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Entries in Best Picture (135)


NYFF: Sing the Electric "Steve Jobs"

Reporting from the ongoing New York Film Festival here is Jason on Oscar hopeful "Steve Jobs".

It should surprise no one that a movie directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin is all about rhythm. The rhythm is established at the start (and Steve Jobs runs zero to sixty so you'd best get a grip quick) and pulses outwards like the blink of a cursor, or a techno beat. You could probably set your watch to it... if you were a maniacal math genius who could work out the exact algorithm they're working off of. 

The new film is structured around three events in Jobs professional life: his first presentation of his Macintosh computer in 1984; the "perfect black cube" of the NeXT machine in 1988 after he was fired from Apple; and his triumphant return to the company a decade later with the crayola-tinted iMac every girl in my college dorm owned. Within each chapter, there are a series of sonnets of sorts, devoted to the folks in his life - his daughter, his work-wife, his boss, so on. The pieces shift once the rhythm is established, but structurally speaking the film is rigorous, in a (and I do not use these words lightly) soul-pleasing kind of way. Once you find your way in to Steve Jobs, there's this satisfaction in expectations, and the massaging thereof. [More...]

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NYFF: Spielberg's frosty Bridge of Spies

Manuel reporting from the New York Film Festival on Steven Spielberg's latest Cold War film.

Bridge of Spies opens with a man working on a self-portrait. There’s a weariness to his features that he’s ably translating from his mirrored reflection onto his canvas. There’s a purpose to every brush stroke he takes. He works methodically. Silently.

Spielberg, long admired for large-scale adventures and expertly crafted action sequences, seems to have entered a quieter phase of his career. While War Horse seemed to play to his strengths, while trying John Ford on for size, the talky Lincoln showed that the director could create a kinetic urgency even in what was, for the most part, a chamber piece about laws and votes. Bridge of Spies pushes further still in this direction. Yes, we’re dealing with spies, and fallen aircrafts, government agents and tense phone calls, but at its heart, this is yet another installment of the Cold War-as-bureaucracy genre. [More...]

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7 Bullet Points: Fall Festival Fallout & Oscar Chart Updates

Before we begin, please to note: the four Oscar category acting charts are not yet updated. Everything else is for the purposes of this discussion.  

• That was exciting. Now... breathe!
With the fall film festival trifecta (Telluride, Venice, TIFF) behind us, the fourth and noisiest early rung in the climb to Oscar (the first being Sundance, the second being Cannes, the third being anything else that happened from January through August (i.e. summer box office, media &  audience response to early offerings), we are well on the way towards Oscar nominations. It's important to note that while many over-eager pundits begin to declare winners in all sorts of categories at this stage, that's silliness. We should be focusing on the battle for nominations (still days away) until they're announced. Many things can still happen and do regularly happen in October through January which alter that who might win landscape each year. And, a crucial reminder: you can't win if you aren't nominated!

six more topics to discuss after the jump

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"Room" is the People's Choice

Great News: Room won the People's Choice award at TIFF! 
It couldn't have happened to a more deserving film and I mean that literally since it was the best of the 29 films I caught there. Confession: I really thought that Spotlight would take it since festival goers wouldn't shut up about that one. In the past twenty years the People's Choice Award has been a very solid indicator of a future Best Picture nomination. In fact, with one exception only (Hotel Rwandaif the winner was from the States or the UK, it was nominated at the Oscars. Canadian winners (Eastern Promises and The Hanging Garden) as well as most of the non-English language winners weren't so lucky. A Best Picture nomination would be a very big deal for A24 as a young distributor but they've already released so many fine and daring films they've earned one, don't you think? 

How high would you rank the film now in your predictions? 

