Jump to content
JulyDiaz

Sophie’s Choice

Sophie’s Choice  

10 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Does Sophie’s Choice belong on the AFI list?

    • Yes
      5
    • No
      5

  • Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.
  • Poll closed on 11/30/18 at 08:00 AM

Recommended Posts

48 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

That's a tough question.  Seeing this story from Sophie's point-of-view, though, would probably make it triple the level of depressing, no?  Probably better to view her through someone else's eyes.  While I agree with concerns that maybe Stingo was an odd choice for narrator, I'm not sure it should have been through her.

Hmm that's interesting.  What did she show Nathan?  If anything, he was the manic pixie one giving her (and Stingo) some sort of life.  

I don't know, I just don't think this movie is quite the trope-filled story as everyone else seems to.  

That said, Amazon Prime is suggesting all these sexy dramas to me "because I watched Sophie's Choice"... so maybe I should have found it more basic and romantic. 🤪

That’s how I felt as well. Through Sophie’s eyes I feel like it would not only be super depressing, but just another basic, linear period piece (A to B to C). Not only that, but I feel like seeing it through her eyes would be like thought bubbles in a comic book. There’s a reason they’ve been mostly phased out. It’s more interesting and engaging when you’re not necessarily hearing every thought and every feeling a character is experiencing as they’re experiencing them. The structure of this movie, essentially peeling back the layers of Sophie’s past (and, to some degree, Nathan’s as well) helps color the previous scenes with new meaning, which I believe, creates a richer experience overall.

I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but I don’t know that it would have necessarily improved the movie. (Not that I think it needs to be improved. You all know what a hopeless romantic I am. 😜)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, DannytheWall said:

So, then, is it an advantage or disadvantage that Sophie, arguably the central character, is only experienced by way of a first person (and male) narrator? I was really looking forward to a woman-centric film only to grumble in the first few minutes when I realized I was getting "Nick" from Great Gatsby. The service to the story is that it becomes a mystery and allows for some twists of narrative, but the disadvantage is that it really is quite trope-y. Sophie is very un-manic and un-pixie, but she essentially serves as manic pixie dream girl for both Nathan and Stingo.  

4 minutes ago, Cameron H. said:

Through Sophie’s eyes I feel like it would not only be super depressing, but just another basic, linear period piece (A to B to C).

I think this is the right answer, that Stingo is necessary to the film as a POV character through which the story is told.  But I still think the character falls into an unfortunate middle ground, where too much time is spent on him for how uninteresting he is.  I'd be more okay with the character as a blank slate if he didn't demand so much time.

As far as the trope-iness, I'm having trouble coming up with lots of examples of the things that I think are sort of tropes.  As DannytheWall said, The Great Gatsby also features a young writer serving as the narrator/POV character who moves to New York and meets an interesting person whose past is slowly revealed over the course of the story.  And although love triangles are aplenty in film history, there are even examples of this particular flavor of love triangle, in which the three parties are friends as the triangle forms.  Certainly Jules and Jim falls into this category, but I'm at a loss for other such films that came out before Sophie's Choice.  (Can anyone think of more?)  The Big Chill is around the same time period, but it's sort of a more complicated shape than a triangle.  One could argue that The Sun Also Rises works in this category, although Brett is certainly a proto-MPDG as well.  More recent films in this trope include Y Tu Mama Tambien and The Dreamers.

It also feels like an 80s movie trope to have the stories of interesting people told through a different POV character, like in Amadeus (as Amy and Paul mentioned), The Elephant Man, or even Dead Poets Society (which I haven't seen in a while but I recall it being predominantly from Ethan Hawke's point of view).  There's probably more examples of this trope as well.

There's enough that's unique in Sophie's Choice that makes it work for me, but it still feels like it's hitting familiar beats.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, bleary said:

I think this is the right answer, that Stingo is necessary to the film as a POV character through which the story is told.  But I still think the character falls into an unfortunate middle ground, where too much time is spent on him for how uninteresting he is.  I'd be more okay with the character as a blank slate if he didn't demand so much time.

