Oscar History

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Stop Trying To Make Link Happen

Clothes on Film gets writers to name their favorite costumes of the year from Stoker through The Grandmaster and on to Spring Breakers
IndieWire thinks Oscar's Cinematography category should be split into two now (computer environments/traditional) as it once was (black and white / color). Co-sign. But then you knew that since I wrote about the problem with this category earlier this year in preparation for Gravity's Oscar win, which will be the 4th heavily computerized film in 5 years to win both vfx and cinematography statues
Buzzfeed Mean Girls and 34 other movies that are turning 10 in 2014. Yes, The Film Experience will be revisiting some of these. Any preferences?

Vulture homage vs theft as it relates to American Hustle from Scorsese... and, well, Scorsese from Scorsese. I think comparisons between Russell and Scorsese's movies are largely missing the point -- an accident of release date and sudden divisive critical fervor -- but this is a good read
IndieWire gets really effusive about Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Isaac calling him the next Paul Newman 
Pajiba the 10 best performances from inanimate objects in 2013 from Christian Bale's hairpiece in American Hustle through Man of Steel's tragic victims
Deadline on the use of silence in Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and All is Lost. Brad from Rope of Silicon and I got into this argument with the Hitfix boys yesterday about Gravity. 'What silence? That score is terrified of letting you deal with silence!'

Today's Wolf of Wall Street arguments
Another 24 hours, another cycle of aggressive shaming of those who don't love it.
In Contention interviews The Wolf of Wall Street's Leonardo DiCaprio who does my least favorite thing that actors can do: diss critics who don't like their movie for not getting it. Usually it's better for filmmakers to shut up when they're unhappy with critics. Remember how embarrassing it was when James Cameron got all touchy about negative Titanic reviews?  Joe Reid at The Wire responds with a terrific piece about the disingenuous posturing going on from critics who like to have their cake and eat it, too. 

I haven't been online much today but I'm assuming the response to Leo's statement is drawing big cheers from critics in the Wolf of Wall Street camp.  Careful, people. Just remember how much fun you made of Armie Hammer when he blamed you for The Lone Ranger's failure. 


Some of you may have seen this a couple of weeks ago but Michael Cusumano, who writes here on occasion, knew he would have to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with family over the holidays so he caved on his decision not to watch the new Middle Earth trilogy. He liveblogged The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) to catch up (part one and part two) and it is awesome. I made the same initial vow and I've stuck to it but I did happen to recently very casually nibble on parts of last year's 3 hour fantasy slop on HBO the other night so that made this timeline even funnier... I agreed with every word regarding the scenes I tasted (but did not swallow).

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Reader Comments (23)

I think it's unfair to characterize the pro-Wolf clan as "shaming" the anti- clan when the debate is about the moral value of the film. In a fairly literal sense, the anti-Wolf team is shaming the filmmakers and anyone who likes the film, even if it's a light shaming and one with reasonable perspective. When the debate on a film takes on these dimensions, one side judging the relative moral qualities of the issue/opposition and the other judging the perception of the opposition, I feel like you're being disingenuous by claiming one side to be at fault. It's a heated debate, and if you're taking the opinion that Scorsese and co., and/or critics and fans who love their work, are committing an ethical error, don't act like a victim when we respond with the view that you're making a perceptive error.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCasey Fiore

I'm with Casey on this, and with Joe Reid strangely enough. I think the movie does revel in it saying that humanity, for the most part, enjoys decadence but then points out that a) capitalism indulges on that decadence to the harm of people and b) the current justice system ignores the harm done to those people. And I think decadence is the way we can divide the bases best is those who like decadence and those who don't. My problem with those that don't is that they don't say, "I don't like the decadence and therefore wasn't a fan of the film." They make a hugely moral judgement on the film, the filmmakers, and anyone who does like the decadence of the film. Many of the people (particularly family) who have seen the film have had that reaction, but after talking about it we've come to agree that the film is three things, a) a comedy and having a lot of fun in its debauchery, b) a satire that criticizes capitalism and that debauchery, and c) not for everyone. There are definitely people on both sides of this debate that take the argument to far, but the moral judgement on either side are getting pretty bothersome.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterQueermyntcritic

People are expecting Wolf to become what Scarface and Wall Street became in aspirational anti-heroes where their ascension was focused on rather than their demise. My issue with that bad faith in that happening, Jordan Belfort is a real person. He really does exist. There is no distance we can have to even think about enjoying his story as an aspiration when he is a living breathing person and not just a guy we see on screen. I think everybody is over-estimating its cultural impact. I think it will firmly stay within cinema. Sure, Scarface flopped and came back around, but Tony Montana was a fiction and something of a short-hand caricature. Belfort's exploits may be so outrageous that it feels like a satire, that Scorsese would have to make this up, but it's real and as a viewer, I thought this was extraordinary cinema and take a shower immediately.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Cruel Intentions will be 15 years. :)

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

2014 is the 25th anniversary of Heathers and Dead Poets Society, which makes me feel old. Both might be worth revisiting (but I have a hunch a lot of readers would be interested in the former).

