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Ask Nathaniel

I haven't done a Q&A in so long. And since I must hunker down and transcribe a bajillion interviews for y'all, I turn it over to you to inspire me with questions to answer inbetween the interviews so that we don't have to change the title of the blog to The Interview Experience. You know I strive for variety.

I apologize for my molasses pace this December. 2012 has long since turned into a personal nightmare cinematic experiment in recreating Steven Soderbergh's Contagion over and over again. This morning I had to turn down a breakfast with Ben Affleck so as to rescue him from my flu germs. Congratulate me on my altruism! 

Okay... time for your questions. Ready. Set. Go...

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Reader Comments (49)

What would you eat for breakfast?

I kid...
Real question: Is there a movie character that inspires you? Like, you would like to become more like him/her? Fictional, that is. Not in a biopic. (And you can't say Sally Hawkins character in HGL. Too obvious :p)

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

What ten characters from any movie ever would you put inside the Big Brother house? lol

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I hope this is okay, but I'm going to repost a slightly tweaked version of my question from a previous, uncompleted Ask Nathaniel, because I think it's a really good question.

With all the fuss over the brilliance/awfulness (depending on who you ask) of Peter Jackson's use of 48fps, I hear people insisting that "it's the way the movie was meant to be seen." And this isn't the first time that argument has been made. What's your opinion on that? Do you think that certain movies absolutely must be seen in 48fps/in 3D/on Blu-ray/with Dolby Hardcore Mega-Surround Sound, or else you're going to lose an essential part of the viewing experience? In short, are there some movies that must be seen a certain way?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLiz N.

I can't. You continue to do what you do Nathan. You miss out on seeing The Master theatrically—now you decline Breakfast at Affleck's. You live a charmed existence but like Streep wallow in mediocre choices. 2013 has to be a beginning of a new you.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

sad man: Interesting question. I'd say two rules would make this REALLY INTERESTING: 1. Character has to originally come from a movie, not from comics, not from traditional literature, not from a video game, not from a TV show and not from real life. 2. Character can't be shown dying on screen.

My Picks, considering those rules:

1. Ashley J. "Ash" Williams (Evil Dead Series)
2. Mia Williams (Fish Tank, which I'd encourage everyone to see)
3. Nicholas Angel (Hot Fuzz)
4. Derek Zoolander
5. Boris Lermontov (The Red Shoes)
6. Louis Mazzini (Kind Hearts and Coronets, my favourite movie as a comedy.)
7. Hulot (Hulot series by Tati)
8. Guido Anselmi (8 1/2)
9. Tuco (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly)
10. Conductor 71 (A Matter of Life and Death) (Marius Goring is just having a BLAST in that film.)

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Alright. Pick your 5 favorite michelle pfeiffer films and recast her role with current actresses around the same age level she was when she played them. Who would fill her shoes best?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZach

Fudge on the 8 1/2 suggestion. Forgot he was an author stand in. Replace Guido with Mickey O'Neill.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

You always say Diane Lane is a movie star without the movies. What type of part would you like to see her play? Is there a certain director that could capitalize on that brilliant, oscar-nominated work she displayed in Unfaithful? Discuss...

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Second fudge. Louis Mazzini was from a book. Oops. Replace with Clarence Worley from True Romance.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

What would make you blissfully happy when the Oscar nominations come out in a month or so? The one singular nomination that would satisfy you the most.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

What do you think of the positive buzz around Eddie Redmayne for Les Mis? I love the idea of a young male actor having a breakthrough role in a musical.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmes

I'm finding that the older I get, the more easily distracted I am at the movies, either by other patrons or by my own thoughts. Lately, I've had great movies spoiled either by rude patrons talking throughout (Rabbit Hole, Take Shelter), or by workaday stress (Moneyball might be a bad movie to watch when you've got job-related stress keeping you down.)
I'm curious if you find you're able to push all distractions aside when you're at the movies, or if you find that the quality of the movie affects your ability to focus on it (if that makes sense).

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

If you were an actor/actress, who's career would you most like to have?

or for the current matter at hand,

After eating a delicious chocolate croissant, Ben Affleck is in a good mood and permits you to ask him ANYTHING your heart desires. What do you ask?