 

Yes, I'm certainly not trying to judge the movie for what it is NOT, as any art should be judged by what it IS. By making the film subjective to Stingo's experience, however, the result is that it makes him a more "important" figure-- as others have pointed out quite nicely in previous posts, the story is about how Sophie impacts the Narrator, how Stingo becomes the one to carry the "message" of surviving into the world beyond the movie/story, etc. We can dig for days into the richness of the story and characters for days by just what's presented to us. 

But one of the ways to challenge the story and themes is to butt them up against their imagined opposites. Looking at A by considering Not-A. I wondered how the story and themes might change if Sophie was our subjective point of view. I don't think we'd need to have a linear A to B to C story, similarly the mystery of the titular choice could remain hidden until she shares it with someone. Maybe another contemporary challenge could be to rework Stingo as a female character. I guess I'm lamenting that we don't get to see from Sophie's POV because the film presented her as such a more compelling character than any others. But by that same token, if she were presented in a different way, would it have ended up less compelling?  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, bleary said:

As far as the trope-iness, I'm having trouble coming up with lots of examples of the things that I think are sort of tropes. 

Well, there's always TVTropes to the rescue:

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/SophiesChoice 

But, yeah, that's not a long list when compared to the vast majority of films. So maybe it's doing something right. (/end understatement mode)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
4 hours ago, DannytheWall said:

Yes, I'm certainly not trying to judge the movie for what it is NOT, as any art should be judged by what it IS. By making the film subjective to Stingo's experience, however, the result is that it makes him a more "important" figure-- as others have pointed out quite nicely in previous posts, the story is about how Sophie impacts the Narrator, how Stingo becomes the one to carry the "message" of surviving into the world beyond the movie/story, etc. We can dig for days into the richness of the story and characters for days by just what's presented to us. 

But one of the ways to challenge the story and themes is to butt them up against their imagined opposites. Looking at A by considering Not-A. I wondered how the story and themes might change if Sophie was our subjective point of view. I don't think we'd need to have a linear A to B to C story, similarly the mystery of the titular choice could remain hidden until she shares it with someone. Maybe another contemporary challenge could be to rework Stingo as a female character. I guess I'm lamenting that we don't get to see from Sophie's POV because the film presented her as such a more compelling character than any others. But by that same token, if she were presented in a different way, would it have ended up less compelling?  

The problem for me is I feel like if we were to re-write the same movie from Sophie’s perspective it actually becomes less about her and more about the men. By that I mean we now have to explain why these two dudes are here. Nathan might be okay, but Stingo’s character would require a major overhaul. This means devoting more screen time into who this guy is and why Sophie likes him - which, in all honestly, would probably also mean a recalibration of Nathan as well. So, yeah, you would be getting more from her point of view - and it would be more about how she feels about the men in her life.

The narrator needs to be a bit uninteresting. If he were interesting, he would be writing a story about himself and his life. Stingo’s role is to be boring, be a foil to Nathan, and learn something about life through his experiences with these characters that fundamentally change who he is.

Also, with Sophie as POV, it would put a strange emphasis that there’s an equality between her choice in men with the lives of her children, which, to be frank, would be pretty sickening. (e.g. “I had a choice like this before...”)

I think the problem is that people keep referring to SC as a “love triangle,” but that implies three equal characters, with two of them being rivals for the third’s romantic affection, and I just don’t see that here. (For one thing, In terms of romantic love, the love triangle in SC isn’t so much a  /_\ as a /_/.) As Amy said in the episode, there’s never really a question of who she’ll end up with; however, Amy attributes that to Sophie’s love for Nathan which I absolutely disagree with. Sophie’s choice regarding Nathan and Stingo isn’t really between lovers but between Death and Life. Nathan is the promise of a dramatic life and swift death, and Stingo is the promise of a peaceful and, yes, boring existence - one that would provide her endless, silent hours alone with her thoughts. If there’s a triangle, that’s it. If there’s a choice, that’s what it is - the same choice she’s had to make before. Life and Death.

