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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FEUD arrives one week after the Oscars

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Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Gael García Bernal (Neruda)
Billy Crudup (20th Century Women)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival



The Animated Feature contenders: Boy and the World

Tim here, to spread the Good News about the best animated feature of 2015. Though for everybody in the U.S. outside of New York and Los Angeles, it's not coming until 2016, and anyway it first premiered in 2013. The point being, this weekend marks the Oscar-qualifying release of Boy and the World, an astonishing, crazily inventive, unnervingly thoughtful fable from Brazil and the hands of director/animator Alê Abreu.

It's a wholly idiosyncratic vision of childhood and globalization, and a film with no clear target audience - there's nothing kid-unfriendly here, but I also can't imagine a kid understanding any of what's going on. Nevertheless the self-selecting population of adults willing to watch a cartoon that looks for all the world like a video for pre-schoolers is in for a rare treat.

more after the jump...

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Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Bessie

Considering how often Pariah is called "a critical darling," it's disappointingly shocking that it took another 4 years for Dee Rees's next movie. Bessie is an HBO biopic of singer Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, who rose to prominence in the 1920s and died in a car accident in the mid-1930s. When the movie premiered earlier this year, Angelica Jade Bastién wrote a fabulous personal review of it which I highly suggest you read. As Angelica points out, Rees's sophomore effort is a well-directed film that gets a lot right, even though it falls into a lot of the typical biopic pitfalls.

While the plotline of Bessie's meteoric rise, humbling fall, and return to semi-greatness followed a predictable biopic path, what really struck me about this collaboration between Dee Rees and Queen Latifah was how unapologetically individual it was. Unfortunately, fact-based films about black characters, if they are expected to attract a wider (whiter) audience, incorporate white characters to a large degree. Selma and 12 Years A Slave both have white antagonists who gain a lot of screentime - in the case of 12 Years A Slave, it was enough screentime to net Michael Fassbender an Academy Award Nominations.

In Bessie, blackness and queerness dominate...

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Interview: Valerio Mastandrea on Completing Italy's Oscar Submission After the Untimely Death of Its Director

Jose here. One could argue that most films go through an interesting trajectory, since it’s never easy to turn the initial pages on a script into moving images projected on a screen. However, few films in recent years have gone through the journey of Claudio Caligari’s Don’t Be Bad, which not only was the director’s third film in thirty years (take that Terrence Malick), but sadly turned out to be his last. Caligari, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, shot the film and had completed most of its editing, when he died at the age of 67 never seeing the final product. What followed was a true labor of love, as Caligari’s colleagues, led by actor Valerio Mastandrea who had starred in his second film, The Scent of the Night, completed the project and made sure it became available to audiences.

Don’t Be Bad made its debut at the 2015 Venice Film Festival and was subsequently selected as Italy’s submission for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. With a plot that seems inspired by Pasolini and Steinbeck, Don’t Be Bad, is a heartbreaking reminder that we won’t see any more films by Caligari, but it’s also a testament to his unique brand of sociopolitical filmmaking. I had the chance to attend a screening of the film in New York and listening to Mastandrea’s sincere admiration and love for Caligari and the film were awe-inspiring.

Read the interview after the jump...

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Is Marvel Recruiting Cate Blanchett?

Yesterday, fresh off her Golden Globe and SAG nominations, Cate Blanchett was reported to be a potential candidate for an unknown role in Thor: Ragnarok, another high profile star to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Twitter has not been pleased.

BUT! Before you get out your pitchforks and scream of heresy, let's note a few things about the third Thor entry that might change your mind:

1. Taika Waititi is taking over directing duties. If you haven't watched his vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows from earlier this year, fix that! The film excels at the kind of farcical character humor that was the strongest element of Kenneth Branagh's original installment and was mostly absent from the sequel.

2. Mark Ruffalo is also starring in his Hulk's first time outside of an Avengers film, so the film is already giving us something we've been asking for.

3. Galadriel! Blanchett isn't afraid of genre material, and when she's having a ball, so are we.

4. Let's not forget how the MCU works with potential crossover characters - think of the possibilities. How about this one: none other than Tilda Swinton is in the forthcoming Doctor Strange. One can dream!

5. As we were reminded with her recent W Magazine spread, fun things happen when she gets to be a little kooky.

There's plenty reason to be optimistic!

Nothing is known of the role yet (please be a villain, please be a villain, please be a villain), but this and the assembled team thus far at least point toward Marvel making this one feel a little more special than what we got with Thor's round 2. Thor: Ragnarok is coming November 3, 2017.


"Room" and The Case for Jacob Tremblay

Kieran, here with a second look at SAG nominee Jacob Tremblay's work in Room.

My antennae were attuned for several things this past weekend while watching Lenny Abrahamson’s Room for the second time. I’ll say up front that searching for the power of Brie Larson’s accomplished, already heralded performance as Ma was not one of them. That was received on first watch and, frankly hadn’t faded from memory even a little. A rewatch only confirmed the potent emotionality of Larson’s work and it’s fortunate that work this exemplary is being so universally recognized as such—that isn’t always the case. Among other things, I was watching for Jacob Tremblay’s performance as Jack, Ma’s doting and mystified son.

Full disclosure: I often find praise heaped upon juvenile performances incredulous. Like many, I found myself fighting tears (and losing that fight) several times throughout my first viewing, most often during Tremblay’s scenes. The grimness of the initial scenario and the bond between Ma and Jack on the script level had my suspicions raised. Was Tremblay’s performance itself eliciting the emotional response or is it solely because of what’s already built in to the architecture of the piece?

This was my question going into Room for the second time. [More...]

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Best Celebrity Reactions to SAG or Globe Nominations

Normally the press release soundbytes involving celebrities being thankful for their nominations are as dull and even more flavorless as an trophy winner reading names from a piece of paper in monotone. It's usually along the lines of "this film is special to us and I am so genuinely grateful. Thank you" So it's worth noting any reactions that display even a little bit of personality or say something more specific. Here are our favorites this year after the jump...

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Team Experience: The Best of Brokeback Mountain

Ten years ago Brokeback Mountain arrived with truly bracing power.

10 years later Brokeback Mountain has lost none of its power

It was the rarest of things: an honest to god "instant classic". The phrase is overused but once in a while hyperbole proves true. The Oscars were stingy with it (just three prizes) but ten years on the film is as sturdy and majestically irreducible as the mountains that haunt the protagonists. When you're watching it you're breathing rarified air - not from the high altitudes of Wyoming but further on up, think cinematic heaven. The invaluable Ang Lee won his first Best Director Oscar for the film and it's easy to see why given the sensitivity of the performances (early career peaks from four promising ascendant stars), the classicism of the filmmaking, and his unshakeable hand as he sutures the neo western to the romantic tragedy with the thread of American masculinity.

I asked our contributors if they had a favorite scene they'd like to share with us and here were their responses.


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