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Monday
Nov032014

134 Semi-Finalists for Best Documentary Feature

Whoopsy. I forgot to share this list... Herewith the films that could be up for Best Documentary Feature this year. We'll get a finalist of 15 at some point next month followed by 5 nominees in January "until we crown A WINNAH!" If we've reviewed the titles, you'll notice their pretty color which you can then click on to read about them. The magic of the internet. You can also see the animated and documentary Oscar charts here.

The 134 Semi-Finalists

A-C
Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq, Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case, Algorithms, Alive Inside, All You Need Is Love, Altina, America: Imagine the World without Her, American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, Anita, Antarctica: A Year on Ice, Art and Craft, Awake: The Life of Yogananda, The Barefoot Artist, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, Before You Know It, Bitter Honey, Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, Botso The Teacher from Tbilisi, Captivated The Trials of Pamela Smart, The Case against 8, Cesar’s Last Fast, Citizen Koch, CitizenFour, Code Black, Concerning Violence, The Culture High, Cyber-Seniors

D-F
DamNation, Dancing in Jaffa, Death Metal Angola, The Decent One, Dinosaur 13, Do You Know What My Name Is?, Documented, The Dog, E-Team, Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, Elena, Evolution of a Criminal, Fed Up, Finding Fela, Finding Vivian Maier, Food Chains, The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, Getting to the Nutcracker, Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me, Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia, The Great Flood, The Great Invisible, The Green Prince, The Hacker Wars, The Hadza: Last of the First, Hanna Ranch, Happy Valley, The Hornet’s Nest

I-M
I Am Ali, If You Build It, The Immortalists, The Internet’s Own Boy, Ivory Tower, James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Journey of a Female Comic, Keep On Keepin’ On, Kids for Cash, The Kill Team, Korengal, La BareLast Days in Vietnam, Last Hijack, The Last Patrol, Levitated Mass, Life Itself, Little White Lie, Llyn Foulkes One Man Band, Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, Manakamana, Merchants of Doubt, Mission Blue, Mistaken for Strangers, Mitt, Monk with a Camera, Nas: Time Is Illmatic, National Gallery, Next Goal Wins, Next Year Jerusalem, Night Will Fall, No Cameras Allowed, Now: In the Wings on a World Stage

O-R
Occupy the Farm, The Only Real Game, The Overnighters, Particle Fever, Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes, Pelican Dreams, The Pleasures of Being Out of Step, Plot for Peace, Point and Shoot, Poverty Inc., Print the Legend, Private Violence, Pump, Rabindranath Tagore – The Poet of Eternity, Red Army, Remote Area Medical, Rich Hill, The Rule, The Salt of the Earth, Shadows from My Past, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, A Small Section of the World, Smiling through the Apocalypse – Esquire in the 60s, Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, The Supreme Price

T-Z
Tales of the Grim Sleeper, Tanzania: A Journey Within, This Is Not a Ball, Thomas Keating: A Rising Tide of Silence, Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, True Son, 20,000 Days on Earth, Unclaimed, Under the Electric Sky, Underwater Dreams, Virunga, Waiting for August, Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, Warsaw Uprising, Watchers of the Sky, Watermark, We Are the Giant, We Could Be King, Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger, A World Not Ours

IDA Nominees
Nominations were also recently announced for the International Documentary Association Awards and the IDA Nominees for Best Documentary Feature are all represented here: Finding Vivian Maier (also honored for its writing), Citizen Four, Point and Shoot, The Salt of the Earth, and Tales of the Grim Sleeper. Other films on this long list receiving IDA nominations in various categories are: Keep on Keepin' On (Humanitas Nominee), Last Days in  Vietnam (Best Editing), and two films honored for their compelling use of news footage (Captivated the Trial of Pamela Smart & Concerning Violence), and Evolution of a Criminal (Emerging Filmmaker Prize)

Absent from the List
I'm disappointed not to see Stray Dog from Debra Granik. The Possibilities are Endless which was just nominated for a BIFA today is also absent. But the real shockers are no Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait or The Look of Silence, a sequel of sorts to Oscar nominee The Act of Killing, which have both received nothing but raves. But then again it's always desperately confusing as to when and why documentaries qualify for Oscars. Maybe we'll see them on next year's eligible list since some of the titles in the list above are over a year old?

