Oscar History

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Entries in Beasts of the Southern Wild (16)


Posterized: Movies About Young Black Girls

Not every movie has a white straight male protagonist. It just seems like that since that's Hollywood's default and also the preferred proxy of most (white straight male) auteurs.

But the times are finally a-changing. This weekend features the platform release of a mesmerizing new indie called The Fits -- please see it as soon as it opens near you. I was so proud to push for honoring it on my jury at the Nashville Film Festival. Fresh perspectives on the screen can be so exhilarating. That's especially true when the execution is this confident. Remember the debut director's name, Anna Rose Holmer, since we're hoping for more great movies to come.

In the meantime, let's take a trip back through other features with young black girls as the lead character. I haven't seen the first or the last movie on this list of nine below but the rest all fall somewhere on the spectrum of good to great. 

How many have you seen?

• Just Another Girl on the IRT (1992)
• Eve's Bayou (1997) - Really need to watch this again as previously earlier this week. It was the breakthrough role for Jurnee Smollett-Bell who went on to series regular gigs in Friday Night Lights, True Blood, and The Underground. 
• Our Song (2000) - When it comes to superstar Kerry Washington, it's important to remember that I saw her first. Articles from the early Aughts are no longer online but trust that I gave her a rave review when I saw this teeny tiny indie in theaters and was startled by her total naturalism onscreen.

• Precious (2009) - Best Picture Nominee at the Oscars, and right here.  
• Akeelah and the Bee (2006)
• Pariah (2011) - One of the best LGBT films of the decade

• Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - Our #1 film of 2012, and also a Best Picture nominee at the Oscars
• Girlhood (2014) - terrific French film
• Annie (2014)

If you can think of other films with a child or teenage black girl as the lead character, please do share them so our list is more complete.


Nathaniel with Auroch & Oscar (and other Scandinavian Misadventures)

I won't feel like my Scandinavian voyage is over until I a) unpack b) do laundry c) write about it.  Here are a few random movie-adjacent thoughts from my journey. Obviously movies weren't the focus but you know I can work them in to any conversation!

Hush Puppy & Me W/ Aurochs.

I'll always think of aurochs as the giant pigs that haunted Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild but Copenhagen's National Museum tried to wrestle them away from neo movie mythology. 

In Denmark the aurochs immigrated after the end of the Ice Age circa 9000 BC these bulls with the largest and most inner dangerous animals in the forest but they could do little against the hunters arrows. The aurochs weighed almost 1000 kg. Old scars on the ribs show that the old giants survived earlier encounters. Three arrowheads lying among the bone suggests that the bull was fatally wounded when I sought refuge in a lake around 8600 BC . A few thousand years later around 6000 BC the aurochs was extinct in Zealand . In Jutland small-stocks survived until the iron age and the last aurochs died in Poland in 1627

I also looked at a whole lot of ancient ships and weaponry but in 2013 København the constant fit blond beauties walking or cycling by remind me a bit less of the brutal scarred Nordic warriors from The History Channel's "Vikings"... and more like a sea of Alexander Skarsgårds (I realize he's Swedish) or, perhaps more accurately, a parade of handsome blond preppy villains from 1980s teen movies: perfect blonde hair, chiseled jawlines, moneyed physical ease.

This store window had it about right...

up where they stay all day in the sun ♫The most iconic of Copenhagen's tourist attractions are Tivoli Gardens (amazing amusement park) and The Little Mermaid statue... one and ½ of which we saw. Tivoli was a blast and even turns romantic at night with the change in the light but The Little Mermaid was a lesser experience. We only saw it from a distance on the canal tour (which I highly recommend if you ever go there despite it being a shamelessly tourist thing to do) but my friends refused to indulge me in visiting it to pay true homage the following day. Did they fear my I'm sure highly original urge to sing "Part of Your World" at it in a photo or are they just curmudgeons?

Still, the statue is, as you must know, hardly evocative of the beloved Disney movie. Instead it expertly conveys the lonely longing of Hans Christian Andersen's original this-will-all-end-in-tears-and-sea-foam tragedy. 

Wenche againOslo
I was exhausted by the time we got there (and feeling a little unfaithful since I wanted to go back to Copenhagen, a city I am now hopelessly infatuated with) but there was much to see. Despite the running on fumes final days of the trip, I can happily report that I never once felt as suicidal as a character in a Joachim Trier movie (Reprise and Oslo August 31st - see them immediately!) and again I ran into Wenche Foss idolatory. She wasn't on the tail fin of a plane this time but just a statue in the park. 

Two little girls spoiled my fantasies of a nation devoted to actress-worship. They glanced at the statue disinterested all "hvem er det?" to their mom (Sigh). Indifference to actresses is a curse found all over the globe!

On the first day we walked on the roof of the newish Opera House (a stunning piece of art and architecture). On the second day we took a ferry and visited several museums including one devoted to the Kon-Tiki expedition, which recently got the movie treatment (twice over actually) to the tune of a Best Foreign Language Film nomination. I wasn't crazy about the new movie -- or the museum, actually, which was rather confusingly laid out and cluttered.

