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Yes No Maybe So - Beauty & The Beast

"Nice teaser but it going to be hard for Disney to top one of their true masterpieces of animation" - Jaragon

 "I don't have high hopes for the principals either, but the real draw is the supporting cast. I'm a NO on McGregor's accent and a YES on McKellen, so put me down as a MAYBE SO." -BD

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Sunday
Nov162014

A Multitude of Links

Some of these links (which I collect until I have a moment to share) are a few days old and some are brand new. But it's time to clear out the cache!

We Are Movie Geeks recounts highlights of AFI and the fest winners including Ukraine's The Tribe and the Olympic documentary about Russia's Red Army hockey team which has major Oscar dreams and might achieve them since it's quite entertaining!
Pajiba a fun look at Jessica Chastain's career before she broke out in movies: L&O and E.R. and so on
Vulture interviews Bill Irwin, one of our favorites, on his work as "Tars" in Interstellar 
In Contention moderates a SAG Q & A for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I've been meaning to watch that one again 


Dissolve First look at Bryan Cranston as Trumbo in the 2015 feature. (Sad that there's not much in the way of costume here because I had lunch with the designer Daniel Orlandi when I was in LA. Will this HBO blacklist drama be up for Emmys in 2015? What'cha think?)
Interview Magazine Stanley Tucci interviews his pal Patricia Clarkson, looking better than ever 
In Contention Stephen Hawking weighs in on Eddie Redmayne's performance of him in The Theory of Everything
Speakeasy Finn Wittrock on his breakout year via American Horror Story 

Friends & Collaborators of TFE
The Atlantic Joe thinks the Oscar race for Animated Feature is between Big Hero 6 and The LEGO Movie. I disagree. Has everyone noticed how hard Dragon 2 is pushing? 
Antagony & Ecstacy Tim discovers Gloria (remember how wild I was about that one last year?) 
My New Plaid Pants Jason has a great (mixed) take on A Most Violent Year 

 

Must Reads
LA Times great piece on how social media has affected awards season
Grantland Wesley Morris pays homage to America's Bitter-Sweetheart Reese Witherspoon (Wild).
AV Club An instant classic article on "fake deaths and cheap resurrections" in entertainment. This is a month old piece which maybe I've shared before (?) but if you haven't read it you simply must. I can't get over it. This has long been something I've struggled with in movies and TV and it's beautifully put to words here by William Hughes.
Slate interesting essay about the decline of the serial killer in real life and its 'golden age' (blech!) in film and television  

Today's Watch
Got an hour? Here's Bennett Miller giving a "Master Class" talk on directing to promote Foxcatcher. This is from the NYFF but it's just available now in its full form.

 

Finally...
You may be wondering why I didn't watch, tweet, or blog about The Hollywood Film Awards. 

It isn't a competition so much as a publicity arrangement.

Let's just say I agree with Sasha Stone's quote about it (<--- and look, I finally met her in L.A. after 10+ years of knowing each other online!). Since that is true, and since it's a fake awards show and we already have enough of real ones, why give it any space? If you need further evidence of how disinterested people are read these bitchy quotes from Tim Gray's article in Variety

Sunday
Nov162014

Interview: Daniel Ribeiro on his Brazilian Oscar Submission

Over at Towleroad I interviewed Daniel Ribeiro on his international LGBT hit The Way He Looks. You can read that interview over there but I thought I'd share a few extra and Oscar-related bits here most of which I didn't include there for space reasons. And since we're among Oscar fanatic friends here at TFE...

Ribeiro, who hails from São Paulo and has seen his very first feature go from a Berlinale Teddy win to a multi-national release and finally Brazil's choice to represent the country at the Oscars.  He's thankfully very relaxed about his Oscar chances. He seems more pleased that Brazil submitted it at all than expectant of anything more. But "You never know" ... 

Here are a few excerpts from the interview...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov152014

Meet the Contenders: Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, Bennett Miller's chilling FOXCATCHER, which won him Best Director at Cannes. 

Channing Tatum as Mark Schultz in Foxcatcher

Best Actor

Born: Channing Matthew Tatum was born April 26, 1980 in Cullman, Alabama

The Role: Bennett Miller, the Academy Award nominated director of Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011), takes on another film based on a true story. Tatum stars as wrestler and Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz as he struggles to get by (surviving on ramen and taking $20 inspirational speech gigs) and to ultimately step out of the shadow of his older brother, fellow wrestler and gold medalist, Dave Schultz (Best Supporting Actor contender, Mark Ruffalo). Mark is soon contacted by an eccentric billionaire (Steve Carell playing John du Pont) that encourages Mark (and eventually Dave) to come to his estate near Valley Forge, named Foxcatcher, to train the athletes on his compound.

Tatum met with Miller years before the project got off the ground, but initially passed on the role then fearing he wasn't yet ready to tackle the dark places the character  goes. Once the film was set to go into production, Tatum was ready for the challenge, transforming himself physically (he gained 20 pounds of muscle and trained as a wrestler) and emotionally (Tatum was so intense in one scene where Mark smashes his head in a mirror that he actually cut his own head and put a hole in the wall). 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov152014

That Movie You Thought Wasn't Coming Out, Is!