Can I request that we NOT revisit The Aviator? This whole debate is completely exhausting.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Can't we all agree that Saving Mr Banks and Gravity aren't that good, if even good at all?

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Z

Speaking of 10th anniversaries, a quick question. Will we be to seeing the Supporting Actress Smackdown results for 2003? I know they were delayed originally until the beginning of December but I was wondering if they got pushed back again and I missed the notice. I'd hate to think I suffered through the beastly Cold Mountain and the ghastly Pieces of April for nothing. Thanks!

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoel6

BTW I agree with you on that Gravity score. It's way too overpowering, but it will probably win the Oscar. You know, when I first saw Gravity, I thought it was terrific, but as I've had time to contemplate it more, it's fallen apart for me, whereas I only think more of the other 2013 films I adored. I have to admire the ambition, though.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Leonardo, was 100% right in what he said in the Hollywood Reporter. Read it. Your review of the movie as usual with Scorsese and I assume Dicaprio, not sure how you are on him normally was just off. If you honestly think some complete melodrama like the Butler is even on the same level as one of the Scorsese's best movies and force of nature performance, You do not get it.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertyler

tyler -- you say "melodrama" like it's an insult. That's as valid a genre as any other. Not that The Butler is any great shakes but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Joel6 -- the 2003 thing is my fault entirely. there were scheduling difficulties and those things take an incredible amount of time and every time i try to work on it oscar stuff or deadlines or other things intervene. I apologize to everyone. it will eventually see the light.

December 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Melodrama is an insult, as it should be in relation to many of the scenes, especially family scenes in that movie.

You clearly do not get Scorsese, though. It's not the first time you have written a poor review of an excellent movie like this. You shaded Shutter Island, as well. I think you gave it C, or something. A movie reviewer that takes shots at the probably the greatest living director and the greatest actor of his generation, Dicaprio does not make sense to me. What he said to Tapley, made complete sense. Even if this movie is glorifying something, which it was not, you should still be able to appreciate the direction and the amazing performance by Dicaprio, for the quaalude scene, alone. Best directed, acted scene all year.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentertyler

Tyler, melodrama doesn't equate bad. Almodovar specializes in them and is one of the greats.

Also, a lot of Marty fans were lukewarm on 'Shutter Island,' or have found Leo to be good not great. I am huge fan of 'Wolf of Wall Street' and think many of the criticisms on it have been silly, but let's not resort to rantings...unless it's about Saving Mr Banks.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Can I just say how much I loved that first link on costume design for the year? I could hear (or read) people talk about their favorites pieces of wardrobe in film for days and that lengthy article in the link did not disappoint. I seriously loved how many citations Blue Jasmine, Catching Fire, Great Gatsby, Stoker and Spring Breakers kept getting. Can all five make the final Oscar lineup, please? I'm really hoping the newfound costumer's branch delivers something special on nomination day. It's one of the things I'm looking forward to the most, actually.

Mean Girls and 34 other movies that are turning 10 in 2014. Yes, The Film Experience will be revisiting some of these. Any preferences?

I'll just go right out and say it. Nay, demand it -- a scene-by-scene breakdown spectacular of the best comedy of the 00s, one of the best teen comedies ever and LiLo's raison d'être... Mean Girls. Spread throughout the year, no doubt, but this gem clearly calls for it. And what better way to honor this modern piece of moviemaking heaven than to appreciate all aspects of its amazingness, scene-by-delicious-scene? I will campaign like Harvey or protest like Norma Rae until I see it! OR I'll even accept a full podcast in its honor ;P

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Not sure what tyler is saying. Nathaniel disliked The Butler.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

My oh my, the debates on Wolf are cracking me up. Diversity of opinion, people! For instance, I am completely cool with Nathaniel not getting Gravity, but don't need to hold court on it. ;) (mostly teasing!)

