Oscar History

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Interstellar Takes Top Empire Honors

Manuel here bringing you more awards from this past weekend; Nathaniel wasn't the only one still handing out awards for the 2014 film year. The Jameson Empire Awards were handed out this past weekend (as were Nickelodeon's Kid's Choice Awards which were gaga for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1). Unsurprisingly, it was Christopher Nolan's divisive Interstellar which nabbed its two top prizes. 

Nolan was also on hand to receive the Empire Inspiration Award, which I guess was as good an excuse as any to see Jessica Chastain looking fabulous (she presented the award to her Interstellar director).

Check out the full winners list below.

Click to read more ...


Film Bitch Awards ~The Medals Ceremony

Can we take a moment to appreciate that I finished the awards this year?!? A momentous recovery given that this most popular feature has slid in follow-thru without true wrap-ups the past two years. Self sabotage is a wicked trait. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Birdman and Under the Skin led the nominations with 15 and 11 respectively since they were my two favorites of the year. The biggest surprises are surely Gone Girl's 11 nominations and the piddly nomination counts for two of top ten films (Love is Strange and Mommy - how did I do so wrong by them?) but these things don't always work out as expected when you concentrate on individual elements within collective achievements. Some movies are just greater than the sum of any one part and other movies have a hundred excellent parts but not quite a genius whole.

On to the ceremony. Please to imagine the title themes from the corresponding films blaring as their medalists take their places. The tunes you'll hear most often are:


Overall - films with the biggest trophy hauls
Under the Skin (5 gold medals, 2 silver, 2 bronze)
Birdman (4 gold medals, 5 silvers, 1 bronze)
The Grand Budapest Hotel  (4 gold medals, 2 silver)

...which is a funny coincidence because they happen to be the exact three medalists from the Original Score category, if not in quite that order!

 Gone Girl just misses the final podium with 3 gold medals, 2 silver, and 2 bronze... quite a showing for a film that only made it to #17 in my favorites of the year. I've been wondering ever since I published the top ten list if I should've had that Fincher/Flynn collaboration on it. I put on the DVD in the other day to check on one detail and ended up watching the whole thing. Again. So now it's also the movie I've seen the most times from 2014. Meanwhile  Boyhood, my bronze medalist in Best Picture, didn't have a huge trophy haul in the end, just 4 medals: 1 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. Two films that did well in medals despite low nomination counts were Begin Again and The Boxtrolls. See all the medals (indicated by gold, silver, and bronze star icons) on the Film Bitch Awards charts

-Oscar Correlatives
Picture, Director, Screenplays, Animation
All Four Acting Categories
Sound and Music (and Oscar Correspondent Stats)

- Extra Fun Categories

Special Acting-Related Categories
Character Awards (Heroes, Divas, etcetera)
Best Individual Scenes (and Overall Stats) 

And with that we close out the 2014 Film Year! Finally. Whew. What an exhilarating ride it was. This is when we shout "AGAIN!" like a giddy child and line up to do it all over again albeit with a different set of films.


Box Office: Get Hard at Home While We're Young

Another weekend, more millions in Hollywood coffers for by-most-accounts weak films. The three biggest hits this weekend were all poorly reviewed.

01 Home $54 NEW
02 Get Hard $34.6 NEW  
03 Divergent: Insurgent $22 (cum. $86.3) 
04 Cinderella $17.5 (cum. $150)  Review
05 It Follows $4 (cum. $4.7)  Review

Yup, the big stories were Home wildly overperforming (we all thought it might flop given Dreamworks history, just documented in Tim's fascinating two-part retrospective) and Get Hard doing well and reinforcing that mainstream audiences love Kevin Hart... and rape jokes. Always the rape jokes.

01 Wild Tales (Argentina) 116 Theaters  $.2 (cum. $1.5) Review
02 What We Do In the Shadows (New Zealand) 146 Theaters $.2 (cum. $2.1) Review
03 While We're Young (US) 4 Theaters $.2 NEW Review
04 Danny Collins (US) 29 Theaters $.2 (cum. $.3)
05 '71 (UK) 121 Theaters $.1 (cum. $.9) Review

Wild Tales held its theaters but the big story was Noah Baumbach's seventh feature While We're Young, charting a surely-soon-to-be-broken 'best indie debut this year' with a $60,000 per screen average. Meanwhile the long and frankly mystifying journey of Serena, starring two or our most bankable actors Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence and based on a bestselling novel no less, ended with a whimper. The movie finally ended up in theaters, albeit only 60 of them and grossed just over $100,000 in its first week. Meanwhile Hungary's wildly acclaimed and Oscar submitted allegorical thriller about rampaging dogs named White God (read Jose's interview with the director) stuck its toe into two US theaters for $16,000. 

What did you see this weekend? Did any of you see Serena? Was it from morbid curiousity. If you haven't will you please take our advice and seek out Wild Tales or '71?


Yes No Maybe So: Southpaw

If this post were a sportsmovie, it would be like the first hint of a redemption arc to come after a downward spiral. Yes, I'm (gasp) over 48 hours late saying "yes" to Jake Gyllenhaal.

It's always "yes" so what's the rush?

