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Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it



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Entries in Best Picture (119)


Final Oscar Nomination Predictions

Best Picture
The big kahuna, the best picture category holds the key to all the other categories essentially. If you guess wrong here there's a domino effect since contributing to one of the 800 lb gorillas will always give you an advantage -- you can see that effect most clearly each year in the "contemporary" sections of the various guild awards when BP frontrunners always show up, no matter what films had more impressive achievements in that craft that particular year. The past few weeks have been tumultuous beyond the three locked up frontrunners: Boyhood, Birdman and The Imitation Game. You can also count on The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory of Everything since neither has faltered with precursors and both were surprising hits with audiences - yes even Theory (see Tina & Amy's great Golden Globes joke 'combines two things audiences love: crippling nerve disorders and super complicated math'). After those five it gets much trickier.

Despite its difficulty in the guild awards I'd still be surprised if they dared ignore Selma, which is a superbly crafted example of the exact type of film they generally go bonkers for, even if it's only half as good as Selma is: true story, message movie, great man bio. And yes, AMPAS got screeners. Given anecdotal evidence gathered at Oscar-schmoozy functions, I'm still betting that Whiplash makes it in despite a surprisingly weak run with audiences given that it's essentially a "crowd-pleaser". (No, I don't know what happened there.) In fact, for a long time I was predicting Damien Chazelle in Best Director and I'm still tempted to.

How many Best Picture nominees will we get? If the past years are any indication, 9, though wouldn't the point of the new rules (however many muster passionate support i.e. a certain percentage of votes) be more pointed if that number varied from year to year. Time to check the math again! The way I see it there are five films in play for these last two spots: Unbroken, Into the Woods, American Sniper, Gone Girl, and Nightcrawler. The box office business and hoopla during voting suggests Unbroken and Into the Woods, the guild awards suggest American Sniper and Nightcrawler and my heart suggests Gone Girl so I'm shedding a single tear for it. (yes, J.K. Simmons, a single tear -- What'cha gonna do about it?) Beyond those hopefuls there are six long shots that would be shocking at this point given various factors but it's worth noting that they all DO have devout fans: Foxcatcher, Ida, Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, Mr Turner and um er... Guardians of the Galaxy?

My predictions
The Imitation Game
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything

if 6 then... Selma
if 7 then... Whiplash
if 8 then... American Sniper
if 9 then... Nightcrawler
if 10 (that's technically possible) then... Gone Girl 

See Previous Article
I'm going with Julianne, Rosamund, Felicity, Jennifer, and Reese in the likeliest to fall position should Amy Adams or Marion Cotillard surprise. [chart]

See Previous Article I'm going with Redmayne and Keaton as the only locks. Followed by Gyllenhaal, Oyelowo, and Cumberbatch... daringly suggesting he's the surprise snub if Carell, Fiennes, Cooper, or Mr Turner himself (aka Mr Spall) busts in. But I'm nervous for Oyelowo for sure. I could easily see him missing.  [see chart]

See Previous Article I'm going with the five the whole world's going with since precursors have been in lockstep: JK Simmons leading, with Norton, Hawke, Ruffalo and Duvall following. If someone drops out (with J.K. so far ahead you can make a case for him amassing so many #1 votes  that weird things happen with the off consensus ballots I'm guessing in this order for surprises: Pine, Brolin, Wilkinson, Waltz, Ahmed) [see chart]

She's at war here. And will she win to be nominated?

I've been debating long and hard on this category and am willing to take a risk. Alas, it's not predicting that Meryl Streep will fall for her singing witch. She's a default nominee (sometimes she deserves it, sometimes she doesn't, but she's always there. This year is the test of how much of a default nominee Jessica Chastain has become. We could call her Meryl Streep Jr (same late start, same focus on Ivy league actor's education, same chameleon explosion) except for that Amy Adams seems to have already claimed that in terms of Oscar love. It's not that Jessica isn't brilliant in A Most Violent Year -- she totally is! it may have become my favorite of her performances -- but that few people seem to be talking about the film and it's hard to be a lone nominee from your film in the supporting categories. With their Best Picture bolstering Keira and Emma and Patricia, the frontrunner, are all safe. That leaves one spot open. SAG went with Naomi, BAFTA went with Imelda & Rene, The Globes went with Jessica. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Rene Russo rises up with Nightcrawler cresting at just the right time to pull her weirdly precursor light knockout performance into the game.  If I'm offbase but there is a surprise it's either Tilda Swinton or Laura Dern instead of Russo. Even though I love all the possible surprises, I'm rooting for Jessica to make it and hoping the impossible occurs and we lose either Streep or Stone. 

