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Monday
Jan052015

Producers Guild Nominations: Lots of Titles Still In Play For Oscar!

Big awards day, huh? The PGA have announced their preferred excellence in production for 2014. No big surprises so the only thing to talk about is the chaos of what might be nominated for Best Picture in less than two weeks.

PRODUCERS GUILD NOMINATIONS

Feature Film
AMERICAN SNIPER
BIRDMAN
BOYHOOD
FOXCATCHER
GONE GIRL
GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
IMITATION GAME
NIGHTCRAWLER
THEORY OF EVERYTHING
WHIPLASH

... Only five of these made my top 30. Not a consensus year for TFE, then.

PGA's list is very similar to the BFCA top ten only they shoved  American Sniper and Foxcatcher in the Unbroken and Selma slots. The AFI was also similar but that Institute also made room for Into the Woods and Interstellar and Selma. In short: the Best Picture race is still rather confounding when it comes to who might be nominated and how many pictures will be there beyond the frontrunners Boyhood and Birdman and, I guess, Imitation Game... though I had previously thought that Selma would have or had already supplanted it in third spoiler position. [More...]

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Monday
Jan052015

Art Director's Guild Nominations Stay Focused on the Best Picture Conversation

The Art Director's Guild have named the most well designed and carefully decorated movies of the year. How well do you think they did in terms of Best? This is as good a time as any to tell you that we've begun our annual Film Bitch Awards, now in their (gulp) 15th year so you can see my preferred ballot there.

The guild which represents 2300 industry people like Production Designers, Art Directors, Set Designers, Model Makers and Artists of various kinds (Scenic, Title, Matte, etcetera) voted for the following 15 films, most of which are firmly entrenched in the Best Picture discussion indicated that they didn't watch too many screeners before voting. 

Did Inherent Vice's elaborate last supper joke win it this nomination? Or was it the whorehouse?

Period Film
INHERENT VICE - David Crank
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL -Adam Stockhausen
THE IMITATION GAME -Maria Djurkovic 
THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING -John Paul Kelly
UNBROKEN - Jon Hutman 

But what about?: Mr Turner which is more challenging and fascinating and epic in its production scope than most of these nominees; The Homesman which is more memorably designed than some of these; I probably like Unbroken more than a lot of critics but I'm not sure it's more worthy of a WW II recreation notice here than, say, Fury? In short, they've been listening to the Best Picture conversation.

More Nominations & Commentary after the jump

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Monday
Jan052015

Foreign Language Oscar Winners: What Are They Up To?

Manuel here to talk auteurs abroad. Did everyone hear (pun alert) about Pedro Almodóvar’s upcoming film, Silencio? We don’t seem to have much else other than its title (“It’s called Silencio because that’s the principal element that drives the worst things that happen to the main female protagonist”) and that Pedro doesn't think it will star one of his regular muses. But it made me curious as to what other Academy Award foreign auteurs were up to. Below the jump then, find a non-exhaustive list of the future projects of recent Foreign Language Film winners.

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Sunday
Jan042015

Box Office: "Into the Woods" Worth More Than Five Beans

Whenever I hear myself complaining loudly about the December glut I know I will have a comeuppance when I see the box office chart and notice once again that everything makes a ton of money during the Christmas and New Years. 

Everything that opens wide that is. It's still an awfully tough time to open an indie on a few screens or a foreign film (though distributors always try) as evidence by A Most Violent YearTwo Days One Night and Leviathan which need far more publicity than they can reasonably manage when everyone is talking about the behemoths like all-star musical and Angelina Jolie's epic and so on. Those films are at $300,000, $109,000 and $79,000 respectively.

TOP SIXTEEN
01 HOBBIT 3 $21.9 NEW (cum. $220.7) Five Beautiful Armies
02 INTO THE WOODS $19 (cum. $91.2)  InterviewReview
03 UNBROKEN $18.3 (cum. $87.8)  Interview
04 WOMAN IN BLACK 2 NEW $15.1  
05 NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM 3  $14.4 (cum. $89.7)
06 ANNIE  $11.4 (cum. $72.6)
07 IMITATION GAME $8.1 (cum. $30.8)  Reviewsecond take
08 HUNGER GAMES 3 $7.7 (cum. $323.8) Review
09 THE GAMBLER $6.3 (cum. $27.5) Review
10 BIG HERO 6 $4.8 (cum. $211.2)  Review / second take

11 WILD $4.5 (cum. $25.8) Reviewinterviewpodcast
12 EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS $3.7 (cum. $61.2) Review
13 PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR $2.8 (cum. $78) Review
14 BIG EYES $2.6 (cum. $9.9)  Brief note
15 INTERSTELLAR $2.4 (cum. $182.7) ReviewPodcast
16 TOP FIVE $2.1 (cum. $23.7) Thoughts
17 THEORY OF EVERYTHING  $1.1 (cum. $24.7) Reviewpodcast
18 THE INTERVIEW $1.1 (cum. $4.9)
19 HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 $0.9 (cum. $53)
20 FOXCATCHER $.09 (cum. $7.9)  Reviewsecond Takepodcast


It's worth noting that Into the Woods is already the 7th most successful musical of the 21st century and seems likely to vault over most of its competitors. Whether it can surplant Chicago (also by Rob Marshall) as #1 is the question.

