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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd


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"'Something Good' was filmed in darkness because Andrews and Plummer were so exhausted and punchy they literally could not film the scene without laughing." -Vladdy

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CIFF Report: The Foreign Film candidates

Tim here, with a report from the other major U.S. film festival of October. The Chicago International Film Festival is, with reason, regarded as minor compared to the likes of Toronto and New York – no major premieres, few celebrities, only a couple of the big upcoming awards players. The flipside is that’s it’s absolutely lousy with interesting little films that won’t ever get a significant North American release, so even if it’s rough for Oscar watching, it’s hard to complain as a Midwestern cinephile.

Having said that, let’s turn to Oscar watching. I had an opportunity to see several of the films on the 76-title deep list of submissions for the Foreign Language Film Oscar, and I’d like to share my thoughts on their respective chances at making it onto the ultimate list of nominees. Let’s go alphabetically by country.


ARGENTINAThe German Doctor
In which a German-Argentine woman and her family inadvertently give aid and comfort to one of the most notorious of all escaped Nazis.
My feelings (and review): The film keeps acting like it wants to break out and be more garish and horrifying than it ever quite manages to be, and it’s probably for the best that it doesn’t. The script probably isn’t as smart as it means to be, but the fact-based story is interesting and surprisingly tense.
Oscar prognosis: “Nazi” is a magic word for this category, and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see this make the nine-film longlist. It’s a little domestic and tonally off-kilter for where the category tends to live, but the subject matter is spot-on, and the Academy tends to favor Argentina more than other South American countries.

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Greta Gerwig on the "Frances Ha" Gotham Snub

I had the good fortune to speak with Greta Gerwig earlier today. She's had a terrific year co-writing and headlining the comedy Frances Ha, one of the year's true cinematic triumphs. But, due to the timing of our scheduled conversation, I also had the misfortune of being the bearer of bad news. I didn't realize when I clumsily brought up the Gotham snub, that she hadn't yet heard that the first awards show of the season, which previously honored her with a "breakthrough" nomination for Greenberg (2010) had passed this time around. But she was game enough to answer my questions about movie awards, anyway. She likes to watch, she quickly offered but "it's not really party of my orbit" 

But that led me to wondering if the reception of her work is important to her at all, or if she's one of those actors that's solely focused on the process.


I'm incredibly about how it's received but I don't -- but awards seem to be even beyond that. It has, like, its own rules. I want people I respect to like what I've done. I hope it touches people. I'm not making art in a closet because I want to have the experience of people watching it and liking it.

But awards are so kind of arbitrary. I think it's amazing to be recognized and I think good films are certainly recognized but I don't really see any connection between...

Her voice trails off then before she wraps the topic up with a funny bow.

I think if you're in the film business long enough they eventually get around to you somehow. Or at least when you die a picture of you goes up onscreen.

Um, but I don't know. I also think filmmakers who I love -- sometimes the movies they get recognized for aren't as good as some of their other movies.  'Oh, we sat on it when it was fascinating in the 80s,' or something 'so now we're going to do it!' 

That's some truth telling, right there. That's exactly how it works. This fine actress knows more about awards season than she thinks.


Frances Ha is currently available for pre-order from Criterion Collection and arrives on November 12th. The Film Experience's full interview with Greta Gerwig in which we talk musicals, filmmaking, and casting is coming soon.



Kate, Barbra, and Oscar Part 2: The Diva

Anne Marie with the second half of the two-part post on the Best Actress tie for 1968. Part One is here if you missed it.

The audience of the 41st Academy Awards roared its approval when Ingrid Bergman announced that Hollywood newcomer Barbra Streisand had tied Katharine Hepburn for Best Actress in a Leading Role. But though Streisand has since achieved immense popularity and icon status, this win is still questioned by some. After all, Hepburn was a giant among giants, giving the performance of her career in The Lion in Winter alongside a stellar cast with a sizzling script. Barbra was certainly the best part of an otherwise unremarkable musical. As a highly fictionalized version of famous vaudevillian Fanny Brice, Stresiand packed a ton of charm, chatter, charisma, and chutzpah into one role. But is that enough to warrant an Academy Award?

Actually, yes it is...

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Gotham Award Nominees: Short Term Sad

The Gotham Awards, which are kind of the East Coast sibling of the Spirit Awards, have been announced. Unfortunately it wasn't great news for my beloved Short Term 12 (sigh). And though I don't feel as proprietary about Frances Ha, it's complete snub is just bizarre (SO I HAD TO TALK TO GRETA GERWIG ABOUT IT). 

Breathe Kaitlyn, breathe. Being in a great movie is its own reward.

