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Entries in Best Picture (93)

Sunday
Sep142014

TIFF Awards Brunch, Or 'But I Saw So Many Movies!'

Little known factoid: I actually don't like hearing about festival awards IF I attended said festival. Unless I'm on a jury of course. Invariably it makes you feel like a lightweight no matter how many movies you sat through because it's impossible to have seen everything when 100s of films are on offer. I saw 25 films over 8 days of screening or basically 3 a day (since I had to make time for writing / parties / eating / sleeping) and it looks like I saw only one of the films that won a prize at TIFF.

Here are the awards...

the pray-cry mittens come out again! "I would like to thank the Academy for --er, I mean the people of Toronto!"

PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD  -This is the biggie and the only one that people use as any kind of Oscar barometer. It went to the Weinstein Company's The Imitation Game. That's the only award winner that I saw and I liked it, particularly the WW II story at the center. I didn't see it at a public screening though so I couldn't gauge the reaction. Of the public screenings I attended its chief Oscar rival at the fest The Theory of Everything definitely had the biggest freak-out reaction from the crowd. Learning to Drive (with Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley) and St. Vincent (with Bill Murray) were the runners up for this most coveted prize.

TRIVIA MADNESS: The previous 36 winners of this prize have gone on to a collective 122 Oscar nominations and 47 wins... so if The Imitation Game is an average English language performer as far as the winners go it can expect a handful of Oscar nominations.  Of those 36 previous winners, 11 went on to Best Picture nominations with 5 of them winning. 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug272014

Linkman & Emmywoman

First Things First: at Movie City News the "Gurus of Gold" have begun (yes, I'm a part of it again) and as David Poland points out there are seven films that made almost every list: Birdman, Gone Girl, Boyhood, and Unbroken tied at 1st place with Foxcatcher, Selma, and Interstellar just behind themMost pundits are feeling these as Best Picture threats. Look at the whole chart though to see how everything fared. The highest ranking films that were not on my list (we were asked to submit 15 films) are Wild and Inherent Vice

Birdman Flies
Early rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival from The TelegraphVariety and THR and a couple positive but not ecstatic reviews from The Guardian and The Film Stage are up and surely bode well for the film.  I'm holding off on reading them as I want the movie fresh when I see it. But others may want to dive right in.

Anger Making
Yahoo talks to Tyler Perry. The Madea franchise star/director claims he didn't know who David Fincher was when he signed on to Gone Girl and he wouldn't have done it if he knew how "mainstream" he was. What the F'in hell? Yes, Tyler Perry a bastion of "edgy" cinema. He's also been a voting member of the Director's branch of the Academy since 2009 which means he's been asked to judge and vote on Fincher's work twice. Way to be a conscientous voter!

Other Linkage
The Playlist 10 overlooked greats from the 1970s. I gladly support the inclusion of Girlfriends (1978) but I haven't seen the others
HitFix Deborah Ann Woll talks about moving on to Daredevil and the difficulty of leaving True Blood's Jessica behind
Pajiba Ridley Scott is 76 years-old but his plate is super full. How many more films is he planning to make exactly? 
Cinematically Insane will layoffs and monetization at Turner Broadcasting affect TCM? 
My New Plaid Pants Superman takes the ice bucket challenge 
The Dissolve Mike D'Angelo looks back at "Best Actress" of 1989 -- we all know that shoulda been Michelle Pfeiffer but others are discussed, too. 
VF Neil Marshall (The Descent) wants to direct a Black Widow movie. Also talks Game of Thrones

Emmy Hangover
The Nib Liza Donnelly's caricatures from the evening 
Pajiba's liveblog with Courtney Enlow icymi
We Recycle Movie's "lateblog" with Anne Marie and Margaret 
Towleroad icymi it on Emmy night, Billy on the Street's Emmy dash was the most hilarious of few hilarious things that night 
Showtracker wonders if Game of Thrones can rise in Emmy estimation with Breaking Bad moving out of the way 
Salon what the Emmys revealed about the broadcast vs cable war on television 

