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Entries in Best Picture (138)


TIFF: Journalists at War. "Truth" vs "Spotlight"

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...

Click to read more ...


BYOYNMS: The Danish Girl 

That's "Bring Your Own Yes No Maybe So," in case you're wondering. Acronyms for daaaays, henny! I'm seeing The Danish Girl very shortly at TIFF and I don't want to spoil my first experience since I haven't read the book (I know I know) and I'm hearing that this trailer gives away each story beat. 

But if you don't care about spoilers, or have read the book, please to watch and let us know where you fall on the Yes No Maybe So divide.

Or, rather, if the trailer moved your needle at all on this latest costume drama from frequent Oscar presence Tom Hooper (The King's Speech, Les Misérables). Gender identity is such a hot topic of late (I Am Cait is basically like having an Intro to Genders Studies course weekly on E! of all places, and Transparent's about to win an Emmy or three, don't you think?) that this film's timing is probably very good. IF, that is, the film lives up to its hype.

The movie will be opening just after Thanksgiving in the US.


Pt 2 Smackdown Xtra: On the Waterfront with a Broken Lance

Nathaniel (your host), BrianMarkAnne MarieManuel and Todd VanDerWerff continue their Smackdown conversation. Here's part two of our 80 minute conversation

Pt 1 PODCAST - The High & Mighty & Executive Suite

Pt 2 (40 minutes)
00:01 Recap of Part 1 and we continue our On the Waterfront conversation seguewaying to the movie's rawness and experimentation, Elia Kazan personal voice, the influence of New York theater, and the slow death of the studio system
10:00 Broken Lance, Latino actors in Hollywood, Social Message Movies, and a shout out to Natalie Wood (?)
27:30 Thelma Ritter and other Supporting Actresses of 1954
35:45 Sign Off and Thank Yous. Last words from Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes Continue the conversation in the comments.

SUGGESTED READING: We reference two books in this conversation: Mark Harris's instant classic Pictures at a Revolution (which you've probably already read) and a brand new one: Brian Herrera's Latin Numbers: Playing Latino in Twentieth-Century U.S. Popular Performance. Pick those up. 

1954 Pt 2: On the Broken Lanced Waterfront


First Poster: The Danish Girl

[UPDATE: We have been asked to remove the posters] 

I currently have the film predicted in all five top categories (Picture, Director, Screenplay, Actor, Actress) as well as three more craft categories. Is this putting too much faith in it, too little or just right? How bullish are you feeling about this one? It's certainly timely in the year of Caitlin's coming out party.

Can Eddie Redmayne can be the first actor to pull off consecutive wins since Tom Hanks 21 years ago? 


"Joy" is a Tease

The movies for adults are coming. The movies for adults are coming.

One of the greatest things about summer movie season is that about halfway through it, when you're totally sick of all the explosions and super powers and CGI and lack of great "characters" for actors to really sink their teeth into, invariably the actressy and Oscar-type trailers and posters begin to emerge as "this too shall pass" appetizers. This morning we get our first look at David O. Russell's Joy which reunites him for a third round with his Silver Linings Playbook stars Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro. Yet again 24 year old Jennifer Lawrence is playing a role that might well be better suited for an actress ten years her senior  (she's playing the character from 20-40 I believe) but what can you do? Since Russell likes to work with the same actors repeatedly (one of our favorite traits in any director unless it starts hampering their creativity *cough* Tim Burton) he's also invited back Elisabeth Röhm (so good in her small part as Jeremy Renner's wife in American Hustle) and some recurring background players, too.

We're not doing a Yes No Maybe So since this is but a teaser (it's mostly music montage) but it looks promising and perhaps I've underestimated it Oscar-wise? The entire reason I resisted it is that I hate to go with the totally obvious a year in advance as most pundits do, because history does not actually support Oscar favorites staying Oscar favorites each and every year. There is far too much volatility within each Oscar season for that to happen (thank God AMPAS isn't the Emmys!). No filmmaker or star or craftsman dominates continually in their category unless their names are Meryl Streep and John Williams. 

