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100 Best of the 21st Century?

"Carol >>>>>>>>>> most of these movies" - Clarence

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Friday
May022014

First Round Oscar Predix: Animated Feature

The first chart is up and we're starting with the toons since they're the easiest to tackle given a limited slate of contenders. Not that "easy" is a word one should use when surveying the current state of animation which is, shall we say, robust. Give or take live action superheroes, it's the single most popular film genre in the US marketplace. We'd prefer to call animation a "medium" which is more accurate given that there's no reason why there couldn't be animated dramas, noirs, westerns, horror flicks, thrillers, etcetera but in the US at least animation is not a medium but a genre (the computer generated family action comedy... with or without musical numbers).

Is Laika Animation still too unique for Oscar or are they 'thisclose' to finally winning? Could The Boxtrolls be their breakthrough?

In terms of the Oscar race ahead, I've already heard whisperings (including my own preemie voice) that this will be a slim or "weak" year but let's not get ahead of ourselves. That's what everyone was saying last year and everyone turned out to be wrong. Last year's shortlist was hardly an embarassment; Frozen, Ernest & Celestine, and The Wind Rises would be a fairly worthy trio of nominees in any year and The Croods wasn't half bad. (I never saw Despicable Me 2 but its popularity with the public was indisputable)

While I still think there's very little cause for this particular category to exist given the expanded Best Picture field, the animated genre produces its fair share of strong movies annually with most of the major studios upping their games steadily after nearly 20 years of watching Pixar horde all the loot & respect. The problem in current perception may well be Pixar itself. They've finally proven themselves fallible critically and awards-wise (they missed even a nomination in 2 of the last 3 Oscar battles) and 2015 is the first year in a decade without a new Pixar film in release. That was bound to cast weird shadows on "The State of Animation." But the sky isn't falling. If you love animation there are still a lot of films to look forward to.

first look at a fictional San Francisco in "Big Hero 6"

 

The Chart!
Which of these films are you most looking forward to and what you think will become of animation in the next few years? Do you think the race will be hotly contested this year or we'll have another slam dunk like Frozen?

Friday
May022014

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Linkdown

Art of the Title has an amazing 3-part retrospective / interview with title designer Pablo Ferro. His work includes: Bullitt, Married to the Mob, Dr Strangelove, Beetlejuice, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and so many other greats
The New Yorker "why Mean Girls is a classic" even esteemed publications got into the 10th anniversary frenzy. Good piece from Richard Brody
The Dissolve Joaquin Phoenix will headline the next Woody Allen film, the one after Magic in the Moonlight. The prolific auteur isn't slowing down his one-a-year pac. Phoenix isn't slowing down either; remember how just a few short years ago, people thought Phoenix's career was over? The joke was on us.) 

 

Vulture Bilge Ebiri sticks his neck out for "Why Adam Sandler Matters"
Paper Mag 5 Most Swintessential Moments from Tilda Swinton's career. Love this though none are her actual acting & filmography which is tops. 
Playbill Idina Menzel & Julie Andrews talk FrozenWicked and The Sound of Music Live! on "Watch What Happens Live". Julie is very magnanimous about Carrie Underwood but I love the hint of 'i'm aware you all think i'm just being diplomatic' utter vagueness of "acting is acting is acting". Ha!

I thought she was great. Listen, she made it her own. But listen: acting is acting is acting."

The Wire pontificates on Emma Stone's career now that redundant superhero movie is in theaters. Shouldn't her career be so much more by now?
Cosmopolitan interviews Amy Schumer on 'sneaky feminism,' Parker Posey, plastic surgery and Judd Apatow's Trainwreck
Pajiba this is how you assemble a damn cast. On Joe Swanberg's wonderful ensembles 
AV Club is fear of TV cancellations a thing of the past? Shows with low ratings are no longer automatically doomed and fan passion counts for far more than it once did.
Gothamist wonders if James Franco is doing okay. Get out of bed! 

Today's Must Read
Cléo wonderfully provocative piece on "Samantha" in Her (now on DVD) from Angelo Muredda:

Early on, Samantha is eager to establish herself as, if not a human, then at least something more ambitious than a machine. She proudly proclaims that what makes her her is the ability to grow through her experiences. “So basically,” she says, “in every moment I’m evolving, just like you.” The latter part of that statement reads as a veiled threat to Theodore, who seems rather stalled in his moody present state as a sad man who writes other people’s love letters for a living despite being unable to sign his own divorce papers. It is a succinct expression of the film’s male smugness: that a girlfriend who begins excited about the world and her boyfriend’s witty emails is still a girlfriend who will one day leave.

