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The Next La La Land?

"It looks like fun and Hugh and Zac make a cute couple" - Jaragon

"Why do we keep treating La La Land like some sort of longsuffering, put-upon, misunderstood underdog? It's like making time to assure the prom queen that she's pretty and popular.." -Hayden

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INTERVIEWS

Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Gael García Bernal (Neruda)
Billy Crudup (20th Century Women)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival

 

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Wednesday
Dec312014

A Year with Kate: Epilogue

Epilogue - In which we rank films, learn Life Lessons, climb Mount Hepburn, and wrap this up with the party it deserves!


Happy New Year, everybody! Before 2014 and A Year With Kate officially end, I wanted to give us all a proper send off. If Kate got 9 more years after she retired in 1994, consider this our own ride into the sunset, complete with gifs, gifts, and thank yous.

At the beginning of A Year With Kate, I set some unofficial goals. The most obvious was to watch all 52 films chronologically. In order to do this, I started building a stack of research that I dubbed “Mount Hepburn.” It changed size and content a bit thanks to library deadlines and a lot of late nights on ebay. To the right is a picture of Mount Hepburn at present, having outgrown my table and moved to the floor. It stands just about 3 feet tall. (I actually bought another Katharine Hepburn biography after taking this picture because I do not know how to stop.)

My second goal was to better understand a movie star that I loved. This happened in a way I didn't expect. Week by week, we watched each of Katharine Hepburn’s films add to her star image like pieces in a puzzle. She developed from prickly unformed actress in the 1930s, to glamorous star in the 1940s, to "spinster" and great actress in the 1950s, to living legend in the 1960s. From the 1970s on, Katharine Hepburn the star slowly eclipsed Katharine Hepburn the woman. Watching and writing every week, I discovered that it was that myth of Hepburn that I'd initially fallen in love with, not the person. There's nothing wrong with that. We need myths to look up to. Even after Katharine Hepburn passed away in 2003, her myth lives on. It inspires actresses, audiences, and occasionally a series like this.

As for that Major Life Lesson I was supposed to learn should Hollywood ever decide to buy the movie rights: I actually did learn something life-changing this year. Watching Katharine Hepburn age like good wine over 62 years, I learned about time. Life is short, but life is very large, too. With help and determination, you have the potential to fill your life extraordinary things. You might make mistakes. You might make Spitfire. But think of how much more there still is for you to do. That’s a pretty incredible thing, the depth of a life. I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what else I can do with mine.

Speaking of which, as a thank you to the amazing TFE community, and in answer to those of you who’ve asked: A YEAR WITH KATE IS BECOMING A BOOK!

 

A Year With Kate the book will expand on the series, with full entries on every film, updated Box Office charts, and even some fun trivia and lists. We're kicking around a few different ideas for how best to get A Year With Kate into your hands and onto your e-readers, but know that it will happen in 2015. For now, you can sign up for email updates using this form (Facebook account not required).

Last, but not least, here is my Top 10 List. Please note that this is a carefully thought through list based on months of research and personal bias. I tried to take into consideration career placement, iconic status, acting skill, and just plain fun. Post your list in the comments below!

Anne Marie’s Top 10 Katharine Hepburn Movies

1. Long Day’s Journey Into Night

2. The Philadelphia Story

3. The Lion in Winter

4. Bringing Up Baby

5. Suddenly, Last Summer

6. Woman of the Year

7. Little Women

8. Holiday

9. Alice Adams

10. Morning Glory & Stage Door

Thank all of you lovely readers for watching the movies when you could, commenting even when you couldn’t, and providing insight, humor, and conversation every week. You made 2014 a truly life-changing year. Here’s to 2015, and the possibilities ahead.

Wednesday
Dec312014

Interlinker

BBC News That's "Sir" John Hurt to you and "Dame" Kristin Scott Thomas. Woooo
They Live By Night Bilge Ebiri offers up a thoughtful defense of Interstellar and its portrait of restless Coop and the double edged sword of survival instincts
Reductress Brilliant send-up of Aaron Sorkin's recent sexist comments. These quotes are satiric but he has said that actresses aren't as good as actors so therefore he is MUCH stupider than his screenplays imply.
Pajiba Benedict Cumberbatch finally speaks about his "dance-off" with Michael Fassbender

