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The Devil Wears Prada (#110 of 8)

Oscar Prospects August: Osage County, Or That Time Julia Roberts Stole Meryl Streep’s Show

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Oscar Prospects: August: Osage County, Or That Time Julia Roberts Stole Meryl Streep’s Show
Oscar Prospects: August: Osage County, Or That Time Julia Roberts Stole Meryl Streep’s Show

A funny thing happens during the course of August: Osage County, a film many would label as this year’s Meryl Streep awards vehicle. Though Streep, who plays the story’s drug-addled matriarch, Violet Weston, has ample moments of alternating grief, delusion, vileness, and humor, all delivered in a swirl of characteristically calculated theatrics, it’s Julia Roberts who walks away with this thing. Playing Barbara, the one of Violet’s three daughters who’s most distanced from, yet most similar to, her warts-and-all, “truth-telling” mom, Roberts is gifted some of the greatest language in this adaptation of the play by Tracy Letts, who won a Pulitzer and Tony Award for his efforts before shaping his work into a screenplay. In the rare role that actually demands she exude more fire than glee or grace, Roberts brings just the right amount of harsh, poetic cynicism to lines like, “Thank God we can’t predict the future; we’d never get out of bed.” The key bit of dialogue, though, comes just after the film’s resentment-baring emotional peak. Gathered around her mother’s table with her sisters, her aunt, her uncle, her cousins, her daughter, and her two-timing husband to commemorate the death of her father, Beverly (Sam Shepard), Barbara finally tackles Violet to the ground, fed up with the woman’s rant-fueling pill abuse, which may well have prompted Beverly’s apparent suicide. “I’m running things now!” Barbara barks at Violet while snatching a bottle of painkillers, and the sentiment couldn’t be truer here in regard to Roberts and Streep.

Oscar Prospects: Looper

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Oscar Prospects: Looper
Oscar Prospects: Looper

Does Looper have a prayer in the Visual Effects race, where tigers and hobbits and Avengers will be sprinting, neck-in-neck? Before the film’s release, the answer would have likely been a resounding “no,” as the throwback panache of Rian Johnson’s aesthetic isn’t even trying to compete with all the 3D bells and whistles of the spectacles above. But with a rapturous response from critics (RT score 94 percent and holding), Looper has the buzz and support to step into some serious contention, if not in the major races, then in tech areas that previously seemed beyond its reach. That is by no means to say the movie’s tricks are not impressive. A near faultlessly calibrated slice of futurama (err, future drama), Looper is 2012’s action flick to beat in terms of quality, and its old-school restraint has a contrasting lure that might make it a viable slot-filler (think the annual foreign trend in the Animation category). There must be scads of Academy members tickled by the dirty realism of a beat-up, flying crop-duster, or effectively unnerved by the rapid, Cronenbergian disappearance of a marked “loop’s” appendages. This wouldn’t be the title to declare where the industry stands today, but it would be the one to give the category an added touch of class.

15 Famous Movie Masters

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15 Famous Movie Masters
15 Famous Movie Masters

This weekend brings us our first big baity film of awards season, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a supposed Scientology allegory that truly explores crises erupting from a modern man’s lack of structure and authority. The faithfully well-composed film, which includes big, beefy performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, got us thinking about other masters who’ve passed across our movie screens, be them masters of a trade, a servant, or even a universe. You thought Dolph Lundgren, Meryl Streep, and Darth Sidious couldn’t co-habitate. You were wrong, Padawan.

Poster Lab: Darling Companion

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Poster Lab: <em>Darling Companion</em>
Poster Lab: <em>Darling Companion</em>

In general, this column isn’t designed to verbally tear bad posters in half, but when something as shoddy as the one-sheet for Darling Companion is put on the market, it’s pretty hard not to chime in. Almost shockingly unpolished, this blandly conceived fiasco reads like the rushed efforts of a first-day intern, who was tasked to cook up something to be shuffled out the door, and in an over-caffeinated panic, made a sinful hybrid of Lassie, The Devil Wears Prada and Martha Marcy May Marlene. Hell, maybe that leg even belongs to the intern’s boss, whose blurry blob of a platform heel recalls those digi-bras used in VH1’s “Movies That Rock” broadcast of Showgirls (come on, y’all know which ones I’m talking about).

It’s a good thing the intern remembered to include the collie, because this design otherwise reflects next to nothing that’s conveyed in the movie’s trailer, which promises over-50 ensemble kookiness, not working-woman minimalism. Maybe if that foot were wearing a saddle shoe and slacks, we might at least believe it belongs to lead star Diane Keaton. As is, it implies a tony glamazon who leaves Fido with a sitter. If there’s any half-decent design sense to speak of, it’s that the woman’s leg provides line quality and hugs the dog’s left side, thus offering a literal visual of the titular theme of pet-owner closeness. In all likelihood, though, it was probably just that poor intern’s way of scaling down the clipping-path duties, which, given the number that was done on the paw, was probably a blessing.

Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions Costume Design

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Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Costume Design
Oscar 2007 Winner Predictions: Costume Design

The Academy has shown great resistance to awarding costumes without corsets, though Marie Antoinette’s Milena Canonero did previously win for Chariots of Fire (with, apparently, jockstraps standing in for laced bustiers). Still, every now and again a contemporary collection will sneak through and provide the acceptance podium with its flashiest duds of the evening—namely, when Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel managed to upstage even The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’s feather boas and ping-pong balls with Gardiner’s “don’t leave home without it” AmEx gown. Given that the category’s only two legitimate “period piece” candidates—Marie Antoinette and Curse of the Golden Flower—represent either film’s sole nomination, it’s hard not to see this one going the way of either Dreamgirls (for making Jennifer Hudson’s body look appropriately fat in those girl-group paper dresses) or The Devil Wears Prada, a film which wears costume design on its sleeve as much as it wears its designer tag in the movie’s goddamned title. It’s a close call, and there is the possibility some voters may simply assume the cast just grabbed its entire wardrobe from the titular designer’s open warehouse. But when a film pins each character’s shift on their change of clothing, it’s damn near impossible to ignore. Now the trick is to simply figure out whether that last sentence was in reference to The Devil Wears Prada or Marie Antoinette.

The 79th Annual Academy Award Nominations

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The 79th Annual Academy Award Nominations
The 79th Annual Academy Award Nominations

Best Picture: “Babel,” “The Departed,” “Letters From Iwo Jima,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” “The Queen.”

Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Blood Diamond”; Ryan Gosling, “Half Nelson”; Peter O’Toole, “Venus”; Will Smith, “The Pursuit of Happyness”; Forest Whitaker, “The Last King of Scotland.”

Actress: Penélope Cruz, “Volver”; Judi Dench, “Notes on a Scandal”; Helen Mirren, “The Queen”; Meryl Streep, “The Devil Wears Prada”; Kate Winslet, “Little Children.”

Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, “Little Miss Sunshine”; Jackie Earle Haley, “Little Children”; Djimon Hounsou, “Blood Diamond”; Eddie Murphy, “Dreamgirls”; Mark Wahlberg, “The Departed.”