Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Birthday Kate Winslet!

Indeed, today marks the thirty-seventh anniversary of the life of an enormously talented British beauty. Here is another skilled yet also incredibly beautiful actress, joining the likes of Charlize Theron and Ashley Judd. Unlike those other two actresses, who are, by the way, outstandingly gorgeous, speaking as a heterosexual female, Kate Winslet has something unique in her appearance. By that I mean that she is not a traditional beauty, for her facial features are, objectively speaking, strange and even too large, yet the overall product (her face and body as a whole) create a breathtaking actress. Aside from her apparent beauty, Kate Winslet is an extraordinary actress, perhaps the greatest of her time, at least in British statistics. Her roles have ranged from innocent young girls caught in love to strong intelligent women facing certain circumstances; generally speaking, Kate Winslet has given a wide variety of performances, and every single one is brilliantly delivered. Such a description, of course, should suggest that accolades have been granted to this fine actress, particularly the most important of all, the Oscar. Sadly, she has received merely one for a film that was decent, but definitely not her best and most deserving work. The following post shall share several of her greatest roles, ones that should have been honored, as well as the one that gave her the title of Best Actress, a role that, again, is not all that special. (Just a warning, but I will not be covering her wonderful performance in Titanic because, frankly, I feel I have praised that film quite enough. It is, truly, an outstanding piece of cinema.)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - I've always considered this Kate Winslet's greatest performance, and that may be on account of her uncanny American accent. Of course, she has proven her versatility in the past and beyond this film, but, for some reason, I consider this her most American performance. And why should such a judgement affect my opinion on which is the best performance, one may ask? Well, I don't know. Maybe I enjoyed her performance for another reason. Yes, I'm certain I did. Anyway, I've seen this film twice, possibly more, and every time I am simply mesmerized by it. There are many films that captivate me, such as (on the top of my head) Inception, but that admiration is based on the obtuse scenery, as opposed to the plot. Well, the plot was rather astounding, as well, but different than Eternal Sunshine was. The film in question had such an odd premise, characteristic of the peculiar Charlie Kaufman, so odd that I was just entranced from beginning to end. I was so absorbed by the movie that the duration of the film (time, that is) flew by. The basic idea of the film (I don't want to give too much a way, it's a delightful trip) is the disintegration of the main characters relationship due to the process of one of them erasing their entire memory of the other. Wicked screenplay, yes? It did attain an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. (Its only one, unfortunately.) Within that illusory time frame, I did, however, catch a glimpse of the sensational performances. That's right, plural, for there was an additional actor who shined in a role so unlike him: Jim Carrey. Many are aware of his attempted (and successful) transition into dramatic films, revealed in The Truman Show, and this film was no less wonderful. As Joel Barish, an "emotionally withdrawn man" who meets the love of his life, who turns out to be Kate Winslet's character, Jim Carrey unleashes depths of his ability unknown to people who only know him as Lloyd Christmas from Dumb & Dumber. I'm surprised he didn't get an Oscar nomination for this role, but then again there were plenty of great male performances that year. (One of which, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator, was not recognized to its full potential.) Moving on. Kate Winslet plays the lucky girl in question, Clementine Kruczynski, a "dysfunctional free spirit" who somewhat resembles a modern, more troubled Annie Hall. Moreover, like Diane Keaton, Kate Winslet delivers a phenomenal performance worthy of the title Best Actress in a Leading Role. (Alas, the amazing Hilary Swank won that year for Million Dollar Baby. Clearly a resentful and sarcastic remark.) With her colorful hair, that reflects her vivacious personality, Kate Winslet glows as the eccentric Clementine, and it is an absolute horror (yes--horror!) that she received no official recognition for her brilliant portrayal. Then again, is the Academy ever completely fair?

Little Children - This is probably known as the movie where Kate Winslet looks utterly plain and even unattractive. (I happen to disagree, for I think she looks gorgeous in any shade.) Because of this, her performance in this film is completely unadulterated, meaning that there is no evident beauty to distract you from the rawness of the performance. (I said performance twice in that sentence, didn't I?) She portrays the unsatisfied housewife and mother, hopelessly searching for more in her excruciatingly domestic life, finding it in the form of another lost soul who happens to be married, also. As Sarah Pierce, Kate Winslet mirrors the character of Madame Bovery (at least I assume she does since that book club discussion was clearly a metaphor for something) as she stumbles into a torrid affair with an equally unsatisfied man named Brad Adamson (played by Patrick Wilson) who's known as "the Prom King" for his good looks and unattainability (not a word, but you understand) I'm supposing. The couple's affair, of course, has no future, as the life-sucking routine of domesticity repels them from one another, causing them to realize their foolishness in the end. This tragic realization impacts Sarah more poignantly, as she, really, is significantly more unhappy than Brad, who is basically just an immature husband unwilling to make a career for himself. For this reason, he decided to start an affair with Sarah, to distract himself from burdensome duties and his commitments to his pushing wife (played by Jennifer Connolly, I might mention). That thought just came to mind, figured I should share my startling insight--were you affected by such intellect? While Kate Winslet was, naturally, great in the film, the foremost exemplary display of acting was provided by Jackie Earle Harley as the disturbing child sex offender. After years in prison for molesting a child, the return of the prodigal pervert (thought I could make a play on words there) summons a widespread aura of fear and revolt from the families in suburbia. His performance, the first I've seen of the actor, was so stirring and genuine that I shiver--in reverence to his brilliant performance as opposed to disgust--whenever I see him in other films. That, my dearies, is the proof of sheer excellence in the field of acting. Please take the time to experience this profound portrait of suburban life because it is a captivating film that will place you in such a serious--in terms of emotion--trance.

