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« Review: Thor: The Dark World| Main| True Oscar Stories: Djimon Hounsou »
Wednesday
Nov 06 2013

Paging Lacuna,Inc.- Naomi Watts' 2013 is One She'd Rather Forget!

Glennhere.One of my favourite movie-going memories of 2013 was seeing the trailer forAdoreplay before a bemused sold out opening weekend audience atBlue Jasmine.Amongst the scattered laughs was one lady a row or two behind me who uttered to her companion,"What is Naomi Wattsdoing?"She,and the rest of us,are sadly still waiting for an answer.On the heels of that Oscar nomination forThe Impossible,Watts has since appeared in two films that have literally been laughed off of cinema screens.

[AdoreandDianagigglesafter the jump...]

Not too many people actually sawAdorewhen it was released back in August,and for good reason:it was not good.In case you're unaware,Adoreis the film that features Watts and Robin Wright bonking each other's' sons.The distributor keenly changed the name after Sundance,presumably in the hope that audiences wouldn't put two and two together.For as patently absurd as the movie sounds,it is in fact adapted from a well-received novella by Doris Lessing.And,let's face it,when the sons are played by Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville (you'll remember him fromAnimal Kingdom) it's somewhat understandable.But Watts in particular gets some of the film's worst moments as she's forced to speak horrifying dialogue wherein she equates her own child to an otherworldly god or shrieking in horror,"He thinks we're lesos?!?"

Still,at least in the case ofAdorethere was perhaps reason to expect something better.It was hardly in Watts' crystal ball that director Anne Fontaine (Coco before Chanel) would play the film so straight and to such crippling effect.The film is laughable in many scenes,not least when the two young men compete to see who has the most sexual stamina with each other's mother.Sadly,it's never laughableenoughand what could have been a deliciously preposterous erotic drama becomes a rather unsatisfying yawner with some good performances and accidental giggles to keep it afloat.

Much worse andmuchfunnier,however,isDiana.The film wasonce-upon-a-time Watts' prestige charge to Oscar glory-- British royalty!Biopic!Mimicry!Alas,the writing was well and truly on the wall long before its release into (scant) American theatres this past weekend.

Peter Bradshaw inThe Guardianfamously,and with hilariously un-PC relish,hailedDianaas "car crash cinema",while Tim Robey's piece inThe Telegraphon the film's ten most ridiculous moments well and truly sunk the nail into the coffin.My particular favourite moment was when Diana,curled up in bed with her lover (Lost's Naveen Andrews sporting seriously unflattering hairstyling) watches the British elections.Upon seeing Tony Blair stride his way to victory,Diana remarks,"I like the way he walks.Like he's crossing a bridge."I watched all 113 minutes ofDianaand I can't make much sense of what that means so good luck to you readers who try it.

Dianais a film in which almost all narrative exposition is told through close-ups of newspaper headlines – "PEOPLE'S PRINCESS!"reads one in case you'd forgotten – and,most curiously,Diana's personal acupuncturist."Are you sure you should be going on holiday",the acupuncturist asks on the eve of her fateful trip to Paris.I imagine it took every fibre of the screenwriter's being tonothave Watts' Diana say,"I have a bad feeling about tonight,Dodi."It'sThe Rosewithout the drugs.

As directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel with all the style the Lifetime channel can afford and with all the dramatic thrust of a daytime soap opera,Dianais a big ol' mess.I was so glad my opening night crowd – Nathaniel included – was willing to have a laugh.How about when Diana gets the hots for a doctor and orders a copy ofGray's Anatomysent to her palace?Or that wacky montage of Diana playing stalker housemaid in her boyfriend's apartment?I nearly died of lulz when Diana wears a wig and walks through London incognito looking like she's walked onto the set of a Pantene commercial to a flood of wolf-whistles and slack-jawed commoners.I couldn't make this up if I tried.By the time Diana goes gay-clubbing to the sounds of the Pet Shop Boys' "West End Girls"I began assuming the filmmakers actively hated their subject.I mean,they certainly present her as a deceiving,nosey manipulator and more than a little dim.When Diana asks her doctor boyfriend if "hearts can't actually be broken"in that famously breathy plum accent,I can't help but assume the writer's thought she was genuine.

As the film's greatest chance at best-worst movie immortality suggests: "If you can't smell the fragrance,don't come into the garden of love."Judging bythis weekend's box office figures,people certainly could smell this one and from miles away.The more I write about it the more I am convinced that it's destined for camp classic status,although I admit that long stretches go by where not much of anything happens,funny or otherwise (so it has that in common withTroll 2).

