the Piaf" was dead on. Now I understand why folks are so defensive of this performance. People are getting off on the schadenfreude of it. "Gee, I'm glad that bitch ain't me! Her life is FUCTUP!!" Well, if I were Edith Piaf, I would be mad as hell after seeing this film. I'd be Peed-Off Piaf!

And for the record, all of you anonymous folks who keep showing up here to tell us that this is an accurate portrayal of Edith Piaf a) are not telling the truth and b) are supporting Josh's argument that the performance is empty mimicry. I'm sure Josh R. thanks you from the bottom of his heart. I'd thank you too if I knew who the hell you were.
 
Alright, I finally made it through the movie. I was surprised that I didn't have quite the violent reaction to Cotillard that others have, but that may have been because I thought the film itself was so lousy. Jumping back and forth through time didn't really seem to have any point. Cotillard is very mannered (in her aging scenes, her walk reminded me of Tim Conway's old man character from The Carol Burnett Show), but what bothered me is that, as far as I can tell from what I read, Cotillard did little if any of the singing. This isn't always a detriment: Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles was so good, that it didn't bother me that he was lip-syncing. On the other hand, by not doing the singing, I think Foxx's performance is just a little lower in the biopic derby when compared to a Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter or even a Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line. Since the most watchable moments of La Vie en Rose are the performances, but the voice isn't Cotillard, I too am puzzled by the abundance of praise for her work, especially in such a so-so movie. In a way, it reminded me of the awful Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely with Kevin Kline.
 
Actually, there are a few places in Ray where Foxx is doing his own singing. He is definitely always doing his own piano playing, which to me was a plus in an already great performance.

I don't know why they didn't just let Foxx sing. He can do a good Ray Charles (check him singing the hook in Kanye West's Gold Digger) and he's a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum selling recording artist. As for Phoenix, they SHOULD have forced him to lip-sync. He sounds like Johnny Cash the way I sound like Carol Channing.

So on the ECOF Cotillard scale, we have Josh R. at the extreme end of dislike, Ed at the low end of dislike, and me in the middle. This means that Cotillard fans will show up here, shoot Josh with a bazooka, graze Ed with a .22, and force me to wear the makeup from the movie, which will be heavy enough to kill me. C'est la guerre!
 
Per the fact that she didn't do her own singing - I was more bothered by what she did do (acting-wise) than what she's didn't do (singing-wise).

There's a bigger issue that I didn't fully voice in this piece - namely, that I've grown weary of people winning Oscars for mimicking celebrities. It's always been part of the Oscars, but just in the last 3 or 4 years, it's gotten out of control. In 2004, we had Foxx as Ray Charles and Blanchett as Katharine Hepburn; in 2005, Hoffman as Truman Capote and Witherspoon as June Carter Cash; last year, Mirren as Elizabeth II and Whitaker as Idi Amin.

Now, the majority of these performances were good - which doesn't change the fact that a major reason they got votes was because people were impressed by the degree to which they ressembled their real-life counterparts. This is 6 of the last 12 actings winners we're talking about - 50% mimics.

Basically, 90% of what this involves is looking and sounding like the person you're playing. If that's the standard by which we're going to measure greatness, I think we have to concur that Rich Little is the greatest actor of all time.

I'm not taking anything away from Foxx of Hoffman or Mirren - they were all great. I'm just tired of this particular trend, and I wish it would go away - great stunt performances are still stunt performances, and I want to see people win for characterizations built from scratch - that require something in the way of originality and imagination as opposed to just listening to recordings and studying tapes.
 
I understand what you are saying. What I find interesting is that actors can be successful at playing real, well-known people without doing an on-the-nose imitation. I think of Anthony Hopkins in Nixon, who really didn't even try to sound much like the real guy, but still captured his essence. Was Frank Langella's Nixon much the same way on stage?
 
You forgot Charlize Theron, Josh.

I didn't think Witherspoon looked like June Carter Cash. And I still support Foxx's win if only because he made that blind legend such a bastard. My beef with Cotillard isn't that she's mimicking, it's that she's lousy.

Hopkins made a fine Nixon, but I think Philip Baker Hall is still the quintessential Nixon. And Ed's comment about capturing the essence of a person reminds me of the comment I made on my old website's review of One True Thing. It went something like "when they make the great Odie movie, I want Meryl Streep to play me. Let's see if she can pull off a bald, half-blind Black guy from Jersey. She won't have to do an accent; she's from NJ herself."
 
I have nothing to add to this conversation and yet I'm bored. So...

Odie - Don't sell yourself short, I bet you do a fine Carol Channing impersonation.

And when they do my life on screen I don't want anyone to play me. I want Chuck Workman to string together a series of sentimental clips from classic films with a sappy Bill Conti score and say - "This is Jonathan Lapper." Fully expecting to have become a multi-billion dollar blogging conglomerate by that point I think the clip montage should end with the oil covered James Dean saying, "I'm a rich'un."
 
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