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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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Tuesday
Dec232014

Scarlett Johansson, 2014's MVP

Year in Review. Two yummy look backs each day

Tim here. Among its many charms and disappointments, 2014 was an extraordinarily good year to be a fan of Scarlett Johansson.

No, I can go bigger than that: 2014 was a year that could make somebody a fan of Scarlett Johansson in the first place, or in my case, knock the dust off a fandom that had been growing stale over the last several years.

What makes it such a particularly interesting year to have watched the actress is the way that three of her four performances released in the United States in ’14 are variations on each other (the outlier is what amounts to cameo in Chef, more of a favor done for director Jon Favreau than a real part). Let’s take a quick look at each of them:

Under the Skin
In a holdover from the 2013 festival season Johansson played a non-human being in the human form of a gorgeous woman under the guiding hand of director Jonathan Glazer. Icy good looks married to a deliberately unknowable inner life pretty neatly describes the opinion that tends to be held on Johansson’s acting skills by people who don’t like her, which makes this, on the one hand, an easy casting decision. [More...]

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Tuesday
Dec232014

Best Actress Battles: Felicity vs. Reese?

With the internet strenuously erecting a ring in which Julianne and Jennifer can mud wrestle, let's look at two or three other imaginary Best Actress Battles. First up is the "I'm just happy to be nominated" tussle.

"consider EVERYTHING" ??? Greedy!

Felicity vs. Reese
Reese Witherspoon looked like a major force in the Best Actress race when Wild first premiered in September as the wandering self-redemptive Cheryl Strayed. Sadly the year-end party hasn't thrown much confetti her way. To date, she has won just one (maybe two?) small regional critics prizes. I blame the lack of awards on three things: the movie wasn't released in the fall where its contemplative moods would not have been in direct opposition to the bustling holidays surrounding it; Reese has already had her Oscar coronation which often kills future prospects for actresses; and, finally, the "Reeseurgence" never caught on in quite the way the McConaughissance did in its year, partially because there was no Magic Mike pop culture hit kicking the movement off in the first place a year prior.

Since her Oscar win Reese has been divorced, remarried, had a third child, and made a dozen more movies.So the Southern Belle finds herself in the odd company of Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything). Jones is about as diametrically opposed to Reese in terms of celebrity persona and acting style as you can get. Both the Nashville spark plug and the demure English flower are consistent figures in shortlists (the trifecta: SAG, BFCA, Globes) but neither appear to have generated the excitement that leads to #1 ballot placements. Though it should be noted that Oscar pundits, myself included, make far too much of preferential ballot systems since every year Oscar lineups are peppered with people and movies that are extraordinarly difficult to imagine as #1 favorites.

Do these two beautiful women have hidden reserves of campaign power and industry support to draw upon still?  Are either of them in danger of not hearing their names read out on January 15th?

HAVE YOU: Liked us on Facebook? Followed Nathaniel on Twitter? Tis the Season
PREVIOUSLY: BEST ACTRESS BATTLES: JULI vs. JEN
RELATED: ACTRESS Chart & All Current Oscar Predictions

Monday
Dec222014

Stocking Stuffers (of Our Dreams)

Year in Review: Two yummy lists per day. Alexa is off for the holiday so I'm subverting her her arts & crafts "Curio" column for a gift list - Nathaniel

 I can't imagine that the wee moviegoers of the world won't be getting all the Big Hero 6, LEGO and Groot goodies their hearts desire over Christmas but here are ten stocking stuffers we wish we could play with on Thursday morning.

Listen, nobody is ever going to serve the niche within the niche within the niche markets -- I 've accepted that fact that I'll never own Vera Drake action figures or, to quote Waiting for Guffman, a Remains of the Day lunchbox. But that shouldn't stop the dreaming. Some of the following prezzies inspired by 2014 movies, would surely put huge smiles on the face of your cinephile loved ones. Some of these you can actually stuff in stockings. Others do not exist. But we're in the list-making mood. Tis the season.

11 Last Minute Gift Ideas From Real to Imaginary

11. Snowpiercer original graphic novel for sale here
10. Mendl's Bakery Memorabilia all over the place at Etsy 
9. Amazing Amy books for download... or Carrie Coon's "Protect Your Nuts" tee for order but if you're going with any Gone Girl inspired gifts make sure create your own scavenger hunt series of clues for your victim... excuse me, beloved. I meant beloved!

8 more ideas after the jump

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec222014

Best Actress Battles: Juli vs. Jen?

