Oscar Contenders

Watch 2014 Oscar Actress Roundtable with Adams, Winfrey, Spencer, Thompson, Roberts and Nyong'o

Our first look at the actors side of things

Lupita Nyong'o, Amy Adams, Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson and Julia Roberts
Lupita Nyong'o, Amy Adams, Oprah Winfrey, Octavia Spencer, Emma Thompson and Julia Roberts
Photo: The Hollywood Reporter / Joe Pugliese

The Hollywood Reporter has released their latest 2014 Oscar season roundtable, this time a sit down with six of this year's high profile, Oscar-contending actresses including Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Octavia Spencer (Fruitvale Station), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks) and Julia Roberts (August: Osage County).

The conversation begins asking the group about the best advice they've received in terms of acting, Winfrey tells a story from her time on the set of Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple and the advice she got from co-star Adolph Caesar and Adams tells a story from another Spielberg film, Catch Me if You Can. The mood is lightened when they're asked about any roles they won't play and Thompson lightens the mood but also offers some good advice for a lot of serious actresses looking to avoid stereotypical roles for women:

"Well, apart from the muff shot and things like that -- but let's not go there (laughter) -- there was a patch of time when I was in my 30s and just started [being offered] a whole string of roles that basically involved saying to a man, 'Please don't go and do that brave thing. Don't! No, no, no, no, no!' That's a trope, the stock woman who says, 'Don't do the brave thing.' I said no to all of them. I'm so proud."

This inevitably leads to the conversation regarding women in film and the roles being written for women and Thompson, again, boils it down to the simplest terms saying, "What the ding-dong heck is going on if this is still something we're talking about?"

Honestly, one of the more interesting things about the interview session on a whole is seeing Winfrey among this group of actors and trying to figure out if I think she has earned a place at the table. I also couldn't help but notice the absence of Jennifer Lawrence -- who is earning early raves for her work in American Hustle -- and wondering how she would be perceived and how she would fit in?

Personally I think Winfrey has proven herself to some degree, but the fact she isn't an actress in the same sense as the others makes me wish someone else would have taken her spot, as for Lawrence, I'm sure her commitment to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire immediately nixed her from taking part, but I would really be interested to see the dynamic between her and the others at the table. Both she and Nyong'o represent the next generation, both with different paths, and it would have created an even more interesting dynamic within the group in my opinion.

Give the full roundtable a watch below and when you're done you can find the writers roundtable here, the directors here, the cinematographers here and the producers here.

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  • carrie

    how many roundtables did Amy adams yet do ? i have the feeling that she's here every year

    • Marlon Wallace

      Amy Adams is like the David O'Russell of these things, though I did think that what she said about O'Russell was interesting.

    • yrabadi

      It's probably because she's nominated for an Oscar pretty much yearly. She's great.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/pauly418/ Paul

    Did you not see the Actors Roundtable this year? I ask because you've posted the others and I do believe that one was the first, or second, and it was a great watch. My apologies if you posted it and I just missed it ha.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Hmmmm, I must have missed it...

  • http://www.imdb.com/list/aqXTFXDPhQY/ Exxdee13

    Great roundtable, these women are amazing.

  • http://www.cinemaconfessions.com/ Gautam Anand

    Emma Thompson is one hell funny [and insightful]. I think she is one of the smartest, wittiest actors in Hollywood. She is the reason I found this roundtable to be the best among all in the series.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/ghislaine/ ghislaine

    Oprah just can't help herself from hosting, can she? But comparing her to the two ostensible hosts, she is so much smoother and quicker on the uptake and able to direct a discussion. You can really see her years of hosting experience.

    But sometimes it looks like Oprah doesn't think like an actor. When she said that Emma Thompson would be a good dinner party guest, it's like she's missed the point. Emma's wit, charm, quickness, ability to get to the heart of things and reground the action in no-bullshit, is what makes her a good actress, not a dinner party guest.

    And Amy Adams is such a good sport. I admire her inner toughness and perseverance. Some years, she's looked like she's thought to herself "you're not going to win, so just keep your mouth closed, and don't make a fool of yourself". This year, it's like she's found the part to play during the round tables, cheerful and gracious participant. But as a supporting player, careful to immediately cede attention to the "stars".

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

    This was probably the best one so far, mainly because they actresses were able to break away from the THR script at points and actually have conversations with each other to a greater degree than with any of the others so far this year. A couple takeaways:

    1. Emma Thompson is hilarious. I loved pretty much everything she said; unfortunately the movie she's in looks like completely saccharine Disney fluff.

    2. What Oprah said about Chinese movies (and by extension all foreign movies) was sad but at the same time you can't say it isn't true. I'm just glad that foreign movies get the exposure they get in artsy circles and on sites like this, but I can't help wondering that for every Blue is the Warmest Color (which is one of the very best movies I've seen all year), how many other foreign movies are out there that might be just as good but aren't getting the exposure? Speaking of Blue and Brad's talk of different perspectives, how great would it have been if Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux could have been included? I think their perspectives would have been great, particularly Adele who is completely outside Hollywood, and Lea has quite a range of projects she's done as well.

    3. It sounds like Amy Adams may just not enjoy doing heavy dramas. That's sad to hear from someone so talented.

    4. It's impossible not to notice how some of these women, Julia Roberts in particular, completely fawned over Oprah. People in Hollywood absolutely adore her, which is why there isn't a snowball's chance in hell of her not winning this year.

  • Morpheos

    Jennifer Lawrence is the Chandler of actresses. She can't seem to be able to say something of substance or serious. She seems like a deer cought in a headlight. But it's what makes her schtick "charming". Her humour fits with late night talk show hosts.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/navaneethks/ navaneethks

    VERY disappointed that Cate Blanchett wasn't in this roundtable discussion.