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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R

 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Which screenplays are most quotable?

"Inside out FTW. 'I loved you in Fairy Dream Adventure Part 7. Okay bye. I love you!'" - Teppo

"My number one that I now say whenever the occasion is delivered by Carol: 'It will get ugly. And we are not ugly people...'"- Jones

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Entries in Directors (184)

Friday
Dec112015

Oscar Prediction Updates - Carol's Up. But What's Down?

Will Oscar voters love how obsessed with Oscar statues the SAG nominated TRUMBO is? It's been an enormously busy week with precursor decisions confusing and clarifying in equal measure. Even if you don't put much stock in the Critic's Choice Awards (also known as the BFCA, an organization that includes your host) it'll be interesting to see what they come up with since ballots were due today and so many questions remain. Though the organization prides itself on Oscar predictive power (a very weird thing to pride yourself on unless you're a pundit rather than a critic) the confusing nature of the race won't make things easy on any pundit.

While I've been accused of overthinking various races often (who, me?) such is the curse of punditry and Oscar obsessiveness. Here's where I think we stand now...

PICTURE & DIRECTOR If this race we're taking place in 2008 with the old school five-wide race it would obviously be Spotlight, The Martian, Carol, The Revenant, and Room at this point with one of the directors jettisoned for Mad Max's overachievement by George Miller. Beyond that it's so complicated both because we don't know how many nominees we'll get and because seven other pictures still seem plausible as a Best Picture nominee for one reason or another though they had shakier reactions in these first two precursor weeks. For instance: Creed hasn't been doing all that well but I still think it's a big Oscar possibility. Am I crazy or just concussed? And speaking of...

The SAG miss for Sir Ian McKellen could spell trouble for his Oscar dream

ACTOR While I don't imagine we'll see a repeat of Will Smith's Globe nominated Concussion performance on the Oscar shortlist it's one of about ten performances that still seem to be in the race. You'll have to cleave that in half in January. DiCaprio, Redmayne, Fassbender, and Cranston all have the key nominations (Globe & SAG) but each year at least one or two people across the four categories with that combo miss and you need #1 votes given the Academy's nomination tallying system. So which performances or beloved actors have the most passion behind them? This is why I still think Michael B Jordan or even Sir Ian could surprise despite the lack of SAG or Globe love; it's always important to remember that those voting bodies are quite dissimilar to Oscar's acting branch.

SUPPORTING ACTOR Precursors have coalesced around Michael Shannon, Idris Elba, and Mark Rylance but because the former two weren't what people widely expected, CHAOS REIGNS. Sly Stallone still feels like a potential winner IF he's nominated. And will Oscar really deprive anyone from Spotlight of an acting nomination? That would be so weird for such an actor's friendly Best Picture frontrunner.

but who will be on CHARLOTTE's ballot? ACTRESS & SUPPORTING ACTRESS We'll have to list these two together because of the ongoing controversy surrounding Rooney Mara (one half of Carol's brilliant romantic coupling) and Alicia Vikander (who has two films splitting supporting honors Ex Machina and The Danish Girl, even though she's the leading lady of both). The discussions around these two have sucked so much oxygen out of the room for other women (in both the leading and supporting races) that I imagine they're both still getting nominated for Supporting DAMNIT since voters likely haven't thought through their other options . The solution: quality longshots should be working their asses off for the next two weeks to remind people of their existence (We're talking to you: Kristen Stewart, Elizabeth Banks, Julie Walters, and Cynthia Nixon)  since Academy voters don't get their ballots until the end of the year. Over in lead actress only four women feel secure (yes, that includes Charlotte Rampling. Come at me!) which means it's a true free for all for the fifth-slot. This week I chose Lily Tomlin as the lucky lady but it could be anyone from the second tier of the chart (or Mara or Vikander).

The other category charts will be updated this weekend -- SAG & Globe choices tell us virtually nothing about Oscar tastes when it comes to the other categories so we can think awhile longer on it.

Investigate the new charts and report back. What does your crystal ball say?

Friday
Dec112015

Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Bessie

Considering how often Pariah is called "a critical darling," it's disappointingly shocking that it took another 4 years for Dee Rees's next movie. Bessie is an HBO biopic of singer Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues, who rose to prominence in the 1920s and died in a car accident in the mid-1930s. When the movie premiered earlier this year, Angelica Jade Bastién wrote a fabulous personal review of it which I highly suggest you read. As Angelica points out, Rees's sophomore effort is a well-directed film that gets a lot right, even though it falls into a lot of the typical biopic pitfalls.

While the plotline of Bessie's meteoric rise, humbling fall, and return to semi-greatness followed a predictable biopic path, what really struck me about this collaboration between Dee Rees and Queen Latifah was how unapologetically individual it was. Unfortunately, fact-based films about black characters, if they are expected to attract a wider (whiter) audience, incorporate white characters to a large degree. Selma and 12 Years A Slave both have white antagonists who gain a lot of screentime - in the case of 12 Years A Slave, it was enough screentime to net Michael Fassbender an Academy Award Nominations.

In Bessie, blackness and queerness dominate...

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Thursday
Dec102015

Team Experience: The Best of Brokeback Mountain

Ten years ago Brokeback Mountain arrived with truly bracing power.

10 years later Brokeback Mountain has lost none of its power

It was the rarest of things: an honest to god "instant classic". The phrase is overused but once in a while hyperbole proves true. The Oscars were stingy with it (just three prizes) but ten years on the film is as sturdy and majestically irreducible as the mountains that haunt the protagonists. When you're watching it you're breathing rarified air - not from the high altitudes of Wyoming but further on up, think cinematic heaven. The invaluable Ang Lee won his first Best Director Oscar for the film and it's easy to see why given the sensitivity of the performances (early career peaks from four promising ascendant stars), the classicism of the filmmaking, and his unshakeable hand as he sutures the neo western to the romantic tragedy with the thread of American masculinity.

I asked our contributors if they had a favorite scene they'd like to share with us and here were their responses.

FAVORITE SCENES IN BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

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Monday
Dec072015

Podcast: The Danish Girl, Youth, Macbeth, Chi-Raq

Nathaniel, Nick, Katey, and Joe all return for the latest episode of the podcast in which we discuss four new films that definitely bear their auteur's signature for better and worse. Listen in and continue the conversation in the comments. The more the merrier.

42 minutes 
00:01 NBR & NYFCC debrief
05:40 The Danish Girl
16:28 Macbeth's feeling of inevitability...or is it monotony?
22:56 Paolo Sorrentino's Youth, a bit of The Great Beauty and a lot of Jane Fonda
33:00 Spike Lee's new urgent joint Chi-Raq
39:45 Joe's new job & Nick's sudden activity

Further Reading for Context:
Nick's Danish Girl tweet
Nathaniel's Category Fraud Screed
Decider
Nick's "Favorites" Countdown
NBR & NYFCC

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes

Youth, Danish Girl, Macbeth

Friday
Dec042015

Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Pariah

Anne Marie returns after a brief break...

Over the course of this year, the purpose of our weekly "Women's Pictures" has been to explore the vast variety of female filmmakers. We've seen that women are not only present and working, but also highly diverse in their genre, style, and subject matter. Gender has often been a factor, but it has rarely been a focus. For the last month of the year, we're going to be watching films by two directors for whom gender, sexuality, and race are their focus: Dee Rees, and Celine Sciamma. Though both filmmakers have comparatively small filmographies, they have already established themselves as new, strong voices in contemporary cinema.

Dee Rees's 2011 film Pariah, based on the short of the same name, is an empathetic examination of a person usually invisible in cinema: the young black lesbian.

more...

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