ICYMI
Vulture Mark Harris has a long read on "The Making of Foxcatcher" - so much Mark Harris to read. (I'm reading "Five Came Back" very slowly because I am learning so much about late 30s/early 40s Hollywood on every page.)
Funny Or Die Mark Duplass and Ted Danson go to couples therapy over Prince's Purple Rain suit

Fun Interview
Assignment X talks to one of our favorite British thespians, Olivia Williams about her new series, films (very briefly), makes fun of her own accent work and this, my favorite part, on her stellar role in Joss Whedon's Dollhouse:

Joss legendarily starts to adapt your character as the series goes on to how you really are, and I started off as sort of a calculating bitch and ended up being rather motherly and a bit of an alcoholic, and I can’t think where he got that from.

Ha!

 

Thursday
Aug212014

Best Shot Collection: Gone With the Wind (Pt. 1)

Seventy-five years ago this December (yes, we'll celebrate again...albeit in a different way) Gone With the Wind premiered. No, that isn't quite right. This epic about a selfish Southern Belle surviving the Civil War and beyond ARRIVED IN STYLE with a three day celebration in Atlanta which reportedly drew one million visitors -- how'd they fit them all into the theater? (Hee). 1939's Best Picture winner arrived with roughly a bajillion times the anticipation that today's blockbusters get because pop culture was far less fragmented back then and everyone was obsessed with it. It would stay in theaters for literally years (the first couple of them at twice the normal ticket price) and become the biggest cinematic smash the world would ever see. To put it into perspective only Star Wars ever came close with The Sound of Music, E.T. and Titanic fighting for a distant third.

To look at something this large for a single defining image is an impossible task (or two images rather since we've split it in half). My favorite recurring visual motif of the film, Scarlett moving against the current of the crowd as befitting her singular tetchy anti-heroine nature and her duties as protagonist just doesn't look magnificent in freeze frames, but my favorite instances are two: First, when war has been declared and she walks up the stairs calmly through a sea of pastel dresses running down them (bless the film's first fired director George Cukor - that's obviously his work!), and second, her selfish exit from the scene of an amputation when she moves from the sweaty interior nightmare of a hospital to the shock of an exterior nightmare of chaos outside in the streets. Other favorite images were too small or atypical. For instance, there's this calming exquisitely lit shot of Mr and Mrs Ashley Wilkes. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Aug072014

199 Days 'til Oscar...

Not that I'm counting. I don't have one of those alternating colored construction paper link chains on my wall that I rip off every day or anything like I did when I was five while waiting for Santa. No siree. Do not have one of those. But if I did the colors would be gold leaf and red carpet. 

Mmmmm, where were we since we last spoke?

Release Date Shuffle
No press release or dropped hint or trailer dates should ever be taken at face value when it comes to release dates. These things change back and forth all the time but, at least for the moment, things are murky on a ton of titles and many of them are actressy: CarolFar From the Madding Crowd, MacBethThe Suffragette and more. And some pictures that were clearly designated as 2015 are obviously finished like Ron Howard's Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth all slimmed down so who knows what might transpire if a specific studio sees an opening. So let's talk about the stuff that's out already...

The Tiny Idiosyncratic Indies vs.  Large Mainstream Blockbusters
This summer I think you could safely argue that the big winners at the arthouse were the Polish film Ida which grossed more than last year's high profile foreign Oscar winner and Richard Linklater's critically adored 12 years in the making Boyhood. Music Box Films and IFC Films, which released the films, don't have high profile histories at pushing for Oscar nominations the way  Sony Pictures Classics and The Weinstein Co do but they should probably spend the money. If either maneuvers correctly, there will be at least one or two high profile nominations in store. This is why I wonder why more small films with Oscar potential don't try summer releases. If you have the goods and you're "small" it's better to be safely esconced at the top of the mountain when the "big" mainstream prestige films aren't even around and then defend your turf in the fall/winter rather than trying to climb up that insane awards mountain when all the 800 lb gorillas are also scaling it; more often than not they'll knock you right off by simply crushing your chances of enough media coverage for starters.

