NOW PLAYING

opens friday

in theaters


new on DVD/BluRay


review index

HOT TOPICS



CLASSIC OF THE MOMENT

FIDDLER ON THE ROOF

 

Welcome

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

 

Powered by Squarespace
Comment Fun

COMMENT(s) DU JOUR
TWO OPINIONS ON MAPS TO THE STARS
Nathaniel's Julianne Spazzing & Glenn's Cronenberg Finger Wagging 

"There is a great movie in Maps of the Stars and that is the one Moore stars in, not the one the screenplay insists in bringing to the front." - Mr Goodbar

"If I had to guess why Cronenberg went with a largely "invisible" or even non-style style, I'd say it has to do with his approach to the narrative, which is kind of a bait and switch, setting us up for a hollywood satire and then giving us a final act that plays more like a myth or a fairy tale." -Roark

Beauty vs. Beast

Who is your GODDESS? Cristal or Nomi?

If you don't vote for Nomi, she'll cut you!


VOTE! 

 

Keep TFE Strong

Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference to The Film Experience in terms of stability and budget to dream bigger. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience

THANKS IN ADVANCE

For those who can't commit to a dime a day, consider a one time donation for an article or a series you are glad you didn't have to live without.

What'cha Looking For?
Subscribe
Sunday
Jan272013

Three Reasons Why "Argo" Became the One To Beat

You can't always know how the future will treat each year's awards recipients. Will their strengths will come into sharper focus as time erodes the particulars of the movie culture and conversation they arrived into or will that erosion grind a movie or performers appeal down with it? What will we make in five year's time of this moment when Hollywood threw awards at Argo instead of, say, Lincoln? That's what happened again last night at the Producers Guild Awards when Ben Affleck's 1970s CIA rescue tale took the top prize.

We don't have to wait for hindsight clarity when it comes to Argo's sudden rise in the previous deadheat Oscar race.  I'd say that three things are responsible, two of which no one could have predicted.

1. I'd been saying from the very start that Argo's narrative subtext, embedded into its truish story of a fake movie being used to rescue Americans from a hostile regime, that 'Movies Save the World!' feel would be irressistible to the back-patting awards season mentality in much the same way it was for the documentary The Cove some years ago.

The other two factors were not things anyone could have predicted though....

2.  Zero Dark Thirty emerged to somewhat reductive "so much better than Argo!" laudatory soundbytes (they both involve CIA meddling in the Middle East so they must be compared incessantly!) and for about a week it looked like The Real Oscar Deal but what happened next with it was very kind to Argo. Zero became the media's most slobbered on and teared at rag doll with everyone tsk-tsking and fuming and eventually subtly equating the making of it with condoning torture. By extension voting for it felt unpleasant to some, too. Suddenly the "better than Argo" conversation died and was replaced with just "...Argo", a rebooting if you will of where the Oscar conversation had previously been. Sometimes opening early helps and it's more than helped Argo.

3. The last, and most shocking turn of events was Ben Affleck's omission from the Best Director lineup. I'd long been predicting him to win that statue even though I hadn't viewed Argo necessarily as the future Best Picture champ, suspecting that we were in for a split year. The best thing that ever happened to Argo in terms of its Best Picture prospects was Affleck's "snub". And conversely, that's the worse thing that happened to Lincoln. Whatever one makes of the quality of the Best Picture nominees (have you voted for your favorite here?), Lincoln previously had the strongest narrative arriving as it did in this historic year of President Obama's reelection and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Affleck's over-mourned "snub" (people keep conveniently forgetting how strong the Best Director lineup is without him!) handed Argo an underdog narrative in a season where the narratives -- those tricky hooks that make a person or movie so irresistible in the Story of the Year's Entertainments -- weren't all that strong even if the movies were.

Reason no. 3 is in some ways the most understandable now that it's happened and the most baffling. If you really step back for some perspective Ben Affleck is an enormous waste of a Sympathy Vote. He's already an Oscar winner. He's an Oscar nominee even when he's snubbed (he'll win the Oscar if Argo wins Best Picture since he produced) - fancy that. He has a happy Hollywood marriage. He rose to fame with his best friend who is still a huge power player in Hollywood, too. He's risen from the ashes of a weirdly shaky leading man career to become a respected director and a... uh... leading man again. He's super handsome and aging well. He's made only three films all of which received Oscar attention, the latter two of which were big big hits. If anything he's a true golden boy of showbiz with a hugely enviable career and awards run and yet, you'd think he were dying! To this Awards Season he's suddenly treated like the Fantine figure in Les Miz on her death bed; the one to cry over "if only life weren't so cruel!", the one to promise everything to in order to make amends.

And all because he missed out on an expected Best Director nomination?

