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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

Focus Features

Oscar 2016 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

True story: When I saw Titanic on opening night in New York City, Sam Waterston was sitting behind me and, within seconds of the credits rolling, was calling bullshit on the film. Almost 20 years later, his daughter, Katherine Waterston, gave two of the best performances of her young career in Queen of Earth and Steve Jobs, and given the response from critics and awards groups, it’s almost as if she never gave them. That Kate Winslet, a great actress who so artfully disappears into her role of Joanna Hoffman in the latter film that you barely notice her spotty accent work, has arguably robbed Waterston of her time in the sun probably has everything to do with name recognition alone. Or, and maybe Sam will agree with me here, the Golden Globe and BAFTA trophies that Winslet has collected for her turn may be explained by some weird reflex by which Titanic enthusiasts see a win for Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio as a two-for-one special.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016 Knight of Cups and The Little Prince

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Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016: Knight of Cups and The Little Prince

Broad Green Pictures

Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2016: Knight of Cups and The Little Prince

Santa Barbara, with its picturesque movie palaces mere minutes from the beach, feels like an idyllic remnant of Old Hollywood. Fitting, then, that the centerpiece of this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival is Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, a parable about life’s transience posited as a rumination on Hollywood vainglory. Opening the film with a quotation from John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Malick makes immediately clear that his relatively plotless narrative about a Hollywood screenwriter’s (Christian Bale) various romantic encounters is, in essence, about humanity’s efforts to regain a lost paradise from which we’ve all been expelled. As allegory, it works on both a literal and metaphorical level, one being meaningless without the other, as it’s precisely that tenuous connection between those two planes that represents Malick’s insistence that only there, in the interstices between the material and the spiritual, does life possess purpose and meaning.

Toronto International Film Festival 2015 The Witch and Every Thing Will Be Fine

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Toronto International Film Festival 2015: The Witch and Every Thing Will Be Fine

A24

Toronto International Film Festival 2015: The Witch and Every Thing Will Be Fine

That Robert Eggers’s Sundance hit The Witch is slotted in Special Presentations rather than Midnight Madness is a testament to the film’s ambition. Sidestepping the crowd-pleasing, antic energy common to the selections featured in the latter program at the Toronto International Film Festival, Eggers’s film is altogether stranger and more challenging to conventional genre tastes. Set among a family of Puritan exiles in the wilderness of unmolested New England as strange and ominous forces beset them, The Witch often looks more like historical realism than horror.

Deepening that sense of verisimilitude, Eggers draws much of the dialogue from 17th-century documents, though this has the tendency to make the characters sound more as if they’re reciting diary entries at one another than conversing. Thankfully, the dialogue counts for little in the film, which instead devotes most of its energy to maintaining a constant sense of dread in the dense thickets of woods that surround the family. The sound design is exceptional: brittle wind rustling through stripped branches connotes the terror of the family’s complete isolation, the fright only exceeded by the soft but unmistakable crunch of dead leaves and twigs that signals an intruder.

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 8, "Omega Station"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Omega Station”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Omega Station”

Late in the meandering, unsatisfying conclusion to True Detective, “Omega Station,” Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) attempts to record one final message to his son, a last will of sorts. “You turn here, turn there, and it goes on for years, becomes something else,” he says, trying to apologize. In actuality, he’s describing Nic Pizzolatto’s writing style: Caspere’s murderer is revealed to have been Len, an assistant from that movie studio visited in “Maybe Tomorrow.” Len’s motivation was simple revenge, given that once upon a time, Caspere used his position within IA to help cover up the robbery and execution of Len’s parents at the hands of Holloway (Afemo Omilami) and Burris (James Frain). Both of these are straightforward enough, and yet because of Caspere’s corruption (and perhaps the complexity of Californian traffic, for Caspere’s corpse was left roadside), the season twisted and turned down so many detours and side streets that by the exhausting end, it was hard to keep track of what, if anything, True Detective had been about in the first place. Ultimately, given the repetition of idealistic stories and false promises shared between lovers in this final episode, the season goes out as the sort of perverted fairy tale in which plenty of people—good and bad—end up dying, but there’s no “ever after”; just a road stretching on into infinity.

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 7, "Black Maps and Hotel Rooms"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Black Maps and Hotel Rooms”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Black Maps and Hotel Rooms”

The problem with mysteries, especially fair-play ones, is that if you’ve paid close enough attention and solved it ahead of schedule, then a table-setting episode like “Black Maps and Hotels Rooms,” in which characters constantly explain how the pieces fit together, is nothing short of irritating. That’s because solving a jigsaw puzzle, for instance, can never be as satisfying as the act of physically putting it together. (After all, if you’d wanted a finished picture, you could’ve just bought one.) That, of course, is just one perspective, and the real heart of the episode comes from the constant reminder that we all have different needs and wants.

For instance, Dani (Carla Vila) believed that her sister, Vera Machiado (Miranda Rae Mayo), had been kidnapped, and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) certainly thought as much when she rescued her from last week’s Orgy Mansion. But when Vera’s sobered up from her overdose of champagne and molly, she clarifies that she was happy being on the party circuit and that, in fact, all of the women were there by choice (and well paid for it). Sure, the occasional woman was murdered up in that blood-soaked cabin in the woods that Ani and Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) found in Guerneville, but that was only if they broke the rules and attempted to take blackmail photos of the rich clientele. Echoing a conversation she had with her sister, Athena (Leven Rambin), back in the first episode, Ani suggests from her high horse that Vera was perhaps “put on Earth for more than fucking,” but that’s an uncharitable view of things. Vera’s happy, or, at the very least, she was getting the most out of a bad situation. “Everything is fucking,” she replies, so why not at least profit from it? Then again, this sort of bleak worldview can’t help but work against True Detective: If everything is awful, why bother watching any of it?

