Oscar History

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Chris Feil's Top 20
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"I’ve watched this 4 times already and will probably watch it another 4 times!" - Bushwick

"No Roma!?!?!? ::clutches las perlas::(I love your list!)." - Señorito



Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters)

Ofir Raul Grazier (The Cakemaker)
Jeremiah Zagar (We the Animals)

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Entries in Down With Love (5)


Today's 5: "She's got Bette Davis eyes... 🎵 " 

Five mood-boosting showbiz anniversaries for today, and if it's a special day for you have a great one. Take these suggestions and let us know if they helped.

MAY 16th History

2003 The fabulous and seriously undervalued Down with Love opened in theaters...

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Top Ten Most Important Things About This Photo of The Zeéeeee That Everyone Is Talking About Today

It's a special top ten day. List mania all day long...

10 Renée has reemerged again but there's still no firm word on future movies other than The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves, directed by Courtney Hunt (Frozen River) which is due next year supposedly
09 Sarah Paulson looks AHMAZING
08 Long rectangular table at these events are terrible because you only get to talk to a couple of people except when everyone is milling about. 
07 If you squint really hard you can pretend Sarah & Renée are non-identical siamese sisters they're so squinched together...
06 Bet you anything they talked about American Horror Story - weird that Ryan Murphy hasn't asked the Zeéeeee to do it? (Although his tastes do run a little more 1980s/1990s than 1990s/2000s as actresses go.)
05 Everyone in this photo has major trophies except for Sarah Paulson and that ain't right!
04 Everyone looks like they color coordinated. Did Elle magazine send out a dress code?
03 Down With Love Reunion. Woot. Such a good movie
02 Warren Beatty Photobomb! Hi, Warren. 
01 If that's The Bening by Warren's side this photographer needs to be fined for cropping her out. Framing!   The photographer has apparently cropped out Jessica Lange (w/ Warren). You don't do that photographer. Framing! 


Interview: Sarah Paulson's 12 Years of Breakthroughs

There are few things in cinema more satisfying than watching those with true gifts prosper and develop. Overnight sensations are exciting but watching careers that build slowly, continually showing new facets and amassing fans piecemeal is a richer experience. Such is the case with the actress Sarah Paulson. With her key role as Mistress Epps in the likely Best Picture contender 12 Years a Slave and her starring role on the anthology series American Horror Story (returning to TV tomorrow night), it's time to get our appreciation on.

I first noticed her in that undersung fanciful homage to 1960s romcoms Down With Love (2003) though her carer stretches back into short-lived television gigs in the mid 90s. When we sat down to talk recently, I confessed to Paulson that I had been completely intimidated by her when I met her at a party for Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). I had no explanation for this - at the time she hadn't played anything as scary as her plantation wife. "You had an inkling," she mused suggesting I had seen Mistress Epps coming.

But who could have? Who knew she had that in her?

Herewith our conversation...

NATHANIEL:  12 Years a Slave is a big moment in your career but it's not your first "breakthrough" really. I'm wondering about how you experience these things internally. When did things change for you, personally, as an artist? 

Sarah Paulson & Jessica Lange. They've got history

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Monday Monologue: “There is no Barbara Novak”

Andrew again, with your weekly monologue. Chances are, if you’re asked to remember what films were tickling your fancy a decade ago you wouldn’t turn to Peyton Reed’s sophomore effort Down with Love. I wouldn’t hold it against you. 2003 had many good films, even great ones to offer. Reed's pastiche of the sex-comedies of the '60s was unlikely to be anyone's #1 film of the year but that does not mean it's without ample merits.

Ewan and Renée display their flexibility

When Down with Love opened in May 2003 to unexceptional reviews, both of its stars, Ewan McGregor and Renée Zellweger, had higher profile releases coming out in December of the same year and by the end of the year few were even thinking about it. Ten years after, less so. But that's unfortunate. The film, like many an homage, does not offer expressly much in the way of originality but as far as well intended romps in the romantic comedy genre go Down with Love ably succeeds more often than you’d expect.  We're a few days late in celebrating its 10th anniversary, but for this week’s Monday Monologue here's a reminder of the frothy pleasures of the film...

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Top Ten: Ewan McGregor Performances

Tuesday Thursday Top Ten

With Ewan McGregor back in theaters with Beginners and with it being Moulin Rouge! week and all, how about a list of our top Ewan performances?

