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Entries in Chicago (18)

Saturday
Mar232013

10th Anniversary: That Jazzy "Chicago" Win

[Editor's Note: You know "Denny" well from the comments section. Since he's a choreographer by trade, I asked him to sound off on Dance in film. Particularly on Chicago since its win was so strangely celebrated at this year's Oscars making the show a weird mix of 2012 & 2002. Take it away, Denny. - Nathaniel R.]

a happy night for CZJ & Friends, March 23rd, 2003

Oh, how I remember the cheers.

I was at an Oscar party with a group of theater friends ten years ago when Rob Marshall’s Chicago became the first musical in thirty-five years to win the Oscar for Best Picture. It’s easy to see why everyone was excited: Following Moulin Rouge! (and to a lesser extent, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) the year before, it was clear that Hollywood was finally interested in live-action musicals not aimed at children again. There hadn’t been a major live-action Hollywood musical aimed at adults since 1996’s divisive Evita, and before that the last one was 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors. The last to receive major awards attention was 1982’s Victor Victoria (or 1983’s Yentl, depending on your definition of “major awards attention”), and a musical hadn’t won the Oscar for Best Picture since 1968’s Oliver!, a much-derided winner in a year that actually saw two musicals nominated for Best Picture (the other being Funny Girl), if you can believe it. more...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar102013

75th Anniversary: In Old Chicago's Stolen Oscar!

On this very day in 1938, 75 years ago, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences met for the 10th time to honor the films of 1937. There was still no television to compete with but that also meant no televised ceremony. Which is too bad really because how great would it be to see one of Oscar's very oddest anecdotes happening "live"? According to legends, though the legends conflict either an Alice Brady impostor or a impostor Brady representative accepted the trophy which was never recovered! Drama. What then? Either the statue was replaced 12 days later or the more dramatic the statue was never replaced. This much is true: Brady, the second winner of this then brand new category, died a year and a half later at only 47 years of age.

In Old Chicago
Alice Brady plays the matriarch of the O'Leary clan (anniversary aside, since we're approaching St. Patrick's Day, it felt like appropriate viewing). After the father dies in a dumb luck tragedy on the way to the big city in 1854, dragged to his death by runaway horses, widowed Brady raises her three sons alone in the rapidly rising city described in the title cards as "a fighting, laughing, aggressive American city". Within seconds of arriving she makes a name for herself as a talented laundry woman.

Two of her sons become major power players, one an honest crusading lawyer (Don Ameche), the other a charming playboy (gorgeous Tyrone Power) with a taste for money and women of questionable provenance.

Yes, by all means Tyrone, find a reason to get your shirt off...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb282013

Podcast: Oscar Night Season Wrap

For the final podcast of the season, Joe Reid, Katey Rich, Nick Davis, and me, your host, Nathaniel R let reader questions be our guide for this spontaneous Oscar Night Review.

Topics include but are not limited to:

  • Musical Performances: Adele, Shirley Bassey, Babs, Jennifer Hudson, and Catherine Zeta-Jones's Jazz
  • Future Nominations or Backlash for the winners: Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Lawrence or Anne Hathaway?
  • Ben Affleck's speech
  • Can Michael Haneke ever return?
  • What were the best reaction shots and when did we do our best reaction shots from home?
  • On Naomi Watts' career choices and Oscar's love of "it" girls
  • Documentary and Costume Design
  • Seth Macfarlane versus Jokes and Musical Theme
  • Emmanuelle Riva cutaways

You can download the podcast on iTunes or listen right here at the end of the post. 

All That (85th Oscars) Jazz
The Big NightFun ArrivalsWinner's ListJennifer Lawrence in the Press Room
The Look BackSeth's HostingFunniest Tweets, & This Podcast
The Fashions: Fifteen Men, The Ten Nominated Ladies, Goodbye Glamour

Oscar Night Season Finale

Saturday
Jan262013

One Night Only ♪

Have you heard that The Academy is going to honor the renaissance of the movie musical with tributes to Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Miz during the ceremony on February 24th? I'm never been that big on amorphous "tributes" which usually come in the form of sloppy montages at the expense of time celebrating either specific grand careers (lifetime achievements) or actual nominees. And I can't quite see what the through line is between those three pictures (as opposed to any other modern musicals). But you know I love musicals. Still... this makes precious little sense to me, not when you have a decent current lineup of Original Song nominees you could focus on for once. And not when you're only focusing on three films, two of which had little to do with the musical genres resuscitation.

