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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (83)

Tuesday
Mar222016

Tues Top Ten: Best Performance of the Decade (Thus Far)?

Today's top ten was inspired by Robert MacFarlane who asked what the greatest performance of the decade was on twitter to a quick flurry of responses involving some usual suspects: Phoenix, Hoffman, Cotillard, Blanchett and some unusual suspects: O'Connell, Culkin, Pitt. But the question naturally lingered because who doesn't love ranking such unrankables?

Let's do this!

BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE DECADE (THUS FAR)
Ranking likely to change tomorrow. Oscar nominated roles marked with asterisk. Oscar winning roles with double asterisk 

Honorable Mentions (No Particular Order): Binoche in Certified Copy, * Keaton & Norton in Birdman, * Riva in Amour, ** Day-Lewis in Lincoln, ** Bale in The Fighter, * Rampling in 45 Years, and many others...

10 James Franco, Spring Breakers (2013) --look at his shittttttttt
09 * Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night (2014) --transcendent
08 * Cate Blanchett, Carol (2015) --daringly stylized, mesmerizing
07 * Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom (2010) --she did a great thing, sweetie
06 Charlize Theron, Young Adult (2011) --the layers. the layers
05 * Viola Davis, The Help (2011) --smart. kind. important. (and other wonderful adjectives)
04 Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike (2012) --lawbreaker in the house
03 Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy (2012) --Bless Charlotte Bless
02 ** Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine (2013) --from airplane to park bench, perfection
01 Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


What are yours? 

Sunday
Feb282016

Film Bitch Awards ~ The Grand Finale

Another film year closes. Tonight when the Best Picture prize is handed out (it'll be a nailbiter down to the wire, even if The Revenant is taking lots of craft prizes) it's all over but the post-mortem party and then we're on to 2016's movies. At last! But first, if you haven't checked Nathaniel's own annual tradition the Film Bitch Awards (the name came from friends in college before the site existed -- yes, i was giving out imaginary prizes every year since, like, junior high -- and it stuck for better and SEO worst), please do.

Nominations and gold, silver, and bronze medals in 18 traditional categories and 22 "extra" fun ones have all been announced. Consider this a yearbook of TFE's most beloved screen adventures and obsessions from the 2015 film year. I wish we could have an awards show (perhaps a video show for 2016? though we'll need more funds first. Hint hint. Subscribe!) or forge actual medals. But for now these annual prizes will have to do!

PAGE 1  Picture, Director, Screenplay
Carol and Mad Max begin their huge medal runs. Which will emerge victorious?

PAGE 2  Acting Categories
Prizes for Steve Jobs, 45 Years, Love and Mercy, Creed, and more... 

PAGE 3  Visual Categories
Ex Machina refuses to leave empty-handed despite fierce competition

PAGE 4  Music & Sound Categories
Sicario gets much of its punch from its ear candy. Or ear poison, rather, because that shit is sinister.

PAGE 5  Extra Acting-Related Categories
*JUST ANNOUNCED* Nominations and Medals in the Limited and Cameo categories including honors for Magic Mike XXL, Grandma, lesser known actors from Spotlight and more...

PAGE 6  Memorable Characters
Prizes for Inside Out and more...

PAGE 7  Best Scenes
Here's where films of all genres and target audiences tend to rise up to joust with each other. Notices for a huge swath of high and lowbrow achievements: 50 Shades of Grey, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation, TangerineDiary of a Teenage Girl, and many more...

Please enjoy and discuss. It's more fun when movie-love is communal!

 

Saturday
Feb272016

Film Bitch Awards - Best Scenes of Multiple Kinds

We're nearly finished* with 2015 Film Bitch Awards, our own annual year in review yearbook/party and of imaginary Oscar ballot (well, half of it is that). Today the remainder of our Best Scene categories with six final scene categories. This group hands more nominations to films from the top ten list of course but for highlights to point out here on the blog before you click over, we're using films outside the top ten list. 

Obviously this page (and post) of awards contains mild spoilers so if you haven't seen the films and wish to stay pure, these are not the awards categories you're looking for. Here is one nominee I felt the need to gab about (maybe you will too?) from each category...

BEST KISS
While Creed was mostly ignored by the Academy, chances are its big box office (which significantly outgrossed Stallone's last two attempts are reigniting the franchise) will insure a big career for Michael B Jordan. Can Tessa Thompson hope for the same (it's always trickier for actresses of color)? They're wonderful together. Especially endearing is the scene in her apartment where Adonis makes up a godawful wrap and they end up collapsed on the floor, caught up in the moment. It's an upside down shot from above and they're something beautifully innocent and pure but also sexy about this kiss. (Later they'll bring the heat in a proper sex scene at Rocky's house. "but what about your Uncle?" / "He old!" Ha!)