December cometh. Cue ominous music.

That special month when US distributors panic and attempts to fulfill all star contract Oscar-eligibility demands by releasing EVERYTHING, often sloppily, for at least a week when another more traditional rollout would probably win the film more attention... especially from audiences who are trying to squeeze in all the holiday biggies and rarely think, "gee, I'd like to see that movie about Jennifer Aniston being depressed and eating pastries at that one screen before it leaves!" (I don't mean to be snarky. I'm not allowed to talk about Cake yet but I liked it.)

There seem to be seven-day eligibility runs planned for Cake, Black and White, The HumblingStill Alice, and Mommy... among others though details are purposefully scarce in some of these cases. These qualifiers or last second films are usually quiet since they aren't intended to be true openings of the film and aren't concerned with box office... UNTIL Oscar nominations hit.

The film that seems to have become the most confused over the past several months about when and where it will open and for how long it will play -- hell whether it exists at all --  is Maps to the Stars. Last we heard they were planning a Golden Globes qualifying run but not an Oscar qualifying run which was surely an internet misunderstanding - a digital game of telephone if you will - since why would you bother with the former if you didn't have eyes on the latter? The current plan is to open properly on February 27th nine months after it spurred a lot of press and won Julianne her first Best Actress prize of 2014. The current Maps release date suggests that they're just waiting to capitalize on God's presumed Oscar win on February 22nd for Still Alice.

Here's what I think of that:

FOUL-MOUTHED RANT

This one week business - part of the great 'hide your movie' phenomenon - is, as I'm often ranting this time of year, very anti-audience. I wonder when distributors will catch up to modern pop culture which likes to share beloved things. And very quickly, too. I think this is one of the lesser discussed reasons why people have turned to television for so much for their cinematic fix; it's instant. They can tweet and tumblr away immediately and everyone can be a part of the conversation if they choose to be.  It doesn't make any sense to premiere a film with big stars or name auteurs, both easy marketing hooks, at a festivals and then wait a year for release and have to promote it all over again. You lose all that revenue opportunity from all the people who wanted to be part of the conversation to begin with, to see what all the fuss was about. A year later when you need media voices to help promote your film by writing about it they've already exhausted the conversation and everyone cares less even the people who haven't seen it. They sometimes feel like they already have because of the months of conversation last year.

In happier less-ranty news I had all but forgotten that the hit play Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks was being screenified and now it's also declared itself a December baby. It will come into the world on December 12th and here's the poster.

Your guess is as good as mine why they modeled the poster after a photoshopped 1990s DVD cover, but the cast is delightful: Gena Rowlands, Cheyenne Jackson, Julian Sands, Jacki Weaver... RITA MORENO.

 

Saturday
Nov152014

Important Dates. Beautiful Shoes.

There's nothing duller than a post consisting of dates culled from press releases so, as you read, please to enjoy this brand new photo of Michelle Pfeiffer.

Her fingernails won't match anything once she takes the shoes off!

She's one of many celebrities involved in the fifth annual Celebrity Shoe Auction. Proceeds go to the Small Steps Project. Since this very very recent photo is proof that she lives, we must again beg her to take another job. Geez, lady. Your kids must've just left for college. Get back to work!)

Important November Dates
19 - SAG Nomination Ballots Sent Out
25 - Spirit Award Nominations 
26 - Golden Globe Nomination Ballots Sent Out, Happy Thanksgiving

Important December Dates
1 - NYFCC Awards
2 - NBR Awards
7 - LAFCA Awards
8 -  OFCS Nominations, Globe & SAG Nomination Ballot Due Date, BFCA Ballots Sent Out
10 - SAG Nominations
11 - Golden Globe Nominations
12 - BFCA Nomination Ballot Due Date
15 - OFCS Winners
16 - Happy Hanukkah for the next week
25 - Merry Christmas, a million movies come out today
29 - Oscar Ballots go out
31 - Happy New Year, Have A Most Violent Year ... er...

I like his signature. Quick all you handwriting analysis experts: GO!

Important January Dates
5 - NYFCC Awards Gala
7 - Last day of Globe Voting, ASC Nominees Announced (Cinematographers)
8 - Oscar Ballot Due Date
9 - BAFTA Nominations
11 - Golden Globe Awards
13 - Last day of BFCA voting and DGA Nominations Announced
15 - Oscar Nomination Morning

15 - BFCA Awards ("Critics Choice")
23 - Last day of SAG voting
24 - PGA Awards (Producers) 
25 - SAG Awards (Actors)
30 - ACE Eddie Awards (Editors)
31 - ADG Awards (Art Directors)

Important February Dates
4 - VES Awards (Visual Effects)
6 - Final Oscar Balloting begins
7 - DGA Awards (Directors)
8 - BAFTA Awards
14 - Happy Valentines Day
15 - ASC Awards (Cinematographers), MPSE Awards (Sound Editors)
17 - CDG Awards (Costume Designers)
21 - Spirit Awards
22 - OSCAR NIGHT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Which dates do you most look forward to each year?

