Oscar History

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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FEUD arrives one week after the Oscars

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Pablo Larraín (Jackie)
Jessica Chastain (Miss Sloane)
Gael García Bernal (Neruda)
Billy Crudup (20th Century Women)
Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Denis Villeneuve (Arrival



To Inauspicious Debuts!


No More Movies for John Cleese

Margaret here to break it to you that British comedy icon John Cleese is done with the movies. So he claimed, anyway, at a promotional appearance for his new memoir, So Anyway..., at the Cheltenham Literary Festival. 

In answer to a fan who asked about upcoming film projects, he flippantly announced that at age 74 he is too near death to work on new movies. "I have only got five or six years left, and then I will be gone." Noting the upside that this exempts him from worry about ISIS or Ebola, he quips: "Most of the best people are dead - I will be in excellent company having a wonderful time."
Perhaps he's not serious about quitting film; many of his showbiz peers have cried retirement only to be back at work almost immediately. (Remember when Steven Soderbergh claimed to be retiring and then it turned out he has no idea what that means?) It could also be that full retirement won't constitute an enormous shift for him. Over the last decade and change, Cleese has been primarily been cropping up in the voice casts for animated studio features. His last movie project as writer/producer, Fierce Creatures, is almost 20 years old. 
He can at least rest comfortably on the knowledge that his best work is immortal.  A Fish Called Wanda is a comic treasure (and earned Cleese an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay), but it's his work with Monty Python that keeps him at legend status. Naturally, a fan at the Cheltenham Literary Festival asked Cleese about that comedy group. He was typically acidic in his response, insisting that the Python members were never "huge friends" and sayin this of his former co-stars:
"Michael [Palin], as you know, makes those travel programs that I put on any time I can’t sleep. Eric Idle is very good at lyrics so he is writing songs. Terry Gilliam is off trying to raise money for one of his plotless ­extravaganzas. And [Terry] Jonesy is just insane – he writes children’s books and recently went to Lisbon and directed an opera about vacuum cleaners."
Harsh, perhaps, but certainly in the biting Python spirit. Which former Pythons are you still keeping up with? What Cleese/Python project will you treasure most once they're all fully retired?

Foreign Oscar Watch: Gett - The Trial of Viviane Amsalem

Though TIFF & NYFF are over, London and Chicago Fests are still raging. We will have a few reports from each to cover more Oscar Submissions for Best Foreign Language Film. Here's our London friend David on Israel's Oscar submission.

It's your right, but it's not your choice."

We're in an Israeli rabbinical courtroom, and Viviane Amsalem wants a divorce. Absolutely, say the judges, no problem - as long as your husband agrees. He doesn't. Viviane will spend years returning to this courtroom, and the audience will spend two hours trapped in it with her, absurdity and desperation rising and falling as we skip forward in time, the temporal intertitles ('Four Months Later') quickly accumulating a farcical impression that's only tempered by the occasional grave addendum of how many years these shifts have accumulated to. Laughter comes because the reality of the situation is too archaic to believe.

Ronit Elkabetz writes, directs and stars as Viviane

Gett - The Trial of Viviane Amsalem is a social justice picture, make no mistake. Though delivered with a healthy dose of humour, the undercurrent of the picture is bitter outrage, as a very simple message is strung out to breaking point. Viviane is almost constantly surrounded by men: her sympathetic, dogmatic lawyer Carmel Ben Tovim, the three impatient judges, her husband Elisha. For much of the film, director-writer-actress Ronit Elkabetz carries Viviane with a quiet dignity, seething with an awareness that the best way to her goal might be to let the men fight for it. When she does speak, it is not cowed and submissive or (initially) passionately angry; her first big speech is delivered with such measured power that the judges are visibly taken aback in involuntary respect.

With its settings restricted to the courtroom building, Gett could easily have ended up feeling like a staid stage play, but instead it oozes with a claustrophobia more mental than physical; the audience is trapped with Viviane in this cyclical nightmare, never granted any view of how her marriage exists outside of the courtroom. That's because, quite simply, that isn't the point; the men spend hours deliberating over why she deserves a divorce, over what her husband could possibly done to cause this, but the only necessary reason for Viviane to be granted a divorce should be because she wants one. No more, no less. The further into the film we get, the more painful it becomes, as every last drop of emotion is wrung from Viviane as she pleads, cries, begs for her request to be granted.

Elkabetz and sibling co-director Shlomi Elkabetz marry this torturous process with a smart tone of absurdist comedy; the judges, in particular, provide an abundance of weary amusement as they become increasingly impatient with the process themselves. Ultimately, though, it is with searing vitriol that the ludicrous indignity of the Jewish laws are held up to face charges; as Ronit Elkabetz put it in the post-screening Q&A, it seems incredible that such situations continue to exist "in a country that is called a democracy". 

Gett - The Trial of Viviane Amsalem screened as part of the 58th BFI London Film Festival.

