Glenn here. I watched a lovely documentary last night called Marvin Hamlisch: What He Did For Love. And oh, what did he did! The film screened this last weekend in New York (I admitted got my weekends wrong and thought it was this coming weekend), but screens on PBS at the end of the month. Hamlisch died last year at the age of 68 and, if you remember, Barbra Streisand performed a lovely memorial to him at this year's Oscar ceremony. I believe his last piece of original film work was the score for Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra. Since we're fans of lists and Marvin Hamlisch, let's take a look at his top ten movie moments.
Statistics show us time and again that Oscar likes his ladies young. In fact 29 is the most common age that leading ladies win Oscars (for comparison's sake only one man under 30 has ever won Best Actor). And yet, as we speed towards the Oscar nominations, barring an extreme long-shot fresh-faced spoiler like an Adèle (20) or a Brie (26), this year's Best Actress Lineup will likely skew incredibly 'vintage'. If the expected five make an historic "all winners lineup" it's going to be the oldest lineup ever. Now, there is some degree of unusual feeling (I share it) that Meryl Streep (64) is vulnerable to a shut-out for her work in August: Osage County -- something that seemed unthinkable even a few months ago -- but even if she doesn't make the shortlist, there's no guarantee it'll be someone at the beginning of their career. Amy Adams (39) and Julia Louis Dreyfus (52) might still triumph over Brie or Adèle for that hotly contested fifth slot.
So let's look at...
The Top Ten Most Mature Best Actress Shortlists
This top ten is actually only nine years long. I'm reserving a spot for 2013. Barring a major upheaval, the 2013 lineup will be our oldest on average ever. Unless Adèle makes it... and even then it'll come close to being the very oldest. A funny thing occurred while researching this: the years I thought of as elderly weren't. I immediately thought of 1950, for example, with those grande dame performances by All About Eve's Bette Davis and Sunset Boulevard's Gloria Swanson (two of the best performances to lose the Oscar) but both of those women were barely 50 (Grande Dame used to start young!) and the rest of the category was young, younger and youngest. I was also wrong about these years which average a touch or a lot younger than I remembered or was expecting: 1960, 1962, 1974, 1990 and 1992.
Runners Up [3-way Tie] With an Average Age of 41.2 years
1997 As Good as It Get's Helen Hunt, the winner, was the median age of 34.
1996 Fargo's Frances McDormand, another median age winner, was 37.
1952 Come Back Little Sheba's Shirley Booth, pictured left and recently discussed, was the oldest at 52 and the winner. (She's still the only woman to win Best Actress during her fifties. Isn't that insane?) Can you guess which years made the list before you click to proceed? Try it silently for fun...
Team FYC highlights our favorite individual fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Philippe Ostiguy...
Last January, waves of chatter came rushing out of Sundance with glowing words for a little American drama that has steadily enchanted audiences since. Though it can’t be credited with much innovation, David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is an old-fashioned tale of love and crime told with heart, eager to pay tribute to Americana pioneers. Though its sun-kissed cinematography and trio of lead performances by Rooney Mara, Ben Foster and Casey Affleck have been the main talking points, the film earns most of its magic by way of Daniel Hart’s musical contributions, at once delicate and tense, alert and dreaming.
Classically trained violinist Hart, who has released music under his own name as well as with his bands The Physics of Meaning and Dark Rooms, has little film experience: his only other scoring credit is on Lowery’s previous film, St. Nick. But that’s about to change. His work on Saints is memorable and precise, a perfect fit for the film that beautifully stands on its own. His string-heavy compositions are wistful and light as daydreams, yet, from the nostalgia of “Do You Remember That Day” to the slight dissonance of “Ruth Tries to Write”, always suggest the violence of emotions below the surface. It’s a subtle and layered score that, though deeply rooted in tradition, always feels alive, fitting in somewhere between Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ haunting work on The Assassination of Jesse James and more cacophonic Lawless score.
The songs composed for the soundtrack deserve a mention, too: between the Motown-esque ‘60s throwback of Andrew Tinker’s “Ain’t Long Enough”, Curtis Heath and John Graney’s bluesy “Been Waiting” and the soulful country of “Siren Call” and “Here We Are”, which both sound like they were written half a century ago, Hart’s compositions find a slew of striking complements that make Saints’ a most well-rounded soundtrack – and one that, though it might not turn the Academy’s head, more than deserves a spin or two. Or more.
You can listen to part of the soundtrack here.
Alexa here. In searching for holiday gift ideas this year, I keep coming back to The Conde Nast Collection. For a reasonable price (under $150), you can buy photographic prints of the work of some amazing photographers, including Edward Steichen, Cecil Beaton, Horst P. Horst and others. Their collection from Vanity Fair is especially fine when it comes to the world of cinema. I've chosen some standouts to entice you if you feel like beautifying your walls or someone else's for Christmas...
Earlier today we heard the AFI Lists for film and television. I immediately wondered what purpose they served. There are so many lists these days that are like spotlights on "CONSENSUS!" that the very act of publishing them feels redundant. With so many talking heads commenting on the Oscar race each year, both full time specialists and average reporters who become part time "experts" by virtue of, um, grist for the content mill, consensus is no longer an interesting thing to "find" or "capture" because it is so very inescapable. AFI's list looks EXACTLY like an Oscar pundits chart, whereas in year's past they seemed to be about 70% Oscary 10% populist and 20% random. In fact, it looks the Gurus of Gold made it!
The AFI Top Ten (Motion Pictures)
12 YEARS A SLAVE
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
SAVING MR. BANKS
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
In fact it's identitical to the current Gurus of Gold top ten chart but for one switcheroo: the pundit chart includes Lee Daniels' The Butler instead of Fruitvale Station. Interestingly enough, both Best Picture hopefuls come from the Weinstein Company who are our usual Oscar champs but seem to be struggling with traction this year. In fairness, The Butler was never expected to place during "critic's week" but if it doesn't perform well at SAG and the Globes in a couple of days, it's Oscar dreams will die.
This can only mean two things:
- The AFI committee this year is secretly composed of only BFCA members and they're aiming to exactly predict the Best Picture race.
- It's a weak year for British pictures in terms of American traction. Since the AFI only looks at American pictures, strong British Oscar contenders sometimes automatically make the AFI list more interesting because they have to look elsewhere to fill the top ten. The only exclusion that might not be worrying awards strategists today is the exclusion of Philomena (also from Weinstein Co!) which is directed by, written by and stars Brits... and therefore ineligible.
The American Film Institute also releases a television list for some reason despite the name of their organization. That went like so...
The AFI Top Ten - Television
GAME OF THRONES
THE GOOD WIFE
HOUSE OF CARDS
MASTERS OF SEX
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
And I think it's a (slightly) more interesting list in that it looks a little more like the AFI lists of yore in that it's partially awardsy but also kind of guilty pleasure buzz-sensitive. Or maybe it's just more interesting because people can actually enjoy these shows instead of the movie list which is (sigh) heavily titled towards movies that have just opened or haven't opened... just like the critics awards. It's still fairly Emmy correlative but there's no Homeland or Modern Family so that's something. I haven't had time to write about it but I am head over heels in love with / in lust for / in awe of Masters of Sex, which is the single best show on television at the moment. It's so assured, so fresh, so perfectly cast... and weirdly gets better every single week. I really can't get over it. I look forward to each new episode like I haven't looked forward to any tv show's new episode in years.