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Thursday
Feb202014

Celebrating Black History Month: A brief tour of African-American animation

Tim here. With Black History Month still in full swing, I thought it would be worth spending some time diving into the history of African-American animation and reporting back to everyone with what I found, which turns out to be easier said than done. Despite a history of animation as an independent and avant-garde form welcoming any and all groups trapped without a voice in the mainstream reaching into the silent era, there has been shockingly little overlap between black cinema and animation down through the years. Which isn’t the same as saying that there’s none, and I am certain that there’s probably more than I was able to scrounge up over a couple of days of researching.

Pioneering animators Frank Braxton (L) and Floyd Norman (R)

By and large, though African-American animators have been associated primarily with big studios, beginning in the 1950s, when Frank Braxton signed up with Warner Bros. By the end of that decade, Floyd Norman had become the first African-American employee of the Walt Disney Company, and his association with that studio continued well into the 2000s (and may continue yet – he’s still actively working, with a credit on a non-Disney production as recent as last fall’s dire Free Birds). The first significant branching out happened in the ‘60s, when Norman left Disney after its namesake and founder died, to join forces with new artist Leo Sullivan to create Vignette Films, a studio focused on making short animated explorations of African-American history (of any of these films still exist, the internet doesn’t seem interested in sharing them).

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb202014

10 Days Til Oscar. Sigh and Think of Paul Newman. 

Today's magic number is 10. I know you were hoping for a look back ten years to that long awaited 2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown but the lists of reasons that has been delayed multiple times are too boring and painful to share. I promise it's coming! (I'll try for the Saturday morning before the Oscars as a deep breath before the plunge.) Funny but true: I was working on it earlier today and thought "oh, I know. I'll post it on the 10th anniversary of that Oscar ceremony" But guess what date that turns out to be? February 29th. A leap year haha and the date doesn't exist this year. 

Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward in 1958 after the Oscars

I haven't managed to find a fun trivia note involving the number 10 that relates to this year's Oscars so please enjoy this photo of Paul Newman mocking his Oscar losses with a makeshift trophy (note that it says "Noscar" on it) alongside his wife's actual Oscar for Three Faces of Eve (1957). Paul, a perfect 10, was also nominated 10 times over the course of his career (once for Best Picture, 9 times for acting), finally winning the trophy on his 8th nomination which was coincidentally enough, the year after he had won the first of two Honorary acknowledgements (one a Jean Hersholt, the other a traditional Honorary Oscar). Before The Color of Money (1986) he had been locked up in a longstanding three way tie for "most nominated losing actor" with Peter O'Toole and Richard Burton; they all had 7 back then though Burton died a couple of years before Paul Newman finally won gold. Bette Davis is the only other actor with exactly 10 career nominations (unless you count that write-in situation) but we've already started discussing her.

For which of his pre-Oscar roles would you have given Newman the statue? Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Rachel, Rachel (1968), Absence of Malice (1981) or The Verdict (1982)? 

If you need more Paul (and who doesn't) some more photos of Paul at the Oscars are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb202014

Interlinker

The New Republic Mark Harris interviewed on the politics of movies and Oscar races
Guardian Meryl Streep joins the period drama Suffragette as feminist icon Emmeline Pankhurst. The film stars Carey Mulligan with Helena Bonham-Carter and Romola Garai in the supporting cast (but it sounds like Streep's got a glorified cameo)
Dissolve a graphic designer looks at Her 


Gurus of Gold if you haven't checked out the charts lately, you should. David Poland has posted "if we could sway the Academy and there's not much time left to do so. 
Daily Beast Michael Musto talks to an Oscar voter about how friendliness at luncheons affects his vote and how scandals don't  
MNPP on the bad wigs in Bryan Singer movies. Ugh. Quicksilver, one of my favorite characters, looks just atrocious
Twitter an account sharing Top Gun scene by scene... almost frame by frame. LOL
TFE have you voted on our recent polls? Bette Midler? Beauty vs. Beast: Hustle? Who you want to win the pic & acting Oscars?
Josh Cooley a Pixar artist does really fun cartoons of R rated movies, like this one from Psycho...

Moving Picture Blog classy low-key Oscar campaigning from Jeremy Irons circa 1991. An SNL classic
First Showing talks to Matthew McConaughey about the ambitions of Interstellar 
Slate great piece on that makeover moment at the tale end of Frozen's "Let it Go" -- that's the only part I don't like myself and this is exactly why!

Exit Vids
The Onion nails it again while talking Netflix. This is exactly what I use Netflix for though I pay a lot more than $5 a month! Also the "Kid Oscars"... I think the Captain Phillips one is best because methinks it's funnier when kids adlib rather than read dialogue.

Thursday
Feb202014

Acceptance Speech Nerdgasm & Oscar Party Tiebreakers

who will be in a group photo THIS year? And will they look as much like the top of a wedding cake as this quartet did?What will Matthew McConaughey say first after he wins the Oscar? I mean after "all right all right all right". Statistics suggest that he'll either thank the Academy or launch right into the Leto or Vallée appreciation. (Or maybe DiCaprio or Dern will win in a shocking upset)

Jennifer Lawrence started her speech at the last Oscars with "This is nuts" and if she wins again over Lupita  'this is nuts' won't even begin to describe it. If you want a fun tiebreaker for your Oscar party prediction pool, go with the speeches!

