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TWO OPINIONS ON MAPS TO THE STARS
Nathaniel's Julianne Spazzing & Glenn's Cronenberg Finger Wagging 

"There is a great movie in Maps of the Stars and that is the one Moore stars in, not the one the screenplay insists in bringing to the front." - Mr Goodbar

"If I had to guess why Cronenberg went with a largely "invisible" or even non-style style, I'd say it has to do with his approach to the narrative, which is kind of a bait and switch, setting us up for a hollywood satire and then giving us a final act that plays more like a myth or a fairy tale." -Roark

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Entries in Art Direction (57)

Monday
May202013

Early Bird Oscar Predix Nearly Finished !

Working as fast as I can through the first wave of Oscar charts. I realize 'fast as I can' this year is snail-paced but you have to agree that this year has been a slow-starter anyway. Not that things haven't started now. Cannes is in full swing and in addition to the awards speculation for the Palme D'Or, Cannes prompts film sales, too, and thus distributor shuffling. Stephen Frears Philomena (currently in post) was picked up by the Weinstein Company and given that they had a full slate already -- especially for Best Actress since they're also representing Streep & Kidman in August and Grace -- it must have been more than Judi Dench that prompted the high priced sale. I've added it to the previously completed charts because it's just one of those projects that felt right to me when I first heard about it. Isn't it about time for Stephen Frears to get his mojo back? I've added that new contender to the prediction charts.

But for now, let's talk about the visual and aural categories. What follows is not my predictions but just a few thoughts to kick off a conversation. You can see predictions on the charts here (for visuals) and here (for sound) 

 

Cinematography
It may finally be Emmanuel Lubezki's year. The truly great cinematographer has always been overshadowed by non-discriminatory love for competing films in his nominated years -- in fact he's one of the very rare frequent below the title nominees that does not require any degree of Best Picture heat to be in the conversation. In fact only 20% of his nominations come from Best Picture nominated films. So you know they really love his work and it's not just coattails from the movies. This year he has the now-important advantage (sigh) of working with a ton of visual effects with his frequent collaborator Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity. For reasons that are still unclear to me Oscar voters now view Cinematography as an extension of the Visual Effects category; in the last four years the winners of both categories have been the exact same film. This is a terrible trend since cinematography is an art that's been producing myriad breathtaking works long before anybody had ever heard of CGI. Still... if this is what it takes to finally get Lubezki the Oscar... [more]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
May122013

Review: "The Great Gatsby"

This review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad


"Gatsby. What Gatsby?"

Daisy asks with a rush of girlish 'it can't be!' alarm, her nerves far overpowering the tiny glimmer of hope you think you hear in her voice. Which is as sensible a reaction as anyone could have when hearing about the arrival of another Jay Gatsby in movie theaters. You don't mean THE GREAT GATSBY, do you?

The F Scott Fitzgerald classic is a tough book to crack for filmmakers, its power so tied to its gorgeous (slim) prose, its subtle and cynical evocations and condemnations of American wealth and unspoken caste system. Further complicating adaptations is that the story is subjectively narrated. It's all told by Nick Carraway and his is, despite blood ties to the wealthy, an outsider's point of view. It's an easy book to love but a difficult one to adapt. But Hollywood keeps trying once every thirty years or so. 

The story, if you are unfamiliar (though you won't want to admit that out loud) follows the attempts of the elusive mysterious extremely wealthy Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio) to win back his lost love Daisy (Carey Mulligan) who he abandoned many years earlier while penniless to seek his fortune. More...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May032013

The Only Post You Will Ever Need On The "August: Osage County" Teaser Poster

A clever teaser poster that manages to put the Weston family home first and thus draws a great connective line between the stage production's branding (which always used the house) and the film version. (That house better be its own character in the movie. If this movie is 100% closeups they'll ruin the house as character!)

Or, another way of looking at this...

BEYOND BRILLIANT
SOURCE MATERIAL

INDIVIDUALLY AWESOME
ACTORS

COMEDIC & DRAMATIC
POTENTIAL

...SO DON'T FUCK IT UP,
DIRECTOR


BASED ON THE PULITZER AND TONY, WE ALL KNOW WHAT'S NEXT...
WEINSTEN: OSCAR COUNTDOWN 

 

Related. P.S. Yes, I'm working on the Oscar charts right now. Soon, fair reader, soon.

Thursday
Mar142013

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Barbarella"

Barbarella comes from the 41st century so theoretically she knows a thing or to. Perhaps she can tell me from the future how to choose a best shot from her infamous movie? Though I’d seen at least some of Barbarella before – I’ve never forgotten the hilarious space-burlesque title sequence -- now I've seen all of Barbarella. In both senses. 

There's certainly a lot to look at but I’ve rarely been more stumped with this series... more

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Mar022013

All Hands on Link

IndieWire ABC may forge a miniseries out of Oscar nominated AIDS doc How to Survive a Plague
Hollywood who said it: The Pope or "Fifty Shades of Grey"?
MNPP ways not to die celebrates King Kong for his 80th anniversary 
The Advocate interesting take on Seth MacFarlane's Oscar night hosting gig, in which the author believes his entire performance was satire of sexism. I think that's an optimistic forgiving stretch but more power to you for enjoying the show so much! 

