Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, or by a member of our amazing team as noted.

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X-Men Apocalypse

"Overall liked it. Yet almost every other character seemed undeserved (wtf about introducing Jubilee and not letting her do anything)" - James

 "Ugh, it's so flat. Magneto *again* being drawn to the darkside and saved by speaking to his true humanity?" -Glenn

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Meet the Contenders: J.K. Simmons "Whiplash"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, a hit at Sundance that just played the New York Film Festival.

J.K. Simmons as Fletcher in Whiplash

Best Supporting Actor

Born: Jonathan Kimble Simmons was born January 9, 1955 in Detroit, Michigan

The Role: Writer/Director Damien Chazelle's festival hit first came to attention with its screenplay that was featured on the annual Black List in 2012. The film follows a first year drum major (Miles Teller) at the fictional Shaffer Conservatory of Music that joins the elite Jazz orchestra headed by a sadistic conductor named Terence Fletcher (Simmons). Fletcher is well respected and can make or break a young musician's career, although his methods of achieving perfection (violent outbursts, name calling, and physical abuse when he actually throws a chair at Teller) are somewhat unconventional.

To fund the feature length film, Chazelle first made an 18-minute short (an excerpt of the complete script) that was shown at Sundance in 2013, with Simmons as Fletcher, that won the Jury Award in short film. When it came time to make the full-length film, there was talk of re-casting Fletcher with a bigger name (Kevin Spacey, Kevin Kline, and Jeff Daniels were all considered), but Simmons ultimately was able to reprise the role he created. And the film received the Audience Award and top Jury Prize when it premiered at Sundance this past January. 

Click to read more ...


Friendly Reminder: Good Weekend to See a Movie!

But, no, I'm not talking about Dracula Untold or The Judge...

For Everyone:
Paddy Considine humbly requests that you see Pride this weekend! It's no longer an exclusive joy for New Yorkers and California residents. It's moved into several more cities in 19 more states so check your listings and see it. If you still need convincing, read our review and interview with the director (who is bringing the stage hit Matilda the Musical to the screen next).

For the Oscar Watchers:
You'll definitely want to check out Whiplash which can safely expect one nomination for J.K. Simmons in Supporting Actor (even though he's really a lead... same as it ever was) but it's the type of movie that might snowball given the enthusiasm and end up in the big race. (Here's Michael's review)

For the Actress Enthusiasts:
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby has finally arrived in its intended Her (Jessica Chastain) and Him (James McAvoy) format. I did not see it as the shorter Them which wasn't well received at the box office. I can't speak to that but in the Her and Him format it intrigued and gained from the repetitions and slight skewing of perspective.

Even then, last fall, I worried about splitting OR fusing them (as they eventually did). As I wrote in my original review... 

As I happened to see it at its premiere with Him preceding Her, this 3 hour movie felt like perfect conjoined fraternal twins, each of 90 minutes in length. I say fraternal since The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him (the one starring James McAvoy with Chastain in a supporting role) and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (the one starring Jessica Chastain with McAvoy in a supporting role) have very different temperaments, casts, and only share a few scenes... but not, crucially, the same takes of those scenes. We understand the drama wholly only through seeing both sides of it. 

I can't imagine that its safe to surgically sever Him and Her and release them into the wilds of arthouse theaters. And keeping them together but lopping off their limbs (say 20 minutes from both which seems likely) seems like high-risk business for something this delicately wrought and inventively conceived.

Any big movie plans this weekend? I'm off to Birdman at the New York Film Festival.



