Oscar History

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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Lessons from the success of "It"

"The marketing was smart...they did a good job of using a "less is more" approach" - Jakey

 "This is a rare case of a movie that was perfect to remake: has a strong nostalgic following but which also kind of sucks and has a lot of room for improvement. You get the pre-installed fan base but don't have the pressure of re-creating and improving on a legit classic." - MJS

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8 Degrees of Linking

/Film Angela Lansbury wanted for Wes Anderson's next film? Gah!
My New Plaid Pants JA delights me when he reorganizes the world. #TeamCharbender ! 
Oscar Metrics returns (yay Mark Harris!) with a conversation about 2012's first ½
Low Resolution thinks Salma Hayek is g-r-e-a-t in Savages and that the movie isn't so bad either 
Hollywood Reporter Channing Tatum's next two projects are lined up: Foxcatcher for Bennett Miller and another filmed version of daredevil Evel Knievel's life, both true stories.
Daily Mail ...and Chan is also interested in a Magic Mike sequel and has made a not-very-serious offer to play the male lead in the erotic drama 50 Shades of Grey
Guardian Chris Nolan is suggesting that someone make a Catwoman spinoff for Anne Hathaway. "She deserves it." 
Empire Josh Trank will helm the Fantastic Four reboot as expected (that's one reboot we'll be happy to see -- bad movies deserve to be rebooted, not good ones!) but Daredevil has lost its director. The rights to Daredevil may shift back to Marvel if the film isn't in production by the fall. Please let Fox biff this one. Marvel is better at this now! Keep them all in the same universe.

Have you picked up the Margaret Blu-Ray yet to see what #TeamMargaret was all about last Dec/Jan? I'll discuss it soon if you want. Here's an 8 Degrees of Separation Infographic detailing the various cast connections. I love that Ladyhawke is mentioned. So very random!


Looks Like Rain! Aronofksy's "Noah" is Coming

The publicity for Darren Aronofsky's Noah (2014) -- the first big name biblical epic since, what, The Passion of the Christ? -- is a light drizzle now. Here's the first photo from the set tweeted Wednesday by Darren Aronofsky himself who writes:

I dreamt about this since I was 13. And now it's a reality. Genesis 6:14

So that scripture in case you don't have a Bible (no judgments) is along these lines 'Make yourself an arc with ribs of cypress: cover it with reeds and coat it inside and out with pitch.'

Jennifer Connelly wearing one of her Noah's Ark co-starsMore Noah news
Anthony Hopkins was recently announced in the role of super-ancient Methusaleh who (SPOILER ALERT) dies right before the Flood. Maybe he can borrow Guy Pearce or Cate Blanchett's impossibly old old-age makeup from Prometheus or Benjamin Button.

Russell Crowe plays Noah and Jennifer Connelly as his wife (making this a double reunion for her with her A Beautiful Mind co-star and her Requiem for a Dream director). The cast also includes Emma Watson (zzz), Logan Lerman, two animals of every kind and Ray Winstone as the "villain". Does this mean Winstone plays God? Cause, let's be real, isn't God the villain in the Noah's Ark scenario? 

The publicity drizzle will presumably soon be a flood. It gets like that for filmmakers after they have their first smash crossover hit. In Aronofsky's case that was Black Swan. And what better way to follow up a hallucinatory fucked up ballerina nightmare and Best Picture nominee than with a biblical epic involving mad prophets, animals, and Oscar winning actors?

If you were filling Aronofsky's ark which two animals (or actors) would you start with?


Cast This! "Baby Jane" the Remake That Should Never Happen But Is Fun To Theoretically Cast

 By now you must have heard that horriblest of horrible news: Walter Hill is planning a remake of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Why? Why? Why? Won't Carrie 2013 be tragedy enough? But after the brief psychotic break I experienced after reading the news (I stood under an overhead light and swayed inconsolably while holding my Madonna doll) I realized that Whatever Happened to Baby Jane is really fun to enjoy in whichever way it comes to you. I love any spoof or homage. I just don't need a remake.

Luke at Journalistic Skepticism, who came up with a funny casting reunion suggestion, asked me to discuss. And I can't fight it. I readily concede that even though I don't want the film remade, it's super fun to theoretically cast.

Nick joked on twitter that Hollywood would obviously go with oldies like Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon which is funny because it's horrible and true. If they go older, they'll obviously offer it to Streep & Somebody. But I think you should go with 50somethings.  My brilliant suggestion after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Road to Perdition" 

For this edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, TFE's signature series in which everyone playing along must choose one shot from a selected movie that they define as best, we're looking at Sam Mendes Oscar-winning Road to Perdition (2002) on the eve of its 10th anniversary. 

The film's sole Oscar win was a posthumous statue for the great cinematographer Conrad L Hall. He died in early January of 2003, just a few weeks before his tenth Oscar nomination was announced. Hall didn't have anything to prove this late in his career but Mendes sure did, given that it was his follow up to his Oscar winning debut American Beauty (1999). This crime drama is filled with frameable frames. It's majestic looking really, veritably dripping with prestige for better and worse, usually on account of both the lighting (one shudders to think how long Hall spent on each set up) and the intricate staging and compositions.

a terrific POV shot that doesn't cheat. That's so rare in the movies.

The bulk of the film's narrative spins dangerously from this eyewitness shot, a perfectly excellent choice for Best Shot -- I'm sure someone will choose it! -- if not (quite) mine. 

