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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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Boston Society of Film Critics. Beantown Loves... 

would you be so good as to participate in the bean lottery? Please submit your bid for the number of beans in the bottleBeantown critics have assembled today to announce their prizes. LAFCA and the NYFCO critics are also announcing later.

Awful lot of bean vote counting going on today. In Boston's case they're being very leisurely about it. We'll see how quickly the other associations move. I only illustrated with Melancholia's wedding bean lottery because I was just watching it last night and here we are this morning and never mind...

The winners!

PICTURE The Artist (Runner up: Hugo and Margaret)
DIRECTOR Martin Scorsese for Hugo (Runner up: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist)
ACTRESS Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn (Runner up: La Streep. Guess Boston liked their biographies above all else this year) 
ACTOR Brad Pitt for Moneyball (Runners up The Clooney & Fassy)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids (runner up: Jeannie Berlin for Margaret
SUPPORTING ACTOR Albert Brooks for Drive (runner up: ???) 
SCREENPLAY Moneyball (runner up: Margaret
CINEMATOGRAPHY Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life (runner up: Robert Richardson for Hugo)

The Supporting Actress Competition. "That's a lot of energy to deal with!"

There's one or almost one for #TeamMargaret. I wish I'd seen it. Alas. But McCarthy picks up her first critics award for Bridesmaids. Will more follow? The BFSC claims it was a "very competitive category" this year. By which perhaps they mean Jessica Chastain vs. Jessica Chastain vs. Jessica Chastain vs. All of the Bridesmaids perhaps?

I'm wondering if Albert Brooks won in a landslide for Drive. Possibly he did as they didn't announce a runner up. 

DOCUMENTARY Project Nim (runner up: Bill Cunningham New York)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM Incendies (runners up: A Separation and Poetry)
FILM EDITING (in memory of Karen Schmeer) Christian Marclay for The Clock (runner up: Thelma Schoonmaker for Hugo... see previous post)
NEW FILMMAKER (in memory of David Brudnoy) Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene (runner up: JC Chandor for Margin Call

At last Durkin beats Chandor to a prize. I knew some group would have to go that way. Both are good films but some have issues with the ambiguity of Durkin's work (see my Fandor contemplation of the problem.)

ENSEMBLE CAST CARNAGE (runner up: Margaret. Poor #TeamMargaret... bridesmaids but never the bride)
USE OF MUSIC IN FILM *tie* DRIVE & THE ARTIST (runner up: The Descendants... which, lol, um... okay. Hawaiian music for Hawaii? Award worthy decision-making right there!)

Boston joins #TeamMargaret. Sort of

They also handed out several local prizes and honors which you can read here. And they made a special plea to Fox Searchlight to start backing Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret. The film kept getting runner up notices. Poor #TeamMargaret ... always the bridesmaids but never the bride. In their words:

The Boston Society of Film Critics expresses its regret that Fox Searchlight refused to distribute screeners of the film "Margaret" and scheduling only a last-minute screening after numerous requests. The film, which received an extremely limited release, was a favorite of many BSFC members and could have won several awards had it been made available for viewing within a reasonable timeframe.  Despite this disadvantage, "Margaret" was a runner up in three of the BSFC’s award categories. We encourage Fox Searchlight not compound this oversight and to make screeners available to the voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and so give the film a fair chance in the upcoming awards competition.


Q&A Crumbs: Best of Best Supporting Actor + Legendary Why?

If the Q&A column were a TV series it'd be one of those painfully confusing ones that goes off the air unexpectedly only to return with 2 hour specials and extra webisodes and then go on hiatus again. I can't control it! It controls me. I've already answered small screen questions, and Thursday's column was on movie etiquette, crowd reactions, and purposefully bad acting. So here's are a handful of Q&A crumbs that I felt the need to answer and now we are dunzo until the next round. Whew.

