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Entries in Best Picture (121)

Saturday
Feb282015

Birdman Post-Mortem

BEST PICTURE | BEST DIRECTOR | BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | BEST CINEMATOGRAPHYWe're nearly a week out from Birdman's big win and as we close out 2014 coverage (I'm hurrying backstage with our awards and the podcast Sunday night is our Oscar finale) I'm feeling more and more satisfied with the way everything panned out. Oh sure the Julianne Moore Coronation kept my mood up but there were other things to cherish.

Share the wealth years are usually more satisfying not to mention more representative of a film year and all the Best Pictures took a statue (or more) home. And with Boyhood winning so many prizes on the way to Oscar, well that labor of love got plentiful rewards too. I know those awards weren't the Oscar but what's the point of having all of these awards if they all go to the same things. We should celebrate the teensy tiny bit of diversity of wins when they happen.

My delight in Birdman's win is, of course, in direct opposition to what seems to be the majority of critics, which is odd since the film had strong reviews originally. The internet was downright furious when it took Best Picture but when isn't the internet furious, you know?

Depression, navel-gazing and recommended reads after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb222015

Readers Poll Results: Who *Should* Win?

With the Oscars arriving in 12 hours and your host (er, Nathaniel -- your host here at TFE-- not NPH) still sick as a dog, I turn the time over to you. Your votes have been tallied from the polls we ran on the individual Oscar Chart pages over the past month and here's who YOU -- the collective you at least -- are rooting for tonight.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Grand Budapest Hotel won 37% of your hearts. In solid second place was Birdman with 30%. Nightcrawler and Boyhood had their fans with 16% and 12% of the vote respectively. Trailing them all with a poor showing was Foxcatcher with 4%.

acting, director, picture after the jump

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb222015

Last Pre-Oscar Link Roundup!

Best Picture & Oscar Mania
Nicks Flick Picks preferences and predictions
Variety how to watch the Oscars online
Salon on the Birdman vs Boyhood battle for Hollywood's soul
Guardian on Ida and Leviathan's troubles at home as they head to the Foreign Film Oscar decision
NY Post goes out on a clickbait limb and predicts American Sniper for the Best Picture win
Disqus on which Best Pictures people are talking about in which states. Chart and graph madness!
Slant Eric Henderson has finally convinced me that Birdman is winning Sunday night. I don't know why I've been so resistant to that idea? It just seems way too experimental and funny and weird to me to think of it as a Best Picture winner but I guess I have to adjust my thinking.
Slate how to accept an Oscar properly 
In Contention on the dead heat for Best Director 

and ICYMI
Our Final Predictions Podcast
Category Overview Towleroad Article
Film Bitch Awards Oscar Correlative Ballot ~ Nathaniel's Votes 

Meet the Movie Press
I guest-starred on this show yesterday (I come in at about 24 minutes but I'm sad I missed the discussion of Alien cuz I love me that slimy acid-blood franchise) just as I was crashing into miserable sickness. Good timing. You can watch it right here. Thanks to the @theinsneider and for having me on. We discuss Oscar predictions.

Off Oscar Miscellania
Pajiba 10 movies John Cusack's made recently that you've never heard of. Pajiba's Cusack obsession is always fun
Coming Soon Birdman has convinced Hugh Jackman that he should keep playing Wolverine until he dies. Say what?
/Film Scarlett Johansson will star in The Psychopath Test. The synopsis (very lengthy) suggests two major male characters so I'm not sure who she'll play. Perhaps the psychologist that gets the plot rolling before the men take over?
/Film Wonder Woman to shoot in the fall
The Film Stage Tom Ford finally has his follow up to A Single Man (2009) lined up or his follow-ups really. Continuing Hollywood's most hateful trend it's said to be a two-part film. Movie people stop. You are not television. The mediums are for different things and TV is where the longform stories are supposed to go. If you want to tell a long story that's where you belong. (People hated me for hating that movie but I'm eager to see his next because he does have an eye.)

 

Thursday
Feb192015

Women's Pictures - Ava DuVernay's Selma

Nothing about Ava DuVernay’s career up to 2014 suggested the epic sweep of Selma. I Will Follow and Middle of Nowhere are both quiet dramas, focusing on one central character and a handful of supporting players as they navigate a major, life-altering event. Race is the background against which these stories are set - coloring a heated music discussion, or shading the convict’s biased parole hearing - but racism isn’t explicitly addressed. This changes dramatically with Selma. In a year that has seen protests in Ferguson and serious discussions about diversity in the Academy, Selma has been called everything from controversial to current to incorrect. For its director, it’s proof that 6 years and 3 movies can rapidly mature a talent.

When telling the story of Martin Luther King’s 1965 protest march in Alabama, DuVernay focuses not on a man, but on a movement. She studies the Civil Rights movement as if it were a character, following not only Dr. King’s glossy speeches, but also the many behind-the-scenes maneuvering. King’s arguments with President Johnson, Johnson’s arguments with Governor Wallace, the student organizers’ arguments with King’s men, even quieter discussions between Coretta Scott King and Malcolm X expose the precarious balance between ideology and strategy that's needed to succeed. DuVernay manages to write her characters with humanity as well, populating the film with people, not symbols. Early on, Dr. King (dignified David Oyelowo) comments lightly that the reason he's in Selma is because he needs a bully to catch national sympathy, and the racist sheriff is that man. As men start dying, those words hang over King's head like a cross.