Stage Buddy TFE's ocassional contributor Jose offers up his best theater of 2014
i09 lowest ticket sales year in quite some time for Hollywood
MNPP wishes you all a Happy New Year with a gallery of DILFs and their little ones from Channing Tatum to Cam Gigandet
Movies.com fun list of top hits from abroad that didn't make it to the States.  A few of this year's foreign film submissions are sprinkled in
Kenneth in the 212 wants an Emmy for Lisa Kudrow for Season 2 of The Comeback
Nerdist talks to Sam Raimi and he's quite candid about his recent artistic failures Spider-Man 3 and Oz: The Great and Powerful. Now if we can only get a movie as good as 
LitWit a book podcast celebrates the 50th anniversary of "The Chronicles of Prydain", a great young reader fantasy that Disney mucked up in the 80s with The Black Cauldron


Oscariffic
Interview Magazine a talk with ever gorgeous still undervalued Matthew Goode (The Imitation Game)
New York Times has a fine piece called "When the Red Carpet Is Rolled Up" about what happens to the previously unknown Oscar nominees after their moment of glory
Awards Daily Sasha named Rosamund Pike "Performance of the Year" but strangely in her top 11 best actress choices she says of #11 Essie Davis in The Babadook "arguably the best performance of the year". Why #11 then?
Critics Top 10 has been compiling list. It's fascinating to see how many lists each film tops no matter what run they occupy in the top 50. For instance The Grand Budapest Hotel has fewer #1 placements than several others but ends up at #2 overall.The highest ranking film with no #1 placements is Starred Up at #49
In Contention Kris Tapley does his annual best shots of the film year celebrating cinematographers: some of the selections include Godzilla, Interstellar, Mr Turner and Nightcrawler

Exit Video
The visual effects of Captain America: The Winter Soldier...

 

They'll have a tough road to a nomination given that AMPAS has been stingy with Marvel Studios films in this category unless Iron Man is around. But if they get nominated I'll celebrate even though this reel isn't particularly informative. So much destruction. But I love this movie. 

Wednesday
Dec312014

Screener Adventures from American Snipers to British Painters (Pt. 2)

Previously... I shared brief thoughts about rewatches of Big Hero, Grand Budapest, Babadook well as The Homesman and Skeleton Twins.

What came next in the home-screening adventures, you ask? Here I am to answer. I haven't had as much time as I'd hope (aint that always the case) but I've been trying to cram movies in. Here are a handful of notes on movies from the screener stack.

AMERICAN SNIPER
Credit where credit is due: For once a Clint Eastwood movie is not filmed like its sinking into an inky black void where color is a total affront to sober intent. It turns out Tom Stern can make movies that take place in reasonably well lit places. Okay, okay, let's not get carried away. It's still largely colorless but this time there is daylight though the subject matter remains brutal. I'm not sure what to make of its dead-eyed killings which aren't filmed with any rah-rah glee that you'd think would accompany the movie's conservative America is #1 conservatism. Even its one note patriotism is presented rather than, I think, fully endorsed: Chris Kyle, very well played by Bradley Cooper though there isn't much in the way of an arc, memorably refuses to engage with any criticism and is all "God, Family, & Country" in each scene. But something about its very matter-of-fact presentation and inarticulate hero wore me down after awhile despite gripping action sequences. I have no idea how Oscar might respond but my hunch is it's either full hog or both sound nominations only a la Lone Survivor

Meryl's Insane Bankability Continues! Well done, diva.INTO THE WOODS
Reviewed by ranking its musical numbers here. It was the second time I'd seen it having watched it on a big screen originally. Weirdly I think the cinematography, which often looked too muddy and dark on the screen works a little better on a TV. But anyway...  let's hear it for Disney for a great opening weekend. It's important that musicals do well so that we get more of them! Into the Woods won not only the biggest opening weekend ever for a Broadway adaptation but the biggest of Meryl Streep's career, as well. I imagine we'll continue to talk about Into the Woods for a while --  multiple Oscar nominations coming -- so I'll let this be all for this post.

THE JUDGE
I already peed on that here but it keeps haunting me like bad trip flashbacks. Especially the dye job on Vera Farmiga who deserves better Hollywood, come on. Also that scene where RDJ is like superhero-lawyer and stops a bar fight with the power of his wily words!

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE
A love letter from Tangiers & Detroit to all of you who recommended this movie throughout the year. Though I was once the type who would rush to anything vampiric, I'll readily admit that Hollywood's overuse of the bloodsuckers finally wore me out; I've been avoiding all such movies for years now. But I should have trusted Jim Jarmusch to come at it from an entirely different angle and I don't know how I missed that it was shot by Yorick Le Saux who won my silver medal for cinematography in 2010 for I Am Love. Detroit has never looked so beautifully haunted, Tilda and Tom couldn't have been a more exotically languid well-cultured pair, its slow moods weren't trying but contemplative, and the ending was pitch-perfect delayed gratification.

