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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Q&A: AFI Tributes, Noirs & Westerns, "Strong" Females

"AFI... My predictions (not necessarily based on merit) are that AFI will honor Julie Andrews, Jodie Foster and Julia Roberts.." - Marie

"Wonder Woman is one of the best movies of the year - it would be foolish for the Oscars to ignore it." - Jaragon


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Complete the Coming Soon Sentence

"The 2012 movie I'm most looking forward to is ___________________ because ________________ ."

[Editor's Note: Now that Nathaniel is awake again (must change banner) he's got to start thinking 2012. Soon, dear reader soon.]


"Hit Me With Your Best Shot" Season 3 

Ready for Season 3 of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot"? 

Newbies take note: each week we pick a movie and we all pick our favorite shots. Consider it a mini blog-a-thon. If you've seen the movie you might already have an idea of the image if you'd choose. If you've never seen it, here's a nudge to do so! Your "best shot" might be the image that most reminds you of the film, the one you think of as the most beautiful, the shot that's the most resonant in terms of the movies theme... anything really since "Best" is in the eye of the beholder. You can post yours and why you chose it on any of your web homes and let me know and we'll link up when we publish on Wednesday evenings at 10 PM. 

Films we've already covered in this series 
1920s The Circus (1928), Pandora's Box (1929); 1930s Tarzan the Ape Man (1932); 1940s The Woman in the Window (1944), Black Narcissus (1947); 1950s A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Night of the Hunter (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), A Face in the Crowd (1957); 1960s Rocco and His Brothers (1960), Psycho (1960), La Dolce Vita (1960); 1970s Eraserhead (1977); 1980s Aliens (1986), Law of Desire and Matador (1986/1987), Peggy Sue Got Married (1986); 1990s Beauty & the Beast (1991), Heavenly Creatures (1994), Se7en (1995), Showgirls (1995); 2000s Bring it On (2000), Requiem for a Dream (2000), X-Men (2000), Moulin Rouge! (2001), Memento (2001), Angels in America (2003), Mean Girls (2004).



March 21st Ladyhawke (1985)
It's Matthew Broderick's 50th birthday and we thought this would be a fun feature to look back on visually. And not just for all the Pfeifferisms but can you believe we've never done a Pfeiffer Pfilm here?
March 28th Bonnie & Clyde (1967) March 26th-30th is WARREN WEEK 
Warren Beatty turns 75 on the 30th. We'll celebrate one of the greatest stars in the Hollywood firmament all week. Which films should we revisit?
April 4th Easter Parade (1948)
We love a musical and this one's timed for the holidays.


Will you join us this year? If so, spread the word.
This series thrives on several pairs of eyes. 


"We have 12 Vacancies. 12 Cabins. 12 Links" 

Kill Screen imagines Downton Abbey as a card based RPG. Love the artifact "pants of modernity"
Deja View a relic brochure from a time when Disney was seeking animators.
Irish Times is pissed about Streep's Oscar win and illustrates, again, that a backlash grows. But here's the interesting part...

One can think of many star actresses...who will submerge themselves in films bigger than themselves. But Streep has to be bigger than the movie, to the point where she can become, in effect, a substitute for it.

You may recall we were talking about just this fascinating issue (within the Oscar symposium). It's hardly a Streep-Only topic. What does it mean to "carry" a movie and should an actor ever be asked to? 

Rope of Silicon has "sexy" issues with Scarlett Johansson as Janet Leigh in the upcoming feature Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (omg please change the title). So do I and the first being that Scarjo, who I enjoy, is very different than Janet Leigh in body, age and looks. She might be able to summon up the contemplative paranoia mood of Leigh but otherwise it's a huge miss if you ask me.
Guardian odd lawsuit of day. Sandra Bullock is pissed that a watch company is selling a watch by comparing it to her Blind Side look.
Coming Soon Disney must've liked the response to titling Rapunzel Tangled because their next fairy tale musical will be based on The Snow Queen and it's called Frozen. Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars herself, gets lead vocal duties.
 remembers Black Swan with a new behind the scenes photo gallery. I don't remember Natalie wearing this white cloak thing onstage. Have I lost my mind or just my short term memory?
ioncinema details a new "slippery nature of truth" project called True Story starring Jonah Hill and James Franco. Brad Pitt's Plan B is producing. Pitt has good taste and this sounds interesting. 
Pajiba lists the 25 biggest animated hit (adjusted for inflation). Pixar doesn't even make the top 10!
Indiewire lists films they hope show at Cannes this summer

And even though I always try to let each year's Oscars go within a week's time of the ceremony, I find myself still reading Oscar recaps since I have emerged from my cave of silence. I did like these two overviews of the ceremony from two of my favorite online peeps, The Self Styled Siren and Glenn at Stale Popcorn. So if you also share the Oscar sickness, read 'em.


