Recast-athon: Up in the Air, Black Swan, and Silver Linings Playbook

While I enjoy the occasional Recast Edition post here at AEOS, I was super excited when I noticed that Ruth over at Flixchatter took part in this new blogathon that she found from Andrew, who started/is hosting it over at his blog, A Fistful of Films.

Picture Film StripHere are the rules:

1)  Pick an OSCAR NOMINATED performance given by a white actress that didn’t require a white actress (no biopics here, even though Todd Haynes taught us that you don’t need to be the same race or gender to play a real life person). This performance can come from ANY film year.

2)  Pick an actress of color who could have been a great fit for the role instead of the one cast.  Keep in mind the time of release and chose actresses who were working at that time. So, in other words, don’t select the role of Calla Mackie in 1968’s Rachel, Rachel (played by Estelle Parsons) and suggest it be a great fit for Naomie Harris, because, well, she wasn’t born for another eight years.

3)  Explain WHY that actress would have made a great fit. Plead her case. Let’s tell those Hollywood casting directors what they’re missing.

Here are my picks:

Tao Okamoto or Jamie Chung as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air (2009)

I’m unknown, but I look important here.

I know most people would probably find Tao Okamoto to be an odd choice, considering how unknown she is. The only major acting credit she has was as Mariko, Wolverine’s love interest in last year’s The Wolverine. Okamoto is slender, and she seems like she could pull off an awkward and shy role such as Natalie Keener in Up in the Air. She’s also the same age as Anna Kendrick, and she shares similar physical features. Kendrick was relatively unknown until she portrayed Keener in the Oscar-nominated film, so I imagined the role would be one to jumpstart an unknown actress’s film career.

I can play tough AND vulnerable.

Jamie Chung has yet to reach a higher level of fame in Hollywood as well since most of her acting credits include guest and background roles, lower budget films, TV movies, and video game voicework. Her recurring role as Mulan on the show Once Upon a Time (2011-) proves that she can hold her own, putting her dramatic and action chops on display. Only two years older than Kendrick, she’s right around the same age, and she has a likable quality and youthful appearance that makes her seem approachable, a characteristic she’d need to pull off the role.

Saldana participated in a photoshoot inspired by the styles of Black Swan in InStyle.

Zoe Saldana as Nina Sayers in Black Swan (2010)

While Natalie Portman is very beautiful, and certainly convincing enough as Nina Sayers in Black Swan, I never thought the role needed to be filled by a white actress. The first actress who came to my mind was Zoe Saldana. She’s certainly more established than the other actresses I’ve listed, appearing in a variety of films that include physical action, dramatic acting, and suspenseful situations, all qualities needed to play the role of Sayers. Not only does Saldana has a svelte figure that would help her portray a ballerina, but she also is an accomplished dancer who cites ballet as one of her first passions. While she’s three years older than Portman, she’s still right within that age bracket that would work for the role.

Zoe Kravitz as Tiffany Maxwell in Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

“Don’t make me throw this knife at you!”

I imagine this recast could be considered a stretch when you compare Jennifer Lawrence’s filmography and experience to Zoe Kravitz’s. When one hears the name “Kravitz,” they think of Lenny, not Zoe. But from the few films the younger Kravitz has taken part in, I think she’s been waiting for her big break. Silver Linings Playbook is a character-driven film, and I could easily see Zoe Kravitz filling the role of Tiffany Maxwell. She’s able to say a lot with just her facial expressions, and no doubt she could use that skill to play Tiffany. Since she’s a couple years older than Lawrence, in some ways, I think her age would make her more appropriate for the role than Lawrence was, despite how much I loved her in it.

It’s your turn now. What do you think of my choices? Who would you recast in this roles? Head over to Andrew’s page, Fistful of Films, to read about why he chose to start this recast-athon, and feel free to join in and write your own post if you’d like!

Friends With Benefits: Art of Self-Deprecation at Its Best

This weekend, I finally decided it was OK to see Friends With Benefits. I was very against seeing this movie, as much as I was against seeing (and still am against seeing) No Strings Attached, because it looks like it just took the other main actress from Black Swan, Natalie Portman, and put her in the same title role: a female character stupidly thinking that sharing only a sexual relationship with a partner can still let you function devoid of emotional attachment to that partner.

Here’s the deal with Friends With Benefits: it joyfully and wittingly makes fun of itself. The biggest enjoyment I received from watching the movie was when Jamie (Mila Kunis) and Dylan (Justin Timberlake) were watching a romantic comedy starring Jason Segel and Rashida Jones. The overdramatic dialogue, the huge gestures, the cliche storyline, the chase scene, the upbeat credits song (by none other than Train)–all are elements that make up the majority of rom coms today. And Dylan pointedly mentions this while he annoyingly sits through the cheesiness as Jamie sheds a few tears and declares that she wishes her life (particularly the love part of it) to be like a movie.

When a movie sees itself for what it is–in this case, a romantic comedy–and doesn’t try to pretend to be something else, but assuredly and confidently works itself out, you find yourself less annoyed at the cliche elements that make up the genre and more accepting of the particular movie’s efforts. Friends With Benefits gladly takes it place and doesn’t apologize for being what it is. That’s what more romantic comedies need to do.

Although I will probably not make time for a second viewing (primarily due to objectionable elements), I did find the movie to be cute and fun, and I mostly appreciated the different approach that Will Gluck took in making this movie not your typical rom com. There’s some interesting and fun supporting characters played by Woody Harrelson and Patricia Clarkson, and two hilarious cameos by Shaun White, that add humor, while a performance by Richard Jenkins, who plays Dylan’s dad, gave a nice dramatic element to the film.

Both Dylan and Jamie get wrapped up in their own personal confusion of the relationship and take longer than usual to resolve those feelings and come to the conclusion that they are a perfect fit. It’s nice to see some new faces star in a more original rom com, and kudos to Gluck for making it interesting. If I ever see No Strings Attached (fat chance, though), I might make a comparison. But until I find my life boring enough to make time for a viewing of that, I’m sticking with Friends With Benefits.