Excusez moi


MR TURNER
A surprise. If you only listen to this movie as opposed to watching it (which is what I sometimes do when The Boyfriend is watching TV) it sounds rather like a horror movie. I'm not kidding. There are a lot of scary animalistic noises supposedly emanating from human people (not just Spall's famed grunt speak) and the score by Gary Yershon might be the creepiest outside of Under the Skin this year.  

P.S. Speaking of The Boyfriend...
This time of year chez moi he watches a ton of screeners since he doesn't go to many critics screenings with me. I usually don't watch carefully (having already seen them) and drift in and out as I'm working. He is unpredictable about movies. He loved Pride and Ida (as most sane people do), thought Mr Turner was "good. well made" but clearly had no passion for it. Cried huge apartment-flooding puddles during Still Alice and Wild, and inexplicably H-A-T-E-D both Force Majeure and A Most Violent Year (what the what??? x 2). Finally, he was paying so little attention to Love is Strange that I had to make him shut it off. That wonderful movie from Ira Sachs is too delicate for half-watching. It requires your full attention or that glorious final 15 minutes just won't resonate. 

Have you ever learned something new about a movie you loved by catching only pieces of it or hearing it in the background?

Tuesday
Dec302014

CAST THIS: Pippin coming to the big screen!

Manuel here bringing some exciting news for us musical junkies.

We've got magic to do... Just for you

It seems we have another big screen Broadway adaptation coming our way courtesy of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, a pair of producers who have almost single-handedly kept the screen musical alive. NBC’s Sound of Music Live? Zadan & Meron! Oscar-winning Chicago, SAG-nominated Hairspray and Emmy-nominee Smash? Yep, you guessed it: Zadan & Meron! They are even responsible for some of the less celebrated attempts at live action adaptations of Broadway musicals, from the swiftly forgotten 2003 adaptation of The Music Man featuring Matthew Broderick and the Kathy Bates-led 1999 Annie to the Bette Midler TV adaptation of Gypsy back in 1993.

Needless to say, they’re invested in this genre in ways not many other producers are. We can argue about their batting average. For every attempt at ‘modernizing’ a piece to its very detriment -- see 2011’s Footloose, there’s an ill-fated attempt at old-fashioned family entertainment like this year’s Peter Pan Live! Which brings us back to Pippin, the 1972 Stephen Schwartz penned musical loosely based on Pippin and his father Charlemagne, whose circus-inspired Broadway revival is set to close this weekend and which Zadan and Meron are bringing to the big screen soon.

 

I’m curious as to who they nab for directing (though maybe more importantly for screenwriting duties). This is a clearly stage-bound piece: the conceit is that what we see on stage is a number of players acting out the story of Pippin as, in true 1970s fashion, he tries to “find himself.” The original production was directed by Bob Fosse, so these are definitely big shoes to fill. More for our amusement though, this offers up the chance to play casting directors. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, I’ve broken down the main characters below from the casting call the American Repertory Theatre used to cast the revival.


PIPPIN
- male, 18-26. The son of Charlemagne and heir to the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, Pippin has returned from university to discover that he does not know what to do with his life. He searches for something in his life to be fulfilling, while the Leading Player and the troupe of players guide and manipulate him. Tenor.

LEADING PLAYER
- (Can be male or female)- Dangerous, charismatic, extremely charming and seductive, the Leading Player is the leader of the troupe and the mastermind behind Pippin's journey. The Leading Player must be an incredibly strong performer with the willingness to take risks and dig deep and dark; a powerful presence. Male: Tenor, Female: Alto/Mezzo with a strong belt.

CHARLEMAGNE
-male, late 40s-early 60s, Pippin’s father and the King of the Holy Roman Empire. He rules the empire with an iron fist, and his focus on the battlefield inspires Pippin to try becoming a soldier. Legit Baritone.

FASTRADA female, early 40s-early 50s, Pippin’s stepmother, Charlemagne’s wife, and Lewis’s mother. A manipulative woman with sexual appeal and a strong desire for power, Fastrada aims to get her son Lewis to be first in line to the throne. Dancer.

LEWIS
-male, early 20s-early 30s, The son of Charlemagne and Fastrada, Pippin’s half brother. He is a soldier in Charlemagne's army and he prides himself on his athleticism and physical prowess.

BERTHE
-female, early 60s-80s. Pippin’s grandmother, and Charlemagne’s mother. An incredibly spunky older woman with excellent comedic timing, Berthe leaves the kingdom to enjoy the "simple joys" of life. Alto.

CATHERINE
-female, late 20s-early 30s. Pippin’s love interest, a tragically widowed farmer’s wife with a young son. She rebels against the Leading Player's scheme by actually falling in love with Pippin. She is kind, generous, romantic, and strong-willed. Mezzo with a strong mix.