Foreign Film 
I'm sticking with my long held assumption that these are the five: Tangerine (Estonia), Ida (Poland), Wild Tales (Argentina), Force Majeure (Sweden), and Timbuktu (Mauritania) which I realize leaves Leviathan out which makes no sense but... I don't want to drop Tangerine which has served me well (I predicted it long ago and people were surprised to see it in the finals) or Wild Tales because it stands out so much from the pack. [see chart

Animated Film
Sticking with my previous predictions. Song of the Sea has not been given any media attention but then neither had Secret of Kells, the previous wonder from the same filmmaker.  In the end I find it hard to imagine that a branch seeing both would prefer The Book of Life to this unique and uniquely beautiful tale. The question mark is of course the The Tale of The Princess Kaguya but I'm guessing the response wasn't rapturous enough to win the film the Studio Ghibli spot. So I think it's stop motion via Laika The Boxtrolls and the American CG trinity this year with Big Hero 6, Dragon 2, and The Lego Movie . If anything gets bumped unexpectedly I'm guessing it's The Boxtrolls.

The ACS chose Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Imitation Game, Mr Turner and Unbroken. They regularly go four/five with Oscar so the odd film out (if there is one) will surely be Imitation Game, yes? I'm opting for a foreign surprise via Ida's fascinating compositions and black and white minimalism. I could see Interstellar or either of Bradford Young's pictures (A Most Violent Year / Selma) surprising, too. Young did get a lot of press this year.

Production Design
The Art Directors Guild has many different categories so they don't give us a clear picture. But I'm guessing Imitation Game, Grand Budapest Hotel, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. While I could see a snub happening for the brilliant post-talking apes world in the Apes film, I'm choosing not to predict it in order to stay sane. For the other two let's say Interstellar and, going out on a true limb (since it didn't figure into the guild awards), Mr Turner. If there's a spoiler let's chalk up the umpteenth nod for Birdman.

I'm predicting 4 nominations for Selma (wish it was more) including costume design

Costume Design
My favorite! While I'd love to see them being super discerning and go out on limbs like they do very occassionally, I'm guessing this is more of a 'stick to the major players' year. So with that said I'm guessing Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, Into the Woods, and Mr Turner with the one off BP discussion pick being Maleficent. If there's a spoiler it's probably a BP nominee like Theory of Everything or Imitation Game. Or even Birdman for the legendary Albert Wolsky. But I tell you what: poor Louise Frogley (Unbroken) can't catch a break. She's done so much period work for major stars and never lucks out.

Film Editing
I'm guessing American Sniper, Boyhood, Whiplash, Imitation Game as my definites and for the fifth slot possible Nightcrawler. But it could be anything really. Let's say Grand Budapest Hotel as spoiler.

Visual Effects
The Oscar's vfx branch eventually gives up on all franchises so let's say they are FINALLY tired of Middle Earth (though it's a huge risk) and skip The Hobbit. So my guess is Guardians of the Galaxy, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Interstellar, Godzilla, and X-Men Days of Future Past

Makeup and Hair
I'm sticking with my long held predictions: Foxcatcher, Guardians of the Galaxy and Grand Budapest Hotel with Maleficent as spoiler 

Sound Editing
American Sniper, Birdman, Fury, Interstellar, Unbroken.
I wanted to include Godzilla in the sound categories but it seems to have been forgotten.