Revisits from 2004: Mean Girls, Eternal Sunshine and Kill Bill are all musts, but I think after all the attention for Sophie Okonedo, it's only fair that Hotel Rwanda gets some love. Also, I'd love a "where are they now?" Closer revisit.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

2004 Revisits: Can we go back and look at "Downfall", a film I've never seen except for the infamous Hitler-in-the-bunker scene that is among the Internet's all time greatest memes?

And "Crash": What does that film look like now, ten years after its notorious Oscar?

Or "Mysterious Skin", which launched Joseph Gordon Leavitt's adult career, for which we shold all take a moment to pause and give thanks.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

Nathaniel: On the Cinematography question, I don't feel that we need separate categories for computer environments and traditional. Although I share your concern that the Cinematography Oscar has gone to the Visual Effects winner the last four years in a row and that the line has perhaps become blurred, I think it is hard to know when Cinematography stops and digital manipulation begins. I'm think of Skyfall, which of course many people thought deserved the Cinematography Oscar last year - not just because we all want to see Deakins with an Oscar, but because the movie had tonnes of great lighting and images. But Skyfall's 'look' was composed not just of great lighting, framing and camera moves but also a fair amount of digital enhancement - Deakins himself has said so, and Sam Mendes' audio commentary pointed out many places where what we thought was 'real' was in fact partly a digital environment (e.g. much of the Shanghai sequence). So if the Academy split the category into two, my guess is we'd pretty soon see the Oscar for 'traditional' cinematography going to a film that also had a fair degree of digital enhancement.

So I think it's best to leave it as one category (for the current era - who knows what we may need in 10 years' time?) and to recognise that the cinematographer remains the MVP when it comes to designing (with the director) the overall look of the film. If that includes a lot of effects work, so be it. True, the win for Avatar seemed to take the biscuit, when so much of that film was 'pure' CGI, but the wins for Inception (much as I disagree with it - I'd have awarded Black Swan that year), Hugo and Life of Pi do feel like the winning cinematographer played a key role in the overall look of the film.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

San Fran -- Well, Crash is still 11 years from its proper anniversary... but don't make us go there!

Tyler -- i realize it's asking a lot of supporters of Wolf of Wall Street to actually think about the criticisms or even hear the actual content of what people are saying if they have mixed feelings about it (because some of what they're saying you might like since mixed feelings imply that some are positive).

the thing is I actually praised DiCaprio's performance in this movie in my review (no diss in sight) and yet hear we are back to 'Nathaniel hates Scorsese and DiCaprio' which is just pointedly untrue. Unless by hate people mean "Nathaniel refuses to worship them like the rest of us" in which case I plead emphatically guilty. I think the the problem might be that I don't love them together aside from The Departed (which I think is near the very top of "best work DiCaprio ever did"... such a shame he got nominated for the wrong movie that year).

Mark -- i know Glenn did a "scene by scene" for the entire Scream franchise but that seeems like a shit ton of work. would people actually read that many articles on the same movie?

December 31, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

You don't love then together? In the past you've given some serious praise to Leo's work in the Aviator and Shutter Island I remember?

I don't think you come of negative to either in general but sometimes during these debates you forget how much you did like past work due to obnoxious supporters.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

Simon -- i guess you're right. once i get defensive i forget. I dont have kind feelings for shutter island (did not hold up to a second viewing AT ALL) but I always liked The Aviator and think Leo is pretty great in it. But I'm so not looking forward to his own Scent of a Woman, whenver it comes, when he wins for something far inferior to his early work. cuz mostly my love for Leo is entirely based on the really early stuff. I think he's so great in This Boy's Life, Romeo + Juliet, and Gilbert Grape and has his moments in Titanic and Catch Me If yOu Can... but it's one of these examples of stars that didn't get more impressive with age. I feel like he settled on a specific bag of tricks when it all became too easy... i think struggle really helps a lot of actors, the need to prove themselves and he just doesn't have to do either of those things and hasn't for a very long time.

But i'm always hopeful i'll be proven wrong and i'm glad he's pushing himself a bit in WOLF OF

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Surprised to see DePalma's Passion get a shout out in that costuming piece -- I also loved the whole look, especially Rachel McAdams character.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

nice blog...i kind of like the cinematography being cut into two sections. They are really two different animals

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Haven't seen the Scorsese picture yet, but without sounding obnoxious, I feel that tone is all-important in stories like these. From the trailer (and I realize this is not reliable one iota), it seems like the movie is being sold as a frat-boy's fantasy romp (at first, I thought it was a sequel to Revenge of the Nerds). If this is indeed the tone of the entire movie, then the critics against the movie have a valid case.

January 2, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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