Oscar History

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Box Office: Under the Skin & What We Watched

Nathaniel stepping in for Amir this week to look at What People Are Seeing. If you've already seen Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and you should) there wasn't much to get excited about at the mainstream box office this weekend with films like Oculus, Rio 2, and Draft Day not looking much like inspiring new entries in their shopworn genres. So let's shift our focus to the platform films out there. Frankly, I consider it a huge failing of the planet in general that an art film about Scarlett Johansson as an alien trolling for manflesh in Scotland isn't opening wide and selling out at 3,000+ theaters. Where are the world's movie consumption priorities? You disappoint me, Earthlings. 

Scarlett Johansson tops both the mainstream box office and the platform box office

01 (54 theaters) UNDER THE SKIN $.3 (cum. $.5)  Posters
02 (37 theaters) ISLAND OF LEMURS $.1 (cum. $.4) 
03 (20 theaters) FINDING VIVIAN MAIER $.1 (cum. $.3) Amir liked it
04 (48 theaters) JOE $.1 *new* 
05 (04 theaters) ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE $.09 *new*  Michael's Review
06 (42 theaters) DOM HEMINGWAY $.07 (cum. $.1)  Jude's New Face 
07 (80 theaters) THE UNKNOWN KNOWN $.06 (cum. $.1) Glenn's Review
08 (04 theaters) THE RAILWAY MAN $.06 *new* Brief Thoughts
09 (79 theaters) CUBAN FURY $.05 *new*
10 (23 theaters) PARTICLE FEVER $.04 (cum. $.6) 

Of the newbies only Only Lovers Left Alive and The Railway Man had strong per screen averages (which is usually what you need to expand). I loved Under the Skin but am still collecting my thoughts about it so I'm not ready to write about it yet. I urge you to see it quickly since it benefits from your own interpretation and it's difficult to write about without spoilers. We'll discuss it on next Sunday's podcast.

Otherwise this weekend I goofed off in that I watched things I had no intention of writing about which is, for me, like playing hookie or calling out sick. I mainlined more Archer (which I basically worship) and watched four episodes of "The Fosters". Regarding the latter: I blame Emily Nussbaum's influence over The Boyfriend. He will watch anything she recommends . I  also goofed off by watching Lilies of the Field (1963) when I was supposed to be watching a Bette Davis double feature for articles that are due here in a hot minute.  I was all caught up in that 1963 flashback so I was helpless before it "♪ AaaAaaAaaymen. AaAYaymen. Aaamen. Aaamen Amen ♫." I actually think it's underrated today because it's so square but it "plays" as they say.

What did you watch this weekend? And was it out of obligation, habit, or pleasure?

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Reader Comments (32)

There's a french film festival going on here, so this weekend I watched "L'amour est un crime parfait" with Mathieu Amalric (amazing cast but the film not so much, not bad but really just still trying to think if I really liked it) and "Abus de faiblesse" with Isabelle Huppert (as usual, she's out of this world, good movie). I went for a third film but there was a problem with the projection so ended up going to see Captain America 2 because I had already left the house (just ok movie, love all the ScarJo in it, but not so great as people are saying it is). Also saw The Way He Looks, the movie that won the Teddy Award this year in Berlin, really great innocent delicate look at a coming of age story.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterV

I didn't go to the movies this weekend but I did a double feature of Captain American: The Winter Solider and Under The Skin last weekend. I wanted to like Under The Skin but I just couldn't get into it. It certainly gets more intrigue during the second half of the story but the first half meandered on for so long that I lost interest. Anyway, being that I'm a consumer of shows on ABC Family, I will fully admit that I watch The Fosters. Sure, it's melodramatic - just as all shows on ABC Family can be - but I still think it's entertaining.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Sorry missed everything you were saying except PODCAST!!!

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

I made time for Cosmopolis and eXistenZ. David Cronenberg is the most important auteur alive after Paul Thomas Anderson.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I watched James Gray's The Immigrant. It's haunting and beautiful and I already want to revisit it.
Also watched Captain America. I don't get the positive reaction. Even reading your review, Nat, it just feels like everything you liked got on my nerves when I watched it.
Also watched an Iranian classic called Dash Akol and it totally deserved its "classic" label.

Also, since you mention that I like Finding Vivian Maier, here's my review if anyone's interested.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmir

I saw "Under the Skin" and thought it was intriguing, eerie and poetic- the most interesting movie I've seen this year. Miss Johanssen is perfect as the alien femme fatale.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Took in Tom at the Farm this week, which I was surprised to loathe. And caught a screening of Last Year at Marienbad today, which was pretty magical. Certified Copy definitely took its cues from Marienbad.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Daniel Armour- that's interesting you say that because I found the mystery of ScarJo's character and her trolling in the first half so much more interesting than the wandering in the second.