Michael Sullivan Jr (Tyler Hoechlin nine years prior to Teen Wolf fame) is our narrator and he's about to witness a murder that his father (Tom Hanks) has a hand in though it's the unstable Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) pulling the trigger. Road to Perdition's title suggests that the movie is about irredeemable souls and it is to some degree. Mob boss John Rooney (Oscar nominated Paul Newman) says as much when he's screaming at Michael Sullivan Sr. (Tom Hanks) in the basement of a church -- "There are only murderers here" -- predicting that none of them will see heaven. But the truer topic is fathers and sons. There are three sets of them in this movie: The Sullivans, The Rooneys, and the closest of the lot, the non biological edition - the Sullivan/Rooney.

The introduction of Michael Sullivan Sr. He never turns to look at his son.

Sullivan Jr. and Sr as well as the Rooney Jr and Sr are often separated by great distances in the frame but note how Sullivan Sr and Rooney Sr are all tight in one of the film's most tender moments, a little piano duet at a wake.

That's all an elaborate set up to make my choice for Best Shot really hurt, to extend a little sympathy for the devil. The devil in Daniel Craig. In one of the film's least comfortable moments Connor glibly apologizes to the mafia bigwigs gathered about that murder that gets the film rolling. His angry father humiliates him right then and there. As the meeting adjourns Mendes and Hall's camera does a slow zoom in on Connor just as he's being abandoned by everyone visually. Connor goes out of focus the closer you get to him, the better to illuminate the father (Rooney Sr) and preferred virtual son (Sullivan Sr.) all chummy directly behind him.

Best Shot

The focus snaps back to Connor at this perfect shot's tail end. He's about to kill two more people as payback insuring tragedy for all (including himself). No, he's not going to heaven.

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because it mirrors the sudden focus shift in Connor's introduction earlier as he lays on a couch smoking.

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because Daniel Craig is a dangerous actor and the movie desperately needs his unique kind. Jude Law as the very sick photographer "Maguire" also manages but Tom Hanks, fatally miscast, is at a complete loss to convey it. Even his furrowed brow looks friendly --physiognomy as destiny. Sorry, Tom!

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because the next sharp cut (god bless Jill Bilcockfrom childish Connor seething with hate for daddy and adopted brother is to this:


"There are only murderers bloggers in this room"
Serious Film "blaze of glory"
F*** No, But There's a Poster "Meet Maguire"
Amiresque  best (gun)shot
Cinesnatch past, present and no future all in one image
Film Actually a father and son reunion
Encore Entertainment "when you raise a gun you get your own blood on your hands" 
Antagony & Ecstacy on one of the most beautiful pictures of the past quarter century 
Pussy Goes Grrr convergent diagonals, legible horizontals, phallic guns?
Okinawa Assault biking towards damnation, wading in crowds

I'm also happy to report that Rope of Silicon has joined the "Best Shot" party this week. Brad's series "Paused" which shares gorgeous screenshots from random movies will line up with ours here when we're both in the mood for the same movie. I'm sad I didn't think to do Alien when he covered it.

Next up on 'Hit Me':
07/18 PINK NARCISSUS (1971) *for adult audiences only*
07/25 THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) Wes Anderson's masterpiece?
08/01 HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable.


Ask Nathaniel...

It's that semi-weekly time again. Ask me questions and I'll choose two handfuls to answer early next week. Last week we talked Whoopi, character actresses, and Joss Whedon's future. What will we discuss this week?


Contest: Development Hell

If this blog were a movie, you'd have never read it. I'd have typed up innumerable drafts and discussed them with producers. They'd have missed the point entirely -- 'Have you thought about adding more unmade superhero movie rumors (the internet loves those) and ditching the actresses (booooorrring!)? -- then they'd hand over the reins to another writer entirely and another. No one would hit publish.

But this blog is not a movie and I hit publish all the time. The only "Tales From Development Hell" that effect me here involve plans for series that have trouble getting going or lose their way during production

If this blog post were a movie it would never be published and the books I have to give away to you would gather dust, cobwebs, and cat hair... so so so much cat hair (curse you, summer!). 

Anyway... THE BOOK! 

It has crazy stories about various aborted versions of The Planet of the Apes which led to Tim Burton's trainwreck. It charts the difficult journey of Total Recall  to the screen just in time for the remake.


Ahnuld demonstrates the face worn by all people working on movies in development hell.

'First of all, I really wanted to cast William Hurt,' he says, 'and the difference between Bill Hurt and Arnold Schwarzenegger probably tells you everything. I was doing something that I thought was faithful to Phil Dick and also to my own sense of the complex understanding of what memory is and what identity is. Obviously it would have been sci-fi and you would have gone to Mars, but it would have been like "Spider" goes to Mars,' he adds referring to his 2002 film starring Ralph Fiennes as a man struggling to piece his memories together, 'as opposed to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" Goes to Mars.' "
-David Cronenberg on his version of "Total Recall" 

It has a depressing story of Darren Aronofsky's Batman:Year One proposal (depressing because "gimme")... and much more. The movie choices lean a little fanboy -- I'd love to read a book like this on Jodie Foster's Flora Plum -- but the stories are interesting and it'll totally make you respect movies that get made... at all. What a rough business showbizness is.

If you wanna read it send me an e-mail by Saturday July 14th with "Development Hell" in the subject line with the following three pieces of info:


  1. Your Name
  2. Your Shipping Address
  3. (Briefly for possible publication here): Name a recent movie you wish had stayed in development hell longer. What two things would you have changed about it before it hit screens.


I'll announce the winners on Sunday! So start e-mailing and rewriting recent movies.

P.S. While we're on the subject of development hell, a version of the 2002 documentary The Sweatbox (supposedly Disney prevented the release from ever happening?) about the difficult production history of The Emperor's New Groove is showing in its entirety on YouTube. Have any of you seen it?