Oscar History

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I Could've Linked All Night

Boy Culture shares photos of 25 stars first and last appearances onscreen. Fun randomness. Greta Garbo & Marlene Dietrich transformations are big whoas.
FilmDrunxx has a funny piece on declining Rotten Tomatoes scores (in this case: The Last Stand with Schwarzenegger). Be warned sensitive Steven Spielberg fans: there's a jab at him at the tail end.
Guardian is asking for mocked up movie posters with title casting and soundtrack suggestions for JJ Abrams proposed Lance Armstrong biopic. My guess is their inbox is already full.

Pajiba looks at 20 interesting facts about Joss Whedon and The Avengers -- I'm not sure what brought this on, now, in January but I enjoyed reading it. 
The Sun Benedict Cumberbatch teases his legion of crazed fans by joking about how tight his Star Trek Into Darkness costume is

You can almost see what religion I am." 

CHUD famed poster artist Drew Struzan has been asked about doing posters for the next three Star Wars films. I approve. Weirdly the article refers to Strusan as "the director"... um... the director of his airbrush and cintiq?
Vogue UK has Miucci Prada sketches for The Great Gatsby costumes 

Small Screen
Pajiba b*tch rankings with Downton Abbey
Advocate recommends FBI vs serial killer show The Following which is supposedly slightly gay-ish horror. Doesn't American Horror Story already cover anyone jonezing for that? 

Devil's Advocate
David Edelstein 'why i hate the Oscars'... the piece, though anti-awards, is much richer than the dumb headline
Telegraph 'why I walked out of Les Misérables' it's another attack piece but I'm linking up because there is stuff of note: like voice goddess Marni Nixon's (Sound of Music, West Side Story, My Fair Lady) feelings on live-singing. This piece has further convinced me that people, in general, whether they love musicals or not, have a really hard time dealing with musicals of any kind, being satisfied by them, knowing even what they expect of the form. I'm still not sure why the genre has such difficulties with audiences given the absolute suspension of disbelief afforded every other genre in modern times. The silver lining for the ongoing Les Miz debate for me though is that more and more people seem to be saying 'why can't they just cast great singers and let them sing great songs' which is reductive but correct and also what I've been bitching about for my entire lifetime since I wasn't alive in that mythical time (post-silent cinema - pre Cabaret) when people loved musicals without shame and without so many hard-to-navigate hangups, caveats and ever-mutating conditions.

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Reader Comments (19)

This is a little late, but here are my thoughts on Les Mis:

My problem with Les Misérables was not the live-singing or the voices, I actually liked that about it and it's because of that that I didn't mind at all that there's no dialogue. My problem with the film is that it feels completely empty. I didn't believe one second of it and I did not feel any of the emotion I was thrown violently at me. And Hathaway, while I can't deny that she really gives it her all, is so transparent and not in a good way. I can see every thought she's having. "I'm gonna look down, cry and then look up and sing again" I simply do not believe it. The only moment that rang true to me was Redmayne singing the Empty chairs song. Also, I know this is based on the famous Broadway musical, but there are so many problems with the story. I don't buy any of the love between any of the characters and I find Crowe's character arc completely laughable, epecially his final scene. I think fans of the original musical will enjoy this way more than they should, but it's understandable. Overall, this was a very hollow experience but I have to give it props for not making me want to kill myself like I did during the Phantom of the Opera movie. And BTW, I do enjoy musicals, I love Moulin Rouge!, Little Shop of Horrors, Rocky Horror, Chicago, Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig, Cabaret, etc...

Sorry for the long post. :p

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I'm going to offer a reason on why it maybe more difficult for people to embrace Musicals than they do other genres:

Most types of films - especially science fiction and superhero movies - have to go out of their way to explain their worlds. Save one or two examples, however, musicals are what they are with no explanation. This creates a problem because musicals are much closer to reality than a lot of genres but somehow less emotionally truthful. We as human beings do not offen express our emotions openly and clearly, so it reads as false when we see it done in musicals.

With a movie like The Matrix, however, the concept maybe outlandish but the way the character act - and react - to it is more emotionally truthful to who we are. Hell, LOTR and SW may not have had to explain their universes but they had to work overtime to ground their stories in emotional realism, so that we could buy into them. It's unfair but we've been trained by other movies with certain expectations for a long time now and musicals fall a little out of that range.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Very interesting, Daniel! I think you are right. All the musicals I've loved do a very good job at world construction.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

it seems that "before midnight" is VERY good. I'm relieved.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Edelstein article is very good. Favorite line: "If the Academy had laws against doping, most of the profession would be disqualified."

PS Marnie Nixon deserves an honorary Oscar. The sooner the better.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

One reason: musicals are not good anymore because it was essentially a studio genre and the expertise comes from extended practice and now practice is lost because there is nobody you can learn from? Like, some guy, once in 4 years makes a musical and sometimes is the first time this person is doing a musical. Musicals are very specific. You can't come from The King's Speech and think it's easy and you're going to succeed. Unless you're a genius, a Lars von Trier, you just can't do that. Like Marilyn would sing, you need Specialization.

