Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Finding Viggo Mortensen

By Susan Thea Posnock

Viggo Mortensen is missing. Yes, that actor on the screen looks like him—and he certainly possesses the same quiet assurance when he speaks and physicality when he fights. But more like a magician than actor, he has disappeared into the world of Eastern Promises.

As much as I’ve admired his work before—in movies like my beloved The Lord of the Rings trilogy, A Walk on the Moon and A History of Violence—I wasn’t quite prepared for the total character immersion displayed in the film, as he morphs into Nikolai, the enigmatic driver/undertaker/protector of Kirill, (Vincent Cassel), the “prince” of a London-based Russian crime family.

The story follows Anna, (Naomi Watts) a midwife of Russian heritage, as she investigates the diary of a young girl who dies during childbirth. It reveals a London underworld of drugs and prostitution as a form of modern slavery. Mortensen’s morally ambiguous character both warns Anna off and pulls her into this world.

Mortensen and I chatted on the phone for a little over 20 minutes Friday night. I found him polite and soft-spoken, yet at the same time very talkative, with his answers going far longer than I thought they would. Anyone who recalls my obsessive Rings column, “Diary of a Hobbit Fiend,” will be surprised to know that I managed to keep my fangirl impulses in check, squelching the near constant urge to coo: “Viggo, I love you!”

Read the full post here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nikki Blonsky Graduates

Less than two years ago, Nikki Blonsky was singing for tips at an ice cream shop and performing in high school musicals. Today, she’s one of the stars of the ultimate high school musical for the current generation, Hairspray, matching upbeat song verses and dance steps with John Travolta, the star of the ultimate high school musical from my generation, Grease.

Plus, she’s busy winning the onscreen heart of Zac Efron, star of the actual High School Musical, while overcoming the nastiness of Michelle Pfeiffer—herself a veteran of the ultimate bad high school musical, Grease 2.

Like Tracy Turnblad, the character Blonsky plays, there were twists and turns on the road to achieving her dream.

Read the full post here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Country Nightmares

No Country for Old Men is a violent poem and wayward adult fairytale that held me in its grip from start to finish. My heart never stopped racing, even in the film’s more quiet moments. When it ended—yes, that ending that has confounded some—chills washed over me. I couldn’t move or speak. I wanted to be comforted (or to help comfort) Tommy Lee Jones’s solemn and reflective sheriff. To have him protect me from the big bad wolf who stalked my nightmares.

The wolf—fully embodied by Javier Bardem’s Chigurh—with his twisted honor and menacing benevolence, prowled through my mind. His presence would infect my mood for days to come.

Read the full post at the STPFilmArchive.. This article originally appeared on Awards Daily.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Oscar Season is Here!

Almost a year after tackling the lovely Kate Winslet at a Little Children screening party (I still think back fondly to the moment she whispered conspiratorially in my ear), history repeated itself Wednesday night as I took part in another round of celebrity-cornering with Nathaniel R over at The Film Experience. (You can read his take on the evening here.)

For my take, which originally appeared on Awards Daily, go here.

Other recent film writing:

Film Faces (Originally posted on Awards Daily.)

Top Ten Movie Wigs

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PosMeter: Geeks, Nannies and “Dumbledore” cinema

1. McLovin: Superbad’s side story involving supergeek Fogell (played by newcomer Christopher Mintz-Plasse) got me reminiscing about how this particular character—the geek who is so fully self-assured in his geekiness that he’s actually (to some degree) cooler than the marginally geeky leads—shows up regularly in film. From Jerry Lewis in anything to Charles Martin Smith in American Graffiti to Napoleon Dynamite, geeks (or nerds) are part of movie history.

Read the full post here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

PosMeter: Can this actor be saved, “Bestest," and Nothingness…

1. Oscar Drop: When it comes to the post-Oscar decline, it’s hard to come up with a past winner who has had a more dramatic plunge than the likable Cuba Gooding Jr. It’s one thing to be in sub-par films, but Daddy Day Camp looks “direct-to-video” bad. To be fair, I haven’t seen the film, but a Rotten Tomatoes score of 2 percent doesn’t make me want to run out to the theater. It’s depressing when one considers the potential Gooding once had in films like Boyz N the Hood. The bright spot on the horizon is American Gangster, in which he plays heroin pimp Nicky Barnes (who has his own doc coming out, as per Rollerboy’s earlier post) opposite leads Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe.

It sounds like a huge improvement over the roles Gooding has been getting since he peaked in 1996 with Jerry Maguire. Despite the dismal depths he’s sunk to, I think he’s always had talent and presence. Here’s hoping this is a real return to form and not just a caricature.

