Now that the critics groups’ awards have all been conferred and the nominations from the industry guilds are in place, those of us in the hinterlands (an odd concept for a place like the San Francisco area, but where “small film” release schedules are concerned it’s often true here more than you’d think) are finally getting to see the last round of cinematic offerings that either made it into the Oscar finals or at least were being talked up in that manner a couple of months ago. Specifically this time around in my latest detailed review I offer you my evaluations of a couple of those late arrivals, both of which feature strong deliveries from actors who bring great power to their stories of women facing desperate situations. In Cake Jennifer Aniston makes as effective an argument as she can to never again have a review of a current film of hers somehow drag up the memory of Rachel on TV’s Friends. Here she’s dealing with intense physical and emotional pain (the source of which is slowly revealed, unless you’re ready to plunge into my spoiler-filled commentary noted above) while wondering if the suicide choice made by a former member of her chronic pain support group isn’t the best strategy for her as well, even as she’s striking up a relationship with the deceased’s widower and his kid. Although Aniston didn’t get an Oscar nod for her work, Marion Cotillard did for Two Days, One Night (even as her chances of winning another one—after 2007’s La Vie en Rose—look slim compared to the ongoing run-the-table-triumphs of Julianne Moore in Still Alice); her character’s pain is all emotional yet rightly so as she’s about to return to work after an illness absence only to find that she’s been let go in order that her coworkers can collect a hefty bonus that used to be her salary. She convinces the boss to give her the weekend to try to change their minds before a second vote on Monday morning so the plot’s streamlined from there as she seeks them out, begs for mercy, and has to keep humiliating herself in order to help support her family. Honestly, I’d have considered bumping Cotillard (or, more likely, Reese Witherspoon from Wild) in favor of Aniston for Oscar consideration but her screen presence is still engaging, as you’d expect from such a great performer.
Comments on any of this are welcome here, at the blog review site, in LinkedIn’s Movie Addicts and World Cinema Critics discussions, or sent directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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