Of the top 20 the Imitation Game had the most crowded theaters followed by Into the Woods. Meanwhile in platform release the big story is still two mainstream movies which go wide very soon. Selma and American Sniper are both already at $2 million and go wide next week and the week after respectively. Expect huge numbers for American Sniper which continues to pack houses whether or not it wins Oscar nominations the day before its release. Incidentally Still Alice opens the day after the nominations, finally showing its face to regular citizens.

 

Meanwhile everyone still thinks Cake doesn't exist. What did you see this weekend?

 

Sunday
Jan042015

Podcast: Selma & The NSFC Prizes

In this new episode of The Film Experience, Katey returns to chat with Nick, Joe, and Nathaniel. We mostly focus on Ava DuVernay's wonderful Selma and The National Society of Film Critics but the conversation wanders to various Oscar races. As it does, don't you know by now? 

Recommended Supplemental Material: 
Timothy Spall Interview
Pride DVD packaging

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download tomorrow from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments! 

SELMA Podcast

Sunday
Jan042015

Open Thread

As you're all suspiciously quiet, please do share your cinematic thoughts. What are they right this moment? I have a weird mix of Imelda Staunton, Queen Margot and The Imitation Game playing in my head right now. (It's a very uncomfortable mix.) We're recording a podcast at the moment but more updates later.

Please do scroll down and check out two important news stories, a new well dressed interview, and my top twenty of the year.

Saturday
Jan032015

Best of the Year Pt. 1: Double the Swedes & Triple the Tilda

With love for last year's cinema.

2015 has a lot to live up to. This past year delivered amazing films from fresh-voiced directors, a good number of them female for a change, and it also came through, unexpectedly, with a surprising spread of high quality empathetic and diverse LGBT cinema. But even if you're stuck in multiplex-only towns, the mainstream also delivered with sneaky overachieving surprises in genres as oft-lazy as superheroes, horror, animation, giant monsters, and crime thrillers. When it came time to draw up my lists I had 30 pictures I really wanted to celebrate. Thirty! 

So let's briefly sum up (alphabetically) the films that just missed the top 20


The Boxtrolls - Laika's boldly grotesque superbly-voiced Victorian fable. 
Godzilla - Smartly reimagined not as reboot but myth returned. The paratroopers. Gah!
Edge of Tomorrow - Emily Blunt's 'full metal bitch' isn't easy to forget. Neither is the film's gleeful rapid fire anarchy in treating Tom Cruise as South Park might. "You killed Tom Cruise!" Repeat ∞
Happy Christmas - No budget? No problem. Just write a warm funny script, film it in your home and hire famous actor friends. Joe Swanberg is living the Cassavettes dream only seems much happier about it.
The LEGO Movie - Excessively clever and fun. But in truth I'd rather it win a Clio than an Oscar.
A Most Violent Year - a slow simmer but Jessica Chastain is at full boil
Nightcrawler - Jake & Rene's bring out each other's best but their character's worst in this amoral nightmare. Great dialogue but man do those laughs curdle.
Two Days One Night - Belgium's Oscar submission is simple in narrative if not in complexity of feeling but Marion Cotillard is impossibly good / real / Oscar worthy
The Way He Looks - In a simply fantastic year for queer cinema (thank god - it's been a while) this was the sweetest offering, a coming of age pic about a blind teenager and his two best friends
Wild Tales - A raucously entertaining Argentinian anthology produced by Pedro Almodóvar and directed with skill and wicked invention by Damian Szifron. If you can, see it with a group of friends (comedies are always best that way). I'm already sad I didn't include it in the top 20!

So here we are. Twenty may feel like an indulgent number to settle on for this 2014 countdown party but it comes down to this. No matter how many times I adjusted my "tippity top" movies list I couldn't live without these twenty. They were the ones that refused to budge, that defined the year for me, that demanded top ten placement, refuting the laws of math. To sum up: This cinephile had a great year in the dark. If you were positive I loved it and you don't see it in the top 20, it's tied for 21st! 

The film year is not drawing to a close just yet -- we keep celebrating through Oscar night. But the calendar year is a wrap so here is part one of my favorites roundup starting with a Tilda Swinton double feature...

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