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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (83)

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. 

Friday
Jan292016

Beauty Break: Costume Design (Personal Ballot & Oscar Shortlist) 

We're about to wrap up the "traditional" portion of the Film Bitch Awards which are essentially Nathaniel's Oscar ballot were he to have one in every category. (There will be more awards each day until we're finished -- before the Oscars, mind you! -- but they're the fun "extras")

Oscar's costume branch and I were fairly sympatico on our shortlists this year differing by only two pictures. Yet citing only 7 pictures (all featured after the jump) feels stingy. Costume heavy period pictures like Macbeth, Crimson Peak, The Assassin and Brooklyn definitely had their moments. Two contemporary pictures worth noting for their clever work were Youth and Chi-Raq. And then there are the pictures that have one costume so special it's what you always think of later on when you're picturing the movie: that lime green slit-to-there dress in M:I - Rogue Nation, the perfect action hero simplicity of Chris Pratt's functional but very tight outfits in Jurassic World, the barely visible sight of Jennifer Jason Leigh under huge furry everything in The Hateful Eight, that stylish pilot jacket in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that traded hands and so on...

In short, if you don't love costumes -- get outta here! Let's celebrate the five Oscar nominees plus two Nathaniel nominated in his own awards after the jump. Crazy gorgeous photos ahead...

OSCAR'S COSTUME DESIGN NOMINEES

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan282016

Personal Ballots Cont'd: Best Cinematography & Production Design

We're almost done with the Oscar Correlative categories in the Film Bitch Awards. Then it's on to the silly & fun but still seriously chosen "extra" categories. Here are my choices for the best men behind the camera (always men. sigh) and the men and women designing and decorating those sets and the film's overall visual palette for your eye-candy pleasure. 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The big Oscar question this year is "Can Emmanuel Lubezki" win a third consecutive Oscar for The Revenant. He's dominated the category the past two years with Gravity (2013) and Birdman (2014). It won't be the longest consecutive winning streak ever -- that belongs to Walt Disney who won consistently in short film categories for seemingly ever in the early days of Oscar -- but it will be the single longest streak in modern history if he pulls it off. But the category already has something for the record books: With his 13th nomination Roger Deakins Sicario moves into a tie for 5th place for All Time Most Celebrated Cinematographer. He's now sharing the honor with George J. Folsey (Meet Me in St. Louis) who also never won an Oscar. Everyone higher on the list won the Oscar once or multiple times, all four of them; It's rarified air they're breathing. 

Deakins makes my own personal ballot this year but Lubezki just barely misses (I was more impressed with his work on The New World which also went all natural light on the frontier) because I had to make room for the emotionally expressive and flexible light of Phoenix (courtesy of Hans Fromm) and the jaw-dropping 'how'd they do that?' camerawork on Germany's Victoria. On the latter film the director was so impressed he gave DP Sturla Brandth Grølven billing above his own! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
We've already discussed the stupendous achievements in this category by Ethan Tobman on Room and Judy Becker on Carol so no need to rehash other than 'what is with Oscar sometimes. How could they ignore them?' Oscar voters have an anything goes choice in this category, though. If they don't just check off Mad Max Fury Road in most of the craft categories it's easy to imagine any of the films as winners, don'cha think?

Finally I wanted to give a shout out briefly to Thomas E Sanders work on Crimson Peak which the Academy also passed on. The movie has a lot of problems -- Guillermo del Toro can't seem to stay out of his own way with so much gilding of every gothic lily -- but Allerdale Hall is wonderfully decayed and oppressively decorative and all around drafty and decadent. And those vats in the basement! 

Oscar Charts (now with trivia & predictions) & Nathaniel's Ballot  

Wednesday
Jan272016

Personal Ballots Continued: Editing, Makeup, Visual FX

I promised daily Film Bitch Award nominations and I aim to deliver since we were supposed to technically be done by now. The best laid plans. Yesterday I shared male acting choices and jazzed up two Oscar charts. Today half of the visual categories have gone up and I've updated the correlative three Oscar charts, too.

FILM EDITING
I'm so disappointed that Academy voters skipped Sicario's Joe Walker in this category so I've rectified that obvious error. Talk about sustaining the tension masterfully for two hours. He's best known for his work with director Steve McQueen and was Oscar-nominated a couple of years ago for 12 Years a Slave. He had a good year since he also edited Blackhat which people found lacking in the emotion and story department but which was quite fine on a craft level. Two editors we interviewed here Nathan Nugent (Room) and Affonso Gonçalves (Carol) are also honored. 