Sound Mixing
American Sniper, Birdman,  Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods

Original Score
I'm guessing Theory of Everything, Interstellar,  and a double for Alexandre Desplate with Imitation Game and Grand Budapest Hotel.  The fifth slot is trickier. I dare not hope for Mica Levi's Under the Skin (the best score of the year) because it's just so out there. So i want to predict something off the beaten path like Dario Marianelli's Boxtrolls or Marco Beltrami's The Homesman (both amazing). But I'll go with Giacchino's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Original Song
sticking with my original predictions because who knows with that branch: Lost Stars, Glory, Everything is Awesome, Not Gonna Miss You, Mercy Is 

Documentary Feature
I'm going with Citizenfour, Life Itself, Finding Vivian Maijer, The Overnighters, and Virunga 

Short Live Action
I'm going with Baghdad Messi, Butterlamp, The Phone Call, Carry On, Boogaloo and Graham

Short Documentary
I'm going with White Earth, Joanna, Kehinda Wiley, The Lion's Mouth Opens, Crisis Hotline 

Short Animated
I'm going with Bigger Picture, Duet, Feast, Me and My Moulton, The Damkeeper

Best Director
I saved the toughest category for last. Before completing this entry I've looked around at some other sites to see what people were calling and I'm noticing a lot of people being smart and just listing the DGA nominees again. This is, technically, the smartest thing to do since they usually go 4/5... but I'm always aiming for 5/5 which is why i take risks. But god, it's tough this year. Linklater, Inarritu, and Anderson appear to to be the safest while the Globes suggested Fincher and Duvernay and the DGA suggested Eastwood and Tyldum. BAFTA suggested Chazelle and James Marsh. For a long time I thought Duvernay and Chazelle would round it out. And lately I'd begun to suspect that Dan Gilroy might surprise via Nightcrawler. Tyldum is obviously a threat but it's unwise to bet against Eastwood with Oscar if the DGA approves since Oscar likes him even more. So I'm going to say Eastwood but that still leaves me with one open spot. I'm throwing caution to the wind and saying Chazelle but I'm rooting for Duvernay and boy will Oscar catch hell in the media if they pass up this chance to make history with her. 


Podcast: Golden Globe Predictions

HOORAY! It's Golden Globes weekend.

Inbetween rushing to the movie theaters to catch up on any nominees you missed, listen in as Nathaniel, Nick, Katey and Joe reveal their "will wins" and "should wins" as they travel up the Globe ballot toward Best Picture, doubled. We love the Globes, don't you?

Running Time (42 minutes)
00:01 Song & Score. Hating on Big Eyes
04:07 Foreign & Animated. 
10:57 Screenplays
13:56 Director & Ava DuVernay 
16:09 Supporting. (Some Ethan Hawke & Keira Knightley love circulates through the room)
22:22 Lead Acting: St. Vincent detour / 'Team Foxcatcher'.
32:38 Best Actress Drama / Best Picture Finale
38:40 Fav "Into the Woods" Numbers

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments! The 72nd Annual Golden Globe® Awards, will air on NBC Sunday night LIVE coast-to-coast 5:00 PST /8:00 PM EST.

Please note: this was recorded one week ago so Selma hadn't had the rough week it just had with guilds

Referenced: Nick's hilarious mocking of The Imitation Game

GG Predictions, January 2015


Brilliant Subliminal FYC for "Unbroken"

During awards season the mail stacks up like crazy. Check out this FYC ad cover of The Hollywood Reporter. 

All my life I had always finished the race."

Very sly! Even if Unbroken can't win, Louie Zamperini wants to finish the race, you know?! Let him finish the (Oscar) race. He always finished the race!  American Hero. Also if you squint: Chariots of Fire (1981) flashback. That one finished the race much to Reds dismay!

Oh, and while we're on the subject of subscriptions, sign up for our newsletter when we need to give you important info (never more than once weekly - won't clog your inbox!) and so that you miss none of the movie fun we have here.


Producers Guild Nominations: Lots of Titles Still In Play For Oscar!

Big awards day, huh? The PGA have announced their preferred excellence in production for 2014. No big surprises so the only thing to talk about is the chaos of what might be nominated for Best Picture in less than two weeks.


Feature Film

... Only five of these made my top 30. Not a consensus year for TFE, then.

PGA's list is very similar to the BFCA top ten only they shoved  American Sniper and Foxcatcher in the Unbroken and Selma slots. The AFI was also similar but that Institute also made room for Into the Woods and Interstellar and Selma. In short: the Best Picture race is still rather confounding when it comes to who might be nominated and how many pictures will be there beyond the frontrunners Boyhood and Birdman and, I guess, Imitation Game... though I had previously thought that Selma would have or had already supplanted it in third spoiler position. [More...]

