Jeremy Cowart tales from a stunning photoshoot starring actor John Schneider
Policy Mic 7 reasons why Frozen is the most progressive Disney movie
Grantland Mark Harris on "The Nolan Effect" and how the expanded Best Picture field is actually shrinking the number of movies deemed Oscar Worthy. Statistically, it's getting worse each year. I co-sign all of this.
YouTube Cate Blanchett's awesome SAG press room performance - she even sings the Beatles
Huffington Post Amy Adams does Wicked's "Defying Gravity" at karaoke
Deadline Quentin Tarantino very upset about the leaking of his Hateful Eight screenplay. Who knows, though? Maybe we're all winners here since did he really need to do another violent ensemble guys western so soon after Django?
Jeremy Cowart tales from a stunning photoshoot starring actor John Schneider
Our Sundance Film Festival coverage continues with Michael Cusumano on John Slattery's "God's Pocket".
Have you, like me, been waiting impatiently for years for a filmmaker to figure out how to transfer Christina Hendricks’ incredible star wattage to the big screen? When I saw that none other than John Slattery directed and co-wrote her latest film, I was optimistic. Who better to give her the vehicle she deserves than someone who has had a front row seat to her abilities these past six seasons on Mad Men?
No such luck. Slattery’s God’s Pocket criminally wastes Christina Hendricks in an underwritten role that limits her to sobbing through the film’s first half and being a passive sounding board for the male stars in the second. Which is not to say anyone else in the cast fares much better. [more...]
[Editor's note: The last time I published a list of this sort Christian Bale was way up top and then The Fighter happened. Time for a new look at the Oscar Nomination-less. While I'm in Sundance, abstew steps in with his list. My list (and I'm sure yours) might not be exactly the same but... discuss! - Nathaniel]
This past Thursday, when the Oscar nominations were announced, only eight actors were hearing their names called for the first time (the Best Actress category was all previous nominees and 80% winners). Some were for film debuts (Lupita Nyong'o and Barkhad Abdi), but for the other 6 names (Ejiofor, McConaughey, Fassbender, Leto, Hawkins, and Squibb) it was their first recognition from the Academy after years of hard work and dedication to their craft. But not every great actor ever gets to hear their name called Oscar nomination morning. Despite powerful performances and decades of service to the film industry, sometimes a nomination (let alone a win) evades the greats. For some, the oversite will never be remedied (Marilyn Monore, Edward G. Robinson, Myrna Loy, Peter Lorre, Jean Harlow, and John Barrymore are just some of Hollywood's finest that went without the prefix Academy Award Nominee), but for many great actors still working today there is still time. In honor of those overlooked artists, I present 10 actors that continue to give us astounding performances year after year that deserve to have their work recognized with an Oscar nomination.
Not Now, But Soon: Benedict Cumberbatch, Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hardy, and Greta Gerwig We May Have Lost Them to Television: Steve Buscemi, Robin Wright, Kevin Bacon, Lili Taylor, and Kerry Washington Comedians That Get No Respect: Steve Martin, Jim Carrey, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Carol Burnett Still Great Despite Not Making the Top Ten: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hugh Grant, Hope Davis, John Cusack, and, of course, Mia Farrow (who rarely works now)
10. Gong Li
Should've Been a Contender? Ju Dou (1990), Raise the Red Lantern (1991), Farewell My Concubine (1993), To Live (1994), Breaking the Silence (2000), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
With a series of well-received films in the early 90s, Gong Li became the face of Chinese cinema. The actress and her frequent director Zhang Yimou are frequently credited for bringing Chinese cinema to the awareness of American and European audiences. Their collaboration, Ju Dou, was the first film from China to ever be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Despite groundbreaking work in such films as Raise the Red Lantern and Farewell My Concubine (which won her a New York Film Critics Circle award), the Academy has yet to nominate this influential actress. In 2005, she made her Hollywood film debut appearing in Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha (her first film in which she performed in English–she learned her lines phonetically) and winning a National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress. But a nomination still eluded her. After a few more turns in Hollywood (Miami Vice and Hannibal Rising), she seems to have slowed down and hasn't appeared on screen since 2011 (which is essentially why she's not higher on the list). She is currently filming the aptly named Return, which reunites her with Zhang Yimou. Hopefully the film is also a return to Oscar's attention or, at the very least, more work. The cinema needs Gong Li's face.
Alexa here. With Frozen being the only thing on my young daughter's mind these days, I've been searching for some non-Disney-manufactured goodies to please her. (Yes, I'm stubborn that way. If we saw the film why not just buy the related merchandise, you ask? Because I'm a curmudgeon.) In my search for the perfect handmade Olaf I fell down an etsy rabbit hole of clay creations.
