Julianne Moore

Tears of Courage; Alice and I Interview Laura Dern’s “Cry Face”

By Joey Nolfi and Alice Groesbeck

Sitting atop the thespianic-Everest that is Dr. Ellie Sattler from “Jurassic Park”‘s mug is Laura Dern’s Cry Face, or “Shine,” as “she” likes to be called.
“Ain’t nobody shine brighter than me baby,” she said while sipping on one of Laura Dern’s tears like it’s a chilled glass of Arbor Mist. Although “Shine” sparkles, her wattage is dimmer than a star’s. Shine’s “shine” is infectious, and when it comes to saving face, she says it’s all about how you work it.

“Shine” happens only on special occasions; i.e. working with David Lynch or starring in a television show you’ve co-created to give yourself complete artistic freedom. For Laura Dern, those two things mean, for certain, that her “cry face” (Ok—“Shine”) will expose itself at one point or another. Whether it’s nestled as comic relief (?) from all the crazy that populates the three hours of Inland Empire or as means to communicate true insanity of her character on Enlightened, Dern’s “Shine” takes the cake as the most generous gift she’s given any audience over the course of her lengthy career.

“It’s a rare and exciting thing to be recognized as one of Hollywood’s most iconic muscular movements,” said the cry face, busy on a promotional tour for Dern’s latest film, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. “I never really thought I was pretty in the first place. I was the “dork” in high school, but now I get to look back at the years when Paula Patton’s ‘I-have-good-hair’ smirk got all the attention in high school and recognize that I’m here. I’m the star now.”

But the road to success wasn’t always easy. Tough competition from the cry faces of Hollywood veterans Julianne Moore and Ashley Judd have given the famous frown a run for its money.

“Julianne’s cry face is just a phenomenal asset to the community,” Shine said. “Without trailblazers like her, expressions like myself would be nothing in this town.”

It’s true we’ve grown to love the startling sight of the phenomenon known as Laura Dern’s cry face, if shock value counts for much of anything these days.

“With shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Jersey Shore populating our young peoples’ minds, what’s left in this world that can truly shock them?” the somber face said. “They need something that’s going to jolt them into consciousness. Something they don’t know is coming. Something they don’t appreciate the full brutality of until they lay down to sleep at night and they see me when they shut their eyes.”

The thought clearly excited Shine.

“I will give that Honey Boo Boo nonsense some credit, though. Mama’s chin is a genius.”

Shine patted Dern’s cheeks, which are bright red and moist with salty saturation as her face tried to keep the contortion plastered front and center for the duration of our interview. I told her she looked uncomfortable and that if it’s causing too much discomfort, she’s free to take a breather and let any of Dern’s other emotions take over.

“There’s always the angry face,” I told her, “I’ve only ever seen that in Inland Empire, unless we’re counting the times it’s shown up in nightmares.”

Shine doesn’t take the news easy.

“Everyone knows it takes more muscles to frown,” reflected Shine while a lone tear splashes itself on the nether regions of her palette somewhere between her lip and comic fantasy; “so that makes me the strongest of them all. Longer than angry, longer than happy; I’m here to stay.”

From one strong entity to another, I wasn’t convinced. A real woman knows sacrifice, and I decided to throw a wrench into the cold machine that is Shine’s ego by flipping a bitch. While the hot mess that is Laura Dern’s Crispy Bangs distracted Shine, we decided to fill our suite of the Chateau Marmont with surprise guests so they could weigh in on what it means to be a fresh face on an aging starlet. The door opens. Natalie Portman’s Crybrows enter along with the cry faces of Julianne Moore and Ashley Judd.

A cloudy day in facial Hollywood.

“I hate to be the Dance Mom of the industry, but can they please leave the room?” Shine said as her assistant finished patting her with a Kleenex. I can’t tell if the tears are real or not. Damn, she’s good.

Moore’s Cry Face snaps. “Not a chance! This is payback for that trailer prank you pulled on the set of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.” The room shakes, not from fear, but from security running by the Oprah suite to see if Lindsay Lohan’s pride was anywhere in the room. A Macbook cowers in the corner.

“You know, you might be here to stay–for now–but what about these other up-and-coming facial expressions that are nipping at your heels” I said, while Shine snapped at her assistant to fetch her a bobby pin to show Crispy Bangs who really runs the show.

“Natalie Portman’s got fabulous crybrows. Crybrows that won her an Oscar,” I remarked.

