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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Big Little Lies

"I am blown away by this miniseries." -Michael R

"Laura Dern's Renata is crazy but she reminds me of several professional women that I know in the San Francisco Bay Area." -Jono

"Loved the jarring editing this week, and the reveal of what Perry did with the toys..." - DJDeeDay


Melissa Leo (The Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (The Sense of an Ending)
Asghar Farhadi (Salesman)

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Beauty Break: Spectre Red Carpet

What a gorgeous and talented pair of Bond women they are. Oh, and everyone else also looked great in that red carpet too, I guess.


Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in Loving

Murtada here. The first picture from Jeff Nichols’ (Take ShelterMud) new movie Loving was released. Currently shooting, the film tells the story of Mildred and Richard Loving and the landmark 1967 civil rights supreme court decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

Joel Edgerton plays Richard Loving in his second collaboration with Nichols after the still unreleased Midnight Special. Edgerton is riding on a bit of Oscar buzz right now for his supporting role alongside Johnny Depp in Black Mass. Mildred is played by Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga (Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) in her first major film role. Did you know Negga played Dame Shirley Bassey for the BBC in 2011? After watching that clip I’m really excited to see her lead a movie. Negga had a varied theater and TV career in the U.K. and Ireland so fans of S.H.I.E.L.D or those more familiar with her other work, please tell us if this is the beginnings of a new actressey obsession!

One of the many photos of the Lovings shot by Grey Villet

Michael Shannon, who’s been in every single movie directed by Nichols, has a supporting part as Grey Villet, the LIFE Magazine photographer who shot the famous photos of the Lovings in 1965. The photo from the film is evocative of those Villet images. The resemblance to the actors is uncanny, no?

As for Midnight Special, which also stars Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver, it was revealed recently by Dunst that it may premiere at SXSW next March. For a while Midnight Special had a premium November release date that prompted some to peg it as an Oscar movie. Of course once it was pushed back, many speculated that all is not well. Hopefuly a spring festival premiere in Nichols’ hometown will turn around the buzz. 

Possibly two movies from Nichols in 2016. Are you excited to see either or both movies?


Review - Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

Tim here. Autumn is in full swing, Halloween is around the corner, and it's time for a visit from an old seasonal friend in the form of the Paranormal Activity franchise. 2015's entry, the sixth overall, is titled in full Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, and it's important for two reasons: it's the first one to be shown in 3D, and it's allegedly going to be the last one. Oh sweet Lord, please let it be the last one.

The 2007 Paranormal Activity was an exercise in brutal simplicity: sometimes, terrifying things would happen in a couple's bedroom while they were sleeping, and they had a camera set up to record all of those terrifying things for our benefit. It's as blunt and unfussy as three-chord rock. And all of the film's sequels have taken it as their primary goal to screw that up as hard as possible, adding layer upon layer of nonsense mythology, time travel, and a community of witches cultivating one family across generations to be the handmaidens to a malevolent spirit called Toby.

The Ghost Dimension takes as its stated goal the summation of all this mythology into one definitive chapter where all is explained. It fails, of course. Summing up the messy dog-ends of the Paranormal Activity pictures would have been beyond the scope of one movie, and given the increasingly arbitrary twists in the franchise, it would hardly have been satisfying. What The Ghost Dimension does manage to do is execute the reveal that all six movies have been building up to a tediously straightforward "find a body for the Devil" scenario, something that plenty of other movies have been able to sketch out in a first act, and not several hours over the course of more than a half of a decade. It's a damp squib of a finale if ever there was one.

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Beauty vs Beast: Frankenstein's Rib

Happy All Hallows Week, everybody! Jason from MNPP here - you know how demons on Buffy the Vampire Slayer would always take Halloween off because of what a cliche it seemed to be, attacking that night? I've found myself battling the same kind of fatigue this season - I haven't got the spirit, I tells ya! I'm having to work hard at it - last night I actually carved a pumpkin while watching The Nightmare Before Christmas (which is the horror fan equivalent of Mrs. Claus taking a peppermint bath while making the Elves sing her carols from the foot of the tub) but it still didn't take. Maybe seeing Vincent Price's daughter at a screening The Abominable Dr. Phibes (my fave VP flick!) tonight will help? If that can't nothing will, I fear! Well here, another stab at it -- this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" is going all classic Universal Monster on ya...

