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Wednesday
Jan052011

USC Scripter Nominations

If you're new to the awards game -- and there are some newbies every year welcome! -- the USC is a screenplay honor with a very specific focus. The idea is to honor "the year's most accomplished cinematic adaptations as well as the author of the written work upon which the screenplay is based." Got that? That means if you wrote a book 10 years ago that was awesome and someone makes it into a movie that people respond to you get the honor along with the screenwriter. It's a different way of doing things but it's not such a terrible idea since the original writer did do much of the heavy lifting in terms of plotting and character construction and what not.

The nominees:

  • 127 HOURS by Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy based on "Between a Rock and a Hard Place" by Aron Ralston.
  • THE GHOST WRITER by Roman Polanski based on "The Ghost" by Robert Harris.
  • THE SOCIAL NETWORK by Aaron Sorkin based on "The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money and Betrayal" by Ben Mezrich.
  • TRUE GRIT by the Coen Bros based on "True Grit" by Charles Portis
  • WINTER'S BONE by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini based on "Winter's Bone" by Daniel Woodrell

This year's 58 member selection committee composed of screenwriters, film critics and authors among others was headed by Oscar nominated screenwriter Naomi Foner who we have always loved for two reasons. First for writing Running on Empty (1988) which makes us cry every time we see it, and then for those eighteen months of hard work bringing Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal into the world. Eighteen months well spent!

This list could be your Oscar list but for the likelihood of the Toy Story 3 Oscar nomination. Common wisdom is that The Ghost Writer will slip out but isn't 127 Hours a bit vulnerable? Does anyone else think it's a bit odd that all sequels campaign as adapted?

Wednesday
Jan052011

Mama's Getting Hot: Babs for Gypsy?

Fockin' BarbraBy now, should you have a known predilection for movie musicals or Barbra Streisand as musical comedienne (we endorse both predilections, though we can do without Babs otherwise), someone has undoubtedly forwarded you something saying along the lines of "OMFG. BABS. GYPSY. SQUEEE (and/or) EWWW."

According to Playbill, she is in talks to star in a new film version about the ur stage mother "Mama Rose". Other reports have the diva, currently atop the box office charts in her Meet the Fockers role, directing and producing as well. That Babs, always multi-tasking. We heartily approve of Babs returning to musical comedy, her true yet abandoned once-in-a-century gift, and we get that she'd want to scale the musical Mt Everest of "Mama Rose". Many divas have tried their hand at the enormous role. Streisand, at 68 years of age, would definitely be the oldest filmed Mama Rose. Which isn't a big deal since you do need a BIG performer except that the musical is about a mother's tempestuous relationships with her young children who she carts around on the vaudeville circuit as child and then teen performers until the elder kicks free of Mama (and clothing) to become the famous stripper Gypsy Rose Lee.

Well, maybe she'll pull it off. She did famously sell herself as "Second Hand Rose" already.

The major Mama Roses to date (Gypsy never stays away for long):

  • Patti Lupone (2008 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Bernadette Peters (2003 Broadway revival, Tony nomination)
  • Bette Midler (1993 TV movie, Emmy nomination, Globe winner)
  • Tyne Daly (1989 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Angela Lansbury (1975 Broadway revival, Tony Award)
  • Rosalind Russell (1962 Film, Globe winner -- snubbed by Oscar)
  • Ethel Merman (1959 Original Broadway musical, Tony nomination)

Which was your favorite? (I've only see Russell, Midler and Peters and, despite her divisive reviews, Bernadette Peters was my favorite. How about them eggrolls?)

(Remember when Hugh Jackman had super long hair? Hee.)

Hey you know what?

Forget Babs. Wasn't Sigourney Weaver supposed to star in a non-musical version sequel of sorts called G String Mother? That one was about Mama Rose's daughter "Gypsy Rose Lee" in her later years after retiring from stripping. Maybe that project got cancelled? It no longer has an IMDb page. Sadness. That sounded interesting.

Wednesday
Jan052011

Art Directors Guild: Period, Fantasy, Contemporary

The power of eye candy at the movies is greatly underestimated. Whole star turns can be elevated with the right costuming choices and entire films can be propped up with meaning, beauty, authenticity or imagination with the right production design decisions and set creation and decoration.

love the dilapidated dioramas of The King's Speech

So congratulations to the nominees. The ADG chooses them in three separate categories.

Period
Jess Gonchor for TRUE GRIT
Eve Stewart for THE KING'S SPEECH
Dante Ferretti for SHUTTER ISLAND
Arthur Max for ROBIN HOOD
Geoffrey Kirkland for GET LOW

Most of these will probably show up on Oscar's list. They don't have separate categories so they tend to favor period work.

Disappointed to see Eugenio Caballero's fine work on the 70s rock biopic THE RUNAWAYS (pictured left) snubbed here. We knew it wouldn't figure in (see griping at the end of this post for why) but still...

