Asghar Farhadi has another Oscar contender on his hands...

Oscar History

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Oscar Horrors: The Sixth Sense

"I love this movie so much. And to those sad about M. Night's current career, Split with James McAvoy has gotten positive reviews!." -Connor

"Re: "Spoilers" - I can't be the only one who thinks that it's a spoiler to even be warned about a "spoiler" or a twist. It immediately puts you on guard, even if the ultimate spoiler hasn't been revealed." -The Jack

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ICYMI & Coming Soon at the Halfway Mark

Today marks the final day of the first half of 2014. That flashed by, didn't it? Here are five highlights from this past week while you wait for this afternoon's Smackdown (squeeeeeeeee!)

Ten Best Dragons - from Toothless to Vermithrax
• Test Interview - filming dance sequences
What's Wrong With Musicals? - it isn't the talent pool
What If... The Academy had loved Do The Right Thing 25 years ago? Fight the Power!
Welcome to the Academy - 271 new invites went out... and, as always, some are headscratchers and some are deliciously welcome

Oscar Chart Updates are in progress and we'll post tomorrow when we start "Halfway Mark" festivities surveying the Best of the Year (thus far).

What else? July's Year of the Month is 1973... so get to watching / rewatching some of the movies from that vintage especially Paper Moon, The Exorcist, Cries and Whispers, and The Way We Were. 'A Year with Kate' will hit The African Queen and The Rainmaker... and I'll try to catch up with Seasons of Bette. We'll also return to the "Best Shot" party and wish Sandra Bullock a happy 50th.  AND (Who, ME? Overplan?) it's Reader Appreciation Month so we'll start spotlighting some of you again.

PLUS ENTICING NEW MOVIES: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Tammy, Land Ho!, Boyhood, Happy ChristmasMagic in the Moonlight and Lucy chief among them. 


Box Office: Trans4mers Yell and Crash Their Way to the Top

Amir here with the weekend’s box office report and a painful personal story. Win win.

The national anthem of China is playing loudly at the Bay residence, the Chinese flag is at full mast, everyone’s pockets are full of Yuans. Trans4mers has become the best selling foreign film in China, raking in an astonishing $90m, making one of the richest men in Hollywood just that much richer. Add that to the film’s massive American gross – the best of 2014, so far – and we have collectively encouraged Michael Bay to continue jerking off on screen. We have to put a stop to this people! Has anyone ever been so amply rewarded for so much disservice to this medium?

01 TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION $100 NEW looking back at the 1986 movie
02 22 JUMP STREET $15.4 (cum. $139.8) Podcast
03 HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 $13.1 (cum. 121.8) best movie dragons ever
04 THINK LIKE A MAN TOO $10.4 (cum.$48.1) 
05 MALEFICENT $8.2 (cum. $201.8) Podcast
06 JERSEY BOYS $7.6 (cum. $27.3) Review
07 EDGE OF TOMORROW $5.2 (cum. $84.1) Capsule
08 FAULT IN OUR... $4.8 (cum. $109.5) Review
09 X-MEN: DOFP $3.3 (cum. $223.3) Review
10 CHEF $1.6 (cum. $19.4) 

[Personal story] My last encounter with the Transformers series was The Revenge of the Fallen, the only theatre experience that has ever left me feeling real, physical pain. So much so that I decided it was time to switch from glasses to contact lenses after witnessing that nauseating visual and aural monstrosity on screen. I vowed never to give Michael Bay another chance but later broke this vow for Pain & Gain, a film I mistakenly assumed would be a suitable bonding moment for me and my dad. Near the end of the film, my dad smacked his glass of water on the table and yelled: “Enough! Enough is enough! What is this nonsense young people watch these days? This isn’t cinema.” and stormed out of the room. And this coming from an ardent Jason Statham fan! Anyway, traumatic experience for everyone involved. [/Personal story]

On the limited end of things, the biggest name was Snowpiercer. With an outstanding per screen average, the Weinstein Radius property made it to the top 20 despite playing on only 8 screens. Opinions on the film range anywhere from “masterpiece!” to accusations of messy incoherence. If you’ve been lucky enough to have seen it already, do let us know where you stand in the comments. What else did you watch this weekend?


Happy Pride! Complete the Sentence...

Today is the big day here in NYC! 

Play safe and have fun.  And if you're staying in, watch a great movie. And complete this sentence:

My favorite LGBT movie is _______ because  _________ but the one I've seen the most is _________ .