The occasion is the first trailer to Southpaw, Jakey's new boxing movie from director of dark violent machismo programmers Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus has Fallen, The Equalizer). In other words, we'd have no interest at all if it didn't star actors we obsess over. But we're already jumping into the Yes No Maybe So breakdown so let's just get the eternal "yes" that is Jake Gyllenhaal and our Gyllenhaalism out of the way first.

The only thing that could make slo mo and fetishisizing body shots of Jake Gyllenhaal's physique better is if his tattoos were more relatable, like...

Click to read more ...


Shirley MacLaine talks "The Apartment" at TCMFF

Anne Marie here in Hollywood, reporting the way it crumbles. TCMFF-wise, that is.

Shirley MacLaine knows how to command a room. TCM Classic Film Festival honored the Oscar winner's 6 decade career with a screening of The Apartment last night, but when MacLaine  made her entrance to a standing ovation at the TCL Chinese stage, it was clear that the honor was all ours. Dressed in red & black sequins (reminiscent of Doris Mann), MacLaine sparkled with charm. But it's not just her incredible charisma. When a sound glitch caused feedback, she turned with a mischievous gleam in her eye and called out,

"Whoever's in charge of that: Fix it!"

Much of that no-nonsense professionalism Shirley MacLaine attributed to her friend, legendary director of The Apartment, Billy Wilder...

Click to read more ...


Attending the Mad Men "Black and Red Ball"

Margaret reporting from Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, television phenomenon Mad Men screened its final premiere, and I had the pleasure of attending to represent The Film Experience. This premiere leads off the second half of Mad Men's seventh and final season. While introducing the episode, AMC President Charlie Collier spoke to the legacy of the show, claiming that:

in the history of television, there will be a permanent line of demarcation: Before Mad Men, and After Mad Men.''

It's a strong claim, but it's true. 


Compare the television landscape of today to the television landscape of a decade ago, and the influence of Mad Men's success is evident. Certainly without that show AMC would not have taken off and there would be no Breaking Bad, nor The Walking Dead. The Americans, Downton Abbey, and Netflix's entire original programming arm also owe Mad Men a sizable debt.

The Event
In celebration of their achievement, the cast and crew gathered in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in downtown Los Angeles which housed the Oscars for many year. The Pavilion isn't new to Mad Men either, the foyer having played the lobby of a Rome hotel in season three. 

Margaret and Jordan attending for The Film Experience


Nearly the entire cast was present except for Elisabeth Moss (currently on Broadway) and Jessica Pare. When Robert Morse was called on stage he practically held court, and all but did a soft-shoe. Jon Hamm was, understandably, like the class president, high-fiving everyone and adorably rough-housing with little Bobby Draper when he seemed to get restless. And finally, Kiernan Shipka who we watched grow up on the show, is now unnervingly tall and very poised. 

The mutual respect and love among the team was evident, and the program reserved special (and richly deserved) praise for the visual artists who gave Mad Men so much of its richness: cinematographer Chris Manley, production designer Dan Bishop, art director Christopher Brown, set decorator Claudette Didul, props master Ellen Freund, and the genius costume designer Janie Bryant whose work on the show is so long overdue for an Emmy. Christina Hendricks clearly adores them giving enormous hugs to everyone.

Coming up on seven full seasons, Mad Men has pulled down four Emmys for Best Drama Series, traced the decade of shifting cultural history between 1960 and 1970, and has inspired more spiraling fan theories than its cast has smoked cigarettes.


Keirnan Shipka, Jon Hamm, and January Jones at the event on Wednesday

So how does it end? The first of the final episodes, true to the series spirit, plays it close to the vest. It riffs on the show's established intertwining themes (sex, business, identity) but it's a little looser, a little more relaxed. (As if they knew that the TFE readership would be on the look out for a "Mad Men at the Movies" reference, they toss off an aces Mildred Pierce joke midway through.) The pace is unhurried, as ever, and where the slow burn will flame out is still anyone's guess. TV has changed so much since Mad Men arrived. How will it change once it's gone?

Mad Men returns to AMC for its final episodes on Sunday April 5th, 10/9c


Superheroes, Shakespeares, Stonewalls, and Series Endings

Lukewarm off the presses: Here's a collection of things we didn't get around to talking and/or linking to for your enjoyment or conversation prompting. We always hope for both. And I'm always hoping to empty out my "things to write about immediately" desktop folder... which is never emptied out.

• Terrence Malick's new movie (the one right after Knight of Cups) will be called Weightless (no cracks about how skinny Portman, Blanchett, Fassbender, and Rooney Mara, who star, are) but it's about music and its set in Austin. Apparently there's Madonna, Bob Dylan and Arcade Fire songs or something? Who knows. In truth I don't know why I'm sharing this info. Fact: Malick movies are only interesting in the watching of them, not in the hearing about their development since that's always totally vague.

• Glenn Kenny wrote a lovely piece about his mother's love of Alfred Hitchcock movies (she recently died) and he brings up an interesting point about how older audiences of either gender remember and loved his work. Do you know what your parents favorite Hitchcock's were?

• Look! It's Jeremy Irvine in action director Roland Emmerich's first gay drama Stonewall (2015) -- that and plenty of other things are after the jump...

Click to read more ...