Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Entries in Fargo (10)


ACE Editing: Big Little Lies, Best Picture Hopefuls and More...

by Nathaniel R

The guild nominations are here already? Oh, yup, it's January now. (Funny how the calendar keeps happening even if you're in bed for a week plus with the flu!) Hollywood's editors have spoken and here are the cutting and shaping jobs they loved best this year on screens  big and small. Curiously they have a hodgepodge of category sizes (3,4, or 5 nominees depending) and voting practices. In some categories the final voting for winners happens between January 5th and 18th and in others (within the TV side) there are blue ribbon panel voting situations where the screenings happen on the 14th. This always leaves us wondering what their prizes would be like if they were consistent. Would awards season have more surprises if those voting were forced to watch everything as they are in very few select categories within various organizations... often somewhat randomly? We think it might and wouldn't it be super exciting to try with the consistency and with the mandatory screenings?

One of the most notable things on their TV list is that Big Little Lies has been bumped from competing in miniseries (where it's competed at most every other awards shows) and is competing in regular drama series (where it surely belongs since they've announced a second season with the same characters/actresses).  Nominees in all categories after the jump...

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"Fargo" Teases Third Season of Polite Crime, Red Snow, and Twice the Ewan McGregor

by Daniel Crooke

For all of those hunkered snug in the cold and goin’ crazy down by the lake after a year of anticipation over the third season of the FX anthology series Fargo -- inspired, of course, by the Coen Brothers dark comedy of the same name, not to mention a buffet-filled bevy of narrative and thematic homages that span across their entire filmography -- here’s a home baked slice of warm comfort: the official trailer for the long-awaited return has finally been released.

While the idea of adapting the iconic Midwestern crime saga for the small screen may have once seemed to border on the sacrilegious, the first two seasons delivered enough satisfying, respectful riffs on the source material to silence its naysayers while also surprising audiences with its acute yet divergent grasp on the world and wit that made the original film so great. For my money, the second season’s political allegory around the bait and switch of small town community values with a nationalized corporate identity in 1980s America resonates even more presciently today than it did upon first air not too long ago. The teaser seems to hint at a desire to grapple further with contemporary themes in the United States, this time about class and the routine desperation growing within the gulf that separates economic strata.

Fargo series creator Noah Hawley wasn’t met with the same critical hosannas for his latest television project, the superhero-adjacent Legion on FX, but this trailer is rife with enough idiosyncratic potential to soothe any doubt one may hold for his next one. For starters, the mere prospect of Ewan McGregor playing against himself as hero and villain -- identical twins with opposing haircuts, no less – is enough to make you see double. Throw in the equisite supporting cast of Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and A Serious Man star Michael Stuhlbarg, and I’m counting down the days to the premiere on April 19.

The first two seasons of FX’s Fargo: ground worth retreading or not up to the legacy of the classic Coens film. What's your take?


5 Wishes for the Production Design Emmys

By Daniel Walber.

The Emmys can be, for lack of a better word, boring. Television is in a "Golden Age," or so everyone says, but its Academy has a tendency to reward the same shows every year. This phenomenon doesn’t only happen at the top of the ticket, either. Game of Thrones has been as much of a mainstay in tech categories as Modern Family was in Best Comedy Series.

And so, rather than fully handicapping the five production design races, I’d like to share some more modest hopes for this year’s winners. Here are some selections from my favorite work in the category, regardless of the odds.

Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)

This is the Game of Thrones category, and it’ll probably stay that way. That said, I find the work on Penny Dreadful a lot more intriguing, at least for this season. 

 In just one episode, “Evil Spirits in Heavenly Places,” there are at least three sets worthy of recognition. The work so lavish that one wonders if it was canceled because it was too expensive...

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Frances McDormand: from Blood Simple (1984) to Olive Kitteridge (2014)

1984 is our year of the month for August. Here's Matthew Eng to talk about a treasured actor that made her on camera debut back then...

For the better half of her nearly four-decade film career, Meryl Streep has managed to compel generations of moviegoers to accept a self-styled character actress as not only an acting heroine for the ages but also a bona fide movie star with mass-market appeal and unimpeachable box office credentials. Like no other actress since Bette Davis, Streep has perfected a once-unfeasible practice of playing the sort of idiosyncratic women she has always drifted towards, but within the safe confines of midrange, studio-supported moviemaking that seems to satisfy audience expectations as well as her own.

Sometimes Streep’s projects—and, it must be said, Streep herself—can disappoint. For every quietly graceful gem (like her underrated Hope Springs performance) or skillfully uninhibited turn (as in the best passages of It’s Complicated), there are another two or three within Streep’s latter-day canon that could stand some sharper finesse or at least more dexterous directorial guidance. Whenever I’m let down to by Streep, I can’t help but wonder what one of her less-viable peers might do with the opportunities that are scarce for any actress born before the Kennedy administration and which Streep barely has to put up a fight for.

The Beginning: Blood Simple (1984); The Most Recent Triumph: Olive Kitteridge (2014)

For as long as I can remember, Frances McDormand has served as the purest and most intimidating embodiment of what a character actor should be. “That woman has no vanity,” my mom remarked with clear admiration after watching her in Lisa Cholodenko’s Olive Kitteridge, where McDormand delivers one of the decade’s most masterful star turns, a perfectly prickly meeting of actor and role that might have been a surefire Oscar winner had the project aimed for a bigger screen...

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Happy Birthday, Frances McDormand

Kieran, here. There are certain actors whose absence would create a huge void in cinema. It’s not always the movie stars, despite their merits. It’s often the character actors. The beautiful, interesting, wholly human faces that populate our films, only semi-regularly leaping forward to truly headline a vehicle, but still remaining a vital part of the movies we love. Few actors working today embody this more fully than the wondrously versatile, endlessly watchable Frances McDormand whose entry into the world we celebrate today.

What’s your favorite Frances McDormand performance? Okay...that’s a rhetorical question. We all know what it is. But her filmography is diverse and fascinating to explore, who what's your #2?

Frances McDormand’s 5 Best Movie Performances

 5. Burn After Reading (2008)
Broad, but undeniably funny and completely understanding the tone of the vehicle. Mileage varies in terms of McDormand’s many outings with the Coen Brothers, but it’s almost never uninteresting... 

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Podcast: Cannes 1996 Revisit 

NathanielNick, and Joe revisit the Cannes film festival of 1996 (you might wanna quickly check that lineup & those prizes before listening) and the Best Actress race that started there. We also recommend other 1996 goodies that you may or may not have seen... or thought of in years.

Index (43 minutes)
00:01 Intro, Juries, and Crash's audacity prize
03:00 Best Actress: McDormand (Fargo) vs Blethyn (Secrets & Lies) vs Watson (Breaking the Waves)
10:09 Goodbye South GoodbyeThe Eighth DayPillow Book, and Microcosmos
17:50 TrainspottingFlirting With Disaster, A Self Made Hero, Lone Star, and Love Serenade
30:07 David Cronenberg's Crash
37:45 We each recommend a few more 1996 titles from Bound to The Long Kiss Goodnight

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments. Which 1996 picture have you still not seen? Who got your Best Actress vote that year?

tfw when you're turned on by car crashes

Articles We Mention
5 Contentious Cannes Juries 
• Nick's Annual Cannes Project 
Nick on Cronenberg's Crash 

Cannes 1996. Recommendations


Sundance: Kumiko Hunts "Fargo"s Hidden Treasure

Sundance coverage continues with Nathaniel on the fascinating oddity "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter"

Meet Kumiko (Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi from Babel), pictured above, a mopey Japanese woman in a red hoodie. This picture of her is not quite complete. While Kumiko is a mopey Japanese woman in a red hoodie there's more than just moping going on inside her, however  opaque her inner life remains. She's a quiet "Office Lady" who is miserably depressed and finds consolation only in her pet bunny Bunzo (who steals nearly every moment he's in) and her taste for treasure hunting. The movie, inspired by true events, opens with an, I assume, metaphorical search for a buried videocassette of Fargo. Once Kumiko watches it she becomes convinced that the movie is real and that Steve Buscemi's treasure awaits her in Minnesota. The red hoodie remains but she'll keep piling on other memorable attire over it on her journey from cold urban Tokyo to freezing rural Minnesota, as if the journey itself will protect her, weigh her down, or bury her. Or all three. 

The film's great strength is in its eery expressive visuals whether that's a surreal burst of shifting wet orange light (which turns out to be an airplane being de-iced I think?), odd textural juxtapositions like cloth over static tv screens, or smart visualizations (and sound mixing) which amplify Kumiko's solitude and emotional disconnect. Given the writer/director team's (Nathan and David Zellner) aptitude for mood building and imagery and the sparse dialogue, the film hardly needs to spend as much time in Japan as it does -  I confess that it took me nearly half an hour to settle into its wavelength. Kumiko doesn't always help, remaining a frustratingly impenetrable character. And yet worries about accessibility seem off point since Kumiko herself just can't connect.

The inciting image in "Fargo"

Eventually the movie curdles into something like a dark Asian companion piece to The Purple Rose of Cairo in which Kumiko continually wills the Coen Bros' classic to consume her. It's a tough sit but I found it rewarding and singular, especially in its presentational clinging to old technologies. Kumiko watches VHS, hand sews treasure maps, and despises her cel phone; she just isn't fit for the times, unable to connect in Japan or America. An ignorant but well intentioned old woman underlines this in one brilliantly succinct joke, handing the confused young woman an old paperbook of "Shogun". 

GradeB+... it really grew on me 24 hours after seeing it
Distribution: I'd say unlikely but you never know.


Percussion. Strings. Winds. Links

For Musical Nerds
BuzzFeed definite proof that The Little Mermaid's Prince Eric was a homo 
The Exploding Kinetoscope best words I've ever read about Judy Garland's For Me and My Gal
Pajiba more of those new photos from Into the Woods

Sillof's Workshop look at these AMAZING custom toys, If Dr Seuss wrote Jurassic Park
Grantland Mark Harris joins me in my eternally losing war against Category Fraud (this time with Daniel Brühl in Rush) and talks Enough Said, too 

The Film Doctor five notes on Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring, now on DVD
L Magazine see, I'm not the only one that thinks Cuarón's Gravity is a disappointment!
/Film wait they're making Fargo into a TV series and it's the William H Macy role that's the lead? Don't they know that people loved that movie because of Chief Marge Gunderson?

Finally, MNPP reminded us that we can all get our Alexander Skarsgard loincloth dreams back on since his Tarzan flick is no longer (apparently) in development hell. Word is that Christoph Waltz is the villain now. Many will greet this as very good news but this makes me sad. It's not that Waltz isn't a good actor but remember how lame it was the last time he was a threat to pachyderms?

Who wants to go back to there? I do not. And I even kinda liked that movie more than most but Waltz was not the why. How about a few more surprises in casting, Hollywood? Aren't there literally a hundred famous actors in Waltz's age range that might be a fun curveball as the villain? But instead we're going to get somebody who already abused elephants. (sigh)