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Cannes Winners

"Marion Cotillard has had a movie in contention for what, the last 4 years or so? She will eventually win the prize, or more likely be head of the jury one day." - Tom

"Looks like Cate and Rooney are now a package deal for Oscars, no?" - John

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Entries in Directors (142)

Thursday
Jan152015

The Five Stages of Grief via Oscar Nominations

Though Oscar nomination morning is my Christmas -- the day I anticipate so heavily each year when all the prezzies are ripped open -- it's not all happiness. Oscar also gives out lumps of coal on this day each year. Let us celebrate five big snubs (or omissions if you hate that word) representing each stage of grief so that we can work through it and move on.

Though SELMA got a Best Picture nod, it was ignored in every other category but Song

DENIAL I'm pretending that American Sniper, a conservative leaning (though not unartful) celebration of war heroism didn't crash the party late and win a ton of nominations (which encourages the studios to do that December/January glutting) while the progressive Selma -- which we actually need unlike a film about someone who's good with a gun! -- couldn't muster up more than two nominations.

 

ANGER Ava DuVernay, who would have been the first woman of color nominated for Best Director, should have been among the five Best Director nominees. She handled a large scale historical film and made it reverberate with danger, grief, inspiration, courage, and immediacy which is more than can be said for most historical epics. And it's only her third film! Can't wait to see what number four is like. As a subset of this stage of grief: anger. The Oscar nominations are just another reminder that Oscar does not value female narratives, not behind the scenes or onscreen. Movies about men trying to find themselves, or redemption or triumph over adversity score. Movies about women or people of color doing the same things do not (see: Wild and Selma, this year and examples in many other years; Oscar is a boys club)

BARGAINING The Lego Movie which I felt would meet more resistance than it initially had because it is basically a 2 hour commercial was nevertheless a surprise omission. I hope this doesn't discourage future filmmakers from going above and beyond because, YES, it was a commercial for toy product but it was like the best long-form commercial ever. So much funnier and more stylish and surprising than it had any right to be really. So next time someone overachieves Oscar, toss them a bone okay?

DEPRESSION All year long we (correctly) heard that it was a super strong year for Best Actor and it was. So why is the actual shortlist so disatisfying? Two answers: you could call Carell (against type / prosthetic nose) without even seeing the picture (and if you see the picture it's a heavily stilted performance and you can label Bradley Cooper a "default" nominee now with three consecutive nominations and though he's definitely under this guy's skin, it's a very unchallenging star turn compared to the snubbed competition.

This year of all years isn't time to lean on gimmicks or default status. Not when you had Ralph Fiennes's gloriously civilized sly performance keeping Grand Budapest Hotel grounded in gravitas and culture and wit when it could theoretically have defaulted to diorama kitsch. Not when Jake Gyllenhaal is doing the best work of his career in Nightcrawler. Not when David Oyelowo is becoming a great Southern orator. Not when... etcetera...

This was very disrespectfulACCEPTANCE Jessica Chastain missed out on a nod for what may well be her best screen performance yet in A Most Violent Year. But the film arrived very late and just didn't catch on quickly enough. And people got hung up on the Pfeiffer/Scarface look and missed the fact that the ubiquitous actress was doing interesting things with a more complicated character than her entrepeneur's wife first appeared to be in clip form.  (For what it's worth Pfeiffer also missed a nomination for Scarface, one of her many awful snubbings.) But we know that Chastain, who makes three movies a year and most of them high profile, will be back so we'll let this one slide. 

Who and what would represent your five stages this morning?

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Wednesday
Jan072015

Soderbergh's Viewing List Includes "Magic Mike XXL" Three Times! 

By now you've probably heard mention that Steven Soderbergh, he who is officially retired but not really because nobody totally believes it and he still works in various capacities, just posted his list of everything he watched and read this past year. I love Soderbergh's List-Mania more than I even love Soderbergh because I relate. This is now my favorite celebrity listing tradition of each year, not that there are very many consistent ones.

 The whole list is worth reading but I wanted to share nine highlights in the order in which they delighted me.