Our Link Summer

Must Reads
The Atlantic 'How Brando Broke the Movies' -excellent piece from Tom Shone on perceptions of movie stardom, acting and chameleon tricks
L'etoile on summer's anniversary nostalgia and childhood idles
Pajiba shares fun excerpts from Neil Patrick Harris' upcoming autobiography. Sounds like a must-read. The Scott Caan story is delicious 

More Links & News
The Guardian "The Glorious Folly of Dance on Film" Singin' in the Rain, Pina and more
The Dissolve Bond 24 gets a rewrite. But why? Daniel Craig returns of course with Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris in tow
Geeks Out Boo. Disney is taking pains to make sure we know that 'Wandering Oaken' from Frozen (the guy with the store and sauna) isn't gay like the internet said
Kenneth in the (212) Shia Labeuf and the Jordan Almond defense
Towleroad Gay Iconography: Bette Midler
Vérité recommends Rob the Mob (2014) with Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda. This is one of those rare 'under the radar' recommendations that actually is. I hadn't been aware of this Bonnie & Clyde like tale but I'm up for more Arianda for sure.

Off Cinema
Salon has a list of the 19 greatests 'double entendre' songs from "Brand New Key" to "Milkshake" and so on. I object to the exclusion of Cyndi Lauper's "She-Bop"
Gizmodo how long until we get this weird 'Smart Morphable Surface' technology in sci-fi movie designs? 

Oscar Notes / Production Design
In case you missed it as the weekend began, AMPAS made some minor adjustments to the rules (as they are prone to do) which In Contention analyzes. Mostly it's technicalities like how nominations are credited for Song & Best Picture but the super interesting one is that movies nominated for Production Design which feature heavily digital environments will now have an added nominee, the digital designer. I personally suspected /was hoping that the change which was bound to happen would be closer to the Black and White vs. Color designations that Oscar went through from the mid30s through the mid60s in cinematography and I was hoping it would happen in both cinematography and production design since visual fx achievements keep winning in one or both of those categories (think Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Gravity, Hugo, etcetera). But I guess that was wishful thinking.


Obvious Child, Juno, and Choices

Here's Adam on a film that's been on everyone's lips lately and an earlier hit you all know (and love?) - Editor

Juno & Donna. A girl in trouble is a temporary thing.

Leaving the subway platform on my way back to my apartment in Brooklyn from seeing Obvious Child, the reductively coined “abortion rom-com”, a young woman stepped out of a bodega mere feet away from me and accidentally dropped a mason jar of grape jelly. As she pouted in disappointment while the chunky purple contents dribbled through the sidewalk grate into the netherworld of New York City’s sewer system, I flashed back to the scene in Juno when Ellen Page slurps down an entire gallon of Sunny D and to the vacuum sound during Donna's abortion. Aside from the indisputable narrative similarities between the two films which each revolve around awoman's unexpected pregnancy, both delve into the crucial period of self-identification and questioning of a person’s, and that of their unborn child’s, significance in the world.

That’s what plagues people of all ages, right? Leaving your mark. Having a legacy. Will a family unit be the missing variable to your fulfillment equation?

Click to read more ...


Pass The Rubber

If this is an actual costume* in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and not just an advertisement can we just give Kurt & Bart** the Oscar now?***


* I realize it's very possible that the movies brilliant ad campaign is completely unconnected to the actual film(s) and possible made by whole different teams

** Kurt & Bart, in case you are as yet unaware (which is possible since they're fairly new to the movies), are a costume design duo. They've only been active since John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus in 2006 but this past year they broke out in a major way having costumed both a Best Picture nominee (Dallas Buyers Club) and a movie that just design-candy across the board (Stoker)

*** Yes, I already tweeted this exact sentiment but not all of you have Twitter and I felt like looking at the photo again. I initially resisted posting it since I hate posting commercials as content (it's such a sneaky way for the studios to get free advertising) but the campaign is just too smart to not share at least one image. You can see more here.


Introducing... The Supporting Actress Nominees of 1964

You've met the panelists and this Monday (June 30th) the Smackdown arrives. So, let's meet the characters we'll be discussing.

As is our Smackdown tradition we begin by showing you how the performances begin. Do their introductions scream "shower me with gold statues!"? Do the filmmakers prepare us for what's ahead? Here's how the five nominees we'll be discussing are introduced (in the order of how quickly they arrive in their movies). Do any of these introductions make you want to see the movie?


-Dr. Shannon
-Miss Fellowes 

7 minutes in. Meet "Judith Fellowes" (Grayson Hall in The Night of the Iguana)
After a prologue where Dr Shannon (Richard Burton) appears to have some sort of loss of faith mental breakdown in a church where he preaches, we see that he's now giving tours of Mexico. Enter Judith Fellowes with a gaggle of old women, immediately questioning his fees. Her gaze is direct (he doesn't return it) and they enter the bus where she leads her women in a sing-along. Dr Shannon doesn't appear to like her. At all. More friction is surely ahead on their travels.

Click to read more ...