As in her debut feature, Bachelorette, writer-director Leslye Headland again manages to find some edgily intriguing ways to refresh a somewhat familiar rom-com setup in Sleeping with Other People. With its New York-based central male-female pair confiding in each other about their love lives and basically attempting to maintain a platonic friendship, the film sounds like a modern-day variation on When Harry Met Sally… But unlike Harry and Sally in the Rob Reiner film, the central relationship begins with sex, as Jake (Jason Sudeikis) first encounters an angry, horny Lainey (Alison Brie) in college in 2002 and ends up being her first. The next time they encounter each other, however, is roughly 12 years later—at a meeting for sex addicts. As we get to know them better, we discover that it isn’t necessarily sex addiction that fuels their behavior, but a deeper series of fears and hang-ups. Refreshingly, though, the film doesn’t offer any pat psychologizing in order to try to explain their neuroses. It may all have something to do with that one fateful night in college during which they hooked up, but Headland doesn’t belabor the point, instead preferring to leave that possibility hovering in the background, hanging over their every fraught interaction as they attempt to carry on a friendship without succumbing to sexual desire.
Bachelorette (#1–10 of 3)
Twenty years ago today, Björk made her Debut, which landed at #29 on our list of the Best Albums of the 1990s in 2011. While American critics, perhaps still beating off to the U.S.’s exalted alt-rock movement, were divided on the album at the time of its release, it’s aged remarkably well. And even if Björk hadn’t gone on to record her masterpieces Post and Homogenic, Debut was enough to cement her legacy as one of pop’s most forward-thinking performers. And that includes her contributions to the music video form.
Boasting enough fine performances to fill a 10-wide field at least, Supporting Actress is this year’s most riches-packed race, and the one with the least room for disappointment. In any season, Sally Field would be a worthy winner for her work in Lincoln, a film she nearly stole with just a few searing scenes, and one she adamantly fought to be a part of. Field was Steven Spielberg’s initial pick to play First Lady Mary Todd, but as the length of delayed production climbed, so too did Field’s age, forcing the actress to re-audition and reconvince her director. The result was surely one of Field’s signature turns, a flawless blend of authoritativeness, maternal zeal, and borderline derangement. A Field victory isn’t implausible, but the two-time Oscar winner falls second to Anne Hathaway, who continues to steamroll the competition for her show-stopping work in Les Misérables. We in these parts are far from agreed on the specialness of Hathaway’s performance, with some of us joining the cheerleading chorus and others thinking it devalues the efforts of actual stage stars, who spend their careers nailing one-take numbers without nearly so much hubbub. Either way, Hathaway has handily won the support of critics, audiences, and, one should think, Oscar voters, and those whose theaters filled with applause at the end of “I Dreamed a Dream” will likely agree that the song alone is poised to win her the statuette.