So, how then do you re-write Sophie’s Choice from her perspective while keeping it relatively the same? Do you take Nathan and Stingo out altogether? Just keep Nathan and take out Stingo? But then, who or what provides that same foil to Death? What would be her parallel “Choice” in present day (i.e. 1947)? How does that get set up in an economical and effective way that isn’t distracting or take the focus off of Sophie? Do we not place it in 1947 at all? Do we just follow her along as the events unfold? However, then it’s no longer be a movie about Survivor’s Guilt but about just surviving - which isn’t the story that the writer was inspired to write. 

So, yeah, I’m sure there are hundreds of way to tell this story differently, but are they more effective than what is presented? Are the same themes present?

And perhaps,more importantly, since the actual writer of SC is male, even if the movie was told from a Sophie’s point of view, it’s still ultimately coming from a man’s perspective. You can take Stingo out, but “Stingo” is still writing it. Any change would be superficial at best. All that would really change is our perception. Is the writer of the book/movie even capable of writing a sensitive and thoughtful story from a woman’s point of view that avoids cliche and incorporates not only the complexities of being a woman, but of a post-war, Holocaust survivor? Or is it better that the story is related and filtered through a character that better reflects the writer’s own life and background?

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 11/22/2018 at 8:04 PM, Cameron H. said:

100% It's all wrapped up in this wish to live and a desire to die. He gives her life, but promises death.  

However, I don't agree that she hides it from Nathan to be "more acceptable." I think, without necessarily knowing it, she senses that he's not exactly stable. An analogy might be that we have some friends we share certain aspects of our lives and others we just go out to clubs with or whatever. She shares her story with Stingo because she trusts him. She doesn't share it with Nathan because that's not the role he plays in her life.

I am pretty sure, though, that Nathan is at least partially with Sophie as a kind of a holocaust trophy. Like, he wasn't put in a Concentration Camp and feels guilty about it, so he kind of gets off on being with - and being the savior of - someone who has. You know...like in all the great romances. 🙄

The hiding part was partially in response to seeing people discuss whether she's deceptive and machiavellian.  I hadn't listened to the episode yet and assumed the issue of lying (possibly by omission) about her father being in support of the Final Solution was brought up (and the perceived general shifting of support of him changed as she changed the story), and not just the notion of strategic fainting and trying to seduce a gestapo officer at the request of another inmate...

Boy, I'll just say, I don't think it's uncommon to have your eyes open after you faint (reference to the podcast), but are still too light-headed and weak to get up.

Though I think I'm more befuddled by Amy thinking Sophie and Nathan having a "passionate, tumultuous" romance, well, in a positive way.  Because I guess Nathan was passionate and tumultuous. I was just fully expecting Sophie to end up with bruises and possibly a black eye during the movie.  But maybe more on that later.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

The problem for me is I feel like if we were to re-write the same movie from Sophie’s perspective it actually becomes less about her and more about the men. By that I mean we now have to explain why these two dudes are here. Nathan might be okay, but Stingo’s character would require a major overhaul. This means devoting more screen time into who this guy is and why Sophie likes him - which, in all honestly, would probably also mean a recalibration of Nathan as well. So, yeah, you would be getting more from her point of view - and it would be more about how she feels about the men in her life.

The narrator needs to be a bit uninteresting. If he were interesting, he would be writing a story about himself and his life. Stingo’s role is to be boring, be a foil to Nathan, and learn something about life through his experiences with these characters that fundamentally change who he is.

Also, with Sophie as POV, it would put a strange emphasis that there’s an equality between her choice in men with the lives of her children, which, to be frank, would be pretty sickening. (e.g. “I had a choice like this before...”)

I think the problem is that people keep referring to SC as a “love triangle,” but that implies three equal characters, with two of them being rivals for the third’s romantic affection, and I just don’t see that here. (For one thing, In terms of romantic love, the love triangle in SC isn’t so much a  /_\ as a /_/.) As Amy said in the episode, there’s never really a question of who she’ll end up with; however, Amy attributes that to Sophie’s love for Nathan which I absolutely disagree with. Sophie’s choice regarding Nathan and Stingo isn’t really between lovers but between Death and Life. Nathan is the promise of a dramatic life and swift death, and Stingo is the promise of a peaceful and, yes, boring existence - one that would provide her endless, silent hours alone with her thoughts. If there’s a triangle, that’s it. If there’s a choice, that’s what it is - the same choice she’s had to make before. Life and Death.

