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Friday
Dec192014

The Theory of Cocktails

Theory: I enjoy them. Will put it to the test tonight.

BEST ACTOR & BEST ACTRESS & ACTUALLY EVERY DAMN OSCAR CHART IS UPDATED ICYMI. 

please drink (and comment) responsibly this weekend 

Friday
Dec192014

Oscar's Foreign Language Finalists. Shocking As Per Usual...

And now, dear reader, we have our official OSCAR FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM FINALIST LIST direct from the Academy and it's full of tongue-twisting shockers, no matter your mother Mommy tongue. You mean no Xavier Dolan? No Marion Cotillard and the Dardenne Brothers? No rampaging dogs or winter sleeps that made people cheer at Cannes? Nope...The nine remaining films are (in alpha order)

Can IDA finally break Poland's losing streak in this category?

THE FINALIST LIST

  • ACCUSED (The Netherlands. 7 nominations | 3 wins)
    This film, known as Lucia De. B in The Netherlands, is a courtroom drama about a lawyer who later regrets convicting a nurse for murder. The director was previously Oscar nominated for Zus & Zo
  • CORN ISLAND (Georgia. 1 nomination | 0 wins)
    Capsule Review though we called the Oscar prospects for this farmer and his daughter outpost drama "nil" ...oopsie! 
  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden. 14 noms | 3 wins)
    Reviewed and then reviewed some more because this sharp comedy about masculinity and marriage (among other things) is so damn good. Currently in release and the only film on this finalist list that's occasionally nabbing Foreign Film critics prizes from Ida 
  • IDA (Poland. 9 nominations | 0 wins)
    Love this movie but then again, doesn't everyone? It's the third biggest subtitled hit of the year and the most unlikely since its a confrontational stark black and white drama about a Jewish nun.
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia. 13 noms | 4 wins)
    Reviewed but more on this one (which is difficult to summarize) coming soon... it's also very good. 
  • THE LIBERATOR (Venezuela. Never nominated)
    Reviewed though we called the Oscar chances "unlikely" Oopsie again. We did SO much coverage on this race this year that I guess we got a little cocky. And also... maybe I was a little irritated by it since I was so in love with the runner up for submission from Venezuela. 
  • TANGERINES (Estonia. Never nominated)
    I've been predicting this film, about a farmer who takes in a wounded soldier, for months now after hearing intense love for it from a festival programmer in LA. Have yet to lay my own eyes on it though.
  • TIMBUKTU (Mauritania. Their First Submission!)
    Reviewed but I haven't yet seen this searing drama about Sharia law and the havoc it creates on a tribal community. I hear only exciting things (though miserably depressing things).
  • WILD TALES (Argentina. 6 nominations | 2 wins) 
    Reviewed and lurved. It's really hilarious and somehow maintains its energy throughout despite being essentially a collection of shorts 

Wild Tales is the only film to plan an opening right around Oscar night that lucked out by doing so.

The biggest omissions in terms of how high profile they were are undoubtedly Canada's Mommy (which I suspected would be too youthful anarchic for them), and Belgium's Two Days One Night which were two of the best films of 2014 according to many (including myself). The latter film is currently hoping for a Best Actress nomination for Marion Cotillard (UPDATED CHART)  and this omission could actually help her. Past races have shown us that perceptions of unkind treatment in the foreign film category can boost your nomination chances. Consider the fates of City of God (subitted but not nominated for foreign one year but chased with a regular release the next), Talk to Her (not submitted by Spain), and Three Colors: Red (deemed ineligible) which went on to nominations in other categories. 

It's also worth noting that ALL of the LGBT entries (there were six) did not make the finalist list. 

THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SAVE
One of the more discussion-prompting elements of this Oscar game each year is their recently refined rules which involve two different sets of groups coming up with these nine finalists. The six top vote-getters from the ballots of the general committee volunteer AMPAS members who attend the screenings make the list but then 3 additional films are chosen as finalists by a special committee (presumably to prevent really embarrassing omissions like Oscar had when say 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, an instant masterpiece from Romania, didn't make the cut). The titles (aka which films are which) are never revealed so it's internet speculation only that says...

Oh, the Executive Committtee totally saved that one!" 