Mrs. Affleck at the PGAs. Oh, you know she makes this pose at home while mock scolding BenTHE WINNERS

Outstanding Producer, Film: Ben Affleck, Grant Henslov, George Clooney for Argo
Outstanding Producer, Documentary: Malik Bendjelloul, Simon Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man
Outstanding Producer, Animated: Clark Spencer for Wreck-it Ralph
Outstanding Producer, Longform TV: Gary Goetzman, Tom Hanks, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian, Danny Strong for "Game Change"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Drama): Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick, Meredith Stiehm for "Homeland"
Outstanding Producer, Episodic TV (Comedy): Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel, Danny Zuker for "Modern Family" 
Outstanding Producer, NonFiction TV: Prudence Glass, Susan Lacy,Julie Sacks for "American Masters" PBS 
Outstanding Producer, Live TV: Meredith Bennett, Stephen Colbert, Richard Dahm, Paul Dinello, Barry Julien, Matt Lappin, Emily Lazar, Tanya Michnevich Bracco, Tom Purcell,Jon Stewart for "The Colbert Report" 
Outsanding Producer, Competition TV:  Jerry Bruckheimer, Elise Doganieri, Jonathan Littman, Bertram van Munster, Mark Vertullo for "The Amazing Race"

Outstanding Sports Program: "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"
Outstanding Children's Program:  "Sesame Street"
Outstanding Digital Series: "30 Rock: The Webisodes" 

 

 

Saturday
Jan262013

SAG Award Seating. Any Requests?

Thanks to Sasha Stone for tweeting this. It's a SAG Awards seating chart (of sorts).

I can't make out the faces as well as I'd like but Jessica Chastain and Denzel Washington are right up front with Helen Hunt just the next table back. Expect lots of reaction shots from the front. Do you think any of them will win tomorrow night?

BFFs since before they were famous - Nicole & NaomiTV Guide has a partial seating chart which indicates that Les Misérables and Argo have front row tables both to the right of the stage and get this, SAG honors requests so...

BFFs Naomi Watts(The Impossible) and Nicole Kidman (The Paperboy) asked to sit together and are placed at Table 21. 

Awwww!

Double nominees get to choose where they sit so Bryan Cranston opted for the Breaking Bad table instead of sitting with King Ben of Argopolis. 

Which table would you most want to carouse with? Will you be hear for liveblogging tomorrow? I promise to stay put to avoid tech difficulties as with the Globes.

Saturday
Jan262013

29 Days 'til Oscar: Best Make-Up & Hairstyling

The Academy recently changed the name of the Best Makeup category to Best Makeup & Hairstyling but in truth hairstyling, wigs and whatnots have long been part of the diverse criteria for which Oscar voters are meant to reward Achievements in Makeup. But how does one define "achievement"? True to awards season in general (it's not just Oscar voters, mind you) the definition is usually "most=best". Sadly nearly almost all the golden statuettes in this category have gone to prosthetic effects -- werewolves, dwarves, you name it! It's the one category other than visual effects where genre films regularly lord it over more "noble-minded" efforts... (though strangely zombie pictures are the exception since they never even make the finalist list). 

So, how refreshing would it be if the Oscar went to the Hair and Makeup team of Les Misérables this year? I was surprised to hear on the podcast that my co-conspirators were almost universally opposed to this particular nomination but I actually think it's the strongest nominee in this category. It's got a very consistent boldly stylized feel and a shit ton of traditional wigs and prosthetics work if you're also looking for "Most" in your "Best". They've aged Hugh Jackman and scarred him up, imagined really putrid diseased miserables of many sorts, made Cosette even prettier than usual, and even dipped Helena Bonham-Carter's wigs in coffee and tea for "more character" - though I suspect it's not the first time her head has been dipped in vats of dangerously hot liquids.

More traditional nominees can be found in The Hobbit and Hitchcock this year...

...wherein actors are heavily buried in prosthetics to appropriate the look of inhuman things: dwarves, orcs, master auteurs. 

My advocacy for Les Miz might have a little to do with the fact that I love the film, but I do try and differentiate individual categories from overall feelings as much as I humanly can (as all awards voters should since great work is found in bad films and vice versa) but mostly it has to do with the actual achievement. And, as a bonus points, Les Miz also wins by virtue of my tiebreaker manifesto "Spread the Wealth!". I assume that The Hobbit is the frontrunner given voting habits in this category and yet I don't wish for the Oscars to become the Emmys and just hand the same statues to the same series each year as their small screen counterparts do. Given Peter Jackson's shameless story stretching for billions, this category could be tied up for decades if they keep handing Middle Earth Makeup Oscars (it's already won twice). Under the umbrella of "spread the wealth" it's also worth noting that the Les Miz team (Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell) is the only nominated team that has no Oscars among them*: Hitchcock's Howard Berger previously won the gold for The Chronicles of Narnia (as well as an Emmy for The Walking Dead); Peter King and Tami Lane on The Hobbit team both already have Oscars, his for this particular franchise and hers for The Chronicles of Narnia

Q: Why does Lisa Westcott have no Oscars despite two nominations (Her Majesty Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love) prior to Les Miz?
A: Because she doesn't do werewolves or fantasy creatures. 

