Saturday, January 2, 2010

MERYL SIMMERS BUT SHE'S NOT QUITE COOKING

So this is what we've been waiting for 27 years? Is this the performance for which Meryl Streep at long last will win another Academy Award?

I think so. I hope so. But I have my reservations.

I just finished watching Julie & Julia, and as much as I enjoyed it, I can't help but think that the Academy has had better reasons in the past to give Meryl Streep that elusive third Oscar. I'll name three: A Cry In The Dark. Adaptation. The Devil Wears Prada. She's characteristically brilliant as well as charming, light and funny in Julie & Julia (and I do think her third Oscar should be for a comedy, the genre in which she's done her best later work), but it just doesn't feel like one of the great performances for which Meryl will be remembered 20, 30, 40, 50 years from now.

Plus, I was distracted by a technical issue. In scenes where Meryl's Julia Child, the late celebrity cook and a physically towering woman, is standing behind cooking tables, it's so obvious that Meryl is getting some sort of lift -- unless her knees begin at the top of the table!

If there were a category for Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role While Standing On A Box (Or On Stilts), Meryl would be a total lock.

A few more random thoughts I had while watching the movie:

Jane Lynch, who plays Julia's sister Dorothy, never fails to entertain me.

The actor who plays Julia's father looks young enough to be Meryl's love interest in her next movie. The actress who plays her mother is far more believably cast.

Amy Adams's 2002 part of the film -- the Julia Child portion is set in the late '40s, early '50s -- probably should have been left for a different movie (perhaps for Lifetime). It breaks the flow, and without it, Julia's story could have been fleshed out more.

Speaking of the Julie Powell portion of Julie & Julia, Chris Messina, who plays Julie's husband, reminds me so much of Paul Rudd. I wonder why Norah Ephron, the director, didn't cast Paul.

Speaking of husbands, some bloggers have suggested that Stanley Tucci, who plays Julia's husband, should get his Oscar nomination for this and not for The Lovely Bones. I haven't seen the latter yet, but although his Julie & Julia performance is up to his usual high standards, the character is pretty stock supportive husband. Jim Messina has more shades to play.

As for the movie's third lead -- the food! -- let me just say this: For the first time in my life, I feel like learning how to cook.
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