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Spirit Nominations
Call Me By Your Name leads with 6

"I think Good Time is going to do better this award season then people realize. It's slowly developing a cult following similar to Drive. " - Mike

"Really happy to see Harris Dickinson in male lead. That's a great category." - Joseph

Ugh Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name reeks of Rooney Mara in Carol all over again. LGBTQ film with two obvious co-leads where one is relegated to supporting and pushes out a fantastic, legit supporting player (Sarah Paulson/Michael Stuhlbarg)." - Aaron

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Thursday
May192016

On This Day: Marilyn Mania and Sarah Connor x 3

May your 19th be beautiful.

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

1536 Anne Boleyn is beheaded. Her tragedy is later reenacted by hundreds of actresses on tv, stage and film including Natalie Portman, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, and Genevieve Bujold (Oscar nomination).
1836 Cynthia Ann Parker is kidnapped in Texas during an Indian raid after her family is slaughtered. That's a tough break but not many people get to live on in history through multiple classics albeit under pseudonyms like "Debbie Edwards" (Natalie Wood in The Searchers) and "Stands With Fist" (Mary McDonnell in Dances With Wolves). 
1925 Malcolm X is born. 67 years later Denzel Washington wins his second Oscar playing him (Shut up! This is our preferred version of history because Al Pacino in Scent of a Woman. Ugh, really?)
1941 Nora Ephron is born spewing witticisms.

1958 Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is released in movie theaters.
1962 Marilyn Monroe, who looms larger than 50 Feet in the American consciousness, sings happy birthday to President John F Kennedy 
1978 Thank God It's Friday released. Out-discoed in collective disco-movie memories by Can't Stop the Music, two years later.
1982 Rebecca Hall is born. Remains underappreciated 34 years later

1984 It is a very very bad day to be named "Sarah Connor" in Los Angeles. Unless you're unlisted. [src]
1989 Legendary bad movie Road House opens in theaters
1992 Sam Smith is born. 24 years later he tortures global audiences with an off-key rendition of a song no one likes and Hollywood hands him the Oscar -anything to make him stop.
1999 Star Wars: the Phantom Menace opens in theaters which is something like discovering a razor blade in your Halloween candy. Jar Jar Binks is the razor blade. Nostalgia is the candy.
2017 Baywatch: The Movie opens. God help us all.

and finally...


2154 Jake Sully will arrive in his wheelchair on Pandora and meet his Avatar. Just in time for James Cameron to be cryogenically unfrozen and announce that he's starting production on Avatar 2 and Avatar 3. For real this time, promise.

Wednesday
May182016

Kate Winslet's The Dressmaker Joins the Amazon Studios Family

Daniel Crooke here. In the past eight months we’ve seen Kate Winslet in her most peppery Polish accent pin a lifetime of parenting flaws on Steve Jobs, and rule a Mob roost with Russian verve in Triple 9. Audiences down under have already feasted upon her new film The Dressmaker, which won Best Actress honors for Kate, and Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor to Judy Davis and Hugo Weaving, respectively from the Australian Film Institute. Yet despite making its North American debut last year at TIFF, U.S. audiences have unfortunately been kept in the dark. A crying shame, once you’ve seen the splashy hats and dresses, striking desert landscapes, and simmering performances on display in its bold trailer so memorably exalted in Nathaniel’s YNMS.

Now, thanks to Amazon Studios, we will finally witness her smolder with a cigarette as an Aussie farmhouse carelessly blazes over her shoulder.

Amazon has five films currently in and out of the Cannes competition – Woody Allen’s classic Hollywood comedy Café Society, Park Chan-wook’s gothic lesbian thriller The Handmaiden, Jim Jarmusch’s ambling slice of lifer Paterson and Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Shelter, and Nicolas Winding Refn’s fashion world phantasmagoria The Neon Demon – and when you add Spike Lee’s kaleidoscopic Chi-Raq and Kenneth Lonergan’s Sundance pickup Manchester by the Sea to the pile, you’ve got to applaud their team’s adventurous, cine-literate taste. With The Dressmaker, they instill faith in the box-office and streaming potential of female filmmakers, expand their international reach, and continue to stand up for films that don’t snugly fit into classifiable categories bottom-lined with boring expectations. Their added commitment to real theatrical releases begs the question: who says streaming’s killing the cinema?

