Oscar History

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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Nick went to the Oscars!

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Breaking Down Oscar's Production Design Nominees

Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock with their Grand Budapest Hotel OscarsDavid here with a closer look at this year’s Oscar nominees for Production Design. Not too close, mind: this is all about the big picture. The PD is responsible for the entire art department, and as such, the entire visual look and feel of a film. If it’s difficult to separate that idea from what cinematographers and costume designers do, well, that’s the difficulty in awarding all these disciplines as if they act independently of one another. Such is the nature of the awards season beast.

The origin of the title is an amusing, unsurprising fable: William Cameron Menzies, coined it to describe his own function on the set of Gone with the Wind (a mammoth task, to be sure) after David O. Selznick instructed everyone that "Menzies is the final word” on the set on every technical aspect of the visual production. Menzies, incidentally, was the first Oscar winner of the award, under the label ‘Best Interior Decoration’ - the award changed to 'Best Art Direction – Set Decoration’ in 1947, and didn’t become ‘Best Production Design’ until 2012.

As we saw earlier in the week when the Art Directors Guild gave out their awards, the Oscar race seems to be a two-horse race. [More...]

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Almodóvar's 'Julieta' Gets a Trailer

Manuel here. A new Pedro Almodóvar film is always cause for celebration. Yes, even when his last one (I'm So Excited) left many of us cold. Initially titled Silencio, the film is now called Julieta, making it only the second time he's named a film after its heroine. Let's hope Julieta makes for a more pleasant and engaging character than Kika, though.

The trailer is wonderfully oblique, with very little dialogue, so those of you who would otherwise need English subtitles can still bask in the visual sumptuousness of Jean-Claude Larrieu's photography. The D.P. is one of many newcomers to the Almodóvar family: both of his leading ladies, Emma Suárez and Adriana Ugarte (sharing the title role) are making their Almodrama debuts. But don't worry, actress Rossy de Palma and composer Alberto Iglesias are also onboard, giving Julieta the feel of vintage Pedro. Indeed, the visuals and what little we know of the plot — a chronicle of a woman's life from 1985 to 2015, with some unspoken secrets ready to be divulged — suggest a Volver-type melodrama which is as great a reference point as we could hope for.

We won't do a full on Yes/No/Maybe So because we're obviously a full on YES, but you can check out the trailer below and let us know how excited you are about Pedro's 20th feature which premieres in April in Spain, and August (!!) in the UK, suggesting we're not bound to get it Stateside until the Fall.


43rd Annie Award winners

Over the weekend, ASIFA-Hollywood held the 43rd annual Annie Awards, honoring the year in animation. Their complete list of winners is here, but some of the highlights that you should be aware of:

• Pixar's Inside Out, an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature and widely assumed to be the frontunner in that category, had a terrific night, winning 10 awards for everything from its production design to Phyllis Smith's vocal performance as the mopey character Sadness, to Best Animated Feature.

It was a virtually clean sweep of the animated feature categories, interrupted only by...

• Pixar's other film, The Good Dinosaur, which managed to overcome the stigma of being Pixar's first-ever box office bomb to nab the award for Outstanding Animated Effects in an Animated Production.

• Fellow Oscar nominee Boy and the World, the little masterpiece from Brazil that I've raved about before, won the inaugural award for Best Animated Feature-Independent. Hey, whatever it takes to make sure a masterpiece like that gets to walk away with a trophy.

• Continuing its award-winning weekend, The Revenant won an award for Outstanding Character Animation in a Live Action Production for everybody's favorite, Judy the Bear. The Revenant is also nominated for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars, and if it wins, it's going to be mostly on the basis of the same character.


'Best Shot' Returns in One Month

Break out the bubbly because "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", a ton of fun all spring and summer, returns in early March for its sixth and final season. Films TBA but maybe you have suggestions...


If you're new to the blog or haven't yet experimented with actually participating, I guarantee a good time. 


  1. Watch the assigned movie over the weekend
  2. Post your single favorite shot from that movie any time on Tuesday (i.e. what you deem "best" for whatever reason) on your blog/tumblr/youtube/instagram/twitter/pinterest whatever and tell us why you chose it!
  3. Let us know you've done so and we link up

Just a three step process. Easy-peasy  ANY SUGGESTIONS? The list of movies we've already covered after the jump...

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Box Office: Caesar wasn't quite hailed

A somewhat quiet week for moviegoing as all eyes turn towards the Superbowl. Well, not all eyes. I don't know who's playing other than Beyoncé. Kung Fu Panda had no trouble fending off newcomers. Star Wars recently crossed the $2 billion mark worldwide (though it's still behind Titanic and Avatar globally) but the new movies didn't make enough of an impression for ticket buyers. Unfortunately Hail, Caesar! opened significantly below the gross of the last widescreen comedy from the Coen brothers Burn After Reading.

01 Kung Fu Panda 2 $21 (cum. $69)
02 Hail, Caesar! $11.4 new Coen Brothers - 17 Films, Interview: Score
03 The Revenant $7.1 (cum. $149.7) Interview: CostumesInterview: Production Design 
04 Star Wars: The Force Awakens $6.9 (cum. $905.9) ReviewPodcast
05 The Choice $6 new
06 Pride & Prejudice & Zombies $5.2 new Review
07 The Finest Hours  $4.7 (cum. $18.3)
08 Ride Along 2  $4.5 (cum. $77.2) 
09 The Boy $4 (cum $26.8)
10 Dirty Grandpa  $4 (cum $29.3)

What did you see this weekend? 
I rewatched Silence of the Lambs (for our 25th anniversary celebration which starts tomorrow!) and also hit Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. Some friends asked me to wait for them for Hail, Caesar! and I agreed. This is always a bad decision because they are never in the hurry that I am to devour new movies


The Italian Poster for Carol

Too beautiful to go unshared. (Why does the US always get the dullest posters?)


The DGA to Iñárritu... Again

Wide open race, people. Following The Big Short's win at PGA, Spotlight's ensemble prize at SAG, comes the Director's Guild Award for... The Revenant.

Getty Images

Bonafide three-way race for Best Picture which is not common. Whoever wins we'll know that it was close -- unless a sweep reveals otherwise. Hell, Oscar's Best Director competition is also fierce though the advantage goes to Iñárritu at this point.

Incidentally, this prize for Alejandro González Iñárritu is his second consecutive from his guild. Though several directors have won twice, a consecutive win has never happened before at the DGA. It has happened at the Oscars, though, and twice at that: John Ford won two in a row for The Grapes of Wrath (1940) and How Green Was My Valley (1941). And not quite a decade later Joseph L Mankiewicz pulled off the same trick with A Letter To Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950). Here's their interesting commonality. In both cases those consecutive wins did not come with consecutive Best Pictures. No director has ever helmed two consecutive Best Picture winners. If The Revenant comes out on top on Oscar night, Iñárritu will be the first to accomplish it in the Academy's 88 years. 

Do you think history will be made? (Final Picture/Director predictions are going to be tough this year.)

The complete list of DGA winners and some photos from the event are after the jump...

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Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad...

Lily James, from Cinderella to Zombie Slayer

“Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen’s classic novel about the Bennet sisters and their suitors, has one of the most famous opening lines in all of literature.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an adaptation Jane never could have seen coming despite her gifts, twists the opening line so that we’re no longer talking courtship but hunger; zombies in want of brains. So let’s twist the line again. ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that pop culture, possessed by the love of fanfic, must be in want of works in the Public Domain!’


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