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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Tuesday
Jan112011

Cinematography Honors

The seasonal wheels keep turning. I can't keep up. I literally have three, count them, THREE interviews to type up. Plus the top ten list. But awards news waits for no man. Not even Nathaniel, man. If you don't peruse every awards website known to man, the following info regarding visual work that's somewhat safely on the Oscar nomination track will come as fresh news to you. If you do, you've already sussed out what you think it all means and you're ahead of us.

I Am Vertigo

First, a moment of silence for I Am Love's Yorick Le Saux who was not nominated for ASC's cinematography prize despite having better Vertigo hair bun homages than Black Swan! I only partially kid because both movies are byootiful (biutiful?) but...come on. I Am Love is not going to get any Oscar nominations and that is going to make me jump off my web cliff.

AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CINEMATOGRAPHERS

ASC Feature Nominees

  • Danny Cohen for The King's Speech
  • Jeff Cronenwerth for The Social Network
  • Roger Deakins for True Grit
  • Matthew Libatique for Black Swan
  • Wally Pfister for Inception

127 SpeechesThis list could transfer intact to Oscar -- they're all handsome movies for sure -- but you never know. ASC nominees, like all guild honors, generally differ a bit from the final Academy pronouncement. [2009 FLASHBACK - LOOKOUT!] Last year for example Oscar dumped Dion Beebe's ASC nominated work on Nine for Bruno Delbonnel's work on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. If you ask me it was a downgrade. Sure everyone hated Nine and blah blah blah... but awards aren't supposed to be about whether you loved the film (that's Best Picture) but what was done in that category. And Nine was beautifully shot. The weirdest thing about Rob Marshall's oeuvre is that the art directors are always getting credit for how well the DP's shoot those big cavernous somewhat empty stages.[/FLASHBACK] The King's Speech and The Social Network are probably the vulnerable ones here as they're the least showy and "best" often equates with "most" in awards season. You may see either or both of them replaced by Robert Richardson's work on Shutter Island (I'll never forget Nick calling that one "gangrenous") or the two gents from 127 Hours (who might get credit not just for the beautiful lighting but also for the inventive setups given the claustrophobic environs. But me, I'm rooting for a surprise foreign attack from I Am Love. Stop laughing! Popular foreign films sometimes show up here. Especially the visually wondrous ones.

The question on everyone's mind: Is Deakins EVER going to win an Oscar? It won't be an easy get this year either.

ASC TV Nominees
(announced last month)

  • Eagle Egilsson for "Shell Game" Dark Blue
  • Jonathan Freeman for "Home" Boardwalk Empire
  • Christopher Manley for "Blowing Smoke" Mad Men
  • Kramer Morgenthau for "Family Limitation" Boardwalk Empire
  • David Stockton for "Pilot" Nikita
  • Michael Wale for "Shield" Smallville
  • Glen Winter for "Abandoned" Smallville

Sigh. I miss Mad Men so hard, don't you? The nominated episode is the one where Midge (awesome Rosemarie DeWitt) returns all drugged up.The ASC Awards ceremony is on February 13th.

 

Tuesday
Jan112011

Will Natalie Portman be this year's Eddie Murphy?

No strings, NorbitKurt here from Your Movie Buddy, not happy to have found a link between two otherwise un-linkable actors. The more promo material I see for Natalie Portman's considerable 2011 output – trailers for Your Highness and Thor, posters for The Other Woman, constant TV spots for No Strings Attached (not to be confused with fellow ballerina Mila Kunis's Friends with Benefits) – the more my heart sinks. It takes you back to 2006, when Eddie Murphy all but had the Supporting Actor Oscar on his mantle for his work in Dreamgirls, then saw his dreams shattered by the inescapable marketing campaign for Norbit.

 Some may argue that Little Miss Sunshine's Alan Arkin, with his endearing character and veteran status, had the upset in the bag, but comeback kid Murphy was the frontrunner. I'm of the firm belief that he did himself in by putting the awful taste of Norbit in voter's mouths. Portman's upcoming offerings can't rival the, shall we say, uncouthness of Murphy in a scantily-clad female fat suit, but none of them look too promising, either, least of all No Strings Attached. Is it such a stretch to think the Best Actress hopeful may become the victim of her own Norbit effect?

After all, Portman finds herself in a much more precarious position than Murphy did...

Her category's field of contenders (and eventual nominees) is leagues stronger than Murphy's was, and she also faces a far more formidable and voter-friendly vet than he did. Unless I'm mistaken, and have misread the mood in the air, Portman's precursor lead – and additional off-screen attractors like pregnancy – have done little to change the fact that she's in a head-to-head with Annette Bening. Despite the awesome power of her Swan performance, an unappealing 2011 slate could be just the thing to sway voters to select her long-overdue rival.

one of many Swan premieres

Or, maybe not.

Maybe Portman's 2011 ubiquity is instead just another thing to give her yet more of an edge. As an educated, gifted and especially comely actress whom Hollywood has loved since childhood, she may only benefit from flashing her pretty face all over the place. Rather than recoiling, voters may just smile and say, “ah, yes, there she is again...sweet girl.”

What, if anything, do you make of this? Could Portman have clipped her own wings?

Tuesday
Jan112011

Best Achievement in Messing With Josh Brolin's Face

Brolin as himself. Brolin as Jonah Hex. Brolin as Tom Chaney.

The Academy's makeup artist and hairstylist branch has announced their finalist list. Three films from their list of seven will likely go on to become Oscar nominees.

