Oscar History

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Box Office: Expect Gone Girl To Stick Around

Hey all, Nathaniel back at my own home blog. Sorry for my radio silence the past couple of days but on rare occasions the words just don't come. What did you see this weekend? Here's what the masses turned out for.

Gone Girl's strong opening weekend -- a best for David Fincher -- suggests that it's going to stick around for awhile given how many conversations it starts (and editorials it will continue to inspire). That must be what that blurb whore meant when he said "date movie of the decade"... that you'd want to talk about it after seeing it giving you conversation fodder at dinner. At least I hope that's what he meant because the story is so cynical about relationships and would probably be a horrible thing to see with someone you barely knew and didn't know if you could trust and didn't know how to read their reactions to entertainment yet (people want different things from it, after all).

01 GONE GIRL $38 NEW Review
03 THE EQUALIZER $19 (cum. $64.5) Why Denzel?
04 THE BOXTROLLS $12.4 (cum. $32.5) The Most Exciting Animation Studio
05 THE MAZE RUNNER $12 (cum. $73.9) Review
07 THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU $4 (cum. $29) 
08 DOLPHIN TALE 2 $3.5 (cum. $.1)
09 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY $3 (cum. $323.3) Review & Ten Best Trees
10 NO GOOD DEED $2.5 (cum. $50.1)  

01 BANG BANG $1.2 NEW 
03 THE SKELETON TWINS $.7 (cum. $3.5)
04 MY OLD LADY $.4 (cum. $2.2)
07 LOVE IS STRANGE $.1 (cum. $2) Review
08 THE TRIP TO ITALY $.1 (cum. $2.6) Review
09 PRIDE $.09 (cum. $.2) Review
10 JIMI: ALL IS BY MY SIDE $.09 (cum. $.2)  

The latest Bollywood action flick starring Hrithik Roshan, he of the very huge muscles and stunning eyes opened big. I don't see Bollywood movies unless there's a dance sequence so someone let me know if Hrithik shows his moves again in this one.

I can watch his dancing in Dhoom again forever...

The other newbie The Good Lie was just behind. I keep hearing that the advertising is not very accurate. Maggie Smith fans have come out for My Old Lady despite a total lack of publicity but weirdly it isn't doing nearly as well as Quartet did and that was a really bad movie. And now two great gay films:  Love is Strange didn't take off like I'd hoped but a $2 million theatrical gross for an indie without bankable stars these days isn't exactly bad news either. Meanwhile Pride, my fav cause of the moment, is only in three cities but will add more next Friday. As I've said before I think this would be a massive arthouse hit if this were still the 1990s when people went to charming limited release movies rather than waiting for them to go to Netflix.

Emmy Threats to the standard lineup don't you think? Jeffrey Tambor for Best Actor in a comedy and Viola Davis for Best Actress in a drama

In TV's version of box office, the ratings, Viola's How To Get Away With Murder is the best ranked new network show of the fall -- thus far, at least, since it's premature to say such things given that premieres are still happening. If you haven't yet checked out my liveblog of the first two episodes why not do it. I'm probably spendingnew week bingeing on Amazon's Transparent. Watched the first three episodes last night and wow it's good with fantastic performances, intriguing and tangled character-based plots, and a firm sense of taking it all very seriously while also being able to laugh at itself. Amazon had been waiting for a series to capture accolades / attention in a way that would put them on the map as a content creator and this could well be it. I haven't heard anything about whether any of their recent pilots (we reviewed Hand of God) will be making it to series. 

What did you see this weekend?


NYFF: Mike Leigh and Dick Pope Begin Oscar Preparations with 'Mr Turner'

It wasn’t just the obvious reasons relating to being a fan of William Turner that made Mike Leigh want to make Mr. Turner. No, what it essentially boiled down to for the British director and his long-gestating passion project was that, essentially, Turner was a clear-cut case of “a Mike Leigh character”. Hearing Leigh describe the famed artist this way actually made me go back and think about the role given that Turner, as portrayed by Timothy Spall in his Cannes-winning performance, hardly comes off as from the same working class terrain of Leigh’s most famous films like Secrets and Lies or Another Year.

