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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd


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Beauty vs. Beast


ALMA or HUD ? For you cynical hotties
 Beauty vs Beast 

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Sundance Sensation: THE WITCH

 "These stills look gorgeous! That dinner scene looks like it came straight out of a Caravaggio painting." - Ryan

"There's been this minor resurgence of intimate family horror in recent years and it makes me excited. Really excited for this one to get distribution." - Robert G

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Sally's Short Suspense

Sally sings a lullaby she wrote in "African Chelsea"A confession: I've never been this caught up in the drama of the short film categories before. But this year I await Oscar's finalist list on pins and needles. At least four former Oscar players are involved in shorts from the long 70ish wide semi-finals list (the actual list has been hard to come by with no AMPAS press release detailing it). One of them is 80s nominee Sally Kirkland who I've always felt a certain kooky fondness for. She campaigned tirelessly for the actressy drama Anna back when campaigning wasn't so loudly expected of people. She was rewarded with a spot in the 1987 Best Actress list which turned out to be one of the greatest in Oscar's entire history. There's not a dud or even a "just good" performance in that shortlist; they're all freaking great. Sometimes you've got to work for the nomination when your film is small.

There's a new somewhat provocative piece up at the LA Times Envelope about her current director Brent Roske's campaigning for "African Chelsea" the short she's currently co-starring in. Campaigning for short films is not, you see, the norm... though people do do it. I've recently been in contact with the short's director Brent Roske and I reached out for a comment today on working with Sally. Turns out he plans to do it again and quick-like no matter what happens with the short film race.

I've just finished writing an inspiring dramatic feature that Sally will be starring in called 'Alice Stands Up'. I'm hoping I can get her in the Best Actress discussion next year."

Ah, directors and their muses. We love it when they stand by their divas. It's probably too much to hope that a miracle like Anna could reoccur again but we wish him luck in trying. Shine that spotlight on Sally! 

Sally Kirkland sure was vivid in "Anna". Have you seen it? It's available on Netflix Instant Watch

Shorts, Animation, Documentary Charts
Melissa Leo talks "The Sea Is All I Know", another shorts prospect
La Luna interview (Pixar Short)


Naked Gold Man: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Competitive Season

I wish there were festive holiday songs for Oscar junkies. "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Steamroll", "All I Want for Oscars is You", "Let it Snub, Let it Snub, Let it Snub", "God Rest Ye Merry Shortlisters", "Do You Vote How I Vote" etcetera.... The mood is definitely upon us!

This weekend while LA, NY online, and Boston were handing out their prizes and BFCA voters were mailing in their ballots a certain movie that few had yet seen was screening for Oscar voters and it's likely to be a big deal (though whether it will make the BFCA due to the voting deadline today, remains to be seen). Let's just say that I heard sniffling and whispered "wows" during the credits at the guild screening here in NYC.

The AFI's TOP TEN LIST was also released this weekend. It went like so...

  • Bridesmaids
  • The Descendants
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • J. Edgar
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

It reads like an odd experiment in Oscar predicting from two months back before people had seen all the films (plus Bridesmaids. The AFI always includes at least one populist hit to represent the film year).

But bringing us back to the now, it's time for a chart update to reflect all of this madness.

These past couple of weeks have definitely proven to us that The Tree of Life has not been forgotten, that The Help is in a good place (The actors branch is large and we suspect they like it) that Thanksgiving is a very smart holiday to start your heavy Oscar campaigning (See: Hugo, The Descendants, My Week With Marilyn and The Artist). We're not aloud to talk about the three last films to arrive (War Horse, Dragon Tattoo, Extremely Loud) but let's just say when it comes to Oscar, I'm bearish on the first two and bullish on the last having now seen all three. I'm also pleased to note that Moneyball is well liked. At an Oscar dinner I attended for Rango recently, it was the consensus favorite of my table. 

Strangely the film that hasn't been coming up in conversation that much is Midnight in Paris but I blame this on the emergence of so many new films all at once. Moneyball doesn't always come up organically in conversation but when it does it's, in my experience, usually "oh, I love that." It's the job of the new films arriving to wow voters and erase memories of early favorites. It's the job of the early arrivals to remind voters how much they loved them in the first place; that's the push forward and the pull back.



20:11 Just Go With The Eagle. Never Say Never!

Year in Review Fun... Much more to come! Herewith the 20th minute and 11th second of the movies of 2011 in chronological order of US release dateIt's like flipping channels for snapshots of the film year! For those who like a mnemonic challenge, I've written the film titles in invisible ink below each screencap (you can highlight to see them). Would any of these tiny glimpses make you want to stop channel surfing and watch?

january | february | march | april

Part 2: February

- I even stole some once.
- I know. "

THE ROBBER Very intense movie. They're supposedly going to remake it with Andrew Garfield rumored for the title character.