Whether or not Ida's box office bonanza results in Oscar traction I hope it keeps the lights on at Music Box offices for a long time. To understand just how huge the film has been for them some context: Ida is now second only to the French thriller Tell No One as their top grosser that doesn't star Noomi Rapace and start with the words "The Girl..." Further context: in terms of their recent memory hits Ida has now surpassed the combined grosses of the all star French comedy Potiche and the Rachel Weisz period drama The Deep Blue Sea (which got a little bit of awards traction).

Visual Effects is already a bloody battle. Can Guardians of the Galaxy win the nomination?

Response to this year's blockbusters is a bit harder to read at this early juncture since a) there are so many of them that have been solid doubles or triples but not home runs and b) mainstream blockbusters often need home runs to have voters thinking of them on par with the "serious" pictures. I can't say, for example, that Maleficent (big hit but not entirely respected) or Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy (big hits but Oscar doesn't take superheroes seriously outside of that orphaned billionaire in the batsuit) or Godzilla (divisive hit from ancient B movie franchise) are necessarily going to land tech nods but they'll probably try. The exception to all this 'solid player but not much more' business is surely Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which opened to much coin and such feverish raves you'd think it was a Martin Scorsese picture with Leonardo DiCaprio in an ape mask. But even that one is the 8th film in a 46 year old franchise that has only ever won 3 competitive Oscar nominations and one special Oscar... and 75% of those were from the 1968 original!

That's just one of the man reasons I think it's crazy that people are hoping for an Andy Serkis nomination though I'd be down for him to win a non-competitive special Oscar for pioneering a new subdivision of acting. If you missed the recent Podcast on 1973 the discussion of Linda Blair's performance led to the very relevant 2014 topic on how to judge "collaborative" work. 

I know, I know. You're all like... stop talking. Get to the updated Oscar charts. They're ALL updated, look at me finally updating!

PICTUREDIRECTOR & SCREENPLAYS
VISUAL & SOUND 
ACTRESS & ACTOR
SUPPORTING ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTOR
ANIMATED and FOREIGN 

Thoughts? Of course all this will be moot soon when the festivals shake things up with actual buzz rather than hype and some films without release dates securing distribution. We'll start on the foreign submission charts in the next couple of days since Hungary is the first to announce with the Cannes sensation "WHITE GOD" about those rampaging wild dogs.  

 

 

Thursday
Jul032014

Halfway Pt. 1: What if They Voted on the Oscars Right Now?

Oscar Chart Note: I'm experiencing some coding problems with the charts so I apologize for the update delays. Until it's fixed, please to enjoy this hypothetical discussion as we begin our Halfway Mark Review...


Happy July! We're now officially done with the first half of the year. There are MANY films to come including the bulk of Oscar contenders given Hollywood's preferred release patterns. But that doesn't mean the film year hasn't already delivered enormous pleasure. All conscientous Oscar voters, cinephiles, and critics ought to keep a list so they aren't tricked into believing that the thing they saw 5 minutes ago is the only thing worth voting for six months from now.

Which naturally begs the question: If the voting was sprung on everyone right now, which films would AMPAS go for? It's worth jotting them down because they have a head start and they'd be smart to capitalize on it somehow. They need to settle in the mind and hearts as viable options as it were so that the forthcoming biggies will have to unseat them rather than trample them on their way to Oscar thrones.

I'm thinking mostly of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel and Ralph Fiennes as Best Actor. They'd both surely snag nominations if the voting were held today. But at this date, some 17 years into his career, Academy voters haven't yet fully embraced Wes Anderson. Comic performances are always trickier sells so Ralph Fiennes will need to capitalize on the fact that he's playing against type (in a way) and voters respect that. If Budapest hangs on for real Oscar play that should make the waters safe for all future Wes Anderson films (see also: David Fincher, David O. Russell, and Paul Thomas Anderson who all struggled to win attention until Oscar finally caught up with the critical passion and devout public fanbases and now they're automatically "in the conversation" before their films arrive.) 

Let's fantasize about what might be nominated if the voting were cut off right now when so few expected contenders have opened. My guesses as to the nominees go like so...

Click to read more ...