As ever, I love to hear your answers to these questions in the comments. The more the merrier when it comes to movie discussions, don't you think?

MESHI: Are there any legendary performances (like, Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara-type legendary) that you just don't get what all the fuss is about?

I have a hard time understanding the fuss over Marlon Brando in Last Tango In Paris. To me it feels less Method then Show-Off with no one willing to say, 'pull it back dude. Modulate.' So, no, I don't get that one despite its enormous acclaim. I will entertain the possibility that I saw it when I was too young for it, though.

MARY: What are you most excited for? "Mirror Mirror" or "Snow White and the Huntsman"?

I believe you'll find my answer in if you click on the Snow White tag. I'm pretty good with the tagging at the bottom of each post to make things easy for y'all to investigate topics of interest. Short answer: Hunstman by a country mile on a horse drawn carriage with a bad wheel. 

CAL ROTH: Call the next Oscar winners now in acting now. No guts, no glory. Don't think too much about it. Just say how do you feel about these races.

I hate doing this because it's a lose-lose proposition before nominations are announced. If you're right and you go with the party line (I guess at the moment that's: Clooney & Streep, Redgrave & Plummer) you risk being part of that horrible machine that takes all the fun out of Oscars by making it into one big echo chamber that reenforces lazy voting. If you're right but you appear to be wrong (hmmm: Pitt & Davis* & Spencer & Plummer?) because your answer sounds too "two months ago*" people don't remember and they just think you're not that good at prognosticating. Anyway, i much prefer predicting nominees to predicting winners which is TOTALLY BORING due to the echo chamber... particular in the last stretch when the same 4 people will start winning every award and people will only guess otherwise to have something to write about.

* I often wonder why people have perpetual amnesia about the fact that buzz volumes always rise when a movie opens or start screening (provided it's not bombing) and always subside when it's been out a few months and is "familiar". But... buzz volume levels rise and fall and rise again...and fall again. The only thing that matters is how volumous they are when voting is happening.

SOSUEME: As an avid reader of TFE for the last two years, I finally had my first Nathaniel it, you were moving to California...obviously, the dream has more to do with me than anyone else, but it got me thinking...would you consider moving to CA to be closer to the industry, the events, possibly more money, or does New York suit you just fine?

I'm happy right here though I'd totally be bi-coastal if I could. Writing can be a lonely activity so you need handy social escapes for sanity. Nearly all of my closest friends live here so I gotta stick around. Plus: New York City needs me ;)  ...most of the Oscar pundits are in Los Angeles but AMPAS is bicoastal!


Best Ever Consecutive Run for Supporting Actor Oscar?

MITCHELL: What do you believe to be the most deserving performance to ever win Best Supporting ACTOR?

This is my least favorite of the four acting categories within Oscar because it seems to have the least correlation to actual quality year after year. For whatever reasons it's more beholden to other Oscar factors that aren't really about the work in question: career honors, which "types" they like, which films they like, fame levels before the nominations. This category is also particularly egregious in terms of category fraud. I mean you could argue that it's been five years since an actual supporting performance won (that'd be Alan Arkin) even though the last four winners were four kinds of miraculous in terms of actual quality [tangent: best run ever in this category if you allow for the fraud!]. Once you remove all the co-leads I think there are a few absolute essentials who not only did inspired work but who elevated already strong films by virtue of their lynchpin contributions to its tone, identity and overall aesthetic punch.

So without pouring over the books for too long I'd say I couldn't really live without Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Joel Grey as "the emcee" in Cabaret (1972), or Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994).

But this list might change on a different day and I can't choose just one! Can you?


American Linko

Slant analyzes the new poster for Madonna's W.E. 
Empire Sacha Baron Cohen taking the Threnadier role we thought was going to Geoffrey Rush in Tom Hooper's adaptation of Les Miserables. 
In Contention Kris & Anne give their top ten films of the year 
Stale Popcorn on the plans to 'update' American Psycho. Hollywood executives can be so thick. It's a satire about the 80s. You don't "update" what something is about.

