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Entries in Best Original Screenplay (5)

Wednesday
Jan042017

Writers Guild Nominations 

Manuel here bringing you the latest guild awards courtesy of the writers in the industry. As with SAG and DGA, what the writers enjoy and choose worthy of a nomination helps those of us intent on predicting the Oscars see what might be in the running not only for the screenplay categories but also what films are gaining steam enough to see the across-the-board support that nets them a Best Picture citation. 

A few caveats, though. Given the Writer's Guild rules, there are a number of high profile screenplays that weren't even in the running for their award and thus their absence should in no way be taken as a slight on their quality or a notch against their potential come Oscar nomination time. As usual, animated fare and foreign language (and foreign-produced) films are the ones least likely to show up here given the eligibility requirements—one must be a member of the WGA in order to be nominated.

Without further ado, find the nominees below with some quick commentary. Scroll further down still if you want to see the TV and New Media categories which were announced back in December.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec092016

Interview: Oscar-Winner Asghar Farhadi Returns with "The Salesman"

by Nathaniel R

Two award winners: Asghar Farhadi with his star Shahab Hosseni

Asghar Farhadi's fame is finally catching up to his talent. After his international breakthrough with A Separation (2011) which won the Oscar and the Globe Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and became a significant arthouse hit internationally, the Iranian auteur has had three other movies travel to cinemas abroad. The acclaimed About Elly (2009) found renewed life and finally a US release, and his two follow up pictures The Past (2013) and The Salesman (2016) both took home coveted acting prizes from Cannes.

The Salesman, which will begin its US release in January after an Oscar-qualifying week recently in Los Angeles, is Farhadi's fourth consecutive film to be chosen by Iran to represent the country at the Academy Awards. Like A Separation, it's a stunner which begins simply before a fraught incident sends out large ripples complicating the story and the characterizations. We talked to Farhadi about the pressure of representing Iran, his Oscar night journey, and his creative process. The interview is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct192016

Top Ten: Loving those "20th Century Women"

by Nathaniel R

Mike Mill's terrific new film 20th Century Women, inspired by his own mother with Annette Bening further fictionalizing her, doesn't open until Christmas (disappointing as RIGHT NOW or August might've been the perfect time for it). But since it played the NYFF and we said so little, it's time to attempt to share the joy it offers. In lieu of a standard review...

Ten Amazing Things About 20th Century Women
first impressions of a film that will surely make our 2016 top ten list

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Tuesday
Oct042016

NYFF: Manchester by the Sea

From the New York Film Festival here's Jason on the new film from Kenneth Lonergan.

The scene that we've been waiting for all during Manchester by the Sea comes pretty much where you might expect it to, that climactic slot about 3/4ths of the way in right where stories usually come to a head. And yet, and yet, the way that it comes showcases what makes Kenneth Lonergan such a fascinating writer and director. The way we get to this emotional head is typically, for this director, winding - the film is suffused with flashbacks that don't so much announce themselves as they do sneak in through the window and climb into bed beside you, surprise spooning you til sunrise. So when this climax comes where it should come, well that in itself is a surprise, but one you only notice in hindsight.

But it's more than that. Without going into specifics about what happens, what's so fascinating about this scene (and I'm using it as a microcosm for the whole film here) is how it lays there in wait in the broad daylight for its sneak attack. It just happens. And in Lonergan's hands this feels like the sweet hard mess of real life - broken boat motors and a bumped head; the moments where we catch up while our friend is bringing the car round and suddenly the world around us crumbles. Miniature hurricanes that don't announce themselves but sweep you up and slam you down without actually moving you an inch.

Manchester by the Sea is awash in such flashes, such sudden floods. Casey Affleck gives an astonishingly light performance of utter devastation. We spend the film putting together the puzzle of him only to find out the puzzle is broken and the pieces are vanishing in our hands as we gather them up. The actor makes us gather faster, and gather harder. He makes us want to sort it out alongside him. That his performance and the film are so much much funnier than you're anticipating only makes its foundation of bottomless grief all the more vertiginous - it is, like honest-to-goodness life, disorienting with drilled deep possibilities of goodness, and honesty, and pain.

Monday
May232016

Thelma & Louise, Pt 2: The Venetian Blindside

25th Anniversary Five-Part Mini Series Event 

When we left our heroines in Pt 1 of our 25th anniversary lookback at Thelma & Louise, they were fleeing the scene of their (first) crime but Louise needed a cup of coffee and to collect herself. Anne Marie & Margaret, our own superheroine duo in Los Angeles were grappling with the surprise killing of a would be rapist. Was it rage and pride that motivated Louise to shoot after she had already saved Thelma? It certainly provoked audiences but was there any other way to play the film's themes?

Louise is trying to plot their next move when we return to them, just before they jump back in their '66 Thunderbird - Editor

Pt 2 by Nick Davis

Now's not the time to panic. If we panic now, we're done for."

24:50 You could say this is the moment where Thelma and Louise shifts from a movie about two women fleeing some problems, at least temporarily, to two women solving a problem, probably permanently. Sure, I'll run to any movie where two women let their hair down, but I will fucking jet-propel myself to any movie where two or more women join forces to think their way out of a fix.  Well, not Mad Money.  And not The Boss.  Okay, there are exceptions.  But Thelma & Louise is the glorious rule, and this is where the drama of deduction, cognition, mutual examination, and deep self-reflection really kicks into fifth gear.

I should mention that I saw this film in the theater at 14.  Sheltered and naive about sex and violence, I didn't completely understand what rape was--which is to say, I think I learned it here.  I had never had a drink, much less been drunk, or even seen a margarita.  Ironically, the post-shooting moment when Thelma and Louise start spiraling into unknown territory was  when I started to connect with their world and feel common ground with the heroines.  I didn't know from waitressing jobs, fishing trips, honky tonks, convertibles, freeways, mesas, relationship troubles, shitty husbands, hitchhikers, horny moods, pistols, or structural misogyny, but I absolutely related to relying on wits to think your way out of a problem, and disclosing aspects of yourself in how you did so, and concealing parts of yourself at the same time.

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