YEAR IN REVIEW BEGINS NOW! Many Best ofs and Film Bitch Awards to follow...
Did you know that today marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of the controversial "Die Kinder und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales)" by the Brothers Grimm? (Google is celebrating) The book, a collection of fairy tales both pre-existing in oral form and original, has a complicated legacy in Germany and outside of it. But modern pop culture would be unthinkable without its existence. I mean without Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and the rest you'd have no "Into the Woods", no Grimm or Once Upon a Time, no gingerbread houses, and no global Disney Empire as we know it!
But today, when it comes to the legacy of the Brothers Grimm, I'm thinking about Snow White. If you're reading any list on "Entertainers of the Year" for 2012 and Snow White isn't present, there is a problem. Or if not Snow White (who has, on occassion, defined The Bland Protagonist), than the Evil Queen Stepmother. The Former Fairest of Them All nearly always pulls focus and ends up the defacto star of each iteration.
Earlier this year we celebrated the 75th anniversary of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) with an animated edition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and the cinema gave us not one not two but three new movie versions of the classic tale... [more]
Spain submitted Blancanieves a bullfighting themed interpretation for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, Julia Roberts returned in Mirror Mirror (reviewed) though the film will be remembered best as the swan song of the genius Oscar-winning costume designer Eiko Ishioka, and Snow White and the Huntsman (reviewed) starring Charlize Theron (interview), Chris Hemsworth, and Kristen Stewart became one of the year's top 20 biggest global hits pulling in nearly $400 million dollars.
Snow White at the Oscars?
Snow White and the Huntsman, while not exactly a consensus critical hit, may end the year as a multiple Oscar nominee. The rich-looking production already qualified for three Oscar finals lists: Visual Effects, Original Song, and Makeup and Hairstyling. But wait there's more! The film was shot by the indisputable "it" boy of cinematography Greig Fraser who made his name on Bright Star (2009, gah! the beauty) and who could theoretically be a multiple Oscar nominee on January 10th since he also shot Zero Dark Thirty and Killing Them Softly this year. If he is shut out for all three, it'll be a damn shame and one of the year's most egregious snubs. At the very least let's give him an MVP round of applause for amplifying the beauty of Kristen Stewart with his gorgeous lighting. She's still not fairer than Charlize Theron (plothole!) but she's the Fairest Kristen Stewart ever.
The most interesting Oscar battle for Snow White this year lies in costume design: Eiko Ishioka could win a post-humous nod for Mirror Mirror both in honor of her career and in awe of the candy colored, animal cute and gravity-defying costumes in Tarsem Singh's broadly comic rethink; Colleen Atwood, an indisputable Oscar darling with 9 nominations and 3 statues, could easily win a nomination for those evocative death-fetish ensembles on the Evil Queen alone (so many dead animal bones and plucked feathers); If so, it's Snow White vs. Snow White!
If Spain's Foreign Language Submission is nominated -- the finalist list winnowing the 70 foreign submissions down to a very small pre-nomination pool will arrive any day now -- it'll make an interesting trivia statistic consider that last year's Best Picture winner The Artist was also a silent film. Blancanieves takes the classic Snow White tale, removes the dialogue entirely (though music plays an absolutely crucial factor in this narrative) and squeezes the centuries-old tale into a toreador costume -- Snow White is no longer a princess but the daughter of a wealthy famous bullfighter. Once her mother dies and her father is injured, an evil nurse (Maribel Verdu) spots an opportunity and swoops in as caretaker and eventual new wife. Once she's in charge of the massive bank account, little Carmen (aka Snow White or Blancanieves) is reduced to an unwanted nuisance and ostensible orphan. If Blancanieves had only had an Oscar qualifying release this year (it's only eligible for Best Foreign Film) we could have seen three Snow White pictures in the hunt for a Costume Design nomination.
Maribel Verdu, so memorable in Y Tu Mama Tambien and Pan's Labyrinth, is a terrifically shady stepmother Bitch here and though she has no magic mirror, her vanity and need to be Fairest comes through loudly in this often clever spin. The dwarves are late arrivals in this version -- a miniature comic bullfighting act -- and when they take Snow White in a rich opportunity occurs to them.
It's the best Snow White feature of the year and Macarena García is definitely the fairest of the fair. Not for nothing Blancanieves also features the most ridiculously handsome dwarf actor I've ever seen (pictured left) though I'm not sure of the actor's name. Though the film has a couple of pacing problems -- all these homages to silent cinema keep forgetting how succinct silent films often were! They weren't all D.W. Griffith epics -- I was quite engaged by this new version which is beautiful and haunting and sometimes funny. I especially applaud its daring subversion of the typical romantic subplot and its more Grimm-like ending.
So here's to hoping that Pablo Berger's version makes the Foreign Finalist List at least.