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Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1960
Shirley x 2, Janet, Mary, and Glynis. Who gets your vote?

"Janet Leigh should've won, but I feel like the fact that she was even nominated for that movie might've been a victory in itself." - Philip H.

"How great is it considering this was 59 years ago that three of these ladies are still with us and the two Shirleys are working on a semi regular basis." - Joel6 

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Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
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Entries in A Separation (19)


The New Classics - A Separation

Michael Cusumano back again with my new series on great scenes/films of the 21st Century. This week a title we will surely hear often when the best of the decade lists start rolling in...


Scene: Razieh is Fired (aka The Incident)
It’s rare for a movie, even a great movie, to sneak up on the audience the way Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation does.

The screenplay is centered around an inflection point. Everything pulling the characters inexorably toward, or ricocheting off of, the moment when a man shoves a woman out his front door. Yet this action is not granted any special emphasis. First-time viewers have no clue they’ve witnessed the action around which the entire story pivots. It is only a few short scenes later, when the man is on trial for causing the miscarriage of the women he pushed (a murder charge in Iran) that the weight of that shove comes crashing home...

Click to read more ...


Top Ten: Most Deserving Oscar Wins of the Decade (thus far)

It's a special "top ten day" to kick off fall film season. Lists all day long. Enjoy!

As we move into awards seasons it's a good time to think positively and hope for the best. Though AMPAS is too high profile to ever get an entirely fair shake (people will always take them to task because one man's treasure is another's junk and because it's easier to remember the gross dereliction of their duties more than their classy moments) they don't screw up all the time. Some Oscar wins are highly deserved no matter how you look at it. Though it seems weird to call this young decade "the Teens" already given that we've just left the pre-teens, that's what it'll surely be called when it wraps in December 2019


Honorable Mention
 Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables (2012 Supporting Actress)
"I Dreamed a Dream" and its fearful preamble "At the End of the Day" had seismic emotional impact. Performances this raw are always risky (and usually divisive!) but I'll never forget her confrontational mix of anger, sorrow, memory and beauty; a woman staring into the abyss, still stunned she's at the brink of it.


10ish  Christian Bale, The Fighter (2010 Supporting Actor)
Christopher PlummerBeginners (2011 Supporting Actor)
I couldn't decide which of these fine actors I wanted on the list and on an earlier draft I accidentally left both off as a result. Oops. Both are arguably leads, so it felt a bit strange to include them but they are two very fine instances of overdue actors finally winning the top gong. While they probably won at least in part as "whole career" honors, that much derided Oscar tactic that often gives actors Oscars for one of their lesser performances, doesn't always backfire; both were, happily, incredibly deserving.

09 Lupita N'Yongo, 12 Years a Slave (2013 Supporting Actress)
A close call, perhaps, with "It Girl" JLaw nipping at her barefeet. Or maybe not close at all given how much of its operatic sorrow the sometimes cerebral Best Picture owes to her proud wails and immeasurable pain.  "I'd rather it be you" 

8 more greats after the jump from Gravity to A Separation

Click to read more ...


Top Ten 2010s... So Far

I just spent 108 minutes catching up with Jesse and Celine. We've met them twice Before... and I spent the first 2/3rds of the movie grinning like a damn fool I was so happy to be marinating in their always passionate detour-filled conversations. It's too early to say how much I loved the movie (though I did) but it got me to thinking what an achievement this series is and got me to thinking of true movie magic and how much of it we've had lately. So while so many of my fellow critics enjoy their mad rush through Auteursville at Cannes tonight I'm remembering the time I fell in love with this movie...

...and that one

...and that one

...and that one.

Here's my ten favorite movies of the 'Teens (2010-2019) ... so far of course

the bonafide masterpieces -it'd be tough to imagine them not being on the decade best list 6 years from now
1. I Am Love (Luca Guadagnini)
2. A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
3. The Social Network (David Fincher)

indelible achievements

4. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin)
5. The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko)
6. Blue Valentine (Derek Cianfrance)

movie magic

7. Amour (Michael Haneke)
8. The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
9. Drive (Nicolas Winding Refn)

10 ... let's leave this spot open for a current passion since this list is silliness until 2019 rolls around. How will Frances Ha and Before Midnight age? They'll certainly make my top ten list this year. And if they don't this will be a startlingly fine year.

And while I still have your attention you should "like" The Film Experience

Honorable Mention: Beginners, Weekend, Magic Mike, and Moonrise Kingdom
Growing?: Blue Valentine and The Fighter and Melancholia are aging well
Fading?: I admit my initial passions for both Black Swan and The Artist have cooled a bit.

Which films this young decade have already staked a claim on your 4ever heart?

