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 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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This weekend is an important one for a myriad of reasons: Quality Best Picture candidates Brooklyn and Spotlight are expanding; The Hunger Games is wrapping up; two foreign Oscar submissions are arriving (Lithuania's lesbian romance Summer of Sangaille and France's must-see Mustang); the all star remake of the Oscar-winning Argentinian film The Secret in Their Eyes is upon us; People are prepping their Thanksgiving festivities. But all of those reasons pale in comparison to the big news:

Todd Haynes' exquisite 50s romantic drama Carol starring Cate Blanchett & Rooney Mara is now in theaters!

Sadly Carol is only on 4 screens which means many readers will have something of a wait to experience its glory. We'll hold off on going Carol-mad just yet though we're planning a whole Carol week (for real, DATES TBA) but we'll wait until more of you have seen it so we can get detailed.

But for now a little silly stanning to celebrate. You see, whilst I was in Los Angeles I was able to interview five key members of Carol's mega-talented team. As something of a goof about my own obsession but a goof that spiralled out of control and into actual reality I started each Carol interview with the same question and here are the actual answers...


Affonso Gonçalves, Editor: Sure. Let's start with that. [Laughter] I don't get called that - I'm going to tell my mom.

Judy Becker, Production Designer: Well, the question is 'why is Todd such a genius?' Todd is a genius.

Phyllis Nagy, Screenwriter: Practice. [Laughter]

Carter Burwell, Composer: Um... [long silence]

And we conclude with Sandy Powell the much lauded costume giant who has three Oscars to show for it... but curiously none from her Todd Haynes' collaborations.

NathanielR: I started this as a joke about my Carol obsession this morning but I've literally asked everyone why they're a genius today. So...

Sandy Powell: [Interrupting] You've asked every single person?

Nathaniel: Yes.

Sandy: Has anyone admitted to being a genius?

Nathaniel R: Phyllis.

Sandy: [LAUGHTER] I can say why everyone else is a genius but I don't think I can say why I am!



Full Carol interviews are coming. Stay tuned...






8 Best Things About "Steve Jobs" (First Impressions)

True confession: When I read Jason's breathless rave for Steve Jobs from my sick bed last week I was like "calm down, man,  it can't be that good" Cut to one week later me sitting in the theater, as the end credits rolled: "I gotta read that rave again and nod my head vigorously this time!" While I suspect I don't love it quite as much as Jason, it is inarguably one of 2015's must-see picture and we shan't be annoyed at all when it racks up Oscar nominations in January.

The film goes wide on Friday and trust that you'll want to be there. Here are my 8 favorite things about it at first glance... 

Click to read more ...


April Foolish Predictions: Direction, Costumes, Cinematography, Sets! 

The April Foolish Predictions probably won't be quite finished by April's end, damnit! So we'll have to save four categories (Actresses and Screenplays) for May 1st. Blame Nathaniel's BFF who has demanded a Marvel marathon which starts very soon and which will then usurp a good chunk of the next 24 hours of Nathaniel's life. Since the bestie rarely wants to play movie games, Nathaniel obliges. Nathaniel also talks about himself in the third person for which he apologizes. 

But while we're talking Oscar predictions -- even deferred Oscar predictions - let's talk Visual Categories and Best Director. Since more charts are now up!

This question will horrify the Birdman haters (they are depressingly legion) but could Alejandro González Iñárritu manage back-to-back Oscars for direction? It's only happened twice before, both times in the 1940s (John Ford in 1940/1941 and Joseph L Mankiewicz in 1949/1950), but since The Revenant will be such an about face from Birdman the fire could still be burning for honoring the Mexican auteur's work. Especially since Oscar has never ignored one of his films. Between the five titles there are 21 nominations and 5 wins so if the new picture becomes a perfect average it's looking at 4 nominations and an Oscar somewhere. Other previous winners that might be in play are Spielberg, Hooper, Howard, Zemeckis, Beatty or Boyle. And will David O. Russell or Quentin Tarantino ever actually win Best Director?