And yet, it was a treat to the see the actual boat. And you know I had to take a picture of me with Norway's first Oscar of sorts, which went to the 1950 documentary on the Kon-Tiki expedition.

The Boyfriend laughed about how the picture came out with the Oscar obscuring / reflecting all over my face "the story of your life"

My favorite part of the trip was the middle when we took it easy for a few days and just breathed in Norwegian beauty, fjord trips, train rides and the views from a lakehouse we airbnb'ed in Vestland.

Fjord tour. You get to drink from waterfalls!

I lept wildly into the North Sea / Norwegian Sea twice -- like ice water with moss --  but the most paradisical moment was hiking to the most beautiful stretch of unspoiled land I can recall ever spending an afternoon with. The trees were so green and the ground was so soft and spongy I felt like I could curl up and sleep on it like a lost child in some benevolent magical fairytale woods. When the trail opened up on the most pristine lake with the most swimmable water ever I could barely speak.

The only thing I managed to utter to break the silence in that idyllic moment was: 

The loons Norman, the loons! my best Katharine Hepburn. And then I dove in.



Beasts of the Southern Secret Garden

JA from MNPP here, taking a look at the news of the day - newly Oscar nominated writer Lucy Alibar, who adapted her play into the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild, has just been announced as the writer of a new movie adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett's much loved (not to mention much adapted) 1911 serial-turned-novel The Secret Garden. For a hot minute it seemed as if Guillermo Del Toro was going to direct it, but he's too busy making giant robots fight giant monsters so he's just gonna produce.

The Secret Garden is about, well, a largely orphaned girl who gets left to her own devices amid overgrown nature, where she allows her imagination to run wild. Sound familiar? I just can't imagine how Alibar got the gig. Apparently the action is being shifted from England to "the American South at the turn of the 20th Century," as well.

The Secret Garden's already been adapted several times - I remember liking the 1993 version with Maggie Smith, although it's been a very long time since I've seen it.


Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously: The Honorable Mentions

Often during the calendar-straddling list-making frenzy of "top ten season" a scene or a line of dialogue or even a whole film will refuse to dislodge itself from any internal conversation you may have with oneself about the year. That moment for me this year was Kylie Minogue's cameo late in Holy Motors when she arrives in a trenchcoat, like some lost Casablanca love, to sing:

Who were we. When we were. Who we were back then?

It'd be ineloquent bathos, too crudely and redundantly stated, if it weren't sung. But this heightened musical longing for a lost identity, lifts and soars with pathos instead. The year's best films kept reinforcing this most interior of questions as they wrestled with their past selves towards an uncertain future.

Nathaniel's Top Ten of 2012
From all movies screened that received US theatrical releases...

ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow)
Sony/Columbia. December 21st 

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] My favorite exchange in Mark Boal's dense script occurs between a government official and a CIA operative. "What the fuck does that mean?" "It's a tautology". I laughed at the wordplay in the film but wasn't expecting the widespread tautological eruptions that followed the film's premiere as everyone bent themselves into self-affirming pretzels to debate its portrayal of torture in the film's opening scenes as if there were only one way to look at the damn movie... as if torture were the only thing worth discussing about the film! To Zero Dark Thirty's credit, though I too was discomfited by its suggestion that torture yielded useful intel, there's nary a comfortable or pandering moment in the film. Like The Hurt Locker before it, ZDT attempts something like an apolitical stance though how successful that is (or ever can be) will be left to each viewer to decide. In my mind, Bigelow doesn't suggest that you're meant to enjoy torture or even embrace the mission's success, exactly...

more on Zero Dark and 9 more triumphs after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Michael's Best of 2012

Before Nathaniel's Top Ten drops over the next few days he has invited TFE correspondents to share their own best of 2012 lists. I confess up front that I have not yet managed to catch Tabu, Oslo August 31 or Middle of Nowhere, but then all lists are a work in progress, aren't they?

Honorable Mentions...
Richard Linklater's Bernie featured the enduringly weird paring of Shirley MacLaine and Jack Black in addition to a unceasingly funny peanuts gallery of small town Texans arguing that murder really isn't all that bad. Lauren Greenfield's Queen of Versailles is the perfect film for the moment with subjects that make the cast of Marie Antoinette seem admirably self-aware and thrifty. Walter Salles's On the Road is a bracing jolt of life that is being seriously undersold by critics. Looper does the sci-fi genre proud with its thoroughly imagined script that piles on the surprises well beyond the big hook. And finally, Amour should rightly be near the top of this list based strictly on filmmaking skill, but there was something about its unremmiting bleakness that felt incomplete to me. I can't help asking "Is that all there is?" even as the film itself calmly repeated that "Yes. It is." over and over. 

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 ... after the jump

Click to read more ...


The Producers Guild Nominees. Which Film Would Be The Hardest To Get Made?

I thought it might be interesting to look at tonight's Producers Guild nominations NOT as Oscar predictions -- they're always that since the industry end game is the Oscars -- but as what they're ostensibly intended to be: awards honoring producers who shepherded certain movies to the screen. The nominees...