SEX SCENE
Angelina Jolie's third directorial effort By the Sea was mercilessly trashed upon arrival but this was always going to be its fate. The Jolie-Pitts are extremely mainstream-famous. And household name blockbuster stars that the public has longed to see paired again onscreen aren't supposed to reunite for an indulgent overly serious tribute to Euro art cinema of the 1970s. That's for the other kind of movie star, like the Julianne Moores and the Ryan Goslings of the world, whose filmographies are built on eclectic sensibilities and crisscrossing between the ittybitty and the giant. But By the Sea isn't without its moments. The best scene, repeated in different forms like a musical riff, is when the couple sits on the floor in their hotel room and shyly watches another younger couple (Melanie Laurent & Melvil Poupaud) make love in the next room through a peephole. It's beautifully sympathetic and tragicomic, an estranged couple tiptoeing back to intimacy through surrogates.


OPENING SCENE
David O. Russell's Joy is an easy movie to quibble with. It often feels like five different movies that haven't reconciled themselves. This problem (?) is embedded right in its prologue which jumps from inside a stylized soap opera, to Diane Ladd's wonderfully expressive fable-like narration, and back to the soap opera but this time "outside" of it through a TV set, and into little Joy's bedroom where she makes a castle and theorizes about her possible superpower (maybe she doesn't need a Prince?). Ladd's Grandma guides us through this collision of styles and ideas with an expertly dropped line about Joy's creativity that doubles as a guide to how to watch and make ambitious movies.

The patience to figure it out."

Will Joy grow on us with time? Perhaps it might. Perhaps we quibbled too much. Perhaps Russell didn't have the patience to truly figure this one out but there's a lot to figure therein.

ENDING
Spotlight may have the most mellow finale we've ever nominated in this category but there's something about its sober work ethic and the core ensemble wide shot, with Walter "Robby" Robinson centered, that really lands emotionally and elevates the film. His phone rings and they all just return to work. Where they've always been.

Spotlight..."

CREDIT SEQUENCE
I've been disappointed these last few years that it's more and more common for films to have virtually no credits at the beginning and double up at the ending. So shout out to Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation which has great opening and closing credits. The opening credits would be spoiler-alert central if they didn't come at you so aggressively with machine-gun montage speed. The ending credits are even more stylish --both an homage to the TV show and film appropriate -- with action frames from the film outlined by the wicks of time bombs; this movie is a blast.

[Read more about these two sequences at The Art of the Title.] 

MISCELLANIA - A DOZEN FAVORITE SCENES
When writing about the Film Bitch Awards I often revisit a whole bunch of movies in clip forms, particularly the earlier releases that are blurry int he memory. Here we are at the end of the prize-giving and here comes Diary of a Teenage Girl and it suddenly looks just as good as everyone claimed it to be (I was previously in the admired but only admired camp). It was easy to turn certain movies off after checking the scene in question but I kept getting sucked into this film, as if it were the first time. One of the best moments is an animated interlude "The Making of Harlot" where a 'Beautiful Junior,' getting it on with Minnie, remarks upon her aggressive sexuality with something like judgment in his voice (though he's benefitting). Giant Minnie, holding him in her King Kong paw, turns away, with a single teardrop and casts him aside. True movie magic.

THE COMPLETE "BEST SCENES" CHART

* Only three categories left to announce (Limited Roles x2 & Line Readings). Can you believe we're actually going to finish this year before the Oscars**?! Wheeee. We'll announce those three categories plus all the Gold Silver and Bronze medals at some point in the next 24, ya dig?

** Okay technically I won't have finished, damnit. I never named the Animated Feature nominees (we only go 3-wide here) because I was trying to see Boy and The World before voting. So we'll be finished with everything but that category.

Wednesday
Feb242016

Musical Moments

Time for more Film Bitch Categories. We're almost done*. Click away for the nominees in two more scene categories involving music.

Films featured in this round include (deep breath now): Chi-Raq, Ex-Machina, Girlhood, I'll See You In My Dreams, The Last Five Years, Magic Mike XXL, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, Ricki & the Flash, Straight Outta Compton, and Victoria

*Only eight more categories to go... Best Scenes (not featured in these categories), Opening and Closing Scenes, Title Sequence, Sex Scenes, Best Kisses, and Best Actor and Best Actress in Limited or Cameo Roles... (which generally means no more than 2 scenes). We'll name our gold, silver, and bronze medalists on Friday/Saturday.

Saturday
Feb062016

Film Bitch Awards: Diva and Sexpot Nominations

I'm working on the character page portion of the awards. Today write-ups for the Diva and Sexpot of the year with nominees from Magic Mike XXL, Saint Laurent, Spy and more. Hero & Villain categories coming shortly.

Bear in mind that I don't let characters cross over into more than one category lest they dominate too many categories so, for instance, you won't see Lysistrata from Chi-Raq under Best Diva, though she is one because she fits the Sexpot category to a T (and A). She owns it. And she's not giving it away. "No Peace. No Pussy." 