So, how then do you re-write Sophie’s Choice from her perspective while keeping it relatively the same? Do you take Nathan and Stingo out altogether? Just keep Nathan and take out Stingo? But then, who or what provides that same foil to Death? What would be her parallel “Choice” in present day (i.e. 1947)? How does that get set up in an economical and effective way that isn’t distracting or take the focus off of Sophie? Do we not place it in 1947 at all? Do we just follow her along as the events unfold? However, then it’s no longer be a movie about Survivor’s Guilt but about just surviving - which isn’t the story that the writer was inspired to write. 

Drop Stingo almost altogether.  Sophie's choice between life and death doesn't need to be represented between two men.  And I don't know if Stingo is really life, but rather going with him means leaving Nathan (and the act of leaving Nathan means choosing life.)

The question would be where do you start the movie.  Just spitballing an idea, maybe start with her romance with Nathan, but I'll say start earlier.  Start with Sophie as she's adjusting to life in America.  Nathan is introduced.  Nathan himself is actually both life and death in the survivor guilt theme.  His manic moments takes Sophie's brings life into her... life.  And his abusive moments triggers flashbacks (actually, lots of things can trigger flashbacks.  Either moments where she gets emotional setbacks and becomes depressed, or just sees things that make her think of that time - Nathan's wall of Nazi news articles certainly seems like it would be a trigger/transition), which will lose voice-over explaining things, and you'll have to have more represented on screen (since we've lost Stingo as a character, that's plenty of time added).  This feels like it would actually give the film more time to focus more on moving on with one's life and the survivor's guilt she has to deal with.

Sorry, this feels abbreviated on my part, yet at the same time, I'm not sure what I'd add to expand on it.

2 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

And perhaps,more importantly, since the actual writer of SC is male, even if the movie was told from a Sophie’s point of view, it’s still ultimately coming from a man’s perspective. All that would really change is our perception. Is the writer of the book/movie capable of writing a sensitive and thoughtful story from a woman’s point of view that avoids cliche and incorporates not only the complexities of being a woman, but of a post-war, Holocaust survivor? Or is it better that the story is related and filtered through a character that better reflects the writer’s own life and background?

Well, that is asking "was the writer good enough to write a better movie about something he doesn't have direct personal experience with," to which I don't know how to answer that hypothetical.  Granted, I think I'm the person who's the most down on the movie here, so it's kind of a, if he failed, there's less of a loss from my perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Drop Stingo almost altogether.  Sophie's choice between life and death doesn't need to be represented between two men.  And I don't know if Stingo is really life, but rather going with him means leaving Nathan (and the act of leaving Nathan means choosing life.)

I guess I’m using “life” as a synonym for “existing” or “surviving. She can go on with Stingo, but it means living with her past - which isn’t what she wants.

I guess I just don’t think Stingo is as problematic as everyone else? I feel like he is an essential component to the story whether we like him or not.

1 hour ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

Well, that is asking "was the writer good enough to write a better movie about something he doesn't have direct personal experience with," to which I don't know how to answer that hypothetical.  Granted, I think I'm the person who's the most down on the movie here, so it's kind of a, if he failed, there's less of a loss from my perspective.

Honestly, I meant it more rhetorically than hypothetically, but yeah, that’s basically my point. The only person who knows whether he would be capable of writing it from her perspective is the writer. And I would guess, given the results, he didn’t feel comfortable doing that so he wrote it from the perspective of a character surrogate with whom he could 100% relate. 

My broader point is: if we start making changes, we have to consider the ramifications of those changes. Do they actually improve the movie? Hypothetically, maybe. If we make those changes, and turn SC into something else entirely, does it still end up on a list of great films? I don’t know, but in my view, I don’t think so.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I guess I just don’t think Stingo is as problematic as everyone else? I feel like he is an essential component to the story whether we like him or not.

I agree.  As much as I complain about his character, his use as a plot device makes the storytelling more interesting.

