Annette Bening is a movie star (even when she plays other movie stars)
To say that Anette Benings is long overdue of an Oscar is practically an understatement. Since the actress’s first Academy Award nomination for the 1990’s The Grifters until the very last for 2010’s The Kids Are All Right she’s been a steady presence in modern day cinema. Picky, talented and with grace and sophistication that she brings into every role she takes, I hope that on March 4 2018, the golden statue will be placed in her hands finally. Sure, there is plenty of competition again in that race (Emma Stone, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even 2 time winner Jane Fonda just to name a few) but many media outlets and film experts say that 2018 will be Anette’s year. Now, I haven’t seen her latest flick, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool but according to the reviews from the Telluride Film Festival where the movie was already shown, she’s a top Oscar contender.
And I could not be happier to be honest, but let’s discuss her latest movie and the role she plays in it.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is an American-British film directed by Paul McGuigan in which Bening shares the screen with Jamie Bell, Kenneth Cranham, Julie Walters and the 2 time Academy Award winner, Vanessa Redgrave. Based on the book Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool by Peter Turner, the movie written by Matt Greenhalgh is a cinematic portrayal of the shocking romance between the Hollywood screen legend Gloria Graheme (Bening) and the young aspiring actor Peter Turner (Bell).
The movie reunites Julie Walters and Jamie Bell 17 years after Billy Elliot (2000), and before Annette Bening depicted Gloria Grahame in this film, she had used Grahame’s performance in The Big Heat (1953) as an inspiration for her own depiction of a femme fatalle in The Grifters (1990).
Benning is receiving rave reviews for the portrayal of Graheme even this early in the Award circuit race. The movie is set for a theater release in UK in November and in USA in late December, but let’s take a moment and discuss the real life movie star that this movie star is playing in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.
Gloria Grahame. Born and raised in Hollywood, Gloria was bred to be actress from an early age, primarily by her mother Jean Grahame (herself a British stage actress and acting teacher). Grahame made her film debut in Blonde Fever (1944) and then scored one of her most widely praised roles as the flirtatious Violet Bick, saved from disgrace by George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). She earned her first Academy Award nomination for 1947’s It Happened in Brooklyn and won an Oscar for Best supporting actress for 1952 melodrama- The Bad and the Beautiful. Gloria won her Oscar award for then shortest on screen presence of just over 9 minutes, but her career was quickly ruined by her obsession with plastic surgery and the notorious marriages and relationships she had back in the day.
Over the course of her career, Grahame became increasingly concerned with her physical appearance. She was particularly concerned with the appearance of her upper lip which she felt was too thin and had ridges that were too deep. So Grahame began stuffing cotton or wads of tissues between her lip and teeth to give the appearance of fullness which she felt gave her a sexier look, and in an act of desperation, in the mid-1940s, Grahame began undergoing small cosmetic procedures on her lips and face. He obsession with her looks led her to undergo more cosmetic procedures that rendered her upper lip largely immobile because of nerve damage, and this made an inoperable damage to her film career.
She was married 4 times and had 4 children, but it was the affair and subsequent marriage to actor Anthony “Tony” Ray, (the son of her second husband Nicholas Ray and his first wife Jean Evans) that damaged her image the most. News of her marriage to her stepson was kept private until 1962, and the couple welcomed 2 children in this union. The marriage damaged her image, reputation and prompted a bitter custody of her other child with her ex-husband Cy Howard, which led to her having a nervous breakdown and needing a shock therapy in 1964.
Gloria died in 1981 at the age of 57 from Peritonitis and breast cancer, and was buried at Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery.
So i hope Bening does her justice in Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, and i hope this movie brings her the awards the surely missed out throughout her long and steady career. We’ll i guess we’ll know for sure on March 4, 2018.