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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, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Sunday
Dec222013

Do You Find "Inspirational" Films Comforting or Pandering? 

Something a little off the traditional awards path hit a few days ago which I've failed to discuss: The Heartland Moving Picture Award. The list comes from a non-profit group that aims to promote what some (i.e. jaded critics like, um, maybe myself) might dismiss as "pandering inspiration for the whole family!".  Or at least that's how I was prepared to dismiss it when I saw Saving Mr Banks and 42 were up to. I like Mr Banks but that spoonful of sugar is more a bowlful and I'll admit I didn't make it all the way through the baseball drama from the sweaty handholding to make sure I was INSPIRED. But then I noticed that my beloved Short Term 12 and Alexander Payne's Nebraska on there, and both are a little thornier. So I decided to stop being such a tough customer and appreciate/share this list after the jump

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Saturday
Dec212013

Updated Charts - All Categories

The Oscar Charts are fully revised. Enjoy! I've currently predicted 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips and American Hustle to lead the nominations hogging 37 nominations between them and The Great Gatsby and Saving Mr Banks to share the asterisked honor of "most nominations without a Best Picture bid. The wildest card is still The Wolf of Wall Street and the guilds will have to show us if that one is going to make a dent.

PICTURE | DIRECTOR | SCREENPLAYS
The top five look set in stone but how many nominees will we have? The race with the most mystery might just be Original Screenplay. Too many films still seem absolutely believable as future 'of course it was nominated' nominees. But there can be only five. Can Enough Said or Fruitvale Station, two films which have never exactly left the conversation, find a way to slip in?

ACTRESS | ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR
The precursor awards have locked up the female categories and placed guards around the door despite a pre-season that seemed robust with possibility. That's always a shame when the performances on the outside are as good as the ones that Adèle, Greta, Brie, Sally, Julia, and so on are giving. The male categories have also tightened up but the chamber isn't nearly as air tight. A bit of "who will it be?" mystery remains.

are these the films that are the biggest wild cards in terms of nomination count?

VISUAL CATEGORIES | SOUND CATEGORIES
Before the Guilds speak up let's speculate wildly!

FOREIGN FILM | ANIMATED, DOCS, SHORTS
The fields are already small from "finalist" lists. Watch along with us as we try to see them all. 

Saturday
Dec212013

Randomness: The Hunt, Film Scores, Burlesque Memories

I'm experiencing something a bit like ADHD today. I've started several articles none of which got past a few lines and worked on a few oscar chart updates or revisions none of which ever felt like I'd finished (visualdocumentary and music / sound charts). And I also spent some time stressing about Sundance which starts in less than a month and which The Film Experience will be covering. But mostly my head has remained a jumble of criss-crossed movie thoughts, so in the effort to get unstuck, I'm just blurting out a handful of random ones, a couple of which might feel familiar if you follow me on twitter.

• I'm curious to hear what your favorite film scores of the year because in this regard, I'm not sure I have any! I tend to be a fan of Alexander Desplat's work but I can't even remember Philomena's score which I saw so recently and which one assumes is an Oscar shoo-in on the composer's name alone. (See also: John Williams and The Book Thief)

• January 16th is going to be insane: Oscar nominations, Sundance's Opening Night, and the "Critics Choice" ceremony are all taking place within 12 hours of each other. Spread it out a little, showbiz! Seriously.

• I watched The Hunt last night, Denmark's finalist for The Foreign Film Category. Mads Mikkelsen is always super and his face, so full of confusion, disbelief, and hurt that's cutting as deep as the lacerations on his face from town beatings. He won Best Actor in Cannes way back in May 2012 and if the film wins its Oscar category in March 2014 The Hunt may well serve as the new poster boy reminder of how deeply strange global cinematic culture is in terms of distribution models. I've heard that people get seriously worked up about this movie, loving or hating it but frankly, either reaction is, um, foreign to me. It's an effective drama, and wholly plausible -- see also the Meryl Streep drama A Cry in the Dark (1988), a predecessor in how ugly "guilty as soon as your accused" mob mentality can be -- at least until the ending which seems tacked on as failed provocation. But it's also not doing anything particularly interesting cinematically or in the screenplay. I expected more from Thomas Vinterberg, who once made the genius Festen/Celebration (1998) which was famously snubbed by Oscar despite causing quite a stir with cinephiles. And I kept feeling like the final scene was shot at the same house where The Celebration took place. Am I crazy or is this true?

• I was at a party the other night (not a film crowd) and an older gentlemen, hearing that I was a film critic, asked me what my favorite movies were. When I got to "Woody Allen's Manhattan" he interrupts... "you mean Annie Hall?"

• Back to the foreign film finalist list, 3 of the 9 finalists each year are selected by special committee with the other 6 coming from popular vote. So which films do you think are which? I'm guessing the committee shoved Cambodia's The Missing Picture and maybe Bosnia's A Day in the Life of a Iron Picker but otherwise I can't suss out which film needed a committee boost since the other 7 finalists strike me as having obvious wide appeal Oscar hooks.