And the return of the podcast! I can't wait to hear what Nathaniel and the gang have to say about it next week.

Otherwise, no movies for me this weekend. I wanted to see Only Lovers Left Alive but couldn't make it out to the theater. Maybe later this week...

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

I watched the restored version of The Big Country, William Wyler's western epic. Visually lavish with unusual psychological depth for the genre. Jean Simmons is marvelous and Burl Ives won a much deserved Oscar. And one of the most rousing scores ever--goosebumps every time.

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I agree with you on Under My Skin, I'd rather have a movie that is somewhat surreal surging through all theaters, and allowing audiences to experience a unique cinematic experience, then a constant re-chewing of another animation sequel, which most kids do not even want to watch any more. Look it is is 2014, children rather play minecraft or Call of Duty then watch a animated film (I have two kids, so I this does not come from anywhere). I have not seen Captain American 2 (bad Marvel fan, I know), but I am not sure if you are planning on watching another flick that Scarlett will be in shortly - Lucy - which sounds incredibly interesting in my opinion. Great blog, I will follow you on Bloglovin from now on - have a great week!

April 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia H. Blanton

Shout out to all the university students who didn't watch anything because of studying for finals (yet still found time to come to this site regularly to check for updates)!

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Brookesboy - The Big Country is one of my very favorite westerns. If you saw it on a big screen I am very jealous!!

I saw Le Week-End Friday (good, but I don't much care for the "boomers bemoaning their wasted lives" genre). Last night me and a couple friends saw The Library, a play directed by Steven Soderbergh. It was pretty terrible all around - I was very disappointed. Tonight I watched Game of Thrones and Mad Men.

And I'm not gonna lie, for the last little while I've just been staring at pictures of Zac Efron from the MTV Movie Awards.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Underrated? And I thought that most people, myself included, would regard Lilies Of The Field as an endearing film (which is hardly underrated but exactly the kind of reputation it deserves). The problem is its Best Actor win. That Sidney Poitier was given an Oscar for a standard performance of a fluffy role in a film where he's outacted by his female co-star tells you all you need to know about Old Hollywood's attitude towards black people and about how the Academy felt it had to react to accusations of racism. Be that as it may, the insubstantiality of one of the most unnecessary lead acting wins ever can easily turn you against an essentially fine film, especially if you've seen Paul Newman in Hud or Richard Harris in This Sporting Life.
This weekend I've seen Mud 2: He's Back. But in all fairness, Joe is not THAT similar to Mud. Or was it Hud? In any case, I started watching it out of the pleasure of tracing the work of Tye Sheridan and finished it as an obligation, since I just don't walk out. I also couldn't help but thinking that Sheridan starts to resemble Cate Blanchett, but there is a chance that I might have been hallucinating.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

@Willy, when a Black person wins an award its ALWAYS the most unnecessary win ever right?

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNikki

I'm actually of the opinion that Sidney would have won even if it weren't historic. It's a very enjoyable upllifting performance in a successful movie that puts him on a pedestal (oscar's acting branch loves that kind of character) that they liked in other categories and he was a previous nominee.

anyway i like Lilies of the Field.

Paul Newman gave the best performance that year but he wasn't going to win anyway (they make the matinee idol ridiculously pretty young men wait it out) for such a cruel character

April 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Yes Nikki, I've heard that killer argument 12 years ago already. When you dare to question the award-winning work of a black actor, then you're a racist. But I at least think that honoring a performer of color only because he or she is black - but under the guise of an acting award of course - is the most repulsive form of racism you and Hollywood have to offer. How much more historic that Oscar win would actually be if it would have at least a tiny weeny bit to do with Poitier's work on screen.
Nat, I can see Sidney's win in the tradition of someone like Bing Crosby in Going My Way. But I don't know why you're trying to talk yourself into believing that he would have won anyway. (Okay, I do know.) Paul Newman was in fact two years older than Sidney Poitier and several sexy and successful men in their 30s had won Best Actor in the years before 1963 (Charlton Heston, Maximilian Schell and Yul Brynner among them). And how cruel is cruel enough for an Oscar win? Broderick Crawford in All The King's Men? Not to mention that they could have crowned "cruel" Richard Harris just as well. (To my mind, Harrison and Finney would have been less deserving winners than Harris or Newman, but at least much more than Poitier). We all know why the least deserving nominee of this overall respectable Best Actor linuep managed to win the award, and it's a shame that we pretend otherwise. One way or the other, I liked Lilies Of The Field when I said so the first time, and I like it now that I've got to repeat it. What I don't like is the Oscar it won and - even more so - that people defend it 50 years later for the very same reason it was given in the first place. But without admitting it of course.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

