Oscar History

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Cry Face, Dance Breaks, Doc Shorts

The Claire Danes Cry Face Project as wonderful as it sounds
iTunes Trailers Django Unchained got himself a new one just as the buzz was dipping to pin drop status
John August reacts to the lower-than-expected box office for Frankenweenie (which he wrote). I love how candid he is about temporary disappointments and what it all does or doesn't mean.
Nicks Flick Picks has been surveying the best of... 2012 in multiple categories (so far)
Movie City News on Seth MacFarlane's first Oscar sketch
Awards Daily Meryl Streep and other Hollywood power women are Drawing the Line about reproductive rights. Good for them! 

IMP Awards new character posters for Les Misérables
LA Times RIP to actor /sports star Alex Karras (TV's Webster). I'm disappointed that so few of the obits have featured Victor/Victoria in any memorable way! That's what I remember him best from.
Stale Popcorn on Bret Easton Ellis, Twitter and the Canyons trailer
/Film Shailene Woodley to become Mary Jane Watson in the new Spider-Man series. "Downgrade!" - crazed Kiki fan.
TV|Line Bryan Fuller's forthcoming Munsters remake series starring Portia deRossi may end with the pilot, which is airing as a standalone tv special this month
People did I forget to congratulate Audra McDonald and Will Swenson on their marriage? Two fine musical theater talents now legally fused into one power couple 
The Envelope on Lincoln's debut at NYFF. I love the opening 'graph referencing War Horse. Hee.

Steven Spielberg's long-gestating "Lincoln" finally arrived last night at the New York Film Festival, and as with any blessed event, the debut prompted a level of excitement not seen since ... well ... the last time Spielberg made a much-hyped, awards-season movie.

Must See
I can't stop watching this clip of Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Maggie Cheung courtesy of Criterion

Apparently In the Mood For Love (one of my favorite films evah!) was originally conceived as a much lighter piece. Watching one of the all time great movie couples dance together all flirtatious/cool is multi-orgasmic. Try it! If you've never seen the movie get right on that. A wondrous film experience awaits you.

Oscar Documentary News!
Finally, the eight finalists for Oscars best Documentary Short have been announced. They are...

Paraíso (10 minutes) is about Mexican immigrants who clean windows on skyscrapers

  • The Education of Mohammad Hussein (Loki Films)
  • Inocente (Shine Global, Inc)
  • Kings Point (Kings Point Documentary, Inc)
  • Mondays at Racine (Cynthia Wade Productions)
  • Open Heart (Urban Landscapes Ic)
  • Paraíso (The Strangebird Company)
  • The Perfect Fit (SDI Productions Ltd)
  • Redemption (Downton Docs) 

You can read about all of those shorts at our newly updated Oscar Documentary Prediction Page. Enjoy


LFF: The French are coming!

David here, heralding the return of the BFI London Film FestivalCraig and I are back again, and we’ll be bringing you various updates across the next two weeks. The 56th festival kicked off last night with the European premiere of Frankenweenie, but my first round-up post has more of a Francophile feel to it…

Matthias Schoenaerts and Marion Cotillard in 'Rust & Bone'

With Rust & Bone, director Jacques Audiard is still in the business of tempering abrasive, down-on-their-luck characters in the French banlieues with a style that smears the poetic and the aggressive into one confrontational melting pot. It seems to be part of Audiard’s intention to throw severe miserablism at his audience just to see if they can survive. Still, such a vibrantly aggressive film with a charged sense of the physical is a rare thing, and Audiard works to balance the lead performances by Marion Cotillard (whom Jose was just raving about) and Matthias Schoenaerts between a dark emotional percolation and a keen awareness of their physicality and the relationship of their bodies. Cotillard is expert at scorching her character Stephanie’s lust and enhanced sense of her own body onto the screen, and the building frisson between Stephanie and Schoenaerts’ Ali happens less through dialogue (the brisk, careless attitude of Ali puts paid to that) and more through the relation of their bodies and faces. The film may tilt wildly into grandiose dramatics or voracious sentimentality and some notes may strike an off chord, but they are all part of Audiard’s passionate approach; they reflect the beautiful, distorted, uncomfortable mess of a world that these two people inhabit. The rust rubs up against the bone and they spark, hurting but creating fire and feeling. (B+) (full review)

Wild in a different way is the narrative conceit of François Ozon’s In the House, confident again after the successful pastiche. French literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini), despairing of his students’ lack of talent and effort, is intrigued by Claude’s (Ernst Umhauer) piece on the homelife of his best friend Rapha (Bastien Ughetto). Pushing his new protégé to enliven his continuing stories, the lines between fiction and reality blur as Claude, Germain and Germain’s wife Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) become more invested and obsessed with the lives of Rapha’s family. There are echoes of younger Ozon in the cautious dissection of a middle-class family home by an Umhauer’s enigmatic potboiler, but the director sticks less rigidly to the theatrical setting of Water Drops on Burning Rocks and 8 Women and delineates various domestic and public spaces with distinctive mise-en-scene. With this consistent shift in setting come the frivolous shifts in tone – Claude’s interpretation of Germain’s literary suggestions remain unpredictable to all but him, and so the audience is thrown between caustic parody, sensual romance, ghostly thriller, and myriads of diverse moods with gleeful abandon. Ultimately, Ozon makes little of what amounts to a toe-dip in social politics, but it skips along at a brisk pace and Umhauer’s pleasingly chilled performance is matched by Emmanuelle Seignier’s melancholy, spaced ennui as Rapha’s mother. In the House is a unique prospect and even if could’ve been so much greater, it’s a pleasant way to pass a couple of hours. (B-)