Clothes on Film the shoes in Stoker
Empire Emma Watson may play Cinderella
French Films about Trains points to 14 directors whose films are worth obsessing about in advance  
/Film Whoa. They're STILL trying to get Pride & Prejudice & Zombies made? You'd think Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter's fate and the free zombies on TV would have finally decapitated that project.
The Talks with Brian de Palma on violence in cinema and the staying power of Scarface
Unreality a pitch to Netflix. If you're going to revive beloved series, why not Firefly?
The Credits talked to Gavin Bocquet production designer for Jack the Giant Slayer about his work and the new visual fx demands of Production Design:

...if we were around during the Gone With The Wind time, you know the production designers job was more or less the same, you still had to create what you wanted to be the image, and then you broke it down into how you produced it. So the process is the same for the production designer, but the tools and the palette are a lot more variable in terms of what you can do, and also at times much more expensive. 

Weekend Must Watch
Brava to Chelsea Davison for this incredible mimicry job & spoof: here's "Lena Dunham" auditioning for Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty. So funny.

So... you know this silence is literally torturing me. And yes I do realize now that in this situation that choice of words might have been a little inappropriate. But, you know, it makes *me* feel like an asshole that I have to threaten to torture you every day. So... if you could just tell me I'd really appreciate it and we wouldn't have to keep doing this"

 

Saturday
Feb162013

8 Days 'til Oscar: The Visual Wonders

I'm saving my beloved category Costume Design for its own post. For now let's talk Cinematography, Production Design, Editing and Visual Effects. At the Oscars Life of Pi is up for all of these categories. It can pick up all of those statues if it can fend off viable threats from Skyfall, Anna Karenina, Argo and The Avengers respectively. Is it likely to? I'd say no but it's a safe bet that it won't go home empty-handed come Oscar night. If Anne Hathaway can use her Golden Globe as "a weapon against self-doubt" than orphaned Pi can surely use an Oscar as blunt heavy object to fend off that tiger. (Life of Pi isn't up for all four of those prizes at The Film Experience's own awards but then no film is.) 

CINEMATOGRAPHY
We're definitely living in some kind of golden age of cinematography. There are so many great DPs working right now in the 21st century that it feels downright ungrateful each January when only five are held up as the gold standard. So I'm happy to honor an at least partially different list in my own awards. Don't talk to me about Greig Frasier, one of the single brightest stars who this year alone lit Snow White and the Huntsman, Killing Me Softly and Zero Dark Thirty, still being nomination-free --- I CAN'T! Other relative newbies I'm personally excited about are Radium Cheng (Starlet), Bradford Young (Middle of Nowhere), and Mihai Malaimare Jr. (The Master) And that's just scratching the surface of cinematographers who Oscar didn't notice this year. There are so many longtime giants still walking the earth in this field that Oscar couldn't even find room for a talent as big as Darius Wolski (Prometheus) or any of the exciting newbies.

Kaminski has lensed 13 of Spielberg's movies. He's nominated for the 6th time for Lincoln

Oscar Nominated: Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina), Robert Richardson (Django Unchained), Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi), Roger Deakins (Skyfall) and Janusz Kaminski (Lincoln)
Should Win: McGarvey
Will Win: Miranda -- Pi looks gorgeous through and through and cinematography has lately become the province of vfx epics... though it's hard to tell where computers take over for DPs these days in post
Spoiler Possibility: Skyfall is stunning eye candy which might help Roger Deakins. He's more likely to win for sentimental reasons than for the best-looking Bond. It's ridiculous that he's still waiting for an Oscar at 63 after 10 nominations and such an amazing influential career.

PRODUCTION DESIGN
(formerly titled Art Direction at the Oscars)
My guess is that Anna Karenina is headed for the eye candy double (Costumes + Production Design) that I've come to think of as "The Moulin Rouge! Awards" But it's possible that they'll throw this bone to a Best Picture nominee instead.

Oscar Nominated: Anna Karenina (Sarah Greenwood), The Hobbit (Dan Hennah), Life of Pi (David Gropman), Lincoln (Rick Carter), Les Misérables (Eve Stewart)
Should Win: Anna Karenina
Will Win: Anna Karenina
Spoiler Possibility:  Life of Pi

 

What if Bruce Banner had to share a boat with Richard Parker?

VISUAL EFFECTS
We can all agree that this Oscar category will land safely in the hands of Life of Pi, can't we? Damn but that tiger alone, right. Even Hulk can't smash its Oscar dreams.

EDITING
In a piece about Argo's Oscar chances I already detailed my feelings about this race. I think Argo will take it but if you ask me William Goldenberg (double-nominated) did much stronger work on Zero Dark Thirty so he'll win for the wrong film --  which won't be any kind of Oscar first ;). Goldenberg's work Zero is the only Oscar nominee that crossed over into my ballot.

OSCAR INDEX & OSCAR RACE ARTICLES
OSCAR VISUALS
FILM BITCH AWARDS - VISUAL CATEGORIES 

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