Friday, January 28, 2011

A Review of Certified Copy (Kiarostami, 2010)

Copie Conforme (Certified Copy)
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
Starring: Juliette Binoche, William Shimell
Grade: A –

Written for Subtitled Online:

Like the vacant microphones which dominate the first still of Abbas Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy,” one feels like a lonely figure waiting to be broached; waiting for an unknown address from an unknown addressee. Throughout the film this feeling never really dies, since its two principal characters each take it in turns to validate their case, like barristers squabbling in a courtroom. And yet “Certified Copy,” as dialogue-heavy and briskly meditative it is as an assessment of what constitutes a committed relationship, is as fluid and engaging a disquisition as Kiarostami has produced since 1997’s “Taste of Cherry”.

Those microphones stand for James Miller (Shimell), who is attending a conference to promote, recite, and discuss his book, “Copie Conforme” (Certified Copy). As he charms the Tuscan audience with his ambivalence and dry, pronounced British humour, he also draws apparent enthusiast Elle (Binoche) into his gaze. After she quarrels with her young son about the extent of her feelings for James, they later meet inside the boutique that she owns, and embark on a day trip to a handsome nearby town.

When journeying to get to this town, their conversation in the car extends to intellectual debate based on James’s book, the philosophy of which is framed upon cultural artefacts: what makes one artefact authentic and another false? They appear to have opposing views, his disillusionment with celebrity mirrored with her embracing of the PR world. And as Elle berates her own friend Marie’s simplistic attitude towards realness he reveals a pedantic, self-righteous streak in endeavouring to fight Marie’s corner, claiming a final, elitist word on the matter. The increase of tension flaunts a degree of harvested resentment; she’s frustrated, he’s resigned, and we aren’t quite sure until halfway through the film quite why they’re acting in this way.

Kiarostami uses the basis of a book about authenticity to show conflicting views about what a relationship and a marriage means; whether relationships are a product of natural chemistry, or whether we construct them to suit our own needs and plug inherent insecurities. The cavalier (anti?) charm about “Certified Copy” is that the subjects at the head of it, James and Elle, are either theorising their real feelings to accommodate the context of their exchange, or regressing to idealistic views of romance. Each grows more direct and assertive as they learn how much they can give of themselves without being stung, and the dynamic of their dialogue grows more tumultuous and unpredictable with every passing frame.

“Certified Copy” becomes a fascinating study of relationships, of how we use different modes of address to assert our point-of-view, and to justify ourselves to each other. Binoche and Shimell’s canny ability to draw you into their interplay makes the film vibrant and stimulating as an intellectual standoff, keenly mysterious in alluding to how emotional connection can devolve into figurative deadness. Even the quaint Tuscan hideaway that they peruse, with its dotted galleries and towering antiquity, becomes more of a weapon to the couple than a distraction, a method of instilling ideological sentiment into an emotional outlet that feels all but extinct. Art becomes the subjective canvas on which they coat their philosophies and belief systems, either through frustration towards the other, or to confirm to themselves that their lives aren’t an exception to a rule.

Binoche gives Elle startling complexity, flirting with the active courage of a teenager, and cunningly baying James to play along in her playground fantasy. She colours her impassioned silent hope with bitter self-realised existential crisis, painfully unable to quash the mentality that keeps her family in a tentatively ephemeral state. “Certified Copy” recalls the recently-released Blue Valentine in its display of a disintegrated romance that may have failed through being formed upon impulsivity and false perceptions, but rather than show the car crash, Kiarostami’s film is more about picking up the pieces and confronting one’s own failures. Particularly in Elle’s case, it feels as though she’s trying to find if her grievous loss is genuine: whether she’s mourning for something that ever existed, or if it all began as a result of mismatched agendas.

Gorgeously crafted and expertly played, “Certified Copy” achieves profound worth at generating back-story through spirited cajoling, even as deeper motives lie underneath the exterior. Such is the depth of each exchange between James and Elle, one can see a single scene of this succeeding as a short film, with enough tiny inflections of hollow affection to allude to years of unspoken contempt. What begins as a resurrection turns into a fatal re-enactment, and finally a sorrowful lament. The film’s title says it all: never has an imitation of a marriage felt so true.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Full List of 2010's Oscar Nominations (& Reaction)

For once I found myself mildly thrilled with some of the Academy's choices this morning. Everyone's idea of "best" is different, but Oscar rarely gives its due to the truly incisive pieces of filmmaking in a given year. This time around they did show that sometimes the performance is valued over the buzz/status of the performer, nominating Jacki Weaver and John Hawkes for low-key Supporting roles. I'm also really pleased that "Exit through the Gift Shop" made it into Best Documentary Feature and "Dogtooth" (totally out-there for AMPAS!) got into the Foreign Language category. A final congratulatory word for Antonella Cannarozzi, whose sumptuously-crafted costumes for "I Am Love" are deservedly recognised.

