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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

 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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"Best known as pudgy British aristocrat Matthew Crawley on Downton Abbey' Pudgy? How very Dowager Countess of you.- par

""from Jimmy Stewart to Terminator" - HA! LOVE this! And boy I loved this movie, I hope all the Downton fans flock to the theaters to see it." - jose



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Utah Picks "Drive", Black Film Critics Love "Pariah", And More...

Well, look at that!

Critics group finally veered off the three well paved roads of Best Picture honors (The Artist, The Descendants and The Tree of Life were the only previous films named "Best Picture" by a US critics group. No, the NBR is not a critics group). Utah named Drive the Best Picture of 2011 and the Black Film Critics Circle went for The Help

Their love for the film which earned two additional prizes also broke up the clean sweep by The Tree of Life in cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki's god like talents are truly majestic (and have been jaw dropping for a long time prior to The Tree of Life) but it's nice to see another artistic photographic achievement honored, in this case Newton Thomas Sigel's evocative night time cityscapes and theatrically dreamy interiors. Sigel has done rich work before, particularly on X2: X-Men United and Three Kings, but nothing as fine as his work on Drive. He's never been honored by his own guild or Oscar so hopefully that'll happen for him this year since he's done his best work ever.

Consider this prize a wee detour as there are more honors to come for Lubezki, though, surely. Lubezki might actually win the Oscar this year... though I'm trying not to hope for it too emphatically as Oscar has a way of ignoring his genius.


Full list of Utah's prizes and two more critics groups after the jump...

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Jessica Chastain Geeks Out Around Celebs, Loves Madonna

I had a really fun chat with the suddenly ubiquitous Jessica Chastain recently. We had to reschedule twice as she galivanted 'round the Globe.

Jessica in Morocco earlier this month!

I'll post tomorrow but given that she's been racking up the precursor award nominations for The Help and winning critics prizes for the rest of her films, I had to ask her about her virginal prize this year, which she received in Venice... from MADONNA.

What a heady way to start your breakthrough year. Here's what she had to say about Madonna.

The first song I always think of is "Like a Virgin" [Laughs] I remember being a little girl and watching that music video. My aunt was obsessed with Madonna. I remember learning to dance and it being so inappropriate. I didn't even know what it meant "like a virgin" but I remember the dance moves and "touched for the very first time", all of that stuff!

There's something about Madonna. I look at her now and her whole career and all of the incarnations she's had and forms of self expression and it's so empowering, especially for a woman. I look at her and think if I could have a smidgeon, a small percentage of the power she has within herself, the strength and desire to tell a story through song, through film? That's what i aspire to.  

Meeting Madonna.

Meeting everyone.

Working with Brad Pitt...

How is she handling being thrown into this world of superstar celebrity?

I geek out on people all the time. I've embarrassed myself in front of Meryl Streep! I've embarrassed myself in front of Zach Galifanakis! I stutter a lot when I first meet people. When i first met Helen Mirren I think I only said 'Hi. Nice to meet you' and three hours later 'Goodbye.' I am not the most comfortable in the beginning!"

She tells me she has to push herself through the uncomfortable shyness. Push away, Jessica, push away. Given the year you've had and the career that's likely to follow, this will clearly need to change.

more Jessica | more Madonna | more interviews

P.S. If you've never seen clips of that award she received in Venice and Madonna's presentation you can do so after the jump.

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Interview: Sean Durkin on "Martha Marcy May Marlene"

Oscar ballots hit the post office one week from today but movies often live well beyond the confines of awards season if they're any good.

One film that I suspect will be vying for the great honor of Best Future Shelf Life, with or without Oscar nominations, is Sean Durkin's cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene. Durkin was recently named one of Forbes "30 Under 30" and a week ago the prestigious Los Angeles Film Critics Association named the creative team the recipients of this year's "New Generations" award. It's one of the best critical calls this season; who wouldn't be eager to see what this team comes up with next?

I spoke to Durkin recently about his debut feature which hits BluRay and DVD on February 21st, 2012. That happens to be one week before the Oscars but let's not get hung up on dates since Martha herself never knows what time it is.

There are no clocks or calendars in those places. People totally lose track of time..."

