Asghar Farhadi has another Oscar contender on his hands...

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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Oscar Horrors: The Sixth Sense

"I love this movie so much. And to those sad about M. Night's current career, Split with James McAvoy has gotten positive reviews!." -Connor

"Re: "Spoilers" - I can't be the only one who thinks that it's a spoiler to even be warned about a "spoiler" or a twist. It immediately puts you on guard, even if the ultimate spoiler hasn't been revealed." -The Jack

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Interview: Yves Belanger on Shooting Reese's Face as Landscape in "Wild"

I didn't come up with this analogy but it's a good one: Yves Belanger is like Ginger Rogers to Reese Witherspoon's Fred Astaire in Wild. He does it backwards. While in heels. While carrying tons of camera equipment! 

One of the most beautiful film experiences you can have this year is taking a cathartic hike with Wild. The adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's popular memoir has been praised extensively for its heartfelt actressing but less attention has been paid to the indelible contributions of the men recording and dramatizing the journey. In addition to a fantastic sound mix and accomplished editing, the cinematography by Yves Belanger contributes greatly to this film's evocative journey.

Wild is Belanger's second film with Jean Marc-Vallée and I talked to him about his director, his rapport with Reese and capturing the human face as landscape.

NATHANIEL R: I understand you've known Jean-Marc Vallée for a long time so why did it take so long to work togther? It must be going well since you've at work on your third consecutive feature together.

YVES BELANGER: I met Jean-Marc in 1991. He was starting as a young director in commercials. They matched us together but when he did his first feature, I don't know why, he took someone else. With C.R.A.Z.Y. it was like bad timing - we spoke about it but the money comes very fast and when he was ready to do it I couldn’t. Since Dallas Buyer's Club we are back together. 

Both of your films together have major movie stars. Do you feel you've gone 'full Hollywood' ?

Click to read more ...


Beauty vs Beast: Tilda vs Tilda

Jason's on vacation but while he's away I thought we'd have a funhouse mirror episode of his Beauty vs. Beast series to celebrate another great year for Tilda Swinton and.... uh... Tilda Swinton. What an inimitable career she's had. So this week we're pitting two of the most memorable women of 2014 against each other, an ancient beauty who literally owns The Grand Budapest Hotel and a beastly politician who acts like she owns the Snowpiercer and all of its passenger citizens.

You have one week to vote. Make your case in the comments and may the best Tilda win!




Reviewish: Into the Woods, Musical Numbers Ranked

This review originally appeared in Nathaniel's column at Towleroad

Once upon a time Stephen Sondheim wrote a musical classic Into the Woods. The first act brings together classic fairy tale characters into one comic misadventure and the second act debunks the “happily ever after” myth and transforms the whole play into a masterpiece about virtually all the Big Stuff: growing up, parenting, marriage, death, rebuilding after great loss.

Cinderella's family mocking our movie musical anxiety

When it comes to lines we can repurpose to talk about the prospects of a film version, Little Red said it best:

It made me feel excited. well, excited and scared.

Isn’t that how devotees of the movie musical feel each time a new one arrives? A bit of background to justify the high-anxiety. The live-action movie musical died alongside Bob Fosse's alter ego in All That Jazz (1979). The genre was six feet under for two full decades despite intermittent attempts at excavating its exquisite corpse (Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Newsies). The Disney animation renaissance of the 1990s renewed interest and the genre was successfully reborn at the turn of the century by the one-two-three-four punch of Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Moulin Rouge! and Chicago. That's a four consecutive high quality film run that this ancient-newborn genre has yet to match since. And why is that exactly? Some people blame the lack of strong directors who are skilled in the form, others the resistance to new blood (nearly all modern musicals are adaptations). Still more culprits are Hollywood’s frequent miscasting since musical skill is considered optional.

But The Witch (Meryl Streep) would like us to stop bitching and get on with this review...

Click to read more ...


Lead Actress Chat-a-long

Epix only uploads tiny pieces of this for viewing but someone has uploaded their whole Best Actress roundtable. The Supporting Actress version was up briefly before being pulled so watch it while you can. Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Emily Blunt, Shailene Woodley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Jessica Chastain.


They talk for about 10 minutes at the beginning about singing and musicals -- someone needs to cast Gugu in a traditional musical straightaway!  

UPDATE: Though the special presentations are not available in full for embedding, you can see all five of them here at the Epix site.



Interview: James Marsh on (True) Storytelling from "Man on Wire" to "The Theory of Everything"

It's rare for acclaimed documentarians to make a dramatically successful leap into narrative features but with The Theory of Everything, a marital drama about Stephen and Jane Hawking, the 51 year old British filmmaker James Marsh (of Man on Wire and Project Nim fame) is finally doing just that. Man on Wire was one of the most successful documentaries of the past decade but his new affecting biopic, which is actually Marsh's fourth narrative feature, is already his most successful film having racked up an impressive $26 million and counting worldwide to date.