Empire The London Film Festival has commenced with Benedict Cumberbatch opening the festivities
Kenneth in the (212) Harrison Ford in 1978 
Logolog This one is for the linguistics and trivia nerds: Last week's box office top ten featured the first ever "pangram" -- I didn't know what that was but the article explains it
Film School Rejects will "Vs" movies be the next franchise trend? God help us all 

Guardian claims that The Imitation Game might be the queerest film for the mainstream in ages. I don't want to do that math because, if so, how depressing because it's not all that queer
/Film a Labyrinth sequel in development?
Pajiba Jennifer Garner talks about Ben Affleck's penis on the Ellen show. Hold me. Why, Jennifer, why?
Esquire Gone Girl as the story of Ben Affleck's career. Undeniable connections!
Vulture theorizes on how all the seasons of American Horror Story could be connected. I guess they mean, besides the famous actors?
/Film First images of Margot Robbie and Will Smith in Focus. Hey, do you remember when there was a movie with that title with William H Macy and Laura Dern? Anyone?
Guardian So, you guys, it turns out that that Effie Gray movie starring Emma Thompson and Dakota Fanning does actually exist and its now playing in the UK 
HitFix Sean Durkin of Martha Marcy May Marlene fame will direct a film version of Little House on the Prairie. Bizarre. 

Casting News
The Playlist Léa Seydoux is your next femme fatale Bond girl. YAS! Great choice, 007 team
Variety Gabriel Luna joins Ellen Page in Freeheld
The Playlist Jennifer Jason Leigh takes the largest (only?) female role in Quentin Tarantino's Hateful Eight

I take it you've heard about American Crime Story, a new Ryan Murphy series that will take on true uh... American crime stories.



True crime instead of the freaky supernatural fiction crime that American Horror Story traffics in, right? I had to have my say on Twitter, you know? Hee

Weekend Watch


James Franco's "Making a Scene" a comic mash-up series, fuses Beetlejuice and Batman together. What would Michael Keaton say? Probably "who cares" given his recent comments about the Batman franchise post him.

While we're on the topic of Batman, The LEGO Movie is going to have a solo Batman sequel in 2017. Exactly when do we approach maximum saturation of all things Batman? You'd think it would have been awhile ago. I worry for the the 2020s

For Towleroad, I wrote up a piece on films of LGBT interest in the big Foreign Film lineup with their trailers and such. Check it out. I'm dying to see Switzerland's The Circle. And I didn't realize until researching this piece that Concrete Night is made by a writer/director pair who are famous lesbians in Finland. How about that?

Stay tuned for more coverage on this category and of course all the others too, right here. Interviews and events are already starting off blog and soon we'll start sharing them. Let's consider Monday/Tuesday the official grand opening of this new awards season here at TFE.


This is the one...

This is the one I'll be remembered for.



Tim's Toons: the Best of Isao Takahata

Tim here. The Tale of Princess Kaguya , which could well compete for the animated Oscar this year, opens next week. But at that point I will be deep down in the pits of film festival madness (the Chicago International Film Festival starts today). So I want to talk about this now, lest I forget.

And that is the last thing I’d ever want to do, since Kaguya’s director, Isao Takahata, is (was?), along with Hayao Miyazaki, one of the twin gods of Studio Ghibli, though a director whose work was never as widely-known in the English-speaking world as his colleague’s. They're smaller in scale and less fantastic; one of his absolute best Ghibli-era works has never been released in the States, because the rights lie with Disney and one scene involves a discussion of menstruation, and we can’t have filthiness like that in our animation here, now can we!

He is, regardless of the difficulty in seeing his films, an unequivocal genius who deserves more attention for the wide range of styles he's explored in his films, and the graceful humanity of the stories he's told within those styles. Thus I have put together this little primer to celebrate the 78-year-old's newest film, and the career that led up to it.

[His three best films after the jump]


Click to read more ...


HTGAWM: "Smile, Or Go To Jail"

We're three episodes in to How To Get Away With Murder and three episodes is where I draw the line if a show isn't working for me. Time is too precious: one season of a network series is time enough for ten or eleven movies, you know? You could basically catch up with the entire Best Picture lineup from 1939 in that time, something surely all of America is eager to do if someone would only suggest it to them as an alternative to watching another season of CSI: Wherever*. For love of Viola Davis I'm giving this series one more episode to win me over instead. Also because ABC has promised that my jaw will drop with "the last nine words" from Viola's mouth on episode 4. If their prophesy is true, we'll see. But I shall state it simply: after three episodes I can safely say that I think the show is bad. Trashy fun? Eh, Kind of. But more like Trash that thinks it Hot Shit.