-We passed that on the way up.
-I know."

Hotels make people naughty. They do! This is a still from ...THE OTHER WOMAN ... which I did not like at all.

He's a blue?! Not a blue!!!"

GNOMEO & JULIET   ...... which is hoping for animation and original song nominations.

Seven more snapshots after the jump. How many have you seen?

Click to read more ...


LAFCA & NYFCO Part Ways Over The Artist

Could Fassbender be eyeing Oscar?Andreas here. Want to see end-of-year craziness in action? Look at today: first, the Boston Society of Film Critics announces their awards, then before they've finished, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Online start tag-teaming it! It all starts to blend together sometimes -- Emmanuel Plummer won for something called Drivemaids? -- but no worries, we've got it straightened out:

First, the LAFCA winners...

PICTURE The Descendants (runner-up: The Tree of Life)
DIRECTOR Terence Malick for The Tree of Life
 (Runner-up: Martin Scorsese for Hugo)
SCREENPLAY Asghar Farhadi for A Separation (For Your Consideration!)
ACTRESS Yun Jung-hee for Poetry
 (Runner-up: Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia)
ACTOR Michael Fassbender for A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre, Shame, and X-Men: First Class
 (Runner-up: Michael Shannon for Take Shelter)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS Jessica Chastain for everything
(Runner-up: Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs)
SUPPORTING ACTOR Christopher Plummer for Beginners
 (Runner-up: Patton Oswalt for Young Adult)
CINEMATOGRAPHY Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life
 (Runner-up: Cao Yu for City of Life and Death)
PRODUCTION DESIGN Dante Ferretti for Hugo
 (Runner-up: Maria Djurkovic for Tinker Tailor)
 (Runner-up: The Arbor)
 (Runner-up: The Adventures of Tintin)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM City of Life and Death
 (Runner-up: A Separation)
NEW GENERATION The creative team behind Martha Marcy May Marlene
BEST MUSIC/SCORE The Chemical Brothers for Hanna
 (Runner-up: Cliff Martinez for Drive)


Commentary and NYFCO awards after the jump.

Click to read more ...


Boston Society of Film Critics. Beantown Loves... 

would you be so good as to participate in the bean lottery? Please submit your bid for the number of beans in the bottleBeantown critics have assembled today to announce their prizes. LAFCA and the NYFCO critics are also announcing later.

Awful lot of bean vote counting going on today. In Boston's case they're being very leisurely about it. We'll see how quickly the other associations move. I only illustrated with Melancholia's wedding bean lottery because I was just watching it last night and here we are this morning and never mind...

The winners!

PICTURE The Artist (Runner up: Hugo and Margaret)
DIRECTOR Martin Scorsese for Hugo (Runner up: Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist)
ACTRESS Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn (Runner up: La Streep. Guess Boston liked their biographies above all else this year) 
ACTOR Brad Pitt for Moneyball (Runners up The Clooney & Fassy)

SUPPORTING ACTRESS Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids (runner up: Jeannie Berlin for Margaret
SUPPORTING ACTOR Albert Brooks for Drive (runner up: ???) 
SCREENPLAY Moneyball (runner up: Margaret
CINEMATOGRAPHY Emmanuel Lubezki for The Tree of Life (runner up: Robert Richardson for Hugo)

The Supporting Actress Competition. "That's a lot of energy to deal with!"

There's one or almost one for #TeamMargaret. I wish I'd seen it. Alas. But McCarthy picks up her first critics award for Bridesmaids. Will more follow? The BFSC claims it was a "very competitive category" this year. By which perhaps they mean Jessica Chastain vs. Jessica Chastain vs. Jessica Chastain vs. All of the Bridesmaids perhaps?

I'm wondering if Albert Brooks won in a landslide for Drive. Possibly he did as they didn't announce a runner up. 

DOCUMENTARY Project Nim (runner up: Bill Cunningham New York)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM Incendies (runners up: A Separation and Poetry)
FILM EDITING (in memory of Karen Schmeer) Christian Marclay for The Clock (runner up: Thelma Schoonmaker for Hugo... see previous post)
NEW FILMMAKER (in memory of David Brudnoy) Sean Durkin for Martha Marcy May Marlene (runner up: JC Chandor for Margin Call

At last Durkin beats Chandor to a prize. I knew some group would have to go that way. Both are good films but some have issues with the ambiguity of Durkin's work (see my Fandor contemplation of the problem.)

ENSEMBLE CAST CARNAGE (runner up: Margaret. Poor #TeamMargaret... bridesmaids but never the bride)
USE OF MUSIC IN FILM *tie* DRIVE & THE ARTIST (runner up: The Descendants... which, lol, um... okay. Hawaiian music for Hawaii? Award worthy decision-making right there!)

