August: Osage County ★★★½

Tracy Letts adapts his own play (other writing credits include Bug and Killer Joe), and in the process adds a few minor scenes, that really surve no purpose other than to flest out the running time.
It's all about what happens inside, and about the standout ensemble of the year. The director himself nothing more than a prop.

I could namedrop them all, but I'd rather single out my favourites.
Anyone not familiar with the real life Sam Shepard should read up on him. A truly fascinating and multifaceted guy. Here he's allowed to just play himself, as far as I can see, and offers up a little glimpse into his persona: the affable, intelligent, scruffy poet.

Then there's Margo Martindale. Sweet, old, scary as shit, Margo Martindale. The high priestess of rural Americana. She's the sweet grandma you'd never turn your back to.
And she's such a wonderful actress. Her performance here sort of bookends the action, with little to do in the central part, but a wonderful presence at the beginning and the end.

And last, but definitely not least, my favourite (everbody else is going to go on and on about Meryl Streep, and she's great, but do we really need me to go over the same old beaten tracks as well?), Julianne Nicholson.
In a story about how your family shape the person you'll grow up to be, for better or worse, mostly worse(with the more straight forward example being Julia Roberts turning into Meryl Streep who in turn is a lesser, but not by much, version of her own mother), and secrets are flying out of closets left and right, it is a melodrama after all, Nicholson is the fragile of the three siblings. The one that got left behind, stuck of you will, with the burden of the mater familias (Streep) around her neck, while her two sisters left for pastures new.

The constant nagging, bitterness and sore remarks about her being the lesser of the three, even though she's the one who made the sacrifice, has worn her down, and into the arms of her cousin. Finally in a relationship of equal footing she is on the road to becoming independent.
I rooted for her from the go, and constantly cheered her on to make a stand.
It doesn't hurt that she's just my type of course, cute as a button she is (can you say that about a woman in her 40s.....?).

Streep's a shoe in for an Oscar nom (even if she's obviously "gagging for it"), maybe Roberts as well, depends how they swing the supporting/lead nom, but for me it's Nicholson all the way.

Thomas liked these reviews