Click to read more ...


Art Director's Guild Nominations Stay Focused on the Best Picture Conversation

The Art Director's Guild have named the most well designed and carefully decorated movies of the year. How well do you think they did in terms of Best? This is as good a time as any to tell you that we've begun our annual Film Bitch Awards, now in their (gulp) 15th year so you can see my preferred ballot there.

The guild which represents 2300 industry people like Production Designers, Art Directors, Set Designers, Model Makers and Artists of various kinds (Scenic, Title, Matte, etcetera) voted for the following 15 films, most of which are firmly entrenched in the Best Picture discussion indicated that they didn't watch too many screeners before voting. 

Did Inherent Vice's elaborate last supper joke win it this nomination? Or was it the whorehouse?

Period Film
THE IMITATION GAME -Maria Djurkovic 
UNBROKEN - Jon Hutman 

But what about?: Mr Turner which is more challenging and fascinating and epic in its production scope than most of these nominees; The Homesman which is more memorably designed than some of these; I probably like Unbroken more than a lot of critics but I'm not sure it's more worthy of a WW II recreation notice here than, say, Fury? In short, they've been listening to the Best Picture conversation.

More Nominations & Commentary after the jump

Click to read more ...


The Best Picture Puzzle Has How Many Pieces?

With Into the Woods and Unbroken opening so well over Christmas, one has to think that their Best Picture chances have been bolstered. Both are currently in that foggy area of "will they or won't they?" a siamese twin to "how many Best Picture nominees will we get?" punditry.

If you look to the current Best Picture Chart, I think you'll agree that the eventual fates of anything beyond the top five (Selma, Birdman, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, and The Imitation Game) seem uncertain. If you compare my chart to the current Gurus of Gold (in which we made suggestions as to what films voters should be screening this week) you'll see that the top ten films are basically the same albeit in a slightly different order and with the consensus being that I'm underestimating Foxcatcher and overestimating Into the Woods

Obviously Grand Budapest Hotel will be enjoying multiple nominations but can it manage the biggies like Best Picture & Best Director & Best Actor? If we were still in ye olden times of only 5 nominees would it be our 'lone wolf' auteur triumph? I am undoubtedly the most bearish of any of the pundits about its fate but it's only because I have long lamented the fate of Wes Anderson pictures with AMPAS. One sounds like a complete nutter when one says it out loud but the following statement is in fact true "No Wes Anderson live action picture has ever been nominated for ANYTHING outside of Best Screenplay." No, not even Best Production Design which nearly all of them have deserved.

And what of the Fincher continuum? Will Gone Girl be another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which justmissed a Best Picture nomination despite love across multiple Academy branches?

We're at war here.

It's been ages and ages since an NBR Best Picture winner didn't make the Oscar lineup but did the simmering  A Most Violent Year open too late (i.e. two days after voting even begins) for a race that requires the full boil around New Years?  

One of These Will Win Birdman, Boyhood, Selma
Sure Things The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything
Probably? Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash 
But What About? Gone Girl, Unbroken, Into the Woods, Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year
Longshots Interstellar, Nightcrawler, Mr Turner, American Sniper
Why Aren't They In the Conversation? Wild, Ida 

So many questions. So many theoretical answers. Oscar ballots go out tomorrow so the next week is absolutely crucial. If we get 9 Best Picture nominations again I think it's safe to say that the Academy's executives just need to admit that their shifting number of Picture nominees experiment is a failure and round it back up to a Top Ten or return to the old five-wide standard. 

How many nominees do you think we'll get? 


Critical Kudos Continue: Kansas, San Francisco, Dallas, OFCS

(We interrupt your Missi experience this morning to bring you more awards news. Missi returns this afternoon for two final posts.)

The Film Critic (a monolith) floats in his room this month contemplatively, aging rapidly before our eyes. A difficult choice faces him/her: Birdman or Boyhood? After the jump see which cities chose what and which categories they're allowing themselves to have a little fun with...

Click to read more ...