Oscar History

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"For the life of me I will never understand why Audra McDonald isn't bigger outside of Broadway." - Brian

"I will add to that list Irfhan Khan; he gets roles steadily, but in my mind he should be a household name." -Rebecca

"I'll also echo that Rosemarie DeWitt is one of the most talented working actresses, full stop. There is no other Best Supporting Actress of 2008." - Hayden

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Entries in Contagion (11)


The Faces of Jude

Here's abstew on one of TFE's very favorite actors

This past Wednesday saw the limited release of the British film Dom Hemingway about a safecracker that is recently released from prison after serving 12 years. The marketing material is also quick to point out that he's played by Jude Law because it's not immediately apparent.(The film also stars The Mother of Dragons herself, Emilia Clarke, as his...daughter! Well, at least she's not the love interest. At least, I hope not.)

Sporting a couple gold teeth, the craziest mutton chops not normally seen outside of a Civil War reenactor, and more girth than usual (Law gained 30 pounds for the role and it's not even Oscar bait!), the role is certainly a departure for the man that was once Dickie Greenleaf. (Although he's still kinda sexy as Dom. Am I crazy?)

Even in his early roles it was often noted that Law was a character actor trapped in the body of a movie star. Although he's been named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive before, he's hardly an actor to rely solely on his good looks. Throughout his career he's been allowed to embrace the character actor aspect of his roles and experiment with his appearance along the way.

Let's take a look back at some of his most memorable looks!

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"Worst" of 2011. A Quick Purge

year in review part whichever

I use the term "worst" loosely as I am generally not paid to see the obviously terrible films that open all year round. Plus, I'm not feeling the negativity this year. Or, rather, I'm trying not to feel it. With Bridesmaids and Melancholia both speaking so eloquently on the subject of depression this year like some perfect if unlikely double feature (more on that soon) why should I wallow in my own? No, 2011 was a good year for cinema. So here is a very quick purge of the things that momentarily led me to believe otherwise. 

Hell's Multiplex
Hell's multiplex has noisy audiences, crying babies, constant texting, and 50 million miniature screens showing only 50 movies, a million microscopic screens for each sorry movie! All of them requiring 3D glasses... even the ones in 2D. I wisely avoided the films I thought might play there -- if I hear the names Nicolas Cage, Adam Sandler or Kevin James or "Part One" I run -- though I inadvertently stumbled on a few grotesqueries. I've no wish to bury amateurish festival films but bigger names and wider releases are fair games. The 8 worst films I saw this year, then, were:

  • Beastly and...
  • I Am Number Four 
    This Double Feature of Dickery tops the list (bottoms the list?), with both of the films starring Prince Charmless himself Alex Pettyfer. What possessed his management to give the go ahead on Beastly in particular in which he must sell -- and sells all too well -- utter despicability of character devoid of all traditional humanity? And selling that so well while playing the hero?
  • Abduction [reviewed]
  • Cars 2 -Cars was Pixar's previous worst film. So naturally all of Cars's worst impulses were jacked up for the sequel. Michael said it best to me when we were leaving the screening "It's like George Lucas deciding to make a Star Wars prequel with Jar Jar Binks as the lead character!"
  • Green Lantern [reviewed]
  • J Edgar - Less outright terrible than devoid of any reasonable expectations of entertainment value or historical insight. Cliche filled stuff spun from complex fascinating real life. [reviewed]
  • The Other Woman [reviewed]
  • Kaboom [reviewed]


Michelle & Nicole in widely hated filmsWorst Reviewed Movies of 2011 That I Myself Did Not See
New Year's Eve and Trespass ...yes I have every intention of seeing these two films; I am willing to suffer for my Pfandom and my Kidmania. But I'm no hurry. But those I intentionally avoided include: Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, The Roommate, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Season of the Witch, Red Riding Hood, Dream House, Zookeeper, I Don't Know How She Does It, The Rite, The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Worst Actress
True story Part 1: I had never* seen Vanessa Hudgens act before seeing Beastly.
True Story Part 2: I still haven't seen her act because no reasonable person could call it such. 

Mating Rituals From Hell's Multiplex: BEASTLY

Worst Actress That Has Been Good In Other Things
If you figure out what Abbie Cornish was doing in W.E. besides counting down the days till the shoot ended please share this information. But my guess is that's what was going on because otherwise I can't figure it...

Worst Actor
Let's play "Jeopardy" instead...

Violins, totem poles, Grandma Willow, trees, 'Mr. Pointy', antiques, wardrobe, pianos, chaise lounge, picket fence, Treebeard, staves, matches, witch's broom... 


