Saturday, February 14, 2009

Best Ensemble Performance, 2008

Rachel Getting Married (141 points/20 votes)

"In Rachel Getting Married, the team consisting of director Jonathan Demme, screenwriter Jenny (daughter of Sidney) Lumet, and the extraordinarily talented cast accomplish a very difficult thing. They make a group of actors, unrelated to each other and likely strangers before beginning this project, feel like a family nearly as real as your own. I remember how this struck me very early on when I watched it the first time. After Kym (a livewire Anne Hathaway) is picked up from rehab and she’s talking with her father (Bill Irwin) and stepmother (Anna Deavere Smith) on the way to the homestead for the titular event, the familiarity with which they’re conversing with one another (and the lack of overly expository dialogue in the screenplay) sets an immediate tone of refreshing realism. Even without that expository dialogue, we can tell so much about these three characters, their personalities, and their relationships with each other.

“The entire film is just like that car ride. The actors work together seamlessly in their portrayal of a real family of individuals who have known each other their entire lives, and know each others’ past troubles, hidden resentments, pet peeves and shifting moods. The very first scene between Kym and Rachel (Rosemarie De Witt, in the one of the year’s most satisfying ‘who is this lady and why does she rock so hard?’ performances) reminded me of the first scene between Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Jason Leigh in last year’s underrated Margot At The Wedding in that we find out so incredibly much about these two sisters, how different in temperament they are, the subtle grudges they hold, and most importantly, the underlying unconditional love, simply by hearing them talk to each other. Because they don’t seem like actors, they seem like sisters.

"There’s no doubt that Lumet deserves lots of credit for a script that portrays a family so realistically, but without such a capable group of actors who blend with such an unforced familial intimacy, it wouldn’t be the same.

"Right through the splendidly-held final shot, the ensemble cast makes us feels we’re actually spending time with the characters they’ve created together, and that’s really something." ~ Jason Alley

Burn After Reading (136/22)
Synecdoche, New York (120/18)
Milk (112/20)
A Christmas Tale (85/13)

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James said...

At first glance I thought this was an upset, but it makes a certain sense; all of the characters in Rachel Getting Married actually have to interact, as opposed to those in Burn After Reading, most of whom don't see each other.

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