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Entries in Carol (76)

Friday
Feb052016

Interview: Carter Burwell on Composing "Carol" and "Hail, Caesar!"

Carter Burwell gives great soundtrack. The proof is all around us. His scores are everywhere right now, in movie theaters with Charlie Kaufman's Anomalisa and the Coen brothers Hail, Caesar! and in the Oscar mix; his work on Carol brought him his long long overdue first nomination for Best Original Score.

The 60 year-old composer started his music career in the punk scene but after that fateful first collaboration with the the Coens on Blood Simple (1984) he quickly become a film regular. He's composed every Coen brothers score since then with the exception of Inside Llewyn Davis. They aren't the only filmmakers who steadily rely on his gift. He's worked frequently for Bill Condon, Michael Caton-Jones, Spike Jonze, John Lee Hancock, and Todd Haynes among others.

I asked him how he keeps his work fresh with so many projects and how he approached the recent challenges of the "ridiculous" comedy of Hail, Caesar! and the restrained drama of Carol.

Our interview follows after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan292016

Best Acting, Female Division: Personal Ballots & Oscar Charts

We've reached the end of the Oscar Correlative portion of The Film Bitch Awards... and we're only running like 2 weeks late! Now you can compare nomination stats if you'd so desire. A short take: Mad Max Fury Road is loved in roughly the same dose but The Revenant has only 1 nomination to Carol's 10. You're welcome. That said I do not choose my nominees "in response" to Oscars. The choices are grouped into semi-finalists before the Oscar nominations come out and even when I'm behind schedule I'm still usually only a fifth-slot decision away from my final 5 in each category by that time. 

On to what you've been waiting for... ACTRESSING! 

the best BEST ACTRESS duo since Thelma & Louise? Oh what could have been Academy. What could have been.

BEST ACTRESS
Though we continue to despise The Academy's willingness to embrace Category Fraud and thus deny us the pleasure and spiritual rightness of seeing Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett side-by-side for Carol, the Academy's leading lineup is pretty damn great this year. Though Jennifer Lawrence's nomination was probably pre-ordained and thus lazy voting, she's actually quite good in Joy. Not as good as about ten other leading ladies this year mind you, let's not be crazy -- there were so many that I couldn't squeeze into my personal ballot that I wanted to. We should thank the cinematic gods for years in which we have to make such tough choices about who is "Best".

And yes I feel total guilt about abandoning Lily Tomlin in Grandma at the very end of the film year after championing her for so long but that was what 2015 was like with an abundance of valid and great choices. Some unfortunate soul falls into sixth place each year - damn you, list math. In truth my Best Actress ballot needed nine slots in the worst way this year. 

Cynthia Nixon earning her EGOT... only the people who provide the "O" in that equation weren't paying attentionBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Here Oscar and I are forced to part ways decisively. Not just from their 'f*** character actresses!' habits with creative category placements but because we rarely see eye to eye when it comes to what StinkyLulu calls "actressing at the edges".

The Academy chose Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rachel McAdams, Kate Winslet, Alicia Vikander, and Rooney Mara and though all of those performances are noteworthy in one way or another my personal ballot only includes one of them: Kate Winslet, who returned to electric form in Steve Jobs (welcome back, baby). Vikander and Mara absolutely have no business here since they're the co-leads of their romantic dramas and as attentive as McAdams was to her sources in Spotlight and as forceful as Jennifer Jason Leigh is when diving straight into cackling evil in The Hateful Eight, they didn't even come close to making my top dozen women who amazed from just off to the side of the lead or further out in the periphery.

Despite our dissimilar tastes, Oscar's acting branch definitely would have loved Cynthia Nixon in James White, had they seen her. It's a traditionally juicy part (a dying, angry yet loving mother) but who among the Academy watches indies that make only $101,000 in theatrical release? Not too damn many of them, that's who. Check out my list and the Oscar chart (now with statistics and trivia!) and choose your own beloveds in the comments. And, as a reminder, ICYMI, Alicia Vikander was granted a special gold medal for "Body of Work" here a couple of weeks back. 

Friday
Jan292016

Beauty Break: Costume Design (Personal Ballot & Oscar Shortlist) 

We're about to wrap up the "traditional" portion of the Film Bitch Awards which are essentially Nathaniel's Oscar ballot were he to have one in every category. (There will be more awards each day until we're finished -- before the Oscars, mind you! -- but they're the fun "extras")

Oscar's costume branch and I were fairly sympatico on our shortlists this year differing by only two pictures. Yet citing only 7 pictures (all featured after the jump) feels stingy. Costume heavy period pictures like Macbeth, Crimson Peak, The Assassin and Brooklyn definitely had their moments. Two contemporary pictures worth noting for their clever work were Youth and Chi-Raq. And then there are the pictures that have one costume so special it's what you always think of later on when you're picturing the movie: that lime green slit-to-there dress in M:I - Rogue Nation, the perfect action hero simplicity of Chris Pratt's functional but very tight outfits in Jurassic World, the barely visible sight of Jennifer Jason Leigh under huge furry everything in The Hateful Eight, that stylish pilot jacket in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that traded hands and so on...

