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Beauty vs Beast - Danny Zuko vs. Sandy
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Tuesday
Sep272016

National Voter Registration Day PSA

Today is National Voter Registration Day and Fox Searchlight has partnered with movie theaters to show the following PSA from The Birth of a Nation cast including Nate Parker, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Aja Naomi King and Gabrielle Union. Partnering movie theaters in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Kansas will have voter registration in the lobby during promotional screenings of this film and during its opening weekend October 7th-9th. 

The objective for the initiative is to encourage everyone to be a part of U.S. history by highlighting everyone's right to vote, encouraging registration and underscoring that their voices and opinions matter.  Currently 20% of all people who can legally vote in this country are stopped by technical roadblocks when they try to register.  This presidential election will be especially challenging, as many current laws lack the protection of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The act was passed to overcome many legal barriers that individuals faced when exercising their right to vote but section 4 was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. 

If you ask us this is a smart and resonant move both for the Fox Searchlight release and the wider unrest around the country.

Monday
Sep262016

Tig Rising in "One Mississippi" (Episode 1)

by Steven Fenton

If you’re a comedy fan, or if you’ve listened to any NPR show in the last four years, you know Tig Notaro. For the uninitiated, the comedian rocketed to fame when she turned her lowest point in life into comedy gold. In 2012, Tig Notaro had a pretty shitty year. Her mother passed away, she ended a relationship, and she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. Mere days after her diagnosis, Tig delivered an instantly iconic comedy routine where she mined her personal miserie; spoke frankly about the unbelievable circumstances she’d found herself in; and somehow transformed all that profound pain into poignant hilarity.

Notaro’s brilliance and signature laidback charm have launched her into stardom with albums, HBO specials, cameos on Inside Amy Schumer and Transparent, the Netflix documentary Tig, and now her very own Amazon show. In One Mississippi, Notaro channels her dark, deeply felt humor into a beautifully made, sensitive, and rollicking portrait of a grieving family with a talent roster full of Film Experience favorites...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep262016

"Silence" to open on December 23rd. Which films can win attention at Christmas?

According to Variety, it's now official: Martin Scorsese's Silence is opening this year after all on December 23rd despite no trailer, no poster, no promotional materials, and a current running time of well over 3 hours. The most curious aspect of this is that Paramount already has an overstuffed plate without it: Arrival should be a major player because it's great, Fences should be a major player if it's any good at all since it has two beloved stars doing award winning roles in the first motion picture based on an August Wilson play, and Florence Foster Jenkins is, I think, underpredicted since it's a handsome production with an unusual angle on the arts that will surely appeal to voters and should expect a boost from Golden Globe attention. 

Curiously, despite twelve years of evidence that Oscar voters are definitely preferring films with October or November bows (no December release has won Best Picture since Million Dollar Baby), despite awards bodies pushing their deadlines even earlier this year, distributors are pushing the other way with force...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep262016

NYFF: I, Daniel Blake

Here's Jason reporting from the New York Film Festival on Ken Loach's Palme D'or winning drama

Having come from childhood poverty myself I'm always ready to side-eye a movie that directly tackles the subject - for instance I wasn't a fan of Beasts of the Southern Wild because it felt (I know I was in the wilderness on this one) as if it too romanticized Hushpuppy's home-life. But that's just one pitfall for a subject I'm probably overly picky about - if a film's too preachy, if it turns its subjects into ciphers of suffering for its noble cause, well I don't want to go to that place either.

Ken Loach's I, Daniel Blake walks the line. It's very much a Message Movie all capital letters, but as you can tell by its title it does matter to Mr. Loach who these people are...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep262016

Beauty vs Beast: What is the Word?

Jason from MNPP here, on the verge of admitting something that might get me lynched a la Frankenstein's Monster round these parts -- I have never seen Grease. Yes, that Grease. The movie Grease. I think I'd get less incredulous looks from my fellow movie buffs (especially of the homosexual sort) if I were talking about grease-the-liquid when I say that, but I speak of the 1978 movie starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.

Oh I have seen bits and pieces, it's really quite unavoidable (I would know, I have tried!), but a full-on straight-through sit-down til Sandy & Danny ride off on their hot-rod chariot into the sky? Nope. Five minutes of it gives me the hives and the heebie-jeebies, folks. Send your hate mail to, well, I guess to the comments of this post. Anyway it's Olivia Newton-John's 68th birthday today and we know our host Nathaniel's a big fan (and hey, I love that "Physical" video) so here's your Grease-themed "Beauty vs Beast." Also you could all probably come up with better Pros & Cons for each character than I could so feel free to share those in the comments... alongside your vitriol, of course...

PREVIOUSLY I have to say I am really proud of you guys for our last edition - in our face-off between Tommy Lee Jones and Best Supporting Actor winner Javier Bardem for No Country For Old Men, you bucked the Oscar trend and gave your prize to Tommy Lee with 55% of the vote. He gets my vote too. Said Nick T:

"Every single time I've watched this I've loved Tommy Lee Jones more and more. Ed Bell and Marge Gunderson would have the loveliest conversation."

Monday
Sep262016

Foreign Oscar Watch: Can "Elle" Slay the Competition?

Verhoeven & Huppert at Cannes this summer

France, as ever, was spoiled with options when it came to selecting their film for Oscar competition this year. Frantz (reviewed) from François Ozon would likely have appealed to Oscar voters but the selection committee went with the controversial Elle (reviewed at TIFF). It's a brave choice but we think a smart one; even if its divisive within initial voting, it will likely be a candidate to benefit under the Executive Committee 'saves' rule. Plus those who love it will love it passionately meaning it could even have a dark horse shot at a win. Not only does it have a high profile auteur and star (Paul Verhoeven and Isabelle Huppert) but it's got sensational reviews, a US release on the table in the thick of Oscar traction season (November 11th), and an outside shot at a Best Actress nomination. France has not won the category since Indochine (1992) despite numerous nominations.

Trivia: Paul Verhoeven has had one previous film nominated in this category for his home country The Netherlands with Turkish Delight (1973). If Elle is nominated it would not be the first time a director has competed for multiple countries: Akira Kurosawa, who competed many times for Japan, won the prize for the Soviet Union with Dersu Uzala (1975); Luis Buñuel who won the Oscar for France with The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) was also nominated twice for Spain, his home country; and Michael Haneke won for Austria with Amour (2012) and also competed for Germany with The White Ribbon (2009) 

More News:
Oscar's other favorite country Italy has selected the Golden Bear winner, Fire at Sea (reviewed at Berlinale), a documentary about the European migrant crisis. To my knowledge only two documentaries have ever been nominated in this category (Waltz With Bashir from Israel and The Missing Picture from Cambodia) but both of those were in the past eight years so perhaps Oscar votings are loosening up about these distinctions. Among countries who have not yet announced their submissions (with a week left) Poland and Argentina are the most formidable, statistically speaking, with Oscar.

Foreign Film Oscar Charts
Predictions - 15 films that could have the best chance at the finals?
Afghanistan to Finland - 22 submissions thus far
George to Morocco - 23 submissions thus far
Nepal to Venezuela - 28 submissions thus far