Oscar Week: Best Supporting Actresses

The Academy Awards are approaching at the end of this week, so I present to you Oscar Week! These are my own movie awards from 2014, celebrating my favorite performances and scenes of the year.

This was a weak year for Supporting Actresses and of the Academy’s picks I have not seen Laura Dern in Wild, Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, or Meryl Streep in Into the Woods but I doubt any of these I would really think are top contenders. Because of this, I think I came up with a more creative (and perhaps ridiculous) list of my favorite performances of the year.

Here are my top 10 supporting actresses of 2014:

10. Lorelai Linklater, Boyhood

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The kid’s have gotten a lot of grief for their acting, but I found both to be charming over their 12 year performance. Linklater isn’t given a lot, but I always liked what she was adding on screen.

9. Marisa Tomei, Love is Strange

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Another small performance that stuck with me, Tomei plays the niece-in-law to John Lithgow and really serves to highlight both the attachment to the central characters and the growing frustrations that come with being surrounded by people you love.

8. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

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A bit overrated in my book, but still a performance worth talking about. Arquette does get the unemotional film’s most emotional scene and really does nail it.

7. Carrie Coon, Gone Girl

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Coon’s character brings a lot to Gone Girl, bringing in humor and emotion in a film that is cold and calculated both in production and in content.

6. Saoirse Ronan, Grand Budapest Hotel

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Grand Budapest Hotel is a film I was disappointed by, but I think the part that was the most moving to me was the relationship between lobby boy Zero and Ronan’s Agatha whose young love really did feel beautiful.

5. Mackenzie Foy, Interstellar

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Mackenzie Foy pretty much out-acts Jessica Chastain as the younger version of Murph, Matthew McConaughey’s daughter in the movie. There is so much emotion in those early scenes and Foy is a delight.

4. Emma Stone, Birdman

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Perhaps the toughest performance Emma Stone has had to give–one where she doesn’t have to rely on all that natural charm–Stone is aggressive here and really keeps up with Norton who is at his peak.

3. Katherine Waterson, Inherent Vice

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Waterson is excellent as the mysterious and somewhat-sultry “vice” of Phoenix’s Doc Sportello. She is presented as a near-apparition, being the core of the mystery that Doc attempts to uncover–Waterson is charming enough to make us believe that she really is worth chasing after, despite her lack of clear devotion.

2. Agata Kulesza, Ida

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I was expecting Ida to be a serious film, perhaps overly serious, it is in fact a black and white shot Polish film about religion and the holocaust, but instead it features jokes, charm, and fun jazz songs–most of which is thanks to Kulesza. Kulesza plays Wanda Cruz, the irreverent judge polar opposite to her niece, Agata Trzebuchowska’s righteous Ida. She is bitter and hedonistic, but, as we discover, has faced great pain, some of which is too great to bear.

1. Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

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Watching Snowpiercer I convinced and unconvinced myself four different times that Mason was and was not played by Tilda Swinton. Turns out she was in an absolute riot of a performance as Wilford’s assistant and the face of villainy to those living amongst the poor on the Snowpiercer train. She is an evil character, but also self-serving enough to connive her way through any scenario. Swinton really disappears here in a way that is absolutely magical.

Coming Tomorrow: Best Supporting Actors of 2014

Overrated: The Beach

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Let me start this off by saying this, I think the beach is fine. The ocean crashing onto beautiful sandy shores, surfers riding waves hanging loose as they navigate breaks, children building sand castles attempting to defy the incoming tide, girls trying to improve their beauty by making their skin darker, etc… These are all fantastic, ideal things to be doing, that is if you’re in a Beach Boys song…

In reality the beach is usually a fairly terrible place. Before you go off on me, allow me to explain by first making one clarification. The main crime the beach commits is not living up to the expectations it sets for itself. The beach (and maybe this is The Beach Boys fault) is supposed to be a touch of heaven on earth. Middle class families everywhere plan their vacations and their weekends around it. It is where everyone wants to be. Let me also say that for those readers whose lives revolve around the beach: avid surfers, beach bums, residents of cities that are “____ Beach”, I am not trying to attack your lifestyle and the culture you have created around it. If that is what you love then that is beautiful and wonderful; it is the foundation of your life. For those of us who sit on the outside, who covet beachfront properties, wishing that our toes could touch the sand, this is for you.

My first complaint about the beach is not inherently its fault, rather it is probably the fault of people like you and I, us coveters of beach culture. The beach is crowded, all the time. In order to get a good spot, one must get there early in the morning, not only to claim a patch of sand, but to find a parking spot. Beach towns are not naturally filled with large parking spots, because of the beach, they attract the population of major cities making their parking situations as difficult as going downtown.

Following GPS directions that take you down to the water, the beautiful beach comes into sight. You drive past looking left and right for parking spots. And you drive. And you drive. And you OH WAIT! THERE’s A SPOT! Nope, there’s a motorcycle. And you drive. Usually the best you can get is a parallel parking job, 20 minutes walk away and whoops you have to carry your boogie board, lunch, towel, sunscreen, and other paraphernalia because you forgot to drop someone off!

By the time you actually get down to the beach and find your spot it is time to take off your clothes. This is the beach, clothes are not required. After lathering yourself with a sunscreen and sand spread you start to feel a little chilly. What is happening? My iPhone said the weather was supposed to be 82 degrees! Where is all this wind coming from? Sorry, it’s the beach buddy. Always cold, but never clothed.

The next thing to do, how about get into the water? There are plenty of fun things: body surfing, boogie boarding, running away from the waves, jumping over them… These are all great fun! After spending 30 minutes gradually getting into the water (it’s too cold for anything else) and shaking your foot to get some of the feeling back, you decide to head back to your towel.

Sand attack.

A wet body and sand stick together better than white on rye. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing you can do to prevent this. It will get you and it will get you everywhere. But don’t worry, there’s a solution for that! There are these cool showers you can take before you go to wash off all the sand stuck to your body. Did I say cool? I meant freezing cold. You stand there in piles of other’s wet sand as freezing water rushes down your body. In order to dry off you use your towel. The towel that was just laying in the sand minutes ago… Repeat.

How about lunch time? Picnic lunches are always fun. Except for a couple of reasons. 1. We Americans are the worst at packed lunches. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of packed lunches from all over the world and ham sandwiches+chips+grapes+cookies are the worst. 2. The beach only makes eating terrible lunches even worse.

Eating lunch begins the second battle with the sand as sandwiches, Doritos, and fig newtons inevitably become coated with a crunchy layer of the stuff. Oh and as you try to brush off sand grains from your white bread, the boy from the family next to you has begun to feed the Seagulls pieces of his Oreos and Here. They. Come.

But don’t let that get you down, beach sports always sound like a great idea. As a lover of all sorts of competitions, playing sports on the beach is certainly an attractive idea. Wanna throw around a frisbee? Sorry it’s too windy. How about some football or whiffle ball? This is a great idea, filling the heart with euphoria, which all comes crashing down as soon as the older woman next to you gets smacked with a badly thrown ball (a guarantee). The beach is too crowded for any sort of gameplay.

The beach is one of the only places where we will put up with all of this and still believe that we are having a fantastic time. Add onto this the risk of sharks/drowning, overpriced restaurants, and disgusting bathrooms and it seems like the beach is actively trying to cause you to have a bad time. But hey if the sound of those waves and the feel of that sun upon your back and sand between your toes is worth it to you, go for it!