 

Friday
May022014

What's the Best Film Title of All Time?

I posed this question on Twitter the other day and got some interesting responses. The question popped to mind because The Film Society is hosting a Rainer Werner Fassbinder retrospective this month and I've always worshipped the title The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972). It's just unbeatably evocative and memorable. Hollywood prefers more generic titles of course; recently John Carter of Mars, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, How To Catch a Monster, and Can A Song Save Your Life were abbreviated and drained of all specificity and interest.  

Here were some responses I received to challenge those "bitter tears" from awesome people like Shane, Clara, and Conor ...

 

I have to admit they're true contenders. Maybe you'd like to add a film title to this honored list?


Thursday
May012014

50th anniversary: Mothra vs. Godzilla

Tim here. As the Film Experience’s resident giddy Godzilla fanboy, I’m as excited as anybody else for the increasingly buzzy new movie starring the world’s most famous giant lizard opening in just two weeks. But with 60 years of history, there’s more Godzilla to love than just one more CGI-driven popcorn epic in a sea of them.

I bring this up because on top of all the other Godzilla-related anniversary antics going on right now (including, in several cities, revivals of the series-starting1954 film in its original Japanese version), this week marks the 50th anniversary of what many of us consider to be the best of all the Godzilla sequels: Mothra vs. Godzilla, also known in English as Godzilla vs. the Thing and Godzilla vs. Mothra, because nothing can ever be easy, least of all fantasy movies about people in rubber suits. It was the last film in the series until the 1980s that presented Godzilla as a real, significant threat, and not a lovable anti-hero or out-and-out protagonist; it was also the first movie whose American cut was largely identical to the one seen in Japan. Though it’s still worth watching it in Japanese, and getting the weird mental disconnect between watching a subtitled movie (which typically reads as “classy”) and watching a movie about giant monsters (which… doesn’t).

Tiny women, giant moths, and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May012014

"You're going to be the patient, and I'm going to take you in"

Millie: Okay, now what's wrong with ya? 
Pinky: Nuthin'
Millie: Well there's gotta be something wrong with ya."
Meet Millie (Shelley Duvall, Cannes Best Actress Winner / BAFTA Best Actress Nominee) and Pinky (Sissy Spacek). You won't ever forget them once you do. Join us Tuesday night when Hit Me With Your Best Shot looks at Robert Altman's 3 Women (1977). It's available on Netflix Instant Watch, Amazon Instant, and iTunes. Watch it, choose a shot, and play along!
Thursday
May012014

'April Foolish' in May. Oscar Predix Prep Work

It's almost past time for the April Foolish Oscar Predi --  SIGH...

Okay, yes, kids. I'm behind. Before we get started on the April Foolish Oscar Predictions which have somehow migrated to May, I'd like your input a wee bit. Please peruse my list of films to watch out for in one to nineteen ways after the jump and let me know if I'm missing any you've heard about or are excited for. I don't want to post anything official if I'm stupidly forgetting a film somewhere.

Why do I say "one to nineteen" ways?

 Well that's how many feature film Oscar categories there are if you ignore, for the time being, the documentary and foreign film categories which have different rules and which we don't make year-in-advance predictions for. Technically there are 21 feature film specific categories (the 3 shorts categories make the Oscar 24)  but no film could be eligible in all of them since there are competing categories like Original and Adapted Screenplay. What's more, a film that could theoretically qualify for all three "special" feature prizes (Foreign Film / Animated / Documentary) like a Waltz With Bashir is never going to be nominated for all three and find itself eligible for acting prizes and craft categories. 

MUCH MUCH MORE AFTER THE JUMP

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May012014

12 Thoughts I Had... While Watching "Pocahontas" Again

In the effort to be more succinct each week in my best shot entry -- it's called 'Best Shot' not "Ginormous Review of Everything I Think About This Movie and My 25 Favorite Images" and I'm so guilty of muddying that water --  I'm going to try and relegate all extraneous feelings into an additional catch-all post. So herewith some more ravings about Pocahontas and its relation to the Disney oeuvre (particularly Frozen). 

They're presented in mostly random chronological order. Thoughts I jotted down while watching or feelings I was feeling. So many felt feelings.

Confession: I almost never like Disney's Opening Songs. From The Little Mermaid's "Fathoms Below" through Frozen's weird chanting that sounds vaguely African though it's meant to be Norwegian, they're always B side filler, meant only to prep you for all the show tunes headed your way. The lone exception is surely The Lion King's "Circle of Life" which is really an A+ opening scene every way you look at it. 

• Thomas is totally gay (and gay for John Smith). [More...]

Click to read more ...