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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Team FYC: Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Belle" for Best Actress

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's abstew on "Belle".

As a graduate of Great Britain's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Gugu Mbatha-Raw was trained in the classics of British theatre. She began her career treading the boards in productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with Andrew Garfield and Hamlet on Broadway with Jude Law. Like most classically trained British thespians making the leap to the big screen, a Merchant Ivory-type period piece would naturally lend itself to her Shakespearean background. But despite her pedigree, Mbatha-Raw probably wouldn't traditionally be cast as Queen Elizabeth I or Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett on film. Which is why her breakout performance as Dido Elizabeth Belle in the real-life story about a biracial heiress in 18th Century England that defied the conventions of the day, couldn't have been a better fit for Mbatha-Raw, tailor-made for her talents and utilizing her classical training.

In most corset dramas, the greatest concerns seem to be about finding a husband to secure financial stability. But Belle, while still maintaining a romance we come to expect from the genre (with Sam Reid's law apprentice, a man as noble and just as he is handsome), is concerned with loftier issues. Race, class, and social injustice are all part of the bigger picture and at its center is the remarkable Mbatha-Raw, giving a face and humanity to what could very easily turn into a film about ideas.

Raised alongside her cousin as if they were sisters, yet at the same time not allowed to dine with her own family, Dido is caught in-between worlds. Mbatha-Raw's expressive face, at turns inquisitive and knowing, effortlessly conveys the internal and emotional struggle Dido confronts everyday. In one heart-breaking scene, she rubs and beats at her skin, its color a constant reminder of her difference. Tears stream down her face as her frustration overwhelms her. And in that moment Mbatha-Raw allows us viscerally to feel Dido's plight, communicating this woman's important and fascinating story with intelligence and compassion.

And if that wasn't enough, Mbatha-Raw showed her range and versatility by delivering an equally compelling performance in a completely different role about identity as a modern-day pop star in Beyond the Lights. But as Dido in Belle, Mbatha-Raw gives the kind of performance that heralds the arrival of a new star, a signature role that will become synonymous with the actress. Hopefully the Academy takes notice as well, rewarding this young thespian with a nomination for her efforts and crowning 2014's best new cinematic discovery. 

 Other FYCs 
Costume Design The Boxtrolls | Production Design Enemy | Editing Citizenfour Makeup and Hair, Only Lovers Left Alive | Best Actor, Locke | Supporting Actress, Gone Girl | Visual FX, Under the Skin | Cinematography, The Homesman | Outstanding Ensembles | Screenplay, The Babadook |  Original ScoreThe Immigrant 

Tuesday
Dec092014

Curio: Holiday Wish List

Alexa here. This year my holiday wish list is filled with boring necessities: socks, bedding, towels, and the always welcome cash money. But on the sly I've been bookmarking some film-themed gifts that I would love to receive as an extra surprise, should Santa be willing.  I hope this list will help you shop for the film lover in your life, or give you some ideas to add to your own holiday wish list.

1. Wild at Heart mug set.  Honestly I can think of nothing better than drinking my morning coffee from Sailor or Lula.  The shop, BagApart, also offers mug sets inspired by Paris, Texas, Blade Runner, The Graduate and more.

 

Click for more Nic Cage, miniature Mendl's pastry, and Only Lovers Left Alive...

 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec092014

SAG Predictions & Other Giggles

Before I begin my sure to be pointless and extremely late SAG predictions, I must share this good LOL. For the past 48 hours IMDb had had a hilariously odd Golden Globes 2015 page up that Nick pointed out on twitter. They FINALLY fixed it this evening but I took a screenshot earlier, knowing it would eventually vanish, to prove it once existed.

I probably shouldn't have photoshopped the screenshot to underline (aka magnify) the funny but I swear to you this actually existed.

 

Best Motion Picture Drama - The Expendables 3 

Hee! It's even funnier because it wasn't "nominated" for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.