I’m still not entirely sure how the statement holds, but the press conference that followed Friday afternoon's screening of Leigh’s lush, gorgeously produced 150-minute biopic did allow for some typically keen insight from the man and his cast and crew who will surely be out there campaigning for the film throughout awards season hoping to crash an already strong roster of British biopics with style and grace typical of a Leigh movie.

Click to read more ...


Meet the Contenders: Rosamund Pike "Gone Girl"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's breakthrough leading lady. Mild tonal spoilers follow

Rosamund Pike as "Amazing Amy" in Gone Girl
Best Actress


Born: January 27, 1979 in London, England

The Role: Based on the best-selling novel from Gillian Flynn, Pike plays the beautiful, ideal "cool girl", Amy Dunne. After she and her husband Nick (Ben Affleck) find themselves unemployed and strapped for cash, they move back to Nick's hometown of North Carthage, Missouri. But the marriage isn't the idealic relationship it once was and on the morning of their 5th wedding anniversary, Amy goes missing - with Nick as the prime suspect. To say more would ruin the film, but let's just say that Amy looms large over the rest of the story...

Reese Witherspoon bought the rights to the book, hoping to cast herself as Amy. But when David Fincher came on board to direct, he had a very specific idea of the character in mind, citing Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy as his model and considered well-known stars like Charlize Theron, Emily Blunt, Olivia Wilde, Abbie Cornish, and Julianne Hough (?!). Fincher went with Rosamund Pike because she wasn't as recognizable and he loved her "opacity" as an actress, having seen her in several films but never quite getting a read on her, allowing the mysterious character to remain so through her anonymity.

Previous Brushes with Oscar and Critical Takes after the jump...

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NYFF: 'Jauja' Loses Viggo (And The Audience) In The Wilderness

NYFF continues with Michael C on Jauja starring Viggo Mortensen

Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja does so many things that critics complain films don’t do, I feel obligated to love it. It has a rich sense of atmosphere. It’s thoughtful. Alonso composes his frames beautifully, and he has the patience to hold on them until every last ounce of meaning has been wrung from the image. It does all this and more, so why was it that by the halfway point I was hoping the projector would break down so I could bolt for the exit?

I think it has to do with the fact that Jauja is made with near total disregard for the audience, and I don’t mean its glacial pacing. If a film is going to be this impenetrable, in fairness, it should contain enough ideas to occupy the audience’s mind while the action on screen is making the slower parts of Gus Van Sant’s Gerry look like Jurassic Park. Jauja contains ideas enough to support your average short film. There’s only so much symbolism about colonialism one can extract from Viggo stumbling alone and confused through the Argentinean wilderness, and for me Jauja’s pulse dies about the fifth time he pauses to refill his canteen. Jauja doesn’t illuminate or challenge so much as it gathers a group of potential story elements into a bundle, ties that bundle to a balloon and then watches placidly as the whole thing floats off into the distance. Not even a late film swerve into the surreal is enough to jolt a heartbeat back into the proceedings. 

Most of the film’s ideas (and 90% of the plot) are frontloaded into the film’s opening act. Details are sketchy but we can be sure that Viggo plays a Danish army captain traveling with his beautiful 15-year-old daughter, Ingeborg, to South America in the late 1800’s. He’s a surveyor, there to aid the military’s attempts to carve civilization out of the wilderness, but that mission quickly takes a backseat to the job of shielding his daughter from the swarm of military men who take an immediate and unwholesome interest in her. When Ingeborg runs off with a handsome young soldier Viggo grabs his saber and sets off into the Argentinean wild after them in what appears to be the start of a dark chase movie but is actually a plunge into an existential void.

Jauja must be working for some viewers since it won the FIPRESCI Prize at Cannes. It certainly plays with the confidence of a film that turned out exactly as its maker intended. Outside the rarified air of the international festival circuit Jauja would probably be most at home as an installation projected on the wall of a modern art museum where patrons can be free to ponder Viggo speaking Danish and staggering over rocks until they feel they have gotten everything out of it they are going to get. (15 to 20 minutes is sufficient). As a movie, it reminds me of the classic intellectual defense of “You have to listen to the notes he’s not playing.” To find Jauja a rewarding experience you have to appreciate all the movie Alonso did not make.