Best Picture

"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

Prediction Score: 10/10

The ten I predicted, which isn't that much of a coup since there only really seemed to be eleven in the chase. I suppose it probably came down to "The Town" not getting enough high-placed votes. As great as it is, I can't imagine it being many people's favourite movie. I suspected that "127 Hours" was not in as weak a position as some were saying, and its decent showing today suggests it finished comfortably ahead of Affleck's film.


"Black Swan" Darren Aronofsky
"The Fighter" David O. Russell
"The King's Speech" Tom Hooper
"The Social Network" David Fincher
"True Grit" Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Prediction Score: 5/5

And my late doubts about Nolan proved to be correct, too! I don't think they'll go for him until he makes a more middle-of-the-road picture, which will happen.

Actor in a Leading Role

Javier Bardem in "Biutiful"
Jeff Bridges in "True Grit"
Jesse Eisenberg in "The Social Network"
Colin Firth in "The King's Speech"
James Franco in "127 Hours"

Prediction Score: 4/5

A case of "Get Low" being too small, too crowded out, or just not exciting enough? Either way, I suppose nobody can bet against cancer.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale in "The Fighter"
John Hawkes in "Winter's Bone"
Jeremy Renner in "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo in "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush in "The King's Speech"

Prediction Score: 4/5

I was wrong about them snubbing Hawkes - is this a classic case of age and reputation winning out? I really like this lineup.

Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening in "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman in "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman in "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine"

Prediction Score: 5/5

Best Best Actress lineup since 2004.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams in "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter in "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo in "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld in "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver in "Animal Kingdom"

Prediction Score: 5/5

All the Steinfeld/Lead amendments came too late to make a difference, but I'm thrilled that Jacki Weaver managed to beat out Mila Kunis, despite feeling more than a tad sorry for the "Black Swan" star. Just one of those things.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

"127 Hours"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

Prediction Score: 4/5

Writing (Original Screenplay)

"Another Year"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"

Prediction Score: 4/5

Animated Feature Film

"How to Train Your Dragon"
"The Illusionist"
"Toy Story 3"

Documentary (Feature)

"Exit through the Gift Shop"
"Inside Job"
"Waste Land"

Documentary (Short Subject)

"Killing in the Name"
"Poster Girl"
"Strangers No More"
"Sun Come Up"
"The Warriors of Qiugang"

Foreign Language Film

"Biutiful" (Mexico)
"Dogtooth" (Greece)
"In a Better World" (Denmark)
"Incendies" (Canada)
"Outside the Law" (Algeria)

Short Film (Animated)

"Day & Night"
"The Gruffalo"
"Let's Pollute"
"The Lost Thing"
"Madagascar, a Journey Diary"

Short Film (Live Action)

"The Confession"
"The Crush"
"God of Love"
"Na Wewe"
"Wish 143"

Art Direction

"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"The King's Speech"
"True Grit"


"Black Swan" Matthew Libatique
"Inception" Wally Pfister
"The King's Speech" Danny Cohen
"The Social Network" Jeff Cronenweth
"True Grit" Roger Deakins

Costume Design

"Alice in Wonderland" Colleen Atwood
"I Am Love" Antonella Cannarozzi
"The King's Speech" Jenny Beavan
"The Tempest" Sandy Powell
"True Grit" Mary Zophres

Film Editing

"Black Swan" Andrew Weisblum
"The Fighter" Pamela Martin
"The King's Speech" Tariq Anwar
"127 Hours" Jon Harris
"The Social Network" Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter


"Barney's Version"
"The Way Back"
"The Wolfman"

Music (Original Score)

"How to Train Your Dragon" John Powell
"Inception" Hans Zimmer
"The King's Speech" Alexandre Desplat
"127 Hours" A.R. Rahman
"The Social Network" Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Music (Original Song)
"Coming Home" from "Country Strong"
"I See the Light" from "Tangled"
"If I Rise" from "127 Hours"
"We Belong Together" from "Toy Story 3"

Sound Editing

"Toy Story 3"
"Tron: Legacy"
"True Grit"

Sound Mixing

"The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"
"True Grit"