The nominating committee preferred mostly films by already established lauded filmmakers like The Coen Bros, Steve McQueen, and Richard Linklater. Short Term 12, the year's most heartfelt indie miracle, managed only one nomination for Best Actress (Brie Larson, interviewed here), which is a new category for the Gothams who have previously only awarded "Breakthrough" acting. Perhaps the Spirit Awards will come through for Short Term 12 if they can tear themselves away from barely independent studio-funded Oscar bait?


Best Feature

12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (IFC Films)
Before Midnight (Sony Pictures Classics)
Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)
Upstream Color (erbp)


Their Best Feature rarely has much correlation with Oscars... and that's a good thing since indie film awards ought to be thinking independently. [MORE...]

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Golden Globes: Got Any Comedy/Musical Predictions?

a comedy?Despite bold statements every year about who is campaigning in which Golden Globe category, the news is usually fluid so don't get too attached to anything you hear. Awards strategists are free to change their mind. As it stands now, August: Osage County and Before Midnight are planning Comedy campaigns and Blue Jasmine is aiming for drama. Curious, right? Dark laughs are flexible, don'cha know, and they can find traction in either category. We here at The Film Experience have long mourned the death of the Comedy or Musical category in the way we also mourn the death of the Supporting Oscar categories in that they too rarely serve their original purposes: which was to honor achievements that would otherwise be overlooked in the annual awards-focus on prestige drama and movie stars, respectively. It says a lot about the Comedy Acting categories for example that you can only make room for actual comedic triumphs IF a prestige drama with a few laughs or songs opts out.

The two most likely to succeed players IF they're deemed comedies though some feel they won't be are  Emma Thompson and Dame Judi Dench for Saving Mr Banks and Philomena respectively. Regardless, I think you can ink in Julia Louis Dreyfus for Enough Said, the year's most acclaimed romcom. If August's current campaign plans hold, you might see Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep taking up the entire rest of the category for their bitter duel! Why Julia? Well, supporting campaigns sometimes get promoted in this category if its a movie star who is actually a lead (see Catherine Zeta Jones nom for Chicago) and nobody thinks of megawatt Julia as a supporting player. But if you account for all five of those women (which you might not need to given rumored drama campaigns for Philomena & Saving Mr Banks -- which are the type of properties that could easily swing either way) there's no room left! Speaking of category confusion... if it's not Julia, the Globes could go with another actress they've been known to love with abandon. Remember that weirdass nomination for Scarlett Johansson for A Love Song For Bobby Long in 2004? (It's okay. nobody else does either) She could surprise here given that revelatory comic sparkle in Don Jon. And that would not be an unworthy call.

Potential Spoilers: If they're willing to lean pure comedy they've got a ready made nominee set in Sandra Bullock & Melissa McCarthy from The Heat but it's tough to say which of those two might win favor since the HFPA often ignores pure laffers when sorta-funny dramas are around and votes could easily split anyway. McCarthy has the reviews and that new stardom (with two big hits in 2013) but Bullock has the Gravity and is arguably the biggest star of all at this moment. Plus, you know how they love double dipping! Greta Gerwig's Frances Ha or Julie Delpy's Before Midnight would be a really smart worthy choices but neither seem like the type of actor that the magpie-like HFPA, always looking for super-shiney-famous, would lock right up for a nomination. Paulina Garcia in Gloria, should the film win a qualifying run, would be another brilliant choice but it seems so unlikely given all of the beloved big names in the mix.

Am I missing any possibilities?

There might be no beating Bruce Dern for Nebraska unless the Golden Globes are itching for a major movie star to reward instead of someone who has paid his dues. The only other sure thing is, I'm guessing, Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis since he covers the "musical" part and the film, if not Isaac, is really funny at times -- it was directed by the Joel and Ethan Coen after all. Will Her end be declared a comedy despite its melancholy? If so then Joaquin Phoenix for sure.

But who else? Will Will Forte join Dern for a double Nebraska nod with the dearth of possibilities or might James Gandolfini win posthumous favor for Enough Said? Will they take Ethan Hawke for Before Midnight? There's also Joseph Gordon Levitt in Don Jon, Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? Will Ferrell in Anchorman 2? Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 3 or Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger (hey they'll nominate mega-stars for anything)

Will they fill up the film category with only potential Oscar BPs: August: Osage County, Nebraska, or the either/or category types like Her, Before Midnight, Philomena and Saving Mr Banks. Or will they throw some thankyoufortheLOLs and songs honors to more straightforward comedies Anchorman 2, The Heat, Don Jon, This is the End, or At World's End and the two musicals Inside Llewyn Davis & Black Nativity. You never know how they'll swing in this category because they also might opt for charmers like Frances Ha (shut up I can dream), Enough Said, About Time or The Way Way Back.

Alternately they could always pull a Tourist like head-scratchers and go with something unacceptable (categorically) or critically planned like Oz the Great and Powerful, Red 2, The Family or The Lone Ranger!

What does your crystal ball tell you?