 

3 hours ago, ol' eddy wrecks said:

The question would be where do you start the movie.  Just spitballing an idea, maybe start with her romance with Nathan, but I'll say start earlier.

This was a major trend in Oscar bait films from the 80s, to tell their story across a wider time period instead of staying tethered to more or less a moment in time.  (I'm looking at you, GandhiTerms of EndearmentAmadeusOut of AfricaThe Color PurpleThe Last Emperor, and Driving Miss Daisy, all Best Picture winners except Purple.)  I think the difference in storytelling method is why I like Sophie's Choice and Amadeus better than the rest of these.  I realize that you're not suggesting that the whole story be told linearly like the bulk of these films were, but I rather like that the entirety of Sophie's relationship with Nathan up to that point is summed up relatively briefly, and I think there are diminishing returns in going back earlier to see it.

 

7 hours ago, DannytheWall said:

Well, there's always TVTropes to the rescue:

https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/SophiesChoice 

Exactly, and this is one of the tropes I was trying to describe: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
6 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I think the problem is that people keep referring to SC as a “love triangle,” but that implies three equal characters, with two of them being rivals for the third’s romantic affection, and I just don’t see that here. (For one thing, In terms of romantic love, the love triangle in SC isn’t so much a  /_\ as a /_/.)

I was tempted to suggest that we needed a complete list of directed graphs on three vertices with no isolated vertices, before deciding that was too mathy.  But TV Tropes provides the list for us!  https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TriangRelations

They suggest that Sophie's Choice is a #6 on that list, because Stingo does seem to genuinely want to be friends with Nathan.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I'll put it out there that I was not a big fan of this one. Maybe it was that I wasn't in the right mood or head space for it, but it didn't move me at all. I found all of the characters rather unlikable. I found Nathan an abusive and manipulative person.

I agree with Cameron H. that this wasn't a love triangle. The inclusion of Stingo into their relationship felt more poly to me. But that could be my current sensibilities. I got the sense that Nathan and Sophie really cared for each other. I think he admired her for her experience. He knew he was sheltered, and I think he hoped to kind of explore and live the world vicariously through her. 's

I do think I'd have liked this better if we saw it from Sophie's point of view as opposed to (as Danny said) from Stingo's point of view. I don't think we need him as a stand-in for the audience. I think seeing it from her POV we could still have her see herself through the eyes of a naive writer (maybe even a woman) as she brings the writer into her life, and opens herself up as she realizes she can finally trust someone with her secrets. I think we'd get more of that personal discovery. I also think it would've made the scene of her giving up her daughter feel more affecting. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I agree with the Onion's version of Meryl Streep: this is a mediocre movie that contains a great Meryl Streep performance. The whole Stingo character seems an unfortunate remnant of the origins of the story as a book, where a largely passive narrator can just fade into the background as an observer. Peter MacNichol has had some very good performances, but Stingo isn't one of them. I'm glad that Cameron H is around to remind people of the deeper themes of the movie, but those are easy to overlook because the film spends so much of its runtime in this more lackluster mode.

On 11/22/2018 at 12:38 PM, tomspanks said:

I was really surprised that Stingo was labeled an incel and came here to see if anyon else picked up on this.  I can’t say that I’m an expert on the subject, but aren’t incels usually characterized by their contempt towards humanity?  I feel like if anything, Stingo had a huge heart and he genuinely loved both Sophie and Nathan.  


Not as annoying as when the Not a Cast podcasters used the term to refer to Littlefinger, a literal pimp who is able to wreak havoc because a powerful woman loves him far more than she does her husband.

Share this post


Link to post

On the comparison to Gatsby, it seems to me that in that story there is more of an edge to Nick the narrator. He views these events sardonically and is critical of the people he's telling a story about. Stingo's narration feels more wistful and romantic to me and I'm not sure what that adds, given the underlying story.