Can we call a one year moratorium on dwarves, elves, monsters and prosthetic biopics in this category and give it to the zombie whores and scarred bread thieves for once !?!

While we're on the topic... here are the Film Bitch Award's Makeup Nominees for 2012

 

Saturday
Jan262013

Seven Link Paths

Pop Matters excellent piece about the Oscar snubs - were they just "body blind" this year? 
Pajiba 30 brain bleaching moments from Movie 43 that you can't unsee -- i'm so glad I read a third of this post so that I know that i'll have to avoid this like the plague despite it having so many great stars in it that I've otherwise been a completist about
Daily Mail oh so Jessica Chastain speaks sign language too with adoring fans? Will her wonders never cease? 

In Contention Kathryn Bigelow continues to defend Zero Dark Thirty, this time on the cover of "Time"
Playbill Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 25th birthday TODAY on Broadway. Will it ever close? That is too long for a show to hog one theater!
Awards Daily the costume designers in the Academy finally get their own branch
Carpetbagger The Weinstein Co would like to pull a Streep for Robert De Niro's third Oscar.  I doubt this "living legend who hasn't won in 30+ years" thing is going to work for him though. If you compare what he'd been doing for those non winning years to what Streep had been doing in hers. Yeesh. You sure you wanna go there?

Saturday
Jan262013

One Night Only ♪

Have you heard that The Academy is going to honor the renaissance of the movie musical with tributes to Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Miz during the ceremony on February 24th? I'm never been that big on amorphous "tributes" which usually come in the form of sloppy montages at the expense of time celebrating either specific grand careers (lifetime achievements) or actual nominees. And I can't quite see what the through line is between those three pictures (as opposed to any other modern musicals). But you know I love musicals. Still... this makes precious little sense to me, not when you have a decent current lineup of Original Song nominees you could focus on for once. And not when you're only focusing on three films, two of which had little to do with the musical genres resuscitation.

It's a Musical Diva Throwdown

Everyone knows (or should come to understand) that it was the one-two-three-four punch of Disney's resurrection (The Little Mermaid + Beauty & The Beast) + Dancer in the Dark + Moulin Rouge! +  Hedwig and the Angry Inch from 1989-2001 that reopened the musical floodgates artistically and reminded everyone "ohmygod... look what this versatile genre can do!!!". Chicago (2002) then was the behemoth that came charging down that road that had been pre-paved for it by stronger films, despite how grandly entertaining it was, to claim the trophy for the whole genre.

At any rate the strangest exclusion from their planned tribute is surely Moulin Rouge! which had, if you'll recall, just as many nominations as both Les Miz and Dreamgirls (I guess 8 is the magic number for non-BP winning popular musicals), starred people who are still very much in the cultural conversation, and is already widely regarded as part of the new canon. That's something that none of the three films Oscar is planning to rehonor on the ceremony can quite claim... no, not even Chicago.

Saturday
Jan262013

Sundance: Campion Takes On The Miniseries

Michael C. here. Just as I was calming down over the too-good-to-be-true Before Midnight buzz, news of the Sundance premiere of Jane Campion's Top of the Lake hit me and now I run the risk of anticipation overload. The Inside Llewyn Davis trailer didn't help either. 

Campion's six-hour miniseries premiered to strong reviews at the film festival this week on its way to a March run on the Sundance Channel. With Fincher’s House of Cards set to drop on Netflix February 1st  that makes two of our most important directors in as many months abandoning theaters in favor of the small screen. No longer is major Hollywood talent helming a miniseries limited to Mike Nichols Broadway adaptations and Tom Hanks indulging his twin obsessions of NASA and World War II. For now though, any lengthy trend pieces take a back seat to the headline that Top of the Lake sounds amazing. A must-see, especially for Campion fans. 

Perfect Oscar Happenings: when all three women of The Piano won OscarsIf the director reuniting with her The Piano star Holly Hunter isn't enough to get you excited she is also returning to film in her native New Zealand. Furthermore, the story of a detective returning home to investigate the disappearance of a child offers Elisabeth Moss the substantial leading role she richly deserves after being an ensemble MVP in everything from Mad Men to West Wing to a recent cameo in On the Road. Campion has a knack for getting career best work out of actresses, so this sounds like a very promising move for Moss. Peter Mullan, the fearsome star of Tyrannosaur, is also on hand.

We will see if the blurring of the lines between big screen and small turns out to be one of the overriding narratives of the film year. Whatever the case, between Campion and Fincher I expect that come year’s end many film critics will be trying to justify wedging a miniseries onto their top 10 lists.