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Entries in Cinematography (182)

Tuesday
Mar032015

Visual Index ~ The Sound of Music (1965) "Best Shots"

Each Tuesday night we ask anyone with a pinterest, blog, tumblr or what have you to post their favorite shot from a preselected movie. To kick off Season Six: The Sound of Music (1965) for its 50th Anniversary.

Unlike its obvious counterpart in belovedness, The Wizard of Oz (previously featured in this series) it was wildly popular from the day it opened. If you adjust for inflation it remains the third highest grossing film of all time after Gone With the Wind (1939) and Star Wars (1977). Like GWTW, its production trouble seems to have magically made it a stronger film rather than torpedoing it. Funny how fate works. For example Christopher Plummer's contempt for the project (he turned it down several times and loudly denounced it afterwards) bleeds through but affects the movie in surprisingly perfect ways, balancing the sweet with just enough sour. 

In short, it's one of 'Our Favorite Things'. 

Best Shots from
THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Feb142015

Best Cinematography: Can Chivo Do a Back-to-Back?

If Oscar were a beauty pageant (we know it feels like that sometimes but it's not) the previous winner in each category would have to hand over their tiara Oscar to the next winner. In that case let's hope the world's favorite DP is ambidextrous since he is probably passing the statue to... himself.  After years of worthy nominations without winning, the genius DP Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, who won last year for Gravity, could well win again for another virtuoso turn that's also an aesthetic triumph. But how common are back-to-back wins exactly in the cinematography categories? It used to happen on occasion when there were two cinematography categories (black & white, and color) and thus twice the number of winners but once the category was fused in 1967, it's only ever happened once: John Toll did it in the 1990s with Legends of the Fall and Braveheart.

Still it's hard to imagine Lubezki losing on the 22nd. Budapest surely won't sweep and it's the only other Best Picture nominee in the category. Mr Turner and Ida would make very worthy winners but they seem unlikely for reasons of size, popularity, mood, country of origin. As for Roger Deakins. His nominations each year are becoming Streep-esque. It's not that Unbroken isn't handsome looking but it's hardly one of his tiptop achievements. Deakins still trails the late George J Folsey (Meet Me In St Louis) for most nominations without a win in this category (13/0) but he'll tie him the very next time he's up to bat. If Unbroken had been better loved he could have made a run for it.

The Nominees:

Birdman - Emmanuel Lubezki
Grand Budapest Hotel - Robert Yeoman
Ida - Ryszard Lenczewski & Lukasz Zal
Mr Turner - Dick Pope
Unbroken - Roger Deakins

Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Birdman or Mr Turner

My ballot for this category 

Monday
Jan192015

Lensing Black Faces: Why the Bradford Young Snub Stings

Manuel here taking the MLK holiday to discuss the cinematography category in terms of its aversion to honor black faces.

Young on the Selma set

Amidst all the outrage surrounding Selma’s near-shutout at the Academy Awards (nabbing only two nominations in Best Picture and Best Original Song), the focus has been on Ava DuVernay’s absence in the unsurprisingly male best director lineup and David Oyelowo’s absence in the unsurprisingly white best actor lineup. I want to focus today on Bradford Young’s absence in the best cinematography lineup. Had Young been nominated, he’d have been only the second African-American black D.P. [Ed. Note: thanks for correcting me on this crucial distinction, Ian & 3rtful] to be nominated for an Oscar (the first and only so far is Remi Adefarasin, nominated for his beautiful work on Elizabeth). Of course, this also reveals the systemic lack of diversity that TFE bestie Jessica Chastain brought up just last week at the Critic’s Choice Awards. Can you really focus on this type of statistic without addressing larger institutional issues? Not really. Or rather, not constructively. And so, rather than focus on this one snub which is already quite disappointing given Young’s rising profile, I wanted to know what it might tell us about the academy’s reticence to celebrate D.P.’s that lens black faces.

I’m never satisfied with the way I see my people photographed in movies. I think it comes from a lack of consciousness – if you grew up in a community where you don’t know black people, I wouldn’t suspect you would photograph them in a concerned way. - Young on the Politics of Lensing Black Films

The Academy, as it turns out, has been rather skittish about nominating directors of photography who have worked with the type of canvas Young so skillfully paints with in Selma. Indeed, several films with predominantly black casts have been on the hunt for a cinematography award before, sometimes coming quite close to landing that coveted distinction... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan072015

The Cinematography Guild's Nominees 

The American Society of Cinematographers chose the following five films as the best shot of the year. According to Twitter The Imitation Game is the odd man out. It was shot by Oscar Faura who is definitely talented (see The Orphanage and The Impossible) but discussions around this film rarely concern themselves with the quality of its cinematography (which can't really be said for the other nominees here). 

