House Logo
Explore categories +

The Namesake (#110 of 2)

On the Rise Lupita Nyong’o, the Awards-Bound Breakout of 12 Years a Slave

Comments Comments (...)

On the Rise: Lupita Nyong’o, the Awards-Bound Breakout of 12 Years a Slave

Fox Searchlight Pictures

On the Rise: Lupita Nyong’o, the Awards-Bound Breakout of 12 Years a Slave

As we surge headlong into Oscar season, the inevitable nuances regarding reception of 12 Years a Slave are finally trickling out, with the initial wave of rapturous reviews being joined by sobering studies questioning the film’s novelty and its appeal to Academy voters. In today’s Links for the Day, we acknowledged both of these issues, which suggest that, while the film may stand alongside Gravity as half of this year’s Oscar power couple, it’s not necessarily the sure thing so many hyperbolically claimed it to be.

I’ve heard people laud and criticize 12 Years a Slave for various reasons, but I certainly haven’t heard a single peep denouncing Lupita Nyong’o’s spectacular performance. There are other actors here whose work lingers like weight on your heart (Pariah’s Adepero Oduye, for instance, isn’t getting nearly enough acclaim for playing a mother stripped of her children), but none cut as deep as Nyong’o, whose turn as the physically and spiritually frayed Patsey isn’t just Oscar-bound; it’s career-making. Here’s your sure thing: this woman is going to be a star.

Broken English, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Namesake, and Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Comments Comments (...)

<em>Broken English</em>, <em>Charlie Wilson’s War</em>, <em>The Namesake</em>, and <em>Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street</em>
<em>Broken English</em>, <em>Charlie Wilson’s War</em>, <em>The Namesake</em>, and <em>Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street</em>

Broken English (Zoe R. Cassavetes). Warts and all, this is the best American independent film I’ve seen all year. After Juno, it’s refreshing to see something so intelligently keyed to the way people in the real world dress, talk, and feel. Parker Posey is prone to all sorts of bad habits: Her quirkiness often seems to be fighting against the films she’s in, an approach that almost never works (her avant-garde disconnect in Blade: Trinity being a notable exception). Here, though, that uniquely Poseyian energy very much belongs to her character Nora: a thirtysomething woman sadly content with her dead-end job, burned by men who have made mincemeat of her confidence, thus resistant to the affections others seem to promise. Unpretentiously filmed, Broken English is decorous only in the attention it pays to its main character’s needs and fears, and the anxiety Nora suffers when trying to figure out whether or not an adorable Frenchie is just using her feels very real. Their alternately indignant and rapturous romantic tango is sweet, painful, and dangerous—as if one misstep could change their lives forever. This may be spoilerish for those who haven’t seen it, but I love how the movie accommodates a happy romantic ending while still getting to the point that Nora can feel fulfilled without a man in her life. Finally, a Cassavetes offspring daring to carry their father’s torch.