Monologue: "Lone Biker of the Apocalypse"

Michael C. here to drop off your regularly scheduled Monday Monologue

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Coen brothers' screwball, baby-knapping comedy Raising Arizona. Rewatching the film it is striking just how distant the rowdy hayseed comedy feels from cool control of the brothers' recent output. This isn't meant as an accusation that they have gone soft in their middle age. Quite the contrary. But even as they have produced a handful of unequivocal masterpieces I still harbor a soft spot for their wild younger days, much the way a Woody Allen fan can't help but pine for the anarchic spirit of Bananas no matter how much he appreciates the cinematic mastery of Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Take the scene where a premonition of doom visits Cage's H.I. soon after swiping one of the "Arizona Quints" to complete his family unit with Holly Hunter's Ed:

That night, I had a dream. I drifted off thinking about happiness, birth and new life, But now I was haunted by a vision of... He was horrible. The lone biker of apocalypse. A man with all the powers of Hell at his command. He could turn turn the day into night and lay to waste everything in his path.

He was especially hard on little things-the helpless and the gentle creatures. He left a scorched earth in his wake befouling even the sweet desert breeze that whipped across his brow. I didn't know where he came from or why. I didn't know if he was dream or vision. But I feared that I myself had unleashed him. For he was the fury that would be as soon as Florence Arizona found her little Nathan gone. 

The characters are both beloved Coen brother templates. The Biker (memorably embodied by former pro boxer Randall "Tex" Cobb) is one in a long line of remorseless heavies that reached their apex in Anton Chirgurh, while Cage's H.I is in the grand tradition of Coen brothers morons that continued through the escaped bumpkins of O Brother right up to the glorious idiocy of Brad Pitt's Chad Feldheimer.

Likewise giving even their most dimwitted characters memorable turns of phrase like "befouling the sweet desert breeze" is an unmistakable Coens trademark. See: Lebowski, Big.

What stands apart is the wild, improvised feel of the sequence. The series of gags that introduce the Biker - including the grenading of a cute, fluffy bunny - would be right at home in a Road Runner cartoon. The capper on the whole sequence is a doozy of a shot where the camera, which we had assumed to be the Biker's POV, goes unexpectedly airborne and flies right through a window landing in the open mouth of Mrs. Arizona as she screams. The moment can't help but bring to mind the fluid insanity of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series.

When Joel and Ethan have returned to screwball material in flicks like Burn After Reading the execution more closely resembles the deliberate style of Arizona's follow-up, Miller's Crossing. And while I repeat this is neither good nor bad, and that all great artists evolve, I can't deny I would kill to see what some meticulously controlled later day title like, say, A Serious Man would look like if it was made with the same unhinged, shoot from the hip style the Coens brought to Raising Arizona a quarter century ago.

Recent Monologues:
"My name is Charlene" -Missi Pyle in Spring Break
Megan and the Dolphins - Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids


Smash: "The Callback" and "Enter Joe DiMaggio"

"Let's make ourselves a Marilyn"Since so many of you seemed to be watching Smash judging on response to the pilot episode, and since its a fictional show about a possibly real musical about a very real departed movie star, I thought I'd write it up weekly. But Oscar is a needy lover and hogged all my time. Now there are so many episodes to discuss! To get caught up we'll do two doubles, so here's the first of them. 

1.2 "The Callback" 
In the second episode, we were both thrilled and shocked to find that they didn't drag out the "who will they cast as Marilyn Monroe?" drama for weeks on end. Though obviously they could and will revisit it since we're a long way from opening night. Both girls, Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen (Katharine McPhee) endured torturous waiting and callbacks while the power players made up their mind. Ivy it was. The best sign that the show is serious about being an actual show about the business of Broadway theater rather than a show about whatever the hell it feels like being about in any given scene (Glee... sigh) was that we actually see Julia and Tom (Debra Messing and Christian Borle) toiling away at work wondering about structure and characters and arguing about song order and even the process itself. You can't just write a musical by stringing songs together.  The worst sign for the freshman show is the insistence on Julia's adoption subplot. Isn't birthing a brand new musical enough parenting?

Jack: It's a big risk
Eileen: Nothing's Bigger Than Broadway!
Jack: I'm aware.  

Set List: Blondie's "Call Me" (McPhee), "Let Me Be Your Star" (McPhee/Hilty), "20th Century Fox Mambo (McPhee), Carrie Underwood's "Crazy Dreams" (Hilty)
Pop Culture and Movie References: vampire craze, Clash By Night, Monkey Business
Best Moment: Ivy practicing her Monroeisms "thank you ever so" 
Anjelica Awesomeness: Huston's condescension towards her ex's new blonde plaything "We've met" / "I don't think so" / [mocking her with squeaky bimbo voice] "I doooo"
Gay Gay Gay "Nothing's bigger than Broadway!" 
Curtain Call: Megan Hilty does a stunning cabaret rendition of "Crazy Dreams" to close the episode.