• Today Burlesque was on Oxygen and it remains insanely watchable. "Wagon Wheel Watusi"! It's not a movie that reveals something new everytime you watch it but rather a movie which just reconfirms everything you felt the first time and heightens it. It's RIDICULOUS but in a good way. And it's nice that Kristen Bell got Frozen since Burlesque has a bad case of Yentlitis -- "Only the star may sing even though we've cast a bunch of people with musical chops in this!"

• Finally, I don't know why I didn't tell you this sooner but I swear to god, last week I dreamt that Nicole Kidman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Blue is the Warmest Color. When I woke up I tried to go back to sleep since I didn't want this nonsensical actressexual dream to end. It's been haunting me ever since...

No wonder I can't concentrate!

What's going on in *your* movie addled mind?

Saturday
Dec212013

Film on Film: 5 Classics That Deserve a Film of Their Own

[Editor's Note: Here's abstew with 5 Hollywood on Hollywood pitches. Co-sign!]

It's no secret that one of Film's favorite subject matters is, well, itself. The past two Best Picture winners (The Artist and Argo) have had Hollywood and the art of film-making at their core. And this weekend another film-on-film, Saving Mr. Banks, about Walt Disney's decades long struggle to bring Mary Poppins to the big screen expands across the country in its quest to join those previous films in Oscar glory. The story seems ready-made for the movies - beloved source material, larger-than-life characters/personalities, and, just because it can, a hard-knock-life childhood back-story thrown into the mix. (If the old Hollywood angle doesn't win them over why not add the Academy's other irresistible allure: the biopic. It's two films for the price of one!)

I'm sure many people were unaware what went into trying to convince author P.L.Travers to sign over the rights to Disney and I'm sure even fewer people knew about Travers' back-story. But so many classic films have equally fascinating behind-the-scenes stories that would make just as compelling films. In honor of Saving Mr. Banks, here are 5 other classic films that deserve their own film treatment. So, quiet on the set...Action! 

The Wizard of Oz 

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Friday
Dec202013

Prediction Updates: Picture, Director, Costumes & Visuals

Time for major chart fixes now that all the major precursors have announced their nominations. We've started with Best Picture, Best Director, Animation & Documentary, and the Visual Categories... all updated to reflect recent changes (still working on the rest!).

It's The Film Experience, calling about your Oscar nominations...

The visual categories needed the most fine-tuning though they're much harder to predict prior to the guild nominations. Still, I'm feeling pretty bullish on the my predicted costuming lineup -- not that that branch isn't capable of major surprise inclusions and snubs come nomination morning. 

Disco fashions could be hot hot hot with Oscar this year if THE BUTLER & AMERICAN HUSTLE are both nominatedThough the BFCA "Critics Choice" Nominations named the exact ten films most pundits believe are heading towards Best Picture nods, the category is still quite volatile thanks mostly to the precursor underperformance of Saving Mr Banks, the weird resurgence of Rush (of all things), the late breaking Wolf of Wall Street (which underperformed at virtually all the precursors despite a very vocal legion of freshly baptized disciples) and the Weinstein Co's stable of four. It's never wise to count Harvey Weinstein out and the major SAG response to The Butler and August: Osage County combined with the Globe embrace of Philomena and the sweep of "first film" prizes for Fruitvale Station suggest that there's life in that quartet yet.

I'm guessing we have five fairly secure pictures: Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years, Capt Phillips, and Nebraska... which have all shown up everywhere they could have hoped to. But beyond that for the possible 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and/or 10th slots? It still feels like any number and permutation of the remaining eight or so pictures with the buzz could happen. Though, as per usual, I'd love to see a year with just five nominees again if only to watch the internet's collective head explode from the shock of it.

Current Oscar rules do allow for that, you know. We will have anywhere between 5 and 10 Best Picture nominees depending on how the voting goes down (Oscar's own statistical analysis of the past 20 years suggests that 10 is a virtual impossibility). 

So have a look at the refurbished charts and report back. More categories to come.

 

Friday
Dec202013

Scarlett Johansson in 'Her', 'Don Jon' and The Nicole Kidman Art of the Comeback

Glenn here to discuss two of The Film Experience’s favorite women. If you’re like me and have been watching with glee the re-ascension of Scarlett Johansson to critical favour then you also may have noticed the parallels between her and the goddess Nicole Kidman. It took a shorter amount of time, of course, but in this day and age everything moves father. With audiences finally being allowed to see hear Johansson in Her in movie theaters, it seems like as good a time as any to ask the question: is Scarlett Johansson this decade's Nicole Kidman?

When you look at the careers of Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson, the two share a lot of similarities. Both broke out at the tail-end of a decade – the ‘80s for Kidman with Dead Calm, ‘90s for Johansson with The Horse Whisperer – and had critical successes before Hollywood ceased attempting to figure out what the hell to do with them. [more...]

 

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