Shine shot me a look that was concealed in her typical upset demeanor, but I knew she was colored surprised by my remarks. Shine was confused and had a look reminiscent of Cher’s Ice Face from her Burlesque pitch meeting where the near mention of the words “co-star” and “Christina Aguilera” nearly caused Cher’s lace front weave to file its quitting papers.

But, Shine fought back.
“Natalie Portman cries like her ego knows something great is happening,”  Shine said. “Those brows are frowns turned upside down. Her ego is in it for the glory. She doesn’t cry with purpose for the art like I do.” Her assistant hands her a tissue but Shine cries even more when she is confronted with the cruel reality that she lacks hands.

“Gals, we’re better than this. Can’t you see we’re a revolution in facial performity? There’s strength in numbers, here. Together we can change the ‘face’ of our industry,” cried Shine. “Unless, of course, you only do about 5% of the actual crying. Does the Academy offer cry doubles once you get an Oscar?”

All faces pointed to Natalie, who stormed out. The faces looked around, unsure of what to do when they heard a slight ruffle from the corner of the room.

“Just taking a look at the ‘competition,'” laughed Meryl Streep’s Pursed-Lips Bitch Face in a whisper, soft as wind from behind a sheer curtain it had been hiding behind this entire time. Her words stung like the salty tears hitting Shine’s eye.

“Unless you’re also controlled by Meryl fucking Streep, you don’t run shit,” she says as the curtains close and the lights dim. In the corner, Lohan is seen turning out the lights as she leaves the suite under the cloak of near-darkness, clutching the Macbook Pro as it softly whimpers.

Streep’s Pursed-Lips Cunt Face wafts out, leaving nothing but layers of backhanded sass to blanket its inferiors in a sense of dread.

“It’s a cold day in this warm town,” Moore’s Cry Face reacted.

“No,” Shine remarked. “That’s just my shade.” As Shine left the suite, the hallway fills with light and applause while the rest of the Cry Faces cowered in her shadow.

If it were lonely at the top, the Cry Face of Laura Dern would never know it. She’s just too busy shining.

Awards Season Begins; Julianne Mooregasms in an Election Year

This makes me happy:

Julianne Moore: Emmy, Golden Globe, and Independent Spirit Award winner. Last night’s triumph was, for me, the too-soon climax of an otherwise dull evening at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. It’s something I’m not used to as I barricade myself in my living room during a typical Oscar telecast. I’ve grown accustomed to a night with Oscar; momentum building throughout, not culminating in a full-fledged Julianne Mooregasm prior to the final awards “cum shot.” Cheating on the Oscars isn’t necessarilly the easiest thing for me to do. Unless you count fangirling over Lena Dunham or verbally bitch slapping Claire Danes through the television, I know next to nothing about the Primetime Emmy Awards or how to “work” its sweet spot. I’m an Oscarhead at heart, but last night’s crowning of Moore as the night’s Queen made the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences a suitable mistress in lieu of my beloved “other” Academy.

But, while she took home the gold last night, something is noticeably missing from Moore’s lengthy list of honorary statuettes; an Oscar. You can argue that she’s one of the most talented screen actresses of all-time, hand in hand with the fact that she’s one of the most under-recognized in the business. She has only one Golden Globe (the defunct “Ensemble” award for Short Cuts in 1994), four Academy Award nominations, and a big fat zero in the “win” column for individual efforts at both ceremonies. She’s clearly something of value to the industry, but what will it take to get her recognized on the Academy’s biggest night?

Ask the ATAS; a role that makes Republicans look bad at the most convenient of times.

It goes without saying that television and film are two of the biggest influences on contemporary American society. Where did you learn how to kiss? How to approach someone at the bar? How to cut your hair? How to vote? From the moving image we so readily indulge in on weekends and after work. And both Academies know that. “Game Change,” the “fictional” account of Sarah Palin’s ascension to a short-lived realm of political relevancy, afforded Moore with one of the night’s top honors, seeing as she portrayed the hell out of a person who is very hard to like–especially if you’re a liberal Hollywood big-wig, or simply an actress working out personal aggressions through her performance–and made her tangible hateability even more accessible to those watching the film. Of course, Moore didn’t write the screenplay nor come up with the idea of the film, but her breath of life into a “character” based on a real person serves as the face for anti-Republican sentiment. If you watch this film, you’re supporting your political cause as a liberal. Recognize the actress who plays the part, and you recognize the “good” of one political mindset. We see Moore win, we see her onstage criticizing the very woman who afforded her the role, which ultimately turns the basis for the “art” into the “other” and makes “her” side the “correct” side.