A recent headline, suggesting 'ways in which Jennifer Aniston could win the Oscar' (I shan't quote it directly but it's here if you must look upon it) didn't raise my eyebrow. Didn't even cause a twitch! If you've followed the Oscar game your whole life and especially if you've followed it in the past ten years when the internet has amplified all of the minutea you'll know that journalists are always looking for fresh angles or, with or without those, highly fantastical angles sold as plausible to use for click bait. So though the articles (I'm sure they are plural though I haven't actually read them) didn't worry me at first -- I believe that Julianne Moore will win gold -- but the immediate enthusiastic social media response to the idea that Jennifer Aniston might have an Oscar coming in February is what finally shoved my unwilling eyebrow up.

"Consider..." that here are two movies (Still Alice and Cake) that virtually no one outside of the press & industry has seen since both opted for one week qualifying releases. Yet they're the two that the fans are getting emotionally invested in in terms of "should/will win" arguments. It serves as a useful reminder that around Christmas-time each year the narratives truly begin to take over, media "battles" are created, and the actual films and performances are left far far behind...

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Monday
Dec222014

Beauty vs Beast: Beard vs Bumble

JA from MNPP here, ho ho hosting this week's ho ho holiday edition of "Beauty vs Beast" for y'all (okay okay I got all my ho ho's out, I promise) -- a couple of weeks ago TFE's resident animation guru Tim gave good love to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on the occasion of its 50th anniversary and it struck me like a peppermint pick-axe to the brain, what this week's face-off needed to be. Who else but...

 

Yukon Cornelius, the standard of bearded beauty for an entire generation, grabs that frightful Beast by the belly and bounces away with our hearts every time, but we've got a special place for the Bumble's passionate bumbling too. So help us choose! You have one week to vote, and please do share your thoughts upon each in the comments.

PREVIOUSLY Spinning off from the frozen tundra of the North Pole to the magnolia swelter of the Deep South, last week we celebrated the 75th anniversary of Gone With the Wind by play-acting Scarlett and choosing our best beau - Ashley put up a decent fight for such a wilting flower but frankly, my dears, we want to be man-handled. Rhett swept 79% of us up in his arms and carried us into that fiery sunset. Said TB:

"Ashley is the biggest cad in the whole movie. He's got Olivia de Havilland at home, and he's stringing along Vivien Leigh the whole time. Nope. NOPE. Rhett's a slut, but at least he's got principles."

Monday
Dec222014

Monday Monologue: Henry II's Eulogy

Anne Marie here to celebrate the holiday with a furious monologue from my favorite Christmas movie. "Christmas movie" is a terrible description for Anthony Harvey's 1968 film The Lion in Winter, though it is technically correct. This is a political thriller of one very long Christmas night between Henry II of England (Peter O’Toole), his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn), and their three conniving sons as they battle over who will be the next King of England.

And you thought your family was dysfunctional.

While we've written extensively about Katharine Hepburn's Oscar-winning performance in The Lion in Winter, this Monologue Monday before Christmas I'd like to shine the spotlight on Peter O'Toole's underawarded performance as the manic, magnificent Henry II of England. The movie is filled with great dialog for the Irishman to chew on, but O'Toole's best (or biggest) moment comes midway through the film, after a midnight meeting with the King of France.

A eulogy for a king after the jump...

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Monday
Dec222014

Man from U.N.C.L.E. First Look: 5 Questions

Manuel here opening the floor about some things in this first released pic from Guy Ritchie’s upcoming adaptation of the TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., featuring Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill due out next year. From this pic alone, Ritchie’s film is already making a case for “Best Looking Cast of a Motion Picture, 2015.” Hugh Grant, Elizabeth Debicki (!) and Jared Harris round up the cast.

Costumes by Joanna Johnston (Oscar nominated for Lincoln but also responsible for the dresses Mad and Hel don in Death Becomes Her!)

Some questions I couldn’t help asking:

1. Does everyone else now think of Mad Men’s Sally Draper whenever The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is invoked?
2. Do Vikander’s shoulder scrapes suggest she’ll be given some action alongside her male co-stars?
3. Which suit do you think Cavill enjoys donning more: this beautiful plaid three-piece or his Superman one? (It’s a fair question: both look just as tight, no?)
4. Where can one get Vikander’s sunglasses?
5. Might this be the film that finally makes Armie the star we all hoped he’d become after seeing him (doubled!) in The Social Network?

Are you looking forward to Ritchie’s film? Or are you more likely to be looking forward to his ex-wife’s #RebelHeart release instead? Yes, I might be implying those are mutually exclusive stands, though I could be persuaded otherwise.