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Randomness: The Hunt, Film Scores, Burlesque Memories

I'm experiencing something a bit like ADHD today. I've started several articles none of which got past a few lines and worked on a few oscar chart updates or revisions none of which ever felt like I'd finished (visualdocumentary and music / sound charts). And I also spent some time stressing about Sundance which starts in less than a month and which The Film Experience will be covering. But mostly my head has remained a jumble of criss-crossed movie thoughts, so in the effort to get unstuck, I'm just blurting out a handful of random ones, a couple of which might feel familiar if you follow me on twitter.

• I'm curious to hear what your favorite film scores of the year because in this regard, I'm not sure I have any! I tend to be a fan of Alexander Desplat's work but I can't even remember Philomena's score which I saw so recently and which one assumes is an Oscar shoo-in on the composer's name alone. (See also: John Williams and The Book Thief)

• January 16th is going to be insane: Oscar nominations, Sundance's Opening Night, and the "Critics Choice" ceremony are all taking place within 12 hours of each other. Spread it out a little, showbiz! Seriously.

• I watched The Hunt last night, Denmark's finalist for The Foreign Film Category. Mads Mikkelsen is always super and his face, so full of confusion, disbelief, and hurt that's cutting as deep as the lacerations on his face from town beatings. He won Best Actor in Cannes way back in May 2012 and if the film wins its Oscar category in March 2014 The Hunt may well serve as the new poster boy reminder of how deeply strange global cinematic culture is in terms of distribution models. I've heard that people get seriously worked up about this movie, loving or hating it but frankly, either reaction is, um, foreign to me. It's an effective drama, and wholly plausible -- see also the Meryl Streep drama A Cry in the Dark (1988), a predecessor in how ugly "guilty as soon as your accused" mob mentality can be -- at least until the ending which seems tacked on as failed provocation. But it's also not doing anything particularly interesting cinematically or in the screenplay. I expected more from Thomas Vinterberg, who once made the genius Festen/Celebration (1998) which was famously snubbed by Oscar despite causing quite a stir with cinephiles. And I kept feeling like the final scene was shot at the same house where The Celebration took place. Am I crazy or is this true?

• I was at a party the other night (not a film crowd) and an older gentlemen, hearing that I was a film critic, asked me what my favorite movies were. When I got to "Woody Allen's Manhattan" he interrupts... "you mean Annie Hall?"

• Back to the foreign film finalist list, 3 of the 9 finalists each year are selected by special committee with the other 6 coming from popular vote. So which films do you think are which? I'm guessing the committee shoved Cambodia's The Missing Picture and maybe Bosnia's A Day in the Life of a Iron Picker but otherwise I can't suss out which film needed a committee boost since the other 7 finalists strike me as having obvious wide appeal Oscar hooks.

• Today Burlesque was on Oxygen and it remains insanely watchable. "Wagon Wheel Watusi"! It's not a movie that reveals something new everytime you watch it but rather a movie which just reconfirms everything you felt the first time and heightens it. It's RIDICULOUS but in a good way. And it's nice that Kristen Bell got Frozen since Burlesque has a bad case of Yentlitis -- "Only the star may sing even though we've cast a bunch of people with musical chops in this!"

• Finally, I don't know why I didn't tell you this sooner but I swear to god, last week I dreamt that Nicole Kidman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Blue is the Warmest Color. When I woke up I tried to go back to sleep since I didn't want this nonsensical actressexual dream to end. It's been haunting me ever since...

No wonder I can't concentrate!

What's going on in *your* movie addled mind?

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Reader Comments (18)

post the zellweger slaughter, that post should be easy!

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I finally saw Frozen and Catching Fire today. I loved Frozen. It was a little too Wicked, Light for my tastes when the gates were first open but it turned into something really special.

Catching Fire...woof. At least I can savor the gorgeous Blu-ray of The Hunger Games and just pretend the story ends there. No way I'm watching Mockingjay if the series is going to be all action, no character development for the last 3/4.

Also, I saw American Mary for the first time this week and actually got the attention of the filmmakers with my review. It was one of those moments that points out how special Twitter can really be. People who work with them are contacting me about their projects, opening up a bunch of new connections just because I took the extra few seconds to add the directors' handle to the initial promo tweet.

It feels even better because I loved the film and currently have it as my top film of 2013. I have a few other big titles to catch up on (tomorrow is American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Philomena if I can take it), but I don't think anything else will quite tickle me like a modern exploitation/revenge/Frankenstein/body positive/social satire/character study horror film. I'd probably be calling it the best film of all time if it included a little nuns in danger action and a musical number. It's like American Mary was made specifically for me.

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

i've never even heard of it!

December 21, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Dude, don't know what is in the Christmas cookies you are eating, but share.......please share.

I can't stop thinking about GWTW (since reading a previous post). How about a post on perfect casting (Clark Gable as Rhett Butler). as opposed to great casting where an actor makes a role their own through effort (Kidman in To Die For).

I'm sitting on a stack of screeners but can't drag myself away from the last season of Justified. Go figure.