Monday
Nov032014

British Independent Film Award Nominations

Manuel here bringing you fresh awards news from across the pond.

O'Connell in the Belfast riots film '71

The British Independent Film Awards (I will kindly refuse adding the requisite champagne-sponsor ahead of their name) announced their nominations earlier this morning and from the looks of it, we are surely headed for a fascinating "Year of Jack O'Connell" narrative to shape up in the next few months. We already got a nice glimpse of his physique in Starred Uphere he's racked up a nod for nomination leader '71 (reviewed by Nathaniel), and that small film Unbroken will by year's end cement him as not only an up and comer but a firmly established rising star.

While I have yet to catch many of these (Pride and Frank's strong showings are gentle reminders that I really have no excuse for not doing so already), I have to say a lot of these categories look quite impressive; that Best Actress lineup (Pei Pei, Knightley, Jabeen Ahmed, Mbatha-Raw and Vikander) is wonderfully diverse while that International Independent Film category (with Ida, Blue Ruin, Boyhood and The Badadook) seems cooked up by (and for!) the TFE community.

Catch the full list of nominations after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov032014

The Honoraries: Maureen O'Hara in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)

In "The Honoraries" we're looking at the careers of this year's Honorary Oscar recipients (O'Hara, Miyazaki, Carriere) and the Jean Hersholt winner (Belafonte). Here's Nathaniel...

Sanctuary ! Sanctuary !

You often feel like you've seen the classics, even if you haven't. Victor Hugo published "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 183 years ago and like most enduring classics, including Hugo's other culturally imposing masterwork "Les Miserables,"  it feels familiar even if you have no first-hand experiences with it. Hunchback, like Les Miz, has been adapted several times but has actually been musicalized more often. I regret to inform that I had never seen the 1939 RKO version starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara until now so the Disney version was my only true cinematic reference point, at first forcing comparisons where I didn't want to see anyway.

The easiest comparison to shake off was Esmeralda, since Maureen O'Hara's fresh faced  breakthrough slipping through crowds and dancing in circles with her tambourine, beats Disney's Gypsy princess voiced by Demi Moore instantaneously. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Nov022014

Podcast: Birdman, Pride and Nightcrawler

In this episode of the podcast, Nathaniel, Nick, Joe and Katey are charmed by Pride's ensemble balancing act and political smarts. Then we're adamantly split on the merits of Birdman and but (mostly) thrilled by its craft wizardry. The acting also impresses with special attention paid to Michael Keaton's closeups, Andrea Riseborough's surprise facility with "fun" and Nick's Edward Norton problem. We wrap up with Nightcrawler's duet between eye-popping Jake Gyllenhaal (who splits opinion) and Rene Russo who deserves more good roles immediately. "Get it bitch!"

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download on iTunes tomorrow (it generally takes 24 hours to show up there). Continue the conversation in the comments! 

Birdman & Nightcrawler

Sunday
Nov022014

Box Office Dies. Nightcrawler Shoots It.

Amir here, reporting to box office duty. It was a dead weekend at the multiplex, deader than the dead in Ouija, deader than zombies. Though it was not, strictly speaking, the worst weekend of the year – that honor belongs to the weekend of September 5th, when Guardians of the Galaxy, in its sixth week, topped the chart and the biggest new release was The Identical, a musical with Ray Liotta and Ashley Judd!!! – it was still a terrible weekend.