1.3 "Enter Joe DiMaggio"
In the third episode Karen gets invited to participate in the workshops as part of the chorus and she takes a trip home to Iowa for a babyshower. Things get more complicated when Michael (Will Chase), a rising actor, signs on as Joe DiMaggio and Tom's assistant Ellis starts feeling proprietary about the musical (his casual comment in the pilot sparked the whole thing) and steals Julia's notebook. The best thing about both of these developments is that they make Julia (Debra Messing) way more interesting as a character because she has such irrationally strong reactions to both, one being an ex-lover the other being someone she just bristles at instinctually. In fact, Messing really steps up in this episode making her own case for an Emmy run. (Julia is a surprisingly thorny and multi-faceted character by episode 3. Not at all what we were expecting after the pilot.) Emmys for everyone!

Megan Hilty as Ivy Lynn as Marilyn & Will Chase as Michael Swift asJoe DiMaggio

We're noone you've ever seen
Movie stars don't live anywhere here
Except on the local drive-in screen

Set List: Bruno Mars "Grenade" (Chase), Gretchen Wilson's "Red Neck Woman" (McPhee) "Mr and Mrs Smith" 
Pop Culture and Movie References: Gone With the Wind, The Seven Year Itch, My Fair Lady, Sinatra, Siegfried & Roy
Best Moment: Julia's intense jarring switch from painful confession to Tom to bitchy showdown with Ellis
Anjelica Awesomeness: Huston's Eileen Rand is really a marvel of a character creation. She has Huston's usual dragon lady severity but there are so many exquisite playful beats that the character feels unpredictable even when she's working a repetitive "bit" like throwing drinks in her ex-husband's face. Their dinner scene together is filled with weirdly flirtatious hostility, giving off the distinct impression that they once had great sex but always enjoyed pissing the other off. "You have exquisite taste. When you weren't cheating on me it was one of the things I really enjoyed about you." 
Curtain Call
: "Mr and Mrs Smith"... I'm more and more convinced that this needs to be an actual musical on Broadway. Can this series be about a different new musical every season and put it on Broadway directly afterwards? I mean... many new musicals don't have songs as uniformly strong as the ones this show is cranking out.

LATER THIS WEEK... we'll discuss "The Cost of Art" and tonight's episode "Let's Be Bad". If you're not watching, start. Good show. You can get caught up on Hulu or iTunes. 


Overheard @ Box Office: "You can't go wrong with Dr. Seuss"

Overheard on Friday:

Woman#1: (Defeated sounding) I have to take my son to see The Lorax
Cheerful Female Friend: Ohhh, you can't go wrong with Dr. Seuss!"  

Cheerful Female Friend has clearly not registered the atrocities Hollywood has often made from the good doctor's work. And when one thinks of the colorful wit and profound whimsy of Dr. Seuss surely mainstream heartthrobs like Zac Efron and Taylor Swift pop immediately to mind! What a, uhhhh, perfect vocal match.

But Cheerful Female Friend speaks for all of America. So testifies the box office!

BAKERS DOZEN (Estimates)
01 THE LORAX  $70.7 new  
02 PROJECT X  $20.7 new  
03 ACT OF VALOR $13.7 (cum. $45.2)
04 SAFE HOUSE  $7.2 (cum. $108.2)
05 TYLER PERRY'S GOOD DEEDS $7 (cum. $25.7)
06 JOURNEY 2 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND $6.9 (cum. $85.6)
07 THE VOW  $6.1 ($111.7)
08 THIS MEANS WAR  $5.6  (cum. $41.6)
10 THE ARTIST $3.9 (cum. $37)

11 WANDERLUST  $3.8 (cum. $12.4)
12 GONE $3 (cum. $8.9)
13 CHRONICLE  $1.9 (60.8)


Talking Points

Reese, Amanda, and Jen have seen better box office days

• BLONDE BUT BANKABLE? Reese Witherspoon's movies are generally expensive to make but that return on investment these days. Yikes. This Means War is still a long way from recouping its budget. Jennifer Aniston movies have always had schizophrenic box office performance but Wanderlust is definitely on the weak side of her ticket-selling. How on earth was that sperm-switching comedy more attractive to moviegoers than this one? Meanwhile Amanda Seyfried hasn't been able to scare up crowds from Gone which is weirder. It's a genre flick and can't those usually open even without a name? $8 million for a serial killer picture after two weeks? Ouch. I'm sure it doesn't help that the ads totally make it seem like something Ashley Judd was making in the early 90s.

• EXCUSE ME, BUT WHO IS PAYING TO SEE GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE? I mean, besides our masochistic Michael C. It's already made more money than 2011's "Best Picture"... which had a big uptick post Oscar of course (The Artist's co-nominees took falls but Hugo fell only 14% despite also debuting on DVD so maybe its constant name-checking on Sunday night convinced some holdouts?)

• A SEPARATION more than doubled its screen count and had its first million dollar weekend, bringing its total to $3.7 million at the US box office. That there is a big big number for a non-genre subtitled picture.

What did you see this weekend? Was it worth the money? I was having an offline recuperation weekend so I went to see a Norwegian band at The Bitter End that one of my friends recommended called Mhoo. They're so good. Have a listen! 


They told me they're going to SXSW so if you're heading to that festival check them out.

Even when I'm at non-film events I can't stop thinking of movies. While the girls were singing I kept thinking "Kiki Dunst and Leelee Sobieski should play them in a movie!"