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

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Michelle Pfeiffer and Grease 2

"I can't pass a ladder without seriously considering whether I should climb it and start belting Cool Rider" -Joey

"No matter what anyone says (even Nathaniel!), Grease 2 is awesome and Pfeiffer is wonderful in it."-Charlie

 

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Melissa Leo (The Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (The Sense of an Ending)
Asghar Farhadi (Salesman)

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Thursday
Jul022015

Halfway: Best Leading Performances of 2015 Thus Far

½way mark - part 2 of ? You can't see everything but you should see as much as possible if you're in the awardage business, or business of watching awardage, or business of watching awardage watchers and... well you get the picture. SEE MORE MOVIES. I know I need to and I see plenty.

Let's take stock of what's come out in theaters thus far (Jan 1st - Jul 1st for our purposes here). Even if conversations suggest otherwise in November through January each year we always pray that Academy members are regular moviegoers and don't just wait until their screeners arrive.

10 best lead performances from the year's first half...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul012015

Halfway: Oscar Chart Updates ~ Acting, Animation, Screenplay

½way mark - part 1 of ?
With the year half over (if not really the film year which is so backloaded) and the trailer to Grandma out -- good news, it doesn't remotely spoil the best jokes or character beats -- we are reminded that it's time to update the Oscar Prediction Charts. Consider this the start of a weeklong "½way mark year in review" 

BEST ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTRESS
More and more Carey Mulligan in Suffragette seems the one to watch. It was interesting to read at Deadline how well Far From the Madding Crowd has been performing in international markets, too. That's good news for her momentum for the future relaese. Build your case as a worthy star and not just for one movie since Oscars are almost never decided on performance alone; Career timing and momentum is nearly always at least as important. That's the chief reason I'm still waffling on whether or not Lily Tomlin traction can happen. If she gets an Emmy nod this month, we'll know that "Let's Celebrate Lily's career!" is in the air. She's so good in Grandma so if that's the industry mood, a nomination could well happen.

Meanwhile Carol's Cannes success affects both Actress charts and also dings my faith in Freeheld which will be competing directly with it, however unfair that is and however different the films are, given that they're both lesbian romances with co-leads in which big stars headline and the younger will probably pursue category fraud.

UPDATE 07/02 Serious shake-ups in both of these charts - Supporting Actress chart fix (lost tier)

BEST ACTOR & BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
After Cannes, Paolo Sorrentino's Youth is seemingly like a real possibility in multiple categories. Even its detractors are inadvertently making a case for it. The reasons they hate it seem like "Oscar-will-love-this!" potshots. Plus: there are far worse filmmakers to crib from then Federico Fellini if your aim is Oscar gold. So, this is a long way of saying that I've boosted Michael Caine into the top five. I am weirdly resistant to his particular star charisma (yes, even from his heyday) and take issue with the past Oscar wins but I realize that this isn't true of the vast majority of movie lovers and if the film gets a big Oscar push, he'll be an easy sell.

In the supporting category mea culpa. Readers suggested that I was crazy to leave out stage giant Mark Rylance (an actor I love who rarely makes movies)  for Bridge of Spies. Once the trailer hit, I started losing faith in the movie and gaining faith in him. Funny that. In my defense, these things are anyone's blind pin the tail on the donkey gamesmanship before any footage has been seen (and even to a lesser degree after since so many other factors come into play). But why does the movie look so bland? It's Spielberg/Hanks/Kaminsky and they have 7 Oscars between them. Where were the memorable shots or instant-resonating storytelling beats? And yes you can squeeze those into a trailer.

ANIMATED FEATURESCREENPLAY CATEGORIES
The big news in both of these categories is the stellar debut of Inside Out. While total Best Picture nominee confidence may be a a case of wishful thinking situation with fans (it's possible but the Academy goes through phases and they might have moved since the animated feature category is so firmly established now and Pixar might be deemed well-enough rewarded over the past decade plus). That said, at this halfway mark it seems insane to imagine it losing the Animated Feature Oscar it's already so successful and acclaimed. Which means we could well see it in its screenplay category too where animated films can sometimes compete if they're beloved and clever enough (see: The Incredibles, Toy Story, Up) and this one is on both counts.

I've also added in The Program, Stephen Frears helmed story of Lance Armstrong's scandal now that it has a title and a trailer. We never shared the trailer (oops) but it looks pretty intense and the cast, especially Ben Foster, looks strong.

PREDICTION INDEX
Picture, Director, Sound, Visuals, Foreign are not yet updated but they will be within next couple of days

Wednesday
Jul012015

YNMS: "Steve Jobs" & "Creed"

Films celebrating their over achieving male protagonist are par for the course come fall movie season each year as Oscar competition heats up. But Steve Jobs and Adonis Creed both got trailers in the same 24 hours or so and I couldn't resist conjoining them since they both also star actors named "Michael". They make both an odd couple and perfect pair: Mind and Body. Michael Fassbender plays real life computer genius Steve Jobs for Oscar winner Danny Boyle; And Michael B Jordan, reuniting with his Fruitvale director Ryan Coogler, plays fictional Adonis Creed, the son of dead boxer Adonis, in an attempt to reboot the stalled Rocky series.