@Willy--Why do you think your response to the film and the performance is the only one possible? Personally I am very moved by Sidney Poitier in Lilies Of The Field. He wouldn't have been my vote with Paul Newman in the bunch, but his win is hardly a tragedy. It strikes me as the height of vanity to assume that because you don't like a performance, everyone who does must be a race apologist.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I needed comfort food viewing this weekend, so I rewatched Lilo & Stitch (still love it, still prefer it to Spirited Away) and Party Monster (still a trip, especially since I recognize so many more of the actors in the film now). I was going to see Under the Skin today, but I got called in to sub for one of the theater teachers I work for and have to put it off. Tomorrow is Captain America: The Winter Soldier and maybe Grand Budapest Hotel or The Raid 2 if I can convince people to go on their days off. Otherwise, I'll do them myself.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Willy -- you just go on thinking that your opinion means that other people aren't being honest about theirs. But I'm not sure what purpose that serves.

You can pretend all you like that Paul Newman is the same kind of performer that those other men you listed are but he's not. Paul Newman was a golden god. They do not give those men Oscars until they are old: see also - Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Redford, Jeff Bridges, Tom Cruise, etcetera. The big leading men stars who are also "pretty" sex symbols have to wait. it's been that way for decades... The men who are also *new* stars have to wait. it's been that way for decades. So neither Finney & Newman were ever going to win given Oscar's feelings about male leads. Harrison had a supporting role that wasn't in any way really the focus of his movie and Harris was in a movie without support outside the acting branch. So, yes, I do think Sidney's skin color had less to do with his win than you seem to believe. And that's not any sort of apologia because 100% my vote would go to Paul Newman for the best performance I think he ever gave.

April 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

TB (Thunderball? How suitable.), I never said tragedy and I don't actively dislike Poitier's performance. What I dislike is that people do what they wouldn't do (talking themselves into believing that it's a deserving winner) if it wouldn't be the first Best Actor win by a black actor. By the way, your reaction to that performance doesn't seem to be too far away from my own, so you actually managed to merely confirm my so-called "height of vanity" as rather justified. Thank you.
Nat, I do belive that you and everyone else is honest about his or her opinion. I also believe that you all know that you're heavily influenced by something you shouldn't be influenced by at all. I can imagine how the comments here - and yours in particular - would look if the exact same performance would have been given by a white man: Poitier would have to take the level of shit Al Pacino in Scent Of A Woman frequently gets. (And I at least think that Pacino in Scent is FAR superior to Poitier in Lilies.) And then add to that the he beat the career-best work by Richard Harris and Paul Newman...
Also your golden god philosophy doesn't make much sense to me. If Paul Newman was sexy and successful and a star for roughly a decade and in his late 30s and a big leading man and a matinee idol and a sex symbol of sorts and a civil rights icon and a beloved celebrity, then what on earth was Sidney Poitier? If according to your argument Newman can't win for being all the things he was, then why can Poitier win in spite of being all of this too? What's the difference? Yes, that's the difference, and that difference is what proves my point.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

willy -- worse than Pacino in Scent of a Woman? Wow you've totally lost me. I'm not sure if I would nominated Poitier (because I still have several key films to see from '63 but i think he's really good in the picture.)

Poitier was an anomaly at the time. the same rules just do not apply. I don't know what else to point to other than the entirety of Oscar history to prove my point about the (male) sex symbols not winning when they're young and pretty. Just about the only exceptions are Clark Gable (It Happened One Night) and arguably Marlon Brando (On the Waterfront... but he had enough of the "thug" danger to offset the beauty. and notice that he lost for his 1000% iconic and game-changing work when he was indescribably beautiful in Streetcar Named Desire despite the rest of the cast winning) That's it in the entire 80+ year history!!! They do not give Oscars to the sexy beautiful young male performances. They just don't.

April 14, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Saw Under the Skin was really liked it. I thought it was interesting, creative, well-made and surprising. Johansson has to be commended for taking on such a dark, inaccessible vehicle (well, "inaccessible" compared to Avengers movies) and while she made that performance look simple, she made such interesting choices, as small and subtle as they were. If someone told me they were completely bored (and I admit, the 2nd half started to drag just a bit for me), I would totally understand, but I was engaged almost the whole time.

And I've never seen Birth and saw Sexy Beast a long time ago so I really didn't know what to expect. So glad I saw this on the big screen.