Visual Effects

"Alice in Wonderland"
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1"
"Iron Man 2"

Monday, January 24, 2011

Predicting the Oscar Nominees: Part 3/3 (Picture)

Best Picture

"127 Hours"
"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

Alternate: "The Way Back"
Still in the Hunt: "The Town", "Shutter Island"

When searching for alternatives to the perceived big eleven, it struck me how many films have huge detractors. "The Way Back" and "Another Year" came out way too late in the year; "Shutter Island" is essentially a psychological thriller/horror, and "The Ghost Writer" didn't do well at all in the precursors. I've gone with "127 Hours" because it's had a lot more coverage than "The Town" or "Winter's Bone", though dropping the latter felt like a silly move, since it's one of the few truly baity films in this bunch.

Predicting the Oscar Nominees: Part 2/3 (Acting)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Annette Bening, "The Kids Are All Right"
Nicole Kidman, "Rabbit Hole"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Winter's Bone"
Natalie Portman, "Black Swan"
Michelle Williams, "Blue Valentine"

Alternate: Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right"
Still in the Hunt: Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit", Noomi Rapace, "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", Hilary Swank, "Conviction", Lesley Manville, "Another Year"

This race is fiercely competitive for the fifth spot, if you assume that Nicole Kidman is safe enough to coast in on reputation despite a serious dearth of buzz for "Rabbit Hole" itself. Part of me wanted to put Steinfeld into the predicted lineup since the Academy has previously shown the sense to amend category fraud, but they've only really done it once for an Actress this young -- Keisha Castle-Hughes for "Whale Rider" (2003). The reality, of course, is that Steinfeld could end up without a nomination at all.

Beyond that, there's the obvious love for the Millennium trilogy, which has seen Rapace turn up at BFCA and BAFTA (decent prognosticators for Oscar) without there really being much of a campaign. There's also a case for Julianne Moore (if they love the film enough) and Hilary Swank, whose film died a death but was somewhat resurrected by the Screen Actors Guild. And then there's NBR winner Lesley Manville: their Best Actress choice has been nominated for the past 19 years.

I'm going to go with Michelle Williams, because she's a) been nominated before b) is at the right career point, and c) has a sympathetic role in a DECEMBER film. But it could very well be one of those other five women.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Jeff Bridges, "True Grit"
Robert Duvall, "Get Low"
Jesse Eisenberg, "The Social Network"
Colin Firth, "The King's Speech"
James Franco, "127 Hours"

Alternate: Javier Bardem, "Biutiful"
Still in the Hunt: Mark Wahlberg, "The Fighter", Ryan Gosling, "Blue Valentine"

The SAG lineup looks like the most probable outcome for this race, since Bridges and Duvall are crucially older (Oscar respects the elders, zzzz) and Javier Bardem doesn't appear to have made the impact some were expecting post-Cannes. But he does seem the most likely spoiler, given the incredibly baity role and previous win in 2007. I didn't have the heart to leave Gosling off this list, because he's so brilliant that I don't know how anyone could leave him off the ballot, but alas, the best performances are rarely acknowledged. If "The Fighter" turns out to be a huge success with AMPAS then Wahlberg is a legitimate contender, although, without having seen the film, it doesn't seem as if his role is showy enough.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Amy Adams, "The Fighter"
Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"
Melissa Leo, "The Fighter"
Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"
Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"

Alternate: Mila Kunis, "Black Swan"
Still in the Hunt: Barbara Hershey, "Black Swan", Lesley Manville, "Another Year"

It's ridiculously stupid to bet against Mila Kunis, who has a slam dunk trio of Globe, BFCA, and SAG nominations, but I just don't think her performance is enough up Oscar's alley, and she has internal competition from Hershey. This is probably the most volatile category, with the Steinfeld category confusion, the Black Swan face/off, and a growing consensus (?) that Lesley Manville is Supporting in "Another Year". Anyone who buys this assertion: watch the final shot again. Everything is told through her character.

I could get 3/5 here, but I can't bring myself to drop Jacki Weaver.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale, "The Fighter"
Andrew Garfield, "The Social Network"
Jeremy Renner, "The Town"
Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"
Geoffrey Rush, "The King's Speech"

Alternate: John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"
Still in the Hunt: Sam Rockwell, "Conviction", Billy Murray, "Get Low", Michael Douglas, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps"

It looks as if Renner is in above Hawkes, although I'd love to see them switch places. Either way, this will be a brilliant category. I'm thinking that Sam Rockwell is in a bit of a Michael Shannon/"Revolutionary Road" position, but 2008 wasn't as strong as this, so it looks as if he'll miss out here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Predicting the Oscar Nominees: Part 1/3 (Director & Screenplays)

So with just five days left until AMPAS reveal their annual list of annointed folks (check the sidebar for a more accurate countdown, courtesy of Nathaniel) it's time for me to throw in some predictions. As ever, it's somewhat of a struggle to put aside personal feelings and plum for the more logical picks, but I feel like I've done better than usual this year at curbing that tendency.

