Actors Appreciation Season: CAREY MULLIGAN

Carey Mulligan is one of the most exciting British actors working in the industry today. Rising to prominence in 2009 for her Oscar nominated role in An Education, she has gone on to work with some of the greats and has impressed audiences with her performances.

Carey Mulligan exudes a rawness and emotional vulnerability, a sense of tragedy which is fitting for her characters such as Daisy Buchanan (The Great Gatsby) and Kathy (Never Let Me Go). There is a sense of realness and openness to her performances that is captivating and refreshing.

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You can’t talk about Carey Mulligan without mentioning her breakout performance in An Education. The role put her in the spotlight during the awards season, including a BAFTA Film Award win and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Mulligan portrays a 16 year old school girl who enters into a doomed relationship with an older man (Peter Sarsgaard). She would have been around 24 at the time and yet she easily fitted into the role of a young naive schoolgirl longing for a life full of sophistication and maturity. Mulligan portrays the character with conviction, a girl who longs for something which is arguably unattainable. Over the course of the film she learns about the real world and it’s not all that she hoped it would be.

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One of my favourite performances from Mulligan is as Daisy Buchanan in 2013’s The Great Gatsby. The film itself is amazing and Mulligan effortlessly plays a character of glamour and tragedy. Having read the book I was more than happy with the casting, especially with Mulligan. Carey Mulligan managed to breathe life into a layered and complex role. Everything about the film weaves beautifully together, especially the chemistry between Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. She completely transforms for this role, her American accent is perfect and her eyes tell the whole story, of a woman who lost true love and can never gain it back.

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Lastly, one of her most raw performances comes from 2010’s Never Let Me Go. Co-starring with Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield, the three play clones who are raised to be organ donors in a 1960’s sci-fi setting. The film itself is hauntingly beautiful, so many themes about life and love are highlighted with the help of the incredible performances. Carey Mulligan takes the lead role as Kathy, who is caught between a love triangle of Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightly). Mulligan leads the film with such strength and wisdom, raising questions such as is living truly living? Can they truly enjoy life knowing their lives are planned out. What is out there beyond the purpose of their lives? Yet through the uncertainty, Kathy seems prepared for what is in front of her and it’s bravery that makes her an admirable character.

Carey Mulligan is bold and brave in her chosen roles, a true actors actor who loves her craft and doesn’t chase a life in the limelight. She is truly a genuine actress.

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Actors Appreciation Season: AMY ADAMS

Amazing Amy Adams. Roles ranging from Giselle (Enchanted) to Sister James (Doubt), from Lois Lane (Man of Steel) to Mary (The Muppets), Amy Adams has an extensive and diverse catalogue of roles that she has played. Amy manages to balance her career with exciting blockbusters and indie projects and she does so with ease.

Amy Adams has been nominated for 5 Oscars and she has won 2 Golden Globes. She has worked with acclaimed directors such as David O. Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, Tim Burton etc. She has also worked with Oscar winners such as Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence and Meryl Streep, as well as Oscar nominees Bradley Cooper and Joaquin Phoenix (tip of the ice berg) and continues to captivate audiences with her exciting and complicated roles.

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The role which caught my attention was in Disney’s Enchanted. Amy Adams was perfect for the naive Giselle living in the real world, experiencing cultural shifts from the animated world to the harsh reality of New York. The role earned her a Golden Globe nomination, because she is the answer to how a Disney animated character would fare in the real world and she does so with such wit and believability. The film itself is brilliant, referencing many Disney animations and being tongue and cheek about certain Disney conventions! 8 years on and she still in Giselle in my eyes.

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The role of Giselle easily contrasts with the next role I’ll highlight, which is Sydney in 2013’s American Hustle. The film as a whole wasn’t my favourite, but it was a brilliant film to showcase great actors, most notably Amy Adams. She lead the film with such rawness and vulnerability, playing a layered and complicated character with such conviction seems to her. Amy Adams was evenly matched (if not superior) with her co-stars as she lead the cast ensemble. If I were to talk about the rest of her roles, this would easily be a long blog post.

As mentioned before, Amy Adams has paved a career which allows her to flow in and out of mainstream and independent films. One minute she’s playing in Night at the Museum 2: The Battle of the Smithsonian and the next she’s playing in the Oscar winning Her, whatever role she’s in she totally owns it and does so with such integrity.

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Not only is she an incredible actress, but she’s a great singer and performer. Enchanted highlighted these talents, as well as 2011’s The Muppets. She was amazing performing the Oscar nominated song “That’s How You Know” in Enchanted, playing off the Disney convention where you can easily break into song at any time. As well as singing “Me Party” in The Muppets, she clearly knows what a real party is and she brings vibrancy and fun to the scene. So it’s amazing how she can switch it to more serious roles, such as her Oscar nominated turn in Doubt.

It’s an amazing achievement being nominated for 5 Oscars, but please can the Academy give her an Oscar win now. Thank you.

Actors Appreciation Season: CATE BLANCHETT

To kickstart Collision Film’s Actors Appreciation Season, Cate Blanchett will be the focus of this blog post. The two time Academy Award winning actress has a diverse and exciting filmography, having worked with incredible talent and tackling interesting characters. She can do no wrong.

