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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 | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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 "I love that two people independent of one another gave Claire Trevor an extra star simply for being Claire Trevor." - Glenn

"Interesting to see the take of young people on these movies." - Les

"That was fascinating. I love the thoughts on Executive Suite, post-post-WWII and the "benevolent patriarch." " - B.D.

 

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Friday
Dec272013

Oscar Voting Begins! Three Suggestions for Academy Members

And so we've come to it! Oscar ballots go out today and voting begins. That's potentially great timing for The Wolf of Wall Street and (maybe) Saving Mr Banks neither of which have done well in the "precursors" -an awful reductive name, sure, but an accurate one since we're long past the days when awards groups weren't primarily existing to either influence or predict the Oscar race. Both of those late blooming films could still find Oscar favor if voters are taken with them over this holiday break. The timing is also probably good news for American Hustle which is doing strong box office and doesn't have that 'shrugged off' by precursors feeling to overcome. 

But, if early predictions from the vast array of pundits hold, this is going to be yet another year that reminds distributors that October is a really great time to release Oscar contenders (Captain Phillips, 12 Years a Slave, Gravity) and maybe not everything needs to wait until the last week of the year. 

THREE SUGGESTIONS FOR THOSE BLESSED WITH BALLOTS

01 Watch two more screeners before voting. You can do it. For those in the acting branch might I suggest Short Term 12 and Enough Said? For those in technical fields, why not try Spring Breakers or The Grand Master or something else off the beaten path? Sometimes the small, weird or foreign movies that can't afford huge campaigns have incredible performances and brilliant craftsmanship. Gravity doesn't need your votes anyway. It's safe.

Throw in a couple more screeners. You can find 3 and a ½ hours this week.

02 PLEASE STOP CATEGORY FRAUD IN ITS TRACKS. The only cure for this madness is for you, the most important movie awards voters on the planet, to reject it. You have the power. If you think Julia Roberts is brilliant in August: Osage County vote for her in Best Actress. Even the author of that film refers to her as "the protagonist" Remember that when you pretend that leading movie stars are supporting, you are in point of fact, penalizing the hardworking character actors for whom the supporting categories were created in 1936. And with so many great supporting ladies available to you this year (Sally Hawkins, Léa Seydoux, Sarah Paulson are all under-loved and why is that?) why waste one of the five spots on a leading performer. Leading ladies have their own category. Vote for Julia there! 

03 Ignore the precursors. If you want to vote for James Franco in Spring Breakers or Blue is the Warmest Color for anything or, if you're in the costuming or production design branches and really believe in the work that's happening in a contemporary or out of time film like Stoker or Her or The Bling Ring or whatever but you feel like you're wasting your vote, do it anyway! Longshots can win Oscar nominations but they only can when people like you go with your true favorites and not with whatever high profile accomplishments are happening within the presumed Best Picture nominees. 

What three things would you ask AMPAS to consider?

Thursday
Dec262013

Previewing the animated features of 2014

Tim here. It’s the last edition of my weekly animation essay for 2013, which would ordinarily be the best time for a year-in-review piece. However, the year has been so rough for animation (remember Escape from Planet Earth? Are you happy about that fact?) that it seemed better just to quickly move beyond it and pretend it didn’t happen. Let us instead look with clear eyes and hopeful hearts to the future, and take a quick preview of the animated features that will be scattered throughout 2014. This isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but if I missed anything big, feel free to point it out in comments.

Films to maybe hold out hope for:

-The Lego Movie (February 7). The concept, and the cameos by DC superheroes, scream “branding exercise”, but with Phil Lord and Chris Miller on-hand as writers and directors, there’s reason to be hopeful. The duo has gone 2-for-2 so far with Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, and that’s not a track record to idly dismiss. Besides, the trailer reveals that its laziest sins (a “Chosen One” narrative, celebrity voice cast) looks to be applied with a more playfully ironic touch than usual. And the random sense of humor looks different from the usual family fare, at any rate: the bit with Wonder Woman’s invisible jet gets me every time.

Dragons, Boxtrolls and more after the jump

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec262013

Year in Review: Best Ensembles & Best Casting

To the tune of Madonna's "Music" ♫

Hey Mr Director, get your ensemble on, all the guys & ladies
And once the movie starts
don't ever let them stop, they're gonna drive me crazy

People make the movie come together - yeah


As annoying as it was in 2003 when Mystic River was attempting to halt the inevitable Lord of the Rings coronation with a sort of 'people are the best special effects!' Oscar campaign, the sentiment was true and remains so. I've been going to all kind of movies my whole life and  I've yet to see anything that's as remarkable as the happily regular occurence of weird electricity and true magic sparking when fine actors collide, collude, combust or cooperate.