I have only the dimmest recollection of A Life Less Ordinary and I just didn't want to include that awful Star Wars prequel trilogy on principle (though Ewan survived it better than most of the actors) and it's possible I forgot something else... but here we go.

10 "Jerome" in THE PILLOW BOOK (1996)
I love Ewan's ballsy (ahem) taste in material... at least at that point in his career. His screen persona often reads sweet but he's quite a wild child in terms of the cinema.

09  "The Ghost" in THE GHOST WRITER (2010)
A tricky cipher part -- who is he really? we can't know -- that he pulled off well. It helps that the movie is so damn good: top ten list!

Tilda and Ewan in "Young Adam"

08 "Joe Taylor" in YOUNG ADAM (2003)
Arriving so quickly on Moulin Rouge!'s warm heels this one was a shocker. Ewan re-embraced the amoral danger of his star-making roles in the 90s, absent the devilishly winking charisma that made his previous unsavories so palatable. Bonus points for sexing up Tilda Swinton and and expressing his love of condiments. We generally drown our burgers in them, but he prefers them on live flesh.

07  "Alex Law" in SHALLOW GRAVE (1994)
I haven't seen Danny Boyle's feature debut since the 90s but it was one sick and slick calling card with a very young long haired Ewan acing his soulless roommate act.

06 "Catcher Block" in DOWN WITH LOVE (2003)
He probably owed this flirty cocky shot at romantic comedy headlining via Moulin Rouge! but who is better suited to it. Plus, he looked so good in his suits. This is a movie I keep meaning to rewatch.

05 "Curt Wild" in VELVET GOLDMINE (1998)
We mentioned 'wild child' earlier. None of his roles embrace that concept quite as obviously. Ewan, who doesn't leash himself when acting (to our eternal gratitude), played the hell out of this unpredictable glitter-spraying, pants-dropping, drug-taking, boy-kissing, fucked-up rock star morphing from glam rock abandon to... sedated "Curt" Cobain?


04 "Phillip Morris" in I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS (2010)
That twinkly-eyed sweetness was used to great fey affect in this uneven but funny romantic comedy about a gay romance that bloomed in prison and couldn't quite break wiggle out from behind those bars. Have any of you seen this yet? So many actors biff it when they play up "gayness" but Ewan, always so at ease on camera and free of judgements toward his characters (think about it) came across so naturally. Few actors are as good at playing romance onscreen, he nearly always makes a solid case for why the other actor/actress is gaga for him.

03  "Oliver" in BEGINNERS (2011)
A great part of the success of this whimsical melancholy exploration of a dying gay father (Christopher Plummer) and his lonely straight son (McGregor), is how sympathetically Ewan embodies the role and how much chemistry he always has with co-stars. Loneliness can be a huge self-sabotaging drag in real life -- often turning people off when the sufferer needs to connect -- but in the movies it tends to evoke empathy in audiences. You watch and you wait and you desperately want Oliver to find love and happiness and to smile broadly and often... partially because he's Ewan McGregor. Stop hiding that famous grin!

02 "Rent-boy" in TRAINSPOTTING (1996)
A performance worth diving into a toilet bowl to experience.

image via "fucking awesome ewan"

"Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television to watch Ewan McGregor movies on!' (This film should have netted him his first Oscar nomination with ease. Alas... he's still waiting.)

1 "Christian" in MOULIN ROUGE! (2001)
When The Film Experience did a "Favorite Actors of the Aughts" in 2005, Ewan McGregor landed in the top 5 (yes, I hope to republish that later this year -- donate -- to look at the entire decade rather than just its first half) and here's what I had to say, paraphrased for this new context.

Ewan makes me feel. He makes me smile. Some actors we relate to as identity surrogates. We want to be them or see the story through their eyes. In the case of McGregor I find I'm always the other characters; I'm always with him. The apotheosis is the "Elephant Love Medley" scene. Like Nicole Kidman's 'Satine' I usually start out trying to resist Ewan McGregor (my critical/cynical self usually in control). As he keeps battering away at my defenses with his unique spark, humor, and openheartedness (both as character and actor), I start to cave. I resist, I complain, I explain all the reasons why not. But before long I am totally his.

It still applies. Come what may...