Ansel Elgort will be announcing the SAG nominees but I will not try to justify this gif by suggesting after the jump that Christoph Waltz will be nominated for Big Eyes even though the Expendables 3 also features old European dudes repeating their beloved schtick to diminishing returns.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec082014

Best American Films & Television This Year? 

Does production money really equal nationality? The American Film Institute does many wonderful things in the world including the highly enjoyable AFI film festival in Los Angeles each year (free for movie-lovers! and not many things are) but each year I feel the side-eye urge when they announce their top Ten American films and TV programs.

They use a shifting jury each year but I always wonder how they choose those jury members because the lists often betray an obvious desire to be "relevant" when it comes to TV usually including a defining popular hit even if the quality is shit (Look, I think "trash" has a place in "best of" lists but it needs to be good trash and How to Get Away with Murder is, frankly, bad trash. Poorly written, unevenly acted. Etcetera. I watched it and wrote about it, so I know) whereas with movies they seem quite beholden to Oscar buzz each year, often opting for films that don't fit their criteria as a result (The Imitation Game is a movie about Engand, starring British actors and directed by a Norwegian) or which haven't opened; this year's top ten list, which includes 11 films so AFI is even worse at math than I am, is 36% movies that haven't opened yet. 

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE MOVIES OF THE YEAR

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman (Or, the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Nightcrawler
  • Selma
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash 

Aside from Nightcrawler you could have lifted that list from virtually any 15 wide Oscar Best Picture prediction chart (like uh my own) and simply extracted the other British film (Theory of Everything), the film that opened the longest ago because "old" things are gross (Grand Budapest Hotel), Gone Girl (even though the AFI usually does try and throw one zeitgeist blockbuster into the list so its absence is surprising and at the very wrong time when we're trying to get people to notice Carrie Coon! ) and there it is, no thought processes required beyond Oscar-watching expertise!

Here is my favorite tweet about the list from A24 Films which missed...

 

 

And my own because, you know, i WOULD waste the question this way...

 

 

AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

  • The Americans
  • Fargo
  • Game of Thrones
  • How to Get Away With Murder
  • Jane the Virgin -keep hearing this is great. guess I should watch
  • The Knick
  • Mad Men - here's to consistent pleasure even if the half season is a cheat
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Silicon Valley
  • Transparent - brilliant. addictive

this is what i'll be remembered for ??? *shudder*

WHERE IS BOB'S BURGERS!?!?!? My heart just pooped its pants. 

 

Monday
Dec082014

Open Thread. Wanna Help with my Critics Choice Ballot? 

Nobody was more badass than Emily Blunt as the Full Metal Bitch ... no matter what you're calling the movie nowYesterday I shared the eligibility list (not-official, but Nathaniel-created) for an underdiscussed Critics Choice category "Young Actor/Actress" but that's not the only category that the BFCA has that isn't discussed enough to insure widespread careful consideration for a strong lineup. Here are some other categories you can help me with.

FYC your favorites in the comments for the following COMEDY & ACTION categories! We're only allowed 3 votes in each so there are some no brainers for yours truly: Rose Byrne for Comedy Actress (Neighbors) i imagine she's a longshot for a Globe nomination which pisses me off to no end; Emily Blunt for action actress (Edge of Tomorrow); Captain America: Winter Soldier for Action movie... and it's just no contest. Other movies: You got nothing on Cappy in that elevator. Sorry bout it!

BEST ACTION MOVIE
BEST ACTOR in an ACTION MOVIE - name AND film
BEST ACTRESS in an ACTION MOVIE - name AND film


BEST COMEDY
BEST ACTOR in a COMEDY - name AND film
BEST ACTRESS in a COMEDY - name AND film

BEST SCI-FI/HORROR MOVIE
For some reason this one doesn't get acting categories to go with it. I'm a member but the Critics Choice Awards sometimes feel poorly thought out in terms of categories. Either commit or don't, you know? 

