Showing posts with label The Power of the Dog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Power of the Dog. Show all posts

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Road to the 2022 Oscars: "The Power of the Dog" and "The Lost Daughter"

This is the time of year when I usually make up my Top Ten Best Films list, but I just can't seem to do it.  I don't feel I have seen enough films in the last year to come up with ten, especially ones I really, really liked, so I am going to skip that little enterprise and concentrate on the upcoming Oscars instead.

The Golden Globes have come and gone.  If you blinked, you missed them because, though the awards were announced, there was actually no ceremony this year due to the controversy surrounding them. I am not surprised that the Golden Globes have lost favor since I always wondered who the heck "the foreign press" was and why they had such power.  Now I guess they no longer do, but since the Golden Globes always preceded the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe nominations often gave a hint of what would come from the Academy and I am assuming that is still the case.  

So that said, Jessica Chastain and Nicole Kidman will most likely get nods from the Academy. Kidman won a Best Actress Golden Globe for her role as Lucille Ball in "Being the Ricardos" beating out Chastain's performance in "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," something I don't agree with. Chastain's performance was a career high for her. Kristen Stewart was also nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Princess Diana in "Spencer." I can't really fault her performance, but I hated that movie.  (And if you want to know how much I hated it, check out my earlier review of "Spencer."  Likewise, click on the links above for my reviews of "Being the Ricardos" and "The Eyes of Tammy Faye.") 

So I expect that those three actresses will also get nods from the Academy. 

That brings us to my latest reviews below, films and actors with Oscar buzz.

The Power of the Dog (2021)

Two very different brothers "happily" live on their ranch together until one brother brings home a wife.

Jane Campion is one of our premiere directors and screenwriters (her screenplay for "The Piano" won an Oscar) but unlike some writer/directors, she is not that prolific.  This is her first feature film in 13 years and only her eighth feature film in her 30+ year career.  Perhaps it is her meticulousness that holds her back, because a Jane Campion film is detailed, offering lush cinematography, beautifully framed shots and a slow moving but meaningful pace.  Sometimes you don't know what the hell is going on but it's always an interesting film experience.  And this film is no exception.  Settling in with a glass of wine (or two) is in order.

It's 1925 Montana (well, it's actually really New Zealand standing in for Montana)  and the Burbank brothers live together in their big Victorian house on their sprawling ranch. The two brothers couldn't be more different. George is kind, Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch) is mean. George is a bit chubby, wears a suit and drives a car.  Phil is lean, wears chaps, rides a horse and calls George "Fatso." George is interested in Rose (Kirsten Dunst), the woman who runs the local restaurant, Phil is interested in her effeminate son, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), but not in a good way. George represents progress, Phil is hopelessly lost in his version of the masculinity of the Old West and his worship of the memory of Bronco Henry, an old dead ranch hand. 

George, played by Jesse Plemons, who is married to Dunst in real life, courts Rose and marries her.  However, mean old Phil is not happy about losing his brother. When Rose moves into the big Victorian house with her son, Peter, Phil gets really mean and torments both Rose and Peter. But you know how little boys sometimes torment little girls they really like?  There is some of that going on with Phil except its maybe Peter he really likes deep down.  However, that's not something you would want to admit if you were a cowboy in Montana in 1925. Let's just say Phil is a tad repressed and hides his true self behind a facade of masculinity.

Adapted by Campion from the novel by Thomas Savage, the film is beautiful but very slow.  Not much happens for quite awhile except Cumberbatch being mean, Rose getting drunk because life on the ranch is hell and George being gone most of the time. Then Phil warms up to Peter - mmmm - and then all of a sudden there is this unexpected ending that made me go "huh?" and then "oh." It's all pretty grim.

Not my favorite Jane Campion film, but whether it's my favorite or not, her films are always special.  

