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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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Friday
Jan162015

David Fincher and Gillian Flynn Team Up for 'Strangers On a Train' Remake

Margaret here, recovering from yesterday's Oscars nominations and trying to process some upcoming movie news: David Fincher and Gillian Flynn are remaking Strangers On a Train. David Fincher and Gillian Flynn are remaking Strangers On a Train. 

 

 

There are so many feelings, and I am feeling ALL of them, all at once, right now. Help.
  1. Excitement: David Fincher and Gillian Flynn together again, and so soon!!
  2. Indifference: Ben Affleck is also involved, which, sure.
  3. Anger: A remake of Strangers On a Train? How dare they?? Hitchcock at his best is untouchable and the movie is perfect; no sane human could think it needs updating!
  4. Cautious Optimism: But. Buuuuut. If they're going to do to it, and you can't stop them.. The Flynn and Fincher team is such a great choice. Think of the cold, agonizing tension! Think of the pitch-black comedy! We deserve this.
  5. Confusion: But Strangers on a Train is perfect and I am mad?
  6. Curiosity: Although-- who could play Bruno, the most charming psychopath in movie history? That's going to be really tough to cast....
  7. Anger 2.0:....because, dangit, Robert Walker's performance is unimprovable and it's a fool who walks into that trap. Who's idea was this again?
  8. Begrudging interest: It's been reported that the remake will have a new context: instead of a tennis player and a psychopath who meet on a train and discuss the idea of swapping murders, this one (tentatively called "Strangers") will follow an actor (Affleck) campaigning for an Oscar who ends up on a flight with a wealthy stranger when his private plane breaks down. A fun, meta premise, no?
  9. Amusement: Affleck has been cast in the Farley Granger role which, if you think about it, is sort of a Nick Dunne 2.0; Ben may have found his perfect niche playing morally ambiguous murder-adjacent leading men. 
  10. Incredulity: Wait, when exactly will any of the people involved even have time to make this? Flynn and Fincher are already working on a series together for HBO, and Affleck has the whole Batman enterprise and several directing projects in development. It might be quite a while before we can see this.

How do you feel about this news-- more excited, or disappointed? Who would you cast as Bruno, the murderous charmer?

 

 

Friday
Jan162015

Up Close at the 20th Annual "Critics Choice" Awards

Goddess with regular person. But at least he's in a brand new expensive suit.Did you want the Critics Choice Movie Awards last night? That accounts for my radio silence. I had the extreme good fortune of sitting at Jessica Chastain's table. No, I couldn't believe it either for which I must thank A24 profusely. It's true The Film Experience has been kinda nuts about their movies here from Spring Breakers to Under the Skin to the already weirdly underappreciated A Most Violent Year (opening in late late December is so hard for movies that are small and aren't directed by Clint Eastwood) but it was still an unbelievably kind gesture.

It turns out though that sitting at a table with some of the honored stars (Jenny Slate, also at the table, took home Best Comedy Actress) that is smack dab in the center (Wild table to the left, Theory of Everything and Unbroken to the right, Selma tables --plural, that's a big cast behind you) is rather terrifying and chaotic. Because I had the back to stage seat, the cameramen were running up to squat or stand hovering over me carrying loads of equipment to point the camera at Jessica and Jenny for reaction shots and for their wins. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan152015

Tim's Toons: The newly wide-open animation race

Tim here. As you’ve probably heard, unless this is literally the first thing you’ve read on the internet all day, the Best Animated Feature category at the Oscars got thrown for a loop when the prohibitive frontrunner, The Lego Movie, was unexpectedly denied a nomination. In the blink of an eye, one of the most boring races suddenly turned into the most unpredictable of all 24.

So why don’t we start hacking away at the five titles, and see what we can make of them, now that we’ve suddenly got some excitement on our hands?



BIG HERO 6
Directors: Don Hall (1st nomination), Chris Williams (2nd nomination)
Studio: Walt Disney Animation (8th nomination)

Nathaniel kind of liked it, I kind of liked it a bit less. Which mostly describes the reception that the film has received from everybody: nobody much dislikes the genial adventure-comedy about a boy and his charmingly soft robot, but it hasn’t inspired the kind of culture-devouring passion that Disney’s Frozen was enjoying a year ago at this point.

Path to victory: If the glow of the Disney brand name, so recently rejuvenated by Frozen’s enormous success, convinces people that this one was probably good enough to get by in an uncertain year.



THE BOXTROLLS
Directors: Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable (1st nomination for each)
Studio: Laika (3rd nomination, 4th if we include the pre-Laika Corpse Bride)

With The Lego Movie out of the picture, this has abruptly become the critics’ baby in the race. And it’s not an unfair position for the film, which bears its rough, handmade aesthetic with pride that shades into showing-off. Those of us who love stop-motion animation really love it, and the studio has done an outstanding job of positioning itself as the home for high-tech revisions to the most ancient of animation forms. The Boxtrolls is certainly not their most sophisticated piece of storytelling, but it’s a technical masterwork. For more praise, check out this top 10.

