Oscar History

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Box Office: A perfect guy comes for a visit

Tim here with your box office report for this quiet autumn weekend. Or not. In fact, coming on the heels of a fairly slow August and and absolutely soporific Labor Day, this weekend was kind of unbelievably big, with both of the week's major releases managing to overperform quite a bit beyond all but the very rosiest of expectations. It was a photo finish to see who ended up in the #1 slot

01 The Perfect Guy $26.7 new
02 The Visit $25.7 new
03 War Room $7.4 (cum. $39.2)
04 A Walk in the Woods $4.6 (cum. $19.9) Reviewed at Sundance
05 Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation $4.2 (cum. $188.2) Tim's Review
06 Straight Outta Compton $4.1 (cum. $155.7) Podcast
07 No Escape $2.9 (cum. $24.2)
08 The Transporter Refueled $2.7 (cum. $13.3)
09 90 Minutes in Heaven $2.2 new
10 Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos $1.9 (cum. $6.7)

That's quite an achievement for both of the top openers. The Perfect Guy becomes the third film with African-American leads in a row, over five consecutive weeks, to take the #1 spot. Before we get too excited about the nascent sea change in American pop culture, it should be pointed out that next week, all of those films are going to be beaten by, among other releases, a movie in which Johnny Depp plays a character with the actual name "Whitey". Still, it's a stark reminder that there's a big audience for movies where the cast isn't all full of Nordic gods, and maybe that audience would even be around anytime that's not the hinterlands of early September.

The other release, The Visit, meanwhile finds famous and infamous thriller-maker M. Night Shyamalan being handed the keys to maybe, perhaps, let himself out of director jail. The film received less than luminous reviews, but they still look  rosy and loving compared to his recent spate of much-despised misfires: 56 on Metacritic, and 62% on Rotten Tomatoes, Shyamalan's first Fresh movie since 2002's Signs. Moreover, produced on a shoestring, apparently with much of the director's own money, The Visit has already turned a profit. No, it's not The Sixth Sense, but it's a definite upswing in Shyamalan's fortunes any way you look at it.

For myself, I've seen neither of them, though I did finally catch up with Straight Outta Compton this weekend. Since I'm boring, let me kick it over to the audience: What did you watch this weekend?


The Morning After: Creative Emmy Award Winners

Andrew on the Emmy Awards, Round 1

Are there too many Emmy Award categories? On one hand, considering that that they need two separate ceremonies to get through all the winners, it seems a reasonable thesis. It lends a longness to the procedures but how nice that they recognise everything, and appreciate the difference between prostethic and non-prostethic make up, credits music, and title design? 

Yesterday, eight days before the regular Emmys, the Creative Emmy awards were presented with prizes for costumes, choreography, production, design, music, guest acting and even TV movie. The creative Emmys, unlike craft prizes at the Oscars, are rarely a good indicator of what wins the big prizes. But let’s look at the notable winners and ponderwhether some of the surprises of last evening might carry over to next week's official ceremony. 


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TIFF: I Saw the Light

Hank Williams' legend came from his songwriting with dozens of hits in a short career. Ironically the star-making song was "Lovesick Blues," a tune he did not write that he promised his producer he would make his own in a crucial recording session. He assures that the audience will love it, praising its simplicity. A studio musician snidely compares it to his original compositions which reminds the star that "simple" is not a compliment to everyone. Williams deflates a little, ego punctured, until he steps up to the microphone and gets the job done as promised. There are multiple metaphors in their somewhere about the biopic genre. We shan't try to unpack them all but let's just say that they're not too flattering to the genre as a whole.

I Saw the Light, directed by Marc Abraham a successful producer, has the shape of an extremely traditional bio, charting key moments in Williams (Tom Hiddleston) rise to greatness and subsequent personal and professional failures fueled by his addictions until his premature death at 29. The moments even come with hepful titles of years / places. You've heard this story a million times now -- only the names / dates / music genre change -- which is perhaps why the movie starts so abruptly in media res...

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Venice Film Festival Winners

Manuel here. It’s that time of year when it’s hard to keep track of festivals, juries, awards and red carpets. Thankfully, here at TFE we keep you covered on all of the above. While we wait for more reviews out of TIFF, Alfonso Cuarón’s Venice Film Festival jury (which as José singled out had striking fashionistas in its midst) handed out their awards.

From Afar first-time director, Lorenzo Vigas

The big news, if you’re an American Oscar pundit, is that Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl was shunned (gasp!) but if you’re an avid festival goer interested in finding plenty of foreign titles to add to your must-see list of films, the big news was that it was a great day for Latin American cinema with the Golden and Silver Lion going to films from my very own part of the world.