Boston joins #TeamMargaret. Sort of

They also handed out several local prizes and honors which you can read here. And they made a special plea to Fox Searchlight to start backing Kenneth Lonergan's Margaret. The film kept getting runner up notices. Poor #TeamMargaret ... always the bridesmaids but never the bride. In their words:

The Boston Society of Film Critics expresses its regret that Fox Searchlight refused to distribute screeners of the film "Margaret" and scheduling only a last-minute screening after numerous requests. The film, which received an extremely limited release, was a favorite of many BSFC members and could have won several awards had it been made available for viewing within a reasonable timeframe.  Despite this disadvantage, "Margaret" was a runner up in three of the BSFC’s award categories. We encourage Fox Searchlight not compound this oversight and to make screeners available to the voting body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and so give the film a fair chance in the upcoming awards competition.


Q&A Crumbs: Best of Best Supporting Actor + Legendary Why?

If the Q&A column were a TV series it'd be one of those painfully confusing ones that goes off the air unexpectedly only to return with 2 hour specials and extra webisodes and then go on hiatus again. I can't control it! It controls me. I've already answered small screen questions, and Thursday's column was on movie etiquette, crowd reactions, and purposefully bad acting. So here's are a handful of Q&A crumbs that I felt the need to answer and now we are dunzo until the next round. Whew.

As ever, I love to hear your answers to these questions in the comments. The more the merrier when it comes to movie discussions, don't you think?

MESHI: Are there any legendary performances (like, Vivien Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara-type legendary) that you just don't get what all the fuss is about?

I have a hard time understanding the fuss over Marlon Brando in Last Tango In Paris. To me it feels less Method then Show-Off with no one willing to say, 'pull it back dude. Modulate.' So, no, I don't get that one despite its enormous acclaim. I will entertain the possibility that I saw it when I was too young for it, though.

MARY: What are you most excited for? "Mirror Mirror" or "Snow White and the Huntsman"?

I believe you'll find my answer in if you click on the Snow White tag. I'm pretty good with the tagging at the bottom of each post to make things easy for y'all to investigate topics of interest. Short answer: Hunstman by a country mile on a horse drawn carriage with a bad wheel. 

CAL ROTH: Call the next Oscar winners now in acting now. No guts, no glory. Don't think too much about it. Just say how do you feel about these races.

I hate doing this because it's a lose-lose proposition before nominations are announced. If you're right and you go with the party line (I guess at the moment that's: Clooney & Streep, Redgrave & Plummer) you risk being part of that horrible machine that takes all the fun out of Oscars by making it into one big echo chamber that reenforces lazy voting. If you're right but you appear to be wrong (hmmm: Pitt & Davis* & Spencer & Plummer?) because your answer sounds too "two months ago*" people don't remember and they just think you're not that good at prognosticating. Anyway, i much prefer predicting nominees to predicting winners which is TOTALLY BORING due to the echo chamber... particular in the last stretch when the same 4 people will start winning every award and people will only guess otherwise to have something to write about.

* I often wonder why people have perpetual amnesia about the fact that buzz volumes always rise when a movie opens or start screening (provided it's not bombing) and always subside when it's been out a few months and is "familiar". But... buzz volume levels rise and fall and rise again...and fall again. The only thing that matters is how volumous they are when voting is happening.

SOSUEME: As an avid reader of TFE for the last two years, I finally had my first Nathaniel it, you were moving to California...obviously, the dream has more to do with me than anyone else, but it got me thinking...would you consider moving to CA to be closer to the industry, the events, possibly more money, or does New York suit you just fine?

I'm happy right here though I'd totally be bi-coastal if I could. Writing can be a lonely activity so you need handy social escapes for sanity. Nearly all of my closest friends live here so I gotta stick around. Plus: New York City needs me ;)  ...most of the Oscar pundits are in Los Angeles but AMPAS is bicoastal!


Best Ever Consecutive Run for Supporting Actor Oscar?

MITCHELL: What do you believe to be the most deserving performance to ever win Best Supporting ACTOR?

This is my least favorite of the four acting categories within Oscar because it seems to have the least correlation to actual quality year after year. For whatever reasons it's more beholden to other Oscar factors that aren't really about the work in question: career honors, which "types" they like, which films they like, fame levels before the nominations. This category is also particularly egregious in terms of category fraud. I mean you could argue that it's been five years since an actual supporting performance won (that'd be Alan Arkin) even though the last four winners were four kinds of miraculous in terms of actual quality [tangent: best run ever in this category if you allow for the fraud!]. Once you remove all the co-leads I think there are a few absolute essentials who not only did inspired work but who elevated already strong films by virtue of their lynchpin contributions to its tone, identity and overall aesthetic punch.

So without pouring over the books for too long I'd say I couldn't really live without Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street (1947), Joel Grey as "the emcee" in Cabaret (1972), or Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (1994).

But this list might change on a different day and I can't choose just one! Can you?