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

So Nicole should shoot that Danish girl movie with Lea seydoux

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteramberwaves

Favourite scores: Ain't Them Bodies Saints, Gravity, 12 Years a Slave

Cinematic mind: I just rewatched Beasts of the Southern Wild. What a special movie. It's Oscar success remains my favourite thing of last season (while I'm annoyed that the score and art direction were overlooked)

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

A big difference between A Cry in the Dark and The Hunt is that in the former, Streep's character is very stoic and not at all interested in being likeable for the public, which is why it's not surprising that they turned against her when they thought she didn't show enough emotions. I did not buy that the townspeople in The Hunt who knew and loved Mikkelsen's character would turn against him so rapidly and violently. Especially the dog killing rang disgustingly false.

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJan

I´ve also had a lot of difficulty thinking of great scores this year. I guess my favorite is ´The Wind Rises´, and 'The Grandmaster' a close second. I also liked The Spectacular Now and Her, and the cool Norwegian chorus at the beginning of 'Frozen' was pretty sweet too.

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

as this is a randomness post: I think "homeland" redeemed itself (sort of) with its final episodes this season, which were very decent -- like everyone is saying, the final episode could have been a series finale that it would have been a very satisfactory ending. sure, you have to suspend disbelief for some things, but I enjoyed this season more than the second one... still that whole focus on dana in the first couple episodes should not have happened. and claire danes is still doing very solid work, as is mandy patinkin.

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

I was just thinking about the film scores of the year and how none of them (sans Frozen) really stood out to me, unlike last year with Beasts and Cloud Atlas. But then tonight I watched the French film Populaire which is maybe the most purely enjoyable thing I've seen all year AND has a super hummable score, mixing period music with original stuff. It's not the most amazing film ever, but as these things go it is very light on its feet and super charming - which is exactly what it needed to be - plus it stars Romain Duris (SWOON). I highly, HIGHLY recommend.

December 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

Despite your feelings on the film, Nathaniel, you should listen to the Upstream Color score again. It instantly became my favorite score of 2013 after seeing the movie, and has most definitely been my go to background music all year. If I could wish for one sub-major category Oscar nom, it would be this without question. Absolutely arresting.

I also loved both Martinez scores (Spring Breakers and Only God Forgives) a lot. And the All Is Lost score does a lot with a little.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAaron M

Maybe the Kidman dream was a premonition of The Danish Girl being green lighted in the not so distant future.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterlittle my

After seeing Mikkelsen's face on the poster and being completely hooked on Borgen, I wish he and Sidse Babette Knudsen would do another movie together. Now she is a Danish girl I can get behind.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPam

The photoshop that keeps on giving. Dream's pretty rich too. Was it your subconscious urging Nikki K towards a Julia Roberts/Javier Bardem-style charity campaign? Dreaming of Nicole at the center of a three hour actressexual extravaganza? Still smarting from that Paperboy snub? Mixing up the Supporting Actress queen of 2012 with her 2013 counterpart?

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I saw American Hustle last night and I really, really liked it on the whole; I was smiling throughout the entire movie. I did not care for Silver Linings Playbook much (I had problems with how it portrayed mental illness, especially in the second half), but liked The Fighter, so for me this is a return to form for DOR. Both Bale and Cooper give two of the best performances of the year. Lawrence is hilarious at times and gets to play a terrific, brassy character, but occasionally it felt like she was obviously play-acting to me rather than inhabiting the role. Adams probably deserves more attention for her performance, but her more natural style is overshadowed by Lawrence.

The use of music is terrific, and it deserves that make-up and hairstyling Oscar. It better get nominated for costume design as well.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Cinematic mind: A Christmas Tale and my sadness in that it is not available for streaming or on any TV around this season after an in-depth search for it. Love that movie. Really want to see it after seeing Laurence Anyways and only recently realizing Melvil Poupand played the youngest son.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Nathaniel, I think you might actually like American Mary. Did you ever get around to May? It's very similar in tone--character study about an odd young woman struggling to connect with people in a meaningful way--with some more violence onscreen. Two sequences are pretty bad--a rape focusing on the victim's face and the reveal of what happened to that rapist later on--but the rest isn't anymore violent than Eyes Without a Face or Psycho. It's dark character study with a lot of social commentary about living in a society where confidence is defined by how good you look, not how you actually feel. It's streaming on Netflix and has--surprise--very polarizing reviews because it is a talky rather than stabby horror film.

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I was just thinking of THE DANISH GIRL today actually, randomly.

I noticed quite a few great scores this year, they're just outside the usual realm. A TOUCH OF SIN, AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS, GREAT EXPECTATIONS, THE MISSING PICTURE, MUD, THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, STOKER and several others like ONLY GOD FORGIVES, SPRING BREAKERS, A TEACHER, THE WIND RISES and GRAVITY (even if I have big big issues with it) have had me returning to them (or, in some cases, wishing I could return to them but they're not on Spotify).

December 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

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