Sad Man's question is pretty fun too but that's just because i'm a huge Big Brother fan. I want Cristal Conners from Showgirls in there. Every season needs a master manipulator and from the way she constantly screwed with Nomi's head, she'd a good pick. Plus, she's fun and there is a huge potential for outrageousness and lesbian activities.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

If an Oscar race were hypothetically a long overdue favorite of yours (say, Julianne Moore) in a role you thought to be merely good up against a mind-blowing, career-best performance from someone who already has an Oscar (say, Meryl Streep, who has three), would you hope for the overdue actor to win, or do you strictly believe in giving Oscars to the best performances of the year, no matter what?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdwin

Is Jessica Chastain the new Winslet?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Sundance Film Festival 2013: Movie Premiere Line-Up
If you only had the opportunity to watch 5 movies during the next edition of Sundance Film Fesitval, which would you choose and why? (It's obvious you would never be able to deny the Nicole Kidman-starred "Stoker")

* A.C.O.D.
* Before Midnight
* Big Sur
* Breathe In
* Don Jon's Addiction
* The East
* The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
* jOBS
* The Look of Love
* Lovelace
* The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman
* Prince Avalanche
* Stoker
* Sweetwater
* Top of the Lake
* Two Mothers
* Very Good Girls
* The Way, Way Back

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEd

Sorry, I somehow deleted part of my question.

Is Jessica Chastain the new Kate Winslet? I come to this question via their extreme talent, knack for picking interesting roles in interesting and often great films. For me, she's at the spot Winslet, and Blanchett, were at ten years ago, where their every single next role gets me giddy.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

I have two and I can't decide which one I'd rather have you answer. SORRY!

1. Is there any novel or play that you think was IMPROVED UPON by its film version?

2. How do you define a "movie star turn" (and what are your top five)? This is inspired by a comment you recently made about Jennifer Lawrence giving a "good movie star turn" in Silver Linings Playbook (who, incidentally, I thought gave a better and better performance as the film went along, which surprised me a great deal).

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Are you excited for Baz Luhrmann's take on The Great Gatsby? How do you think DiCaprio and Mulligan look in their roles? Are they more fitting than Redford and Farrow?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTyler

Game Change gets a November threatrical release rather than being released on HBO-what categories would it be competing in, if any?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

You did a poll on the possible "Catwoman" spin off but I'm curious to know YOUR take on it/any other future Batman spin-offs and sequels. What do you think should be the next step in the Batman series? Or none at all? (For now?)

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuke

Tyler, this is going to sound terribly mean, but I just don't think Mulligan is pretty enough to play Daisy. In the book, she's described as enchanting, magical, beautiful. I think Farrow was very good and well-cast in the part. Redford, however, brought everything down with a pale performance. I think he was trying for enigmatic, but it came off as indifferent. I think Leo is a very good choice for Gatsby.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Nathan, how would you induce the Academy to resume the live on-air presentations of the honorary and lifetime achievement awards, as they should be? These luminaries have earned this and deserve to be in the spotlight.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Selina Kyle or Susie Diamond?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Banks

Are you finally converted to Cotillardism?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Would you say your fascination/love/obsession with movies was a gradual phenomenon that evolved over the years? Or can you attribute a specific moment or movie in your life that triggered this passion (for example, mine all started with "The Wrester," and specifically Mickey Rourke's performance)? Also, out of all the elements in films, why do you respond the most to acting than to directing, writing, cinematography, etc.?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

What's your educational experience? How has that allowed you to explore your love for film?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Do you remember the first time you went to the movies? What are your memories of that day?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

What were the five movies that surprised you the most qualitatively? Both positive and negative?

P.S. It doesn't have to be five. Any number.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulien Faddoul

This morning I had to turn down a breakfast with Ben Affleck so as to rescue him from my flu germs.


December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLove me...forever

I just watched "Hitchcock" yesterday and I think James D'Arcy and Scarlett Johansson were just outstanding. Since they are playing Hollywood "icons", do you think they can get an Oscar nomination if the studio campaign for them?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarc

Elizabeth Banks seems to be the Jessica Chastain of 2012, with so many movies released with such a wide range of performance. Yet nobody's nominating her for anyrhing, not even an Emmy for 30 Rock. What do you think of her multiple performances in Men on a Ledge, Hunger Games, What to Expect When You're Expecting, People Like Us and Pitch Perfect this year?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Have you seen THE GIRL, about Hitchcock and Tippi Hedren, and if so, what did you think of it?

Should Suraj Sharma be nominated for Best Actor for LIFE OF PI?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRC

Hey Nathaniel. Who is your favourite of the two grand dames, Maggie and Judi?