Here it is. What'cha think?


"Ghost" and Other Blockbuster Best Pics

Today is the 25th anniversary of Ghost (1990), that wildly successful supernatural-comedy-romance-adventure-whatsit from 1990 which briefly iconized Demi Moore's single teardrop face, revived the popularity of a 1955 song hit, made pottery-wheel lovemaking into a meme (before memes were called that) proved that Patrick Swayze was more than just Dirty Dancing, made the world hate the grandson of legendary movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn, and won Whoopi Goldberg her Oscar, the first acting win for an African American woman since Hattie McDaniel in 1939 (it's since become far more common... at least in Supporting Actress).

Ghost is among the most atypical Best Picture nominees of all time, and one that would never have been nominated without its phenomenal grosses. It ended 1990 as the top global grosser with over half a billion in the bank, though Home AlonePretty Woman and Best Picture winner Dances With Wolves were not far behind). 

So here's a quick Oscar talking point about the last, oh, 40 years of Oscar history. Which of these Best Picture nominees, arguably none of which would have been nominated without their blockbuster phenom cred given their genres and non-prestige foundations, is your favorite?

Star Wars (1977)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Fatal Attraction (1987)
The Fugitive (1993)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
District 9 (2009)
The Blind Side (2009)

How do you think Ghost (1990) stacks up to that list? None of them actually won Hollywood's top prize in their year. 


Halfway: Oscar Chart Updates - Picture, Director, Visual, Sound

½way mark - part 5 of ?
All this week we're taking stock of what's happened thus far in the film year but also at what's to come... at least as it involves Oscar Charts. They're updated in every category now (save Foreign Film... for which I now start the hard 70+ country research work on backstage).

Best Picture | Best Director 
In these charts you'll see gains for Inside Out and Youth and Sicario after hot responses in Cannes or in theaters and for Suffragette and Steve Jobs which both arguably aced their trailer game, which helped to build perceptions of "forthcoming jewel - see it!". And though the vast bulk of the contenders in Best Director are still white American men, there is at least one woman (Sarah Gavron's Suffragette) and one African American (Ryan Coogler's Creed) and a few foreigners who you can imagine traction for if their film's explode critically or with the media or at the box office.

I've also added George Miller to the director chart -- I don't really see a precedent for an actual nomination, mind you, but it's fun to imagine the director's branch getting ballsy each year and rallying behind someone whose work really impressed in non-Oscar bait projects. And given that this 70 year old schooled just about any action director whose name isn't James Cameron, there's a lot to be impressed by. It's worth noting that his Oscar record is damn weird. He's been honored in four categories in the past, winning the Animated Feature Oscar (Happy Feet) and receiving one nomination each for Best Picture (Babe), Adapted Screenplay (Babe) and Original Screenplay (Lorenzo's Oil) ...but he's never been nominated for Best Director, and essentially he's a director who dabbles in other things. It's kind of like the hilarious statistic that Lars von Trier is only Oscar nominated as a songwriter. Tee hee. 

Visuals | Sound
Though I lost a little faith in In the Heart of the Sea and Bridge of Spies, with buzz on other films growing and in the case of Spies a middling trailer, I didn't drop them for the tech charts per se. As we know the Academy's visual branches are not as prone to think outside the Best Picture box as they once were which is sad for visual artists working on movies (sometimes the individual parts are much greater than the sums). You'll notice thatMad Max Fury Road was also added to a few charts. Given the hallelujah critical chorus that greeted its arrival and the likelihood that a DVD release and top ten lists could result in a reprise of that very same chorus -- we're pretending (at least for the time being) that Oscar voters might consider it despite it being the fourth film in a franchise that they've had no time for.

Immortan George directing Charlize Furiosa

Previously at the Halfway Mark
pt. 1 Oscar Chart Updates - Acting
pt. 2 10 Best Leading Performances
pt. 3 Best & Worst in Animation 
pt. 4 Most Ubiquitous - Alicia Vikander