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TWO OPINIONS ON MAPS TO THE STARS
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Entries in Best Picture (93)

Friday
Jan032014

Nebraska, Finely Aged and Potentially Oscar Record-Breaking

I'm sure you've seen the melancholy yet uplifting new spot for Nebraska that points out the ages of its principal cast and how long they've been acting. It's inspiring, for sure, as longevity often is. Hollywood and the Oscars often favor the sprinters (note all the stars, particularly actresses, who won too soon and all the films that opened in the rush of awards season that were only hot for two months) but life is a marathon.

Assuming Bruce Dern and June Squibb are both nominated on January 16th (and smart money says they will be) they'll both be among the top three oldest performers ever nominated in their categories. It will break down like so...

OLDEST BEST ACTOR NOMINEES
01 Richard Farnsworth, The Straight Story (1999) who was 79
02 Bruce Dern, Nebraska (20) who is 77*
03 Henry Fonda, On Golden Pond (1981) who was 76
04 Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Baby (2004) who was 74
05 Peter O'Toole, Venus (2006) who was also 74
06 Morgan Freeman, Invictus (2008) who was 72
07 Sir Laurence Olivier, The Boys From Brazil (1978) who was 71
08 Frank Langella, Nixon (2008) who was also 71
09 Paul Newman, Nobody's Fool (1994) who had just turned 70

Those are the only 70somethings ever nominated for Best Actor... if Robert Redford and Bruce Dern are both nominated we'll have a perfect full top ten of 70something Best Actor candidates; they're only two months apart in age (with Dern born first). Among these senior men Henry Fonda was the only winner. If Dern wins --  and I've long thought he might with that magic combo of a likely Best Picture nominee, a moving performance, and a stellar campaign --  he'll become the oldest winner ever in the Best Actor category. 

OLDEST BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS NOMINEES
01. Gloria Stuart, Titanic (1997) who was 87... and the oldest in *any* category actually
02. Ruby Dee, American Gangster (2007) who was 85 *but there are conflicting reports on her age*
03. June Squibb, Nebraska (2013) who is 84
03. Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) who was 82
05. Eva Le Gallienne, Resurrection (1980 - recently discussed) who had just turned 82

Those are the only 80somethings ever nominated in Supporting Actress and none of them won. Can June Squibb break the pattern this year? (The current oldest winner ever in this category is Dame Peggy Ashcroft for A Passage to India (1984) who was 77). Speaking of Squibb, have you been watching the American remake of the British nursing comedy series Getting On? Squibb guest stars in one episode as a foul-mouthed cigarette-smoking patient. She and Niecy Nash are pretty great together.

What do you make of Dern & Squibb's Oscar chances? 

Saturday
Dec212013

Updated Charts - All Categories

The Oscar Charts are fully revised. Enjoy! I've currently predicted 12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Captain Phillips and American Hustle to lead the nominations hogging 37 nominations between them and The Great Gatsby and Saving Mr Banks to share the asterisked honor of "most nominations without a Best Picture bid. The wildest card is still The Wolf of Wall Street and the guilds will have to show us if that one is going to make a dent.

PICTURE | DIRECTOR | SCREENPLAYS
The top five look set in stone but how many nominees will we have? The race with the most mystery might just be Original Screenplay. Too many films still seem absolutely believable as future 'of course it was nominated' nominees. But there can be only five. Can Enough Said or Fruitvale Station, two films which have never exactly left the conversation, find a way to slip in?

ACTRESS | ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR
The precursor awards have locked up the female categories and placed guards around the door despite a pre-season that seemed robust with possibility. That's always a shame when the performances on the outside are as good as the ones that Adèle, Greta, Brie, Sally, Julia, and so on are giving. The male categories have also tightened up but the chamber isn't nearly as air tight. A bit of "who will it be?" mystery remains.

are these the films that are the biggest wild cards in terms of nomination count?

VISUAL CATEGORIES | SOUND CATEGORIES
Before the Guilds speak up let's speculate wildly!

FOREIGN FILM | ANIMATED, DOCS, SHORTS
The fields are already small from "finalist" lists. Watch along with us as we try to see them all. 

Sunday
Dec152013

Podcast: Awards Week Blowout Special

Nathaniel is back from his Iceland trip and going regional with JoeNick, and Katey for a one hour discussion of the barrage of film critics prizes from New York, Detroit, Boston and San Diego. And another thing: are LA's "ties" okay with this panel? 

Afterwards we pick on the Screen Actors Guild and their bizarre All is Lost joke (no Redford in actor but a stunt ensemble nomination when there's only one character and Redford did his own stunts?!)  and the team splits on the quality of Rush, recently resurgent thanks to SAG. Then we're on to the  Golden Globes for a discussion of the troublesome Comedy/Drama divide (read Joe's article for context) and we pick the best and worst of their nominees.

Also discussed: Jennifer Lawrence's backlash, Greta Gerwig's surprise, Forest Whitaker's acting, Leonardo DiCaprio's elusiveness, 12 Years a Slave's power, Philomena's luck, Dallas Buyers Club's ensemble, Wolf of Wall Street's editing, and Fruitvale Station's potential.

You can listen here or download the conversation on iTunes

Awards Week Blowout

Tuesday
Dec032013

Do the NYFCC Hustle

The New York Film Critics Circle, the oldest such organization in the country, provided us with a surprise bang this morning. Like Jennifer Lawrence playing with her "science oven" in American Hustle their announcement leaves visible scorch marks, as if awards season has just blasted off like a rocket. 

