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Oscar History

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

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Best Actress -- Who will be nominated?
Davis? Blunt? Adams? Chastain?

"I'm glad everyone is cheering Fences on, but I feel that people are overestimating its Oscar potential. The furor reminds me of when people were going ga-ga for August: Osage County. " - Jes

"Davis  in Fences. I saw it on Broadway ... it is a true blue supporting role." - Charlie G

"I really hope it's Amy Adams year, only because some of her stans are so insufferable and will never shut up if she loses again. " - Laura


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Alan Cumming & James Franco @ Broadway Bares

I'm getting a late start this morning after the midnight show of Broadway Bares. For those who aren't aware it's a one night only charity event each year in Manhattan where Broadway dancers striptease en masse in huge often silly choreographed themed spectacle numbers. This year's theme was "Rock Hard" so there was rock heavy versions of pop songs as well as classic rock numbers. Throughout the night there are little interlude skits with celebrity guest stars. In this case they were all trying to get past a doorwoman when their names weren't on the list. Alan Cumming, adorable with his hair in zulu knots, sailed right in with two boytoys in his hands whose names he kept getting comically mixed up. So he had to take matters (literally) into his hand to figure out who was who. But Broadway's Rocky (Andy Karl) didn't have it as easy.

-But you let Alan Cumming in!"
-Win a Tony and we'll talk"

The final interlude skit was James Franco. He bragged to the doorwoman 'But I take shirtless selfies. I have 2 million followers.' Enter Bianca Del Rio (to thunderous non-stop applause) who proceeded to insult him. The mini-skit ended with Bianca rubber-gloving her hand...

You can guess what happened next [NSFW]

Click to read more ...


ICYMI & The Giver

For those of you who experienced massive internet failures and couldn't be here every day as per best practice, make sure not to miss these six highlights from the past week or so...

Yes No Maybe So: Birdman that traiser was rather astonishing, don't you think?
Is Studio Animation In Trouble? Tim is worried and with good reason
Top Stuntman Interview Bobby Holland Hanton has been Batman, Bond, Captain America, Thor, and Green Lantern. What have you been up to?
2004 Party The podcast looks back on one of the best cinematic years
Katharine Hepburn vs. the McCarthy Era Anne Marie is almost halfway through her ambitious "A Year With Kate" series!
Big Eyes sneak Test screenings have begun


And, finally, La Streep somehow took over the week unexpectedly. There was Into the Woods news, the new HBO Maria Callas project, her Birthday and a supporting role on our latest podcast. Now I'm exhausted - I can't keep up with her. It's hard being a blogger.

It occurs to me that I never shared the new poster for The Giver so I'm doing so right now (to your left). When we discussed the first trailer we all complained that it wasn't in black and white with the book's important Pleasantville like switch to color. But now new trailers show that it will, in fact, be partially in black and white as it should be. Why were they faking us out / disappointing us originally ? Is your interest restored?


Meet This Month's "Smackdown" Panelists

The Supporting Actress Smackdown of '64 is just 8 days away. So it's time to get your votes in on the nominees that year. Readers, collectively, are the sixth panelists, so grade the nominees (only the ones you've seen) from 1 to 5 hearts. Your votes count toward the smackdown win! 

Lila Kedrova Zorba the Greek
Gladys Cooper for My Fair Lady
Dame Edith Evans The Chalk Garden
Agnes Moorhead Hush... Hush Sweet Charlotte 
Grayson Hall  Night of the Iguana 


But before we here at TFE get to that particular metaphorical musical-horror mishmash of films with one of the most senior lineups the Academy ever offered up in this category, let's meet our panelists for this 50th anniversary retrospective competition.

The Panel

Special Guest

Melanie Lynskey is an actor from New Zealand. She made her film debut in Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures (1994) and is currently starring in Joe Swanberg's Happy Christmas available On Demand this Thursday. She lives in Los Angeles with her little brown dog, Mouse. [Follow her on Twitter | IMDb]

What made a stellar actress like you want to participate in a Smackdown?

I'm a huge fan of TFE and I harbour a secret dream to be a film critic. The smackdowns are always so fun and I always have a ton of opinions about them (for instance: 100% believe Renee deserved her "Cold Mountain" Oscar) so it's exciting for me to get to participate. Choosing an earlier year means I can be really honest without having to worry about hurting the feelings of anyone I may potentially work with (though I did once work with Michael Cacoyannis [Director of "Zorba the Greek"] and loved him dearly).