Of course this movie has tropes; every story does. The mere existence of such is not bad, it's more in how they're used. I found the "First Person Peripheral Narrator" trope a bit awkwardly applied here.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

So I watched this film and loved most of it. Like most people here I had issue with the character of Stingo. There was something in my mind that was just telling me that while he may have been friends with Nathan and Sophie the sole reason he befriend them was his attraction to Sophie. That he was sort of waiting for the shoe to drop in which point he'd rush in and save Sophie from Nathan and they'd live happily ever after together. I guess the earlier discussed term of "white knight" does fit what I was thinking of him a bit. I couldn't tell if this stemmed from Peter MacNicole while holding his own just seeming flat compared to the dynamic performances around him or what. 

The scene that really hit it home to me was at the end when they are running away from Nathan they go to Washingto DC. Fair enough, get out of the city give them some time I thought but when Sophie asks what the next step is Stingo goes off about how they're going to get married and have kids. This is through me for a loop because it kind confirmed these "white knight" like ideas I was having about the guy. I didn't get why he'd just jump to that. Go from not dating to "marry me because I love you and that's what we have to do in the Christian South." It was such a leap in my mind at the time that I started going back and questioning his motivations the entire time. Was he comforting Sophie in that earlier scene because he loved her as a friend or was he going in because he romantically loved her. Did he stand up to Nathan in that scene for Sophie or for himself. So many thoughts like this that I soured on the character. Needless to say this is what I posted on Letterboxd in which Cameron H and tomspanks talked to me about it. I decided that I probably owed this movie and Stingo a second chance. So I rewatched the movie.

 

While I am not fully team Stingo (I get the failed date/sex scene but it can absolutely be cut) I do see now that he is a more complex and needed character than I originally thought. I think it comes down to the fact like most I thought this was some sort of love triangle initially. However, upon rewatching it's not a triangle is just what it is. Stingo wants to be a writer but the only real experience he has in his life is his mother dying. He movies from the South to the big city to get life experience. He could easily be a writer in the South, it worked for others so why not him? No, he is young naive and thirsting for life. So on the first night in the city he meets these two larger than life characters going full chaotic drama immediately that he is sort of caught off guard. He has no idea how to react and respond to all of this. He is over his head. Then on top of that he gets the manic Nathan the next day on their Coney Island voyage and before. He seems these two complex people that have this view and take on life that is beyond him. When he watches them on the whirly thing he thinks that "he longed to escape. to pack his bags and flee but I did not." He was in love with both of them because he wanted to be them. Equally they got things out of their friendship with Stingo as well. So at this point I saw them not as a love triangle but almost a non-sexual polyamorous couple. They feed into each other and were happy being their unnamed thing that they were. Later when we see Nathan's brother reveal the truth to him he never confronts Nathan because now that he knows he feels he understands him better. He can help him. He doesn't want to violate his trust because he does love him. This leads up to the initial scene that vexed me so in Washington. I see now that in Stingo's mind he was merely continuing what he assumed they already had. Not such a leap as before. Like somebody mentioned earlier, he thinks that is what he wants but Sophie knows better.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post

oh meant to do this but holidays distracted me.  there's very few Sophie's Choice gifs on twitter (probably rightly so). but

200w_d.gif?cid=e826c9fc5c002b73335250665

200w_d.gif?cid=e826c9fc5c002b73335250665

200w_d.gif?cid=e826c9fc5c002b73335250665

and 

200w_d.gif?cid=e826c9fc5c002b73335250665  :(

none of Stingo or Nathan!

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, grudlian. said:

This was exactly my conclusion when the question was asked on the Facebook group: Meryl Streep is a great actress who hasn't actually been in many great films.

Paul had a good suggestion with Adaptation, maybe the best film she's in where she can reasonably be described as a lead actress.

Share this post


Link to post
35 minutes ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

This was exactly my conclusion when the question was asked on the Facebook group: Meryl Streep is a great actress who hasn't actually been in many great films.

Paul had a good suggestion with Adaptation, maybe the best film she's in where she can reasonably be described as a lead actress.

Adaptation is a great choice for a Meryl Streep movie if you must include one (though I'd argue you don't because, well, a lot of then are merely okay).

This is how I felt about Diane Keaton when she came up on the HDTGM forums recently. Diane Keaton is great except she's relegated to a bunch of mediocre movies for the past 30+ years.