Four Tie-Breaker Questions: 

1 "Who will forget a totally key person?"
(JLaw forgot her director last year!)
2 "Which of the acting winners will thank the most people by name?"
(Hathaway rattled off 23 names last year)  
3 "Will anyone thank God?" Other than their God
(i.e. the director)  
4 "How many of the four acting winners will get a standing ovation?"
(this is actually harder to predict than you'd think because sometimes who gets one and who doesn't is confusing when you're in the living room and not in the Kodak)

Over at Slate I've updated my massive acceptance speech analysis project. Even if you've seen it before, look again because I die for those interactive graphics they include. They are so fun to play with and I'm super proud of this now annual tradition.

Wednesday
Feb192014

Interview: Lupita Nyong'o on 12 Years, Non-Stop and Her Future

On Lupita Nyong'o's Instagram account she captioned this one:

Yes, a chocolate BAFTA will do quite nicely, thank you!

A golden BAFTA woulda been better but what can you do?

Recently it came to me in a flash: Lupita Nyong'o is the new Jessica Chastain!  Think about it: classically trained movie actress in her early 30s goes from complete unknown to everyone's favorite in the blink of an eye in a critically acclaimed movie (movies plural in Chastain's case) and proves herself a complete and utter natural at celebrity, red carpets, fashion, and social media. 

Of course I didn't know all this when I first sat down with Lupita in the fall in the first rush of acclaim for Twelve Years a Slave, a meeting I shamefully neglected to tell you about until now. Looking over the transcript it occurs to me that the past few months have been so eventful that pieces of our conversation barely make sense. We're conversing as if she isn't a huge celebrity. But the right role at the right time can permanently change things for an actor. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb192014

A Year With Kate: Alice Adams (1935)

Episode 8 of 52 wherein Anne Marie screens all of Katharine Hepburn's films in chronological order

I’ve spent a long time looking at photos of Kate for this blog. It’s not just that she’s beautiful. She just radiates confidence from every perfectly-posed angle. Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine that she could be touched by failure or anxiety. If she’s not relatable, she’s admirable. I’ve certainly idolized her. Earlier I worshipped Kate as Jo March, the success who tomboys aspire to be. But if Jo March - or Kate - is who young girls want to be, Alice Adams is who they so often feel like they are. And as such, Alice Adams is a shock for Hepburn fans...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb192014

11 Days Til Oscar. Bette Midler & Original Song

Bright and early this morning they announced that Bette Midler will be performing at the Oscars for the first time. That's shocking to type since she's had so many great movie musical moments in her career and she's obviously been to the Oscars as a nominee or to present. But, alas, her material was generally not original* and thus unnominated in the one category that regularly prompts performances.

Though it seems highly likely that they'll have her as underscore songstress for the In Memoriam visuals (zzz. Love that segment but it's never about the singer so they're interchangeable... something you can't usually say for Bette Midler) It's more fun to fantasize about recreating one of her musical moments from a movie on the main stage. So... vote!

 

 

 

* A Shocking Memory
Yes, it's true. The classic "The Rose" from The Rose (1979), written by Amanda McBroom, was NOT nominated for Best Original Song even after winning the Golden Globe. It was not expressly written for the movie though it had never been recorded before that point -- the same tragic reasons for disqualifications as Moulin Rouge!'s "Come What May". That category has been fucking us over for decades - this year's controversy was the least of it, really. The ideal song line up for 1979, an unusually good year for the category, would have probably would have been some combination of the two lists since the Oscar winner "It Goes Like It Goes" from Norma Rae, unnominated at the Globes, is also lovely.

But when you remember that "The Rainbow Connection" was nominated at both awards shows and lost twice, the point becomes moot. Truth: that eternal classic deserved multiple Oscars. An Oscar for 1979 and then an Oscar for every random year thereafter that failed to produce a worthy nominee. As an encore, you know? 

 

What would you have voted for?

I hope you've been enjoying the Countdown to Oscar! We're having so much fun with it so please check out any episodes you missed. Remember this truth: Comments are fuel for more blogging. 

Previously
12 Days - A twelve-wide Best Picture field!!! What does 1934 tell us about "Oscar slots"? 
13 Days - Matthew McConaughey and 2000's Best Actress Race?
14 Days - All About Eve vs. Titanic. The two all time nomination leaders face off!
15 Days - Supporting Oscar Chart fun "how were they nominated?"
16 Days - Irene Sharaff's 16 nominations 
17 Days - Looking back at The English Patient, Sal Mineo... and 1917?
18 Days - Meryl Streep's 18th nomination. Like whoa
19 Days - Julianne Moore's awards history
20 Days - Flashback '93: Age of Innocence, Farewell My Concubine, The Piano
21 Days - What's your favorite Billy Wilder?