PREVIOUSLY Two weeks ago we primed ourselves for Guillermo Del Toro's Crimson Peak (which I adored and which I will forgive you all for not going to see if you go this week for Halloween) with his film Pan's Labyrinth, facing off sweet little Ofelia and her Fascist Step-Dad Vidal -- y'all a buncha softies; Ofelia took it home with 3/4s of the vote. RobMiles makes the best case for her, especially the last point:

"I think the point of Ofelia eating the grape is that as well as not having had supper, she doesn't always do what she's told, which also happens at the end of the film, when she doesn't let the Faun hurt her baby brother. That is linked to the Doctor in reality, who doesn't obey Captain Vidal and euthanizes the captured soldier instead of keeping him alive for more torture.

Plus without her eating the grape, we wouldn't have had one of the most thrilling scenes in any film I've seen, when the Pale Man awakes and chases Ofelia. I was literally gasping for breath when I first saw it."


Best Documentary - The Long List Is Here

AMPAS has narrowed the Best Documentary Feature competition. If not by much. The long list from which they'll choose 15 or so finalists which will then become 5 nominees in January has arrived. It's double the size of what the Foreign committees have to get through each year but there's more members voting. The seventeen titles in bold we've already reviewed so click away to your docu-loving delight, won't you?

Which films are you rooting for or eager to see? 

Above and Beyond. All Things Must Pass, Amy, The Armor of Light, Ballet 422, Batkid Begins, Becoming Bulletproof, Being Evel, Beltracchi – The Art of Forgery, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Bolshoi Babylon, Brand: A Second Coming, A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story, Call Me Lucky, Cartel Land, Censored Voices, Champs, CodeGirl, Coming Home

Dark Horse, Deli Man, Dior and I, The Diplomat, (Dis)Honesty – The Truth about Lies, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll, Dreamcatcher, dream/killer, Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon, Eating Happiness, Every Last Child, Evidence of Harm, Farewell to Hollywood, Finders Keepers, The Forecaster, Frame by Frame

Gardeners of Eden, A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile, Godspeed: The Story of Page Jones, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, He Named Me Malala, Heart of a Dog, Hitchcock/Truffaut, How to Change the World, Human, The Hunting Ground, I Am Chris Farley, In Jackson Heights, In My Father’s House, India’s Daughter, Ingrid Bergman – In Her Own Words, Iraqi Odyssey, Iris, Janis: Little Girl Blue

Karski & the Lords of Humanity, Killing Them Safely, Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Lambert & Stamp, A Lego Brickumentary, Listen to Me Marlon, Live from New York!, The Look of Silence, Meet the Patels, Meru, The Mind of Mark DeFriest, Misery Loves Comedy, Monkey Kingdom, A Murder in the Park, My Italian Secret, My Voice, My Life, 1971

Of Men and War, One Cut, One Life, Only the Dead See the End of War, The Outrageous Sophie Tucker, Peace Officer, The Pearl Button, Pink & Blue: Colors of Hereditary Cancer, Poached, Polyfaces, The Prime Ministers: Soldiers and Peacemakers, Prophet’s Prey, Racing Extinction, The Resurrection of Jake the Snake, Ride the Thunder – A Vietnam War Story of Victory & Betrayal, Rosenwald, The Russian Woodpecker

Searching for Home: Coming Back from War, Seeds of Time, Sembene!, The Seven Five, Seymour: An IntroductionSherpa, A Sinner in Mecca, Something Better to Come, Song from the Forest, Song of Lahore, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, Stray Dog, Sunshine Superman, Sweet Micky for President

