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Thursday
Jan072016

The Case For "See You Again"

Kieran, here. Full disclosure—Best Original Song is my least favorite category. Though the last three winners of this category have been worthy entries, this relative hot streak doesn’t overwrite the fact that the category’s mandate for existing is somewhat dubious.  For every “Glory” or “Skyfall” the category of late will award many more “We Belong Together” and “Man or Muppet” level winners.  That’s why when a movie song comes along that feels emotionally or architecturally integral to its film’s narrative, it’s difficult to argue against it as a winner.

That brings us to Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” from Furious 7. Look…I can already hear and see the exasperated sighs and eyerolls that accompany any advocacy for this hit as an Academy Award Winner. Its tedious ubiquity in 2015 can easily (and fairly) prompt the response of “Does it need Academy Awards advocacy on top of everything else?”

More...

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Thursday
Jan072016

What's Next for the Spotlight Cast?

Manuel here talking about the Spotlight cast. If the SAG voting crowd can see beyond their cooky nominations, they might yet crown a handsome roster of winners. That’s what we hope happens, at least in the Best Ensemble category which, besides being quite testosterone heavy, doesn’t really feel reflective of the “best” of ensemble work that we saw this past year. Should the Tom McCarthy cast prevail though, we’ll at least know the Actors went to the right film and its talented cast.

But what are the actors behind the Boston Globe reporters up to next? Let's find out after the jump...

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Watching the Documentary Finalists: Part 1 - Other People's Lives

Glenn here looking at each of the 15 films on the Academy’s documentary finalists which, five of which will be shortlisted for nominations on January 14th

The documentary finalist list announced last month does us a small bit of good.  While it was sad to see such excellent feats of non-fiction filmmaking as The Pearl Button, In Jackson Heights, Sherpa and Stray Dog (to name just a few) removed from contention, reducing the astronomically long submission list of 124 down to a more manageable 15 titles does help us out dramatically in being able to not only get a grasp on the category for 2015, but also to give us a sample of what the Academy’s doc branch thought of the documentaries of any given year beyond the five eventual nominees. This year’s finalist list has its regular faces, but wasn't entirely devoid of surprises and many of the year’s best films found a spot despite some egregious choices thrown in. Each of the three posts in this series are divided into vague groups – (Pt 1) movies dedicated to other peoples’ lives, (Pt 2) movies about the world on the political edge, and (Pt 3) movies about confrontations.

Activists, actors and musicians after the jump...

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Wednesday
Jan062016

Odile Dicks-Mireaux on Enhancing Saoirse's Journey in "Brooklyn" / Reuniting with Rachel Weisz for "Denial" 

Odile Dicks-Mireaux. Image via Female FirstThe thing about Brooklyn is that everyone can relate to it. Stories of immigration touch almost everyone, or at least run through their family's DNA. Even the move from one state with a personality quite unlike your original home, can feel like a reinvention.  Nearly a year after seeing Brooklyn for the first time it's strange to think that I worried that people wouldn't connect to it! Who needs sensationalistic drama when a story is this really. When it's power can sneak up on you? 

I had the pleasure of discussing this universal resonance, and the job of defining Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) through her costume changes with the designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux, who herself related to the story. Her mother was French and her father British and they met, both immigrants, in Brooklyn in the 1940s, and built a life in a foreign country together. Odile is London based and was best known, prior to know, with her frequently BAFTA nominated work on British television miniseries like Gormenghast and Great Expectations though she's also designed Oscar nominated dramas like The Constant Gardener and An Education

Here's our interview. 

NATHANIEL R: I first saw Brooklyn at Sundance and I loved it but I remember feeling that I had no idea how people would react to it when it was released.  Which in retrospect was kind of foolish of me.

 ODILE DICKS-MIREAUX: You never know when you're making a movie how it's going to turn out and whether it will hit a nerve. Would it be too much of a simple story or too old fashioned? So it's been a real pleasure that it's resonated. [More...]

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Wednesday
Jan062016

HBO’s LGBT History: Six by Sondheim (2013)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at the utterly forgettable doc The Out List which mistakes sometimes compelling interviews spliced together as enough of a premise for an entire film. While that film celebrated the visibility of coming out, implicitly praising those who wear their sexuality on their sleeves, presenting them as necessary for political activism, we focus today on a towering figure of the American musical stage whose sexuality is both an acknowledged fact but also rarely a rallying point.

You’d never refer to Stephen Sondheim as a “gay songwriter and lyricist” both because in many ways he predates that type of taxonomy but also because he exceeds it. Not that his sexuality hasn’t informed his work. He has, after all, written some of the most complex characters of the American musical theater tradition, all of whom wrestle with their own vexing and at times explicitly transgressive desires.

James Lapine’s Six By Sondheim is structured as a close study of six of the composer’s most famed songs, and only addresses his sexuality when they discuss Company a show that has long felt like a melancholy queer anthem. Perhaps that’s what one reviewer caught when he first saw the show: “As it stands now, it’s for ladies’ matinees, homos and misogynists,” wrote Variety. What emerges in Lapine’s documentary is a celebration of Sondheim — so many interviews with the composer over the years show he’s perhaps the most eloquent commentator of musical theater of the past century — but also a rather touching portrait of an older gay man looking back on his life, his relationship with his mother, and even his failed desire to be a father (“Art is the other way of having children,” he muses).

more...

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Wednesday
Jan062016

ASC Nominations for Best Cinematography & Adjacent Oscar Histories

John Seale and George Miller on the set of Mad Max Fury Road. Two 70somethings showing everyone how its done. The American Society of Cinemotagraphers have voted on the best of 2015's theatrical features. It's a year that can only be described as a filthy rich in terms of this artform. One only has to peruse the work of lower profile contenders that didn't make it to feel staggered by the abundance of worthy creative work being done in the field. 

But the rising talents -- and even some of the older giants -- in this arguable new golden age of the artform will have to wait another year for ASC and possibly Oscar honors. The guild went with a murderer's row of international legends this year. The ASC Nominees hail from five different countries (UK, Poland, Mexico, their average age is 62½  and between them they've amassed 31 Oscar nominations, 5 Oscar statues, 8 BAFTAs, and 5 Spirit Awards. That's a whole lotta statuary honoring their influential careers. 

Cinematography history and more on the nominees after the jump...  

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