Newbies? On a whim I'm going to predict Denis Villeneuve who I've enjoyed for a long time and who seems very proud of Sicario (his FBI vs Cartel drama led by Emily Blunt) and whose career seems about to explode post Prisoners. If civil rights period drama Suffragette (Sarah Gavron) or The 33 (Patricia Riggen) are good enough might we finally have another female director nominated? 

There are a three potential double dippers this year from Oscar darlings Sandy Powell (Cinderella & Carol) and Jacqueline Durran (Pan & MacBeth) to Jane Petrie (you're saying "who?" but you'll know her by the end of the year since she went from relative unknown to suddenly prolific with four period pieces Suffragette, Jane Got a Gun, '71, and Genius which will all be released in 2015 in the States if Genius gets finished and gets distribution in time.

Elsewhere we have to wonder if the very talented long time costume designer Daniel Orlandi (Trumbo) is ever going to score his first nomination. And can I just say how amusing I find it that the great Jenny Beavan who has only ever been nominated for what some might derisively call 'masterpiece theater' style dramas costumed Mad Max: Fury Road this year? That's too fun! 

Cinematography could be a murderer's row of great again since Deakins, Lubezki, Kaminski, Deschanel and more all have projects this year. As for the rest and the general overview - i made small adjusments to picture and supporting actor as well due to rethink of craft categories and the hunch that Sicario might really be something with Blunt and Villeneuve both still rising -- check out the all chart index 

As always, your comments are not just welcome but implored. Let's try the wisdom of crowds. What are you sensing at this extremely early date? 


Run All Night and the Liam Neeson Ass-Kicking Hierarchy

Michael C. here.  It has been over six years since Liam Neeson reinvented as filmdom’s reigning action hero by making “I will find you, and I will kill you” sound less like a threat and more like a statement of simple fact. Since then, a sort of unofficial franchise has formed around the concept of Neeson as a grim dispenser of violence. This series, not including would-be franchises launches like Battleship and The A-Team, breaks down into three distinct groups. They are:

  • Pure, unadulterated schlock. Only the faintest trace of plot or character. Just Neeson methodically throat-punching his way through an unending supply of sleazy Euro-Villains bent on doing unspeakable things to his loved ones: Taken 1, 2, 3
  • Still schlock, but with bonus bells and whistles. Supporting characters, a high concept premise, and a plot of rapidly escalating absurdity. Slightly less throat punching than the Taken films, but still a lot of throat punching: Unknown, Non-Stop
  • Actual films of substance smuggled into theaters. Under the guise of another Neeson schlock-fest, naturally. Little to no throat punching. Occasional implied wolf punching: The Grey, A Walk Among the Tombstones

For a while it looks like the latest entry in this series, Jaume Collet-Serra’s currently underperforming Run All Night, is poised to join Grey and Tombstones in that elite third group...

Click to read more ...


Podcast Pt 1: Joe, Nick and Nathaniel's Oscar Predictions

Nick, Nathaniel and Joe get together -- no Katey this week, sorry kids -- to make our final predictions and let our conversations wander (as we do). Joe reveals a very messy ballot, Nick brings up The Judge goddamn it (!), and Nathaniel watches Matthew McConaughey commercials.

Pt 1 Oscar Prediction Finale
41 minutes
00:01 Scores. Do they realizes that Alexandre Desplat hasn't won?
05:14 Song. A disagreement about "Lost Stars" and which version will Adam Levine perform?
11:53 Sound Mixing & Sound Editing. Drums (Whiplash / Birdman) vs. Bullets (American Sniper / Unbroken) and some "what is this doing here?" theories
18:00 Documentary. Is Citizen Four locked up or could we see a surprise?
20:00 Animated Feature. More disagreements!
23:35 Visual Effects. How to we even predict this category? Film love? Technological Breakthroughs? The one that stands out?
28:00 Makeup & Old Age makeup done right for a change
30:33 Foreign Film: Ida trumps
36:00 Film Editing: we discuss Structure / Rhthyms / Agendas 

Supplemental Material for this Podcast:
Tomm Moore interview on Song of the Sea
An interview with Hans Zimmer
Oscar Charts & Final Predictions
Nathaniel's Tilda-Specific Makeup & Hair Ballot

Please to enjoy and continue the golden conversation in the comments. You can listen at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes starting tomorrow.  

Oscar Prediction Finale Pt. 1


Best Film Editing: Drums, Guns, or Twelve Years of "Boyhood"?

They call Editing the "invisible art" but when it comes to Oscar Watching each year, the prize is highly visible. Most pundits, armchair and professional, think of it as a bellwether. Everyone knows this one key stat: No movie has won Best Picture without an Editing nomination since Ordinary People (1980). But that stat is actually kind of misleading because it IS possible to win without an editing nomination and it's not even super rare. Birdman, should it triumph, would be the eighth film to do so... it used to happen about once a decade. Birdman's failure to get nominated in the category isn't particularly telling, if you ask me. Inarritu's technical gamble has very little visible editing given that the picture is a series of continuous shots stitched together in clever ways to appear to all be one thing.

The Nominees:

American Sniper - Joel Cox & Gary Roach
Boyhood - Sandra Adair
Grand Budapest Hotel - Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game - William Goldenberg
Whiplash - Tom Cross 

Should Boyhood lose the editing Oscar many people will be all "it's over, Birdman is winning!" but this isn't necessarily the case. In fact, Best Pictures only win this award about 50% of the time. Which is why this category feels up in the year. Any of the contenders could win: comedy doesn't win this category much (a pity since editing is so crucial to comic rhthyms) but Budapest feels like a real threat in all the craft categories; Boyhood could win on love for the film + respect for the time commitment but it's far less showily edited than the others and Oscar often wants to see your work;  If they want to honor American Sniper or The Imitation Game this could be the place for either with the ticking time bomb suspense that these former Oscar winners drum up; But speaking of drums... my bet is that Whiplash is the surprise winner here and I was going to make that call, I swear, before it won the BAFTA in this category. Whiplash's very masculine energies, focus on rhtymic intensity, and taut energy (despite repetitive scenes) are well served by this department. Bonus points for the editor's name being "Tom Cross". It's like an old fashioned stage name for a young movie star. It's just great. Well done, Mr & Mrs. Cross.

Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: Boyhood
Should Win: Grand Budapest Hotel 

My ballot for this category 


How Many Oscars Will ______ Win? 

This weekend was a biggie in terms of below the line awards. The Imitation Game won the USC Scripter Prize which goes to movies adapted from literature (and the source material author also wins this prize). The Art Directors guild chose Birdman for Contemporary Film, and The Grand Budapest Hotel for Period (as well as Guardians of the Galaxy for Fantasy). Meanwhile the Editors gave their "Eddies" to  Boyhood for Dramas and The Grand Budapest Hotel for comedies (in addition to prizes for The LEGO Movie in Animated and Citizen Four for Documentaries)

All of this has me wondering if its The Grand Budapest Hotel rather than Boyhood or Birdman that will take home the most Oscars on February 22nd if not Best Picture. It's got a decent shot at four or five statues: Costumes, Production Design, Screenplay, Score, and Makeup & Hair. Of those Screenplay is the longest shot since Birdman vs Boyhood will be tough to squeeze between to nab the Original Screenplay gold.

Perhaps it will be a spread the wealth kind of year with every Best Picture winning something. Like so...

How many oscars will The Grand Budapest Hotel win?


  • Boyhood (4 or 5) Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Editing (and maybe Screenplay?)
  • Grand Budapest (3 or 4) Costumes, Production Design, Makeup & Hair (and maybe Score?)
  • Birdman (2 or 3) Screenplay, Cinematography (and maybe Actor?)
  • American Sniper (2) Sound Editing and Sound Mixing
  • Theory of Everything (1 or 2) Actor (and maybe Score?)
  • The Imitation Game (1 or 2) Adapted Screenplay (and maybe Score?)
  • Whiplash (1 or 2) Supporting Actor (and maybe Adapted Screenplay?)
  • Selma (1) Song


(As you can see I'm stumped about who might win Best Score. I can see it going any which way.)

Not that there's ever a year where every Best Picture nominee wins something now that we have so many Best Picture nominees. Someone or someones usually go home empty-handed - even if they have come into the big night with a ton of nominations. But there's a first time for everything and it could happen.

What'cha think?