Monday
Dec082014

Beauty vs Beast: All The Cool Girls

Jason from MNPP here, saying tis the time for a round of "Beauty vs Beast" once more. This week we're finally tackling one of this year's biggest movies, David Fincher's Gone Girl - financially it's the biggest hit of its director's career, and critically, well a lot of people loved it and are hoping to see it figure prominently in the upcoming awards races. (I am not one of those people; I reviewed it at NYFF saying "a lot of what makes Amy into 'Amazing Amy,' what makes her particularly spectacular on the page, is the deeply darkly funny specificity of her voice, unpeeling like an onion, and that falls away from the movie just when I needed it most.") Anyway there's a good chance Rosamund Pike will be nominated for her performance as Amazing Amy, and it'll probably show up in some other categories as well. And if there's a bigger He Said She Said movie of 2014 I certainly missed it, so let's see who we side with!

 

I might have gone a little vague there in the Cons maybe...? The Pros were easy to be spoiler-free on, but listing these two's Cons without giving away too much of the game, that defeated me. If y'all have seen the movie you've certainly got your own laundry list of them, so tell us all about it in the comments.

PREVIOUSLY Last week we tackled the sisters of Blue Jasmine for Woody Allen's birthday, and even though Sally put up a helluva fight, as with the Oscars we couldn't help ourselves from lavishing our love on the showier gal. The Great Cate makes one more successful trek to the podium! Said Jakey:

"Jasmine, because when my life falls apart, I also wonder why I can't just get a Stoli with lemon."

Monday
Dec082014

It's a Linky Monday

Manuel here to offer you a news link roundup to kick off this week.

ComingSoon Is it really possible all press materials (save this offical photo) for Thomas Vinterberg's adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd starring Carey Mulligan & Matthias Schoenaerts have gone unremarked here at TFE? Let's fix that by staring at this gorgeous poster.
Marvel In case you missed it last week, Marvel offered some more casting news for their ever-expanding universe, including Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones in its upcoming Netflix series and Benedict Cumberbatch (officially!) as Doctor Strange in the eponymous film due November 2016.
SlashFilm In other franchise news, Roberto Orci will no longer be directing Star Trek 3 which I'm sure is good news for some other first time white male director looking to make his big break. I kid! But only sort of.
The Guardian “My whole career is always a roller-coaster. I’m so random and spontaneous and unusual in my choices – I never expect anything.” - Nicole Kidman, Queen of understatements at the Australian Paddington premiere.
Screen Crush writes up a list of The Highest Grossing Actors of 2014 though, as they note they used "an extremely liberal definition of 'actor' and 'appearance'" which explains its rather silly #1 spot.
The Hollywood Reporter Natalie Portman's troubled Jane Got a Gun got a new release date. No longer will the western be released next February; we'll have to wait until September to see it. I can't decide whether that's an improvement or not.
Dwayne Johnson We were just talking about Disney's upcoming Moana and it now seems the erstwhile Rock will lend its voice to the animated film. 

The Season Continues

BIFA It was a great day for TFE favorite Pride over at the BIFAs (the British Independent Film Awards) which nabbed the top prize while Imelda Staunton and Andrew Scott picked up supporting acting prizes for it as well. 
Mother Jones If you caught Jean-Marc Vallée's newest film ths weekend, check out this interview with Cheryl Strayed on having Reese Witherspoon play her in Wild. 
InContention David Oyelowo and the cast of The Imitation Game have been added to the increasingly exhaustive list of names to be feted by the Palm Springs Film Festival.
Time names its Top 10 Best Films (topped by The Grand Budapest Hotel but including some interesting titles like Lucy and Jodorowsky's Dune). 
EW meanwhile singles out Whiplash as the year's best. 

Videos of the Day

Check out A Most Violent Year co-stars Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain chat about acting while looking ridiculously pretty (of course), and below, find a video by yours truly focused on the way gay men are represented on screen, featuring clips from Brokeback Mountain, Angels in America, Skyfall, Rope and over 80 other films/tv shows.

Gay Men on Screen: A Place for Us (Supercut) from Manuel Betancourt on Vimeo.