What do you make of Amazon Studios’ continuing foray into the marketplace? And, more importantly, on a scale of Carnage to Eternal Sunshine, how psyched are you for a new Winslet vehicle?

Wednesday
May182016

Red Carpet Lineup: Cannes Best Actress Watch

We'll update the Oscar charts when Cannes wraps up but for now let's talk about the buzziest actresses of the festival. We should note, however, that Cannes juries are notoriously hard to predict and there are still a few competition films left to premiere. What's more, every year people say "this is a shoo in for that!" and it does not come to pass -- especially when it comes to the acting prizes.

But here are five gorgeous and talented actresses at their premieres* who have garnered enough buzz to make us go "hmmmmm"

From left to right...

Sandra Hüller stars in the nearly 3 hour comedy Toni Erdmann about a prank loving father and his overly serious daughter. The film comes from German director Maren Ade who had a critical hit several years back with Everyone Else (2009). Hüller's chief claim to fame is the drama Requiem (2006) for which she won Best Actress in Germany.

Ruth Negga, best known to date for her television work in the UK and in the US, definitely has Oscar buzz for the 50s interracial marriage drama Loving (alongside screen husband Joel Edgerton) but Oscar buzz is only rarely equivalent to Cannes buzz so only the jury knows if this is one of those times. Loving comes to US theaters in November.

Isabelle Huppert stars in Paul Verhoeven's revenge thriller Elle (*which has not yet premiered from my understanding). But ahead of its premiere Sony Pictures Classics picked it up for distribution and word on the performance is hot. That said, until tastemakers truly get a look at it we can't know if that's just PR buzz or something deeper, like another milestone in her legendary career. Huppert has never been Oscar nominated -- she probably frightens the Academy -- but it may surprise you to hear that the equally controversial Verhoeven has, for all intents and purposes. One of his earliest films, Turkish Delight (1973) was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Yes, yes, technically that nomination belongs to the Netherlands rather than to Verhoeven himself but we think of it as also belonging to the director since generally speaking the directors are the ones that pick up the statue and say their thank yous. Verhoeven hasn't made a full length feature since his terrific uncomfortably sexy World War II thriller Black Book (2006) so we'll await this with eager eyeballs.

Kristen Stewart starred in the opening night film Café Society (reviewed here) but she's also the lead of the polarizing ghost story of some sort (we're trying not to read reviews) called Personal Shopper. It's been both booed and raved. Will the jury love it or hate it? It's worth noting that her last duet with Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria) nabbed her the best reviews of her career, multiple awards notices, and the French César. 

the ever gorgeous Sonia Braga

Finally, there's the enduring 65 year old star Sonia Braga who headlines the Brazilian picture Aquarius. It's getting the kind of reviews that leave us salivating, both because of a juicy lead role for this fine actress (who Oscar totally stiffed in 1985 for her prismatic fascinating star turn in Kiss of the Spider Woman), and for the possibility that Brazil could make some headway in the Oscar race. Consider this tweet from our friend Tim Robey:

 

 

Brazil hasn't received a foreign language film nomination since Central Station (1998, a category they should have won) and they've yet to win the Oscar. The director of Aquarius, Kleber Medonça Filhou was previously submitted by Brazil for Neighboring Sounds (2013, reviewed).

Do you want to place any bets on the Jury prizes this year?

Wednesday
May182016

Shia Gets Served

Jason from MNPP here, taking a look at today's big news out of everybody's favorite Oscar baiting genre, the bio-pic - famous actor slash shit-stirrer Shia LaBeouf is set to play famous athlete slash shit-stirrer John McEnroe in Borg/McEnroe, which will tackle the long-term rivalry between Mr. McEnroe and the underwear-salesman slash Swede Bjorn Borg. Playing Borg is the actor Sverrir Gudnason, who I am not familiar with, but he sure does have some big tiny shorts to fill...

(Cue my childhood crush on Borg rearing its head.) 