Then, you have another problem. If nobody is making musicals and you have to make a musical, you hire a director from Broadway, that is a complete different thing! Stage is not cinema and you can have a helluva stage career but your The Producers is still gonna suck. If it is not easy to come from stage to film doing a drama, doing a musical is gonna be way more difficult.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I love musicals, but they are a lost art.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Daniel I like your theory, and I think that's probably a film like Chicago worked really well (in terms of the public embracing it) is because a lot of the musical numbers were 'dream sequences' so the audience was able to accept the actors breaking into song.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrami (ramification)

Though I agrree with some of the opinions above on musicals, and I don't like musicals myself, then the question is, why do people love when there's a one and only song/musical number in a mainstream non-musical movie? Do they actually like musicals but are afraid to recognise it? Do they like semi-musicals - one or two songs are ok, but within a talking movie?

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteriggy

One more thing: I don't care about dubbing. In the best musical ever aka The Umbrellas of Cherbourg no actor does his own singing. Nixon is so right.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I love musicals and I really enjoy seeing famous actors singing even if it's not the best singing that could be ever heard. Having said this, the problem with Le Miz is not the singing, not the acting and not even the close-ups. My problem was with the sets. It looked that Hooper saw it as a Gothic tale with Gothic decors . I couldn't understand for the life of me some of his choices and it seriously distracted me from the film as a whole.
All in all, it wasn't an unpleasant experience at all, au contraire, but from here to Academy Awards is a long way.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradelutza

I sort of want to avoid any Les Mis conversation (which is why I keep making excuses to avoid writing about it) but I just have to on this one which is not the most annoying but is so vexing in how it uses Nixon.

I love how her criticisms the writers slyly includes "Nixon is warm and funny; there’s nothing mean-spirited about her. She is passionate about singing, and musicals in particular" which is of course meant to say - "She's not prejudiced against musical, and she's not a troll. She's really nice, so that means what she says MUST be nice."

And I know I'm more alone in regard to Crowe, but I'm generally a bit nonplussed as to the wave of hatred he's precipitated. I think he sounds fine. And in the larger scale of things, that doesn't matter - I'm one person. But, this article - like so many "experts" article - uses a single person of note and tries to wheedle the reader into agreeing with it because they were involved in the business. Not getting into HBC's actual singing voice I understood what she was saying and I felt emotion in her voice - what then? It's one person who has knowledge of the business and their opinion on the film - goodness knows why it should be made into something of seismic importance.

A key example: "Bring Him Home is a beautiful song. I wanted it smaller; it should be a prayer to God. I missed a little of Valjean’s vulnerability. But whether it was a directing choice or his ability, I can’t be sure."

It's one of the grating annoyances in too many LES MIS reviews, when you read the book, when you saw whatsoever production is - or should be - removed from the film. Even as we can't block out that information, the musical on stage does not have a symbiotic relationship with the musical on the film - even apart from being different mediums, it's a different interpretation of the material.

End rant.

(And I love Nixon...does that make my criticism of the article less harsh?)

Has there been a year where the conversation on so many popular films were skewed in such odd directions? (This, Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained.) Sigh.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewK.

PS. Umm, sorry about the accidental bold text.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewK.

I think the way Russell Crowe butchered "Stars" is worthy of study by scientists.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

People don't talk about Greta Garbo enough.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

A big reason for movie musicals falling out of favor is how the younger demographic simply doesn't enjoy old-style singing anymore. No matter how it's done in film, no matter how smart or flashy, younger movie fans, especially male, just can't get into this traditional song form anymore. I think it's sad, but it's an unavoidable truth. Even with the negativity among reviewers, the blockbuster success of Les Mis is encouraging that the movie musical thankfully still has a pulse in modern times.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

In classic genre musicals, song takes over when emotion overwhelms speech. Today's audience doesn't want to be that close to characters. The movies help us by serving up glib heroes we can keep a distance from. The way we say TMI to acquaintances who reveal too much personal info, we'd say TME to anyone who got personal about feelings.
Because audiences hate high emotion its much easier to watch people get killed than to hear them confess love or heartbreak.
I don't know why most people don't trust emotion, why they want to be cynical and detached. Detached from entertainment as well as fellow humans. Maybe they fear getting hurt. Maybe they fear their own feelings.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterverbocityeric

Edelstein's piece was a fun read, but I think all of us who love the Oscars already know what he stated in the article is true. But Oscar-philes love with their hearts, not their heads.

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Sorry I know this is off topic but i have to share this news, Isabelle Huppert and Sigourney Weaver will be starring in Luca Guadagnino's next film, with costumes by the designer of Tilda's wardrobe in I Am Love . Here is the link:

January 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjohn

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