It's also been collecting plentiful Oscar buzz.  The Film Experience had a chance to chart with this articulate thoughtful Oscar winner so we jumped right in. Here's our conversation:

Nathaniel R: Given your filmography, both documentaries and features, The Theory of Everything is...

JAMES MARSH: Go ahead. You can say it.

Nathaniel R: Ha. Well, it's a much different direction for you. It's romantic drama and it's also old school biography. What prompted your interest?

JAMES MARSH: You’re right in terms of its scale for sure and perhaps its emotional spectrum. But it’s a true story and that’s my background in films I’ve done. It’s a story of a marriage as much as a biopic. That felt like an interesting challenge: to try and examine a relationship that evolves and changes over time given all the impediments and unusual and very difficult circumstances. It felt also that I could go somewhere that a documentary could not go in terms of the intimacy of the relationship. 

You're right that it's different but it does have curious connections with Man on Wire. [More...]

Click to read more ...


2015: Blanchett's Year?

Manuel here bringing you some news on reigning Best Actress, Cate Blanchett.

2015 is shaping up to be quite the busy year for Ms Blanchett. She's currently on screens in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; she seems to have made the cut on Terence Malick's Knight of Cups; her costumes for the upcoming live action Disney film Cinderella have us breathlessly waiting to see what she'll be wearing to the ball; and then, of course, there's Todd Haynes' Carol (the most anticipated film here at TFE for 2014 which is all but confirmed to premiere in the spring; may it crop up at Berlin?)

It seems Cate is adding another project to her 2015 resume, one that places her a tad outside the big screen. She's currently collaborating and shooting with artist Julian Rosefeldt on the latter's newest video installation called Manifesto:

Manifesto combines artist manifestos of different types and times with contemporary mundane situations, all performed by CATE BLANCHETT. The project is an attempt to show that these manifestos have contributed not only to art history but also to the way we think and to what we are today.

Above you can see one of the twelve looks Blanchett will don in the installation, currently being filmed in Berlin. Always up for an artistic challenge, Blanchett's entire dialogue will be made up of the manifestos in question (the Futurists, Marxist, Dadaist, etc.); needless to say, it sounds fascinating, so if you're in Sydney, be sure to catch it when it premieres next year and tell us all about it.

I keep trying to figure out which manifesto this funeral scene could be representing; any one care to help me with that? With 2015 primed to be another banner year for Cate, which of her projects are you most excited for? And yes, you may include her sure-to-be-radiant appearance at the Oscars to announce Best Actor.


55 Days Until Oscar ~ Ballots Go Out Today

Alas I have no Oscar Trivia involving the number 55 to parcel out on this occassion but it's an important day to mark nonetheless. Oscar ballots fly out to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences today (Monday, December 29th) so consider this coming week the buzz freeze. Whatever's happening now is the last minute push.

Many voters have already made up their minds of course but it's up to the campaigns to keep the names and titles of those in the hunt ever present so they don't slip the mind when it comes time to fill out those ballots. This weekend's box office holiday festivities brought coveted attention to Into the Woods and Unbroken (both probably on the Best Picture bubble) and to a lesser degree to Selma (which feels like a sure thing despite its late start) and American Sniper. But other earlier releases have already made their cases. Only A Most Violent Year (with a hugely entertaining performance by Jessica Chastain) and the foreign film hopeful Leviathan have yet to open and are risking New Year's Eve releases.

Though there's a place for advocacy in film-blogging we do enough of it here that we shouldn't press our luck by doing it again today. We only ask that any AMPAS member who has stumbled upon this message watch three more screeners before returning their ballots. Carve out six more hours, you can do it. Especially if you're not quite satisfied with your ballot.  

And try this nifty trick: Glance over your choices for your branch category and for Best Picture. Are any of the names or titles you've scribbed down simply from power of suggestion - because you've heard it over and over again? If you're looking at the name and you don't feel any passion, chuck it. Vote your heart. Or if you're stumped check out the Oscar charts and consider a longer shot that you totally loved. The only way those triumphs ever get nominated is if the passion vote turns out. It's just like a real election in that way.

No, Keira. You don't get points for finishing your ballot first. Take your time.

I love what James Marsh, the director of The Theory of Everything told me about his ballot (read the interview)

I take it quite seriously. I do indeed evaluate. You can separate technical virtuosity in a film that doesn’t necessarily cohere for you as a movie. 

It’s both a pleasure and a duty that should be done carefully and properly. It’s an honor to be an Academy member. And should be one where you meet your responsibilities and not in a cavalier way.

Happy balloting! 

P.S. If you're not lucky enough to have a ballot, let's play the game that the gurus of gold just played (they stumped for Nightcrawler en masse) and suggest three final screeners that each voter should watch before returning their ballot. Go!