Many women have been called “The It Girl” throughout the past century, but it’s Clara Bow that the term was created for. The actress who helped define what it meant to be a flapper in the 1920s played a shop-girl who wins the heart of her employer in the 1927 box office hit “It” and soon was being called “The It Girl.” Bow had “It” in spades: that sex appeal and vivacious charm that defined the modern woman. And yet, for all her success, Bow had a challenging life and struggled with mental health problems. She once said: “All the time the flapper is laughing and dancing, there’s a feeling of tragedy underneath. She’s unhappy and disillusioned and that’s what people sense.”
Earlier this year, “Miss Americana” (2020) was released on Netflix. The documentary delves into Taylor Swift’s status as “America’s sweetheart” and the pressures it puts on her. What it also shows is how this perception of her sometimes masks what a brilliant businesswoman she is and how she’s built her own empire from the ground up. But Swift isn’t the first curly-haired blonde to be called “America’s sweetheart” and whose impressive business acumen is often overlooked. Mary Pickford might be best known as the original ingénue and the “girl with the curls,” but she was also a founder of the United Artists film studio and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She was one of the most powerful figures in the early days of Hollywood and achieved so much in her eighty-seven years. Not only beautiful and talented, she learned to negotiate pay raises for herself to reflect her wild popularity and became a producer of both her own and other films.
Pixar’s latest offering, “Onward,” is more than just your normal magical animated film; it’s a touching tale of brotherly love that deals with grief, learning to believe in yourself, and the awkwardness of your teenage years. Directed by Dan Scanlon, who previously worked on “Monsters University” (2013) for the studio, the movie feels both cleverly unique and markedly Pixar. “Onward” is the story of brothers Ian and Barley, elves who live in a world in which modern technology has replaced magic long ago. It resembles our normal world, but populated by magical creatures from sprites to cyclops. While older brother Barley is obsessed with the magical past and the game Quests of Yore, Ian is just trying to celebrate his 16th birthday and not make a fool of himself in front of his classmates. When a special birthday gift offers Ian the chance to meet the father who passed away while he was still a baby, the two must go on a real quest of their own.
February is the month of Valentine’s Day and of love, so it’s the perfect time to discuss romantic comedies. Over the past few years, Netflix has produced a plethora of original rom-coms. While not all of them are top-notch quality (yes, I’m thinking of the slew of Noah Centineo vehicles they made after the success of “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” (2018)), they’ve proven themselves to be the top studio for this sort of movie.
“Mr. Jones” tells the story of a young Welsh journalist named Gareth Jones who uncovered the truth of the Holodomor, a man-made famine in the Ukraine in the early 1930s. It is a socio-political thriller as Jones (James Norton) pursues the story despite threats to his own safety. Written by first-time screenwriter Andrea Chalupa and directed by Polish director Agnieszka Holland, the film stumbles along the way but is held up by great performances and a story that needs to be told.
It's hard to fathom that an actress as talented as Knightley has no Oscars to her name and only two nominations. She deserved nominations and should have been considered for her performances in “Atonement” and “Colette,” amongst other performances throughout her varied career. Hopefully, she will receive her long-awaited and much deserved Oscar some day in the future.
Looking back on the past decade, one of the best and most overlooked leading actress performances is Gugu Mbatha-Raw in “Belle” (2013). It was a strong year for leading ladies at the Oscars, with Amy Adams, Sandra Bullock, Judi Dench, and Meryl Streep nominated and Cate Blanchett taking home the award. And yet, Mbatha-Raw’s performance is one of those that sticks out to me the most when reflecting on the past decade in film. She certainly deserved to be a contender, but unfortunately, though the film garnered mostly positive reviews, it simply wasn’t widely seen.
With “The Gentleman” (2020), Guy Ritchie attempts to prove that he’s still the king of British gangster films, but he falls a bit short. It's certainly an entertaining romp as a myriad of charming and talented actors get into all sorts of scrapes while trying to pass a booming marijuana business into different hands. Despite the film’s strong points, it lacks cohesion and the treatment of its only central female character is abysmal.
To celebrate the last decade 2010-2019 we are counting down the best actresses and discussing some of their most notable and memorable performances of the last decade. With the help of Film Twitter, the ITOL team have selected 30 actresses. Entry No. 16 is Margot Robbie, and writer Nicole Ackman discusses Robbie’s career over the last decade.