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Saturday
Dec132014

Meet the Contenders: Katherine Waterston "Inherent Vice"

Each weekend abstew profiles a just-opened Oscar contender whether they're sure things or longshots to keep us in the know. 


Katherine Waterston as Shasta Fay Hepworth in Inherent Vice
Best Supporting Actress

Born: Katherine Boyer Waterston was born March 3, 1980 in London, England. Her American parents were working in the country at the time.

The Role: Adapted from Thomas Pynchon's 2009 novel (and the first film version of the celebrated author's work), Oscar nominated writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson wrangles this twisty, drug-fueled haze of a story involving a weed-smoking, hippie, private detective named Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix). The film's plot begins to unfold when Doc's ex-old lady, Shasta, shows up one night concerned about the safety of her wealthy, married boyfriend. Both Shasta and her paramour go missing and it's up to Doc to make sense of it all. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec122014

Best Picture Predictions: Selma & Budapest on the Rise...

At this juncture in each film year, each week (hell, each day) brings another level of absurdity to the notion that anything is sure when it comes to Oscar. The awards table is constantly being shaken up and as soon as the pieces settle they're jostled again. All that and we're still almost three weeks away from actual Academy balloting for nominations.

you wish to have the curse reversed? get your screeners out first!

The tidal wave of awardage in early December reminds us once again that late December releases IF they are also late to screen can struggle. Still Alice and Cake, counter-examples, may be hiding from the public [ahem -grrr] but they premiered / screened regularly and early for the industry starting in September so their late arrivals haven't been a problem. Interstellar and Selma (both from Paramount) and A Most Violent Year (from A24) performed inconsistently without the benefit of awards screeners. Other late-to-screen releases (none of which have opened yet) including American Sniper, Into the Woods, Unbroken, and Big Eyes got screeners out but not in time for the SAG Nominating committee (from my understanding). Only Streep scored with a SAG nomination from those films.

And, let's face it, Into the Woods didn't even have to screen. Many many people in the world are willing to buy Meryl Streep on principal as Best even if they haven't yet seen whatever new character she's selling. (I wasn't joking when discussing her awards prospects on twitter when I said that only about once every 20 years do awards bodies en masse just decide to ignore her entirely in a given film year and we're not due for another one of those Brigadoon-like mystical occurences until 2024/2025. (If you're curious the last two times were Falling in Love in the 80s and Prime in the 00s)

Despite all the heat a Globe or SAG nomination or an LA / New York critics win can bring a film it's infinitely worth noting that Oscar balloting doesn't even begin until after Christmas so there are still important weeks ahead for all of these movies. In the end buzz only increases your likelihood that Academy members will watch your film. It doesn't necessarily mean that they'll like your film and vote for it. If you trust the precursors Whiplash isn't a threat for anything outside of Supporting Actor gold but I'm still willing to bet big on it in my predictions. At every industry event I've attended I've heard people speak of it with the kind of excitement that you can't buy with expensive PR pushes because the excitement is organic and personal taste driven. I'm not a huge fan of the film (though it has its moments and Damien Chazelle obviously has a big career ahead) but I hear actual love and not just respectful admiration when people talk about it and that is at least as good as, say, a Globe Best Picture Comedy or Musical nomination for Oscar heat, you know?

Best Picture is still something of a mystery, since we don't know how many nominees we will get or which of the 15 or so movies still in the running will be selected. We've had four completely consistent performers in the precursors that have already faced and won over both audiences and critics so you can lock them up: Birdman, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything. But beyond that? Anyone's guess. 

The Globe love-in for Selma and that totally deserved but still a wee bit surprising SAG Cast nomination for Grand Budapest Hotel are arguably the 2 biggest deal awards occurrences this week. If AMPAS voters haven't yet decided to screen either of those films, you can be sure they're going to.

More questions: Can Foxcatcher, Gone Girl, or Interstellar reheat cooling buzz? Can Unbroken, Into the Woods, American Sniper, and A Most Violent Year rally their fan bases in the next two to three weeks? (Successful opening weekends definitely won't hurt if they can muster them.) 

What other questions are you asking about the best picture race? 

SEE UPDATED OSCAR CHARTS:
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | SCREENPLAYS

Friday
Dec122014

Celebrity Guest Blog: Missi Pyle Attacks !!!

The one & only Missi Pyle does The Film Experience. 

 


The Film Exp
 "The Missi Experience" kicks Off Sunday December 14th at 1 PM EST. Pass it on and be here... Missi will.

 

Friday
Dec122014

Open Thread. Questions for the Podcast?

We're recording again soon. As I update the Oscar charts tonight, what questions would you like to ask Nathaniel, Nick, Joe and Katey about the race as it stands post critics and televised award show nominations? 

ALSO
The Oscar eligibility list is out. Here's the annual list that tells us which movies we've never heard of bothered to do stealth qualifying runs (though sometimes its inaccurate if they bail on their runs that are set for December) 

Friday
Dec122014

Inherent Vice Red Carpet Snap

It's almost the weekend and if you're reeling from nominations from SAG, the Globes, the NAACP Image Awards, OFCS, lists from AFI, Time & EW, might we ask you to pause and amuse us with a comment on the premiere of Inherent Vice?

 

What's Reese thinking?

<= Do you think she, Maya Rudolph and Jenna Malone('s shoes) color-coordinated on purpose?

Thursday
Dec112014

Team FYC: The Grand Budapest Hotel for Sound Editing and Mixing

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Teo on the sound work in Golden Globe nominee, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

 By now, Wes Anderson's house style has become so familiar that it can be easy to take it (and him) for granted. But for fans, the surface similarity of his films is just an invitation to look for the differences. And in every way, a closer look at The Grand Budapest Hotel pays off.

I had the opportunity to sound edit a film over the summer. It was a documentary, but in a process like sound editing, the difference between documentary and fiction film is generally negligible. You fix what the on-set mics couldn't capture. You try to find or create sounds that can approximate what you lost. What's unique about Anderson's sound editing is that he doesn't try to make his films sound like reality any more than he tries to make his films look like reality. Instead, Wes Anderson's films are filled with sounds that are almost hyper-real. They're crisply recorded and minimal in their design...

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Thursday
Dec112014

The Animated Feature contenders: Cheatin'

Tim here, with another look at one of the lower-profile submissions to the Academy in the Best Animated Feature category. This time around, we’ve got Cheatin’, the sixth feature-length animated movie from Bill Plympton (seven if we count an anthology made of his earlier shorts), one of most iconic names in independent American animation. I will not say that to see his work is to love his work – there’s too much aggressive grotesquerie in his character designs and morbid humor for that to be true – but I do think that it’s pretty hard to imagine anyone watching his beloved Oscar-nominated 2004 short Guard Dog and not walking out a committed fan.

In the meanwhile, we’re here to talk about Cheatin’, and what an absolutely wonderful film it is, too. It would be hard to defend it as Plympton’s best work: his sense of humor works so perfectly in the context of a short, where he can run in, land a few quick sucker punches, and run back out again. But “best” or not, it’s still a stunning work of unexpected emotional complexity and images scratched out in Plympton’s customary aesthetic, looking like delicately-shaded color pencil sketches of distorted, unyielding human forms.

Click to read more ...