When I think of 1964 I think of...

... Dr King; civil rights; the beginning of The Rolling Stones and Marianne Faithfull; Sidney Poitier winning an Oscar; Beatlemania; The Supremes; Betty Friedan and second-wave feminism; Sam Cooke's death...


Returning Panelists


Nick is the author of the on-again, off-again, actress-obsessed website NicksFlickPicks, which he hopes is now on again. He is also a professor of film, English, and gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University. [Follow him on Twitter]

When I think about 1964 I think about:

...the Civil Rights Act being passed into law, the Gulf of Tonkin crisis, and the Nobel Peace Prize going to Martin Luther King, Jr.  I also think of the remarkable vitality of American theater that year, both aesthetically and politically, with Amiri Baraka's "Dutchman" and personal favorite Adrienne Kennedy's "Funnyhouse of a Negro" getting their first productions.  Based on the five movies that spawned Best Supporting Actress nominations, you'd never know the country and the world were in such extreme ideological foment, or that popular cinema had anything to say about it.  At least "Dr. Strangelove" (in Picture), "The Best Man", and "Seven Days in May" (both up for Supporting Actor) risked some edge and some sense of jangled societal nerves.


BRIAN HERRERA (aka StinkyLulu)

Brian convened the first Supporting Actress Smackdown and hostessed more than thirty. He is a writer, teacher and scholar presently based in New Jersey, but forever rooted in New Mexico. [Follow him on Twitter]  

When I think about 1964 I think about:

For me (and maybe only me), 1964 is a major watershed year in Oscar's history. See, more actors we might today recognize as Latina/o were nominated for and won Oscars between 1947 and 1964 than any comparable period before or since. And Anthony Quinn's 1964 nomination for "Zorba" would be the last nomination for a US Latina/o or Latin American actor more than two decades. (At least until 1987, when Edward James Olmos would become the next US Latino nominated and Norma Aleandro would become the first Latin American actor ever to get a nod.) It's a quirky bit of Oscar trivia that some crackpot might even write a book about. (Which, in a way, is exactly what this crackpot did. Look for it next summer. If they're still making books.) So I approach 1964 with an alternately giddy and morbid fascination. ¡Vámanos!


Grayson Hall in the streets but Ava Gardner in the sheets. Joe Reid edits the entertainment coverage (and writes just as often as he can) at The Wire. [Follow him on Twitter]

When I think of 1964 I think of...'s tough to know what to think of. 1964 really does seem like, if not the last gasp of a certain style then certainly the fallow period awaiting what I'm told by my film blogger elders was quite the revolution. But look at the kinds of movies on display. Even if we only limit ourselves to the films that are still remembered in some way today, you've got the madcap Beatles farce (A Hard Day's Night) and the old-school Bond (Goldfinger) and the spaghetti western (A Fistful of Dollars) and the prestige musical (My Fair Lady) and the Godzilla movie (Mothra vs. Godzilla) and Frankie and Annette (Bikini Beach) and Elvis (Viva Las Vegas) and Disney (Mary Poppins). These aren't bad movies by a long shot, but when woven together, they're the old guard of movies that the cinema revolutions of the subsequent decade and a half would be upending. If you're looking for the early shots across the bow, you can find Dr. Strangelove or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, either waiting for their time to come or waiting for cult status to settle in. The old days were still just the days back in 1964, but not for very much longer.


And your host

Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. Though he holds a BFA in illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. [Follow him on Twitter]

When I think of 1964 I think of...

a certain woman, 'practically perfect in every way' descending from the clouds to nanny us all... and her titanic onscreen/offscreen Oscar/Showbiz battle with a girl from the gutter who was trying to perfect her vowels. And how their unprecedented success quickly and unbelievably eclipsed by that singing nun in the Alps the following year ended up dooming the film musical (I'm reading "Roadshow" right now so I'm suddenly obsessed with this exact time frame in a way I haven't been since Mad Men Season 4). After those Fair Ladies, it's Cherbourg, Dr Strangelove, and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand ♫"

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Podcast: 22 Jump... Streep

The gangs all back to talk new releases. We ride along with Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson as they drive through post-apocalyptic Australian in The Rover, laugh with the abortion romcom Obvious Child, and share thoughts on two huge sequels to movies that all four of us loved a couple of years ago  (How To Train Your Dragon 2 and 22 Jump Street). Is the love still strong?