It's a Musical Diva Throwdown

Everyone knows (or should come to understand) that it was the one-two-three-four punch of Disney's resurrection (The Little Mermaid + Beauty & The Beast) + Dancer in the Dark + Moulin Rouge! +  Hedwig and the Angry Inch from 1989-2001 that reopened the musical floodgates artistically and reminded everyone "ohmygod... look what this versatile genre can do!!!". Chicago (2002) then was the behemoth that came charging down that road that had been pre-paved for it by stronger films, despite how grandly entertaining it was, to claim the trophy for the whole genre.

At any rate the strangest exclusion from their planned tribute is surely Moulin Rouge! which had, if you'll recall, just as many nominations as both Les Miz and Dreamgirls (I guess 8 is the magic number for non-BP winning popular musicals), starred people who are still very much in the cultural conversation, and is already widely regarded as part of the new canon. That's something that none of the three films Oscar is planning to rehonor on the ceremony can quite claim... no, not even Chicago.

Friday
Nov302012

Awards Calendar: Precursor Madness Begins in 3... 2... 1... 

Which film will lord over NYC film critics this year?You've probably heard by now that the city-by-city / guild-by-guild precursor madness begin next week. Golden Globe ballots went out to members yesterday and The New York Film Critics Circle will be the first to announce winners on Monday, December 3rd. I'm having breakfast with a director during their announcement -- priorities! -- but we'll be sure to discuss that day.

The rush to "first!" means that Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained is right on the wire of "will voters see it or not see it before voting?" Apparently it's now locked and screening (my December 1st screening was cancelled and I have not -- as of yet -- been re-invited though our BFCA balloting begins on December 3rd)

IMPORTANT DATES / GROUPS TO WATCH
12/3 -New York Film Critics Circle 
⅓ of the Holy Trinity of critics groups. Founded in 1935!!! Last year's winner: The Artist
12/5 -National Board of Review
In recent years they've finally cried uncle about "first!" and conceded. Last year's winner: Hugo
12/7 -Los Angeles Film Critics Association
⅓ of the Holy Trinity of Critics Prizes founded in 1975. Last year's winner: The Descendants
12/9 -New York Film Critics Online
This upstart group began handing out prizes in 2003. Last year's winner: The Artist
12/9 - Boston Society of Film Critics
Announcing since 1980. They were once among the most iconoclastic of groups but in the past decade have, like nearly all critics groups, begun to merely choose their favorite from the handful of true Oscar hopefuls. Last year's winner: The Artist
12/11 Broadcast Film Critics Association "Critics Choice" Nominations
Announcing since. Full disclosure: I am a voting member.
12/12 Screen Actors Guild Awards Nominations
A very big pre-Oscar deal... since 1995. Their unique system of choosing nominees -- a different randomly-selected nominating pool each year from their vast membership --  should technically be capable of delivering bigger surprises now and then. We'll see... Last year's winner: the cast of The Help
12/13 Golden Globe Nominations
Woot!
1/8 Directors Guild Award Nominations (Feature Films)
Before Oscar started monkeying with their Best Picture rules this was the single most predictive award as to which films would be nominated for Best Picture. Voting annually since 1948. Last year's winner: Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist.
TBA - Chicago Film Critics
Annoyingly they announce nominees and then wait for the winners, upsetting the traditional critics prize routine. Last year's eventual winner: The Tree of Life
TBA - Online Film Critics Society
Annoyingly they announce nominees and then wait for the winners, upsetting the traditional critics prize routine.  Last year's eventual winner: The Tree of Life
TBA - National Society of Film Critics
⅓ of the Holy Trinity of Critics Prizes, founded in 1966, though they've been losing plentiful media steam over the years... partially due to the explosion of ridiculous critics groups -- does every city really need their own when regional prizes for smaller film markets would make much more cumulative sense ? -- and their late in the game announcement.


THE BIGGIES

1/10 OSCAR NOMINATION MORNING!
aka Nathaniel's Christmas... and it's coming so early this year.
1/10 Critics Choice Awards 
1/13 Golden Globe Awards

1/27 SAG Awards
2/24 OSCAR NIGHT

aka Nathaniel's New Years Eve

Which groups do you care most about? Which film, if any, do you think will dominate this year? Or are you hoping, as I am, that it'll be a free for all. It's been so long since different groups had wildly different opinions! Oh how we long for critics groups to do their jobs in an entertaining thoughtful way and actually challenge each other with "no, this!" lobs. 