Share this post


Link to post
7 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

Adaptation is a great choice for a Meryl Streep movie if you must include one (though I'd argue you don't because, well, a lot of then are merely okay).

This is how I felt about Diane Keaton when she came up on the HDTGM forums recently. Diane Keaton is great except she's relegated to a bunch of mediocre movies for the past 30+ years.

At least Diane Keaton still has Annie Hall though.

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

At least Diane Keaton still has Annie Hall though.

Yeah, but Meryl Streep doesn't have Look Who's Talking Now.

But I honestly am kind of puzzled by Annie Hall. I think it's okay but it's not even Woody Allen's best. I've never understood it as the go to great Woody Allen movie.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
45 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

I've never understood it as the go to great Woody Allen movie.

Oh, I do. It's not my personal favorite, but I get it.

We'll discuss more when Woody Allen comes up on the podcast, which I'm sure will not be controversial at all.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
8 hours ago, sycasey 2.0 said:

This was exactly my conclusion when the question was asked on the Facebook group: Meryl Streep is a great actress who hasn't actually been in many great films.

Paul had a good suggestion with Adaptation, maybe the best film she's in where she can reasonably be described as a lead actress.

Are there examples of the opposite?  Can you name an actress in the last 30 years (good or bad) who is the lead actress in multiple great films?

Part of me wonders if films where a female is top billed are just less likely to be considered great.  And for better or worse, Streep seems to choose great roles over working with so-called prestige directors (possible exceptions being Sydney Pollock for Out Of Africa and Robert Altman for Prairie Home Companion).

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, bleary said:

Are there examples of the opposite?  Can you name an actress in the last 30 years (good or bad) who is the lead actress in multiple great films?

Vanity

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
On 11/25/2018 at 11:58 AM, bleary said:

This was a major trend in Oscar bait films from the 80s, to tell their story across a wider time period instead of staying tethered to more or less a moment in time.  (I'm looking at you, GandhiTerms of EndearmentAmadeusOut of AfricaThe Color PurpleThe Last Emperor, and Driving Miss Daisy, all Best Picture winners except Purple.)  I think the difference in storytelling method is why I like Sophie's Choice and Amadeus better than the rest of these.  I realize that you're not suggesting that the whole story be told linearly like the bulk of these films were, but I rather like that the entirety of Sophie's relationship with Nathan up to that point is summed up relatively briefly, and I think there are diminishing returns in going back earlier to see it.

Oh snap! After referencing Hiroshima mon Amour so much in the thread, I was trying to avoid recreating its structure completely and decided, for coping with grief you didn't need to define her existence post Holocaust purely in terms of her relationship with Nathan, that maybe push the beginning to before she met Nathan.

Though I was also thinking of flashbacks being handled non-linearly (because that's not how memory works).  Though, we did get them linearly in SC, didn't we?  We just got lies first and the flashback of how she met Nathan first, IIRC. So maybe that would have been 

That said, I think the narrative structure isn't necessarily what made a movie Oscar bait (though following the same formulas probably wouldn't help).  Though, trying to identify what makes Oscar bait actually Oscar bait is probably hard to actually identify in a way that doesn't also pull in movies that one wouldn't think of as being Oscar bait.

Share this post


Link to post
9 hours ago, bleary said:

Are there examples of the opposite?  Can you name an actress in the last 30 years (good or bad) who is the lead actress in multiple great films?

Part of me wonders if films where a female is top billed are just less likely to be considered great.  And for better or worse, Streep seems to choose great roles over working with so-called prestige directors (possible exceptions being Sydney Pollock for Out Of Africa and Robert Altman for Prairie Home Companion).

"Part of me wonders if films where a female is top billed are just less likely to be considered great." I was going to ask if you meant lead actress or actress in a lead role? I think actresses can be considered the lead actress even of their role isn't the primary part of the movie.

That's relevant for considering movies like Her or The Master as being counted for this (ignoring for now whether people would count them as great movies).

As of right now, I think Michelle Williams might work because of her movies with Kelly Reichardt. Though, that's my sensibilities of great movies (Meek's Cutoff and Wendy & Lucy) and I don't know if my opinions will age well, even for me.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×