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Tuesday
Jan052016

IMDb's Top 10 Movers and Shakers of 2015

Manuel here. 2015 may be over but 2015 lists won’t stop for another week or two. This one comes courtesy of IMDB. In their own words, “the rising stars on this list experienced the largest increase in their best weekly STARmeter ranking in 2015 as compared to 2014.” If you’re like me and had to confirm what an actor’s STARmeter is, know that it basically calculates people’s awareness:

The primary measure is who and what people are looking at on IMDb.”

Testament of Youth co-stars make the 2015 list

It’s a fascinating list if one that skews young, white, and television-heavy. I have to admit I could only easily identify half the list and those are primarily the ones in the thick of awards conversation. From the 10 listed, we have 2 Golden Globe nominees, and 3 SAG-nominated actors.

Unsurprisingly, the list is full of pretty faces that you’ll recognize from established TV tentpoles like Fear the Walking Dead, buzzy Netflix series like Narcos, Orange is the New Black, Sense8, as well as big box office hits like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Straight Outta Compton. Of course, 2015's “It girl”/ hardest working actress Alicia Vikander makes the list though she’s probably lower than we’d all have wagered. A reminder, perhaps, that prestige “rising stars” can sometimes exist in their own little critical bubble. [More...]

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Monday
Jan042016

Interview: Lucinda Coxon's 11 Years With "The Danish Girl" 

One of this season's most talked about movies, The Danish Girl, set tongues wagging long before anyone had seen a single frame. Years before in fact. It wasn't just the subject matter, though the subject matter would have been enough. The Danish Girl tells the true story of married painters Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander) and Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) who struggle to come to grips with Einar's true identity, Lili Elbe. Lili was one of the first trans women to ever undergo gender confirmation surgery which was then an experimental series of surgery. It's a difficult subject to dramatize, and a difficult subject to talk about particularly given how quickly the verbiage and discourse has changed across the decades. People didn't know how to talk about it in 1930 when the story was a very current sensation in Denmark and Germany and do people really know how to talk about it now? A quick perusal of any trans story around the internet will tell you the answer is still no. 

It's always a particular challenge for heavily buzzed pictures to get out into the marketplace and form their own identity outside of everyone's pre-screening perceptions of them. Oscar winner Tom Hooper's (The King's Speech) latest is definitely no exception. Even the casting, which wouldn't have been all that controversial even a handful of years ago other than in a rubber-necking kind of "Oscar bait" way, has been the subject of spirited debates along the lines of "shouldn't a trans actor be playing the part?" But films take a long time to make. Who could have known the happy development in the past few years in regards to trans visibility in Transparent, Tangerine, Orange is the New Black

The Danish Girl's complicated gestation period is where I began when i sat down with the woman who'd been with the project the longest, its screenwriter Lucinda Coxon. Our interview is after the jump... 

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Monday
Jan042016

A Bigger Link

/Film the first footage from Disney's Moana
Playbill Rapper Daveed Diggs on getting his shot on Broadway's smash hit Hamilton expanding the world. (I hope to one day see this show. C'mon lottery gods!)
Gizmodo an exo suit from Edge of Tomorrow constructed from junk!
MNPP pic of the day Matthias Schoenaerts in A Bigger Splash 


Comics Alliance apparently director James Gunn says Captain America: Civil War is awesome and this has excited the internet for some reason. Next time someone OUTSIDE of Marvel's employ enthuses about one of their movies early, get back to us?
The Envelope thinks that Mad Max Fury Road and Carol will lead Oscar nominations (with 9 each). I dare not hope that this is true because that's just so much fabulousness in one Oscar year.
/Film claims that the breakout character of Star Wars is TR-8R -- this shows how well we've been following Star Wars stanning because who knew?
Cinema Blend Joss Whedon talks about why he's done with Marvel 
Reverse Shot a deeply insightful look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens - it's possible that f I've linked to this before but even so, it's a must read. 
Towleroad Matt Bomer covers Men's Fitness credits Channing Tatum for his current peak physique

Hateful Tangents
Interview talks to Demian Bichir about his first gig with Tarantino. Bichir gave the second best performance in it if you ask me because he realized in the absence of being given a real character to play, play a Real Character.
Slate the Movie Club is in session and it's hilarious and thoughtful as always. They argue over whether The Hateful Right is "ineffably evil", share the joys of Spy and Carol, and observe tricky critical duties as with Tangerine and The Danish Girl. Bonus points for the "f*** this thing" cat gif.
Cinematic Corner on her issues with the heroism of rapists and murderers in The Hateful Eight.

I'm trying to let hate for Hateful Eight go, I really am. But it's like an exorcism. It takes time and I guess I've still got some pea soup to vomit up. I've made no secret that I personally despise this movie -- but I have been reading reviews with kind of a morbid fascination because of how much people try to say it's still somehow a good movie after lining up their lengthy issues with it. I'm not the only one who has noticed this

It is not a good movie. In fact it's kind of a betrayal of Tarantino by Tarantino because it's him fucking up things he used to do better than anyone. There is zero depth to the characterizations beyond the most simplistic "What a character!" outline, the gore (such as exploding heads) adds nothing other than wank-bank material for sadists, the dialogue is severely lacking in his usual cleverness, and worst of all Tarantino displays none of his usual skill at that constant electric hum of "shit is about to go down!" that powers all of his best films. The only tension in this particular movie is wondering when the shit will finally go down so that it will end. If you think of all of his best films the tension is alive in every scene. The scenes repeatedly feel dangerous as if anything might happen. And something nearly always does. Here we basically have any of those individual scenes only they're now 3 hours long and the tension just goes out of it completely because who cares?