Yes No Maybe So on both trailers after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul012015

HBO’s LGBT History: 1998, The Year in TV

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions...

 Last week we revisited one of Angelina Jolie’s best performances in Gia, the first HBO film to center on a female LGBT protagonist. Today we're focusing solely on TV in a pivotal year for HBO: 1998, a year before a certain mob guy would redefine a network and the TV landscape in general.

1998. What a year! The months apart premieres of Sex and the City and Will & Grace could easily cement it as one of the gayest years in recent memory, but that would tell only part of the story. The year after Ellen’s “The Puppy Episode,” gays were, seemingly, “going mainstream.” Yes, the troubled production and distribution of 54 showed there was still hesitancy over telling openly queer stories in Hollywood (especially those that stepped outside known gay narratives), but films like The Object of my Affection, High Art, Gods and Monsters, Wild Things, Velvet Goldmine (Gia even!) would continue to pave the way for Hollywood’s embrace of an exploration of gay suburban desperation in Sam Mendes and Allan Ball’s American Beauty the following year.

And on TV? Well, HBO offers us a great cross-section of how networks were diversifying its stories to include more (if not broader) LGBT representation.

Oz, Sex & The City and more after the jump...

Tracey Takes On… “...Marriage.” (January 4 1998)

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul012015

HMWYBS: Join The Wednesday Night Party!

Reminder that there's no "Best Shot" tonight due to the holiday week - but you should watch July 8th's topic soon -- Crouching Tiger leaves Netflix Instant on July 4th! 

CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON (2000)
Wed July 8th 

This wuxia blockbuster leaves Netflix Instant on July 4th so choose your shot before then if you don't own it! I've been eager to leap gracefully back into this one for ages and the possibly ill conceived sequel arrives in August so join me.

SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
Wed July 15th 

Mr DeMille would like to know if you're ready for your closeup? But here's the catch --  you can't use it! It's a special episode: "Hit Me With Your (Second) Best Shot" since one of the all time most perfect (final) shots in a movie cannot be your choice -- because wouldn't it be everyone's?! The whole movie is awesome and memorable so this has the makings of a great episode. For younger readers: if you haven't seen it (gulp) fix this huge gap in your budding movie love.

[safe] (1995)
Wed July 22nd
Since 1995 is our 'year of the month,' we're revisiting Todd Haynes much puzzled over drama. The movie, initially barely noticed, has been growing steadily in critical estimation for two decades now. See the origins of the cult of Julianne Moore fanaticism in the disturbingly placid surfaces of this mysterious classic. 

3 final episodes in August TBA

How to play:

1) watch the movie

2) pick your "best shot"

3) post it wherever your online presence may be with an explanation as to why you chose it 4) let us know and we link you up in the visual index roundup on Wednesday night each week!

Tuesday
Jun302015

Yes No Maybe So: Secret In Their Eyes

It might be time to revisit the last Argentinian winner of the Oscae which triumphed over an absurdly strong Foreign Language Film shortlist in 2009. For those still smarting from the losses of Un Prophete and The White Ribbon, bad news: The Argentinian film could be coming back for more Oscars.

Not really.

Sort of.

It's been remade for English language marketplaces as Secret In Their Eyes. And though extremely mainstream genres like murder thrillers generally don't pique Oscar's interest (unless there's the patina of class via subtitles or world class filmmakers behind the camera) you never know. Though we generally disdain remakes of foreign films -- we can read so who needs 'em? -- they've cast three very watchable actors as the central trio: Chiwetel Ejiofor in the Ricardo Darin role, and Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman as the women in his life / workplace. 

Let's break down the trailer after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun302015

Guardians Up, Captain Down at the Saturn Awards

The Saturn Awards, which began in the 1970s, get increasingly more confusing each decade. When they first began they were very sci-fi/fantasy niche and now they regularly seem to honor films that don't have anything at all to do with once geeky now mainstream genres like that. Consider that they have nine best picture type categories and they're expansive enough in their definitions that at least half of Oscar's Best Picture nominees were nominated for something and Whiplash and The Theory of Everything even get to be Best Film winners -- neither of which seem at all "genre" though I suppose The Theory of Everything is kinda cosmic in that it has a genre icon in Stephen Hawkings as its subject.

The big winners at the annual event were Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy. The big loser was Captain America: Winter Soldier which had the most nominations of all (11) and managed to lose them each one. Complete list of winners after the jump...

Click to read more ...