Path to victory: It’s in a great position to do some of the "look at our wonderfully fussy homey craftsmanship" campaigning that Laika does so well, and CEO Travis Knight has deep pockets. The film will have to work for it, but it’s work that I think can be done.

 

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
Director: Dean DeBlois (3rd nomination)
Studio: DreamWorks Animation (11th nomination)

A sequel that many people liked and only some people particularly loved. A lot of that is the side effect of having two movies' worth of plot crushed down into one, cramping things and having unfortunate repercussions in the department of making Cate Blanchett's awesome character feel like an afterthought. It's also a little too desperate to make things feel grander and more epic, at the expense of the character-driven charm of the first. Still...

Path to victory: ...it feels like the default pick, right? DreamWorks proper hasn't won since the category's very first year in 2001, and voting for HTTYD2 can retroactively feel like rewarding the original, which surely would have won against any competition less fierce than Toy Story 3. The box office and the critics are fine without being in any way exceptional, though, so this is less the one that's surely going to take the Oscar, than the one that only takes the Oscar if nobody else can be bothered.

 

SONG OF THE SEA
Director: Tomm Moore (2nd nomination)
Studio: Cartoon Saloon (2nd nomination)

I must confess to having not seen it. Both Nathaniel and Margaret were pretty high on it, though, and on the strength of 2009's The Secret of Kells, I feel that following Moore down the rabbit hole of brightly-colored Celtic mythology is a pretty safe bet. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to look at this one a bit more closely in the next few weeks.

Path to victory: Margaret puts it bluntly: "breathtakingly stunning artwork". Being the most traditional, and probably also the most striking, of the nominees can only help. The big uncertainty here is that distributor GKIDS ended up with two nominees, and it's hard to guess if they have the resources to handle two campaigns. One of them almost certainly has to give.

 

THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA
Director: Isao Takahata (1st nomination)
Studio: Studio Ghibli (4th nomination)

As you perhaps know - because I won't shut the hell up about it - Takahata is one of the great living directors of animation, and Princess Kaguya is a gorgeous, challenging (potential) swan song. Retelling the most ancient story in Japanese storytelling using digtital animation techniques designed to mimic pencil sketches and watercolors, the film is a smart blend of fable and domestic drama without any anachronistic modern attitudes but also without old-fashioned fustiness. It's my favorite animated feature of the year, so I get a little over-passionate about it; it's also the only one of the nominees mostly meant for an adult audience.

Path to victory: See the above issue with GKIDS' split loyalties. These seems like the stronger play - it has more critics' awards, it's probably the last Ghibli film that will have a real shot at winning, the same for Takahata - but the category hasn't favored grown-up animation yet. And this is way Japanese. Besides, how many Academy members can possibly find "But Takahata might not ever make another movie!" a compelling argument?

 

Alright, so if you had to pick, right now, what do you think will end up winning? And was The Lego Movie robbed, or is that just the cost of making a feature-lenth toy ad? Sound off in comments!

Thursday
Jan152015

Interesting Stats About The 87th Oscars

DuPont has something in common with those other sociopaths Lisbeth Salander and James BondDid you know...

• The tiny grossing Foxcatcher is now tied with two blockbusters Skyfall and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for "most nominations without a Best Picture nomination" in the modern Best Picture expanded era. The all time record holder if you include years with only 5 Best Picture nominees is They Shoot Horses Don't They from 1969 which received 9 nominations but not Best Picture. And that one is better than all of the actual Best Picture nominees from its year.

• Grand Budapest Hotel, a very atypical nominee in so many ways (comic, uber-stylized, filled with slapstick) is also the highest grosser currently. The Oscars went very small this year after a few years of big hits peppering their Best Picture lineup

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan152015

Best (Male) Directors - The Chart!

I wish I had time to sketch Wes Anderson riding to the Oscars on a bicycle made of antique tuba parts (thanks Tina & Amy) but alas. It's nomination day. No time for goofing around.

Manly men and the men who love them and direct them and vote for them to win miniature idols of gold men.

The Best Director chart is now up with details on the nominees and gives you the opportunity to vote for your favorite (the poll will be up until two days before the Oscars). If you fuse all the Best Directors together this year into one über Frankenstein director you get a 6 foot tall white brown-haired American man with some Norwegian/Mexican blood in him who's rapidly approaching his half century mark and who has made about 7 movies in his career all told. (There's no way to fuse these five men's temperaments and styles though... despite being very similar in age, height, and Oscar favor they have very different aesthetics and concerns as filmmakers)

On the new Nominated Directors chart, you'll aso learn how each man got his nomination*. Besides having penises that is. That goes without saying in this category so we left their penises off the chart.