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Linking Out

The Wrap delivers the lightning-fast raves and the deafening silence for Tin Tin and J Edgar respectively.
Vanity Fair remembers super agent Sue Mendes (RIP)
i09 on a news item about modern research on The Black Death that will make Contagion even scarier!
In Contention Will Super 8 and Tin Tin win Sound Editing nominations? 
L.A.M.B. held a little movie of the month / blogathon about Bronson (2008) starring Tom Hardy. That's a good movie to check back in on given what's become of both Hardy & its director Nicolas Winding Refn. You'd certainly never see Drive's (2011) exquisite control coming in this earlier picture... though you can easily see Refn's oversized personality reflected therein. 

Finally, I'd like to say congratulations to Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek) who finally came out this weekend. Quinto has been one of those 'everybody knows' celebrities for quite a while and I have to admit that when he starred in the recent revival of Angels in America last year (which I thought he was quite good in) and especially when he did his own "it gets better" video, I was getting uncomfortable. It seemed strange to star in such a defining gay work and to chase it with an "it's totally okay to be gay!" message of tolerance while staying closeted.  But... that's all past tense now. Good on him for doing the right thing. I especially like this bit on his official site:

...living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it - is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.

Damn straight! I mean... er.... yes, well, carry on. Well done Zachary! Live long and prosper.



Box Office: Family Fare Wins Again

Given the ease with which family fare always tops the charts whether animated or live action -- this time the story of a dolphin with a prosthetic tale (?) flipper (?) fin (?) I don't know these terms -- you'd think taking the family to the movies didn't cost as much as people always claim it costs when they complain about how much it costs (whew): parking, food, multiple tickets.

Also: Dolphins are cute and all but I'm only seeing Dolphin Tale if you can promise me that it contains a musical sequence in which Olivia Newton-John reprises her treacly "Promise (The Dolphin Song)" from the 80s.

With Morgan Freeman on back-up.

Anyway, don't mind me. I'm just bitter because I'd prefer it if adults went to movies for adults in droves. That way TV wouldn't be able to hog all the entertainment intended for adults. (Moneyball is doing well but people really should be queuing up in droves, you know?)

Box Office (U.S.) Baker's Dozen -estimates
01 DOLPHIN TALE  $14.2 (cum $37.5)
02 MONEYBALL [review] $12.5 (cum $38.4)
03 THE LION KING 3D [review] re-release $11 (cum $408.1)
04 50/50 [review] new $8.8 
05 COURAGEOUS new $8.8 
06 DREAMHOUSE new $8.2 
07 ABDUCTION [review] $5.6 (cum $19.1)
08 WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? new $5.6 
09 CONTAGION $5 (cum $64.7)
10 KILLER ELITE $4.8 (cum $17.4)
11 DRIVE [review] $3.3 (cum $27)
12 THE HELP [review$3.0 (cum $159.3)

Michael Shannon Sees Storms ComingTalking Points
In limited release land the apocalyptic visions of Michael Shannon in TAKE SHELTER had the best opening weekend at just 3 theaters but with a sturdy $18,000 per screen (in other words the houses were four times as full as those of the top films in wide release). The extremely well reviewed gay romance WEEKEND did a tiny expansion from 1 theater to 6. It also became available On Demand so one suspects it'll make a hefty percentage of its revenue there.

• The Help finally left the gold-lined interior of the top ten list in its 8th week, falling just short of Bridesmaids staying power (which fell the same distance in its 9th week). The sole advantage of The Help (#12 of the year right now) if it hopes to topple Bridesmaids (#10 of the year) for bragging rights of "Highest Grossing Non-Franchise Film of 2011" is that it's in more theaters than Bridesmaids was at this point. The Help is still $10 million behind. It might be a squeaker or it might be all over if Real Steel and The Ides of March rip most of its screens away next Friday.

•Somehow Dream House opened to $8.2 million even though you can see the whole movie from start to finish in the trailer. If people keep buying tickets to movies whose trailers reveal every detail, Hollywood will keep making trailers filled with more egregious spoilers than even the laziest and most bitter critics would dare type. Sigh. At least Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz found each other in the process. 

•I don't want to make too much of a point about what could merely be a coincidence but Contagion's numbers week to week are very similar to Crazy, Stupid, Love.'s numbers (to the point where they both hit $64 million on the 4th weekend!) Will their twin performance be the new standard for what happens when you just cram your movie full of multiple well-liked stars who aren't always bankable on their own?

What did you see over the weekend?
If it wasn't Dolphin Tale, what could convince you to see that movie?
If it wasn't Moneyball what are you waiting for?


Distant Relatives: Psycho and Contagion

Robert here with my series Distant Relatives, which explores the connections between one classic and one contemporary film. A brief warning this week. If you don't know the identity of the killer in the film Psycho, this week's entry includes SPOILERS for you.

 What is Horror?

When Steven Soderbergh described his movie Contagion as a "horror film" it seemed like one of those things that directors say to generate a good sound bite in the hope that writers will run with it, which they have. After all, the prospect of a major virus wiping out a good portion of the world's population is nothing if not horrifying. But how much does it really have in common with classics of that genre? The answer probably depends on how you define "horror film." For most people, a horror movie must have some element of either the supernatural or mentally deranged from which the danger eminates. If this is your definition, then Contagion doesn't qualify. But semantics aside, one can still find plentiful similarities between Soderbergh's film and a classic, defining film of the horror genre like Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.