The film doesn't work at all if you don't see how badly Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon), her gang leader boyfriend, wants that "nappy pouch". Teyonah Parris is on in this movie and it's so hard to believe it's the same actress that played quiet confident Dawn in Mad Men, just trying to earn her paycheck in that office with all that crazy white folks drama. (Remember that awkward episode when Peggy tried to confide in her. -so uncomfortable)

Chi-Raq is now streaming on Amazon Prime and on DVD and you should watch it. 


THE AWARDS CHARTS

Sunday
Jan312016

Personal Ballot: Casting, Ensemble, Breakthrough

Ready to start pouring over Nathaniel's annual Film Bitch Awards? The time is now. As longtime readers probably have gleaned, in my secret alternate fantasy life I became a casting director. It's one of the three jobs in movies I always thought I'd be terrific at (the others being editing and screenwriting). This is not bragging. It's fan-fic journaling. All cinephiles are allowed, indeed encouraged (at least here), to harbor such 'in another life' fantasies! The natural pull of casting is probably what keys up the interesting in SAG's Ensemble category so much even though they don't ever seem to absorb the meaning of the word but just pick five pictures they liked. 

Now that SAG has had their say, here are the Film Bitch Nominees in the casting friendly categories:  Casting, Ensemble, and Breakthrough Performers. You'll see major shout outs to Sicario and Brooklyn in particular, both the casts and their casting directors (Francine Maisler and Fiona Weir, respectively). It's still mortifying that they were looked over in terms of communal acting whenever ensemble prizes were handed out anywhere. Diary of a Teenage Girl, which we probably haven't talked about enough, is also honored twice over. 

And a note to remember as you read them: If a performer is nominated in one of our regular Oscar-adjacent acting categories they are not eligible for Breakthrough (so no double dipping) which is why you don't see Jacob Tremblay from Room for example since he was already nominated in Leading Actor

Friday
Jan292016

Best Acting, Female Division: Personal Ballots & Oscar Charts

We've reached the end of the Oscar Correlative portion of The Film Bitch Awards... and we're only running like 2 weeks late! Now you can compare nomination stats if you'd so desire. A short take: Mad Max Fury Road is loved in roughly the same dose but The Revenant has only 1 nomination to Carol's 10. You're welcome. That said I do not choose my nominees "in response" to Oscars. The choices are grouped into semi-finalists before the Oscar nominations come out and even when I'm behind schedule I'm still usually only a fifth-slot decision away from my final 5 in each category by that time. 

On to what you've been waiting for... ACTRESSING! 

the best BEST ACTRESS duo since Thelma & Louise? Oh what could have been Academy. What could have been.

BEST ACTRESS
Though we continue to despise The Academy's willingness to embrace Category Fraud and thus deny us the pleasure and spiritual rightness of seeing Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett side-by-side for Carol, the Academy's leading lineup is pretty damn great this year. Though Jennifer Lawrence's nomination was probably pre-ordained and thus lazy voting, she's actually quite good in Joy. Not as good as about ten other leading ladies this year mind you, let's not be crazy -- there were so many that I couldn't squeeze into my personal ballot that I wanted to. We should thank the cinematic gods for years in which we have to make such tough choices about who is "Best".

And yes I feel total guilt about abandoning Lily Tomlin in Grandma at the very end of the film year after championing her for so long but that was what 2015 was like with an abundance of valid and great choices. Some unfortunate soul falls into sixth place each year - damn you, list math. In truth my Best Actress ballot needed nine slots in the worst way this year. 

Cynthia Nixon earning her EGOT... only the people who provide the "O" in that equation weren't paying attentionBEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Here Oscar and I are forced to part ways decisively. Not just from their 'f*** character actresses!' habits with creative category placements but because we rarely see eye to eye when it comes to what StinkyLulu calls "actressing at the edges".

The Academy chose Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rachel McAdams, Kate Winslet, Alicia Vikander, and Rooney Mara and though all of those performances are noteworthy in one way or another my personal ballot only includes one of them: Kate Winslet, who returned to electric form in Steve Jobs (welcome back, baby). Vikander and Mara absolutely have no business here since they're the co-leads of their romantic dramas and as attentive as McAdams was to her sources in Spotlight and as forceful as Jennifer Jason Leigh is when diving straight into cackling evil in The Hateful Eight, they didn't even come close to making my top dozen women who amazed from just off to the side of the lead or further out in the periphery.

Despite our dissimilar tastes, Oscar's acting branch definitely would have loved Cynthia Nixon in James White, had they seen her. It's a traditionally juicy part (a dying, angry yet loving mother) but who among the Academy watches indies that make only $101,000 in theatrical release? Not too damn many of them, that's who. Check out my list and the Oscar chart (now with statistics and trivia!) and choose your own beloveds in the comments. And, as a reminder, ICYMI, Alicia Vikander was granted a special gold medal for "Body of Work" here a couple of weeks back.