Entries in Best Ensemble (31)
On the first day of TIFF last Thursday I saw four consecutive movies from different countries and of different tones entirely that all had a surprise pregnancy reveal scene/shot during their stories. Festivals are funny like that providing you with unexpected throughlines. But sometimes you fully expect the comparisons, if not a schedule that has you watching two similar movies back-to-back. That happened to me with James Vanderbilt's Truth and Thomas McCarthy's Spotlight. Both are journalism pictures with A list casts and both will be gunning for awards honors at year's end. Spotlight is better positioned already with stronger reviews but Truth definitely has its pleasures. While watching them Truth felt more popcorn entertaining but Spotlight is stickier, staying with you afterwards.
Truth vs. Spotlight in 8 categories after the jump...
We're near the end of Ingrid Bergman's career so here's the penultimate episode in our retrospective. Happy 100th to the superstar on August 29th. Here's Lynn Lee...
By 1974, Ingrid Bergman was a grande dame of film in the twilight of her career, with two Best Actress Oscar wins under her belt, and nothing left to prove. Perhaps that’s why she deliberately opted for such a small part in the star-studded Murder on the Orient Express, despite director Sidney Lumet’s attempts to coax her into taking a bigger one. And yet, despite her own efforts to stay out of the spotlight, it found her anyway, with her tiny role as a mousy, middle-aged Swedish missionary netting her an unlikely third Oscar.
We don’t see too many movies like Orient Express these days – A-list extravaganzas where most of the stars end up with little more than glorified cameos but just seem to be in it for fun. And to be fair, the movie is fun and directed with flair, even as it plays up the absurd theatricality of the whodunit setup – something that doesn’t register as strongly when you’re reading Agatha Christie’s plummy prose. It’s a bit much at times...
Manuel here bringing you two sets of character posters that are sure to adorn plenty of dorms soon. White, red and gray is in, apparently, as the new posters for Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film The H8teful Eight (am I doing th8t right?) and the Johnny Depp-starrer Black Mass show:
We probably knew these were coming for the Tarantino flick (whose trailer we discussed in all its gif-tastic glory), but I can’t be the only one surprised that we’ve got such stylish character posters for that Whitey Bulger flick. When discussing its trailer, we talked about whether this might be the film to bust Depp out of its rut or further bury him in prosthetically-enhanced performance purgatory. Jury is still out, though not for long as the film opens September 18th. We have to wait a bit longer for Tarantino's latest which is waiting until Christmas to be unwrapped.
So many male actors! Only Leigh and Johnson offer some much-needed actressing at the edges to both casts. Which set gets your vote?
Lynn Lee revisiting Junebug, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this week…
Junebug is best known as the film that launched Amy Adams’ into the A list, and deservedly so. Her wonderfully layered portrayal of the bright-eyed, meerkat-loving Ashley, should have taken home the supporting actress Oscar for 2005 (with apologies to Rachel Weisz). But for a change let's talk about the best scene in the movie, in which another, more elusive character suddenly, if fleetingly, comes into focus.
I’m referring to the scene in which George (the always-welcome, perennially undervalued Alessandro Nivola), the returning native who’s brought his new wife Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) to visit his small North Carolina hometown, attends a church social with his family. By this point, Madeleine’s outsider status has already been made starkly clear: a long-limbed, graceful, effortlessly stylish and posh-accented art dealer whom George met and married in the big city, she stands out without even trying, like a greyhound among border collies. George’s status, on the other hand, is more ambiguous.
You've read the Smackdown proper. Now, it's time for its podcast companion piece in which Nathaniel and his guests discuss the movies in greater detail.
Part 1: 40 Minutes
00:01 Introductions & who were we rooting for back in '95
05:45 Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite and broad comic caricatures in this particular category
14:30 Mira Sorvino’s career
17:26 Apollo 13
23:30 Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility, editing and ensemble work
34:00 Sister movies (Supporting or Lead for Kate & Mare?)
You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes.
I accidentally got two copies of the Pride DVD in the mail for Christmas. I had bought one not knowing that I'd be sent one from the studio. But no matter. Now I have one to gift and just about anyone would love to receive it. I recently talked to my best girlfriend from high school and I can't remember if I've shared this story but it's worth repeating even if I have.
She and her husband had accidentally gone to see it at a movie theater in Michigan (I didn't interrogate the accidentally part) and liked it so much that they went again the following week and brought another married couple with them. Isn't that great? A decade ago when the theatrical window was longer the movie could have surely found a much larger audience.
About that DVD though...
A scoop from Pink News today alerted me to the fact that I should pay closer attention to DVD packaging. It seems that Sony Pictures has removed all mention of "gay" or LGBT" from the packaging and official synopsis. If you look at the photo above you'll see that they've even photoshopped out the "Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" banner in the background of one of the film's two Gay Pride marches.
"Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners" or LGSM is the official name of the collective protagonist organization and exactly what the film is about. They made a huge difference not just for striking miners in the 1980s but for Union nondiscrimination laws thereafter. The synopsis now refers to the group only as "London based activists".
To put all these feisty gays and lesbians back in the closet when the entire movie is about people, gay and straight, who refuse to be bullied into submission by homophobes or Thatcher's horrible dehumanizing rule is every kind of wrong. The LGSM in the movie even questions whether they should work anonymously because of homophobic thinking and their own fear and decide that it wouldn't be right.
What was Sony thinking?!?
In Happier News
To not end on sour note I urge you to visit Nick's Flick Picks for this glorious long read celebrating "collaboration" in 2014. It's a particularly fresh angle for a year in review piece, and yet more wonderful for this film year when so many of the finest movies were about solidarity (Two Days One Night, Pride, Selma, etcetera) or, if they weren't, focused on small duos or trios with gripping connections. If you don't have time to read all pieces of this today visit a few times until you've absorbed them. I particularly enjoyed the write-ups of We Are the Best!, Happy Christmas, Lilting, Pride and Reese Witherspoon & Laura Dern for Wild.