I’d be lying if I said I’ve seen all of her work, but from what I have seen she is easily one of the most exciting actresses out there. I’m going to highlight some of my favourite work that she has done, to showcase her talent.

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The first role I saw her in was as Lady Galadriel in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). She brought such class and elegance to the role, fittingly so for she was playing Lady of the Light. The character has had a lasting impact of the Middle Earth franchise, yet to be honest she’s not the most prominent character. This is a testament to a great actress making her mark on the films and being a core part of the series.

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One of my favourite films starring Cate Blanchett is in David Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008). Co-starring with Brad Pitt, she plays his love interest (Daisy) over the course of his life and yet she is an integral part of the film. Cate Blanchett has to embody different stages of Daisy’s life, the young aspiring ballerina to the carer of Benjamin, and she does so with ease. Daisy guides the audience through the film, telling the unique love story between herself and Benjamin Button.

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The ultimate performance of Cate Balnchett comes from 2013’s Blue Jasmine. If you want a showcase of a powerhouse performance, watch that film. Blue Jasmine itself is a decent film, but it is Blanchett’s reckless character that carries the film and she totally makes it her own. We see Jasmine during her highs and lows, Blanchett has to portray a character who has lost everything and is trying to rebuild her life. This role earned Blanchett her second Oscar win, for Best Actress in a Leading role (having been nominated total of 5 Oscars) and also won the Golden Globe and BAFTA Film Award.

Whilst it’s hard to pinpoint certain Lord of the Rings actors careers since the trilogy ended, Blanchett has been a force to be reckoned with. Paving herself a stellar career, working with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, Woody Allen and David Fincher, she has firmly established herself as a true actress who is dedicated to her craft.

An interesting fact about Blanchett is that from 2008 to 2013, she and her husband Andrew Upton were co-CEOs and artistic directors of the Sydney Theatre Company and she has had an extensive stage career. That’s what makes her amazing, is her true love for her craft both on stage and on screen and she makes it look effortless.

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Blanchett can be currently seen in Cinderella (2015), despite the fact she’s not playing the titular role, she basically owns that films and plays one of the most interesting characters in the film.

Once Upon A Time

It’s safe to say I am a Disney enthusiast, they are timeless classics that appeal to all ages. But how do people feel about Walt Disney Studios revamping these classics into a live action film? Personally I think it’s a great idea to retell these stories for a modern day audience. However I can see from both sides of the coin.

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It could be argued that in 2010 the “Fairy-Tale Adaptation” began with Tim Burton’s billion dollar grossing film Alice in Wonderland. The film was a huge box office hit and the sequel is already being filmed for a release date of 2016, entitled Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass. Whilst the film was met with mixed reviews, it did receive praise for visual style and special effects. This resulted in Academy Award wins for Best Art Direction and Best Costume.

What made this adaptation unique was how it strayed from the traditional take of the Lewis Carol tale, as envisioned in the 1951 animation. Alice would become a warrior in Burton’s adaptation, and it would shake things up for a 21st Century audience. This is why I respect this version and I am excited to see what the followup will entail.

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Fast forward to 2014 and Disney releases their twist on their classic animation Sleeping Beauty, with the Angelina Jolie fronted Maleficent. Interestingly enough, people were worried the film would flop because of its darker take on the tale. This film was a risk for Disney, a risk that paid off in full. Maleficent grossed over $758 million at the worldwide box office, which marks Jolie’s biggest commercial hit of her career and became the fourth highest grossing film of 2014. Whilst it was far from perfect, Jolie totally owned her character and allowed the tale to be seen from a different point of view.

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Following the success of Maleficent, Cinderella was released in March 2015 and so far has earned more than $340 million at the worldwide box office (and still counting). Interestingly enough, the Kenneth Branagh version has been met with critical praise, for Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent received mixed reviews. Whilst the latter two films mentioned were box office hits, critics were keen to point out that Cinderella remained faithful to the original and yet managed to update it for a modern day audience.

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Regardless of it’s critical reception, Disney have obviously tapped into a growing market and have already started planning adaptations of their animations. In March 2017 they will release Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Disney have recently announced their plans to release a live action version of Mulan (release date TBC). Two versions of The Jungle Book are being released (Disney version being released in 2015 and Warner Brother version being released in 2016) and Winnie the Pooh has been given the green light for a live action make over.

On the other hand, I do see the other point of view where Disney could be accused of lacking originality. People have grown up with these animations, including myself, and have their own connection to them and fear these adaptations may taint them. The great thing about the live action adaptations is that it gives directors creative freedom to go deeper into what the animations explored, without disowning what came before.

Straying away from fairytales, a quote from Jurassic Park is appropriate for this post: “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Is this true for adapting animations into live action feature films? Whatever the answer is, it seems to be working. Personally, I welcome someone to share a new take on a well known tale.

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I loved how even with Universal’s Snow White and the Huntsman, they created a new version for a well known story. I loved Jolie’s take on a classic villain and I’m interested to see what the sequel to Alice in Wonderland (having a 6 year gap in-between both films) has in store. I love Disney animations, but I’m just as excited to see these universally known classics adapted for a modern day audience.