By the way, I think you'll appreciate this insane impression of Maggie Smith here:

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBen

@Ben: Haha. Maggie Smith impressions are the best. Here's one I hope you haven't seen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmKWyVXigQw

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Something that comes up every Oscar season is the question of repeat winners and whether someone should be banned from winning an Oscar once they've already won one (I know very few people buy into that), but then comes work that is hard to ignore from someone who has already won an Oscar (such as Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, or Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan). My question is, who do you think is the most deserving "second Oscar" winner (or third if you feel someone's most deserving award is their third)? If you would like to do one for the acting categories, one director, one writer, one editor, one cinematographer, one composer and (the one I'm sure you'd love to do) one costume designer, I'd love to hear your take on all of these.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRichter Scale

Why do people keep saying "Nathan"? The title of the post is clearly "Ask Nathaniel". Who is this Nathan person? Anyway NATHANIEL I am a big Meryl Streep fan as I know you are but like you I usually find her choice in films/directors quite mundane, So if it were up to you to choose her next 5 films (the type of role and/or which director she would be working with) what would they be?
P.S. This also applies lately to Kate Winslet who is still my favourite actress but who doesn't seem half as adventurous as she used to.

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

Just to add to my previous comment, don't you think it would be really exciting to see what Streep could do with a director that really pushed her instead of her carrying a crappy to mediocre film for once?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

What can we do to prevent the child from Beasts of the Southern Shaky Handheld Camera Operated by a Moron Who Was Drunk Throughout Production from getting an unnecessary Best Actress nomination?

December 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

nathaniel, would you like if the academy released the final ranking of nominees from old editions of the oscar? what particular years and categories would interest you the most (in knowing who were the runners-up, 3rd places etc)?

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I don't think you've ever discussed Bollywood cinema; what do you think of Bollywood overall and do you have a favourite actor or film(s).

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I love that Big Brother question so much, have to do it... (even number of guys and girls, of course!)

1. The Bride (Uma Thurman) from Kill Bill
2. Jake LaMotta (Robert DeNiro) from Raging Bull
3. Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) from The Godfather
4. Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) from Network
5. Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) from Gone With the Wind
6. Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) from Psycho
7. Henry II (Peter O'Toole) from The Lion in Winter
8. Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katherine Hepburn) from The Lion in Winter
9. The Joker (Heath Ledger) from The Dark Knight
10. Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) from Sunset Boulevard

The big secret of the season, of course, would be Henry and Eleanor's marriage. Then there would be a second couple who come in late (teams twist?), George (Burton) and Martha (Taylor) from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? If I had to put down money early, I'd go with The Bride.

My question for Nathaniel: I know this season must be crazy busy for you right now, but the Nicole Kidman interview...? I want to hear about its dreamy qualities in detail.

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

I can't be the first person to have this thought, but regarding the odd Best Actress situation, do you think there could be a chance Anne Hathaway might jump to Lead Actress and win?

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJS

In lieu of finishing the Film Bitch Awards, what are some scenes of 2011 that are still indelible in your mind?

(What can I say, I am a "completionist") ;)

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkin

@ BrianZ,

Jessica could be the new Blanchett - yes, but I can't see Winslet comparisons.

Balnchett has the more exciting career of the two.
Check Blanchett and Winslet's IMDb pages, compare and contrast and you'll see what I'm talking about.

That statement would hold true with their recent projects.

Cate has:
- 3 more Galadriels,
- Carol,
- 2 Terrence Malicks,
- a Woody Allen,
- a Mark Romanek Ice Queen (Cinderella),
- and what do you know? some hours ago it was revealed that
"The Monuments Men" have a new release date: DECEMBER 20, 2013 :)
- throw in a romantic film directed by Barbra Streisand and the Gal has it all.

Last but not least, Jessica, just like Cate, is devoted to theater. Winslet is not.

December 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

/3rtful -- i think it's kind of rude to say it's a mediocre choice to turn down a breakfast with Ben Affleck when I was feverish and coughing up my lung, you know? This is not a mediocre choice but a sucky necessary one. I also had to miss a DJANGO screening. On one point we agree: 2013 needs to be a new start for me. 2012 has been an extraordinarily sucky one for me on a number of levels.

December 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Okay, I know I already asked two questions, but I just turned on TCM while making pancakes (as you do) and saw Debbie Reynolds using an Oscar to crack nuts in Susan Slept Here, with Dick Powell and Anne Francis. Have you seen it and did that scene make you laugh or cry? I laughed my ass off!

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I love you. My post was meant to be humorous and playfully bitchy instead of unfeeling and cruel. I know sick people shouldn't socialize and do everything they can to get well soon.

I know this won't make you feel any better but I did watch a Pfeiffer movie the other day. Frankie and Johnny it's my second p'favorite performance from Michelle, the first is Batman Returns criminally underrated due to the overrated Nolan universe hesteria. Now she is miscast and not because the part was originally played by Kathy Bates. Any plain and older character actress could have played the role, but with Pfeiffer referring to herself as old and asking dumb questions like why are you looking at me?—because you're fucking gorgeous. Of course Garry Marshall is completely at fault for this and Michelle was unfairly punished by not receiving a Best Actress nomination.

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Do you like Franco Zeffirelli's "Romeo and Juliet" (1968)?

December 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMariana

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