Grant Henslov and Ben Affleck working on "Argo"

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures


  • Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Grant Heslov for ARGO
  • Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn for BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
  • Reginald Hudlin, Pilar Savone, Stacey Sher for DJANGO UNCHAINED
  • Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh for LES MISERABLES
  • Ang Lee, Gil Netter, David Womark for LIFE OF PI
  • Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg for LINCOLN
  • Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales for MOONRISE KINGDOM
  • Bruce Cohen, Donna Gigliotti, Jonathan Gordon for SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
  • Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson for SKYFALL
  • Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Megan Ellison for ZERO DARK THIRTY

Producing is a very mysterious job from the outside looking in. Every film's producers have different jobs ahead of them based on a) what kind of project it is, b) how much fighting they'll have to do to get it made creatively and financially and c) whether they'll be separate from or very tied to the artistic decisions -- notice that only 50% of the nominated teams include the director of the film in question so some of these producers have far more influence on the final product than some of the others.

Barbara Broccoli with her Skyfall talent

No film has an easy road to movie theaters but if you remove your feelings about which of these ten films is "the best" from an artistic and/or entertainment standpoint and start thinking about what the particular challenges might have been, it feels like a different contest altogether, right? more...

Click to read more ...


Beasts of the Precursor Wild

New Podcast ~ Part 2 of 2 
[Part 1 Here]
When we left off we were talking about the Globe Comedy and SAG Ensemble nods specifically and now the conversation continues. We turn to two films which could receive several nominations or none: The Master and Beasts of The Southern Wild and explore other Oscar mysteries too. [With Nathaniel, Nick, Katey, and Joe.]

Topics include:

  • The Master and P.T. Anderson's shift from ensemble to two-man dramas
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild, the outsider film
  • Globe categorizations. Why wasn't The Sessions a comedy?
  • Marion Cotillard is so Hollywood
  • Screenplays, Original and Adapted
  • Cinematography is neither Art Direction nor Visual Effects. Discuss
  • Oscar Stats. Will Supporting Actor be the only acting lineup ever that goes in with all previous winners? 
  • Screener piles. Are AMPAS voters more likely to watch The Paperboy or Compliance?

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the bottom of the post. But, as always, the podcast isn't complete without you. Join in the conversation by commenting!


Beasts of the Precursor Wild


(Do You Know) What It Feels Like For a Girl?

Variety 10 Directors to Watch gets very international this year including the Norwegian directors behind Oscar submission Kon-Tiki and the Argentinian Andres Muschietti who directed Jessica Chastain in Mama.
Pretty Dead Hair dreams up alternative terrible Spielbergian endings to Lincoln. 
Drawn A short history of the GIF. Super cute animated film 
MNPP "today's mood" god, i only wish that had been my mood this weekend! The second gif maybe. At least the stage is set for my weekend of the sick. 

Atlantic looks at beautiful storyboards of classic films from Psycho to Spartacus. And speaking of... happy birthday Kirk Douglas!
The New York Times looks at Working Title and their hunt for awards and a new beginning with Les Misérables
MovieLine becomes obsessed with a supposed Michael Cimino twitter account 
In Contention on the BIFA winners 

List Mania
The Popcorn Reel Middle of Nowhere, Compliance, Lincoln and more... 
Mix Tapes for Hookers Songs of the Year 
Pajiba chooses the Best Posters of the Year. Lists like those are always fun but what the F on The Dark Knight Rises. That rainy Bane poster is SO boring.
Time Magazine's Best and Worst of the Year in Everything has a hundred things to recommend it. My favorite bits are James Poniewozik on Mad Men's "At the Codfish Ball", Richard Corliss on Anna Karenina and Mary Pols on Cloud Atlas.

Today's Must Read Part 1
The New Inquiry has a sensational thought-provoking piece on Pixar's Brave which seeks to rescue the movie from the extremely lazy criticism it suffered upon its release.

"Brave" Sketch by Matt Nolte 2007. From the book "The Art of BRAVE"

A stranger to our film industry might reasonably suppose, reading those sentences, that the American cinemascape is littered with “spunky princess movies” that center around the main character and her mother...

It’s a well-worn genre, the Spunky-Princess-Who-Doesn’t-Get-Married-(Or-Experience-Any-Attraction-To-Anyone)-And-Her-Mother story.

I recently watched the movie again to prep for an interview with one of its directors and it was only on this second viewing when I realized how thoroughly new it is when it comes to its mother/daughter focus. It's well worth a second look as animated pictures go and deserves to be in the mix of answers to the question of "Which are the Best Animated Features of 2012?" 

Today's Must Read Part 2
Some of you will already have read this but I can't in good faith not sing its praises. A.O. Scott has written a wonderful comprehensive essay about the problem of gender imbalance in this era's film narratives touching on the glorious exceptions of a handful of this year's most talked-about films including Beasts of the Southern Wild, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Hunger Games. Scott doesn't mention it but an interesting trivia note that would have fit perfectly within the context of this article is that the character of Hushpuppy was originally a boy. The film's screenplay was adapted by the director and original playwright and they reassigned Hushpuppy's gender.