Oscar submission charts here.
17 Foreign Oscar Submissions Reviewed
ArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCuba,FranceGermanyIceland, Israel, LatviaMauritaniaNorwayPolandPortugalSweden and Venezuela


Neil Patrick Harris Will Host the Oscars & Complete His Life


 Do you want to know what is so weird?

I literally just returned from a second screening of Gone Girl. I turn on twitter and I see Neil Patrick Harris's name everywhere. 

So while I was watching him being gruesomely murdered whilst orgasming the rest of you, he was announcing to the world that he'll host the Oscars with a simple video in which he pans to his Bucket List, all of which he's now completed except "Host the Oscars". Let's hope his list continues on the next page of the legal pad because it's way creepy to be done with your Bucket List at 41. And even creepier that NPH's final act will be hosting the ceremony that pays homage to the movie in which he gets his throat slit with a box cutter!

Here are eight items he forgot to include on his list:

 ☑ Beat the odds and survive childhood stardom
 ☑ Win 3 People's Choice Awards
 ☑ Win 4 Emmys
 ☑ Become friends with Elton John
 ☑ Work with Joss Whedon twice
 ☑ Slather penis in fake blood for David Fincher
 ☑ Host the Tonys 4 Times
 ☑ Host the Emmys 2 Times


The Oscars probably want to play down his previous hosting gigs else it looks like sloppy sevenths. Still, we already know he's a perfect emcee for showbiz backpatting so, let us rejoice. The Oscars are just 130 days away on Sunday February 22nd, 2015.


A Year with Kate: Rooster Cogburn (1975)

Episode 42 of 52In which Katharine Hepburn and John Wayne star in The African Queen 2: This Time it's a Western!

Growing old in Hollywood sucks. To borrow a line from Goldie Hawn, “There are only three ages for women in Hollywood: babe, district attorney, and Driving Miss Daisy.” And while Hollywood’s ageism is well-documented and well-criticized, for some aging actors, an equally tricky problem can arise: the trouble with becoming a Legend in your own time. What happens when the legend eclipses the actor?

In 1975, Hepburn was arguably more popular than she’d ever been. This was due in no small part to her friend Garson Kanin’s unauthorized, best-selling 1972 “tell all” entitled Tracy And Hepburn: An Intimate Memoir. Though shocked by the invasion of her privacy, Kate used the public interest that the book generated to fuel her career, appearing on talk shows and even the 1974 Academy Awards (in pants, of course). As a result, in the 1970s, while Bette Davis was taking guest roles, Joan Crawford had retired, and Barbara Stanwyck "slummed" it in TV, Katharine Hepburn was as prolific as she’d ever been, starring in seven movies total. However, her popularity came at cost. Kate became in effect the curator of her own legacy, more valuable as a symbol of the past than as a well-respected thespian in the present.

Certainly, it was Katharine Hepburn the Legend that director Stuart Millar and producer Hal B. Wallis had in mind when they paired her with John Wayne in Rooster Cogburn. Five years after Wayne won his Academy Award for True Grit, Wallis’s wife Martha Hyer penned a sequel designed to play to its two stars’ greatest strengths: take the American Odyssey outline for True Grit, fill it with details from The African Queen (including more white water rapids), add a few pounds of nitroglycerin and some extra genre cliches about the death of the American West, and voila! Rooster Cogburn is born.

Westerns, Oscars, and a comparison Meryl Streep after the jump.

I have the strangest sense of deja vu.


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Thought I Had... While Staring at the American Sniper Poster

Careful where you point that thing, Bradley. 



Baz, Rocky, Sarandon and Me

Editor's Note: Faithful reader and frequent Best Shot participant Derreck (see his tumblr here) attended a special film event that we desperately wanted to make it to last week, a screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" with everyone's favorite red curtain Aussie auteur hosting. I invited Derreck to share his memoir of the event, so here he is to do so! - Nathaniel R.

I've never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard about it. I’ve seen images of Tim Curry in a corset, fishnets and makeup, heard about shadowcasts and seen its enduring cultural presence in movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I’d never actually watched the film. I was born way after it was released and even though to this day, it is one of the longest theatrical releases in the history of cinema, it never made it to theatres in my homeland of the Bahamas. Rocky Horror ended up in my “I’ll get to that eventually” pile along with other much-discussed 70s movies like Apocalypse Now and Xanadu. 

Fast-forward to me living in New York. I was doing my daily blog readings and saw that Rocky was playing at the IFC Theater in Manhattan as part of Super Week leading up to Comic-Con. I thought “oh, that’s nice. Maybe I’ll go.” Until I read on and saw that Baz Luhrmann would be there in person to conduct a Q&A about the film and speak about how it influenced his work. 

Baz Luhrmann. The man behind the film that remains forever close to my heart and inspired my ridiculous obsession with love: Moulin Rouge!

I immediately left my apartment to get a ticket. 

Fast-forward to the big night. I was sitting in my chair shivering with "antici--


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