 

TOP DOZEN
01 NIGHTCRAWLER $10.9 NEW
02 OUIJA $10.9 (cum. $34.9)  
03 FURY $9.1 (cum. $60.4) Michael's Review
04 GONE GIRL $8.8  (cum. $136.6)  Jason's Review
05 THE BOOK OF LIFE $8.3 (cum. $40.5) Interview
06 JOHN WICK $8 (cum. $27.5) Michael's Review
07 ST. VINCENT $7.7 (cum. $19.5) Michael's Review
08 ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE... $6.4 (cum. $53.6)
09 THE JUDGE $3.4 (cum. $39.5) 
10 DRACULA UNTOLD $2.9 (cum. $52.8)
11 THE BEST OF ME $2.7 (cum. $21.9) 
12 BIRDMAN $2.5 (cum. $5) Nathaniel's Review

Nightcrawler, the critically acclaimed crime film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, opened at the top spot, but at the estimated $10.9m, it’s the lowest grossing new release to top its weekend in this entire decade so far. By all accounts, the film deserves a bigger audience, but the number isn’t exactly a surprise because a) Halloween weekend is never a great time for non-horror films and b) Gyllenhaal hasn’t really opened a film big on his own. The other new wide release Before I Go To Sleep with Nicole Kidman finished outside the top ten with 2 million. Birdman, still platforming at 231 screens now but almost cracking the top ten, maintained the best screen average for the third weekend in a row. It will surpass Iñarittu's own Biutiful and Amores Perros in total sales sometime today. 

UP NEXT: November will bring us some of the year’s biggest box office hopefuls. Here are each week’s major openings for the remainder of the month: Interstaller and Big Hero 6 (7) ; Dumb and Dumber To (14);  Hunger Games: Mockingjay (21) a sure bet to take Guardians of the Galaxy’s #1 of year throne; Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 (26) -- oh, c’mon you know you’re waiting for this one! More exciting times are ahead.

What did you watch this weekend?

Sunday
Nov022014

Record

Saturday
Nov012014

AHS: Freakshow "Edward Mordrake Pt. 2"

I apologize for the lateness of this piece! AHS's two-part Halloween episode was structured around green smoke spewing evil spirit Edward Mordrake's search for another soul to add to his collection of dead ghouls. This search was something like a B story entirely made up of SAG Ensemble clip reel auditions with several actors getting their own "darkest hour" backstory to tell. I loved the Illustrated Seal's (Mat Fraser) clip reel about his "handsome face" and am pleased to have read that Ryan Murphy, recognizing his talent, wants to give him a non-freak role somehow in a future season, despite his deformed hands and arms.

After completely the sad story roundup, Mordrake decides to take Elsa (Jessica Lange) with him into the afterlife following her grisly tale of her Weimer Era Germany sex club stardom ends in the grisly chain-sawing of her legs. (Yuck -- and that isn't even the grossest image in her story). But, Mordrake stops when he hears distant music.

Where is it coming from?

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov012014

Meet the Contenders: Rene Russo "Nightcrawler"

Each weekend a profile on a just-opened Oscar contender. Here's abstew on this weekend's new release, NIGHTCRAWLER, which is a perfectly dark treat for a Halloween opening.

Rene Russo as Nina Romina in Nightcrawler

Best Supporting Actress

Born: Rene Marie Russo was born February 17, 1954 in Burbank, California

The Role: Screenwriter Dan Gilroy (2006's The Fall, The Bourne Legacy) makes his directorial debut with Nightcrawler (which he wrote as well). The film stars a gaunt, crazy-eyed Jake Gyllenhaal (a Best Actor Contender) as Lou Bloom, an unemployed but determined man in Los Angeles that stumbles upon a career as a news journalist. He video records car crashes, home invasions, and bloody crimes, selling the footage to the local news station. Russo stars as a veteran television producer, in charge of the "vampire" shift of the lowest rated station in town. She encourages Bloom's budding career, forming a twisted relationship with him to gain viewers.

The film is also a family affair for Russo who is married to Gilroy (he also wrote two of Russo's previous films 1992's Freejack and 2005's Two for the Money) and her brother-in-law, Oscar nominated writer/director Tony Gilroy (Michael Clayton, Duplicity), is a producer on the film.

Click to read more ...