In short, stop justifying this work people; It's okay to think a movie is terrible when it is! Most great auteurs have a dud (or five) somewhere in their filmography. If we try to convince ourselves that every thing a single person makes is masterful, we are denying our own critical faculties and it also makes our love for their true masterpieces highly suspect.  For instance here are a five filmmakers I regularly cite when people ask me for "all time favorites": Haynes, Almodovar, Cameron, Minnelli, Hitchcock. All of them have made a film or films that were not that great or that I could not personally connect to. That does not lessen their genius for me. That just means they're human and it helps me to appreciate their masterworks more because I know the love is true and not me trying to argue myself into fandom.

Try this at home. Realize that The Hateful Eight is a shit movie and go back to loving any of his much better films. And cry with me when The Hateful Eight takes Oscar nominations from far more deserving players in ten days time.

On to Happier Thoughts...
Anne Hathaway shared a photo of herself on Instagram pregnant in a bikini!

She did this in order to kill off a paparazzi's shot at making a ton of money off of creeping on her at the beach. Smart girl. We don't follow celebrity pregnancies so have no idea when she's due but it looks like soon... CONGRATS TO ANNIE & HUSBAND.

List-Mania
Top Tens: Variety (Guy Lodge),  The Telegraph (Robbie Collins); Slate (Dana Stevens); Pop Culture Crazy (Kacey Bange)
Lists Lists ListsGothamist (Best Celebrity Subway Sightings); Pajiba (Seriously F*** That Guy - a retrospective of rage); Pajiba (5 Most Intriguing new Netflix Series. They don't mention Daredevil because it's about new series but season 2 kicks off in March, fwiw); Forbes releases their "30 Under 30" List which includes both of The Force Awakens new stars, natch, as well as all three Straight Outta Compton leads. 

First Oscar Commercial of the New Year
Chris Rock kinda sorta prophesies those annual nasty post-show reviews you read every year.

 

Monday
Jan042016

Red Carpet: Palm Springs Film Festival

Jose here with great news. Apparently Cate Blanchett decided to listen to my prayers (yes, I pray to her) and - after a good, but slightly underwhelming fashion run - finally went back to wowing us. She is the epitome of Kate Hepburn-effortless-glamour in a sky-hued Marc Jacobs gown, with a stunning gold applique-Rorschach-test that screams "Awards season Queen is here, biatches" (And screams it right in other celebrities ears. See tweets from Carol's genius screenwriter Phyllis Nagy, Cate's Best Actress competition Brie Larson and images of Rooney Mara, too.)

Cate was benevolent enough to also let Alicia Vikander out of her leathery/earthy Louis Vuitton curse, and allow her to wear a delicious Erdem gown that's the most playful we've seen her yet. My usual quandary with Vikander comes in her usually meh choice of footwear, which always seem to be inspired by Charlotte York. Ooh, interesting game here, which of these ladies whould be which Sex and the City character? Dame Helen is of course the Samantha, in yet another elegantly sexy design by Alberta Ferreti. The lovely Saoirse Ronan in a multicolored/multipattern Duro Olowu is all kinds of perfect and age appropriate.

Less impressive, yawn inducing even, are potential Oscar winners Rooney Mara and Brie Larson, both of whom exist only within the confinements of an "if it ain't broken" universe. They're both beautiful, but I bet I could have found any picture of any other ceremony they've attended, inserted it here, and fooled everyone. Mara is in Lanvin, Larson in Jason Wu. Just a thought, would their styles become slightly more exciting if we Freaky Friday-ed them? It's about time Rooney did some more color, and Larson put her hair in a bun, or anything other than her usual pulled back, wet look

How would you improve these two soon-to-be awards season fixtures? 

Monday
Jan042016

The Greatest Pick Up Line in Movie History

Mic drop. No really. 

Imagine you're Therese. It's 1952, you look like Rooney Mara, you're wearing a Santa hat, you're hawking a pile of terrifying looking but also freakishly gender-normative dolls, there's a sign behind you that says "Mommy's Baby," and you've got the span of one sale to signal your romantic viability to customer and apparent goddess Carol.

What's your move? Coquettishly mention that her daughter's chosen doll, Bright Betsy, has a capacity for secretion? No? And that's why Cate Blanchett's not your girlfriend.

Monday
Jan042016

ACE Noms Ignore Spotlight, Love Joy. What is Happening? 

The ACE Eddie Nominations are out and as usual there are some real head-scratchers. The guild nominations that precede Oscar noms tend to throw something or other for a loop in terms of perceptions of what the industry loves. Or perhaps it's less complicated than we always assume and it's merely that those who vote on awards just don't see that many movies. Guild types are often more busy making movies than watching them after all.

One head scratcher: I'm not sure how we've ended up in a world where Joy, David O. Russell's latest ode to Jennifer Lawrence, is nominated for its editing. I don't mean to pick on the picture as I actually think it's far better than its reviews imply and am happy to have company with Nick and Jose on this; it seems fairly obvious that the nation's film critics are working through their David O. Russell issues now that he's made a woman's picture. But for all of Joy's underdiscussed strengths the editing is not one of them. This is no mark against any of its four editors who've done great work in the past but it's fairly obvious that they're struggling with a film that is so multi-toned and multi-authored and possibly unfinished and trying to make the most of its competing impulses and weird detours. The picture struggles to find its rhythm throughout. 

But let's not pick on Joy because people have been way too mean to it. The nominees and more thoughts are after the jump. 

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