NINE HIGHLIGHTS IN ORDER OF HOW THEY DELIGHTED

09 He watched Lisa Kudrow's The Comeback the same day he watched Birdman... a very meta Hollywood day was November 9th.

08. I can't imagine what his Oscar ballot looks like since it appears in the middle of all his TV viewings and plentiful 1970s movies, he only watched nineteen 2014 movies (in order): The Monuments Men, Gone Girl (twice), Under the Skin, Pioneer (the Norwegian film), Finding Vivian Maier, Boyhood, Citizenfour, Birdman, Whiplash, The Babadook, Ida, Nightcrawler, American Sniper, A Most Violent Year, Foxcatcher, Unbroken, Inherent Vice, Selma, The Interview and Top Five. Given that that's all he watched

Let's guess what his Director ballot looks like... Maybe:

  1. Fincher - Gone Girl
  2. Inarritu - Birdman
  3. Linklater - Boyhood
  4. DuVernay - Selma
  5. ...????????? Gilroy? Chazelle? Miller? Anderson?

07. While his TV preference are very typical (all the acclaimed stuff) he seems to really appreciate funny women since he watches:  Inside Amy Schumer, Getting On, Girls, and Veep regularly.

06. Like me and many of you, he read Mark Harris's "Five Came Back" this summer

05. Since he watched American Graffiti again right before our 1973 Smackdown with Dana Delany we're free to pretend that he did it in preparation for enjoying our event! 

04. I can't fathom a double feature of Selma and 2001: A Space Odyssey just before Christmas which is why it's fun.

03. But nothing beats the double feature of Poland's awesome Ida followed by... wait for it... Peter Pan Live! 

02. On Valentine's Day he watched Ice Castles (1978). Love it. Okay maybe it was Ice Castles (2010) but it's more fun to imagine the earlier film. Take it away Melissa Manchester

Please, don't let this feeling end
It's everything I am
Everything I want to be
I can see what's mine now
Finding out what's true
Since I found you
Looking through the eyes of love

01 Look at how many times he's already watched Magic Mike XXL (2015). JEALOUS. Looks like he saw the first cut just five weeks after shooting began. And then twice more within another month. (If you missed our interview with an actress who appears briefly in Magic Mike XXL and told us about it, click here.) For the record, though Soderbergh isn't directing the sequel, he's still involved in multiple aspects including (according to IMDb) as cinematographer, editor, and executive producer. So it's still very much a Soderbergh picture... especially since his long time first assistant director/producer Gregory Jacobs is in the director's chair this time.

Monday
Dec292014

Interview: James Marsh on (True) Storytelling from "Man on Wire" to "The Theory of Everything"

It's rare for acclaimed documentarians to make a dramatically successful leap into narrative features but with The Theory of Everything, a marital drama about Stephen and Jane Hawking, the 51 year old British filmmaker James Marsh (of Man on Wire and Project Nim fame) is finally doing just that. Man on Wire was one of the most successful documentaries of the past decade but his new affecting biopic, which is actually Marsh's fourth narrative feature, is already his most successful film having racked up an impressive $26 million and counting worldwide to date.

It's also been collecting plentiful Oscar buzz.  The Film Experience had a chance to chart with this articulate thoughtful Oscar winner so we jumped right in. Here's our conversation:

Nathaniel R: Given your filmography, both documentaries and features, The Theory of Everything is...

JAMES MARSH: Go ahead. You can say it.

Nathaniel R: Ha. Well, it's a much different direction for you. It's romantic drama and it's also old school biography. What prompted your interest?

JAMES MARSH: You’re right in terms of its scale for sure and perhaps its emotional spectrum. But it’s a true story and that’s my background in films I’ve done. It’s a story of a marriage as much as a biopic. That felt like an interesting challenge: to try and examine a relationship that evolves and changes over time given all the impediments and unusual and very difficult circumstances. It felt also that I could go somewhere that a documentary could not go in terms of the intimacy of the relationship. 

You're right that it's different but it does have curious connections with Man on Wire. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec232014

Podcast: Wild Catcher

In this new episode of The Film Experience, Nick, Joe, and Nathaniel go wandering with Witherspoon and wrestling with Tatum to try to make sense of it all. And by 'all' we mean the directorial styles of Jean-Marc Vallée and Bennett Miller, our complicated and divided personal reactions to the films and the performances, and a light sprinkling of Oscar talk. 

