Oscar History

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Entries in Best Actress (404)


TIFF: Relating to Amy Adams in "Nocturnal Animals" and "Arrival"

Nathaniel R reporting from TIFF. The festival is winding down now but my mind keeps drifting back to the Amy Adams double feature on day two. If there were gif walls featuring all of Amy Adams close-ups in both of her movies this year, they would accurately describe this critics innermost thoughts about the movies they came from. Read on and I'll elaborate (without spoilers) though we'll obviously revisit and go into more detail when both movies actually...ahem... arrive in mid November which is unofficially 'Amy Adams Month' according to distributors.

ARRIVAL (Dir. Denis Villeneuve, US)
Paramount Pictures. Opens on November 11th

In this gripping and sensationally crafted sci-fi drama, adapted from the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang, Amy Adams plays Dr. Louise Banks. Dr Banks is a prominent linguist who is recruited by the government to attempt to communicate with extra-terrestrials. They have arrived on Earth or, rather, are hovering above it in twelve space crafts each in a separate area of the world, appearing to do nothing at all. Will the world's fearful governments nuke the ships or can Dr Banks save the world (if it's even threatened?) by learning why they've come?

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TIFF: Isabelle Huppert is "Elle"

Nathaniel R reporting from the Toronto International Film Festival (Sept 8th-18th)

On any given day around the movie internet you will see the headine "What You Need To Know About ['Movie You Haven't Seen Yet']". It's clickbait. The sum total of what you need to know about a movie before you see it is nothing. Go to the movie theater and actually experience it. So if the promise of a new acclaimed Paul Verhoeven feature (his first since the riveting Black Book in 2006) that's been loudly labelled a "rape comedy" starring the world's most casually transgressive movie star Isabelle Huppert is enough to sell you a ticket I urge you to not read any reviews before seeing it, including this one. It's not that the film has twists that can spoil the experience if they're known ahead of time so much as it's in the way the movie is itself twisted.

Just how twisted is revealed through the careful deployment of its psychosexual landmines. And just how often they're successfully played for laughter ... albeit of the discomforting 'what am I laughing at?' variety. 

Two provocative legends (Verhoeven & Huppert) on set

Which is not to say that the rape itself is the subject of comedy...

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"Jackie" Sells to Fox Searchlight. December Gets Yet More Crowded

The Oscar Race just got a lot more crowded.

Natalie Portman as "Jackie". Photo by William GrayWhile Natalie Portman may be enjoying the lion's share of buzz for playing the title character in Jackie (her best performance yet) if Fox Searchlight plays their FYC hand correctly the film could be a major player across the Oscar board (Portman and Sarsgard are the only acting possibillities. Greta Gerwig, Max Casella, John Carroll Lynch, John Hurt, and Beth Grant support them well but in extremely limited doses) including especially Costume Design, Director, Screenplay, and Production Design. The Cinematography, Editing, Sound and Original Score are also marvellous but the film is a little out of the box challenging so not everyone is going to respond to it; in its own caged bird way it's as angry as Pablo Larraín's Chilean pictures.

As expected given the festival raves and the film's connections to Darren Aronofsky, Fox Searchlight had first dibs. The deal took longer than expected but they will distribute on December 9th. That puts the film at the end of a flurry of major Oscar contenders opening between October and early December (Fences is the only possibly major player -- that is not a sci-fi/fantasy --  opening after Jackie. It opens Christmas day). 

Pablo Larraín and Natalie Portman in Venice for the premiereThe schedule right now of golden hopefuls:
Oct 7th -Birth of a Nation, The Girl on the Train
Oct 14th -Certain Women, Miss Hokusai (animated feature)
Oct 21st -Moonlight, The Handmaiden (if there were justice in the world but alas, South Korea didn't select it as their Oscar bid)
Oct 28th -Eagle Huntress (documentary)

Nov 4th -Loving, Doctor Strange, Bleed For This 
Nov 11th -Arrival, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Elle
Nov 18th -Manchester by the Sea, Nocturnal Animals, Fantastic Beasts
Nov 23rd (Wed) Allied, Moana (animated feature), Rules Don't Apply
Nov 25th - Lion

Dec 2nd - La La Land
Dec 9th - Jackie, Miss Sloane, The Salesman (Asgar Farhadi) 
Dec 16th - Rogue One, Collateral Beauty, The Founder, and Neruda (also by Pablo Larraín) 
Dec 21st (Wed) - Assassin's Creed, Passengers, Sing! (animated feature)
Dec 23rd - A Monster Calls
Dec 25th (Sun) - Fences, Toni Erdmann (foreign film submission)

Qualifying Releases: Hidden Figures, The Red Turtle, and ???


Venice Prizes for La La & Lav

The 73rd annual Venice Film Festival came to a close today and with that comes jury prizes. Here's the list

Lav Diaz new film "The Woman Who Left" is inspired by Tolstoy's book "God Sees the Truth, But Waits". It's four hours long and took the top Venice prize.

