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 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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Entries in Best Picture (91)

Thursday
Aug212014

Best Shot Collection: Gone With the Wind (Pt. 1)

Seventy-five years ago this December (yes, we'll celebrate again...albeit in a different way) Gone With the Wind premiered. No, that isn't quite right. This epic about a selfish Southern Belle surviving the Civil War and beyond ARRIVED IN STYLE with a three day celebration in Atlanta which reportedly drew one million visitors -- how'd they fit them all into the theater? (Hee). 1939's Best Picture winner arrived with roughly a bajillion times the anticipation that today's blockbusters get because pop culture was far less fragmented back then and everyone was obsessed with it. It would stay in theaters for literally years (the first couple of them at twice the normal ticket price) and become the biggest cinematic smash the world would ever see. To put it into perspective only Star Wars ever came close with The Sound of Music, E.T. and Titanic fighting for a distant third.

To look at something this large for a single defining image is an impossible task (or two images rather since we've split it in half). My favorite recurring visual motif of the film, Scarlett moving against the current of the crowd as befitting her singular tetchy anti-heroine nature and her duties as protagonist just doesn't look magnificent in freeze frames, but my favorite instances are two: First, when war has been declared and she walks up the stairs calmly through a sea of pastel dresses running down them (bless the film's first fired director George Cukor - that's obviously his work!), and second, her selfish exit from the scene of an amputation when she moves from the sweaty interior nightmare of a hospital to the shock of an exterior nightmare of chaos outside in the streets. Other favorite images were too small or atypical. For instance, there's this calming exquisitely lit shot of Mr and Mrs Ashley Wilkes. [more...]

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Thursday
Aug072014

199 Days 'til Oscar...

Not that I'm counting. I don't have one of those alternating colored construction paper link chains on my wall that I rip off every day or anything like I did when I was five while waiting for Santa. No siree. Do not have one of those. But if I did the colors would be gold leaf and red carpet. 

Mmmmm, where were we since we last spoke?

Release Date Shuffle
No press release or dropped hint or trailer dates should ever be taken at face value when it comes to release dates. These things change back and forth all the time but, at least for the moment, things are murky on a ton of titles and many of them are actressy: CarolFar From the Madding Crowd, MacBethThe Suffragette and more. And some pictures that were clearly designated as 2015 are obviously finished like Ron Howard's Heart of the Sea starring Chris Hemsworth all slimmed down so who knows what might transpire if a specific studio sees an opening. So let's talk about the stuff that's out already...

The Tiny Idiosyncratic Indies vs.  Large Mainstream Blockbusters
This summer I think you could safely argue that the big winners at the arthouse were the Polish film Ida which grossed more than last year's high profile foreign Oscar winner and Richard Linklater's critically adored 12 years in the making Boyhood. Music Box Films and IFC Films, which released the films, don't have high profile histories at pushing for Oscar nominations the way  Sony Pictures Classics and The Weinstein Co do but they should probably spend the money. If either maneuvers correctly, there will be at least one or two high profile nominations in store. This is why I wonder why more small films with Oscar potential don't try summer releases. If you have the goods and you're "small" it's better to be safely esconced at the top of the mountain when the "big" mainstream prestige films aren't even around and then defend your turf in the fall/winter rather than trying to climb up that insane awards mountain when all the 800 lb gorillas are also scaling it; more often than not they'll knock you right off by simply crushing your chances of enough media coverage for starters.

Whether or not Ida's box office bonanza results in Oscar traction I hope it keeps the lights on at Music Box offices for a long time. To understand just how huge the film has been for them some context: Ida is now second only to the French thriller Tell No One as their top grosser that doesn't star Noomi Rapace and start with the words "The Girl..." Further context: in terms of their recent memory hits Ida has now surpassed the combined grosses of the all star French comedy Potiche and the Rachel Weisz period drama The Deep Blue Sea (which got a little bit of awards traction).

Visual Effects is already a bloody battle. Can Guardians of the Galaxy win the nomination?

Response to this year's blockbusters is a bit harder to read at this early juncture since a) there are so many of them that have been solid doubles or triples but not home runs and b) mainstream blockbusters often need home runs to have voters thinking of them on par with the "serious" pictures. I can't say, for example, that Maleficent (big hit but not entirely respected) or Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy (big hits but Oscar doesn't take superheroes seriously outside of that orphaned billionaire in the batsuit) or Godzilla (divisive hit from ancient B movie franchise) are necessarily going to land tech nods but they'll probably try. The exception to all this 'solid player but not much more' business is surely Dawn of the Planet of the Apes which opened to much coin and such feverish raves you'd think it was a Martin Scorsese picture with Leonardo DiCaprio in an ape mask. But even that one is the 8th film in a 46 year old franchise that has only ever won 3 competitive Oscar nominations and one special Oscar... and 75% of those were from the 1968 original!

That's just one of the man reasons I think it's crazy that people are hoping for an Andy Serkis nomination though I'd be down for him to win a non-competitive special Oscar for pioneering a new subdivision of acting. If you missed the recent Podcast on 1973 the discussion of Linda Blair's performance led to the very relevant 2014 topic on how to judge "collaborative" work. 

I know, I know. You're all like... stop talking. Get to the updated Oscar charts. They're ALL updated, look at me finally updating!

PICTUREDIRECTOR & SCREENPLAYS
VISUAL & SOUND 
ACTRESS & ACTOR
SUPPORTING ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTOR
ANIMATED and FOREIGN 

Thoughts? Of course all this will be moot soon when the festivals shake things up with actual buzz rather than hype and some films without release dates securing distribution. We'll start on the foreign submission charts in the next couple of days since Hungary is the first to announce with the Cannes sensation "WHITE GOD" about those rampaging wild dogs.  