Revolutionary Road - Yet another fine film that portrays Kate Winslet's undeniable skill in the industry. Taking place in the idyllic era of the 1950s, Revolutionary Road follows the rapidly decaying relationship between the title characters, April and Frank Wheeler, played by Kate Winslet and (how meant to be) Leonardo DiCaprio, respectively. Think of this as a possible scenario between Jack and Rose, if Jack hadn't frozen to a tragic demise in the Atlantic--I had to mention Titanic somehow. Personally, I deem this as one of the greatest films concerning the difficult-to-pass complexities of married life, and this may be because of the exceptional performances of each fine actor, as well as their striking compatibility on-screen. Why are they not in more films together? It's simply preposterous. The downfall of April and Frank's marriage is vividly theatrical, in a perfectly balanced way as opposed to over-exaggerated. Naturally, such a glorious film was recognized, though distinctively amiss of Oscar accolades. Despite Kate Winslet's Golden Globe victory, this marital drama is considerably overlooked. Leonardo DiCaprio, for instance, was nominated for Best Actor in a Drama and lost to that slurred, slimy creature named Mickey Rourke for that mutually slimy film called The Wrestler. Indignation, if that's the word for it. Coincidentally--if it is, indeed, a coincidence--the film in which Kate Winslet received her first and only Oscar, thus far, was the same year. And another interesting fact: Kate Winslet won Best Actress in a Drama (a leading role) for Revolutionary Road and Best Supporting Actress for The Reader, a film which she would take home the title of Best Actress come Oscar night.

The Reader - Wasn't that neat how I transitioned to this film? Yes, well anyway, The Reader was a very adequate film about a supposedly zealous love affair between an older woman and a younger man. Think of it as a foreign, less passionate and alluring version of The Graduate. Or not, your preference. Kate Winslet portrays Hanna Schmidt, a former Nazi who would later be put to trial for her actions in the concentration camp. Those scenes, I must admit, were poignant enough for her to achieve Oscar glory, as her unfortunate illiteracy and innocence made her conviction all the more heartrending. However, despite the adequacy of the performance, it was absolutely nothing special. The Academy is well-known for granting esteem to worthy actors for films that do not display the actor's full potential and talent; they simply gave her an Oscar because she needed one. What a shame. The affair in the film, really, was awkward to watch, as Hanna did not seem all that interested in the boy, who was unattractive himself. That is, until he grew up into Ralph Fiennes. I actually read the book this film was based off of, and I must say that it was much better. Evidently, the director did not serve the novel justice, which is a common misfortune in the film industry when adapting books on the silver screen. Once again, I must emphasize this, the overdue accomplishment of obtaining an Oscar for Kate Winslet was not only overdue but, it seems, too late. I am not suggesting that she does not have the ability to give another phenomenal performance as she had in the past with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Titanic, but she just should have been honored that time. Then again, she was the Best Actress of that year. Wait--now wait just a minute--Angelina Jolie was utterly magnificent in Changeling as a mother who lost her son! Oh, why those Academy bastards. What's done is done, I suppose, plus Kate Winslet is more deserving of an Oscar, generally speaking, than Angelina Jolie. It's the honest truth.

That was impressively longer than I anticipated, and I say "impressive" because I am proud of myself for writing rather than sleeping. I had a long week, folks. And for those who have just finished reading this from the beginning, I applaud your endurance. I can be quite eccentric when writing, and it is awe-inspiring that you have trudged passed that somewhat tiresome quality of mine. To share her plans of the future, Kate Winslet will be starring in an intriguing ensemble comedy, alongside the likes of Jason Sudeikis and Emma Stone, as well as a Jason Reitman drama about a woman, her son, and a dangerous escaped convict and a World War II period piece directed by Kenneth Branagh. Very curious and highly anticipated, in my opinion. Well, for the time being, Happy Birthday Kate Winslet!


  1. Winslet is one of the greatest actresses of her generation. Nice to see you appreciate her versatility and talent. I am partial to Sense and Sensibility, but you do a nice job of spotlighting some of her best work.

  2. What a coincidence, I just watched Heavenly Creatures the other day. Great blog btw!