Main Competition Jury (Jury President Sam Mendes)
Golden Lion: The Woman Who Left (Lav Diaz)
Grand Jury Prize: Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford)
Silver Lion (Best Director): [tie] Amat Escalante for The Untamed and Andrei Konchalovsky for Paradise
Volpi Cup Best Actress: Emma Stone for La La Land
Volpi Cup Best Actor: Oscar Martínez for The Distinguished Citizen
Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor: Paula Beer for Frantz 

A FEW NOTES on the winners after the jump...

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Natalie Portman, Round Two?

by Nathaniel R

Anyone fearing a fiasco like Naomi's Diana or Nicole's Grace of Monaco can breathe a sigh of relief in regards to the latest prestige pic about an obsessed-over hugely influential royal icon household name. Pablo Larraín's Jackie, a portrait of the most famous First Lady in the wake of her husband's assassination, is getting great ink. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter are tossing out blurb-ready words like "remarkable," "meticulous," "profound," "incandescent" and many many more slobbery adjectives. (Though it should be noted that Larraín makes tough movies that never coddle audiences which might prevent this from being a breakout.)

Anyone fearing another round of Natalie Portman Mania at the Oscars might want to tense up, though. Her reviews are truly glowing. Will Natalie get to quote her Black Swan self about Oscar a second time?

He picked me, Mommy.


Quickie Reviews: The Light Between Oceans and The Jungle Book

by Nathaniel R

Apologies that there's no big review this weekend but I do hope you'll check out the Fassbender & Vikander flick. Here are two quick takes on movie options this weekend.


The Light Between Oceans (Derek Cianfrance)
Story: A war veteran (Michael Fassbender) takes a position as a lighthouse keeper where he falls in love with a local girl (Alicia Vikander). Their lives change irrevocably when they discover an orphaned baby in a boat.
Review: A pop quiz. Which is more ravishing?

  • Real life romantic chemistry that translates intact to movie screens.
  • Romantic dramas that don't stop at sexy but get across how comforting and life-changing love and companionship can be.
  • Picturesque rocky islands and lighthouses softened at their edges by grassy tenderness and the windswept beauty of two definitely cinematic brunettes.

Trick question -- they're all super ravishing! I've heard the complaints that The Light Between Oceans is "dull" or "has no edge" and it's definitely soggier and lacking in the instantaneously memorable moments of Cianfrance's previous outings Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. But I kind of loved it while I was watching it. At least the first half. It loses its way a little in the third act as the tragedy stretches out and the film shifts to Rachel Weisz but it's uncommonly gorgeous to gaze upon and cry through. 
Grade: B+ (maybe B towards the end)
Oscar Chances: Perhaps it's not potent enough to hold on for months to win acting nominations -- though Fassbender & Vikander are both excellent -- but I'm crossing my fingers for Best Cinematography. Take a bow, Adam Arkapaw. (His previous credits include Macbeth, Lore, and Animal Kingdom). It also feels like a possibility for Score (Alexandre Desplat) though that's a little overbearing. 


The Jungle Book (Jon Favreau)
Story: You know this one already. A boy is raised by animals in the jungle. No, not that white one with the apes. The little Indian boy raised by wolves and panthers and bears, oh my. The problem: a tiger wants him dead.
Review: Can you believe we never reviewed this? Though it's somewhat ravishing to look at as a technical achievement, in truth I was not particularly fond of it and found it difficult to write about. The problem was that it doesn't have an identity of its own to discuss. Favreau trusts that fond memories of the Disney animated classic it apes (pun not intended) will win your love. He and his team trust in this so completely that they even graft on two and a half highly uncomfortable musical numbers despite the fact that this Jungle Book definitely does not self-identify as a musical, it's one characteristic that immediately sets its apart from the original. Until it doesn't.  Great voice work by Idris Elba as Shere Khan. 
Oscar Chances: Most definitely. At least a visual effects nomination. Perhaps sound as well?
Grade: C/C+   

P.S. If you liked it more, I'd love to hear why. Its long legs at the box office indicate that it wasn't just brand recognition but actual audience love that made it an enormous hit.


Best Acting. New Oscar Predictions

Having just taken a trip back to 1984 for the Smackdown and memory sufficiently jogged about how dense the acting branch can sometimes be (the discernment skills vary so much annually it can feel like invasion of the AMPAS body snatchers in some calender years) I'm finding myself in the odd position of defending my more extreme hunches from my more cynical side.

Huppert is amazing... and (more importantly) Huppert-esque in ELLEBEST ACTRESS
Whenever you make a call here suggesting that so & so in some non-Oscary film actually has a shot at an acting nomination, people are prone to scoff. But each year's Oscar races have so many intangibles in the acting categories that it's best to keep an open mind. The four acting categories are arguably the categories that are least beholden to the actual movies since a famous actor doesn't need a strong picture to generate buzz nor do they (in some cases) even need for people to actually like their movie they're in or, in fact, see it. And then you have the vaguely opposite case where a particular movie, whether or not people actually warm to it as a whole, can remind the world how fabulous a particular actor or actress always has been...

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