NO MOMMY
So what this means is that whichever films that special more powerful committee saved, they liked them more than Mommy and Two Days One Night and whatnot. I'm sad to see both go but you can make a VERY respectable shortlist of Oscar nominees from these nine. I've only seen 4 of the remaining 5 but all 4 are worthy. 

You should expect to see some shifting release dates around this news. It's a huge danger to plan your releases around Oscar campaigns, as Mommy did by waiting to open (presumably until the nomination came). Every year films succumb to this hope addiction when it's better to mount an honest "this film is great!" release and if Oscar comes, it comes. Other movies that did not make the finalists that were planning on opening very  soon are Germany's Beloved Sisters, Two Days One Night (both due on Christmas Eve in theaters) and France's Saint Laurent, like Mommy was probably waiting for Oscar to come up with a plan.

More coming on this category soon once we've fully digested the news.

Related Pages

Current Predictions
Submission Chart Pt 1 Afghanistan through Ethiopia 
Submission Chart Pt 2 Finland through Nepal 
Submission Chart Pt 3 Peru through Venezuela 

Everything You Wanted To Know About the Foreign Film Race... but were afraid to ask 
Part One: We explored trivia about the Oscar's most global category
Part Two: Nathaniel jumped to Towleroad, "a site with homosexual tendencies," for a discussion of the six LGBT films in the competitive long-list.

29 of 83 Foreign Submissions Reviewed or Otherwise Investigated  AfghanistanArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCubaCzech RepublicFinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyHungaryIcelandIsrael, Iran, ItalyLatviaMauritania, New ZealandNorwayPanamaPolandPortugal, SwedenSwitzerlandTurkeyUruguay, and Venezuela.
Complete Oscar Charts Here.

 

Friday
Dec192014

Blog it: The Beauty of the Five Armies

You know you're in trouble when you have to buy three movie tickets to get to anything dubbed "the defining chapter"No, no. Not The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Just Five Armies. Those Middle Earth movies have long since passed their expiration date for TFE's interest, though, if you're curious for a review Timothy wrote an excellent one (as is his enviable habit). Peter Jackson, once an exciting, rowdy, and passionate human filmmaker is now a factory mogul. Contrary to popular belief, we love television here at The Film Experience but each medium has its place. Serialized storytelling is TV's most beloved strength. The movies aren't very good at it. And that's what annual franchises are, one season of an expensive show per year that's only two or three episodes long in which something may or may not happen depending on how much material the show-runner and writers room have come up with and how much money the production company is hoping to wring out of you for the next few seasons. 

Since this is technically the final Middle Earth movie (naturally, Peter Jackson is already threatening to continue. Won't any of his close friends stage an intervention?) let's celebrate with five armies -- extremely randomly chosen --  that are exceedingly nice to look at for a special military edition of Beauty Break.

We'll start with one of Jackson's own to be as nice as we can muster at this point...

Aragorn and the Army of the Dead

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
OH VIGGO MY VIGGO. Few romantic heroes have ever read so romantic and heroic simultaneously as Aragorn, the only regular non-superpowered human in the fellowship. And of all the charges he led into battle, none ever provided such deliciously flattering backlighting as that ghost army he gathered for the final film.

FOUR MORE ARMIES AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec192014

Bag O' Links: Pitt, Cruella, Annie, Viola, Lisi, Potter, Etc...

We haven't done a link roundup in so long this one is super-duper-quadrupled size. Please to enjoy these articles or catch up with this news...

FAREWELL
NYT, BBCVariety remembers the great Italian actress Virna Lisi who has died at 78 years of age. Best known stateside for the Jack Lemmon comedy How To Murder Your Wife (1965), and maybe that iconic Esquire cover by George Lois (left) which has been homaged ever since, this baby cinephile right here writing to you first fell for her in the French film Queen Margot (1994). She was brilliant as the most ruthless of royals. She won the Cannes prize for Best Actress for her supporting role which probably didn't make Margot herself Isabelle Adjani too happy but they were at odds in the film, too. 