The FYC Original Screenplay shipped to votersSo Durkin tells me while discussing his research for the film and interviews he'd had with former cult members like the fictional Martha. "They don't remember anything about the first couple of weeks. But they get flashes and then they remember lying to everyone about where they've been. They're always paranoid." Piecing together the past when your identity has been systemically reprogrammed is difficult work. The decision to crosscut between the past and present, Martha never quite able to keep them separate, seemed like the only way to go. "It just made sense to me"

The challenging movie favors ambiguity in its storytelling. The writer/director laughs when asked which question he most hates getting during the ambiguous-averse tradition of Q&As. (He's been promoting the movie for nearly a year now, starting at Sundance, and I figure he's heard some doozies.)

That's an original question! Whatever people feel when they're watching it or if they walk out, it's all fine."

[Ambiguity, That Title and What's Next? after the jump]

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The Film Stage on Marc Webb's approach to the 'untold story' of The Amazing Spider-Man which has been told oh so many times before.
Vulture Star Market Charlize Theron
Coming Soon has a chat with shooting star Tom Hiddleston on War Horse and Midnight in Paris
The Playlist Stellan Skarsgard on getting naked for Lars von Trier for next year's The Nymphomaniac. Another von Trier alum Charlotte Gainsbourg will co-star in what Lars is calling his "porno"... not to be confused with the pornographic moments from The Idiots (incidentally one of the director's very best films though people rarely speak  of it now.) 

Moviefone 25 things you didn't know about Harold & Maude for its 40th anniversary.
The House Next Door picks the worst movie posters of the year.
In Contention interviews Kenneth Branagh on his "dangerously obvious casting" as Sir Laurence Olivier
Cinema Blend promised me a list of best "tiny" performances and then just gave me a list of good supporting performances, some of them in several scenes of their movies, one them third largest role in the movie! I need cameo suggestions, for my own awards, c'mon!!!
The Advocate has a fun list: Most Googled gays and lesbians of 2011. Congratulations to the lot of them.
MNPP The trailer for a trailer for a not prequel sequel Prometheus

Pajiba Dustin hates the Dexter finale on Season 6 (as did I) yet plans to come back for more. This is why TV shows outstay their welcome! Don't do it. Jump ship once the show jumps shark. If people exhibited half the patience they give television to the movies Bela Tarr and Sofia Coppola would have 100 million grossers under their belt ;) Why do people hate on "slow" movies but come back for TV shows week after week when it can sometimes takes 12 hours for something to happen which actually advances the plot? 
Paste 100 Best Twitter accounts of 2011... sadly the movie stars aren't bringing it. Real celebs on the list are mostly music and TV talents but Steve Martin and Diablo Cody richly deserve their places on the list. 
Animation Magazine a new Bill Plympton animated short based on Winsor McCay's "Flying House" is hitting the festival circuit. Maybe we'll hear of it in next year's Oscar discussion?  He's been nominated twice before.
The New York Times wonders what's going with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's late breaking Oscar campaign.  

If you'd like to read a piece that is fine though unrelated follow up to Michael's recent "Burning Questions" post about being nominated without precursor support, Erik at has been crunching other numbers with the same time frame using the Chicago Film Critics of all things as a major predictor. He also reminds us of those unlucky few leads from the past decade who did NOT go on to Oscar nominations despite having the entire big precursor trifecta BFCA/SAG/GLOBE and they were Cinderella Man's Russell Crowe, Sideways' Paul Giamatti, Lars and the Real Girl's Ryan Gosling and A Mighty Heart's Angelina Jolie. Locks can be broken in other words. Of this year's leading crowd that already has all three I'd say only Tilda Swinton and Leonardo DiCaprio seem vulnerable. That said, I'm not prepared to bet against Leo, biopic leads being crack cocaine to AMPAS. Tilda on the other hand I still wonder about given that it's not an Oscar style film by any stretch of the imagination.


So... Meryl is Really Campaigning This Time, Eh?

The Diva Wears Prada Sweaters and Jeans for her TV profileDid any of you catch Meryl on "60 Minutes" on Sunday? She got one quarter of those minutes. Someone else noted this on Twitter, not I, but it's wonderful to imagine her prep work for these interviews. 'Oh, 60 Minutes is here? I'll just run a comb through my hair.' 

My favorite bits from the 15 minutes

• On the realness of her work becoming the characters: "I'm not insane. I do know that I'm acting!"
• The moment where she "acts" her own voice to demonstrate that she and Thatcher both have "light" voices and you need to take them deeper for dramatic resonance or to be taken seriously. She was also the morning announcer at her high school so THAT VOICE was always drawing attention to itself.