The Hairpin looks back at Love, Actually a predecessor of the current all star roundelay that is New Year's Eve
New York Magazine an inner monologue of a critic watching Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady (I missed this somehow last week but it's great)
Animation Magazine has been hopping lately. Lots of features on the animated contenders including the ones we've heard the least about like the Spanish old age drama Wrinkles
YouTube Pulp Fiction in chronological order. I was totally taken by surprise by how it begins but it all came back to me.
The Wrap this news makes me giggle. Lifetime Television is planning to remake 1980's The Blue Lagoon. This is what's called a missing the point. The only reason anyone watched the original film was for the nudity. 
The AV Club chats with Diablo Cody about Young Adult. Check out this great exchange on the film's origins:

Diablo Cody: “Am I some kind of stunted woman-child that’s living vicariously through her characters?” And then I thought, “Stunted woman-child—that’s a character.”
AVC: Now you’re living vicariously through a character who’s living vicariously.
DC: Yeah, it’s like Escher.

Living through film characters. Sigh. Don't we all to some degree. If we're being honest with ourselves. 

Which film character have you found yourself living through?


Melissa Leo Talks Short Oscar Hopeful "The Sea Is All I Know"

Any day now -- perhaps any moment! -- the Academy will release the 10-wide finalist list for the Best Live Action Short category at this year's Oscars (prediction charts). Currently approximately 70 films are qualified so it'll be a deep cut for that next-to-nominated list. One of the buzziest possibilities, though, is Jordan Bayne's "The Sea Is All I Know" which stars the LEOgend herself, Oscar winner Melissa Leo. Director and star sat down together to speak about the film after a screening here in NYC to discuss the film.

After Melissa joked about getting all dressed up for us, they chatted and answered a few audience questions.

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Oscar's FX Semi-Finalists: Superheroes, Aliens, Dinosaurs, Mermaids

Wouldn't it be weird if Oscar had finalist rounds for all categories and not just a few of them? Can you imagine a runway elimination for Costume Design or a Supporting Actress pre-nom bake-off? But, bringing us back to reality, few categories do this. The effects branch does and after having a looksie at this year's showiest films, they've narrowed the Oscar posssibilities for "Best Achievement in Visual Effects"  to 15. We're not sure why there are so many steps in the process but they'll narrow it down again in early January to 10 before 5 are named at the end of January on Oscar Nomination Morning (Or what Nathaniel calls Christmas Eve... Christmas being Oscar Night, his favorite holiday!)

The semi-finalist list bring us a few dinosaurs, a handful of mythical creatures, several aliens, a dozen colorful superheroes, a scary school (herd? pack? fleet?) of mermaids, and many robots from small to super sized.

Captain America: The First Avenger 
Cowboys & Aliens 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sucker Punch

Super 8
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The Tree of Life
X-Men: First Class

DINOSAURS! There's no award for Best Supporting Visual Effects but I always root for that film even though it's rarely nominated. I mean how are you going to ignore the visual effects of Eternal Sunshine back in its day. But they did.  So this year's I'm really pulling for the audacious creation of the earth segment from The Tree of Life since we obviously can't have the destruction of the earth in Melancholia. Together they're a Double Scoop of Circle of Life Awesome.

OMISSIONS! Effects work that didn't make it to the finals include Tarsem's warring god boytoys in The Immortals, the elaborate visual wows of The Adventures of Tintin, the apocalyptic beauty of Melancholia's opening/closing segments, and the yellow clouds enlarged craniums alient whatnots and gooey green CGI messes of Green Lantern -- someone mop that up!


