If only

Since Nat news is still a bit quiet I decided to spend some time working on something a bit different. What I’ve done is come up with 10 films that I wish Natalie had been in. I had two rules though.

1 – It must be a film released or seen by me within the last 12 months.

2 – Natalie must, in my mind, be right for the role.

Today I have the first 5 films and probably later this weekend I’ll have part 2 ready.

Feel free to make your own suggestions on the forum or in the comments.

Here we go…

#10 – The Fall

This film plays out like a sister film to Pans Labyrinth. Like Pans, it involves a young girl and a fantasy world of her creation. The harsh real world contrasting with a rich fantastical world. Lee Pace, of Pushing Daisies fame, stars alongside a young girl, Catinca Untaru, and both of them give amazing performances for very different reasons. The film has some of the most interesting and sumptuous visuals you’ll ever see but its the heart of the story that leaves the biggest impression.

ReplacingJustine Waddell

But why? Honestly, there isn’t much to the character. The story is about the man and the little girl and everything else is a bit peripheral. No, the real reason I wish Natalie was in this part would be because its a project that took so much heart, commitment and integrity to create. It was shot over 4 years and in 28 countries and as Roger Ebert said “its a movie that you might want to see for no other reason than because it exists. There will never be another like it.” The role might forgettable but the film and the story of how it got made is anything but.

#9 – Dedication

The synopsis for IMDB is as follows – “The romantic comedy follows a misogynistic children’s book author who is forced to work closely with a female illustrator instead of his long-time collaborator and only friend.”

Billy Crudup really revels in his role of the author. He’s full of tics and issues and strikes out at every opportunity, like a less charming Dr House. Mandy Moore plays the female illustrator trying to put up the authors prickly personality as they both try and meet a deadline. What was so interesting about the film is how it works the romcom cliches while giving the impression that its doing the exact opposite. Protagonists are not meant to be like that. Deerhoof and Joanna Newsom are the musical cues…are they mad? That tight rope walk between breaking the rules and following them really worked for me.

ReplacingMandy Moore

But why? Aside from just really digging the film, I feel that Natalie could have done what Mandy did and brought a bit extra to the role. Billy’s character is so fantastic that you almost forget about Mandy at times. She’s not bad but I think it would have been a better fit for Natalie. I’m ready for a new romance with a bit of edge (like Garden State) for Natalie.

#8 – Definitely Maybe

This film had no right being good. Everything I heard about it made it seem like it would be generic romcom #5873. You’ve got Ryan Reynolds, as a young dad, telling his precocious daughter (via flashbacks) about his past relationships. The kicker being that she doesn’t know which of the women in the story is her mom. We, the audience, are in the same position. Unless you have a brain, in which case you’ll work it out half way through. See? Look how easily it is to dump on. But even though its not exactly reinventing the wheel, the writing and characters are really on point. As a date movie its perfect but I would recommend it to just about anyone.

ReplacingIsla Fisher

But why? Isla is total cutie and she’s great in this role. It’s not that I think Natalie could do a better job, as was the case with Dedication. It’s simply such a likable movie and character and there are so few traditional romcom’s that work for me. I think every guy wishes he can find a girl like that.

#7 – Transsiberian

Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer take a train from China into Russia. On the train they meet another couple and…well let’s just say bad things happen. The first 2/3rds of this film is a total blast. It’s tense and arresting, with a lovely slow unraveling of the thriller elements. Unlike so many thrillers, it’s content to take its time and keep its cards close to the chest. The train ride through the remote Russian landscape is such a great setting for this kind of film. Unfortunately, it didn’t really sustain itself all the way through but its still well worth seeing.

ReplacingEmily Mortimer

But why? Its more the fault of the writing but the character had me tearing my hair out towards the end. Maybe Nat could have sold some of the character decisions a bit better…or maybe not. What is more important to me is that she finally does a thriller. Granted, there aren’t that many quality thrillers these days, having been overtaken by torture-porn films like Saw and its ilk, which just makes this missed opportunity even more frustrating. Good fit, good film, new genre…if only…

#6 – Lars And The Real Girl

Lars, played by Ryan Gosling, is a simple guy living in a small town. He’s got some childhood issues that manifest in the delusion that a blow up doll is a real women. Not just any women – his girlfriend. If you don’t know about the film you’d think you were in for a cheap gross out comedy. However, this movie is as sweet natured as you’ll ever see. The oscar nominated script is perfect, taking a tacky concept and infusing it with tons of heart, humour and depth. At several points I was left in amazement that they were pulling it off.

ReplacingEmily Mortimer

But why? Sorry, Emily. Maybe Natalie needs to swap agents with her or something. Ryan Gosling is one of my favourite actors, so I would love to see Natalie acting alongside him. That would be a draw in itself, regardless of the film. Luckily Lars is an absolute gem that really could and should have broken out like Juno was able to. I guess some people just struggle to get beyond the conceit. Emily’s character is also a bit of a Plain Jane, which might have been a nice change from Natalie always playing “the gorgeous girl”. I think she could pull off a slightly more homely look…okay, maybe not 😛

To be continued…