RANDOMNESS
Guardian doesn't like the new Annie but what makes that little orphan so durable in pop culture? 
Comics Alliance a fresh way to illustrate "superhero fatigue" -- by spending a day with fatigued Joss Whedon on the set of Age of Ultron
Coming Soon walks you through Jon Favreau walking fans through the making of The Jungle Book. All I'm here for is the cute photo of ScarJo recording the voice of Kaa.  
Grantland has a piece people like a lot on The Babadook. People aren't done talking about that
Playbill The Exorcist (1973) will be moving to the stage. Not a musicalized version.  Well, it does all take place in one house so you don't have to worry about that part of stage transitions.
Pride Source adorably frank interview with Russell Tovey from Looking (and other shows) on his sex scenes with Jonathan Groff and what he wants for the show's drama


Playbill Audra McDonald will recreate her Tony winning "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill" for HBO. Here comes her Emmy!
Comics Alliance Viola Davis rumored to be joining the cast of the supervillain film Suicide Squad as Amanda Waller. FWIW this is the role that Angela Bassett was utterly wasted in in that piece of poo Green Lantern movie
Grantland Ugh. I can't believe i missed this oral history of Boogie Nights when it was first published 

STAR WARS: THE INTERNET AWAKENS (THOUGH IT NEVER WENT TO SLEEP)
/Film Andy Serkis responds to speculation about his Star Wars: The Force Awakens role. 
CHUD wonders what Star Wars fans will have to left to complain about when the original trilogy is released without all the fussy changes that messed with its purity on Blu-Ray 
Nathaniel R and I sneak-peaked on Twitter that when I interviewed Oscar Isaac (coming soon) he assumed that's what I wanted to talk about. Haha 
Pajiba believe it or not, the Star Wars trailer is NOT the most viewed trailer of 2014
The Film Stage the character names from the new film 

OUTRAGE, CONT'D
Remember yesterday how I said I couldn't feel that outraged about this week's topic o' outrage (The Interview) but here are two topics that usually push my button but good and often enrage me.

1. Towleroad has a piece on author J.K. Rowlings recent admission that there were gay students at Hogwarts in her Harry Potter books.

If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one should live in a closet.”

I know how Harry Potter fans are and they'll applaud their icon for this but real talk: Saying after the fact that characters were gay in your mammoth culture-dominating best-sellers in which you could have gotten away with virtually any storytelling flourish is cheap lip service. It's wanting the gays to worship you without actually having supported them in any way other than in easy 'nothing to lose now' sound bites.  It's also insulting to use the closet metaphor since that's where all of her supposed gay characters were!

2. Variety has an article on five things we learned about moviegoing this year. I agree with #2 about Women in Hollywood but I'm so sad that the writer ruins his point by again bringing up the foolish 'there aren't 5 worthy women for Best Actress' business. Dear reader, I don't know how to stop this internet wide self-perpetuating sexism epidemic. And, yes, I believe it's completely sexist to ignore the existing actual contributions of women in order to complain about sexism and the lack of contributions of women. The only thing I feel I can do is keep pointing at the lie and hopefully shaming a few writers here and there with "God, did you only see the marketed to teen boys movies this year or what?'

And if you're going to bitch that we need more female themed movies you're going to have to support the ones we have now by, you know, ADMITTING THAT THEY EXIST. 

 

TODAY'S MUST-READ
Ayn Rand, that hard right conservative icon, reviews children's movies! A hilarious article from the New Yorker's Mallory Ortberg. Since it's impossible to pick a favorite I'm just picking two random ones to share but you must read the whole thing!

“101 Dalmatians”
A wealthy woman attempts to do her impoverished school friend Anita a favor by purchasing some of her many dogs and putting them to sensible use. Her generosity is repulsed at every turn, and Anita foolishly and irresponsibly begins acquiring even more animals, none of which are used to make a practical winter coat. Altruism is pointless. So are dogs. A cat is a far more sensible pet. A cat is objectively valuable. —No stars.

“Toy Story”
At last, a full-length feature about the inherent value of possessions. —Four stars.