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 6, "Church In Ruins"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “Church In Ruins”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 6, “Church In Ruins”

Everything you need to know about the inconsistencies of True Detective—its strengths and weaknesses this season—can be summed up by the two standoffs that occur in this episode. The first follows directly from the previous episode, and bears the weight of the entire season, as Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) sit across a kitchen table from one another making brief pleasantries over coffees that go untouched on account of the guns they’re both holding on one another beneath that mundane kitchen-table surface. The second, between Frank and the suave drug-runner (Benjamin Benitez) introduced without fanfare in last week’s episode, is treated as a joke, and ends almost as soon as it begins: “Well, that’s one off the bucket list. A Mexican standoff with actual Mexicans.” There’s admittedly a bit more to it than that, as it comes out that this man has a connection to the deceased Rey Amarillo’s crew, and provides proof that Amarillo was set up—by a “white cop”—to provide plausible closure to the Caspere investigation. But without giving us so much as the man’s name (his henchman is a silent, posturing cross between Kato and Tonto) or motivation, these scenes are hacky and stylized. This is True Detective at its worst, and toward the end of the episode, a riff on “The Monkey’s Paw” is proffered, with the man delivering to Frank exactly what he promised: a glimpse of Amarillo’s woman, but of her corpse, freshly butchered by the dealer’s crew in a moment of needless, show-off cruelty.

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 5, "Other Lives"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 5, “Other Lives”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 5, “Other Lives”

Throughout this season of True Detective, a singular point has been drilled into our heads: “We get the world we deserve.” This week, “Other Lives” suggests what we deserve is simply a construct: There’s nothing stopping Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) from walking away from his nightclub, poker room, and other enterprises. He may have a design, but as his wife, Jordan (Kelly Reilly), puts it, all the work he’s doing to get back to where he was before being robbed is “backslide city.” He may not like the term “gangster,” but he recognizes in a moment of clarity that it may fit; he can’t really put himself above the pimps and dealers he now works with, even if his suits and cologne are fancier. It’s no defense to say that “everything they do, they would do anyway,” because what’s to stop someone from saying the same thing about Frank? “I don’t want to see you lose who you’ve become,” says Jordan—and it’s not a matter of wealth, but of integrity. Even after all the horrors, he can choose to be a new man; he can set down that drink and forget about earning new land parcels through Catalyst by retrieving Caspere’s missing hard drive full of incriminating sex videos. Frank’s already survived moving into a smaller, shabbier place; he doesn’t have to keep dreaming of the idealized “best of all possible worlds” made popular in Candide. (The theme song hints at this too: To what extent can we really distinguish between levels of happiness? At some point, we must just “Nevermind.”)

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 4, "Down Will Come"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 4, “Down Will Come”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 4, “Down Will Come”

Good and evil have often been described as two sides of the coin that is humanity, and “Down Will Come” certainly puts that theory into practice. As the title’s play on words suggests, evil things are all but guaranteed to fall upon us, as cyclical as the physical forces that bring dawn (or light) to each new day. Halfway through this week’s episode of True Detective, there’s a return to the very first shot of the season—a series of flags flapping on a parcel of land. This time, however, an EPA specialist is on hand to explain to Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) and Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) that the flags represent contaminated land. While the detectives don’t put it all together, it’s suggested to the viewer that Mayor Chessani (Ritchie Coster) has been deliberately polluting the water tables so as to force the families who once farmed on them to flip them to the various illicit organizations in Vinci who will then eventually rezone and resell the properties to the federal government.

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 3, "Maybe Tomorrow"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 3, “Maybe Tomorrow”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 3, “Maybe Tomorrow”

Despite its poor rendition at the hands of a cheap Elvis impersonator, “The Rose” is the perfect song for Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) to hear as he dreamily drifts between life and death at the start of “Maybe Tomorrow.” It’s a song that hints at the ability of love to be both beautiful and violent, and which speaks directly to the episode’s insistence on looking toward the future. Ray awakens in a puddle of his own urine, his shirt a mess of buckshot, but he’s alive: “And the soul afraid of dyin’/That never learns to live.”

True Detective Recap Season 2, Episode 2, "Night Finds You"

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True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 2, “Night Finds You”

HBO

True Detective Recap: Season 2, Episode 2, “Night Finds You”

There’s stigmata of sorts forming on the ceiling above Frank Semyon’s (Vince Vaughn) bed. Two water-stained eyes stare down at him, transfixing and keeping him awake, for in that casual decay he sees the fragility of the world. As he puts it, “It’s like everything is papier-mâché.” After all, he had “gone liquid” for his land deal with the Catalyst Group, and now that his middleman, Ben Caspere, has been tortured and murdered, all he has to show for his five-million-dollar investment is a double mortgage on his home and his poker room; his possessions, in other words, are as paper-thin as the money that bought them. And if his physical belongings aren’t real, as he muses to his wife (Kelly Reilly), then isn’t it possible that his life is also a dream? That he’s still locked in a childhood nightmare, staving off rats in the darkness while waiting for his drunk of a father to come home?