On Oscar nomination morning five films will be left standing and four lucky craftsmen will reap the benefits for each film, their names to be determined by the producers. It's interesting to note how many people work on a movie's effects sequences versus how many are nominated for what the teams deliver unto us. Let's take Captain America for an example. The Special Effects department which does models, pyrotechnics, explosives, snow, molds and other sundries and whatnots numbers 40. The Visual Effects department, which does ... uh... everything else [marvel at my intricate knowledge of the process! *snort*] numbers nearly 800 (!!!). Generally speaking one assumes the producers merely pick department heads because most of the job descriptions of those nominated are simply  "visual effects supervisor" though sometimes you'll get a "special effects supervisor" from the sister department. And occassionally something a lot more specific like last year's nomination for Michael Owens on Hereafter whose job title reads "designer: tsunami sequence, visual effects supervisor".

Beyond possibly previously Oscared Craig Barron (2 noms / 1 win) I'm not sure who would get Captain America's nomination (should it receive one) since there are several visual effects supervisors most of whom would be first time nominees. But I think the producers ought to think outside the box hyperbaric chamber and consider Simon Waterson, Chris Evans' trainer because this here was the movie's single greatest visual effect...


I rest my case.

If they need further convincing -- perhaps even towards an honorary Oscar --  please to note that Simon Waterson was also responsible for Daniel Craig's Casino Royale body. You owe Simon Waterson, moviegoer, even if you don't know it!

Which 33% of the semi-finalists do you think will call themselves Oscar Nominees come January's end?

Oscar Predictions -Visual Categories


Burning Questions: How Much is "Overdue" Worth?

Michael C here to introduce my new column: Burning Questions. Every week I will tackle an issue of pressing importance to film lovers the world over - or I'll just let fly with whatevers on my mind when I sit down at the laptop. Either way, I'm jazzed to get started. First up, the question of the "career honors" Oscar win. 

One of my most vivid memories as a young Oscar viewer is the '97 race when Juliette Binoche beat out Lauren Bacall’s heavily-favored performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces. The press had declared Bacall a mortal lock. Not only was she Hollywood royalty, she was overdue Hollywood royalty. Should've been nominated for To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and a half dozen others, so forget everything else and bet the farm on the former Mrs. Bogart. The unmistakable shock on both her and Juliette’s face when the envelope was opened suggests they had read the same coverage I had. It turns out that when voters were presented with the privacy of their ballots, Bacall's history of snubs proved no match for a strong performance in a popular film.

Yet despite this, every year we still get prognosticators writing about this or that star's overdue status as if it were a simple bank transaction, collect enough overdue points and trade it in for a shiny new trophy. This year the race is crowded such names. From Christopher Plummer with his career stretching back to Sound of Music, to the equally legendary Max Von Sydow, to five-time runner up Glenn Close, Albert Brooks, Nick Nolte, and the still never nominated Gary Oldman. With so much delayed Oscar justice poised to be dealt out it begs the question:

How much is “overdue” status really worth?

Of course, it's impossible to pin down the murky motives of Oscar voters with much certainty since the Academy doesn’t conduct an exit poll (Now there’s a thought). People often attribute Henry Fonda’s win for On Golden Pond to career honors, to name one example, but I think it had more to do with the fact that his was the strongest nominated performance and it was from one of the year’s most popular films. I think it’s safe to assume even if he had he won for Grapes of Wrath way back in the day, his performance in Pond would have gone home with the trophy anyway. 

To be fair, there are more cut and dry examples. One could make a strong case for John Wayne’s and Paul Newman’s Oscars being as much about career achievement as the winning performances. But even if that were true, it still shows the limits of such sentiments. Both triumphed over relatively weak, or in the Duke’s case divided, competition. If Wayne’s True Grit had come out a year later and gone up against George C. Scott’s Patton, all the overdue standing in the world would not have brought him a victory.