Whether or not these prizes have a lasting impact is yet to be determined. Some will say that the one-two punch of the Gotham Awards and  NYFCC not awarding 12 Years a Slave with their best feature is a sign. But it may well just be a coincidence and could even be good for the film; it's better to be a wildly special underdog than a frontrunner with heavy baggage when you have three whole months left to carry oneself across the finish line. 

Picture American Hustle
Director Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Actress Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Actor Robert Redford, All is Lost
Supporting Actress Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Supporting Actor Jared Leto, Dallas Buyer’s Club

Critics prizes, even the once holy trinity (NYFCC, LAFCA, and NSFC) don't mean as much as the internet likes to pretend. With roughly 30 other critics organizations handing out prizes each year now, and those same critics groups often behaving like Oscar pundits instead of critics, I'd argue that the value of critics prizes has greatly depreciated from market saturation and loss of identity. The thing that constitutes bragging rights these days seems to be domination (who can win the most?) rather than key victories. 

Screenplay American Hustle
Foreign Film Blue is the Warmest Color
Animated Film Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises
Non Fiction Film Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell
First Film Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station
Cinematography Bruno Delbonnel for Inside Llewyn Davis
Special Award Frederick Wiseman, documentarian

Do you think they did the "special award" for Frederick Wiseman solely because they didn't give him best documentary for At Berkeley? And, referencing the most recent podcast, am I the only person who isn't wild for the cinematography in Inside Llewyn Davis?

For what it's worth, American Hustle (which is under critical embargo until tomorrow), is very entertaining and also very fresh in the minds of voters having been screened just this past weekend. And Jennifer Lawrence is also very fresh (and entertaining) in it. 

[More on their voting and runners up here]

Wednesday
Nov272013

Team FYC: The Spectacular Now for Best Picture

[Editor's Note: In this series Film Experience contributors are individually highlighting their favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Deborah Lipp on The Spectacular Now.]


Dear Voters of the Academy: Think Small. I know it’s Oscar season, and I know you want to think Big Space (Gravity) and Big Epic (The Butler), but sometimes, small is beautiful. Sometimes, small is The Spectacular Now.

Consider the delicacy with which this movie sits inside the pocket of being young, and confused, and feeling alone, and makes you feel it too. Consider that Teen Romance Movie Clichés could fill an encyclopedia, and that this movie deftly steps past all of them, to arrive at an intimacy of both dialogue and unspoken moments that create a sense of presence so very rare in the movies.

The Spectacular Now has three genuinely striking performances: Its two leads (Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley) and a supporting turn by Kyle Chandler, playing disturbingly against type.

Movies about disconnected people can feel distant, but, as Aimee (Woodley) and Sutter (Teller) find each other, we feel close, and connected. With striking honesty, The Spectacular Now gives us sad and fumbling youth, the relief of having someone else there, and the painful knowledge that it isn’t enough.

previous FYCs

Saturday
Nov092013

AFI: Colin Farrell, "Harbinger of Hope"

Even if this year's AFI Fest in Los Angeles proves to be entirely frontloaded -- I had such a ball on opening day with the Saving Mr Banks festivities --  the trip will have been worth it. My adventure began with an exclusive pre-screening cocktail party with the Saving Mr Banks team where I met Emma Th-- no, no, she gets her own post... I'm still processing that one! For now two quick tidbits about the men.

The men of SAVING MR BANKS (and Emma Thompson, its star)

Director John Lee Hancock, no longer The Rookie on his fourth picture, was standing tall and proud while we chatted over drinks. I don't mean that metaphorically but literally since he towered over me - so tall! Thoughnot intimidating, I must add, what with his warm smile, and alarmingly good manners. We were interrupted while he was telling a story which is so common at cocktail parties that you think nothing of it as the celebrity is whisked off to meet another well-wisher or member of the press. You certainly never expect to hear the ending of the anecdote but he sought me out later to finish it.

I couldn't resist asking The Blind Side director what he thought of Gravity. "My girl, Sandy!" he blurts out, the grin even grinnier. "I haven't seen it yet!" he adds with a touch of surprise and apology. He'll rectify that as soon as his press schedule for Saving Mr Banks lightens up. Next week, he hopes.

A few minutes later I had a brief chat with Colin Farrell, also in very good spirits but that's probably easy when your movie has Best Picture buzz. He plays the alcoholic father of the author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) in flashback, but it's a substantial role since the flashbacks run parallel to the A story of the making of Mary Poppins, a way of illuminating the author's deep personal attachment to her Poppins creations ("they're family") and why she's so hesistant to sell them to Walt Disney. In the Best Supporting Actor Oscar race Farrell is most likely to be overshadowed by Tom Hanks who gets the plum Disney role (or, as Hancock put it an hour later as he introduced his cast at the screening "an icon playing an icon") but I'm personally confident that one day Farrell will get the right role for the Academy to notice his gift (and not just his celebrity). I told him he'd make my list of Hollywood's Most Underappreciated to which he jokingly replied "I'd make my own list of most underappreciated!" 

We ended the conversation reminiscing about his surprise Golden Globe win for In Bruges (2008). I tell him that's one of those rare deserving moments in awards history that pundits and cinephiles like me point too with 'anything is possible!' optimism. "I'M A HARBINGER OF HOPE!" he volleys back.

 

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