P.S. It’s pronounced “How-huh” and it refers to the Spanish term for an idyllic utopia. How this relates to the film, like everything else in Jauja, is a bit tough to pinpoint. Jauja screens Tuesday October 7th (9 PM) with Viggo in attendance for a Q&A and Thursday Oct 9th (6 PM)



How To Get Away With Murder - Two Episodes

How to Procrastinate Film Blogging? Live-blog a tv show.

Since The Film Experience has been in Viola Davis's corner for a dozen years now -- I gave her one of her first film prizes even if she didn't know it: a gold medal for best cameo in Antwone Fisher (2002) -- I felt obligated to watch her new headlining gig for at least a couple of episodes. I'm not remotely a procedural kind of person or a Shondaland person. Grey's Anatomy, her career-maker, had too much whining and Scandal is too hysterical and (worse) wildly uneven in its acting. Nevertheless I thought I'd live blog the first two episodes and see if it's fun enough to stay with (?) and largely to see if you are watching, too.

How To Express Your Feelings? Comment on said blog.

1.1 Pilot
00.01 Opening sequence is like those 'we're changing scenes and denoting the passage of time!' interstitials on Scandal but for like a whole interminable two minutes. Average Shot Length of .0001 seconds is not my speed. Some college kids are shouting about what to do with a dead body. Is it mine? Having died from seizures from the editing.

01.48 Tall cute black guy (who has the longest neck I've ever seen on TV) says that "tossing a coin" is OUR ONLY CHOICE. Thank god for coins because decision making, man. Tall cute black guy looks super familiar but I can't figure out why*.

03.03 MATT MCGORRY! (love him on Orange is the New Black. And his sense of humor as a celebrity)

03.33 Giggling that Wes (that's the tall guy's name) is told there's a seating chart in his class. He looks at it for less than .002 seconds while simultaneously swivelling his head around with that crazy neck of his to talk to all the other main characters (everyone with a line will surely be important)...and yet he knows EXACTLY where to sit. Psychic. 

03.39 VIOLA ENTERS... 

Click to read more ...


What's on your cinematic mind?

While we've been film-festing, what have been doing? Tell us about your latest movie adventure. I'll start: I accidentally watched First Wives Club again the other day and though it's a really bad (but fun) movie in a lot of ways the ladies are pretty hilarious. Goldie Hawn just kills in her big breakdown scene.

You think just because I'm a movie star I don't have feelings. I'm an actress. I have all of 'em!

I promise that there will be some non-fest stuff for you to enjoy this week. But you still haven't answered my October questions. How should we celebrate the spooky month. Any requests? 


Baywatch: the Film?

Manuel here to bring great news to fans of 90s TV shows and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I know you’re out there!

Not to be outdone in this week’s “craziest Hollywood pitch ideas finally being developed” (coughTetriscough), Paramount has announced that it’s moving forward with its long-gestating Baywatch film adaptation with none other than Johnson himself, he of great box office power when paired with an established brand, in talks to star. May we hope this turns out to be more Charlie’s Angels than Bewitched? More Mission:Impossible than The A-Team? In true 21 Jump Street fashion, it seems they’re going for comedy, as they’ve hired Sean Anders and John Morris, of We are the Millers fame. If the film truly embraces its own kitsch appeal and zeroes in on 90s nostalgia, it might make for an interesting... no, I can't even finish that sentence.

That said, I’m burying the lede because we all know the next bit of news should this movie stop moving forward and actually start, you know, casting and shooting, will be about who will fill in for Pamela Anderson as the requisite bombshell beauty who’ll most likely be described by casting agents and directors alike as “a strong kick-ass” character. 

So, let the name-tossing begin. Who would you cast to don the iconic red swimsuit? Which actress do you think could be the new CJ Parker (or better yet, the new Stephanie Holden)? Or, if we wanna go more the Magic Mike route, who are you hoping will skimp on wearing shirts and join Johnson at the beach?  And yes, amuse me with your left-field choices because the cynic in me knows the same three names will be bandied about soon enough.