Here the performances are particularly noteworthy. Cumberbatch plays against type here. His Phil is so mean he beats up a horse (I hope that horse was just acting)! I can't really remember Cumberbatch ever playing a really mean character.  But he can play anything. Smit-McPhee has already won a Golden Globe and has been nominated for a SAG Award.  He is quite a wonderful new face. Dunst and Cumberbatch have also been nominated for SAG Awards; and Campion has already won a Golden Globe for Best Director and the film won for Best Motion Picture, Drama (Cumberbatch and Dunst were nominated), so expect similar nominations from the Academy on February 8th. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...beautifully produced and framed, wonderful performances, and even though I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, it's a must see because this is the frontrunner for the Academy Award for Best Picture. If it wins, you want to be able to say you saw it, right? (Netflix)

The Lost Daughter (2021)

Some of us are meant to be mothers and some of us aren't.

Leda (Olivia Coleman), an English professor and translator, is on vacation at a resort in Greece and everything is going swimmingly until a large family arrives to disturb her solitude, one of whom is Nina (Dakota Johnson), a young woman with her young daughter.  While everyone is on the beach, the young daughter goes missing briefly and Leda finds her but it does something to Leda. It brings up her painful past. In flashbacks, we see Leda as a young mother (Jessie Buckley) trying to balance her career ambitions with the needs of her two little girls and let's just say motherhood can be a bitch, for Leda anyway. 

Directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal in her directorial debut (she also adapted the screenplay from the novel by Elena Ferrante), nothing much happens in the first 30 minutes of the film but then a sense of foreboding sets in and the film takes off. It's obvious Leda is troubled, especially when she strangely makes off with the little girl's doll and keeps it, despite a huge search for the doll and the little girl being bereft.   

This is a tour de force for Coleman.  I mean what can't Olivia Coleman play?  She has been everything from a police detective in "Broadchurch" to Queen Elizabeth II in "The Crown" and everything else in between.  Now she's a messed up Mom.

So far, both Gyllenhaal and Coleman were nominated for Golden Globes as well as other awards and Coleman has been nominated for a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role, winners to be announced February 27.  Expect her to get an Oscar nod as well. 

Though praise for Coleman's performance is well deserved, I can't say that as a whole this was a particularly satisfying film experience for me.  

I was looking forward to the film and then felt let down by the ending.  I think I would have liked the film more if Leda had been a sympathetic character. But she wasn't.  Don't get me wrong. That in no way is a criticism of Coleman's performance. I don't think Leda was supposed to be a sympathetic character.  She is like most of us women - complicated.  But that's the problem. The film didn't really go anywhere nor explain why or how Leda came to do what she did. So she didn't like motherhood and made some errors in judgment that haunted her. She was selfish. Many mothers have complicated feelings about motherhood, at least some of the time, and most mothers have regrets, though most mothers don't do what Leda did, but if there was more to this film than that, the ending didn't make the point. I don't feel this film said anything new about motherhood. Basically - motherhood - some of us are cut out for it and some of us are not. If there was more to this than that, I didn't get it.

Rosy the Reviewer says...this film is all about Coleman's performance which is wonderful and could garner her a second Oscar, so despite my complaints, you will want to see it. (Netflix) 

So we shall see.  Oscar nominations will be announced February 8.

NOTE: Despite poor box office, it is likely that "West Side Story" will get some nominations as will "House of Gucci" but since I am still not comfortable going to the theatre yet and neither of those films is available on DVD or for streaming, it is not likely I will review them prior to announcements but will try to do a post that includes reviews for all of the Best Picture nominees prior to the show on March 27th, so watch for that.

Thanks for reading!

See you again soon!

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And next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). Go to, find the movie you are interested in.  Scroll over to the right of the synopsis to where it says "Critic Reviews" - Click on that and if I have reviewed that film, you will find Rosy the Reviewer alphabetically on the list (NOTE:  IMDB keeps moving stuff around so if you don't find "Critics Reviews" where I am sending you, look around.  It's worth it)!

(NOTE:  If you are looking for a particular movie or series, check out this cool site: JustWatch.  It tells you where you can access all TV series and movies)