Previous Top Ten Quickies
1930s | 1950s1970s | 1980s | 1990s


"A Separation" Wins Big at the Asian Film Awards

Congralutations to Andy Lau (representing Hong Kong's Oscar submission A Simple Life) and Eugene Domingo (the star of The Philippine's Oscar submission Woman in a Septic Tank) who won the People's Choice Award for Actor and Actress at the 6th Annual Asian Film Awards.


They look so happy. The Oscars are long over but somehow it's comforting to know that people hold new trophies every day of the year for something or other and not all of them are dreaming of Oscar. And not all awards bodies are concerned with whether or not Oscar voters are watching.

It was a big night for A Separation (which we were just talking about) which took home the top prize and three others. The craft categories were mostly split between Wu Xia and The Flying Swords of Dragon Gale, neither of which have come to US cinemas.

The acting awards were all over the place both in terms of films and countries.

The Winners
Film A Separation [Iran]
Director Asghar Farhadi, A Separation [Iran]
Actress Deanie Ip, A Simple Life [Hong Kong]
Actor Donny Damara, Lovely Man [Indonesia] 
Newcomer Ni Ni, The Flowers of War [China] 
Supporting Actress Shemaine Buencamino, Nino [The Philippines]
Supporting Actor Lawrence Ko Jump, Ashin! [Taiwan] 

Donny Damara plays a transgendered father in "Lovely Man"

Screenplay Asghar Farhadi, A Separation [Iran]
Cinematography Jake Pollock & Lai Yiu-fai Wu Xia [China | Hong Kong]
Production Design Yee Chung-man, Sun Li, Wu Xia [China | Hong Kong] 
Score Chan Kwong-wing, Peter Kam, Chatchai Pongprapaphan, Wu Xia [China | Hong Kong]
Editor Hayedeh Safiyari, A Separation [Iran]
Visual Effects Wook Kim, Josh Cole, Frankie Chung, The Flying Swords of Dragon Gale [China | Hong Kong ]
Costume Design Yee Chung-man, Lai Hsuan-wu The Flying Swords of Dragon Gale [China | Hong Kong] 

The Flying Swords of Dragon Gale hasn't come to the States yet but since it stars Jet Li and it's action oriented, I suppose we'll get it at some point.

Special Awards Lifetime Achievement for Hong Kong director Ann Hui and The Edward Yang New Talent Awards for Indonesia's Edwin. 


Two Box Office Lists, One "A Separation" Inspired 

It was a big weekend for spoofing familiar concepts with 21 Jump Street filling movie houses and the only other top ten newbie Casa De Mi Padre, doing a parodic riff on Mexican movies starring Will Ferrell and everyone's favorite Mexican tag team: Gael García Bernal & Diego Luna. Would love to hear from anyone who saw the latter in the comments since this one slipped me by and GGB is an old favorite. (My review of 21 Jump Street will be up tomorrow evening.)

TOP TEN (Estimates)
01 21 JUMP STREET  $35 new in wide release
02 THE LORAX  $22.8 (cum. $158.4)
03 JOHN CARTER  $13.5  (cum. $53.1) [Review and Taylor Kitsch Beefcake]
04 PROJECT X  $4 (cum. $48.1)
05 A THOUSAND WORDS $3.7   (cum. $12.1)
06 ACT OF VALOR   $3.6 (cum. $62.3)
07 SAFE HOUSE  $2.8 (cum. $120.2)
09 CASA DE MI PADRE  $2.2 new in limited release
10 THIS MEANS WAR $2.1  (cum. $50.5)

Another Milestone for A Separation
Asgar Farhadi's Oscar winner A Separation (our favorite of 2011) continues its incredible theatrical run passing the 5 million mark. Five million for an Iranian family drama at the US box office? Unheard of. Every once in a blue moon the nation's box office gives us good news for quality cinema. While we're here why not a look back at the biggest foreign hits from the past year?

Disclaimer: I didn't count The Artist. Though it's foreign, it's silent so we're excluding it but you'll understand that if we did it'd be number one with an incredible $42 million. Don't believe those naysayers that call it a box office disappointment. Black and white + no stars + silent + foreign = $42 million is big big numbers.

Kristin Scott Thomas continues to be a draw ... at least when subtitled.