Oh, and Charlie Kaufman’s collaboration with Duke Johnson (the bonkers sounding Anomalisa) won the Grand Jury Prize. Check out the full list below. (Links take you to the Biennale's film descriptions)

Golden Lion: From Afar, Lorenzo Vigas

Silver Lion, Best Director: Pablo Trapero, The Clan

Grand Jury Prize: Anomalisa, dirs: Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson

Anomalisa is a stop-motion picture that was partially funded through Kickstarter

Volpi Cup, Best Actor: Fabrice Luchini, L’Hermine

Volpi Cup, Best Actress: Valeria Golino, Per Amor Vostro

Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best New Young Actor or Actress: Abraham Attah, Beasts Of No Nation

Netflix's film is off to a fine start with this festival bow

Best Screenplay: Christian Vincent, L’Hermine

Special Jury Prize: Frenzy, dir: Emin Alper

Vigas's debut (!) film is the first Latin American film to be awarded The Golden Lion. That it is also an LGBT May-December story just makes it all the more exciting. Overall, Cuarón and his jury (which also included Pawel Pawlikowski, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Diane Kruger, Lynne Ramsay, Francesco Munzi, Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Elizabeth Banks) look like they made bold choices. Any of them spark your curiosity?


TIFF: "Phantom Boy" is a Delight

Our TIFF dispatches are off to a very slow start but it's only because both Amir and myself, Nathaniel, have been cramming so many screenings in on the first few days. For now, a brief animated diversion.

French directors Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol were surprise Oscar-nominees just four years ago for A Cat in Paris and they're back with their second full-length feature. You could call this one A Cancer Patient in New York to mentally connect them but that doesn't have a catchy ring to it and wouldn't sell tickets to families.

The subject this time is a remarkable little boy in New York City who leaves his afflicted body in the hospital each night to regularly float above the city. He's become so adept at the astral projection that he helps other patients in the hospital when their spirits start wandering away. 

When his parents leave the hospital each night it's clear that this is now familiar routine as he follows them home where he sees more private moments. When they cry he tenderly averts his gaze from respect at their stiff-upper-lip efforts of composure in the hospital. 

If that makes Phantom Boy sound unusually dour for a cartoon, fear not. It's emotions may spring from its matter of factness about life and death and danger (such a welcome change of pace for a kid's movie) but, as befits a cartoon about a high spirited (sorry) young boy who wants to grow up to be a cop, it's also an funny adventure story. Consider the tagline.

He's eleven, he's invisible, he can fly, and he's got 24 hours to save New York.

Through a series of dastardly crimes and comic misshaps outside the hospital the boy becomes involved in the story of a policemen, also hospitalized, and a His Girl Friday type alpha reporter who are both out to stop a "disfigured" villain (his face is amusingly cubist as opposed to disfigured). The villain is threatening to wipe out New York City with a computer virus.

Though the story begins to feel a touch repetitive towards its derring-do finale, it is never less than pleasant with an engaging story and memorably odd beats. Sometimes the film straight up soars, particularly in its quieter moments when we go flying with the boy, reading a story to his baby sister, or marvelling at the way he slips in and out of his body, sometimes like it's as natural as stretching and other times like he's slipping on clothes that no longer fit as well. Running through the pleasantry and peaks is the always expressive traditional animation, sophisticated sight gags, endearing broadly sketched characters, and a really top-notch long-running joke that keeps threatening to abandon its punchline. Highly recommended.

Grade: B+
Oscar Chances: I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it among the nominees this year if it qualifies. But it's worth noting that their last film A Cat in Paris (2010) didn't show up in the Oscar race until a year after its premiere so this one may float towards the gold in 2016.


AHS: Hotel Teaser

My name is Manuel and I have a theory:

American Horror Story Marketing > American Horror Story Show

This latest teaser is but a mere 30 seconds but can you imagine the full season of the upcoming Jessica Lange-less American Horror Story season keeping you as enthralled? [More...]

But then, Ryan Murphy has always been better at teasing than satisfying. His newest iteration of the horror anthology series (Hotel) premieres on October 7th and so we got this titillating teaser to whet our appetite. And boy did it! Highlights after the jump...

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Tim's Toons: Corpse Bride, ten years later

Tim here. This past week marked the tenth anniversary of the festival premieres of two very different stop-motion animated features. We've recently chatted a bit about Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, so other than reminding you that it exists, and it's still delightful a decade on, I will pass it by in silence. Instead, I want turn everybody's attention to Corpse Bride, or if you prefer - the boys in marketing clearly did - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride. The second movie's reputation has gone off in a very different direction over the last ten years: while Were-Rabbit remains a touchstone of sorts thanks to its iconic stars, I'll bet that a good number of you just thought, "Huh, Corpse Bride, I forgot all about that".

That’s not unfair. Revisiting it for the first time in most of that same decade, I found it to be visually inventive, and dangerously rushed as a narrative: based on a Russian folk tale of a young man who accidentally weds a beautiful dead woman, the films never quite shakes the sketchy structure of a fable.


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