Contemporary
Therese DePrez for BLACK SWAN
Donald Graham Burt for THE SOCIAL NETWORK
Judy Becker for THE FIGHTER
Sharon Seymour for THE TOWN
Suttirat Larlarb for 127 HOURS

Disappointed to see Albrecht Konrad's work on THE GHOST WRITER left off the contemporary list. That film is a perfect example of how crucial art direction can be for a movie. So many of those scenes just bounce off the walls of that coldly enticing house with all the sharp angles. Everything feels both rich and sinister. Plus that little hotel room Ewan stays in? Perfection.

Fantasy
Robert Stromberg for ALICE IN WONDERLAND
Stuart Craig for HARRY POTTER AND DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1
Guy Hendrix Diaz for INCEPTION
Darren Gilford for TRON LEGACY
Barry Robinson for THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER

still the best set in the Harry Potter series, don'cha think?Now that we've congratulated all these talented people we have to bitch a teensy bit. It's always a little odd that the various guilds still name all the movies that are the popular ones heading for "best picture" citations when their awards should be focusing very specifically on their own profession. It doesn't make any sense at all that all of the best work in each field each year would be done only in the movies that have overall 'I love this movie' popularity.

For instance, does 127 Hours really depend on its art direction? This is not to discount the cohesive color palette and all the other things that a production designer must judge but the bulk of the film takes place in a tiny crevice where James Franco carries the movie. That's a performer/directors movie if I've ever seen one. And then there's the matter of Stuart Craig. There's no question that he's done fantastic work on the Harry Potter series, movies that do rely heavily on their art direction for and we don't begrudge him his Oscars. But, more than most of the films in the series, this current installment doesn't actually ask him to add significantly to the look, design or sets. Huge portions are set within Hermione's magic vaguely non-descript tent and some of the other sets we've seen before. It begs the question: how many times can you reward someone for work that you've already rewarded them for?

These films are popular for a reason but we always hope that the various branches would think about their own profession first and only later consider which films they most loved for tiebreakers.

see also: Art Direction Oscar predictions

 

Wednesday
Jan052011

"I'm an excellent driver"

Yes, readers, the blog goes right here. Everything's now in one place. (Well, everything except co-productions which alternate location like Best Pictures From the Outside In and such.)

Fake Jew, Real ScientologistNick, Mike and I are proud to bring back "Best Pictures From the Outside In" series for its 20th episode (the halfway mark). The films are Gentleman's Agreement in which Gregory Peck poses as a Jewish man to write a scathing expose on anti-Semitism and Tom Cruise plays a cocky jerk who suddenly finds he is with family (no, not in that way) in Rain Man.

If you're new to the series and need a refresher, here is the index to all 20 episodes. Nick, being the overachiever that he is, also keeps a tournament list a readers poll and ranks all the winners.

Please join in the conversation of that episode at Goatdog's blog. There's so much to discuss. Do you love the 80s time capsule of Rain Man. Do you like being lectured to by Gregory Peck? Mike sums both films up in an animated 2 minute recap, I share my theory on how Tom Cruise inspired Twitter (no really) and Nick overshares his Scientology (not really).

P.S. I think you should know that Bull Durham was totally robbed of an Oscar nomination in 1988 and Black Narcissus (which we recently wrote about) was robbed in 1947. What were they thinking?

Saturday
Jan012011

Welcome!

"Willkommen, Velkommen,  환영합니다 Aloha, Bem-vindo, Bienvenue, 欢迎, Bienvenido, مرحبا بكم, Vítejte, etcetera"

A fresh new year, a fresh new site! HAPPY 2011. The Film Experience is nearly "whole" as it were, merging its many parts. You may experience a few kinks for the first week(s) of January, but please look around and explore. Minor suggestions (i.e. don't say "start all over"), congratulatory compliments and everyday chatter are as welcome in the comments as you are to The Film Experience itself. We'll probably need a week to get up to speed at our newly renovated home.

While you're here check out the top films lists from decades past, the galleries, the calendar ("agenda" tab works best), the Oscar prediction charts (freshly updated with new commentary), our own kudos ("the film bitch awards"). We're still working on importing the recent contents of filmexperience.blogspot.com and the old articles from the site but new blogposts will now be right here at the home page.

Oscar nomination morning is but 3 weeks away! So let us know what you think of the new predictions.

"Cheers, Prost, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Skål"

The Film Experience loves the Academy Awards but it's a site primarily devoted to the love of movies. We mostly just believe in the Oscars as a door into that magical world, or a gateway drug if you prefer. If you're new to the site, please check out the "about" page. Rest assured that many of the series you know and love from the blog will return here over the course of the next month or two, and there's also a couple of huge anniversaries coming up in 2011 that we'll have to pull out all the stops for: Moulin Rouge! (2001) turns 10 this summer. West Side Story (1961) turns 50 toward the end of the year and that's just the two titans.

Here's to 2011!

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