Oscar History

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The Surprising Year-End Aesthetics of John Waters

For a filmmaker whose movies are so instantly recognizably HIS and his alone, John Waters's annual top ten list adventure at Artforum is not what you'd expect... until you've followed it for a few years that is. It's not the crazy comic camp-fest his movies would suggest. There's usually a mix of outre movies, risque movies, documentaries, and the highbrow dramas. He's all over the place. Literally. Though the 66 year old director hasn't made a movie in eight years he recently hitchhiked across the country and is writing a book about it ("Carsick") to be published next year.

John ♥ Rachel

His number one choice is The Deep Blue Sea... and after Rachel Weisz's win at the NYFCC that movie is suddenly being talked up again.

1 The Deep Blue Sea
Paradise: Faith
Paradise: Love
4 Amour

Misery is really in this year. “Hurts! Hurts! Hurts!” yells out the dying elderly wife to her longtime-caretaker husband, and ticket buyers will agree. Makes Saw seem like a romantic comedy.


Killer Joe
6 Beasts of the Southern Wild
Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

Another crackpot Umbrellas of Cherbourg homage by the French director who adores unrequited love, cigarettes, Catherine Deneuve, and especially Louis Garrel. Yes, it’s L-O-N-G, but I wished the characters would have kept on singing in the theater even after the projectionist had gone home for the night.

I include this bit about Beloved because I was so curious as to what he saw in it. I tend to like Christophe Honore's films -- possibly because I share his love of love, cigarettes, musicals, and actresses ... but this film loses its way after a terrific start. Or maybe it finds too many ways after a terrific start. It's all over the place. Very first drafty, every idea included. 

10 The Imposter (on the documentary finalist list for Oscar)

Read John Waters top ten article here

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Reader Comments (15)

Do you think Rachel has a shot? I mean, it's a March release, nobody saw it (did you see?) and she is not due like Melissa Leo, for example.

(I've seen only parts of it at a friend's house when I was visiting him, and his wife was lovin it. I think I should borrow the dvd, but Rachel looked brilliant in it).

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Waters' Serial Mom is a fave of mine. A brilliant dissection of contemporary suburban hypocrisy. Kathleen Turner was robbed of an Oscar nomination. Stunning work.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

John Waters is wonderfully idiosyncratic. I love the projected title of his new book, "Carsick".

I haven't seen The Deep Blue Sea yet, but Weisz has delivered another good performance this year as well, in a different genre, as an action heroine in the latest Bourne movie. She's also delivered strong lead performances in the past few years in movies that weren't acknowledged much, Agora and The Whistleblower.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradri


I am not saying she is not a great actress (she is), but she is an Oscar winner, after all, so, she is not overdue.

I can see no reason to anyone to vote for her. The only reason is the performance, but we know how it works. Nobody gets nominated on the performance only.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Saying Rachel isn't overdue because she's already a winner means no one should complain about the women of '07 never receiving a subsequent nomination again.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Did Rachel Weisz sell her soul to the devil to get all this buzz,I can''t think of a lesser deserving performance than hers in The Deep Blue Sea.

What do people see in it? I saw her trying and if you can see her trying isnt that beside that point?

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLittle MY

cal, you're right. Besides the actor's performance, the Academy also considers body of work, popularity of the movie in question, pedigree of the film, other movies the actor appeared in that year, complexity of the role, and, of course, the ever-popular sentimental factor.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Cal -- it's certainly interesting that all this love for the movie is cropping up suddenly. But it's still going to be a herculean feat to hurdle all the current buzz-mongers.

brookesboy ---ah Kathleen. Always so watchable. I wish the movies could rediscover her in some way.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternathanielr

Nathan, she IS soooo watchable...love the way you put that! Even in something truly horrible like Undercover Blues she remains untainted. LOL. She was delicious in The Man With Two Brains. Sigh.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Yes, Weisz is a long shot, but please let us dream that such a refined performance might get a chance in this era of obviousness.

PS Serial Mom 2 please!

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

This is the kind of post that makes me adore The Film Experience. Reading the "top tens of the year" or "favorites of all time" or "films I think suck" lists from directors I appreciate is one of the single biggest pleasures I get out of being a film fan. It is always so terribly interesting to see what makes the cut. And to discover which filmmakers are a pleasure to read, and which ones are full of shit.

John Waters has fantastic taste.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJesse

I actually see Weisz as the clearest choice for some reason. But then again most of the fall releases I've seen are male-driven ones, go figure.

I also have a feeling that Waters put The Deep Blue Sea on the top of his list because of Rachel Weisz licking Tom Hiddleston. I mean that Lady Collier is a weirdo, in a good way.

December 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

@Jesse I could not agree more about John Waters. I think part of what makes his taste so great is that he is a filmmaker and really a human being who has always questioned what it means to be "good". A lot of the time I think film critics and filmmakers are blind to why they make their choices, and they just tend to follow the artistic and really cultural norms that dictate what a "good" movie is. Which leads to a lot of middlebrow work. And I think that shows up both artistically, in the sense that filmmakers make movies that are dull and lifeless but seemingly important and self serious, and in the work that critics do, meaning that you see critics cowtowing to the works of directors who are perceived to be important at the expense of new voices. John Waters doesn't play that game. And I love him for it.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTB

"Deep Blue Sea" keeps popping up because it's a damn good movie.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

"Did Rachel Weisz sell her soul to the devil to get all this buzz,I can''t think of a lesser deserving performance than hers in The Deep Blue Sea."

Having see almost all of the actresses performances this year, Rachel Weisz is with out a doubt in my mind the best.

December 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSamantha

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