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Tuesday
Feb252014

Links

Psssst. Oscar voting closed 2 hours ago. Can you believe we're almost there?!

Film School Rejects good god, Warren Beatty is still going to make that Howard Hughes picture and it started shooting today (!!!) Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, The Bening and the rumors go... Jack Nicholson to co-star
IndieWire porn stars pick the Oscars
E Online Jared Leto's mom reacts to going to the Oscars

/Film Sony wants to release a Spider-Man movie every year now. As I've predicted one day film and television will totally merge since tv got way more cinematic and nearly all movies Hollywood wants to fund are basically tv series with huge budgets that franchise their way across decades with new "episodes"
Variety Oscars are always under heat about omissions and hierarchies of the In Memoriam section. A sordid thing for controversy but it's true. People are always upset by something in it
Screener interesting interview with an Academy member on what they really talk about and how they like to vote
Advocate Our friend Nick on Oscar's dotage and the shrinking window of films they consider
Variety the winners of the makeup and hairstyling guild includ The Butler, Prisoners, American Hustle and actual Oscar nominees Bad Grandpa and Dallas Buyers Club. I'm unclear on why the makeup category is the only category that is still less than 5 nominees. It's not like every single film non-animated film that exists doesn't use hair and makeup. 

Oh and it's good to see Anthony Mackie get his own poster for something even if, for all we know, this is another thankless role (albeit an expensively costumed one). Here he is as The Falcon in Captain America: Winter Soldier. Superheroes movies always start packing in the characters in their sequels. This one will be juggling the good captain, the titular villain, Black Widow, Nick Fury and The Falcon. 

small screen
Caryn James on Ronan Farrow's new show on MSNBC
Shadow and Act Viola Davis has a few TV projects in the works (sigh, but good for her) include How to Get Away With Murder for Shonda Rhimes
The Playlist suggests that a tweet from the writer of True Detective means two female detectives next season. The tweet doesn't actually suggest this. It just says that structurally there are only two POV characters and this time they happened to both be men. (My guess? opposite sex partners next year)

and finally...
A huge congratulations to Steve McQueen, John Ridley and Fox Searchlight. Solomon Northup's memoirs "12 Years a Slave" is finally making its way into American high schools. From the press release:

The National School Boards Association is honored to partner with Fox Searchlight Pictures and Penguin Books to ensure that every public high school student in America has the opportunity to stare the stark realities of slavery in the eye through books and film,” said NSBA President David A. Pickler. “We believe that providing America’s public high school students the opportunity to bear witness to such an unrelenting view of the evils of slavery is essential toward ensuring that this history is never forgotten and must never be repeated.”

When I attended the AFI Steve McQueen event late last year, the push to get the book in school was all that McQueen seemed to want to talk about, barely mentioning the acclaim or the Oscars or anything of the sort during his conversation with that evening's moderator.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Interview: Patricia Norris on 12 Years a Slave, Scarface, Twin Peaks

Patricia Norris with her lifetime achievement from the Costume Guild in 2007Patty Norris is a national treasure but I believe she'd be the last person to say so. When I spoke to the enduring costume designer over the phone about sixth Oscar nomination for 12 Years a Slave, she shocked me again and again with her modesty and her absolute lack of sentiment about what I've always thought of as a very illustrious Hollywood career. But her honestly was, shall we say, refreshing.

The 82 year old's career, as we know it at least, began over just over 40 years ago with westerns like Rio Lobo (1970) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) but she doesn't get misty-eyed or nostalgic about her filmography. "I think it was just luck. I started as a stock girl at MGM and I've always been comfortable with clothes," she explains. But to hear her tell it, her developing career wasn't born of and ambitious creative drive, but from practicality.  "I was married but I was left with five children and I had to support them! So you start taking almost any work. There are a few I would like not to think about!" 

I instantly worry (aloud) that I'll touch on one of those accidentally but if I do in the ensuing conversation, she doesn't let on.

I assumed her current flurry of work (Killing Them Softly, The Immigrant, 12 Years a Slave) was a sudden return from retirement but she corrects the impression. She's just picky since she's been frugal. "It's one of those things. Save your money and you don't have to do anything. I do just what I want to do. If it doesn't come along I just do housework." 

Happily for fans of costume dramas, The Immigrant and 12 Years a Slave came along. And these she definitely wanted to do. [more...]

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Tuesday
Feb252014

Seasons of Bette: Dangerous (1935)

Seasons of Bette. Episode 2. Nomination #1

As a sidebar to Anne Marie's "A Year With Kate" series (which I hope you're all enjoying as much as I am - see why I comissioned it?), I'm investigating each of Bette Davis's Oscar nominated performances as they appear within the Katharine Hepburn timeline. They're the two titan actresses of Old Hollywood so why not pair them even if indirectly? We previously looked at Of Human Bondage (1934) due to its write-in votes at the Oscars but technically-speaking Nomination #1 arrived the following year in Dangerous (1935). 

This second Oscar hopeful is so like the first it's as if someone yelled "Do over! And get the nomination this time." 

Again Bette Davis is pursued by a lanky gentleman and failed artist -- 1934's sap was Gone With the Wind's Leslie Howard and 1935 brings us Mutiny on the Bounty's Franchot Tone. They both do it for me a lot more than they seem to do it for Bette but Tone, and her sexual chemistry with him, is 1935's only added value.