In short, if you don't love costumes -- get outta here! Let's celebrate the five Oscar nominees plus two Nathaniel nominated in his own awards after the jump. Crazy gorgeous photos ahead...

OSCAR'S COSTUME DESIGN NOMINEES

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan282016

Screenplay Categories: Gender by the Numbers

Manuel here. Much of the conversation following the nominations has deservedly been about the way this year’s nominees function in many ways as a litmus test for the larger pitfalls of the Academy and the industry at large. Take the screenplay categories. As Phyllis Nagy urged us, we should be celebrating the fact that four female screenwriters were nominated for four different films. It sounds like a cause worth celebrating until you realize a total of twenty screenwriters were cited overall. You have to admit, those are appalling (if yes, unsurprising) numbers. Actually, in the past ten years, only 17 out of 156 nominated screenwriters have been women. Three quick stats about this year's categories and how they may show we might be turning a corner.

01 The last time we had two female nominees in the Best Original Screenplay category was in 2011 when Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo earned a nomination for their Bridesmaids script. If you remember that was the first time a female duo had been nominated since Nora Ephron and Alice Arlen were cited for Silkwood back in 1983. 

02 The last time two female nominees came from different films?  2007 when The Savages’s Tamara Jenkins and Lars and the Real Girl’s Nancy Oliver joined eventual winnerDiablo Cody (Juno). That was, coincidentally, the last time a female writer was on stage for a screenplay win. 

03 On the Adapted Screenplay side, we have two female screenwriters coming from two different films (Room and Carol). That’s the first time its happened since 2003 when Shari Springer Berman (co-writer of American Splendor) joined eventual winner Fran Walsh (co-writer of Return of the King) in the nominee roster. And yes, you have to go back to 1995 to find a sole female screenwriter taking the gold (Emma Thompson for Sense and Sensibility), a year that also nominated Anna Pavignano for co-writing Il Postino.

Obviously, by the rule of statistical analysis -- which is foolproof and understands that subjective awards must follow mathematical calculations-- this means we're going to get a female writer up on stage this year, right?

Bets on whether Donoghue (Room), Nagy (Carol), Berloff (Straight Outta Compton) or LeFauve (Inside Out) will get to give a speech on February 28th?

Thursday
Jan282016

Personal Ballots Cont'd: Best Cinematography & Production Design

We're almost done with the Oscar Correlative categories in the Film Bitch Awards. Then it's on to the silly & fun but still seriously chosen "extra" categories. Here are my choices for the best men behind the camera (always men. sigh) and the men and women designing and decorating those sets and the film's overall visual palette for your eye-candy pleasure. 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The big Oscar question this year is "Can Emmanuel Lubezki" win a third consecutive Oscar for The Revenant. He's dominated the category the past two years with Gravity (2013) and Birdman (2014). It won't be the longest consecutive winning streak ever -- that belongs to Walt Disney who won consistently in short film categories for seemingly ever in the early days of Oscar -- but it will be the single longest streak in modern history if he pulls it off. But the category already has something for the record books: With his 13th nomination Roger Deakins Sicario moves into a tie for 5th place for All Time Most Celebrated Cinematographer. He's now sharing the honor with George J. Folsey (Meet Me in St. Louis) who also never won an Oscar. Everyone higher on the list won the Oscar once or multiple times, all four of them; It's rarified air they're breathing. 

Deakins makes my own personal ballot this year but Lubezki just barely misses (I was more impressed with his work on The New World which also went all natural light on the frontier) because I had to make room for the emotionally expressive and flexible light of Phoenix (courtesy of Hans Fromm) and the jaw-dropping 'how'd they do that?' camerawork on Germany's Victoria. On the latter film the director was so impressed he gave DP Sturla Brandth Grølven billing above his own! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
We've already discussed the stupendous achievements in this category by Ethan Tobman on Room and Judy Becker on Carol so no need to rehash other than 'what is with Oscar sometimes. How could they ignore them?' Oscar voters have an anything goes choice in this category, though. If they don't just check off Mad Max Fury Road in most of the craft categories it's easy to imagine any of the films as winners, don'cha think?

Finally I wanted to give a shout out briefly to Thomas E Sanders work on Crimson Peak which the Academy also passed on. The movie has a lot of problems -- Guillermo del Toro can't seem to stay out of his own way with so much gilding of every gothic lily -- but Allerdale Hall is wonderfully decayed and oppressively decorative and all around drafty and decadent. And those vats in the basement! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot