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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Amy Adams for Janis Joplin

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Entries in Best Actress (217)

Wednesday
Oct162013

Who Has What To Prove in "American Hustle"?

Guest Discussion. The Reader Spotlight is coming back soon but here's the last of our Reader Guest Posts for the moment. This one is from Matthew Eng, who has been sending in quite awesome Smackdown ballots (share yours for 1968 soon). Here he is to talk American Hustle anxiety/anticipation. - Nathaniel

what will this film do for each of them?

 I’m only slightly ashamed to say that I’d almost gladly forego seeing everything else that’s slated for release this season if it meant getting my eyes on American Hustle right. this. second. I still have only the vaguest notion of the movie’s actual plot (corrupt politicos? mob-tied wheeler-dealers? ABSCAM? Jersey?), and yet my eagerness sky-rocketed the very second those opening chords of “Good Times, Bad Times” kicked in. 

Alright, fine, it was upon seeing that glorious perm in action.

Matthew EngTwo knockout trailers later, it hasn’t dissipated a bit, not even during that only somewhat-discouraging “bigger balls”-off that ends the first teaser. There’s a supremely high level of expectation behind this project to be the complete Oscar package, what with its high-profile director, dynamic cast, juicy Black-Listed script, period costuming, retro textures, and Christmas release, etc. etc. But there’s also, interestingly, a lot of pressure for both its alluring cadre of stars, each with varying levels of something to prove, and its increasingly in-demand helmer.

The following is a ranked analysis of which of American Hustle’s main players has the most on the line (from lowest to highest) and what each serve to gain and/or lose this Oscar season, with a slight emphasis on one player in particular:

06 Jennifer Lawrence
Lawrence faces one of two exciting possibilities with Hustle...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct072013

"Gravity" and The Limits of A Perfect 10

a version of this review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad.

There's a brief scene in Nicole Holofcener's engaging indie hit ENOUGH SAID that repeats enough times that it could be the chorus if the movie were a song. A massage therapist (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) arrives at the home of a fit male client who lives on the top floor of his building. Every time she arrives he pops out with a killer smile looking down to greet her. He never thinks to help her as she arduously lugs her massage table up the entire steep flight of stairs.  

Excuse the stretch but this is sometimes how it feels to write about movies. Especially the ones that are true lookers that you're still just not that into.

By any definition GRAVITY is the movie of the moment and by some measures it will come to be regarded as The Movie of the Year...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct032013

NYFF: An Evening with Cate Blanchett

And now Glenn's report from the New York Film Festival's tribute to Cate Blanchett.

When the powers that be at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (my limited knowledge suggests they’re the organisation that runs the New York Film Festival) announced one of the recipients of this year’s special tributes would be Cate Blanchett it was probably hard to find anybody who’d argue against it. Granted, she had no films screening at the fest, but you just try and find anybody who doesn’t think her work in this summer’s Blue Jasmine was a career-topping and undeniably Oscar-bound achievement. A genuine “moment” for the acting craft that Blanchett herself would later acknowledge was like a magical culmination of her years in the profession and her favorite role yet.

After a pair of introductions the assembled audience watched a collection of long film clips to whet the appetite. All five of her Oscar-nominated performances were featured – that’d be Elizabeth, Notes on a Scandal, I’m Not There, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and The Aviator for which she won the golden Oscar – as were The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Talented Mr Ripley and her dynamic duel role in Coffee & Cigarettes. Another truncated clip package follows featuring a wider variety of films from Blanchett’s career which has spanned multiple continents, mediums and propelled her to roles as diverse as Katharine Hepburn and an Elf goddess.

Then out struts Cate Blanchett, her cheek bones so prominent they could distribute radio signals. My friends and I had guessed what colour dress she would be wearing and the winner was a very pale shade of pink. It doesn’t take long to figure out she’s in much better mood than when she recently and famously took to the stage of David Letterman’s chat show and couldn’t hide her disdain for his vacuous, uninformed line of questioning. Within moments she was self-depreciatingly joking about the empty seats, apologising for the “excruciating” clips (we’re looking at you Elizabeth: The Golden Age) and regaling tales of her first acting gig as an American cheerleader in an Egyptian boxing drama where she was promised five pounds and free falafel that never came.

Speaking for an hour alongside NYFF director of programming, Kent Jones, she spoke about many of her most famous roles. I most enjoyed her lengthy discussion on Todd Haynes that spawned out of I’m Not There upon which she noted, “Crossing the gender line in an industry that is usually very literal [was] very liberating.” She spoke at length about how much she loves Superstar (as do I) and musing, “If he can do that with barbie dolls then imagine what he can do with people.” She didn’t talk about Carol, but who isn’t anticipating that? She was also greeted with a personal video message from the one and only Woody Allen. A surprise even to her, he thanked her for her performance in Blue Jasmine and that’s about as big and as public of an endorsement from Woody Allen as you’ll ever get this side of a marriage proposal.

She then went into the advice given to her by Martin Scorsese on making her Aviator performance her own alongside her own acceptance that she was likely going to “upset Katharine Hepburn fans”. Then there was her son’s discomfort at the Lord of the Rings action figures not wearing underwear (coming soon, she joked, “The Blue Jasmine doll. She has a lot of accessories!”), the filmmaking process of Steven Soderbergh and Terrence Malick (on Knight of Cups: “I don’t know what my ultimate role will be”), her listing of her many stage works (“Hedda Gabler, Richard III, Blanche DuBois, The Maids with Isabelle Huppert"), and in another moment of surprise and applause the director of that aforementioned Egyptian film from 1992 stood up in the audience and tried to apologise for his poor treatment. No word on if he brought along any falafel. I wish there'd been some discussion of her Australian work, which was all but ignored, like Oscar and Lucinda, Little Fish and The Turning (what? no mention of Police Rescue: The Movie?)


Chin up, Cate. You're probably gonna win another Oscar!

The conversation was followed by a screening of Blue Jasmine which was apt since a running gag throughout the night was Blanchett’s obvious awareness that the evening was more or less an Academy Award publicity stunt, constantly blurting out “Blue Jasmine, directed by Woody Allen, distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.” Watching it again alleviated my fear that I’d over-sold it upon release. Turns out it’s a remarkably rewatchable film and, yes, Cate Blanchett’s performance is one for the ages. If she keeps doing publicity like this then the Oscar should be as good as hers.

Wednesday
Oct022013

7 Notes on Revised Oscar Charts

Hey y'all... I've been hard at work this week updating all the charts. Yep, every. single. one. So herewith ten notes for suggested comment fodder. 

Mystery Meat
American Hustle and Saving Mr Banks are the Oscar Bait Unknowns... unless you assume that Wolf of Wall Street will be finished in time. All have, to my knowledge, not been screened for even long lead critics. Most pundits, armchair or otherwise, believe in Hustle wholeheartedly (one assumes due to David O. Russell's recent track record) and are suspicious of Banks (one assumes because of the dangers of Disney-on-Disney hagiography but maybe also because movies-about-movies aren't always Hugos; sometimes they're Hitchcocks). So far I'm not expecting a lot of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty but maybe that's a stealth masterpiece about to blow us all away. Which of the unseens are you hoping deserves space in the Best Picture race?

 All Over The World
The foreign film charts are so much work and every site now covers this category that I once had a stranglehold on. I wonder if they're worth the time anymore (?) but I do love my subtitled pictures. We currently have 69 official submissions and only two have what you might call a truly high profile (Hong Kong's The Grandmaster, and Iran's The Past) though I'm not at all sure that they're the strongest candidates this year. Take a look at the charts from Afghanistan to Italy and Japan to Venezuela! Which films are you most curious about and do you like the influx of variety here? The world is giving us animated films, documentaries, horror films, romances, you name it, in addition to the usual heaping helpings of war dramas, biopics, and childhood journeys. If you follow this race closely you should know that Team Experience is on it: Tim saw Egypt's entry, Jose took in the Czech Republic submission, and I reviewed the Romanian and Iranian entries and Glenn and I both loved the Cambodian entry though we haven't written about it yet. More to come.

The Coronation March
I understand that with Best Actress there's a lot of "It's Sandy vs. Cate" hoopla in online forums at the moments. Bullock is in very good shape for a nomination, true (I'm just being slightly contrarian to leave her out at the moment though I don't think she's anywhere close to 'lock' status yet) but I'd be very shocked if she ever gained enough momentum for a second win. A) it's not that kind of role since there's no "bait" beyond sad tears B) she's not that kind of actor to win a second unless competition is weak or the role is super bait C) Oscar has never in 85 years indicated a deep well of goodwill for actors working auteur pieces or actors in science fiction films. So unless Amy Adams is our stealth champion, I think Cate will be sweeping for months ala The Queen... and lord knows she is one.

Sell Yourself
Oscar campaigns can make a huge difference for movies and performers that aren't slam dunks. Armies of publicists and awards strategists are already working on their maneuvers though we won't see it till it happens. The films I personally think need smart campaigns the most are those in wide open categories (like animation) or those that will get zilch if they don't have one, either because they're perceived as "small" or because they're in the middle ground of praised but not rapturously so or they're well liked but there's no automatic "in". I'm thinking of films like Prisoners, Short Term 12, Dallas Buyers Club, Inside Llewyn Davis, Frances Ha, Labor Day, Blue is the Warmest Color, maybe even The Great Gatsby and Rush (the latter two I'm currently predicting to win the double edged sword prize aka the "most nominations without a corresponding Best Picture nod"). I realize it's a diverse lot but my point is they could all score anywhere from nuthin' to three or four nods, depending how well they play the game and whether they can condition AMPAS to think of them quite naturally when it comes time to ballot.  

• Sound and Fury
We've seen in the past that there's only so much room for blockbusters in the visual and sound categories if big showy prestige dramas have the wow elements and necessary "size" (think Gravity and Captain Phillips and maybe even Gatsby to a limited degree). When Tony Stark suits up the visual effects voters ALWAYS respond but the sound guys have only thrilled to his particular blast offs once. With Superman and various Kryptonians wreaking such loud havoc this year could the Man of Steel steal tech nods from the Man of Iron... or maybe they're both shut out and World War Z rises? Oscar doesn't really go for zombie films but there's a first time for everything right and maybe a couple of tech elements could be honored?

• Dress You Up
I can't believe we've come this far into the film year and I haven't waxed rhapsodic about Best Costume Design. I will rectify that soon including an interview with one of the true legends of the category. One of the things I've always liked about the costume designers is that they don't always stay in lock-step with Best Picture so it's anyone's guess. There are a lot of candidates worth considering including Lee Daniels' The Butler (crocheted disco suits!), Dallas Buyer's Club (80s trans glamour and redneck Texas), period finery versus humble wool in 12 Years a Slave, the sexpot disco glam of American Hustle... I could go on. One thing I'm curious about is Trish Summerville for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. People loved her work on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and though the original Capitol costumes (by a different designer) didn't win a nomination they did get a lot of media attention. How will these fare in comparison? 

• Sing-Along?
Will no one speak out or care about the Original Song category? It still seems entirely bereft of nominatable tunes... hey, if that's what it takes to get Short Term 12 nominated for something than that's what it takes. If we were nominating Best Song Performance we'd be singing a different tune entirely because, hello, Black Nativity divas and Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac and Oscar Isaac because good god his voice in Inside Llewyn Davis! I didn't love the movie beyond the cat but his voice is just golden. 

CHECK OUT THE CHARTS AND COME BACK AND DISCUSS!
PICTURE | DIRECTOR | ACTRESS | ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SCREENPLAYS | VISUALS | SOUND | ANIMATION | FOREIGN FILMS
Suggestions on how to improve the charts are welcome

 

Tuesday
Oct012013

Top Ten: Red Carpet Cate 

Jose here. There's only a handful of things we can lock up for the upcoming Academy Awards and Cate Blanchett getting a Best Actress nod for Blue Jasmine is one of them.

The Australian goddess has been getting career-best reviews for her work in Woody Allen's latest, and considering she's played Bob Dylan, Kate Hepburn and Queen Elizabeth to perfection, she's been doing the right kind of press by being modest and saying she owes her success to Woody.

Tomorrow she's even getting a tribute at the New York Film Festival (read our festival coverage here)! Tributes are a key strategy in many Oscar campaign; she might finally win her second gold man. But let's not jump ahead of ourselves with that tricky Oscar fella and let's predict the other thing we can pretty much be assured will happen: Cate will be the best dressed woman on Oscar night. Doing the press rounds for Blue Jasmine donning everyone from Alexander McQueen to vintage Balenciaga, she has been on a roll (even when she goes for statements instead of "dresses"). Which forces us to wonder if she'll be out of ideas by spring! 

HER TEN BEST LOOKS OF THE SEASON
after the jump 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Sep212013

Link Hunter

Variety mourns film criticism wondering if Roger Ebert was the last critic who really mattered
Cinema Blend talks "narrative" in Oscar campaigns and what they might mean for the futures of Gravity and 12 Years a Slave
Pop Matters Matt Mazur elaborates on his comments from the last Supporting Actress Smackdown
Antagony & Ecstasy another rave review for Short Term 12, beautifully written by one of the web's best film critics. (This is why I hired him, yknow)


i09 in today's stupid remake news Neil Marshall who once directed a movie as good as The Descent is going to remake the clever Norwegian film Troll Hunter. Despite the fact that Trolls are kind of, you know, Scandinavian in nature in their appeal/fictional dominance. 
Awards Daily Sasha thinks its crazy to doubt a nomination for Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Maybe I am crazy but I'm kind of doubting it. Not wholly mind you... she's definitely in the running. But Oscar's acting branch does not like scifi and have only gone there a couple of  times really in lead (Sigourney Weaver in Aliens and Jeff Bridges in Starman spring to mind). But it could be that my feelings about the averageness of her performance are getting in the way. All that said, I do think it's strange to suggest that Oscar WANTS to reward women over 40 for being successful. On what basis is this a thing since they're always going for 20somethings when they could reward older women?
/Film Michael B Jordan, Saorsie Ronan, and David Oyelowo all being talked up for the next Star Wars movie 
Empire the first official picture from the tank-centric war film Fury starring Brad Pitt. I used to think that one day I'd grow out of Brad Pitt but it hasn't happened. And shan't. I just love him. 
Playbill Kristin Chenoweth to play Jennifer Lopez' best friend in the thriller The Boy Next Door about a woman (Lopez) who falls for her teen son's friend. I love me some Cheno but that is bizarre casting + genre weirdness, right? 

Today's Must Listens
Here's Lee Daniels talking about being gay and black in Hollywood... and in life. When asked which is harder in Hollywood he replies:

 I don’t know what to say to that. I want to answer that question to you but I have to be very honest with you that I’m afraid to answer that question because, uh, and I have to stay like Cecil and stay silent because I want to work."

 

Finally can we talk about BEST ORIGINAL SONG for a minute? I've been remiss as per usual in thinking through this category. IndieWire is pushing this rap number from Short Term 12, which is one of the film's key moments narratively and also emotionally courtesy of a pretty great performance from Keith Stanfield who also co-wrote the song with the director.

Until they abolish the category as some have argued they should, it's worth trying to suss out. But which songs will be eligible? Let's make a list in the comments while I'm updating my Oscar charts.

Friday
Sep202013

Best Actress "Character" ~ 50 Years 100 Greats

I was cleaning up a few folders on my desktop recently when I noticed this old poll and the accompanying visuals. It was too delicious not to revive. See back in 2011 when The Film Experience got its beautiful redesign as a site, I polled y'all about the most memorable best actress "characters" of the past 50 years (1961-2010) and in chronological order these were the women you voted for...

How many have you seen? I'm still pised that Sally Kirkland's "Anna" and Kathleen Turner's "Peggy Sue" didn't place... but I felt like posting it again right now since 3 Best Actress nominees from 1980, a year we're currently revisiting, placed (Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin, Mary Tyler Moore in Ordinary People, and Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner's Daughter)

If we updated who do you think would make the list from 2011-2012? Who just sticks in your memory. Let's take a vote on it. You can only choose 2!

 

 

We don't know the 2013 nominees  just yet but I'm guessing Cate Blanchett's very blue "Jasmine" wouldn't have any trouble placing in any such future lists. Which is 90% of why she's still the frontrunner for the win in her category.