Thursday
Jan122012

Cast This! Rob Marshall and "Into the Woods"

As frightening... as bewildering... as wrong as it is to say after a decade of breakthroughs (Moulin Rouge!), critical triumphs (Dancer in the Dark, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and box office hits (Chicago, Dreamgirls, Hairspray) and problematic but Oscar nominated efforts (Nine, Sweeney Todd, Phantom of the Opera) ... the movie musical is still in trouble. It probably will be until another Vincente Minnelli or Bob Fosse arrives on the scene, someone who understands and breathes and trusts the very cinematic language of the musical. Until then we'll get bored directors detouring or novices who think it might be "fun" to try one... or Rob Marshall.

Will no young director challenge Rob Marshall as King of the Musicals?

Stage turned film director Rob Marshall was initially seen as something of a savior of the form when Chicago (2002) became a smash hit and Best Picture winner. It had been 34 years since a movie musical had had that honor. But his musical follow up Nine (2009) proved a massive flop and a target of critical derision. Though I thought it was better than it got credit for being (how could it not be given the vitriol?) in tandem with Chicago it revealed too little range and an inherent distrust of the form he had been handed, without competition, to rule; the music in both films emerged on sound stages as hallucinations or performative fantasy. His two subsequent non-musicals (Memoirs of a Geisha and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) were much worse, with listless dramatics and overstuffed weightless business for plot. Nevertheless, Hollywood logic prevails. Disney, looking at the colossal gross of On Stranger Tides, has obviously forgiven Marshall for Nine's red ink and rewarded him with the reigns of the film version of a bonafide masterpiece, Stephen Sondheim's twisted fairy tale classic Into the Woods. Never mind that I could have directed On Stranger Tides (it would have been all about the mermaids and they would have drowned Captain Jack in the first half hour) and it would still have been a top grosser. In Hollywood you get credit for blockbuster grosses even if you are obviously replaceable since anyone helming a long running franchise will produce a similar size hit. Audiences are lemmings when it comes to those big franchises. 

So though I weep that Into the Woods isn't getting a world class auteur, and I shudder most of all to think of those glorious songs sung by people who can't handle the intricacies of the music -- Marshall casts for stardom first even if they can't sing and Sondheim obviously writes only for great singers who can act -- we should try and stay positive. Let's play...

Bernadette Peters leads the cast of the original INTO THE WOODS (1987)

CAST THIS!

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec192011

It's Michelle/Marilyn for Dallas, Florida, Vegas and Chicago

The critical map continues to unfold with only three films scoring repeatedly: The Artist, The Descendants and The Tree of Life. All of them recently picking up another "best of year" prize. I had expected Hugo to feature more prominently after its high profile NBR win but that hasn't come to pass. But isn't it awfully nice to see a year with three major critical players even if you don't much like one of them (for me that's The Descendants). In short: Death to sweeps!

Michelle Williams is dominating the critics awards

While she's not quite a sweeper Michelle Williams is going to be on a lot of airplanes if she intends to attend all of these critics ceremonies that plan to honor her work in My Week With MarilynAfter the jump prizes from... Chicago and St. Louis who both just announced, Dallas Ft Worth, Florida, and Las Vegas (which I missed last week oopsie).

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct102011

I Wanna Be Linked By You... Just You...

Self Styled Siren graphs a two line fever chart on My Week With Marilyn.
Guardian Great actress Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) on what she sees in the mirror. (It only makes us love her more.)
My Portis Wasp offers 8 reasons you should watch American Horror Story, the new series from Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck)
Low Resolution has issues with Lars von Trier's miserabilist smugness in Melancholia.
Fanboy Gamer [nsfw] a Rice Krispies Human Centipede.

Stale Popcorn nice piece on What's My Number? and Crazy, Stupid Love and the necessity of "charm" in the ever flailing rom-com genre.
La Daily Musto did you know these celebrities were only children?
Fandor starts a conversation about the Chicago International Film Festival. I hadn't even heard of this other Marilyn Monroe related picture Nobody Else But You.

Drive. I loved it so much I had to illustrate my review!

Finally, have you heard this dumbass story of a Michigan woman so upset about the misleading trailer for Drive that she filed a lawsuit?:

Drive bore very little similarity to a chase, or race action film ... having very little driving in the motion picture".

God, imagine what she must have thought of P.T. Anderson's There Will Be Blood ! If you ask me there's more than enough driving in Drive. There are three car chase scenes that are ALL better than about 30 years worth of other movie car chases and they're all in the same movie!  But, it's true that there's all that "European" movie around them. Critics love it. She thought it was shit.