Jean-Louis Trintignent holds Emmanuelle Riva in 'Amour'

As you might expect, Michael Haneke’s Amour is pretty much the opposite proposition. Haneke presents the story’s end before his title card prompting a rewind to the beginning. The udience knows they’re in for a wearing, emotional experience to reach the beatific sight of a decomposing body surrounded lovingly by petals. We’re in familiarly confrontational territory with Haneke here, but the title suggests the tender centre of this enterprise, inhabited by breathtaking work from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. They play a wealthy, elderly French couple whose life becomes confined to their apartment after Anne (Riva) suffers a stroke. Haneke’s camerawork is predominantly his usual tableau-style observation, but increasingly, as Anne worsens, the close-ups proliferate. The actors and the camera draw us deeper into the nauseatingly devastating slide towards death. Such is the power of Anne’s irascible pride that Haneke feels intrusively cruel when he won’t let her escape his camera, cutting across the apartment to catch her wheelchair zooming away from her husband. Questions niggle about why Haneke felt the need to film such a painful story, but it gains infinite legitimacy and value from the presence of Trintignant and Riva, who uncover every emotional nook and cranny of the wounded dignity and painful decisions involved in such a lengthy and dedicated love. (B+)

Follow David on Twitter @randomfurlong for instant, 140-character screening reactions.


Yes, No, Maybe So: Hitchcock

After a seemingly abrupt transition from 2013's slate to November 2012, Fox Searchlight isn't wasting any time with their Alfred Hitchcock bio. The official site is up, a new poster (to your left) arrives so shortly after the teaser poster, it wasn't much of a tease at all. And, now, the trailer.

It feels like a long time since a Yes No Maybe So breakdown, right? We course correct now to parse Hitchcock --  the trailer for the film about the man, not the man himself or his films! We'd be here for years for the latter. Based on the two minute evidence do we want to investigate the whole two hours? Why and why not? 

You know how this works by now so let's join Alfred & Alma during the making of Psycho...


  • 'The Making of Psycho'... we wouldn't have such predictable allergic reactions to biopics if more of them would stay tightly focused on one chapter in someone's life. Cradle-to-grave is just so frought with cliff notes inelegance.
  • Psycho is my favorite Hitchcock film, so I'm happy to watch a "making of". Psycho wasn't always my favorite Hitchcock but it just kept climbing the charts over the years until there was no film left to hurdle. But honestly I'd be just as happy to watch "Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Torn Curtain" -- pick a film any film -- because behind the scene and screen is a place I love to spend time.
  • This Shot!


More 'yes,' the trailer and some 'no's and 'maybe so's after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Million Dollar Marion

Jose here, still reeling from Rust and Bone this past Sunday (going again today in a couple of hours because it's that good). My first reaction after watching it was: wow, Marion Cotillard truly has been trying to prove to us all her Oscar win was no accident.

I am not a fan of La Vie en Rose but year after year I have found myself more astounded by Cotillard's work. She was heartbreaking in Nine and was the only thing in Inception worth anyone's time, but it's in Rust and Bone where she provesonce and for all  that she's one of the most fearless actresses of our time. Most people think she's a shoo-in for a Best Actress nomination but I'm not sure this will be so easy, given that her character isn't likable at all and we know that AMPAS likes to like its leading ladies; even Margaret Thatcher and Aileen Wuornos had redemptive qualities in their movies.

Cotillard's Stephanie doesn't give a damn if someone likes her or not. When we first meet her she's just been beaten by a guy in a club and she just picks herself up and goes home to her boyfriend, whom she resents for asking for an explanation. After a gruesome accident leaves her disabled, she doesn't change her ways; instead she finds herself a f*** buddy (Matthias Schoenaerts) and becomes involved in some shady business. Can you imagine Million Dollar Baby's Maggie Fitzgerald becoming fiercer after her accident? Rust and Bone is surprising in more than one way and its extreme lack of sentimentality will surely leave some perplexed. But Cotillard is phenomenal. There is one particular scene - set to Katy Perry's "Firework" of all things - where she doesn't speak, but communicates so much through her eyes and face that she should be a frontrunner. She is that good. 



Oscar Horrors: Innocence and "Monsters, Inc"

HERE LIES... the Best Animated Feature nomination for Monsters, Inc. (2001) sent to an early grave by a big green ogre. Hi, Deborah from Basket of Kisses here. The Great Oscar Animation War of 2001/2002 was fought between innocence and jadedness, between sincerity and irony, between modernism and post-modernism, or, to put it plainly, between Monsters, Inc. and Shrek. (To be fair, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, was also in the race, but I don't know anyone who considered it a contender.) The winner, Shrek, announced a tragedy of 21st century humor, in which reference and winking has won out over wit and warmth. What? Do I sound bitter?

The film's Oscar-winning theme song would have you believe that the film is about friendship -- and Sully (John Goodman),  Mike (Billy Crystal), and Boo—are lovely -- but at heart, Monsters, Inc. is about a childhood so unspoiled that there are still monsters in the bedroom closet. Fundamentally, Monsters, Inc. is about innocence.  Children are becoming more cynical, Mr. Waternoose (James Coburn) tells us, and thus harder to make scream.

They're probably watching Shrek...

Click to read more ...