Friday
Nov142014

AFI: 5 Reasons to see 'Song of the Sea' and 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Margaret here, reporting from the LA festival beat with short takes on upcoming indies before they head to a theater near you.

FIVE REASONS TO SEE... SONG OF THE SEA
An Irish animated film from Oscar-nominee Tomm Moore about the mythical selkies-- women who turn into seals, or vice-versa-- and a small seaside family in Western Ireland.

1) Breathtakingly stunning artwork. This is quite possibly the most beautiful animated film I've ever seen. The lush backgrounds (reminiscent of Klimt paintings!) are all handpainted-- director Tomm Moore compared moving his designing from paper to digital with "Dylan going electric." Much of the team from 2009’s The Secret of Kells reunited here, though Sea's visuals are a bit softer and have more of a Japanese influence.

2) A refreshing lack of cynicism. Song of the Sea is a rare thing: a children's feature with no winking adult jokes, pop references, or corporate tie-ins-- just a lovely story, simply told.

3) A complex villain. As Nathaniel pointed out in his quick TIFF review, not only is "The Owl Witch" memorably designed, her motivations and development are unusually knotty and compelling for a simple folktale-type story.

4) Hauntingly beautiful score. The music has a key role in the plot, and perfectly serves the film's romantic mysticism. I defy anyone to leave a viewing without the selkie song looping in their brain.

5) It's got a strong shot at an Oscar nomination. While it's true that this is a competitive year for Animated Feature, Moore's previous film The Secret of Kells landed a nomination with much less recognition -- that heightened profile and the fact that it really stands out visually form the pack gives it a boost.

FIVE REASONS TO SEE... CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA

A multi-layered meta-fiction about acting, aging, love and attraction from Olivier Assayas, featuring Juliette Binoche as an actress returning to the play that made her famous, and Kristen Stewart as her personal assistant.

1) Juliette Binoche. Her Maria Enders is just delicious to watch. She's magnetic, emotionally rich, and adept at the aging woman, the brilliant actress, and the self-involved star. One devastatingly catty line ("He's a great actor") is tossed off with such a light touch I was almost on the floor.

2) The chemistry between Binoche and Stewart is insane. Their easy rapport, their mutual jealousy, their co-dependency is instantly convincing. When Stewart's Valentine runs lines for Maloja Snake with Maria as her younger lover, the textures of attraction and intimacy they play (Is this part of the text? How much of what we're seeing between them is real?) are fascinating.

3) Chloe Moretz... if you're into that sort of thing. She has a key role as the unpredictable tabloid-fixture actress cast to play opposite Maria Enders in the revival of Maloja Snake, and reliable sources tell me that she is good in it. I cannot be objective (she just bothers me) but that visceral dislike actually worked for the movie.

4) The Swiss countryside (and its clouds) are magnificent. Much of the film takes place in the Alps, and there is no skimping on sweeping landscapes and beautifully streaming light. Cinematography is by Yorick Le Saux, who also lensed I am Love.

5) That third act. Who saw that coming? How do we feel about it?

Song of the Sea is due in December, and Clouds in March (such a long wait time after its Cannes debut. And why?). Now, who still needs convincing?

Friday
Nov142014

Oscar's Acting Categories Take Shape. Or Do They?

If you're an Oscar chart junkie, you'll see some key shifts on all four acting charts which are now updated. The biggest switcheroo is Jessica Chastain moving to Supporting Actress (the original prediction back in April) which shakes that field up more than it creates a vacuum with the Best Actress race and both Foxcatcher men dropping out of the predicted lead actor shortlist.

Papa, how can I be too high in rank to dine with the servants and too low to dine with my family?

Best Actress has been hard to suss out beyond two sure things: Julianne Moore as a professor with early on-set Alzheimers and Reese Witherspoon as a woman trying to forgive herself and start anew by hiking the PCT. Both of those films are major star vehicles in that they put their leading actress and her considerable gifts front and center without obstructed views. Gone Girl and The Theory of Everything also look somewhat likely to produce nominees but those are definitely two-lead films which Pike and Jones must share with their screen hubbies. On the podcast this weekend we'll talk more about this race because the field still seems wide open beyond those four names. And, if past years are any indication, one of them could surprisingly drop out. There are a lot of viable women hoping to unseat them, which makes "where are the best actress candidates?" articles in major outlets like THR and The Washington Post absolutely mystifying or ignorant or sexist or something. Something not right is the point. Particular maddening is that THR article which claims two dozen viable Best Actor candidates beyond the presumed frontrunners but will even list the most longshot of longshots like Eller Coltrane (Boyhood) and Al Pacino (The Humbling) and Kevin Costner (Black and White) -- none of which have any heat -- as "credible" contenders but can't think of ANY slightly under the radar women other than Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)? That's wearing some serious blinders to support your thesis. [more...]

Click to read more ...