Stellan Skarsgård is also in the film, playing Borg's coach, and Danish director Janus Metz (Armadillo) is directing. Anyway Shia might maybe be rebounding? I actually think he's given his best performances over the past couple of years in the middle of what did seem to be a bit of a public breakdown. He's managed to channel it into his work in interesting ways, that is. And there aren't many movies in the world right now that I need to see more than I need to see Andrea Arnold's American Honey, and the word out of Cannes on that one only made that more true. And playing John McEnroe seems like a crazy good match of actor and subject. What do we think?

Wednesday
May182016

Henry & Eleanor, Frank & Bram, and The Breakfast Club

On this day in movie related history... 

1152 King Henry II marries Eleanor of Aquitaine. Their romance is later fictionalized in the ever popular play/movie The Lion in Winter which we've written about several times

1897 Frank Capra is born in Italy. He'll immigrate to the US at five years old and become one of the most famous film directors of all time.  Across the ocean in London a public reading of Bram Stoker's new novel "Dracula, or, The Un-dead" is staged. Frank Capra never makes a movie influenced by Dracula but everyone else does.

Meredith Wilson writing music1902 There's trouble right here in River City Mason City when Meredith Wilson is born. He'll later write The Music Man but not before accruing Oscar nominations for film scoring (The Little Foxes, The Great Dictator)

1912 The first Indian film Shree Pundalik is released in Mumbai. Thousands upon thousands upon thousands of movies will follow in its wake from the ever prolific Indian film industry, better known as "Bollywood". Over in the US, Richard Brooks is born and will go on to become a famous screenwriter and director. Four must-sees from his filmography: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960), In Cold Blood (1967), and Looking for Mr Goodbar (1977)

1931 Robert Morse is born, becomes darling cross media actor winning 2 Tonys and 1 Emmy.

...Unfortunately Emmy, given the opportunity to reward him with a career capping statue, robs him blind decades later for his unforgettable farewell on Mad Men

1970 Tina Fey is born so that we might have 30 Rock and Mean Girls.

1985 Simple Minds hits #1 with Don't You Forget About Me" the theme song from teen classic The Breakfast Club. Oscar forgets about it in the Best Original Song category. Do you think it deserved to knock one of these songs out? Let's readjudicate the race in the comments.

Oh come on you know you want to!

Illustration to the right by Johanna The Mad

2003 Musical sensation Les Misérables closes on Broadway after 16 years and 6,680 performances. Becomes super-divisive big-grossing Oscar-winning movie 9 years later. Is nominated for Best Original Song

Wednesday
May182016

Judy by the Numbers: "Embraceable You"

Anne Marie is tracking Judy Garland's career through musical numbers...

Throughout the 1930s, Mickey and Judy had been one of America's favorite musical duos. With Mickey in the lead and Judy providing musical support, the two young teenagers - with the help of the Freed Unit - dominated the box office, regularly grossing $1 million even during the Depression. However, by the beginning of the 1940s, both 21-year-old Judy and 23-year-old Mickey had grown past the simple comedies in which they'd made their names. While both continued to pull in the same amount at the box office, Mickey was moving into more serious roles - though he still had a few more Andy Hardy movies in his contract - and Judy was dropping her hems and trading in her hair ribbons for hats. So, at the end of 1943, Mickey and Judy starred in their last musical together.

The Movie: Girl Crazy (1943)
The Songwriters: George Gershwin (music) & Ira Gershwin (lyrics)
The Players: Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney, June Allyson, directed by Busby Berkeley and Norman Taurog

The Story:  This transition affected their partnership in Girl Crazy as well. While before, Judy had been Mickey's sidekick, now she was her own force to be reckoned with. Director Busby Berkeley gave 3 musical numbers to Judy alone, while Mickey appeared with her in 2 more (and also was dubbed on piano for one number). While the plot still mostly fell on Mickey's shoulders, the musical was entirely Judy's. In fact, she got two more iconic hits from it: "Embraceable You," and "But Not For Me."

Though Mickey and Judy would continue to be friends (and perform together - once more in a movie and again later on her TV show), their onscreen partnership had run its course. And though Judy couldn't have anticipated it, right around the corner was another movie that would change her life forever.

Previous Related Highlights:
"Our Love Affair," "Good Morning," "Got a New Pair of Shoes"