Tab Hunter Confidential, The Tainted Veil, Tap World, (T)error, Thao’s Library, Those Who Feel the Fire Burning, 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets, The Touch of an Angel, TransFatty Lives, The True Cost, Twinsters, Very Semi-Serious: A Partially Thorough Portrait of New Yorker Cartoonists, The Wanted 18 (also on the Foreign Submissions List), We Are Many, We Come as Friends, We Were Not Just…Bicycle Thieves. Neorealism, Welcome to Leith, What Happened, Miss Simone?, What Our Fathers Did: A Nazi Legacy, Where to Invade Next, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, and The Wolfpack

Noticeable Absences 
Where is Silvered Water: Syrian Self-Portrait? When it wasn't on the long list last year we assumed it had arrived too late and would be there this year. Perhaps we'll see them next year -- it's difficult to understand the eligibility with Oscar's doc branch - but missing are: the Nora Ephron doc Everything is Copy, the Orry-Kelly costume design doc Women He's Undressed


NEWS: Reese, Rocky Horror & The Revenant

Manuel here trying to keep up with exciting news about several TFE faves (and one who hasn’t quite earned that title).

- HBO’s Big Little Lies, which we’ve discussed before since it’s produced and will star the unlikely power duo of Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, has “allegedly” found a director. Jean Marc-Vallée, of Wild and (more recently) Demolition (TIFF review) fame is in talks to direct the first episode of the short television series adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s endlessly readable book about suburban secrets. Confession: I read it in one sitting and can’t wait to see how it turns out. Let’s hope they sign Vallée’s contract soon since he’s wont to keep himself busy (presumably with that long-gestating Janis Joplin pic with Amy Adams).

- Orange is the New Black breakout star Laverne Cox has been tapped to play the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter, made iconic by a fishnet-stocking-ed Tim Curry in the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in FOX’s TV remake which unlike NBC’s attempts at television musical revivals, will not be broadcast live but be filmed in advance. Seeing as Frank N. Furter is a “sweet transvestite” the casting of Cox, an outspoken trans activist, is a fascinating case of stunt casting in it of itself though it’s already earning the “hot take” treatment in some online outlets. Needless to say, I’m curious to see Cox’s take on the role, and eagerly await who director Kenny Ortega casts as Rocky Horror. Any suggestions?

- Oh, and I couldn’t not feature the gorgeous new poster for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant.

The film, if you've followed its pre-release chatter, has already won Oscars for Leo, Chivo and potentially everyone else associated with it. (I kid! Though, not really). We were obviously impressed with the teaser trailer and so this evocative one-sheet is no surprise but by god if it’s not pretty. Perhaps a tad pretentious in that it literally defines the title for you. Though, admit it, “revenant” is not really in the vernacular. That neither Leo or Iñárritu’s name are billed anywhere in the poster is fascinating. Is it humility (“let the film speak for itself”) or hubris (“the film doesn’t need to be sold on people’s names”), or perhaps something else?


Review: Macbeth

Andrew here to talk about a Shakespeare adaptation

There’s a moment in the recent adaptation of Macbeth that’s legitimately surprising for audience, even those who have read the play. Towards the end of the film Marion Cotillard appears on screen for Lady Macbeth’s moment of reckoning – that iconic “Out damned spot!” speech. The scene unfolds, naturally, in a different fashion than it does in the play. The monologue, though, becomes especially striking when the camera draws back to reveal “who” she is speaking to. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but a few of the persons in the row behind me gasped at the cutaway. It’s meant to be a jolting moment in the film, and it is, although it’s also a baffling one. The moment has stuck with me since I’ve seen the film as I’ve tried to make sense of it within the film’s framework. And, the more I think on it, the more it emerges as emblematic of this adaptation.

Let it not be said that Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is not without ambition and energy. This Macbeth is transposed to the cinema in language that’s distinctly visual. This is a Macbeth about movement and space and contact, and then the ensuing loss of that same contact. The language of the film is restlessness and mournful agitation from its first shot and the entire fair is slick and confident, but I go back and forth on how effective it is.

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