"If I were a woman," Rob Reiner said in a video of congratulatory messages for Annette Bening at the Plaza Hotel where this sublime actress was feted at the New York Stage & Film Gala, "I'd be jealous." Even those of us attending, with so many who worked with her or want to work with her, including Billy Crudup, John Patrick Shanley, Peter Gallagher, Julianne Marguiles, Jennifer Westfeldt, Greta Gerwig, a who's who of stage, television, and screen including her co-honoree David Rockwell, admired Bening's stellar career on stage and in movies-- some favorites include American Beauty, The Grifters, and The Kids are All Right. Next up she is Irina in Chekhov's The Seagull. With her husband Warren Beatty who was also present, she is Hollywood royalty.
But to hear her speak, she's all about the work, and incredibly grounded. The next day at Bistro Milano, Bening joined Greta Gerwig and Mike Mills, her director in the new movie Twentieth Century Women, for a panel discussion. As was his wont in Beginners, a movie hewing close to the life of Mills' father, this movie features a whimsical mother figure casually limning the life of his, Dorothea Fields, in California in the '70's, played so well by Annette Bening, she is sure to be nominated for this year's Best Actress Oscar. Mills said he learned from the poet Allen Ginsberg about creating drama inspired by his life. Twentieth Century Women is not too far from everyone's sense of the 1970's, the artifacts especially. Annette Bening recounted her saying to Mike Mills, as they were making the film, you want to see that macramé bag. I have that macramé bag, and sure enough, she unearthed it.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.