On episode three we begin again with that hyper-caffeinated bonfire / murder coverup in the future so basically you never know which episode you're watching until like 5 minutes in. But even after that opening five, deja vu prevails since the show is so formulaic: 1. Annalise takes a case; 2. Her students help solve it with interstitials of them doing sneaky things; 3. The legalese is explained with cutaways to Viola's lectures in class; 4. We learn the client is guilty; 5. Viola wins, or, minor derivation in episode three: Viola doesn't lose; 6. Roll Promo for next episode!

Biggest Pet Peeve Runner Up: Professor Annalise Keating only ever calls on the 5 students who have series regular gigs despite hundreds of hands going up in her lecture hall. Come on showrunners, be good samaritans - give one of those extras their SAG card with a line, you know? This is highly unrealistic classroom behavior. I absolutely cannot buy that her classrooms arebig draws (we hear that she brings in the students for the university big time) when she doesn't remotely seem interested in teaching or involving her students unless they work for her for free when they leave the classroom like indentured servants and drop all their other coursework and abstain from social lives except when it comes to sex scenes which can be used to prevent people from grabbing remotes and switching channels.

Biggest Pet Peeve Winner (by which I mean we all lose)
For a show aiming to showcase Viola Davis she's often crowded out what with all the subplots and her students doing basically everything for her.

Gay Guy vs. Prom Queen shared a penis: pass it on.

This particular episode? If I must. Viola defends Ugly Betty's sister who went politically radical decades ago and bombed a building. Ugly Betty's sister skips bail so Viola's courtroom time abruptly ends. Meanwhile: Wes convinces Annalise to defend his neighbor across the hall instead of the quarterback that the university has asked her to defend in the murder mystery that the first season is built on. Who Killed Lila WhatsHerFace? Who cares! On the sex scene front, Viola is again rebuffed by her muscle stud cop boyfriend (who lies to her about her husband's alibi bur dor what reason? Surely to cause unmotivated hysterical drama later in the season) so Prom Queen gets this episode's big sex scene with her heretofore unseen fiancee who, as it turns out, once slept with Gay Guy Not Matt Not Wes when he was 16 at boarding school. Prom Queen absolutely freaks out because no straight guy in the history of the universe has ever fooled around with another student at an all male boarding school when he was a horny teenager. Say it with me: "SCANDAL!"

* Please do not tell me this is not true in the comments, he says weeping.


135 Days 'til Oscar: Remember the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion?

Occasionally while typing about the Oscars I accidentally type in the Shrine or the Kodak and especially "The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion" when I mean The Dolby Theater. It's an honest mistake since the Oscars are a bonafide institution and one tends to associate locations with events. The Dolby Theater, the "permanent" home now for Oscar (whatever permanent means considering things such as contracts, name changes, and rights battles for broadcast and whatnot) was once the Kodak Theater and for the last dozen years that's where the Oscars have been held. But until the new millenium, I associated the event with the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. That music hall hosted the Oscars the longest from Oliver! (1968) through Shakespeare in Love (1998) though it should be noted that the Shrine auditorium stepped in as substitute for six years during that three decade stretch. 

I've never actually been to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion but for a young movie mad boy in the suburbs of Detroit in the Eighties, 135 North Grand Avenue was the most important address in the world, way cooler than 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

I still think of it as way more glamorous than the Dolby... but maybe that's because I've been to the Dolby and though it looks great on TV it's inside a shopping mall. Perhaps that's appropriate for a golden idol that's really only gold-plated

Previously on our countdown that's really just begun...
138 Days - Average Best Picture Length
170 Days - Best Actor Trivia 
182 Days - What did Pickford & Fairbanks start?!