Who would you cast for each? I'm hoping they don't offer Berthe to Meryl, if only because I want Andrea Martin to reprise her Tony winning role on screen. Does news of Pippin the big screen treatment fill you with, as Nat mentioned in his Into the Woods review, a hesitation “between devastating disappointment and ecstatic pleasure”?

Tuesday
Dec302014

Interview: Oscar Isaac on "A Most Violent Year" And His Alien Future

Oscar Isaac was not an overnight success. He made sporadic appearances in movies from the mid 90s onward and the roles and films grew, slowly but surely. Moviegoers have discovered him piece by brilliant piece each time. There wasn't even one particular year that made him a star though Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) is to date "the signature role". In contrast, his new character Abel Morales' rise to power isn't half as slow and steady. It's all compressed into one dramatic make-or-break year in J.C. Chandor's moody gripping 1981-set drama A Most Violent Year

I spoke to Oscar about burrowing inside this guarded businessman, working with his schoolmate Jessica Chastain, what casting directors think of him, and his obsession with the mutant supervillain he'll be playing in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016). Our conversation is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec302014

Luise Rainer (1910-2014)

Luise Rainer, Oscar's first back-to-back Acting winner for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937) was, for the past handful of years, perhaps better known for outliving everyone than for her brief movie stardom. She was just two weeks shy of her 105th birthday when she passed away early this morning of pneumonia. She is survived by her daughter and two granddaughters.

She was recently name-checked not so flatteringly in the Hollywood bio Hitchcock (2012) but the actress, still very much alive at the time, could surely roll with it. The outspoken import lived through tumultuous times, beginning her acting career on the German stage and screen before fleeing as Hitler consolidated power (she was Jewish) and then being sold to the American public as "The Viennesse Teardrop" because German wouldn't do back then. She quickly becoming a star while briefly marrying (unhappily) the playwright Cliff Odets who had several tumultuous affairs with famous actresses (as portrayed in Frances, 1982).

The outspoken diva was very vocal about what she thought of Hollywood, her unsatisfying career, and "The Oscar Curse" which she doesn't believe in though she admits that the back-to-back Oscars weren't at all helpful. The adulation prompted Hollywood to just throw her into anything, with no worries of miscasting or her own creative satisfaction.

Her career ended as swiftly as it began as she fought with the powers that be for more choice in her films. Soon she left Hollywood for New York and then London where she settled for good. 

I had a seven-year contract that I broke and went away. I was a machine, practically, a tool in a big, big factory, and I could not do anything. I wanted to film Madame Curie, but Mayer forbade me. I wanted to do For Whom the Bell Tolls, but Selznick took Ingrid Bergman and brought her to Hemingway and I didn't know Hemingway. And so I left. I just went away. I fled; yes, I fled."

She flew away to, by all reports, a happier life outside the spotlight. Her remarkable longevity and semi-regular all smiles appearances over the years suggests that she enjoyed it. 

Tuesday
Dec302014

The Year in Review: Orphan Posts

This episode of year in review is super-needy and self-indulgent. You have been warned!

While we can generally count on you, the devoted readership, to comment at least a little bit on everything, mysteriously these written efforts went unloved.  At least visibly. Perhaps you loved them in silence? Or maybe you just missed them. If little orphan Annie can get a makeover and third filmed chance to find her sugar daddy (warbucks/stacks) these posts deserve a second chance!

• James Chinlund, Visionary Designer he made the ape forest in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the tree spaceshipwhatsit in The Fountain. He is genius.
• Hong Khaou on Lilting I suspect this beautifully lensed and touching LGBT film starring Ben Whishaw hasn't yet found its audience because we posted about it a few times and always *crickets*.
• Beloved Sisters Germany's 3 hour Oscar submission is a romantic costume drama about an unconventional love triangle. It actually opened for Christmas just after missing the foreign film Oscar finalist list
• Blow-Up's Best Shots my favorite series to run is "hit me with your best shot" (returning in March!) but I'll admit I never have a clue which episodes will really grip you. I thought for sure this Michelangelo Antonioni episode would be a hit and it was very nearly the least popular Hit Me selection in years.
 

• and a few posts each from...
Tribeca & Sundance & TIFF & NYFF but, then again, commenting on film festival reviews is always lighter. This might not mean anything since those films are completely unknown entities when they are first written about. Even the ones that later spark much conversation like Obvious Child. Do you like the film festival coverage that we've really amped up the past two years? Please do let me know as it is a budget point for the site and money is always tight.

Finally... sometimes I think these two posts here and here were my favorites of the year which is perhaps not a good sign as to my mental health. But thanks for commenting on them!  No, no. I amend: This was actually my favorite post of the year. It shoulda gone viral. *sniffle*