August: Osage County Directed by: John Wells Written by: Tracy Letts (screenplay & play) Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper and Ewan McGregor
There’s more capital ‘A’ Acting per minute in August: Osage County than in any movie I’ve seen in recent years. It’s as if instead of holding the Oscars this year, they’ve decided to lock a bunch of award-hungry famous people in a house and let them fight to the melodramatic death for the trophies. That isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when the script (adapted by Tracy Letts from his Pulitzer-winning play) is a more vulgar version of nearly every hateful, generic family drama ever created. Bruised souls, past wrongs, marital turmoil, generational gap humor and a handful of “gasp!” revelations don’t form a story as much as scattered scenes meant to highlight the various thespians.
In that regard Meryl Streep practically swallows the movie whole as Violet Weston, the pill-addicted, “truth-tellin'” matriarch of this emotionally volatile clan. Director John Wells lavishes so much attention on her darting eyes and fading-but-indignant pride that the actress takes center stage even when it’s not her turn. Watching any Streep movie in the past few years this isn’t really a surprise. The Iron Lady was practically a one-woman show, and the very capable Amy Adams got engulfed in both Julie and Julia and Doubt. The only one to really hold their own against her in recent years is Philip Seymour Hoffman as the embattled priest in the latter.
What better way to follow our Ten Most Overrated movies ever than with a list of the countless performers who inhabit many of them? Beloved the world over for almost no reason at all, these ten performers are the epitome of what it means to make it in Tinsel Town without shining anything but a marketable gimmick.
What she usually plays: An assertive, in-control type who doesn’t mind cutting loose with her girlfriends. She likes to roll her eyes when the guy she loves (usually Matthew McConaughey) does something stupid.
What she’s actually good in: Almost Famous. After it launched her career she went on rom-com auto-pilot.
What he usually plays: He actually has quite a diverse career, it’s just that everything he touches seems to either win Oscars or garner acclaim that it doesn’t deserve.
What he’s actually good in: Mr. Brooks and Bull Durham. No, Field of Dreams is not the epitome of sports films, but Bull comes pretty close. Continue reading →