LIST-MANIA

Towleroad "80 Most Powerful Coming Outs of the Year" I love that they do this list annually and that the number of coming outs mentioned keeps growing. It used to be a big deal every time someone came out. it's like *yep, another one*.
Pajiba "10 Most Forgettable Movies of 2014" Ouch
Film School Rejects best movie music of year 
Out "10 best TV gay scenes of the year" 
Slate "10 best books of the year" 
The Atlantic "Best TV episodes of the year" from Joe Reid and team 
The Dissolve "Best Films of the year that made under $100,000" 

 

 

FINALLY
Our beloved Brad Pitt (he was so good in Fury, wasn't he?) was recently released from Jury Duty in Los Angeles because jurors and lawyers would find him too distracting! In related news look at this unintentionally awesome paparazzi shot (above) from an Unbroken premiere. "Unbro" teehee

 

Friday
Dec192014

First Look: Chastain & Winslet, Ladies in Dresses

Manuel here to get your Friday started with some to-die for shots of two of our greatest working actresses. We’ve had behind the scenes looks at Kate Winslet’s The Dressmaker (see more of rugby-playing Liam Hemsworth and Kate in Australia here) and of Jessica Chastain’s Crimson Peak (see more of Chastain and Tom Hiddleston shooting in pseudo Burtonian drag here) but this week we finally got to see some polished official photos from their respective films.

Here is Kate looking ravishing as Myrtle “Tilly” Dunnage in The Dressmaker (which just wrapped production). The film follows Tilly’s return to her rural Australian town where she uses her haute couture skills to help exact revenge on those who wronged her (or so the plot description tells me). Sounds gothic and lurid and gorgeous and precisely what I’d get from this pic. Anyone read the novel? Directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse, the film co-stars Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis and Hemsworth. I love this image, mostly because I love seeing well-coiffed and polished Kate. Also, in my head she’s saying “Gather!” so that helps)

Costumes for the film by Marion Boyce. Costumes for Kate by Margot Wilson

Costumes by Kate Hawley who did "Edge of Tomorrow" this year

Looking just as ravishing in the just-released first look at Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak, is Chastain. Details are still scant on the film but here is the plot description: “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author [Lady Lucille Sharpe] is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.” The film co-stars Mia Wasikowska, Charlie Hunnam and Tom Hiddleston. Love the look of this; may this be the followup to Pan’s Labyrinth we’re still waiting del Toro to deliver?

Which ensemble is, in RuPaul parlance, giving you life?

 Clearly both actresses have charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to spare, and are giving us great face, but if you had to choose from these two pics, which frocked lady would you say “Shantay you stay” to? Your choice, Sophies!

Thursday
Dec182014

The Animated Feature contenders: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Tim here. This week's look at one of the 2014 Best Animated Feature Oscar contenders takes us someplace entirely new: to a film that might actually be able to swing a nomination. The film is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the penultimate film made by the late Studio Ghibli, and probably the final work directed by the great Takahata Isao, who hasn't officially announced his retirement, like friend and colleague Hayao Miyazaki; but when a director is 79 years old and has reached the "enormous gaps between features" stage of his career (his previous film, My Neighbors the Yamadas, came out in 1999), it's time to make some assumptions.

If it's a valedictory work that Princess Kaguya is to be, it's a brilliant one, right down to an ending about the pain of saying farewell when we're not ready to. The film adapts "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter", a folktale that is thought to be the oldest extant work of Japanese literature, telling of a little girl found in a glowing stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter one day. Convinced by this and other signs that he has been tasked by giving her the life a noble princess, the bamboo cutter focuses on pushing her into the upper crusts of society despite how clearly the girl, Kaguya, resents this life, and would prefer to be left in the peaceable wilds of her adoptive home.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec182014

Boyhood Trophies. Nightcrawler Sweeps. Plus: A Bunch of Oscar Chart Updates

Pro Boyhood. Meh on Gone GirlAs you have undoubtedly heard by now even President Barack Obama has boarded the Boyhood train, declaring it the best of the year... that he has seen (it might surprise you to hear that presidents don't have a lot of time for moviegoing). FLOTUS, who helped hand out the Oscar for Best Picture to Argo if you'll recall, offers up no "Best" opinion to People Magazine but randomly shares that she didn't think Gone Girl was all that and preferred the book.

Where were we? Oh yes. Regional critics groups are feeling a tiny bit friskier than usual. No, they really are. Oh sure there is a lot of hive mind action happening (Boyhood, Arquette, J.K., Citizen Four etcetera) but it's not quite as lockstep as it has been in recent years.

Since we last spoke a few more cities have weighed in and it's semi-interesting at least to see a range of Best Actress choices (Reese & Rosamund) and how about San Diego's total unblinking obsession with Nightcrawler?

Lou Bloom must have given them the hard sell. Lou Bloom got that job. [More...]

Click to read more ...