The Finalists

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • Barney's Version
  • The Fighter
  • Jonah Hex
  • True Grit
  • The Way Back
  • The Wolfman

The makeup branch is among the hardest to predict each year because there never seems to be any rhyme or reason to their selections despite all of these rules. For example: How the hell did Black Swan miss? Never mind, I don't want to know. The answer would undoubtedly be depressing like "but those removable body parts in Alice in Wonderland that they wore to make Helena Bonham-Carter not feel bad about her CGI enlarged head were hilarious!". This branch also rarely remembers the "wigs and hairpieces" part of the equation always failing to honor the oeuvre of Nicolas Cage. They always ignore achievements wherein an actress becomes a total glamour goddesses with extra help from wigs and makeup. I mean they didn't even nominate Cate Blanchett wig-orgy Elizabeth: Turn Off The Dark (2007) sorry Joe, I'm using that podcast joke forever.

Nor, do they nominate "deglam" movies for actresses which definitely require the services of makeup artists and hairstylists. I still think the makeup on Monster (2003) is one of the great Oscar snubs of all time; Charlize didn't blotch her own skin or have dental surgery.

The official criteria for the "makeup" award is...

...any change in the appearance of a performer’s face, hair, or body created by the application of cosmetics, three-dimensional materials, prosthetic appliances, or wigs and hairpieces, applied directly to the performer’s face or body.

In other words, everything that Black Swan did (minus maybe the wigs).

Tuesday
Jan112011

Curio: Orphan Elliott on Film

Alexa here. I've been following the work of Mat Hudson, a.k.a. Orphan Elliott, for some time.  Mat is an illustrator and designer living in the state of Washington.  He does some of the finest pop culture illustrations out there; if you love Gogol Bordello, Martin Starr, or Buffy, his work will be right up your alley. He also does marvelous film portraits and posters, and has a bit of an obsession with David Lynch.  You can buy prints here.  When I saw that he posterized Cassavetes' Gloria, I knew I had to buy one.  

David


Woody


Gloria poster

Tuesday
Jan112011

The Body Bale

The good folks over at /Film published this neat infographic on Christian Bale's body created by /Film reader Matt Ellerbrock.

 

The weight information is priceless but there's something very wrong with the chart: Bale is wearing clothes in half the photos. Plus there's no American Psycho (2000). No overview of The Body Bale, in sickness and in health, is complete without it.

American Psycho (2000). lbs: Oh, like it matters.

You're welcome.

 

When Bale wins the Supporting Actor Oscar on February 27th, do you think he'll finally stop this dangerous yoyo'ing for art? Normally we're all for suffering for your art but Bale takes it so far it's more like torture for art's sake which is way less glamorous than traditional respectable "suffering". Bale will return to buff form for one last go at Batman in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) but as of right now he's filming Zhang Yimou's The 13 Women of Nanjing (2011). We'd like to say that he's already in peak shape again but since he's playing a war refugee struggling heroically to save schoolchildren we suspect the weight loss continues. Nevertheless we're excited for the film since Zhang Yimou makes frequently excellent movies .

Monday
Jan102011

Best of 2010: Honorable Mentions

Before we begin, new readers take note: This is but the beginning of The Film Experience year-in-review kudos. It goes on for some time because we're giddy and OCD like that when it comes to recognizing great work. The "Film Bitch Awards" title is misleading and an old joke from college. We don't look down at the movies through our noses, but look up at the silver screen in reverie.

Here's a quick overview of well-loved films outside of the top ten (make that a top thirteen, coming tomorrow). Don't we all ♥ more than ten films a year?

Best Documentaries
I don't include documentaries in my top ten -- a personal quirk since they're a different artform with wildly different goals -- but if I did include them, please note that the Kimberly Reed's trans identity essay Prodigal Sons [Netflix Instant Watch] and the Chinese migration family drama Last Train Home, both released theatrically in 2010, would be in the mix. They might be the two best docs I've seen since Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man which you'll understand is the highest compliment I can pay them. I was also intrigued by Catfish, but then I saw it long before it was possible to have it "spoiled."  It's arguably exploitative take on online relationship and virtual identity works whether it's staged or real. And the scene that gives the film its name? Wow.

Exit Through Joan's Gift Shop

Quite by accident I saw more documentaries this year than I ever have. The two other true keepers among the batch were laugh-out-loud goodies: Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work which both stare straight at the lunacy of celebrity and artistic success, one with twinkling eyes and amused disbelief, the other with trembling lip and defiant survival.

Movie I Feel Bad About Missing
I shan't bore you with the details but please know that I did try to see Dogtooth -- most people I trust have urged me to see it -- but was thwarted in my attempts. One for the future. For what it's worth I also missed: For Colored Girls,  Robin Hood, and the French romantic comedy Heartbreaker which was an international hit, finishing in the top 100 globally. How did I miss that one? Grrrr.

The Movies I Can't Count
There is an argument out there that in this new millenium, theatrical release is more or less meaningless and shouldn't be a factor in year-end honors. But, without some sort of structure, how can there be community in movie discussions?

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan102011

Director's Guild Big 5. Plus Trivia!

If you click on over to the Best Director page that we've had up for awhile, you'll see this Oscar prediction awaiting you.

 

It's the exact DGA nominee list for Best Director (just announced). This isn't The Film Experience blowing its own horn so much as the obvious: This is the shortlist. In order for anyone else to pull an Oscar nomination on January 25th for Achievement in Direction, they'll have to either: K.O. David O. Russell as he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee; cut those thespian marionette strings that Tom Hooper is gracefully pulling; sue David Fincher for capturing zeitgeist in a bottle before they could; break the legs of Darren Aronofsky's ballerinas; or invade Chris Nolan's Oscar dream. Before it even happens!

 

Any one of those things will be very difficult to do.

Click to read more ...