• How much did Birdman's showbiz navel-gazing help Inarritu?
• Which was more important for Linklater: conception or execution?
• How crucial was that spring release to Budapest's overall success?
• And did Morten Tyldum benefit from Oscar's World War II fetish?

Find out on the chart! (More charts to follow)

* for entertainment purposes only you understand. We can't know what lurks in the hearts and minds of voters but we love pretending to!

Thursday
Jan152015

Why Wes, Why Now?

Michael C here. Wes Anderson’s films haven’t been ignored by awards season in the past, so much as they have been relegated to flitting around the edges. His films have received three total Oscar nods, two for Original Screenplay for Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom and one animated film nod for Mr. Fox. His most high profile wins have been a Gotham Award for Best Film for Moonrise and two Indie Spirit wins for Rushmore for Best Director and for Best Supporting Actor for Bill Murray who is in nearly all of his films.

Wes & Tilda on the set

Now that has all changed with Grand Budapest Hotel. No longer the strange side dish, Anderson’s nostalgic remembrance of a Europe that never quite existed has just finished a rampage through the precursors that culminated with Anderson’s first DGA nomination. Over the past few weeks buzz for Budapest grew steadily from “It might pick up a few nods” to “It looks like a lock for a Best Picture slot” to “Hey, it just might snatch the screenplay Oscar away from Birdman”. And today, incredibly, it LEADS the Oscar nominations with nine (tied with Birdman)

For those of us who have been on board with Anderson since the 90’s and have grown used to Anderson being underappreciated it’s hard not to wonder what exactly has changed. Why did Wes break through now when his films have been as good or better in the past? 

Five theories after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan152015

The Five Stages of Grief via Oscar Nominations

Though Oscar nomination morning is my Christmas -- the day I anticipate so heavily each year when all the prezzies are ripped open -- it's not all happiness. Oscar also gives out lumps of coal on this day each year. Let us celebrate five big snubs (or omissions if you hate that word) representing each stage of grief so that we can work through it and move on.

Though SELMA got a Best Picture nod, it was ignored in every other category but Song

DENIAL I'm pretending that American Sniper, a conservative leaning (though not unartful) celebration of war heroism didn't crash the party late and win a ton of nominations (which encourages the studios to do that December/January glutting) while the progressive Selma -- which we actually need unlike a film about someone who's good with a gun! -- couldn't muster up more than two nominations.

 

ANGER Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first woman of color nominated for Best Director, should have been among the five Best Director nominees. She handled a large scale historical film and made it reverberate with danger, grief, inspiration, courage, and immediacy which is more than can be said for most historical epics. And it's only her third film! Can't wait to see what number four is like. As a subset of this stage of grief: anger. The Oscar nominations are just another reminder that Oscar does not value female narratives, not behind the scenes or onscreen. Movies about men trying to find themselves, or redemption or triumph over adversity score. Movies about women or people of color doing the same things do not (see: Wild and Selma, this year and examples in many other years; Oscar is a boys club)

BARGAINING The Lego Movie which I felt would meet more resistance than it initially had because it is basically a 2 hour commercial was nevertheless a surprise omission. I hope this doesn't discourage future filmmakers from going above and beyond because, YES, it was a commercial for toy product but it was like the best long-form commercial ever. So much funnier and more stylish and surprising than it had any right to be really. So next time someone overachieves Oscar, toss them a bone okay?

DEPRESSION All year long we (correctly) heard that it was a super strong year for Best Actor and it was. So why is the actual shortlist so disatisfying? Two answers: you could call Carell (against type / prosthetic nose) without even seeing the picture (and if you see the picture it's a heavily stilted performance and you can label Bradley Cooper a "default" nominee now with three consecutive nominations and though he's definitely under this guy's skin, it's a very unchallenging star turn compared to the snubbed competition.

This year of all years isn't time to lean on gimmicks or default status. Not when you had Ralph Fiennes's gloriously civilized sly performance keeping Grand Budapest Hotel grounded in gravitas and culture and wit when it could theoretically have defaulted to diorama kitsch. Not when Jake Gyllenhaal is doing the best work of his career in Nightcrawler. Not when David Oyelowo is becoming a great Southern orator. Not when... etcetera...

This was very disrespectfulACCEPTANCE Jessica Chastain missed out on a nod for what may well be her best screen performance yet in A Most Violent Year. But the film arrived very late and just didn't catch on quickly enough. And people got hung up on the Pfeiffer/Scarface look and missed the fact that the ubiquitous actress was doing interesting things with a more complicated character than her entrepeneur's wife first appeared to be in clip form.  (For what it's worth Pfeiffer also missed a nomination for Scarface, one of her many awful snubbings.) But we know that Chastain, who makes three movies a year and most of them high profile, will be back so we'll let this one slide. 

Who and what would represent your five stages this morning?

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