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Tuesday
Feb252014

5 Days Til Oscar. When Will John Williams Win a Sixth?

John Williams, the cinema's most widely and wildly celebrated composer, is a nominee again this year for The Book Thief (you can download some sheet music from the score here). He is 82 years old but in a delightfully senior twist, he is only the third oldest nominee (after June Squibb and Patricia Norris). IMDb's database for composers is very confusing so I can't share "number of original scores" but his feature film career, starting with Daddy-O (1958) and continuing on through the The Book Thief (2013), is prolific and highly regarded with more presumably to come since the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchises are still alive and so is he.

John Williams conducting "The Book of Thief" score in a recording session

His Oscar record is the closest anyone's ever come to total Academy infallibility (if you discount the people who only made one or two pictures). In the past 46 years, starting with the adaptation of the music in The Valley of Dolls (1967) and ending with his original compositions for The Book Thief  (2013) he has been nominated 49 times, winning 5 Oscars. 

with Catherine Deneuve when he won his last Golden Globe for Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)I don't know what kind of a percentage that is -- again, the films are hard to count and some won't have been eligible since he does a lot of franchises (and those are sometimes disqualified for lack of enough new material) but I'd wager that his record is something certifiably insane like 90% of his original compositions being named one of the year's five "Best". 

In other words, if he scores it, they're nominating it. Period.

Strangely, given their crazy-cuckoo devotion, he has only won the statue twice in the past 30 years. His most recent statues were for Schindler's List (1993), E.T. (1982), with his heyday being in the seventies when he won thrice for  Star Wars (1977), Jaws (1975) and Fiddler on the Roof (1972... in the Adaptation category which they no longer have).

 

 

 

Do you think he'll win a sixth Oscar or an honorary* soon?

Related:
Oscar Charts for the Sound and Music Categories
Nathaniel's Ballot of the Year's Best in Sound and Music

*in the unique star-subservient logic of the Academy, performers who've already been amply rewarded with gold are sometimes given an extra rather than honoring someone without trophies. See the recent baffling Honorary for 1961's Best Actress Sophia Loren's for her  "memorable performances", instead of taking the opportunity to honor one of numerous classic and respected actresses who've never won and are still living.

Tuesday
Feb252014

Drag Race "The Sixening": Half a Premiere

Each year I think about covering RuPaul's Drag Race, so I'm finally doing it. Like Mad Men (and I bet this is the only time you'll hear them compared!) it's awash in fun movie references. Highlights from the past have included Raja's bucket of blood Carrie dress to Raven's "I'm giving Michelle Pfeiffer bitch" to Jinkx Monsoon's Grey Gardens fetish to Tammie Brown's demented Old Hollywood persona to numerous truly terrible movie star impersonations (I've never seen a worse Marilyn or Joan Crawford, for example, than this show has provided) and so on. I know. I know. It's the sixth season, "the sixening"The library is open if you'd like to read me because these books are overdue!

Four movie references to start us off... 


During the mini-challenge, a photoshoot where the queens lept across boob-tube color bars to a pile of foam below sees rubber limbed LaGanja Estranja compared to Goldie Hawn in Overboard. "I get that a lot," she said awkwardly pulling herself out of the foam. Laganga is obviously not in Goldie's comic league but, to be fair, Goldie Hawn did look like a drag queen in Overboard..

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Tuesday
Feb252014

Curio: And The Nominees Are

Alexa here with your weekly art appreciation post. This being Oscar week, all the alternative poster designs for the nominated films are making the rounds: see the nominated films posterized as Legos, or as one-liners!  I prefer a less gimmicky, graphic-artist-inspired approach myself.  Unlike last year, the Oscar site does not feature alternative poster designs; I do wish the Academy would follow the lead of the BAFTAs on this.  

To fill the void here are my favorite designs for each of the nominated films.  Happy Oscars everyone! 

 

 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb242014

Interview: Matthew McConaughey and the Body

McConaughey and those haunted eyes in True DetectiveIt's hard to get a moment with a major movie star. They're tightly scheduled and you have to go from 0 to 60 once you're in front of them, recorder on. Nevertheless the stars themselves usually seem relaxed enough through their long promotional efforts for Oscar films as the world's slowest seated wedding line commences with one journalist after another sitting down with them one by one for a quick conversation. I'm sure our faces all blur together forming one lumpy mecha-journalist for the star. Their faces, on the other hand, remain individualized and imprinted in each of ours from frequent exposure and mythology.

The first thing I notice about Matthew McConaughey in person, apart from the inevitable "how much weight has he gained back?" instant check, is his eyes. They're blue, sure, but the darkest blue I've seen up close and more than a little intense. They're so inky blue, in fact that they look dangerous and unfamiliar despite years of movie appearances. (I hadn't yet seen True Detective in which they reappear). The voice counterbalances them surprisingly well, instantly familiar and Texas friendly.

I sat down with McConaughey last year as his Oscar buzz was building for Dallas Buyers Club (he was on a weekend break from filming Interstellar when we spoke). I was surprised to hear that despite his busy schedule he's been getting the weekends off which he says he needs though he was sacrificing some to support his now Oscar nominated film "Which I am happy to do!" he added, quickly. I had planned to stay off the topic of weight loss (he lost 47 lbs for the role), which has been discussed too often for an award-winning performance that is most impressive for its emotional content, but I made the mistake of leading with it. And it's a topic he kept drifting back to. But then, why shouldn't he? His body has hardly been easy to separate from his acting, either, whether he's playing hunky romcom leads, male strippers, pumped up dragon slayers, or, as recently, an emaciated AIDS patient or an eerily stiff and sinewy police detective.

Our interview after the jump

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