Also finally caught up with 20 Feet from Stardom. Fascinating but also pretty sad. But man, those voices. Just extraordinary.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

Of course I would have preferred seeing Pacino win for something else, but unlike Poitier's character in Lilies, Pacino's Scent Of A Woman role at least had a few challenges and a tiny weeny bit of schmaltzy depth. Therefore I'm rather sorrowful about having lost you just as you managed to win me back with admitting that Poitier was an anomaly. You don't even have to say what the anomaly was. I know that you know.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Captain America, because the family begged to go, even though I said no more comic book/superhero movies! Scarlett Johansson is so bad-ass (finally a female action hero who can actually act!) I can't wait for Lucy.

Roark--oh dear, was it because of Chloe or just a poor script?

And The Good Wife, of course. That NY production is sure tapping into their Broadway resources--Donna Murphy played a judge last night. Wanted her to sing, but alas...

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

They do not give Oscars to the sexy beautiful young male performances. They just don't.

Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.



Your attitude is why every black acting win in Oscar history is based on sheer political correctness. Hopefully they won't bother with other neglected minority groups like Asians. Because only white people are actual movie stars and the best actors in the world: Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

3rtful, if you're simply twisting my words, then you should do it in such a way that I can actually understand what you're trying to say. And if you're serious, then you must have misunderstood my comments. But for your information, we already had at least two Asian acting Oscar winners: Miyoshi Umeki in Sayonara and Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields. I think that Ben Kingsley (Gandhi) and Yul Brynner (The King And I) would qualify as multiracial or rather as "of Asian descent". In any case, I'd like to add that I love all four performances and that I'm convinced that the quality of their work was the main reason for their Oscar wins.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly


I guess I'm not writing in English. I guess everything I write is sheer gibberish. Lucky me I can write whatever I want and no one will be the wiser. That in itself does not change the fact you have a problem with black acting wins and only see the politics of why they received majority vote. May more black people win Oscars for whatever category they're up for since it'll only give you annoyance for all the white people denied in the name of progress.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Let me put it this way: I have absolutely no problem with Hattie McDaniel's Oscar win (and I have seen all of the nominees for 1939), but I do have a problem with how she was treated by the Academy on the actual Oscar night of 1940 even though the latter seems to be your idea of "progress". In any case, I will at least agree with you that everything you write is sheer gibberish, especially your outcry for Oscar wins to give me or anyone else whatever kind of annoyance.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

/3rtful -- er, no. Jared Leto was in drag and Matthew McConaughey was skeletel and they're both in their 40s. Those were not "sexy" performances.

do you see my point? it's not that difficult a point. If Oscar loved sexy male performances teh way they love sexy young female performances than things like Paul Newman in Hud or Jude Law in The Talented Mr Ripley would win and they *never* do. Clark Gable shirtless sex symbol early days aside

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R


The excuse generally given why DiCaprio has yet to win an Oscar is because he's young and handsome. Well both McConaughey and Leto are young and handsome. Now I obviously misread and quoted your initial statement about sexy male performances as sexy male performers.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

First of all, a shoutout to Mike in Canada, since he and I were obviously at the same screening of L'année dernière à Marienbad. I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the film, but once I did, I was gripped. There's so much Alain Resnais that I haven,t seen. (Mike, if you haven't seen his L'herbe folle (Wild Grass, I think was the English title) from two or three years ago, you definitely should.

Other than that, on Sunday I also saw the Israeli film Bethlehem, which was their Oscar candidate last year. It wasn't bad, though quite similar in many ways to Omar, the Palestinian film which did get nominated for the Foreign-Language Oscar. I thought, though, that the Israeli film was...well, more homoerotic, in the portrayal of the relationship between the Israeli agent and his Palestinian informant.

On Saturday, I saw Like Father, Like Son, a Japanese film, and the first one I've ever seen by the director Kore-eda Hirokazu. I was impressed with the way he handled a pretty banal story line (parents discover that their babkes were switched in the hospital), and the humanism he showed in the portrayals of the various characters.

April 14, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

I don't want to support spite3rtful, but the discussion is becoming a little bit too bizarre for my taste. When Nat claims that no young matinee idol after Clark Gable has ever won the Oscar for a sexy performance and you dare to mention the boys from The Ten Commandments, then Nat will say that this doesn't count because neither Yul Brynner nor Charlton Heston were big stars in the second half of the 50s. He will further point out that they both captured the Best Actor award at the at the age of 36 which by Nathaniel's definition is retirement age. Most importantly though, he will declare that no one in the history of moviegoers could ever possibly have seen the bare-chested king or the loin-clothed galley slave as sexy. So, thank you for enlightening us.

April 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

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