Awarding Moore with such a prestigious honor during peak Sunday night time slots also recognizes everything she stands for as a social activist. Pro-choice, women’s rights, and a strong consciousness concerning issues of children’s poverty are only a sampling of issues Moore has made herself a “face” of. Starring in 2010’s The Kids Are All Right as a lesbian with a spouse and family (gasp!), Moore has also become synonymous with the LGBT movement, providing another tangible, relatable face to a liberal movement that so desperately needs one to appeal to “mainstream” Americans.

In one sense, her win last night signifies great talent. In another it’s a strong political statement which will hopefully have an effect on at least a small portion of the voting public. Through art we can influence politics and change, and the industry support of Moore, Game Change, and the all-around critical tone of the film itself equates support of liberal Democrats; an expertly-timed win in an election year that means so much to the future of our country.

As for that Oscar, we might have to wait a little longer before there’s a role that fits the Hollywood agenda I love so much; but, until then, we can relish in the fact that while Julianne Moore might not have an Oscar, she does have the prestigious Dallas-Fort Worth Area Film Critics’ Association Award for Best Actress for Cookie’s Fortune.

Someone’s Hot For Oscar; Predicting the Academy Award Nominations

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To begin this year’s Oscar predictions with continued harping over last year’s pitiful excuse for an Academy Awards ceremony would be to completely demean the conspicuously-outstanding American cinematic offerings 2010 served up. But to hell with that, I’m in the mood for bitching, and Kathryn Bigelow and Sandra Bullock still personally owe me for the distress they caused in my life around this time last year.  I’ll most likely be taking my tears and backhanded compliments elsewhere this year, particularly casting shade on what, if the Golden Globes are any indication, could potentially turn out to upset even last year’s Oscar telecast as one of the worst in the AMPAS’ longstanding (and long-respected) history.

The problem I’ve had with the Academy for quite some time now is their increasing insistence on insulting their many followers, not unlike myself, who somehow find it within themselves to hinge what is basically their entire lives on a single telecast that’s gradually making its way down from being the precipice of artistic recognition to a night full of industry favors upheld by a “we need to like you so people like us” nomination process. If last year taught us anything, it’s that giving into societal agendas and journalistic ideals of catchy headlines (First Woman Wins Best Director!) for free press has apparently turned into the Academy’s game.  I mean, absolutely no one but a casual moviegoing public who didn’t see much more than the commercially-friendly The Blind Side could possibly even begin to consider Sandy’s performance as 2009’s crowning achievement of female performances.  The fact remains that Sandra Bullock is a crowd-pleasing, widely-appealing ‘star’ and not a gifted actress. She’s an essential part of what makes Hollywood a business; she’s marketable, relatable, likeable, and just rubs America the right way in general, making it easy for the AMPAS to align themselves with her.

All bitching aside, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that this year’s race to watch out for is Supporting Actress, a category that’s generally one-sided and ultimately locked months before the nomination process even begins. No clear frontrunner has emerged amidst a group of women whose performances are as brilliant as they are ambiguously fitting for both the Lead and Supporting categories (I’m looking at you, Lesley Manfield and Hailee Steinfeld). Both could fall into either category depending on how the Academy chooses to dole out the nominations this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they give both potentials a spot in the Supporting category to make room for some powerhouse players in the Lead category (I’m thinking Moore, Kidman, Williams, and even Swank as an outside pick have a shot this year).  Amy Adams is the only definitive lock at this point, with Melissa Leo potentially creeping in as the category’s alternate. The case of Mila Kunis, on the other hand, is one that has me scratching my head a bit; Her work in the film clearly pales in comparison to what she’ll potentially be up against, seeing as she’s the obligatory “let’s fit the seeming frontrunner into as many categories as possible to up its tally” acting nomination this year. Her’s is neither a girthy or substantial role at all with literally not much for her to work with. A sufficient turn, but nothing Oscar-worthy. I do love me some sweet lips, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like her role is one which is enhanced by  the atmospherics and diegetic emphasis placed upon it, not necessarily by the output of Kunis herself. It’s a role anyone would have been nominated for if they were casted in it simply because of the containing film’s momentum going into the nominations, it just so happens Mila was lucky enough to get it. You can’t forget about Helena Bonham Carter either, although something’s telling me she could be the surprise snub (although rightfully so) of the Awards this year.