• The actreses she loved when growing up, were not contemporaries but classic movie queens: Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck. 

I like girls with attitude, you know? Moxie. There's an old word."

She also talks about the strength of women repeatedly and is obviously proud of her track record at working with female directors (we have some names for your wishlist Streep!).

• Her flirty "not to me" when asked if the legendary Joe Papp was a taskmaster on stage.
• I didn't know this but during that first flush of stardom one summer post Deer Hunter, she was working on Kramer vs. Kramer and Woody Allen's Manhattan during the day and then playing "Taming of the Shrew" at night on stage! Crazy.

• That they compare Streep to Royalty. So this here then is one of America's royal families. The Gummers.

Mamie (28), Henry (32), Grace (25), Luisa (20) looking up at mom & dad: Meryl and Don


Click to read more ...


London Critics Love: A Separation, Drive, Tinker Tailor

The London Film Critics will not name their winners, as far as I can tell, until a ceremony on January 19th. I wonder if that's correct? Do they really have enough clout to get celebrities to show without winning in advance? (That's how most critics organizations get celebrities at their events. They come specifically to receive awards they've already won). But here are their nominees. It's good news for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Drive which led the nominations with six each including Best Film. A Separation also did really well as it continues to build momentum. It's just so sad that it didn't get an earlier and harder push. It should've been in the Best Picture discussion and lord knows it's about time we had an instant foreign language classic in the Best Picture discussion again. Remember when that was happening regularly for a few years about ten yeras back.

I don't want to keep you or myself -- I have things to type up -- but how about these actress categories? It's like one amazing woman after another.

Kirsten Dunst - Melancholia (interview... not on this film)
Anna Paquin - Margaret *
Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady 
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin 
Michelle Williams - My Week With Marilyn

* NYC readers should note that Margaret, which has been causing such a no screeners / no campaign year-end critical fuss is reopening at Cinema Village on December 23rd. That theater is microscopic so expect sell-outs. I can't say whether I'll end up on #TeamMargaret or not but I appreciate the chance to see it before I publish my lists.

Sareh Bayat - A Separation
Jessica Chastain - The Help 
Vanessa Redgrave - Coriolanus
Octavia Spencer - The Help 
Jacki Weaver - Animal Kingdom INTERVIEW

Olivia Colman - The Iron Lady & Tyrannosaur INTERVIEW
Carey Mulligan - Drive  &  Shame 
Vanessa Redgrave - Anonymous & Coriolanus
Tilda Swinton - We Need to Talk About Kevin
Rachel Weisz - The Deep Blue Sea

I've never quite understood British Award groups tendencies to have specifically British prizes. Can't we just assume they'll prefer the Brits and be as patriotic as other countries in their homegrown awards? The Oscars don't have a "Best American Actress" category. The London Critics regular "Best Actress" category is two American blondes who were once teen star co-stars, a Canadian/New Zealander, a Jersey Girl (that'd be Streep) and a Scottish alien goddess. 


Curio: Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Alexa here. This morning I'm already on my third holiday food-and-drink-induced hangover, and there's only more to come. (How else to gird oneself for facing all those wonderful people?) Here are a few handmade goodies in the spirit of the holiday party, film-themed of course. 

Remember to eat before you drink: these Ralphie cookies would do the trick.


Next, the cocktail. Here are some posters to inspire a choice by Harshness.


Now you're ready to smile as wide as Buddy the Elf! Joyful print by Erin B. 


FYC Film Bitch Awards

As we race toward year's end, it's time to start thinking about The Film Experience's annual celebratory jamboree, the long-running Film Bitch Awards! Here's where I'd like your help. Though I'm already arguing with myself over the top categories and my lists of a dozen contenders fighting for each top 5 list, I could use suggestions elsewhere. The "extra" fun categories still have a ton of leeway and I've definitely nominated things I might not have thought of without a little memory jog from readers in years past.

Any FYCs? Please pass them on in the comments for the following 8 categories:


  • Best Limited or Cameo Performance (i.e. 1 or 2 scenes only)
  • Best Line Delivery
  • Action Sequence
  • Musical Sequence
  • Best Kiss
  • Best Sex Scene
  • Credit Sequence/Title Design
  • Best Scenes in General... any type


YEAR IN REVIEW begins later this week and runs long... you know how we do!