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In case you missed it, The Thin Man remake appears to be really and truly going forward.  As a fan of the series, I was pretty excited when I heard the rumors last year, so I’m glad it seems closer to happening.  Some may balk at the idea of messing with a classic.  But the original film had numerous sequels.  And as Hart to Hart, Moonlighting, Remington Steele (or Bones and Castle, if you prefer more recent incarnations) all show, attractive couples solving mysteries while engaging in non-stop witty repartee is a pretty timeless formula.

Rob Marshall is directing, which…I dunno.  Wouldn’t have been my first choice.  And Johnny Depp is playing Nick Charles, which should be interesting.  Depp clearly is capable of knocking a fast-talking smarter-than-thou boozehound out of the park.  So what of his wife, Nora?  The role, which vaulted Myrna Loy to stardom, requires a rather particular set of qualities.  Nora is a wealthy socialite who is every bit Nick’s equal in brains and alcohol tolerance.  And while they both may be familiar with the concept of manners, Nora is only one of the pair who actually puts them into practice, save for opportunities to take playful jabs at her husband.

Anyway, here are some names off the top of my head I’d toss out for Nora, if I got to cast her on an unlimited budget:

Rachel Weisz  is the first person who came to mind when I think about this.  And apparently, I’m not the only one.  Her performances in The Mummy and The Brothers Bloom suggest she’s got the comedic (both verbal and physical) chops needed to take on the role, and she does have an Oscar on the mantle.

Maybe it is my Bond-bias talking (if Gemma Arterton were about ten years older, this role would be perfect), but I think Rosamund Pike has been woefully underused.  I guess I haven’t really seen her in a straight comedic role yet, but she was cast in Johny English sequel, so someone thinks she can do it.  Compare her to Halle Berry in Die Another Day.  If she can so adroitly handle the quips there, she’ll do wonders with a more intelligent script.

Between Happy-Go-Lucky and Made in Dageham, Sally Hawkins clearly has the independent woman thing down.  Her Nora would perhaps be a little softer than Loy’s, but I think the only real question is how well she’d blend with Johnny Depp.

Frankly, I’m surprised Reese Witherspoon‘s name hasn’t come up more often.  Other than the whole being blond thing, she’s a fantastic fit.  If you only remember the romantic comedies, don’t forget she’s tackled two pretty big British works (Vanity Fair and The Importance of Being Earnest) and has an Oscar.  In a roundabout way, her June Carter is very much like Nora Charles.

I’ve always wanted to see Kate Winslet tackle a slightly less…depressing film.  She doesn’t have a rich comedy background, but she was pretty funny in Extras.  Nora Charles needs to fit in with the salt of the earth and high society, and I’m pretty certain Winslet could run that gamut.  Plus, she already successfully paired up once with Johnny Depp (you didn’t forget Finding Neverland was nominated for seven Oscars, did you?)

She’s actually turning 33 this month, Ginnifer Goodwin just plays young.  Don’t forget, Loy wasn’t a star until after the film.  And hey, it is my list, I’m allowed to play favorites if I want.  Besides, anyone who can handle Ed’s dialogue can take on the inevitable rat-a-tat lines that will be in this film’s script.

Of course, my Mom makes an excellent point.  All of this is pretty irrelevant.  The only casting decision that really matters is figuring out who is going to play Asta.

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The Oscar races are continuing to shake out and I think we generally know who is in the ballpark for the major awards at this point. This sort of winnowing happens every year for better or for worse. It can be helpful to know that some of your favorites have no shot so as to avoid the frustration on nomination morning. Or it can keep hopes alive so that they are cruelly crushed (see: Dark Knight). And it can be a joy to watch as time goes on and your favorite longshot still holds on (see: Richard Jenkins).

A couple developments in the Best Actor race seem notable to me.

The first is that Johnny Depp in Public Enemies has completely fallen off the map. Thank goodness. The film is one of my biggest disappointments of the year. I’ll never know how such a stylish film based on such an interesting character with an interesting life could be so dull. I never thought I’d care so little about seeing the back of Depp’s head blown off. In all it’s not a bad film, but I forgot about it about 30 minutes after leaving the theater.

Not to disparage Depp, but if he was still in the running at this point it would only be on name value alone. And when that happens it drives me nuts. (Of course when I expect the hype to be based on the name and the performance really does deliver it’s always wonderful; see: Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia.)

Completely countering my joy of not having to discuss an underwhelming Michael Mann film here is how ignored The Informant! has become. Matt Damon should be a lock for a nomination and on the inside track for the win. Instead all you hear about him is a possible Supporting nod for Invictus. What a shame. Thank goodness for the Golden Globes (the first/only time I’ll ever say that?) for giving him some proper recognition.

There’s no film from 2009 I’m more excited to see again than The Informant! and it doesn’t even appear to have a DVD release date yet. Steven Soderbergh saw a tale of corporate price collusion, somehow thought it’d make a great zany comedy, and then totally nailed the necessary timing and tone. Quite an accomplishment and, to me, the underachieving box office disappointment of the year.

At this point Damon probably has to fade in the Supporting Actor race and over take either Jeremy Renner or (hopefully!) Morgan Freeman to make it to Oscar night. Needless to say that looks unlikely. At least a Best Score nomination for Marvin Hamlisch seems probable at this point so at least one major piece of this remarkable work could get recognized.

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