Sundance coverage continues with Glenn on "The Girl from Nagasaki"
Avant-garde cinema isn’t for all audiences. The Girl from Nagasaki proves that it’s not for all directors, either. For whatever virtues Michel Conte has as an artist and a photographer (of which I am unfamiliar), filmmaking may not be of the same league. His debut feature, co-directed alongside his wife Ayako Yoshida, is a wild re-interpretation of Puccini’s famed Japanese-set opera, Madame Butterfly that dissolves into an assault of seemingly meaningless imagery; an experimental, visually symphonic and unfortunately misjudged piece of cinema.
Taking the story of Cio-Cio San and her breakdown at the absence of her American soldier husband and father of her child, Conte’s film at least fails while attempting something bizarrely different. Sadly, in his effort to turn the table on the conventions of narrative film, he has crafted a sort of Frankenstein’s Monster with bits and pieces grafted from the likes of Peter Greenaway, Tarsem Singh and Alejandro Jodorowsky and yet which lacks the profound power found in those artists’ works and compositions. Including crucifixion and BDSM fetish imagery, performance art and meta stylisation, it can’t help but feel like a confused hodge-podge of ideas that never form into a compelling whole.
Beginning with what appears to be a (admittedly impressive) visual effects company demo-reel of the explosion of the nuclear bomb over Nagasaki, it’s worth it as a work of intriguing technological ideas – and in 3D no less – but Conte falls too often into the sort of ridiculous embellishments that people mock experimental cinema for. I’m not sure what the director was trying to say with repetitive sequences of Geisha women rolling around in slick paint, but I assume he got the idea from a fashion photography layout. At the opposite end, a sequence involving David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” is particularly laughable for its bonkers and obvious use of symbolism. By the time Cio-Cio’s descent into mental breakdown occurs in the third act there is little to distinguish it from the rest of the movie.
Unlike some of the giants of avant-garde cinema like Luis Buñuel’s kinetic and disturbing Un Chien Andelou, Bruce Conner’s own nuclear bomb montage Crossroads, or Sidney Peterson’s The Petrified Dog, Conte’s film wears out its welcome all to quickly around the time Christopher Lee (!!) emerges amidst a dinner party of faceless Japanese geisha mannequins. The images, some intoxicating and beautiful, rarely feel as if they hold any weight or new insight into the tragic operatic tale. I’ve had Malcolm McLaren’s delicious 1984 “Madame Butterfly” in my head ever since seeing it, and at only six minutes long it still proves to be a radically more satisfying twist on the Puccuni original than The Girl from Nagasaki.
Distribution: Unlikely, although even whilst disliking the film I would applaud anybody for taking it on board.
Sundance coverage continues with Nathaniel on Maya Forbes' "Infinitely Polar Bear"
Remember when people used to dump on Silver Linings Playbook for reducing mental illness to cutesy romcom obstacles? That! Only this time the drubbing is fully earned. A disclaimer before we begin: I am preternaturally disposed to enjoy Mark Ruffalo's Ruffalosity in any of its varieties or sizes so I queued up for Infinitely Polar Bear, despite my gut instincts warning me away. (One must always be weary of star vehicles at indie festivals because a famous face alone can win a movie a prized festival slot. If a movie made by unknowns and starring unknowns gets into a festival there's generally more reason to hope that it got there on pure merit.) [more...]
The Stir Laura Linney had a baby despite none of us knowing she was pregnant
The Wire Joe Reid plans to see all 58 Oscar nominated movies from 2013
LA Times George Clooney pretends to be pissed about Tina Fey's Golden Globes joke
Gawker loves the idea of Detroit getting a bronze Robocop statue. It needs a hero!
/Film what's going on with Nicolas Winding Refn's Barbarella TV series?
previouslytv "your crotch is not that interesting" on HBO's Looking
Vulture on the new and improved Lady Edith on Downton Abbey
Coming Soon Jason Isaacs is joining the Rosemary's Baby tv miniseries as Roman Castavet (good part!) ... and word is that Zoe Saldana may get the famous pixie cut for it
a chain reaction
NY Times has a piece about why it might be better for the cinema if there were less movies each year. It's an interesting article that I mostly agree with though I wholeheartedly wish that Manohla hadn't felt the need to diss Iron Man 3 which is hardly the best example of junk blockbusters out there -- at least it was trying something vaguely new, making a Tony Stark movie rather than an Iron Man movie essentially. But let's not get distracted. Her piece was provocative asking for curation over consumption for programmers and money people.
The New Yorker disagrees, arguing that we only get the great discoveries because so many indie films are made. You can't predict which new artists will actually deliver.
The Front Row takes this as an opportunity to talk about what the purpose of film criticism is in the internet era and then
Mark Harris comments, too
...all of which gives us plenty to think about.