Final Predictions:

Original Screenplay

"Black Swan"
"The Fighter"
"The Kids Are All Right"
"The King's Speech"

Alternate: "Another Year"
I Want: "Blue Valentine"

I don't think that "Inception" belongs here, despite the originality of its concept - the more expansive the concept gets, the more hazy everything becomes. It concerns me that this could make the list at the expense of Mike Leigh's "Another Year," which, despite some faults, helps its characters to become clearer and its themes richer, the further it goes.

"Inception" should make this five based on how novel its ideas are, but I still think that, along with "Black Swan," it's a little vulnerable. Perhaps it's because those two films seem less tame, and comparatively unconcerned about winning over its audience when you consider other category hopefuls like "The Kids Are All Right" and certainly "The King's Speech".

Adapted Screenplay

"Never Let Me Go"
"The Social Network"
"Toy Story 3"
"True Grit"
"Winter's Bone"

Alternate: "127 Hours"
I Want: "How to Train Your Dragon"

"Never Let Me Go" didn't make much of an impact, but surely Kazuo Ishiguro has a lot of respect within the Academy for his distinguished career, the height of which saw his novel "The Remains of the Day" adapted and nominated in 1993's Best Picture lineup. It seems silly to go for this ahead of "127 Hours," or even "The Ghost Writer" which has populism and prestige going for it —— if significantly less buzz —— but I don't think either film is necessarily commanding attention in this extremely thin category.


Darren Aronofsky, "Black Swan"
Ethan & Joel Coen, "True Grit"
David Fincher, "The Social Network"
Tom Hooper, "The King's Speech"
David O'Russell, "The Fighter"

Alternate: Chris Nolan, "Inception"
I Want: Debra Granik, "Winter's Bone"

If there's a snub it could be David O'Russell, who has a reputation of rubbing people up the wrong way, and the least flashy film of anyone that appears to be in the running. But lately I've began to wonder if "Inception" will be popular with the Academy, as it's difficult to process and definitely not traditional fare. History has proven that directors with popular films (regardless of how showy they are) are more likely to be nominated (Reitman for "Juno", Daldry for "The Reader" etc.) so I don't see why Chris Nolan is a sure thing when "The Fighter" and "True Grit" had much more clout around the time of balloting than his film did.

Danny Boyle will feature on many ballots but I'm praying against a nomination, given that he exercises even less patience for intuitive storytelling as he did on 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The British Weighs In (and so do BAFTA)

Things are hotting up on the Awards front (or cooling down, depending on whether you think there's hope of an upset in one of the Actress categories) with the HFPA and BAFTA announcements these past couple of days. Yesterday was a serious hangover day for me (so many spirits, so little time) so at the risk of flogging a dead horse, here are the Golden Globe winners:

Drama: The Social Network
Musical or Comedy: The Kids Are All Right
Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actor, Drama: Colin Firth, The King's Speech
Best Actress, Drama: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor, Musical or Comedy: Paul Giamatti, Barney's Version
Best Actress, Musical or Comedy: Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Original Score: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, The Social Network
Original Song: "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" (written by Diane Warren), Burlesque
Foreign Language Film: In a Better World
Animated Film: Toy Story 3
Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network

The winners were much less interesting than the whole hoopla around Ricky Gervais, who insulted anyone and everyone. For the record, I don't think you need to be personal about people to be funny, but when there's an organisation as shamelessly celeb-motivated as the HFPA they need to be taken down a peg or two. Awards shows exist to celebrate movies, but, as anyone on Twitter knows, most of the comments directed at performers/films involved are a critique. It's difficult to say what everyone else is thinking, but doesn't Gervais succeed simply because he's willing to call the Globes out on nominating "The Tourist" for ridiculous reasons? Personally, I wish he'd gone a step further and said something about "Alice in Wonderland" and "Red" while he was at it.

I won't say too much about what this means for everyone's Oscar bids, mainly because I plan to assess the big eight races in the next week with some final Oscar nominee predictions. Save for Director, no category seems totally locked up - which is more than can be said for the eventual winners. Still, ask the people behind The Aviator, Brokeback Mountain, Babel, Atonement, and Avatar whether they'd be confident about repeating a Globe win at the Oscars.