On the other hand, the list of superstars who missed in their last stabs at Oscar glory is long indeed. The wildly overdue Richard Burton lost for the seventh and final time to the youngest Best Actor winner ever up to that time, Richard Dreyfuss. Both Judy Garland and Monty Clift received their last career nominations for Judgment at Nuremberg and both were pushed aside to make way for the fresh-faced stars of West Side Story. The urge to hand Fred Astaire his first and only nod at age 75 was good enough to see him nominated for tripe like Towering Inferno, but all that good will went out the window when he went up against the young DeNiro’s take on Vito Corleone.

And let us not forget Peter O'Toole, the patron saint of Oscar also-rans, who set the all-time record for nominations without a win in '06 when he received his eighth Best Actor nod for Venus.  And what did all that accumulated good will buy him? A front row seat to witness the Forest Whitaker juggernaut cruise to victory - on his first nomination, no less.

So for all the importance placed on it I think it’s fair to say “overdue” status is over-valued. It’s a bump. A nudge. A tie-breaker. Did it help Alan Arkin eke out a win over Eddie Murphy? Probably. Will it be good enough for Glenn Close to beat this year’s stiff Best Actress competition if Albert Nobbs' reception remains lukewarm? Doubtful. In the final tally, the greatest benefit of overdue status lies less in garnering votes and more in garnering buzz, bringing attention to performances that are worthy on their own merit. All the career honors chatter is great for winning Beginners viewers, but when the ballots go out better for people to remember how terrific Plummer is this year than to think back on how badly he was snubbed for The Insider.

Any other questions you want me to tackle? Let me know in the comments. You can follow Michael C. on Twitter at @SeriousFilm


Carpet Convo: New Years Eve & War Horse

Nathaniel: R‪eaders. Welcome back to red carpet convos... It's been forever since we did one which you may interpret as Nathaniel tripping on his heels or stars not bringing it to events or, more accurately, time management issues. But I was actually on a red carpet this week so I figured it was time to reboot the series. Let's start with the glitziest red carpet which was for New Year's Ev‬e. A carpet I was not on. 

Jose: But you should've been! At least to congratulate Lea Michele for not doing one of her obnoxious red carpet faces.

Nathaniel: ‪She seems to be going for some World Record for most photographed (2010-2011). Every time you see events like this the photographers seem to snap 100 photos of her to every 4 of anyone els‬‬e. You'd think she was the star of a TV phenom or something.

Lea, Hilary, Abby, Zac, 'chelle

I love ...but I have a thing for Broadway Babies. Always have. Other things I have a thing for: plunging necklines and champagne dresses on brunettes.

Jose: ‪I find her obnoxious but LOVE the dress and the hair. I think it's the first time where i have no objection whatsoever to how she looks. She often ‪looks too severe and constipated, this is perfect though. Makes me want to go drink with ‬her.

Nathaniel: Hilary wants to go with you guys. "Pick me!"

Jose: She's not invited. The two of them together would be too annoying. 

Nathaniel: But, awwww, she seems so... eager.

Jose: Well she should. Isn't she doing her "forgive me for loving dictators" tour right now?

Nathaniel: I must have the concert tee!

Jose: I'm surprised she didn't show up in a Captain America costume.

Nathaniel: That makes me want to put her in a Wonder Woman outfit. Photoshop Attack! If you wrap a golden lasso around Hilary Swank think of all the truths that would spill out. "I did not deserve my second Oscar" ... "I thought Amelia was boring, too!"... "____complete the sentence in the comments_____"...

Jose: OMG Is that Abigal Breslin? When did she start looking like Nia Vardalos?  I hate that she's all old now.

Nathaniel: What are you? a Hollywood executive? "Get her to a nursing home!" Jesus. She's only 15. Don't feel old, Jose. Young starlets grow up fast.

Jose: I'll want to tear my eyes out when she kisses someone in that movie! She's my Little Miss Sunshine. She shouldn't be kissing boys. I just want cute child stars to retire when they hit puberty. Unless they're Jodie Foster.

Pfeiffer, Tori Amos Tangent and War Horses of different colors (actually just one) after the jump


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