Tag Archives: Adele Exarchopoulos

Oscar Countdown: Snubs Galore

The Oscar nominations always cause a stir, what with the Academy’s glaring myopia when it comes to certain films. This year, the snubs were fewer and less harsh than in years past (like that year they totally ignored three of the best films of the year in Drive, Take Shelter and Young Adult, and failed to nominate the year’s best lead actress performances). We may never get over 2011.

Still, as always, there are some very curious omissions. Here we run down our 5 biggest gripes.

1. Inside Llewyn Davis

The magnificent Coen brothers’ immersive character study set in the unforgiving winter of the Greenwich Village folk scene garnered no love for its outstanding lead performance or its pristine screenplay or its rich and textured direction or even its music! That’s a lot of snubs for one film. It would certainly have been tough to find room for the wondrous Oscar Isaac in a leading actor field more crowded than most, and though the Coens are perpetual competitors for best director (by Oscar’s standards or anyone else’s), who would we bump this year? Scorsese? That’s a hard choice.

When it comes to original screenplay, we may have dumped Dallas Buyers Club in favor of Llewyn. There’s no question that we would have given it the best picture nod over Philomena.


2. Stories We Tell

The Academy had their heads up their asses with this one. In fact, there are a number of documentaries better suited to the award than this lineup suggests, but Sarah Polley’s deceptively complicated, brave and clever film cries out for recognition. Not only among the best documentaries of the year but one of the very best films overall, we would certainly have knocked Dirty Wars from the list in favor of Polley’s film. Truth be told, the only film in the category more deserving is The Act of Killing, so we’d have been fine with kicking any of the others to the curb to make room.


3. Her

The most imaginative and lovely film of 2013 went without acknowledgment in acting and directing, which is sinful. Our first order of business would be to get Scarlett Johansson a best actress nomination, even though the studio pushed her for supporting. Let’s be honest, regardless of the fact that she’s never onscreen, she plays one of two lovers in a love story. She’s the lead. And in a brilliant voice-only effort, she easily deserves Sandra Bullock’s spot. (In fact, we’d pick Johansson over Bullock, Streep or even Dench this year.)

Joaquin Phoenix should have edged out Leo (though we loved Leo’s work, it’s just a very tight race this year!). Director is as tight as actor, and while Alexander Payne and Martin Scorsese are 1) geniuses and 2) nominated for outstanding work this year, we’d have given one of their places to Spike Jonze for crafting a beautiful love story set in an unerringly crafted near-future, and doing so without a hint of cynicism or derivation.


4. Blue Is the Warmest Color

Apparently France couldn’t get off its cheese eating ass to get the film released in time for Oscar consideration, which is an absolute tragedy. The film should, by all accounts, boast two nominations, one for Best Foreign Language Film and another for Best Actress. The fact that Adele Exarchopoulos’s career-defining turn in this romantic drama will go unacknowledged is a crime.


5. And the Rest

We’d rather see Julie Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said) for Best Actress than Meryl Streep. We know that sounds like heresy, but her performance in August: Osage County is so hyperbolic that it’s more exaggeration than acting. True, the weak direction of A: OC is most likely to blame, but the end result just doesn’t measure up.

We would also have given either Daniel Bruhl (Rush) or James Gandolfini (Enough Said) the nod over Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor.


For more on our Oscar picks, listen to George’s stint on the Sunny 95 (WSNY Columbus, OH) morning show.


Unforgettably Explicit


by George Wolf


Make no mistake, though the sex depicted in Blue Is the Warmest Color (La vie d’Adele) is explicit enough to earn an NC-17 rating, it is the way the film is emotionally explicit that makes it one of the very best of the year.

The focus is Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos), a French teenager nearing the end of high school who loves literature and has designs on a future teaching career. Her blasé interest in a new boyfriend is forgotten when she passes the blue-haired, twenty-something Emma (Lea Seydoux) on a city street. Instantly captivated, Adele is left confused by her new feelings, and by the newfound pleasure that her fantasies of Emma can bring.

In adapting the source comic book by Julie Maroh, director/co-writer Abdellatif Kechiche has created a completely engrossing drama, one that totally immerses you in the romantic arc between Adele and Emma. Kechiche doesn’t follow a by-the-numbers narrative, choosing instead to present sketches of the the two women’s lives – both together and apart.

Kechiche’s camera lingers on nearly every moment, and though this results in a full three hour running time, the film, almost miraculously, never feels self-indulgent. Rather, the pace seems a necessity, as Exarchopoulos and Seydoux slowly allow us to develop a bond with their characters that is deep enough to share in their joys and heartaches.

The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, and though this has historically been a prize for directors exclusively, the jury made an exception this year, choosing to also honor the two lead actors. Indeed, their performances go beyond fearless, reaching a point of emotion so raw you begin to feel self-conscious for intruding.

Exarchopoulos, in particular, is mesmerizing. She invites you into Adele’s journey for fulfillment, never once allowing a crack in her authenticity. If there has been a better performance on screen this year, I haven’t seen it.

A film this sexually frank will inevitably attract attention, especially when a male director is presenting girl-on-girl sex scenes with this much intensity and duration (one nearly ten minutes long). It is a fact that is not lost on Kechiche.

Throughout the film, lessons from Adele’s literature studies are deftly woven into the story, with one character remarking how seldom art ponders female sexual pleasure. While this is clearly not the case here, Kechiche gives the sex scenes (including one between Adele and her early boyfriend) a messy, natural quality, devoid of swelling music or rampant romanticism.

Lust is a major part of Adele and Emma’s relationship, and though Kechiche certainly presents it in a powerful way, he doesn’t employ empty titillation in the process.

Look beyond the distractions, and Blue Is the Warmest Color becomes a love story that nearly explodes with a timely urgency, one told with such depth, humor and humanity it simply cannot be ignored.