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Tuesday
Feb142012

12 Days Till Oscar. What Happened to the Juvenile Oscars?

Remember when... Okay, scratch the "remember when?" question this time. Unless there are some really really ancient AMPAS members reading. The Oscars weren't televised yet so nobody could remember this one unless they were there.

What was Judy Garland so happy about at the 1939 Oscars? (circa February 1940)


I mean besides sitting with 'The First Lady of MGM' Norma Shearer which would obviously make anyone euphoric.

Flashback Discussion if you click to read more

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Tuesday
Feb142012

Burning Questions: Undelivered Speeches?

Michael C. here. I would never back the idea of awarding an Oscar based on anything other than quality of the work. No award for being a beloved old-timer overdue for a win, or because your film sends an admirable message, and definitely no trophy to make up for a past lost that everyone agrees was a blunder. I think most people agree with me that once you start down the road the whole enterprise of presenting awards for artistic achievement – which is shaky enough to begin with – falls apart.

Having said that, there is one criterion beyond merit which I will guiltily admit often plays a big part in who it is I root for on the big night: the possible entertainment value of the winners.  And hey, voters so often make their choices based on questionable reasoning, why shouldn’t the promise of a lively and memorable show enter into it? 

OK, maybe I don’t really mean it. I wouldn't begrudge The Coen brothers any of their Oscars even if they deliver acceptance speeches like someone has a gun to their back.  But it is still an interesting question to ponder:  If you could go back and hear the Oscar speech that someone never got to give whose would it be? Here are three of the possible speeches I would be most eager to hear if I could borrow Futurama’s What-If Machine for an hour:

Spike Lee - Best Original Screenplay (1989) – The big controversy of the 1990 Oscar’ was the lack of nods for Lee’s Do the Right Thing in picture and director while the much more conventional race relations drama Driving Miss Daisy grabbed most of the night’s big prizes. Lee did manage to grab a well-deserved nod in screenplay only to lose to the schmaltz of Dead Poet’s Society (cue sad trombone). Kim Basinger is still remembered for the moment she went off script and called out the snubbing, so I have little doubt presenting Spike with a microphone and a worldwide audience would have been one of the most discussed moments in recent Oscar history.

Mickey Rourke rises again and he is my brother."
-Sean Penn during his Oscar speech for Milk.

Bill Murray and Mickey Rourke – Best Actor 2003 & 2008 – I lump these two guys together because they were both unlikely Best Actor contenders who had a great chance of winning only to be beaten out by Sean Penn. I recall Penn giving heartfelt speeches, especially for Milk, but Murray and Rourke both brought the house down at the Globes and subsequent awards shows and their Oscar wins would have made for much more special and thrilling scenes.

Akira Kurosawa – Best Director 1985 – When it comes to memorable moments there are those that involve unpredictable stars acting out, like Brando sending an actress dressed as a Native American to accept his Oscar for The Godfather, and then there are those rare perfect moments when a legend receives a lifetime’s worth of acclaim all at once - think Chaplin’s lifetime achievement award. The Academy missed such a moment when they awarded Sydney Pollack best director for Out of Africa over Kurosawa’s work on Ran. Pollack himself lead a campaign to see Kurosawa nominated in director after he was shamefully excluded from the foreign category, so I suspect he would have been one of those cheering loudest if the living legend had been given a chance to take his bow.

I just noticed I have picked only people I think deserved to win their categories. I guess even in hypotheticals I can’t get away from the idea of merit winning the day.

So if you could go all Sliding Doors on Oscar and witness an amazing moment that never happened which would it be? I'm curious to hear your answers and the reasoning for them in the comments. 

You can follow Michael C. on Twitter at @SeriousFilm or read his blog Serious Film. Previous Burning Questions...

Tuesday
Feb142012

Curio: Oscar Unsheets, Part III

Alexa here.  With less than two weeks till the Oscars I'm spotting more and more fabulous unsheets (or fan poster art) inspired by the nominated films. (See last week's post for some criminally overlooked films). This week I'm moving on to the Best Picture nominees.  Interestingly, The Help seems to be one of the nominees most posterized this year; is it the lure of illustrating pie? 

The Help by Hector Pahaut.Here are some of the best celebrations of the Mississippi Maids, along with some key-themed designs for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, mathematical minimilism for Moneyball, and evocative staircase imagery for The Descendants. Click for more.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb132012

Monologue: Megan & the Dolphin

Have you missed Monologue Mondays? I know I have. So let's start again and try to do this weekly.

Though Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy probably won her Oscar nomination for a variety of reasons, you almost always need one Oscar "clip" to make the lineup. You know the kind. It's an instant fix of the performance, which works in the way soundbites do for politicians or catchphrases do for sitcom stars. It's something they can play at the Oscars or at awards shows that will a) remind people why they loved the performance b) remind them why they liked the movie and c) pack a mini dramatic punch that justifies the nomination for the millions who might not have seen it yet. This can be true even if the person is nominated for a broadly comic role, as rare as those nominations are.

 

I think you're ready to hear a little story about a girl named Megan, a girl named Megan that didn't have a very good time in high school. I'm referring to myself when I say 'Megan'. It's me Megan.

Now the Oscars don't always select clips this way. Continued after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb132012

The Girls With the Lisbeth Tattoo.

Jose here to talk about a movie and performance that The Film Experience hasn't spent much time with.