Naturally we also talk Meryl Streep since we recorded on her birthday. Expect the usual tangents... somehow Kerry Washington and Maleficent show up (among other weird intrusions).

53 minutes
00:01 Intro & Meryl Streep's Birthday
02:20 David Michôd's The Rover
09:00 How To Train Your Dragon 2
18:15 Channing Tatum & Jonah Hill and "The Ice Cube" in 22 Jump Street
31:30 Obvious Child
41:35 Katey's 2004 List (shout-out to last week)
45:55 Our Favorite Meryl's

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes (though sometimes it takes a day to show up there). Continue the conversation in the comments because, you know, we're allowed to have different opinions and the more the merrier.


Streep Day Plus New Releases


Box Office: The Jersey Boys Fail to Entertain Audiences

Amir here with the weekend’s box office report. Every other article today is using the ‘boys versus men’ pun but not us. We will just stick to reporting. The Jersey Boys fell far behind Think Like a Man Too at the box office, barely edging out Maleficent for the fourth spot. Nathaniel described the Clint Eastwood musical as a film “low on entertainment value and low on colour” and audiences seem to agree with him. Since Eastwood kissed Western goodbye with Unforgiven, he’s tackled a lot of genres and themes to varying degrees of success, but a Jersey Boys musical surely felt like an adventure too far before it was even made.  

"Man" opened big. The "Boys" did not.

02 22 JUMP STREET $29 (cum. $111.4)
03 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 $25.3 (cum. 95.1)
04 JERSEY BOYS $13.5 NEW Review
05 MALEFICENT $13 (cum. $185.9) Podcast

Edge is surprisingly good. But due to its huge budget it's a bomb.06 EDGE OF TOMORROW $10.3 (cum. $74.5) Capsule
07 FAULT IN OUR... $8.6 (cum. $98.7) Review
08 X-MEN: DOFP $6.2 (cum. $216.7) Review
09 CHEF $1.8 (cum. $16.9) 
10 GODZILLA $1.8 (cum. $194.9) Review & Podcast
11 A MILLION WAYS... $1.6 (cum. $40.3) Guest Review
12 NEIGHBORS $1.3 (cum. $145.7)  Review & Podcast

Below Think Like a Man Too, Kevin Hart’s second great success this year after Ride Along, 22 Jump Street beat How To Train Your Dragon 2, something I emphatically predicted would not happen. Still, I maintain that in the long run, Dragon is going to come out on top. On the limited end of things, the biggest name opening is Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur, a kinky, mildly entertaining trifle that is one of the director’s more forgettable efforts – I reviewed it here.

I continue to be nailed down to my sofa and completely enchanted by the World Cup, a far more interesting option than the new Eastwood (especially since I have little affection for his post-Unforgiven career). But I'll get around to Dragon, Jump Street and Obvious Child during the week. What did you watch this weekend?


65 Appropriate Ways to Celebrate Meryl Streep's Birthday

In honor of Meryl's 65th birthday today... channel her essence and celebrate her joie de vivre. You know you want to. 

65 Smile. Like you're mischievously pleased with yourself.
64 Master the tricky combo of being warm and relatable but also superior to the mere mortals around you
63 Be a total boss at your profession
62 ... and win a prize for it.
61 (Run around like a joyful maniac when you do)

60 ... or make a plan to do so. 
59 Pick up a strange accent today
58 ...abruptly change it at lunch
57 ....and then again at dinner 
56 Sleep with someone who is good with their hands, like, I don't know a sculptor or something. I'm just spitballing here...

55 more ways to celebrate after the jump

Click to read more ...


Review: "Jersey Boys"

This review was originally published in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad


‘I’m looking for sky blue and you’re giving me brown,' a fey producer sighs when the Four Seasons are in the recording booth. They’re just going through the motions rather than livening up their material. He could just have easily been dissing Jersey Boys itself, Clint Eastwood’s needlessly dull adaptation of the Broadway smash. In truth the band’s performance in this scene isn’t appreciably worse than their performances elsewhere in the movie. If you can’t readily spot differences in inspiration and creative fire from one performance to the next, maybe there’s none to be found?

“Brown” isn’t quite the color of it, though. Clint Eastwood’s aesthetic favors underlit rooms, heavy blacks and washed out color. You’d think that aesthetic would change for a splashy musical but you’d be wrong. I mean, why shouldn’t a musical about a famous band with a gift for hooky pop gems look as depressing / dead-end as a drama about desperate boxers or a war film about an island massacre?

Click to read more ...