Winners List
People's Choice Room (Lenny Abramson)
    1st Runner Up: Angry Indian Goddesses (Pan Nalin)
    2nd Runner Up: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy)

FIPRESCI DiscoveryEva Nová (Marko Skop) 
FIPRESCI Special PresentationDesierto (Jonás Cuarón) 
NETPAC Asian Cinema AwardWhispering Star (Sion Sono) 
Toronto Platform AwardHURT (Alan Zweig) 
    Honorable Mention: Neon Bull, The Promised Land, The Clan
Best Short Maman(s) (Maïmouna Doucouré)
     Honorable Mention: Rate Me (Fyzal Boulifa) 

Best Canadian Feature Closet Monster (Stephen Dunn)
    Honorable Mention: My Internship in Canada (Philippe Falardeau)
Best Canadian First Feature Film Sleeping Giant (Andrew Cividino)
Best Canadian Short Overpass (Patrice Laliberté)
    Honorable Mention: Bacon & God's Wrath (Sol Friedman)

The odd thing about the Canadian prizes is that Closet Monster, my favorite LGBT movie from the fest, which won the "Canada Goose" for Best Canadian Film is also a First Feature; there's another prize for that that it did not win! Of the other award winners, I only managed to catch Spotlight, Room, and the Toronto Platform Honorable Mention The Clan. It's a gut-wrenching true crime drama about a notorious family in Argentina who kidnapped members of other upper class families, some of whom they knew personally, for ransom money. I suspect it will be Argentina's Oscar submission but they don't announce until the end of the month.


TIFF: Journalists at War. "Truth" vs "Spotlight"

On the first day of TIFF last Thursday I saw four consecutive movies from different countries and of different tones entirely that all had a surprise pregnancy reveal scene/shot during their stories. Festivals are funny like that providing you with unexpected throughlines. But sometimes you fully expect the comparisons, if not a schedule that has you watching two similar movies back-to-back. That happened to me with James Vanderbilt's Truth and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight. Both are journalism pictures with A list casts and both will be gunning for awards honors at year's end. Spotlight is better positioned already with stronger reviews but Truth definitely has its pleasures. While watching them Truth felt more popcorn entertaining but Spotlight is stickier, staying with you afterwards.

Truth vs. Spotlight in 8 categories after the jump...

Click to read more ...


BYOYNMS: The Danish Girl 

That's "Bring Your Own Yes No Maybe So," in case you're wondering. Acronyms for daaaays, henny! I'm seeing The Danish Girl very shortly at TIFF and I don't want to spoil my first experience since I haven't read the book (I know I know) and I'm hearing that this trailer gives away each story beat. 

But if you don't care about spoilers, or have read the book, please to watch and let us know where you fall on the Yes No Maybe So divide.

Or, rather, if the trailer moved your needle at all on this latest costume drama from frequent Oscar presence Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables). Gender identity is such a hot topic of late (I Am Cait is basically like having an Intro to Genders Studies course weekly on E! of all places, and Transparent's about to win an Emmy or three, don't you think?) that this film's timing is probably very good. IF, that is, the film lives up to its hype.

The movie will be opening just after Thanksgiving in the US.


Pt 2 Smackdown Xtra: On the Waterfront with a Broken Lance

Nathaniel (your host), BrianMarkAnne MarieManuel and Todd VanDerWerff continue their Smackdown conversation. Here's part two of our 80 minute conversation

Pt 1 PODCAST - The High & Mighty & Executive Suite

Pt 2 (40 minutes)
00:01 Recap of Part 1 and we continue our On the Waterfront conversation seguewaying to the movie's rawness and experimentation, Elia Kazan personal voice, the influence of New York theater, and the slow death of the studio system
10:00 Broken Lance, Latino actors in Hollywood, Social Message Movies, and a shout out to Natalie Wood (?)
27:30 Thelma Ritter and other Supporting Actresses of 1954
35:45 Sign Off and Thank Yous. Last words from Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes Continue the conversation in the comments.

SUGGESTED READING: We reference two books in this conversation: Mark Harris's instant classic Pictures at a Revolution (which you've probably already read) and a brand new one: Brian Herrera's Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance. Pick those up. 

1954 Pt 2: On the Broken Lanced Waterfront