VISUAL FX
Look I get that people didn't love The Avengers: Age of Ultron but passing on its visual effects strikes me as pettiness for feeling disappointed and getting Marvel fatigue. This is state of the art superheroics. Looking over my nominees now I'm realizing it was a very good year for robots: Ultron, The Vision, Ex Machina's Ava, and even Tomorrowland's Athena 

MAKEUP & HAIR
I mostly adhere to Oscar rules with my traditional categories but not here as I am adamantly opposed to this category being ghettoized the way it is with the Academy. The makeup artists are the ONLY artists with an oscar category that are allowed only 3 nominations. Everyone else gets 5 and that is just messed up since every single film uses a hair and makeup team. With five spots, I have room for both of the high profile Oscar nominees because who can forget Leo's horrific zombie face in The Revenant or smoky eyes reaching their gonzo apotheosis in Mad Max Fury Road. For the other spots I've embraced maximum beauty (Carol), stylish comedy (Spy), and the world's most famous detective (Mr Holmes). Read the writeups here.

*If any makeup artists are reading I'd love a better education on how these departments work on film sets. It's one of the behind the scenes jobs where credits dont feel very consistent from film to film in terms of titles of the players.

Tuesday
Jan262016

Best Acting, Male Division: Personal Ballots & Oscar Charts

In the war of scene-stealing antagonists this year, Oscar Isaac's Nathan (Ex Machina) > Tom Hardy's Fitzgerald (The Revenant). We love both actors here at TFE and loved them before the rest of the web did (brag brag) but when it comes down to awards season you have to make tough choices.

That's just a handy way of saying Oscar and I go our separate ways more often than not in the acting categories but now both lists are available for your (hopeful) entertainment... 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
On the subject of category placement antagonists are often tricky. They definitely move the plot -- neither The Revenant or Ex Machina can function without these devious men, but often you can see either argument for lead or supporting. While Ex Machina arguably has three leads being such a chamber drama I occasionally relax the soapbox for performances that straddle the divide. A recent rewatch of Ex Machina confirmed that Oscar Isaac would make whichever shortlist we put him in (and I'd switched him back and forth during the year in drafts). It's such an inventive approach to a thoroughly imagined character so I tossed the dice and supporting he went. Now watch him tear up this fucking dance floor...

Only one of Oscar's men makes my own personal ballot (just posted) with apologies to Mark Rylance who I thought would place but he fell in the dread sixth spot! It happens. I've completed the Oscar chart as well and included trivia for this golden sausage party. Speaking of sausage parties... I think this is the first male Oscar lineup ever in which ALL the men have gone full frontal in other movies. Weird, right? It's an exhibitionist group this year. This only occurred to me to check because I was a big fan of Intimacy (2001) back in the day which starred Mark Rylance and everyone knows that Sly starred in a porno before Rocky (1976)

The charts also include our "How'd they get nominated" fun. So here's a sample -- the Tom Hardy in The Revenant edition: 

25% Leo's bro power pulls his main men in w/ him
21% Spicy Bait: Villains prioritized in this category 
20% Timing. 'The Revenant' was the shiniest new toy
15% Everyone wishes they could have punched Iñárritu in the face
10% Performance - they like 'em BIG to shake up slow epics (see also: The Zeéeeee in 'Cold Mountain')
9% 'Mad Max Fury Rd'

P.S. I should not that though Hardy didn't make my top 12 in supporting I appreciate his go for broke attempts to save The Revenant from its own grandiose self-importance with a little cured ham.

Matt Damon a nominee at both the Oscars & the Film Bitch AwardsBEST LEADING ACTOR 
Given the weirdly unanimous "meh" factor that Oscar's shortlist has produced in audiences, at least on the web, it's hard to imagine it coming to be at all. But then you remember the media complicity in producing these sorts of safe groupings of all-stars whether or not people were actually hugely impressed with their work. Oscar produced a list of five major players who unfortunately could have been nominated based on the roles themselves before anyone saw the work (always a problem!). You've got your reigning Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne), your mega stars (Leonardo DiCaprio & Matt Damon), and your highly-revered thespians (Bryan Cranston & Michael Fassbender) with all but one of them (Damon) playing real life people. That's the baitiest of bait to awards types -- not just Oscar! --  though after 15 years of covering movies and awards seasons I still can't fathom why playing someone who really exists/existed is so much more likely to be lauded than creating a character from scratch with only the screenplay, director and your imagination to guide you. 

But anyway that's Oscar's list. Only two of them survive to make my personal ballot and I had to correct some category campaign problems too to put Jacob Tremblay (Room) and Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) where they belonged. Since DiCaprio's fans can be quite touchy I should note that he's solid, as ever, in The Revenant. He's locked up to win the Oscar finally but sadly the film just isn't asking very much of him, emotionally, beyond grief and anguish which he's been playing with minor variations for at a dozen years now. Sorry Oscar campaign narrative but tough physical working conditions and weird diets ≠ acting triumph. 

