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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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Review: Beauty & The Beast (2017)

"I found much of this version charming, diverting and moving. But it's not a patch on the 1991 masterpiece" -Ian O

"I begrudge the decision of executives when it comes to casting a movie like this. They didn't need a 'star' to fill the seats. They needed someone who could elevate the material..." -Jones

Interviews

Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)
Céline Sciamma (My Life as a Zucchini)
Asghar Farhadi (The Salesman)

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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (94)

Friday
Jan132017

Best of Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

We've reached the end of our Year in Review List Making if not the end of the year in review list making -- wait wha?!. Which is to say that we still have our own awards nominations (both Oscar and fun extras) in some 40 categories to come. That's right. It's time for the annual Film Bitch Award Nominations -- our 17th annual prizes (gulp) -- which begin with the age-old tradition of the top ten list.

But first...

HONORABLE MENTION

If The Salesman borrows too liberally from Asghar Farhadi's masterpiece A Separation so be it (let's face it -- all the great auteurs steal from themselves. This is how we recognize their films). It's a riveting drama exposed by destabilizing cracks in the foundations.

Sing Street was the year's most rewarding nostalgia piece causing flashbacks of teenage identity experiments and that usually short lived  'i could be a pop star!' phase. And what a fantastically fresh cast.

Viggo Mortensen's uniquely out of place and time persona (think about it: he could be from any country or era) is a huge boon to the thought-provoking Captain Fantastic. Writer/director Matt Ross harnesses Viggo's energy for a head-first sprint into the woods of non-conformity but those idealogical woods thin out and soon enough we're face-to-face with reality.

The Fits' unique character as something of a mystical movement film had us levitating. Its hard-to-pin-down allegory wasn't so much tentative and amorphous as thrillingly ambiguous...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Nov292016

Got any FYCs ?

Ballots went out today for the Critics Choice Movie Awards (so early. too early) and though I've already reminded fellow voters who is eligible for Young Performer (since you need lists / reminder jogs for the less discussed categories) it occurs to me that I don't keep the best records about some my own awards categories.

This is where you can FYC at me! Why not share yours in our off-Oscar categories like Cameo, Diva, Villain, Hero, Sexpot, Musical Sequence, Credit Sequence, Opening Scene, Ending, Best Kiss and Best Sex Scene to jog my memory so I make good decisions. And what sort of "year in review" lists would you most love to read? All of that starts in December so let your voice be heard.

After the jump, for the curious without twitter, the FYCs I shared today...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Nov072016

Who are your favorite supporting actresses of the year?

By Nathaniel R

Over the weekend Fences had its first screening in Los Angeles and Viola Davis apparently lived up to the prerelease hype so there you have your near-certain winner in the Supporting Actress category this year. (I haven't seen it yet so no comment on that until I do.) But nominations are our favorite part of the Oscar nomination circus anyway so even if the race is wrapped up and Viola becomes a record-breaker as we predicted, it's fun to keep sifting through the options.

Yes, it's that time of year when we begin to take stock and are promptly filled with anxiety about sacrificing favorites as we winnow down to the magic number of 5 for our awardage. Along with the anxiety, though, comes such appreciation for the art of the movies. It's one of the many reasons we cherish awards season...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Oct252016

Supporting Actor (and Lead Actor) Chart Updates

tfw you always think of Best Supporting Actor as the dullest and weakest of Oscar's annual acting races but then remember it's only because of how they pick 'em because there are already more than enough stellar candidates for a truly exciting and deserving lineup and even more worthy players to come with movies left to see so this list could double in size and it's going to be so painful to say goodbye to any of these men when you have to narrow it down to a measly five at year's end and how are you going to do that exactly and why do you put yourself through this to "list"?  [WHEW. Run on sentence intentional. Sometimes you have to spill and all the feelings want to come out at once.]

Twelve favorite supporting actors to date for 2016 in no particular order are pictured below. Films left to see that could affect this race include: Hell or High Water, Sully, Bleed For This, Hacksaw Ridge, Fences, and Silence... and probably a few I'm forgetting.

 

Of course Oscar views these things differently and Best Picture heat and level of fame helps more than it should in the acting categories. Let there be Chart Updates!

Best Actor Chart
Best Supporting Actor Chart 
Best Actress Chart
Best Supporting Actress Chart 

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.