So as we're all celebrating the holidays with our own personal ensembles of friends and family, I thought it would be a good time to honor the most special collections of players in 2013.  I can never let the Screen Actors Guild have the last word on this matter because, though acting is their raison d'etre, they never get this category right, opting for popular Oscar bound films with big casts and not really thinking about the WHOLE cast, and how all those players are interacting and bouncing off or working together. This year, they chose August: Osage County, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and I think two of those are really poor choices (though I like all five films) when you're thinking about the acting collective as opposed to just one or two performances within it. SAG's past history suggests that they're only comfortable with "star" ensembles so they were never going to go for fine teams like Frances Ha and Short Term 12 but why not Prisoners which is a sharp example of stars NOT connecting with each other on purpose. Everyone in that cast is alone since all the characters are horrified by each other (and sometimes themselves), trapped in their own personal grief and grievances.

When you're talking about great ensemble work I think you're also talking about fine direction and smart casting, though there are exceptions. Two fascinating examples of how complicated this all gets in that you can have one without the other(s) are August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. A:OC has a lot of fine actors in it but the director John Wells can't figure out how to see all of them at once, opting too often for shot / reverse shot when he needs to widen the camera or choreograph them differently so we can watch them together. I've never understood why so many contemporary directors have trouble absorbing this concept since their peers who are skillful at shooting group scenes are hardly obscurities. Just watch a couple of movies by David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson (or classic departed directors like Wyler or Altman) and you'll instantly be smarter about ensemble vision; They know exactly when to go to or stay with a two-shot or a three or four or even five shot... Hell, get everybody in there -- the more the merrier! As for 12 Years, I'm on record as complaining about the casting. Too many of its (white) supporting players are too familiar as  faces go which, in a lesser movie, would really derail the existential horror. But there's no denying that when this cast is acting together it's absolutely electric... I still get chills thinking about the way Michael Fassbender leans on his co-stars like they're his furniture and the way the various actors playing the slaves freeze up whenever they're being observed and the multiple nuances of when the actors are willing to look at each other and when they're too scared or smart to. It's all top notch work but if the director wasn't wise enough to let you see this -- and many directs aren't, just stiching 90 minutes of establishing shots and close-ups together and calling it a movie -- the ensemble probably wouldn't be winning as much praise.

Without further ado... My Nominations for Best Casting & Best Ensemble

And, in case you haven't seen THR's Casting Roundtable. I watched it only after making my lists since I didn't want to be unduly influenced but it's completely interesting. 

I only wish they could have found room for Rich Delia and Douglas Aibel, since I'm honoring both this year.

Thursday
Dec262013

Open Thread: The Problem of Proliferation & Consensus

I'd love to find some beautiful extensive if not completist way to cover the annual tradition of film critics awards but I've yet to discover a feasible option. There are now 40+ critics organizations in English language countries (United States, Canada and UK/Ireland) giving out film prizes (to the same 3 films and 6 actors. sigh) and many of those 40+ groups have expanded their annual prizes to include public nomination rounds. If you wanted to cover it all this would mean roughly 60+ articles or so each year on just this one minor aspect of awardage and awardage is just one aspect of movie culture. Frankly, it's too much for The Film Experience to handle, I don't mind saying.

Lots more after the jump including the critical societies we haven't yet discussed!

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Dec252013

Merry Christmas from The Film Experience!

 

Happy holidays to you and yours from the Nathaniel and team here at The Film Experience!

We'll be back tomorrow and you'll have way too many gifts to unwrap from December 26th through Oscar night (March 2nd) as we bring you Awards show coverage, Smackdowns (sorry for the wait), the film bitch awards (starting tomorrow!), a dozen more interviews, symposiums, podcasts, and a more detailed investigation of 2013's finest.

2014 coverage will start sooner than you're expecting, too. I want to say a big thank you to the studios advertising here this year: Disney, Paramount and the Weinstein Co. With their support and your subscription dollars (see sidebar) we have a higher budget for 2014 and Michael, Glenn and I will hit the Sundance Film Festival!  So be here daily for all the fun.

If you could have any actress hand-deliver you a gift today, who and what would it be? 

 

Tuesday
Dec242013

Reviews: Walter Mitty & The Wolf of Wall Street

'Who can keep up during Christmas?' I asked in my column over at Towleroad yesterday and after some mumbling about mystifying release strategies for platforming properties (read it if you can't get enough of me) I got to the heart of the matter with two wide releases.  They are reprinted here with a bit of embroidery to fill out my thoughts...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec242013

Year in Review: The Bad, The Worse, and the Ugly

I used to make a big fuss over my CINEMATIC SHAME list but this year I'm mostly just feeling the love (see also that "most moving" list share). Nevertheless tradition is tradition, so herewith a few dubious "honors" and outright dismissals from the worst of 2013

WORST MAINSTREAM FILMS
One can avoid a lot of dross if you select your own movies rather than have them assigned to you by an editor. But true terror always finds a way. Let's call this a three way tie. Identity Thief is so stuffed with uncecessary scenes and filler -- the stars don't even meet for half an hour! -- it's practically built to be ignored on cable for decades to come while you putter around your house with your phone in hand and your mind entirely elsewhere -- at least until you notice some bright color combination on Melissa McCarthy and chuckle at a line reading or two before instanteously losing interest again.

Unfortunately there's more. The Counselor, Oblivion, DianaThe Lone Ranger, Jodie Foster and more dishonors after the jump... 

Click to read more ...