BAFTA Nominees:

Black Swan
The King's Speech
The Social Network
True Grit

127 Hours
Another Year
Four Lions
The King's Speech
Made in Dagenham

The Arbor
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Four Lions

127 Hours - Danny Boyle
Black Swan - Darren Aronofsky
Inception - Christopher Nolan
The King's Speech - Tom Hooper
The Social Network - David Fincher

Black Swan - Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz, John McLaughlin
The Fighter - Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson
Inception - Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right - Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech - David Seidler

127 Hours - Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Rasmus Heisterberg, Nikolaj Arcel
The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3- Michael Arndt
True Grit - Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Biutiful - Alejandro González Iñárritu, Jon Kilik, Fernando Bovaira
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Søren Stærmose, Niels Arden Oplev
I Am Love - Luca Guadagnino, Francesco Melzi D'Eril, Marco Morabito, Massimiliano Violante
Of Gods and Men - Xavier Beauvois
The Secret in their Eyes - Mariela Besuievsky, Juan José Campanella

Despicable Me
How to Train Your Dragons
Toy Story 3

Jarvier Bardem - Biutiful
Jeff Bridges - True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg - The Social Network
Colin Firth - The King's Speech
James Franco - 127 Hours

Annette Bening - The Kids Are All Right
Julianne Moore - The Kids Are All Right
Natalie Portman - Black Swan
Noomi Rapace - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit

Christian Bale - The Fighter
Andrew Garfield - The Social Network
Pete Postlethwaite - The Town
Mark Ruffalo - The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush - The King's Speech

Amy Adams - The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter - The King's Speech
Barbara Hershey - Black Swan
Lesley Manville - Another Year
Miranda Richardson - Made in Dagenham

127 Hours - AR Rahman
Alice in Wonderland - Danny Elfman
How to Train Your Dragon - John Powell
Inception - Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech - Alexandre Desplat

127 Hours - Anthony Dod Mantle, Enrique Chediak
Black Swan - Matthew Libatique
Inception - Wally Pfister
The King's Speech - Danny Cohen
True Grit - Roger Deakins

127 Hours - Jon Harris
Black Swan - Andrew Weisblum
Inception - Lee Smith
The King's Speech - Tariq Anwar
The Social Network - Angus Wall, Kirk Baxter

Alice in Wonderland - Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Black Swan - Thérèse DePrez, Tora Peterson
Inception - Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Doug Mowat
The King's Speech - Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit - Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Alice in Wonderland - Colleen Atwood
Black Swan - Amy Westcott
The King's Speech - Jenny Beavan
Made in Dagenham - Louise Stjernsward
True Grit - Mary Zophres

127 HOURS - Glenn Freemantle, Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Steven C Laneri, Douglas Cameron
Black Swan - Ken Ishii, Craig Henighan, Dominick Tavella
Inception - Richard King, Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech - John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Paul Hamblin
True Grit - Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F Kurland, Douglas Axtell

Alice in Wonderland - Nominees TBC
Black Swan - Dan Schrecker
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - Tim Burke, John Richardson, Nicolas Ait'Hadi, Christian Manz
Inception - Chris Corbould, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Peter Bebb
Toy Story 3 - Nominees TBC

Alice in Wonderland - Nominees TBC
Black Swan - Judy Chin, Geordie Sheffer
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 - Amanda Knight, Lisa Tomblin
The King's Speech - Frances Hannon
Made in Dagenham - Lizzie Yianni Georgiou

I'm slightly ashamed at the narrowness of it all. Fourteen nominations is excessive enough a total as it is, without bestowing them upon "The King's Speech", a film with dull performances and even duller production values. It's also disappointing how much the Picture, Director, Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing and Sound categories overlap. There were more than seven pictures out in 2010, wouldn't ya know?

On the plus side: Julianne Moore's hopes of an Oscar nod remain alive, and Hailee Steinfeld gets into the right category for once. However, I cannot fathom how anyone can think Noomi Rapace is better than Jennifer Lawrence, Michelle Williams, Tilda Swinton, or even Hilary Swank, who acquits herself well in "Conviction" and is surely in a baitier role. This category reinforces the sense that this is more about the popularity of the films than it is about other factors like (shock horror!) the performance, or (surprisingly) the reputation of the women in the running.

More commentary to follow this week, along with a review of Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy, recently released on DVD in the U.K. The film reaches cinemas across the Atlantic on March 11.