A little over eighteen months ago, I - like many of you I'm sure - found myself completely revolted by the fact that Hollywood had decided to remake The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo a few months after the Swedish version had come out in our continent. Some people adamantly took sides with the "original" before the "remake" arrived. And not so surprisingly, almost every review of Fincher's version compares it to the one directed by Niels Arden Oplev.

 

These comparisons brought the two actresses who played Lisbeth Salander to the center of the discussion, with people debating who was better and why, pitting them against each other. I've even heard some say that AMPAS should be embarrassed for nominating Rooney Mara for the Best Actress Oscar when they denied Noomi Rapace of a nomination a year ago.

The truth is that Rooney and Noomi play very different versions of the same character. You want proof? Continue reading, but be warned, this article contains spoilers.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb122012

Seeing Double: Best Actress

So, Meryl Streep won the BAFTA for Best Actress playing British political icon Margaret Thatcher and looked great doing so. At first all I could think was Dynasty power bitch combo pack (Collins power / Evans warmth) with those shoulder pads and the dramatic bodice.

But then it hit me...

Aunt Josephine!

Congratulations to Streep and all the BAFTA winners. I know there's been a lot of drama among The Film Experience readers and Streep fans -- the categories overlap ;) -- about who should win Best Actress . This site attracts more than its share of the drama in that regard given that we talk about the category so often even when nobody as beloved as Meryl is involved. I assume the race is neck and neck and neither outcome would surprise on Oscar night. Streep was always going to win BAFTA with the added advantage of the already awards-magnetic gift of mimicry hitting the eyes of the people who would recognize the skill of the mimicry the best and The Help being very American-skewing in its appeal (I'm actually a bit surprised it was nominated for the BAFTA). The Iron Lady was dodgy enough politically not to really get people riled up about its always controversial subject which I think hurt the film but helped the Meryl awards prospects if that makes any sense. But even though she was always going to take it (I never doubted) it still does help her stay in the Oscar conversation; Oscar ballots are due on the 21st so people are still voting.

I hope we can all agree that when the Oscar conversation involves actresses as massively gifted as Meryl and Viola we all win.

That said I still hope it's Viola just on the grounds of these two performances and because if someone has to beat Streep I'm much more comfortable with it being an actor who you know can really throw down with her. Too often Oscars go to people just because they're well liked and not because they're Oscar caliber talents. This is why so many of the greats don't have even one Oscar... and people don't like to think about the harsh realities but if Viola loses that would mean we'd have to add her to that list of Moore, Close, Bening, Weaver, Pfeiffer, et all who can't catch the gold man despite world class gifts.

Streep and Davis at the SAG Awards 3 years ago when Meryl wisely demanded that Hollywood give Viola great rolesI'll be happier for either of them since one is an all time favorite and one is a current favorite who I hope becomes an all time favorite. If only we could have a tie!

I hope we can all agree that if Viola isn't offered great roles after The Help, regardless of who wins next Sunday, we all lose.

I think that should be my last note on this particular Best Actress matter before Oscar Sunday because good lord this topic has taken up huge chunks of the internet and this blog. And to think the world spent the first half of the year obsessing over Meryl vs. Glenn!

Each year brings surprises and who would have ever predicted this neck and neck battle back when they were first watching Doubt (2008)?

 

 

Sunday
Feb122012

BAFTA 2012 Winners. It's Our Final Pre Oscar Pit Stop

For reasons unbeknownst to  our puny mind American television doesn't believe in watching the BAFTAs live and instead makes us wait until we already know the winners and have possibly lost interest (especially on nights when they air hours after we know the winners opposite the Grammy Awards). I freely admit I've skipped them in busier years. I haven't been able to find a live stream of the actual show but this link promises a highlights reel and the video embedded at the bottom of this post covers arrivals so you can see a few of the gowns and a few interviews with the stars. 

I've given up the notion of live blogging as it'll be anti-climactic tonight at 8 pm but Xan Brooks at the Guardian was updating the event today.

I'm guessing: The Artist, Scorsese, Streep, Dujardin, Spencer and Plummer) UPDATE: Well, I got five of the six. Scorsese lost to Hazanavicius.

Quick Question before the winners: Why is everyone from Downton Abbey in mourning? So many black gowns. Or maybe they're just predicting that we'll all be in mourning when the second season ends and we have to wait another year. Nooooo

Downton Abbey Forevah!

WINNERS
Best Film: THE ARTIST
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin in THE ARTIST
Best Actress: Meryl Streep in THE IRON LADY
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius for THE ARTIST

Animated Film: RANGO
Adapted Screenplay: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Documentary: SENNA
Rising Star (voted on by the public): ADAM DEACON
Original Screenplay: Michel Hazanavicius for THE ARTIST
Outstanding Contribution to British Cinema (tribute/noncompetitive): JOHN HURT
Outstanding British Film: TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY
Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer in THE HELP
Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer in BEGINNERS

Production Design: HUGO
Outstanding Debut: Paddy Considine for TYRANNOSAUR
Foreign Language Film: THE SKIN I LIVE IN
Makeup and Hair: THE IRON LADY
Costume Design: THE ARTIST
Cinematography: THE ARTIST
Editing: SENNA
Score: THE ARTIST
Live Action Short: PITCH BLACK HEIST (starring Michael Fassbender. Why have I not heard of this?)
Animated Short: A MORNING STROLL
Visual Effects: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Sound: HUGO

The Beautiful People... The Beautiful People... ♫ BAFTA PHOTOS AND RED CARPET ARRIVAL VIDEO AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...