1 of roughly 1,890 amazing shots in Mr Turner

 

 

It does remind slightly of when The King's Speech got that perplexing actual Oscar nomination for Cinematography over at least a dozen (at least it bears repeating) well shot and more inspiring choices from 2010. Of the ASC nominees only Lubezki has previously won an Oscar (for Gravity) and Roger Deakins is of course ever the Bridesmaid, never the Bride (which we used to be able to say about Lubezki). Dick Pope has one previous nomination to his credit (The Illusionsit) 

Assuming the Oscar race is between Lubezki and Deakins, who do you think will win? Do you think this will be the Oscar list and if you don't which film with acclaimed cinematography (no matter what one thinks of each film) sneak in?  Selma? Interstellar? A Most Violent Year? Wild (interview)? Gone Girl? The Homesman? or something else entirely? My write-in vote is Yorick LeSaux's work on Only Lovers Left Alive.

P.S. My final Oscar predictions are coming next week. Obviously I need to rethink my chart - way off there! We're just waiting for Oscar nomination balloting to close up shop (which happens tomorrow evening). 

Sunday
Jan042015

Podcast: Selma & The NSFC Prizes

In this new episode of The Film Experience, Katey returns to chat with Nick, Joe, and Nathaniel. We mostly focus on Ava DuVernay's wonderful Selma and The National Society of Film Critics but the conversation wanders to various Oscar races. As it does, don't you know by now? 

Recommended Supplemental Material: 
Timothy Spall Interview
Pride DVD packaging

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download tomorrow from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments! 

SELMA Podcast

Friday
Jan022015

Linkcatcher

Forbes a curious realization. Nearly half of the 20+ sequels coming in 2015 are sequels to 2012 films from Magic Mike XXL to Pitch Perfect 2 and beyond
Erik Lundegaard great movie quotes of the year 
Film Stage unused concept art for an Alien film from Neill Blomkamp (of District 9 fame)


Deadline talks to rising DP star Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year) about lensing black films 
Variety Selma will be screened for free in its titular city
/Film Yes, Emily Blunt is aware that the internet would like her to play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel film
LA Times on Robert Elswit, another fine cinematographer with two films this year (Nightcrawler, Inherent Vice)
Boy Culture Mark Wahlberg pic (the headline for pic is A+)
The Feminist Spectator is justifiably miffed that Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game can't be bothered to pay more attention to women or pass the Bechdel Test (though I actually think Theory of Everything technically does due to that unintentionally hilarious "you should go to church. bye" scene) 
YouTube Avengers: Age of Ultron commercial. I know this is par for the course now but it never fails to amaze and amuse and depress me that commercials (all trailers are commercials) now get their own commercials (premiering on January 12th!) when they themselves are sequels to commercials (third trailer!). What a world. FWIW this ant-size commercial for the upcoming Ant-Man commercial is pretty clever.

a few more 'best of' lists
Kyle Turner's top 14 from Mommy to Gone Girl
Scott Feinberg's unusual top ten, critical hits of various ilk and... Magic in the Moonlight?  
Pop Culture Crazy's "foolhardy" top ten construction from Life Itself on upward 

Happy New Year NPH

 

Dave and Mark Schulz in Olympic timesOscar Campaign Pot Holes
Pretty much every website is writing about Mark Schultz absolute freak out over Foxcatcher (that links takes you to the fullest recap I've seen with his "Die! Die! Die! deleted tweets and all) so I figure it doesn't need its own post. But it is the juiciest current movie explosion going on now that the Sony e-mail hack story has slowed down. The former Olympian didn't seem to have a problem with the film in which Channing Tatum plays him until several months after he first saw it. Interestingly his U turn happened during Oscar voting. Hmmmm. He says he is contractually obliged to support the film making this very public rage even more complicated. His about face appears to stem from a delayed realization of the film's homosexual subtext... which we only very recently discussed on our podcast and weren't all that impressed with as a choice. Schultz has since apologized for the outburst but is sticking with his claims of total inaccuracy.

Variety suggests that what's going on with Imitation Game and Selma is smear campaigns but is it really? Disputes about accuracy of biographical pictures are plentiful throughout history no matter the subject or Oscar heat. But for what it's worth people are saying that Selma's depiction of LBJ is problematic (sorry Tom Wilkinson - not what we needed disputed if we want to avoid that Robert Duvall nomination!). Now even a former Presidential aide to LBJ is chiming in on the controversy. For what it's worth, director Ava DuVernay, who used to be a publicist so knows this game, is very smart about dodging these attacks and keeping a cool head with her statements.

Disputes over Selma's screenplay credit aren't half as gripping, if only because this just happened last year with 12 Years a Slave and it seemed a lot bitchier then. Remember Steve McQueen's airclapping when the screenwriter won his Oscar?

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