Can Naomi Watts be saved from herself?She needs a new agent,for starters.That Oscar nomination forThe Impossibledoesn't really mean a lot when you're appearing in terrible films on both sides of it.Lest we forget her nothing part in Clint Eastwood'sJ Edgar,or the major role in one of Woody Allen's weakestYou Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,and herother2013 release,the appallingMovie 43(4% on Rotten Tomatoes!).For her sake and ours,the best thing we can do is never mention it ever again.

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Reader Comments (42)

Never really was a huge fan of her...but then I think about Mulholland Dr.,and will always root for her to nail a role like that again.I've been rather cool on her 2 Oscar nominated performances.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Yes!I completely agree with this.She needs a helping hand from bff Nicole.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

thanks for sitting through both those films,glenn,so i will never have to

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

You would imagine Nicole would have better taste in actress-friends.I can't even imagine Nicole lying to Naomi,"Don't listen to them!I would TOTALLY give you an Oscar for that!"Nicole knows better.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

Her punishment for taking up space in Best Actress last year.And watch Jacki Weaver suffer the same fate when the new Woody Allen movie arrives as a third Oscar nomination vehicle for Marcia Gay Harden.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I like Naomi Watts.But when I read the reviews for Adore,I had to ask myself."What was she thinking?"And for once,I was happy when the trailer gave it all away.

Never was interested in the Diana pic.Too soon.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Don't forget Dream House from 2011 as well!

If there ever was an actress in need of reteaming with David O.Russell...although,yeah,firing her agent would be a good start regardless.Sigh.

(Although,to be fair,on paper Diana doesn't ping you as a mess - the director of The Fall,the subject matter,etc.I think on paper it's about equal to Adore.Once she actually read the script,well,there's no excusing that.)

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterPitry

How Watts got in over Cotillard last year I will never know.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterKeegan

Watts deserved her nomination for The Impossible.i'm still scratching my head over Lawrence winning the damn thing.

Silver Linings was a good film for the first 90 minutes and then it ended up as a feel good movie about ballroom bloody dancing!!!

Very disappointing.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

So agree with Bette Streep!I can't remember where but I heard/read somewhere a review saying that SLP starts like a Nick Hornby novel and finishes like a Disney cheesy rom/com.SO TRUE!

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

Well,every actor has a bad year in his career.
And Diana was doomed from the start.It just was.I doubt there'll ever be a movie that will tell her story believable.
It's a tragic story,but every (TV movie) attempt so far was nothing but yellow press screenplays.
There can not always be films like "The Queen"and even though Hirschbigel made the great "Downfall",it was to be foreseen he would crash and burn with Diana.
Sometimes you can get lucky and even a mediocre at best reviewed biopic can get gold (no need for examples,we all know what won two Oscars recently).亚博主页It depends on time and this year doesn't seem to be the year of biopics,at least not for female actresses.Even Grace of Monaco was pushed into 2014.Maybe the chance raises there again.
( I still doubt it,but never underestimate Weinstein at all)

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterSonja

Anybody else think she has made her one shining moment in 2001 into a career that has had more downs than ups,i thought she was miscast and basically hopeless in the non physical scenes of The Impossible.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterwatts

Can I point out that I still really like Naomi...I just wish she'd make better movies (I wasn't particularly fond of The Impossible either).

Pitry,I kid you not,DREAM HOUSE was actually in my dream last night.I've never seen it,but my dream involved Naomi Watts up on stage an awards show for some reason and making a reference to being "the star of Dream House."It was odd.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

It's been a long time since she's made a movie I wanted to see,but I still have faith in Naomi.I was glad she was nominated last year,even if I didn't even bother watching The Impossible,only because it was nice to hear her name in the game again.
And it's not just Mulholland.Always remember Fuckabees.Never forget.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Not a fan.She's quite competent but lacks any innate compellingness.The resume speaks for itself.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Great article!I think she could have weathered Adore,but Diana is just too high-profile a flop to have gone unnoticed.She's also in that unfortunate position of people regarding her as something of a one-hit wonder with Mulholland Drive,whose subsequent successes have been in films that haven't stood the test of time (King Kong),are hugely divisive (Huckabees),or whose directors have fallen off the edge of the earth critically (21 Grams).She's also,unlike Kidman,who's weathered many a flop,not really seen as a performer of much substance.Films like The Painted Veil,Ellie Parker and Funny Games all seemed to be practically unseen.She's been floundering for years,but I think that brief return to prominence with The Impossible,which so many people felt cool towards,in retrospect seemed to pave the way for this current fall from grace.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterben1283

Though she seems pleasant and talented enough,I've always been indifferent towards Watts,even in her "Mulholland Drive"breakthrough.Her Oscar nomination for "21 Grams"completely made sense because that's the type of egregious nonsense the Academy tends to go for,but last year's nod for "The Impossible"seemed like a throwaway.She strikes me as the type of actress who would thrive in one of those network television family dramas like "Brothers and Sisters"or "Parenthood."

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

She's very talented and I think she likes to work.Which means she finds herself appearing in weak material(weak might be an understatement for this year).Most actresses would be very very lucky to have a role like she had in Mulholland ever come in their career.Even though the limited opportunities she(every actress) gets makes her batting average pretty low,I know she's got the goods.Besides when every acting career is full of peaks and valleys I don't think this year is as much of a disaster as most here seem to believe.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterTy

This made me lol a lot!I want to see Diana even more now.My mom loves Princess Diana so I wonder how she's going to feel when she watches this?Haha.Naomi needs another 21 Grams,but even I wasn't the biggest fan of The Impossible or even Mulholland Drive.I'm hoping that her upcoming Birdman with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu returns her to 21 Grams level,although it's a comedy.....We shall see!

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBhuray

ITA with ben's remarks.I think there was a subtle backlash against last year's nomination,as she was undoubtedly the fifth spot,when Cotillard and Weisz were snubbed.When someone is clearly keeping others out of the race,there will always be a generalized resentment.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

How we can make focus in 1,2 or 3 bad films "if they are bad¡¡¡"because critics have said many times that very bad films were excellent when they were bad movies,Naomi Watts is the best actress working today,she has showed her acting skills in Mulholland Drive,Eastern Promises,21 grams,Fair Game,You will meet a tall dark stranger,Mother and Child and more so she can do 10 bad movies and that will change her status.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterCamila

@Keegan - because she played the Noble (Suffering) Victim.Look how it worked for Demian Bichir in a tiny,tiny film in a crowded Best Actor race,among many other examples.Watts' character was much more accessible and easier for old,white men to root for than Cottilard's prickly,nuanced character.(Please note I'm not defending Watt's nomination - I also don't think she should have been nominated,while I actually kind of love Bichir's nomination and think it's actually some of his more famous co-nominees who should have been snubbed).

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I saw "Adore."It's ridiculous,but I actually enjoyed myself.I wish it even went into heavier melodrama,but I liked the scenery,the bodies,and frankly I envied the lifestyles of the women who seem to live in luxury,drinking wine nightly and frolicking in the beach daily.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterRaul

It's like a deal with the devil tale after she scored that ridiculous Oscar nomination for The Impossible.That movie was manipulating as hell and that performance is Exhibit A.Weisz would have been my pick and it seems pretty much universal that Cotillard was a snub (although I cannot vouch for the movie).

Like others have said,Adore is ridiculous in a rather entertaining way although I wish it was more ridiculous to have gotten high-camp status that would at least have made this year worth it.

"(Although,to be fair,on paper Diana doesn't ping you as a mess - the director of The Fall,the subject matter,etc.I think on paper it's about equal to Adore.Once she actually read the script,well,there's no excusing that.)"

That's not Tarsem who directed Diana.He'd never make anything that bland-looking.It is Oliver Hirschbiegel who managed to fool the whole world with Downfall that he was a competent filmmaker and followed that up with The Invasion aka The Only Bad version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers ever made.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

She was also in Movie 43 this year,but then again so was everyone.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonn

Watts is a very good actress whose work I generally admire,but she doesn't inspire devotion or hatred like a Streep,a Kidman,a Blanchett or a Zellweger.She's in the Radha Mitchell/Maria Bello/Reese Witherspoon group for me.

The blondes,the blondes...

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Naomi deserved to be nominated for The Impossible,as Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Junior attest.If anyone shouldn't have been nominated it's Jennifer Lawrence.

Naomi shouldn't have said yes to Diana,but it doesn't mean people should write her off.She has got some very interesting projects coming up and I'm sure she will make a comeback.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

To be fair,Diana seemed to be a coveted role...Jessica Chastain was attached,briefly,but still.I feel for her,but she's good and respected,and talent will always bounce back.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Troy H.nailed it.There is something truly unremarkable about her.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBilly Held An Oscar

Troy H - Isn't that a little snooty to suggest that she would 'thrive' on network family dramas?As if this is somehow a 'lesser' form of acting?

A lot of the dislike for her performance in The Impossible seems to stem from the belief that she ousted Marion Cotillard rather than any critical engagement with the film/performance itself.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Ben,I think most of the critiques of Watts' nommed performance center on a role that is limited intrinsically to physical,visceral expression without the balanced nuance of a well-rounded human being.She was basically the star of 'disaster porn.'

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Probably she's not even in the top thousand of my favorite actresses but Ellie Parker convinced me that she could be exciting on screen.I still believe that she should do more comedies,her comedic timing is quite impressive actually.I don't think that grief is her stronger suit but apparently the Academy disagrees.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered Commenterhcu

"Naomi deserved to be nominated for The Impossible,as Angelina Jolie and Robert Downey Junior attest."

Come again?What?They voted for that performance?It's a showy role that is hugely sympathetic.Nothing too hard to chew on.I know 2012 plate was a pretty weak field but yeesh.I know people want to go,'But,Jennifer Lawrence....' yet my real issue with that was not performance but the categorization.Supporting performance made lead because she gets a lot of showy moments albeit in much more shades and spades than the Watts performance.

I wonder if Chastain being attached was just purely a PR thing for the movie's producers.She gets attached to a lot of stuff,some legit like Iron Man 3 and Oblivion (supporting roles she backed out of to take the Zero Dark Thirty role) but some seemed to reek of tepid interest that resulted in producers blowing up her involvement to make it sound great a la her being briefly mentioned as a finalist to the Rodham movie.Her actual quote about the movie in 2012 was,"There's some talks about that but next I'm going to Kathryn Bigelow's new film."I think she was playing nice with the press who were floating it more than her camp.

November 6,2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Ben: The implication wasn't that because she is a "lesser"actress,she should forfeit her film career for one in the "lesser"medium of television.I simply stated my opinion that her particular abilities would lend themselves well to small-screen success (critical raves,multiple Emmy wins,a new fan base).You inferred much more from my comments.

November 7,2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Ms.Watts may have had a bad year,but Whitney Houston's corpse has had a bad decade-and-a-half (at least),so how about pointing THAT out?Also,Gwyneth sucks even worse...

November 7,2013 | Unregistered CommenterKXB

She was fantastic in The Impossible;deserved it more than the winner,in my honest opinion.

November 7,2013 | Unregistered CommenterLalaland

Naomi Watts is bland,lacks any charisma and is very one dimensional,she doesn't possess the air,personality,elegance and presence to pull of roles like Diana.She is best suited to supporting parts like in "the impossible"and "J Edgar"

November 7,2013 | Unregistered Commenterlittle my

I thought her other film from this year,Sunlight Jr.,was great as was her performance in it.I also thought Adore was decent (not great) and that,again,her performance was strong.Reviews from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times claim that her performance is fantastic in Diana so I will wait to judge the performance until after I see it.I'd say for an actress in her mid-40's,she is still getting interesting and complex,if sometimes frustrating,lead roles which doesn't happen for everyone.The fact that she has already completed a slew of intriguing films for 2014 also bodes well for her career.I'd be more worried about A-list stars trying to cash in on their celebrity by appearing in sequels and tween films based on tween books.

November 7,2013 | Unregistered CommenterEric

KXB--tacky,very tacky.

November 7,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Ignore Watts at your own risk.Yes,she had a bad year but then who doesn't.You only have to look at her upcoming films [St.Vincent,Birdman,While We'are Young,Holland,Michigan] to know that she is still one of the most sought after actress in Hollywood.At 45,she is more in demand than many younger actresses.And then,you only have to look at last year to know that she is also one of the most respected actresses in the industry when a barrage of her colleagues came out to support her.Not only that,she is also well-liked within press and media and this becomes clear from the fact that even though Diana has been trashed,hardly anyone has been harsh on her,with many even praising her perfromance [including NYTimes and LA Times].

Finally,I am going to go ahead and predict that she will win Best Supporting Actress next year.I have read the screenplay of St.Vincent and her part of russian pregnant strip girl is phenomenal.No surprise,that when Deadline had reported her being cast in the film they described the role being chased by "every age appropriate actress in Hollywood."

November 7,2013 | Unregistered CommenterGautam

I'll add (rather brutally) that in interviews Naomi Watts comes across as a somewhat dim introvert sad-sack who I don't think (politically,anyway) makes a very likely Oscar winner of herself.Even at the low points of Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman's career they carry off a kind of thrilling exuberance about their work whereas Watts' tendencies seem much more nervous and insecure.

November 8,2013 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W.

I'm late to this post if not the game.Ms.Watts has to be discerning for the material that she herself worries she won't be offered.Comedies.

MOVIE 43 showed she's got the chops for it - she's got no qualms with body issues or sexual performance,as long as it fits the story (even in something as awful as SUNLIGHT JR,also of this year) - and hopefully,BIRDMAN,will have the buzz necessary for others to believe it.She's obviously blessed with talent and looks;she's got motherhood and working-actor-mate covered.Plus the great network and admired persona.

She should go loony in some comedy,indie or studio.Push Aniston out of the way;give Julianne Moore a break.Awards bait will soon come around again.

November 8,2013 | Unregistered Commenterska-triumph

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