If I have one complaint with Selma, it’s that the violence is too beautiful. DuVernay deftly stages the action of hundreds of protestors for the camera, and re-teams with cinematographer Bradford Young. The result is similar to Raging Bull: every protest is shot differently, so that each violent outbreak feels fresh. If the night march feels familiar to 2014 audiences, if the first march feels claustrophobic, if the violence on the Edmund Pettus Bridge looks like a hallucinatory war film, that’s not unintentional. In Selma, Ava DuVernay has matched epic sweep with humanity and brutal vision. It’s a hell of an achievement for a third film.

This close to the Oscars ceremony, reviving the question of whether Selma was snubbed is pointless. But regardless of Sunday’s outcome, Ava DuVernay has joined a different illustrious company: unnominated female directors whose films were nominated for Best Picture. In an attempt to divine DuVernay’s future, I did some research, and discovered a pattern: Of these nine female directors, seven are still directing. Of those seven directors, four (including DuVernay) are now working in TV.

As anyone with a remote or a streaming subscription knows, we are currently in a second Golden Age of television. This is due in no small part to the diversity of creative talent. Every year, more shows are created by, directed by, and starring women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community. In this increasingly colorful TV landscape, Ava DuVernay will be a welcome addition when she launches her show on OWN. But at what cost to film?

2014 has been widely criticized as the whitest, most male-dominated year of the Oscars in a long time. As much as I would like to blame our old scapegoat, the White Male Voter, this is also because of the homogeny of the films being offered to the Academy. When we can count the number of Oscar nominated female directors on one hand--likewise for directors of color--we should be shouting for more of these voices in film, instead of celebrating when the ones who’ve already proven themselves move to television (where they can get snubbed by the Emmys instead). I love Ava DuVernay’s work. I can’t wait to see what she creates with Oprah’s blessing. But surely I’m not alone when I say: Ava DuVernay, please come back to film soon.

 

Thus concludes our first month of Women's Pictures. Next week will be a vote to choose our next female filmmakers. Who do you want us to cover? If you have suggestions for future Women’s Pictures directors, post them in the comments or find Anne Marie on Twitter!

 

Thursday
Feb122015

10 Days Til Oscar... What's Your Excitement Level Like?

It's ten days until Oscar night so each day going forward expect "final predictions" for each category and one last look at the 8 Best Pictures. But a quick question: If we can't go back to a 5 wide shortlist  (TFE's preference) would you prefer that AMPAS had stuck with a top ten for symmetry's sake? It's so difficult to compare years with 5, 8, 9, and 10 nominees, you know? If it were still a top ten as it was for two short years (2009 & 2010) which films do you think would have been the two additional nominees in Best Picture this year? It appears obvious that against the odds Foxcatcher, given that "lone director" nomination, was one of them but maybe Nightcrawler wasn't given that it only won a Screenplay nomination?

But we only have 8 movies to deal with this year and since the Oscar race is all subjectivity let's get real objective and rank them by totally measureable stats for a moment.

 

  Box Office Longest To Shortest RT/MC Ratings Most Contemporary to Oldest Setting
 
1 Sniper (284) Boyhood (166) Boyhood (98/100) Birdman (Now)
2 Imitation (75) Sniper (132) Selma (98/89) Whiplash (Now)
3 Budapest (59) Selma (127) Whiplash (95/88) Boyhood (2002-2013)
4 Selma (46) Theory (123) Budapest (92/88) Sniper (1998-2013)
5 Birdman (35) Birdman (119) Birdman (92/88) Theory (1963-1990s)
6 Theory (32) Imitation (114) Imitation (89/73) Selma (1965)
7 Boyhood (25) Whiplash (106) Theory (80/72) Imitation (1920s-1954)
8 Whiplash (9) Budapest (100) Sniper (73/72) Budapest (1930s)

 

I guess I'm in a dark cloud mood today because I thought about adding "most to least onscreen deaths" but I realized beyond 1. Sniper 2. Budapest 3. Selma it was a 5 way tie for the others... unless well, what to do about Birdman? Again I was trying to stick to measureable things for fun this afternoon. And I thought about adding The Bechdel Test because it was just too damn depressing since I think only Boyhood passes it (maybe Birdman and Selma and Theory, too? Only if you're being generous and if they do its just barely)

While we're on the topic, make sure to vote on the Best Picture poll and on the other polls on the individual chart pages. 

 

 

Thursday
Feb122015

Would It Be Truly Terrible If 'Boyhood' Was in Fact About a Racist?

Roland Ruiz with Patty Arquette on the set of Boyhood (image via his Facebook page)Jose here. A recent article on Latino Rebels in which the author claims that Richard Linklater’s Boyhood contains the worst kind of racism has caused a bit of a stir. Grisel Y. Acosta uses the infamous gardener subplot, in which Patricia Arquette’s character unexpectedly turns around the life of the only non-white character (played by Ronald Ruiz) featured in the film, as his basis to explain that the film is racist both by omission (where are all the other Hispanic characters in a film set in Texas?) and also by depicting “the horrific ‘save me White person’ trope” that has been prevalent in American filmmaking since, well, always.

It’s a shame that the article turned up the week when Oscar voting ends, because now it will be dismissed as having an “agenda”, or being part of a “smear campaign”, when the truth is that, beyond silly movie awards, the piece only directs us to a conversation we should have been having since the movie came out.

As a Hispanic immigrant living in the United States, there is not a single week that goes by where someone hasn’t congratulated me for "bothering" to learn English “...and writing it so well”, assumed I was Mexican or Puerto Rican, or when I’m asked by a peer if I went to college, or have a random person ask me if I’m a doorman or a cab driver. I have learned to live with people’s assumptions because of my ethnicity, and I often brush them off, because race is not something that's easy to discuss in this country...

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