The ones that got a lot of people talking...
01 SARAH'S KEY [France] $7.6
02 A SEPARATION [Iran] $5.6 and still playing
The Oscar winner this year which we like writing about.
03 BIUTIFUL [Mexico] $5.1   Technically a 2010 picture since it had a one week qualifying run before being pulled until the nominations were announced. But we'll count it for comparison's sake.
04 OF GODS AND MEN [France] $3.9  It was held back to 2011 to capitalize on a presumed Oscar, but the nomination didn't even come. Did very well for itself in 2011 anyway which is not the usual case for that sort of "wait for the Oscar" trick.

other successes
05 DON 2 [India] $3.6 
06 THE SKIN I LIVE IN [Spain] $3.1
"Success" being relative. This didn't do Pedro Almodóvar's usual numbers though I'm unsure as to why.
08 PINA [Germany] $3.0 and still playing The Oscar nominated dance documentary... in 3D.
09 RA ONE [India]  $2.5
10 INCENDIES [Canada] $2.0   Another Oscar nominee from last year

POTICHE was such fun. Arthouse audiences (mostly) agreed.

minor hits... but still hits
11 BODYGUARD [India]  $1.8
12 POTICHE [France] $1.6
13 DELHI BELLY [India]  $1.5
14 THE DOUBLE HOUR [Italy] $1.5 
15 SAVING PRIVATE PEREZ [Mexico]  $1.4
16 CERTIFIED COPY [France| Italy | Belgium ] $1.3
17 NO ERES TU, SO YO [Mexico] $1.3 
18 DESI BOYZ [India] $1.0
19 IN A BETTER WORLD [Denmark]  $1.0 The Foreign Film Oscar winner last year
20 READY [India]  $.9

ol' faithfuls French cinema and Bollywood continue to have the most reliable ticket buyers in the US arthouses. Bollywood movies don't need any press attention at all to find audiences. Even if you follow the movies religiously chances are you haven't heard of their annual hits if you're not out there looking for them. France is a different story in that way, getting and needing the media push.

Hrithik Roshan & Shah Rukh Khan are superstars of Bollywood. So is the male physique.

And also: What is it with Bollywood and über muscley male superstars? Bollywood men are way more objectified than their Hollywood counterparts.

Jeon Do Yeon, our favorite Korean actressjust outside the list Japan's ultra violent epic 13 Assassins got some attention and press but didn't quite cross the million mark.

sad observation
Though South Korea is where it's at right now for regional cinema heat (as opposed to heat tied to specific filmmakers) the country's cinema has yet to catch on with arthouse moviegoers here in the States. Despite huge acclaim Mother, Thirst and Poetry, three of the most interesting films of the past few years, didn't totally catch on. None of them crossed the magic million dollar mark and only one of them passed ½ a million. The Housemaid and Secret Sunshine were also not true breakthroughs despite the exciting lead actressing of Jeon Do-Yeon.

Answer me these questions three

  • Which of the top 20 foreign hits did you see?
  • What did you see this weekend?
  • Any theories as to why The Skin I Live In wasn't up to Pedro's usual numbers or why Bollywood worships male flesh?

The Link is Doomed

How Are You I'm Fine Thanks has an adorkable crush on Hawkeye from The Avengers but thinks he's going to get Jossed. Yeah, he's evil that way.
Coming Soon Yep, Barbra Streisand is still trying to get Gypsy remade. They've now hired Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Downton Abbey) for the screenplay.
Salon hung with Peyman Moadi (A Separation) during his Oscar trip and recounts all the star meetings (Streep, Pitt, etcetera). Note: Salon spells it Payman Maadi.
In Contention Viola Davis settling into leading-lady status. Will she avoid Angela Bassett's fate?

Rope of Silicon listens to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo audio commentary. I love that David Fincher talks about Scotty the cat! The best part of a movie is always the cat...if it has anything to work with, that is.
24 Frames
examines the reasons John Carter may have failed and one of them -- too complex for the Transformers crowd -- is way too depressing for me. Yikes.
Stale Popcorn makes a case for the beaten-down Best Original Song category.
My New Plaid Pants smacks our face with "Moments of Awesomeness" in the Golden Trouser awards
Wow Report "my theory about Elizabeth Banks and this dress"
MUBI the SXSW winners

Must Read!
Pajiba our friend Joanna who you've met on a few episodes of "red carpet lineup" right here shares 115 reasons to love Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show just celebrated it's 15th anniversary. Can you believe it?.

I loved this visual countdown so much I almost read it twice in a row. Let me know your favorites of her 115.

Must Vote!
Vanity Fair is hosting a "sexiest animated character" March Madness bracket (i keep wanting to do a tournament and I never settle on one topic. grrrr). You need to go and vote because clearly people are voting not on sexiness but just on which movie they like. I'm sorry but how is Belle (Beauty & The Beast) sexier than Pocahontas (Pocahontas) even if her movie is way better!

Must Watch!
It's only 11 days until MAD MEN returns! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE... it's the only show post-Buffy that we've ever obsessed over as much. Can't wait to see which movies they'll reference this year... and which year they're even in for that matter.