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Keeping up with the ladies of 2010, Lead Actress should prove no less exciting than Supporting Actress will be. Annette Bening and Natalie Portman have been locks for months now, and not a thing will change that by come tomorrow morning. I’m confident in placing Kidman as the third in line as of right now, with Moore trailing just behind her. The fifth spot, however, is a complete toss-up. It’s hard to say who exactly would “fit” in with the typical awards season momentum going into the nominations (seeing as not one other performance has consistently garnered accolades across the circuit), but at this point I’m most inclined to say Michelle Williams (interchangeable with Lesley Manville or Steinfeld, if one or both are not placed in Supporting, with Moore as the other alternate here as well) is the likely holder of the fifth spot. I’d be entirely unsurprised if Jennifer Lawrence or even Hilary Swank made their way past Williams despite their earlier-in-the-year releases losing the majority of the buzz they’d garnered. This fifth spot becomes entirely crucial to Portman’s road to a win on Oscar night as well, seeing as a win is most likely for her if both Leading Ladies from The Kids are All Right snag spots (Bening is a lock, Moore is up in the air) as the Academy could likely split if this is the scenario.

The men’s race has been pretty low-key this year, seeing as veteran mainstays (Jeff Bridges, Robert DuVall) each gave expert turns in crucially-timed-and-released pictures that pandered directly to Oscar voters. James Franco is likely to sneak into the fifth spot based on the director’s namesake on his performance’s containing film alone, trailing just behind Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth for their respective turns in Lead roles. Supporting male is, for the second year in a row, the least enticing of all the acting categories this year. Christian Bale obviously leads the pack in terms of buzz coming off of his crucial win at the Globes, and putting your money on Geoffrey Rush as a potential nominee wouldn’t be a bad idea either. The rest of the slots are a complete toss-up, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who could potentially fill the rest of the slots, ranging anywhere from Jeremy Renner in The Town to even Mark Ruffalo in The Kids Are All Right.

Best Director should also prove to be an interesting race albeit a tad predictable in terms of the nominations. I can’t see anyone other than Darren Aronofsky, David O. Russell, Tom Hooper, David Fincher, and Christopher Nolan even coming close to snagging a nomination slot aside from the slight chance that The Coen’s might edge out Russell.

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The now-all-inclusive Best Picture race is proving to be a tad more exciting than last year’s as well, with about 11 or 12 of the year’s best films all realistically vying for the coveted 10 slots. Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, and True Grit are all definitive locks and that’s no surprise to anyone; it’s the remaining 3 slots that have me stumped. I can absolutely see the Academy pandering to the Indie crowd they sort of drastically alienated over the past two years and giving both Another Year and Blue Valentine (I can dream, can’t I?) some love, and placing Inception atop the package as a finishing touch to please the masses. A long outside guess has me thinking The Town or 127 Hours could sneak in there as well.

But if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that the AMPAS are growing increasingly more liberal with their classification choices in many major categories (ahem, going as far as to consider Kate Winslet’s performance in The Reader as Leading and placing The Blind Side alongside Precious and An Education in the Best Picture category) and that’s ultimately what I think this year’s major categories will come down to as well; how the Academy decided to classify certain performances over others. But I can’t say I’ll be surprised at any of what unfolds tomorrow morning, just elated that neither Kathryn Bigelow, Sandra Bullock, and Kate Winslet will be  without cause for celebration come 5:30 AM.

PREDICTIONS

Best Picture

Black Swan

The King’s Speech

The Fighter

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

The Social Network

True Grit

Inception

Blue Valentine

Toy Story 3

Outside Shots: Shutter Island, Another Year, Winter’s Bone

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Natalie Portman, Black Swan

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right

Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole

Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Julianne Moore, The Kids Are All Right

Outside Shots: Hilary Swank Conviction, Jennifer Lawrence Winter’s Bone, Hailee Steinfeld True Grit

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth, The King’s Speech

Robert DuVall, Get Low

Jeff Bridges, True Grit

Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network

Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine

Outside Shots: James Franco 127 Hours

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Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, The Figther

Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech

Melissa Leo, The Fighter

Mila Kunis, Black Swan

Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit

Outside Shots: Lesley Manville, Another Year

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, The Fighter

Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right

Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

Jeremy Renner, The Town

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan

Christopher Nolan, Inception

David O. Russell, The Fighter

Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech

David Fincher, The Social Network

Outside Shots: Mike Leigh Another Year, Martin Scorcese Shutter Island, The Coen Brothers True Grit