Breakdown
00:01-15:32 Wild 
15:33-41:57 Foxcatcher

Recommended Supplemental Material: 
"The Making of Foxcatcher" - by Mark Harris

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

WILD & FOXCATCHER

Tuesday
Dec232014

some say the blog will end in fire, some say in ice

GeekRex on great sounding movies of 2014. So glad they included Wild but I don't understand the defense of Interstellar's sound mix given how difficult it sometimes was to hear the dialogue
Gurus of Gold I believe there's an update today but look at where things stand now in the big Oscar categories
AV Club Sarah Jessica Parker may be returning to HBO sitcom glory via Divorce (no, not from Matthew Broderick. On the show!)
In Contention Antonio Sanchez is not happy about his disqualification from Best Original Score for Birdman and why shouldn't he be. Their rules are so arbitratily enforced. Remember when Gustavo Santaolla won his second consecutive Oscar for a film FILLED with pre-existing music (Babel) and his score only being a small percentage of it.

The Dissolve Robert Rodriguez to helm a live action remake of Ralph Bakshi's Fire & Ice. I used to love that rotoscoped sword & sorcery movie so much but Rodriguez seems like he'll amplify what was already turned up to 11
MNPP I love this review of Mommy by Jason
Newsweek Maggie Gyllenhaal working all the actor mediums
VF Selfie hijinx with Ellen DeGeneres, Meryl Streep, The Baker's Wife and Cinderella
The Atlantic on the year's best trailers
Carpet Bagger looks at the costumes of The Homesman
Playboy Matt Patches goes looking for Martin Brest (Beverly Hills Cop, Midnight Run, Scent of a Woman) in this cinematic true life detective story 
Comics Alliance Mike Coulter will play Luke Cage (Power Man) for Netflix's Marvel Series. No word yet on Iron Fist but now would be the perfect time to do that reverse white washing and cast an Asian man in a lead role, since he's white in the comics but his origin story involves growing up in an Asian mystical city in the Himalayas, you know? Please money and Marvel people -- Come correct!  It's a whole new world than it was was in 1974.

Happy (?) Christmas

Yikes.

Sorry about that.

Binge Watch Worthy?
I enjoy being an Opinion-Maker but I'll admit I am usually happy to cede that responsibility to others when it comes to TV. There's just too much product to keep up with.  So whoever is binge-watching Mozart in the Jungle let me know, will you? The cast includes two of my all time favorites (Gael García Bernal and Bernadette Peters) but this is my single busiest two-month stretch of the year so I need someone else to do such scouting. Report back!

Top Ten Film Critic Frenzy
If you love reading top ten lists, pick an article any article... 'tis the season!

Richard Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel to Butter on a Latch) | Justin Chang (Boyhood to Interstellar) | Manohla Dargis (Beyond the Lights to well mostly Beyond the Lights) | Peter Debruge (Calvary to Class Enemy) |  David Denby (Ida...well, mostly Ida) | Scott Foundas (Goodbye to Language to American Sniper) | Stephen Holden (Boyhood to Only Lovers Left Alive) | Lou Lumenick (Boyhood to Into the Woods) | Omar PL Moore (The Grand Budapest Hotel to The LEGO Movie) | Wesley Morris (Norte the End of History to Stranger by the Lake) |  A.O. Scott (Boyhood to The Babadook) | Dana Stevens (The Babadook to We Are the Best) | Stephanie Zacharek (Under the Skin to Top Five)

Tuesday
Dec162014

Open Thread & Roundtable Madness

I have been comically beset by obstacles this year so even though I'm roughly three weeks behind, I have to laugh a little at the strange stumbles and ouchy falls and just go... okay, well then. This is an interesting view of the floor! (apologiez: Oscar chart editing functions are somewhat on the fritz. trying for workarounds to fix)

Angelina Jolie talking about directing plane crashes and visual effects. Mike Leigh, hilariously also in this shot.

One of the victims of this impossible season for me at least has been THR's roundtables. I literally haven't watched a single one of those sometimes highly enjoyable if aggravating celeb gatherings. Not even the Actress Roundtable! (I'm certain it was its vibe of "The Amy Adams Show: Episode 5"  that killed my will to press play on the only day I had 50 minutes free on weeks ago. Important distinction: Amy Adams the actress is often very exciting to watch. Amy Adams the celebrity is like wallpaper.)

So consider this an open thread in which you can complain about all the Oscar stories we haven't covered this past couple of weeks (the charts WILL be updates tomorrow, damnit) and which exact minutes of these roundtables you would recommend that everyone including your host here must watch RIGHT NOW. The Hollywood Reporters six awards season roundtables to date follow. All five plus hours of them in case you've missed one. Or all six like me.  Along with the videos after the jump are the single questions per roundtable that I am pretending they answered...

Click to read more ...

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