Psycho is about a killer and the people who come in contact with him. The film starts with a bit of misdirection as Janet Leigh runs off with an envelope full of cash. Soon she meets hotel proprietor Norman Bates, a soft spoken, well meaning, boy next door type, who turns out to be not so well meaning. Then, a surprise death sets the real plot into motion. Over the course of the film we'll spend time with the victim's relatives, investigators and experts. Contagion is about a killer and the peopel who come into contact with it. It too starts with a bit of misdirection involving suburban wife and mother Gwyneth Paltrow and a possible extramarital liason. But this is dispensed with soon, and a surprise death sets the real plot into motion. Over the course of the film we spend time with the victim's relatives, investigators and experts. Of course, in Contagion, the killer isn't a mad man, it's a virus.

...the harmless killer after the jump

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Red Carpet Convo: Glamour Casual, Festival Orgy, Namesake Pets 

Nathaniel: It says "Jose is busy. You may be interrupting."
Jose: I'm lying about my status.
Nathaniel: Pants on fire! You are never too busy for fashion. This week's red carpet lineup is kind of scattershot. That's how I feel right now with four festivals seemingly happening simultaneously this week.
Jose: That we know of. Film festivals are the Starbucks of the movie world.
Nathaniel: One for every zip code. 


Nathaniel: So...this first batch is a mix of Deauville (Kate Bosworth, Shirley Maclaine, Emma Stone), Venice (Keira Knightley) and a regular ol' boring premiere somewhere (Marion Cotillard). 
Jose: I recognize the dress so it was NYC.
Nathaniel: See. I'm not even here I've already fled town mentally if not physically... yet.
Jose: I have always wondered how movie stars lose their baby fat so freaking fast. What has Marion been eating after petit Marcel was born?
Nathaniel: She's no longer eating for 2 but ‪½ ... actresses, you know.
Jose: Hopefully Guillaume is feeding the wee lad tons of baguettes and souffles but then again said baby isn't the face of Dior and Mommy is.

Nathaniel: Kate Bosworth eats for ‪⅕ so lets start with‬ her. 
Jose: lol. Remind me again, why is she famous for?
Nathaniel: I can't remember... OH the worst Lois Lane. And a surfer movie, I think.
Jose: Oh true. Also for bicolored eyes and for dating Alexander Skarsgård. 
Nathaniel: If you have to live on next to nothing there are worse things to nibble on.
Jose: She's totally doing a Pam face. He should get her a gig on his show.

Nathaniel: I think this dress is kind of pretty but she is soooo tiny and the dress so delicate that it gives the impression that the tiniest gust of wind -- even something as little as the wind currents coming off another speeding luminary passing her on the red carpet -- would all but knock her over.  
Jose: Kate is pretty but god am I bored trying to say something about her.
Nathaniel: So let's talk about Shirley Maclaine. She was there to be honored for her entire career. I think they showed the ballet epic The Turning Point (1977) of all things. This outfit looks appropriate glitzy and shiny and I love Shirley Maclean Beaty but how can she not afford a better wig? 
Jose: lol. Blame her colorist? This totally reminds me of that Sex and the City episode when Samantha follows her ex BF in disguise wearing a wig from the Raquel Welch collection.

The Many (Great) Faces of Shirley Maclaine

Nathaniel: Jose, it needs to be asked. In the cable system of your mind, are Sex & The City repeats running on like 400 of the 1000 stations? 
Jose: No, but Shirley and I both own the DVDs.
Nathaniel: Anyway, she looks really happy and she certainly deserves lifetime achievement plaudits. It's really a wonder to me that more young actresses don't hold her up as an icon. Her career was stellar, longlasting, and full of interesting movies and classic. And there are so many pixie types. But I guess none of them have a personality even remotely as large as hers. Which is maybe the problem. You can be merely elegant and fashionable and pretend you're the next Audrey Hepburn and people will go along with it for 5 minutes but to try Shirley Maclaine...
Jose: Amen. Anne Hathaway maybe when she grows up? 

Nathaniel: So Emma Stone. Stunning again. This color is gahsome on her. But I have to say... I still don't have a bead on her personal style at all. 
Jose: Her style is "Go with the greatest working designers and blow mortals' expectations every single time."
Nathaniel: Way to narrow it down.
Jose: Remember when I complained about Kate Winslet's structural obsession *fashion nerd alert*?
Nathaniel: Yes?
Jose: Well Emma is doing it right. She went with Roland Mouret, known the world over for his love of structure BUT he does structure with delicacy.
Nathaniel: I'm assuming "the world over" meaning "fashion nerd world"?


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