Read the full post here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

PosMeter: Vampires, Hobbits and Action Distraction

1. Depp Shadows: Now that Johnny Depp is involved in the development of a feature based on spooky soap Dark Shadows (as reported the end of July in Variety), I’ve finally gotten around to viewing the 60’s cult phenomenon. Depp, who has said he was obsessed by the series and its infamous vampire Barnabas Collins as a child, will likely take on the role of his toothy antihero. After watching a number of episodes on DVD, I think the show’s mix of camp and pathos makes it ripe with cinematic possibilities. Depp, whose stylistic tics range from brilliant to annoying, is the perfect actor to resurrect the iconic Barnabas. I just wonder if he’ll intentionally flub some of his lines as a homage to Jonathan Frid (pictured), who originated the role and often seemed to stumble on the clunky dialogue.

Read the full post here.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

No Oscar Love

This week Nathaniel at The Film Experience Blog focuses his regular feature "Tuesday Top Ten" on those actors and actresses who, despite a good mix of fame and ability, have never been nominated for an Academy Award.

He writes:

One of the most common delusions of fans is "one day [my favorite actor] will be nominated for an Oscar!" The reality is that statistics are against it. Even actors with massive careers (Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, Richard Gere, Cameron Diaz, Jim Carrey) might go without...even when they manage to get close by either

a) snagging Oscar bait roles or
b) finding regular precursor attention @ the Golden Globes.

Indeed, Oscar can be very fickle, as his list aptly demonstrates. I mean, Donald Sutherland has never been nominated?

In addition to Sutherland, who was last snubbed for his fine turn in 2005's Pride and Prejudice, Nat points out some other serious non-nominated offenders. These include Dennis Quaid, Marilyn Monroe and Steve Martin. He doesn't even bother listing foreign language non-nominees, noting:'s always believable that they'll be snubbed -- sorry Isabelle Huppert. Everyone knows you rule but Oscar is a slow reader and you have cooties (i.e. subtitles)

Others he doesn't mention include John Cusack, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Bacon, all of whom I think have been at least deserving of a nomination--if not the win--throughout their careers.

(Read the full post at The Film Experience Blog.)

To follow the discussion at, where I first linked this, click here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The First Real Taste

You know what it’s like. You’re watching and perhaps being entertained by a movie, but you’re not enveloped by it. Then something happens—a shot, a line, a kiss, a sigh—and you are magically and profoundly transported to a place deep inside yourself.

Up until seeing Ratatouille this week, I hadn’t experienced that kind of sucked-from-your-seat moment in the cinema this year. It could be the first true Oscar contender of the year—not surprising given it comes from Pixar and the creative mind of Brad Bird, auteur of the Oscar-winning hit The Incredibles and the critically beloved, if under-seen The Iron Giant.

A film that shares its predecessors’ wit and anarchic spirit, it is a scene toward the end that really resonates. If you haven’t seen it yet, there are semi-spoilers after the jump.

Read the full post here.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Are you Film Experienced? I am, now.

Just completed a brief, very enjoyable guest appearance at The Film Experience, among my favorite film blogs on the net.

Here are direct links to my posts:

My April 13 intro:
Fan of The Film Experience

April 14 on B Movie Musicals:
Madcap Musicals

April 15 on actor Michael Biehn:
Actor Resurrection

April 17:
Top Ten: Most Lovable Movie Cads

And finally,

April 18:
Three Film Wishes

Hopefully I can keep the momentum going and start posting regularly at Oscarwatch very soon.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Maggie G in Encore Magazine

My earlier OW interview with Maggie Gyllenhaal has been tightened up for a piece in Encore Magazine.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Oscar Addiction 101

By Susan Thea Posnock

The transformation is complete. After years of following the Academy Awards on a recreational basis, the Oscars have officially consumed me. I even know the exact moment it happened: Standing in front of the partygoers at Nathaniel of The Film Experience's annual Oscar bash as Effie from Dreamgirls, just moments before Jennifer Hudson would go on to win her Oscar for the role.

Read the full post at the STPFilm Archive. Originally posted on OscarWatch (now Awards Daily).

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Posnock Predictions

By Susan Thea Posnock

Note: I went 12/24 -- yikes!!!!

Now that my favorites are out of the
way, time for some last minute Oscar predictions.

I'll preface my picks by noting that I considered 2006 a rather tepid year in film. With the exceptions of Volver and The Departed, I don't have intense rooting interest tonight. At least not compared to the emotional investment (some would call
it "insanity") I had during The Lord of the Rings years.

Read the rest at

(Note: This post is currently missing!)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Poscar Winners

By Susan Thea Posnock

It's too late. No matter who wins the First Annual Poscars, the ballots for those other little awards, (hint: rhymes with Poscars), have been cast.

I planned to offer up my personal favorites of 2006 on Valentine's Day, but I was too busy trying to decide what to wear to the big event. And while it's true that the "big event" only entailed my sitting alone in front of my computer, you just never know. Perhaps ThinkFilm, in their infinite wisdom, planned to have Ryan Gosling personally deliver a screener of Half Nelson to my door. Or what if Joan Rivers decided to stop by and see what designer I was wearing? (For the record: Gap sweats.)

But enough preamble: no need to sit through three hours of bad production numbers and rambling speeches. In fact, I'll start with the "big one."

Continue reading here...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Oscars and omelets: A Conversation with Patrick Marber

By Susan Thea Posnock

One aspect of being a writer is to dream of immortality through words.

For a screenwriter, an Academy Award is the ultimate way to achieve this. But, as I discovered over a recent chat with Best Adapted Screenplay nominee Patrick Marber--the comedian-turned-playwright-turned-screen scribe of Notes on a Scandal--restaurant menus offer another way to grasp that “Holy Grail.”

Sitting in the lobby of Manhattan’s famed Algonquin Hotel, our conversation veered off on a tangent about one of its most notable regulars, Dorothy Parker.

“You can buy a Dorothy Parker burger here,” he pointed out. “In London there’s a hotel where there’s a Virginia Woolf burger. I’ve always thought that was hilarious.”

Throwing good taste to the wind I wondered aloud, “Do you dip it in water?”

Read the rest here...

Friday, February 09, 2007

The First Annual "Poscars"

By Susan Thea Posnock

Yes, the Academy Awards are important, but I know that in secret [perhaps super-duper secret] what people in the film world really yearn for this time of year isn't the Oscar. It's the Poscar.

What? You've never heard of it? Well, okay, I did just make it up. But if Martin Scorsese is brutally denied another directing Oscar for The Departed, he will rest easy knowing this was the year he snagged the Poscar.

In coming up with these "prestigious" awards, I must give credit to my friend Nathaniel over at The Film Experience, whose brilliant (and recently completed) Film Bitch Awards provided inspiration.

Read the rest here...

Friday, February 02, 2007

Big stars, Oscar campaigning and the Internet

A conversation with director Roger Michell

By Susan Thea Posnock


I met with director Roger Michell—who guided Peter O’Toole to his eighth Best Actor nomination in Venus—over lunch on a brisk afternoon last fall.

Before I could begin my interview in earnest, he noted the presence of failed presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, at a nearby table.

"The Oscars are a bit like John Kerry sitting over there: vastly campaigned for," he said. "They're quite corrupt in that way. They're not this sort of simple meritocracy."

He would know. Michell, who was born in South Africa but now resides in England, got his start as a theater director (and still dips in those waters between films), but has been helming features for more than a decade.

His first effort was Persuasion in 1995. Not only did it kick-off the Jane Austen big screen movie-a-thon, but this beautifully understated film remains my favorite among the numerous adaptations of her works. Over the years Michell’s worked on a mix of star vehicles and smaller, more personal films. He's probably best known for 1999's Notting Hill, with superstars Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.

Read the rest here

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Indie Queen

We all have ways of working through trauma in our lives and using those trials to learn and grow. For Maggie Gyllenhaal, acting is a part of that process.

Like many New Yorkers and Americans, she struggled to come to grips with the tragedy of Sept. 11. That included a backlash when she made comments about the attacks she says were misinterpreted to sound as if she felt New York and America deserved to be attacked, a sentiment she calls inconceivable. (While doing press for the 9/11-themed film The Great New Wonderful in April 2005 she was quoted saying the United States was “responsible in some way” for the attacks.) Playing Allison Jimeno—whose husband Will was a Port Authority officer pulled alive from the rubble—in Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center helped her come to terms with the event and her own reaction to it.

Read the rest here.

Breaking Away

By Susan Thea Posnock


Hollywood loves comeback stories--real or fictional--and perhaps no actor fits the bill better this year than Jackie Earle Haley.

A child and teen star, he caught his first break at age five as the voice of Dennis the Menace in cartoons and Dairy Queen commercials. He went on to play pivotal roles in two classic 1970s flicks: The Bad News Bears as rebel slugger Kelly Leak and Breaking Away as Moocher, the diminutive friend with attitude, who famously (and literally) “punched in” a clock at work.

But like so many who've tasted that kind of success at an early age, Haley was unable to make a smooth transition into successful adult actor. Instead, he found himself relegated to the low-grade movie ghetto, then out of work and doing bit jobs that included limo driver to the stars and pizza delivery guy.
Read the rest here.