 

 

Thursday
Jul032014

Halfway Pt. 1: What if They Voted on the Oscars Right Now?

Oscar Chart Note: I'm experiencing some coding problems with the charts so I apologize for the update delays. Until it's fixed, please to enjoy this hypothetical discussion as we begin our Halfway Mark Review...


Happy July! We're now officially done with the first half of the year. There are MANY films to come including the bulk of Oscar contenders given Hollywood's preferred release patterns. But that doesn't mean the film year hasn't already delivered enormous pleasure. All conscientous Oscar voters, cinephiles, and critics ought to keep a list so they aren't tricked into believing that the thing they saw 5 minutes ago is the only thing worth voting for six months from now.

Which naturally begs the question: If the voting was sprung on everyone right now, which films would AMPAS go for? It's worth jotting them down because they have a head start and they'd be smart to capitalize on it somehow. They need to settle in the mind and hearts as viable options as it were so that the forthcoming biggies will have to unseat them rather than trample them on their way to Oscar thrones.

I'm thinking mostly of Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel and Ralph Fiennes as Best Actor. They'd both surely snag nominations if the voting were held today. But at this date, some 17 years into his career, Academy voters haven't yet fully embraced Wes Anderson. Comic performances are always trickier sells so Ralph Fiennes will need to capitalize on the fact that he's playing against type (in a way) and voters respect that. If Budapest hangs on for real Oscar play that should make the waters safe for all future Wes Anderson films (see also: David Fincher, David O. Russell, and Paul Thomas Anderson who all struggled to win attention until Oscar finally caught up with the critical passion and devout public fanbases and now they're automatically "in the conversation" before their films arrive.) 

Let's fantasize about what might be nominated if the voting were cut off right now when so few expected contenders have opened. My guesses as to the nominees go like so...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun252014

List Mania

Two interesting lists came out in the past couple of days which are worth discussing / poring over / loving deeply / fuming at for various reasons.

Three LGBT Films I'm Always Wishing More People Had Seen. Paris is Burning (#3), Lilies (#64), and Show Me Love (#168)

• The Advocate crowd-sourced the 175 Essential LGBT Movies list which is a mix of non gay movies that gays love and actual queer films. Brokeback Mountain (2005) tops the list and the top ten is really cool and varied though it's obviously skewing toward historically important cinematic breakthroughs (regardless of quality) which I suppose explains the high ranking of Philadelphia (1993) which is not a good movie and so so timid and Making Love (1982), just outside the top ten which is interesting and way less timid than many movies which came after it (how's that for an odd turn of events) but it's also stiffly made. I've seen all but 34 of these pictures but some of the choices are... unfortunate. The foreign classics are shoved toward the back of the list (Almodóvar is present of course but woefully underrepresented and poorly ranked) but basically every popular American gay film from the last 25 years that actually sucks is accounted for; it's a myth that gays have good taste!

P.S. My Beautiful Laundrette, which we were just discussing, comes in at #21. 

 

And now a more mainstream list...

Only 5 live action musicals made the list. No Cabaret (1972)? I weep.

• The Hollywood Reporter surveyed industry types like Oscar winners, studio chiefs, and TV personalities and came up with a list of Hollywood's Favorite 100 Films of All Time. As a very mainstream list that only grazes Old Hollywood with the most iconic pictures (All About Eve, Gone With The Wind, On the Waterfront - that sort of thing) and heavily favors New Hollywood (roughly the 70s forward) it's fun. But you have to know what you're getting into. Most interesting to me is how beloved the year 1994 is with Pulp Fiction, Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump all in the top 15 !!! The most recent picture listed is Inception (2010) which... gross. Spielberg, Coppola, Hitchcock and Nolan all have multiple entries. Curiously Hollywood only loves modern animated movies - nothing made earlier than Beauty & The Beast (1991) which comes in at #86. Brokeback Mountain (2005) comes in at #76 (Crash is nowhere to be seen. I think Hollywood was embarrassed about that Best Picture win as soon as the morning after if not as soon as Jack Nicholson read the card).

P.S. Since we were just surveying 2004 I think it's worth noting that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is the only picture from that year listed... none of the actual Best Picture nominees made the cut, not even Million Dollar Baby

What should we make lists of here at TFE? Summertime is obviously ideal for movie lists since nothing is actually happening at the movies (besides, you know, CG robots, monsters, and explosions) 

 

Sunday
Jun012014

First Oscar Predictions of the Year, Complete!

The April Foolish predictions for 2014 are complete! In record time* for June 1st.

INDEXPICTURE | DIRECTOR
ACTRESS | ACTOR  
SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR 
FOREIGN FILMS | ANIMATED FILMS
SCREENPLAYS | VISUALS | SCORE & SOUND 

BULLISH: I've predicted that Foxcatcher and Interstellar will lead the nominations with 8 nods each with Gone Girl, Mr Turner and Birdman not far behind. I also have high Oscar hunch hopes for Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game.

BEARISH: Though I will readily concede that Unbroken might be a juggernaut, I'm not yet feeling it's as as sure of a thing as many pundits are likely to given the extraordinary amount of Oscar boxes it checks off on paper.  My bearishness is largely because you can argue that Oscar has become less enamored of "traditional / inspirational" material in the past several years - even skipping inspirational Holocaust movies like The Book Thief -- and are quicker to embrace thornier auteurism than they have since the 70s. It's also because Angelina Jolie is a largely untested director whose first feature had a good measure of pre-release media attention only to be totally ignored once it arrived (and I don't mean in terms of Oscar nominations, though that was the case as well). That said if everyone agrees that Unbroken is quite good (nobody has to think it's great) it'll do very well for itself in the nominations. [more...]

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