Monday
Jan252016

Best of 2015: Nathaniel's Top Fifteen

When you devote your life to the movies, you come to cherish the movies that give back as if they're devoted, in return, to you. Yes, you, specifically. Our consumption of movies may be communal but in some ineffable way, especially when it comes to list-making, they're deeply personal; movies in conversation with your soul. At least if you're doing it right. It's painful enough to "rank" a top 15 for 2015. So I included a second tier of favorites. The 30 best of the year, according to your host, took place all over the world as we know it (Germany keeps popping up as does seemingly every place with an arid climate in an odd but starkly beautiful coincidence) to weirdly recognizable places beyond it (Why, Jakku, you look so much like Tattoine!). The unifying thread might be that however alien their perspectives and locales (inside a young girl's brain, locked in a 10 x 10 shed, or chained to the back of rusted death machines in hallucinatory sandstorms), they resonated as if deeply familiar.

Nathaniel's top 30 films of

If you're looking for __ you won't find it:
I liked Magic Mike XXL -- you may recall that Magic Mike (2012) won the Film Bitch Bronze medal here in 2012 as third best of its entire year -- but can't join the unexpected bandwagon of critics who decided they loved the sequel well after it left theaters. I did enjoy it a lot, though. Also just missing the list, not from an absence of affection exactly but "best?" attributes, is Ridley Scott's disco-lite outer-space romp The Martian. I'm far less keen on recent Oscar nominees like The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, The Hateful Eight, Anomalisa, Trumbo, Son of Saul, and The Revenant but they need not cry from my qualms, indifference, or distaste (depending on the picture) since they have stadiums full of cheering sections elsewhere

And this list is about positive, nay giddy, love. So on to the best of the best. 

15 (Very) Honorable Mentions in Alpha Order
Please seek out: The Troubles via Yann Demange's electric debut '71; Desiree Arkhavan's hilarious bisexual Iranian-American hipster romcom (a genre we didn't even know we needed but love) Appropriate Behavior; Spielberg & Hanks's absorbing Bridge of Spies; Disney's girlie lush live-action Cinderella spin; Olivier Assayas's actressy-angst at those Clouds of Sils Maria; Celine Sciamma's infectiously observed but profoundly sad GirlhoodLily Tomlin & Paul Weitz's Grandma focused road trip; the waking nightmare game of sexual tag in It FollowsIceland's formally compelling beast and man oddity Of Horses and Men; Brazil's smart socioeconomic collisions in The Second Mother; Paul Feig & Melissa McCarthy's Spy romp; Disney's easy money $4 billion bet The Force Awakens; Tom McCarthy's soulful journalism procedural SpotlightAaron Sorkin's presentational Steve Jobs triptych; Xavier Dolan's queasy, queer, razor blade dangerous Tom at the Farm; and the director, crew, and cast who pulled off that continuous shot jaw-dropper stunt that was Victoria... and pulled it off with feeling. 

Without further ado and with deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP 15 OF '15
🎶 they're speaking my language baby 🎶 

 

I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS
(Brett Haley)
Bleecker Street Media. May 15th
92 minutes 

A movie as unassuming as Blythe Danner's still waters star turn, and as gently surprised by its twilight romanticism as the wonderful theme song. It's easy to imagine this film becoming a staple, a comfortable blanket to wrap yourself up in on lonely nights; an old dear friend that understands the value of finding new ones.

You're a good drinking buddy!"

 

CHI-RAQ
(Spike Lee)
Roadside Attractions. December 4th
119 minutes 

By no small margin the most uneven and sometimes downright sloppy movie on this 15 wide "Best" list --  stop reading the teleprompter Samuel L Jackson, learn your damn verse! But, a permanent truth: perfection isn't everything. Vitality of voice, with something actually worth saying, counts for quite a lot with so many polished but empty-headed and safe pictures clogging up each year's awards pipeline. Spike Lee won an Honorary Oscar shortly before anyone saw his reworking of Lysistrata, transported to contemporary Chicago (nicknamed Chi-Raq for its crime rate troubles). Nobody knew that his best movie in 15 years was about to hit to make that statue feel retroactively less of a tribute to past highs (Do The Right Thing, 25th Hour, etcetera) and more of an "it's about damn time!" honor for a still relevant artist. Chi-Raq is... Crazy. Funny. Sexy. Anguished. Silly. Mad. Experimental. Sickening. Sober. Even Optimistic. In short, "It's 'EVERYTHING!' as the queens say. Now if only everyone would go see this bold bawdy and beautiful everything. And, did someone say "Queen," I can hear Miss Helen (Angela Bassett, who also Got Her Groove Back of late) shaking her head at the meager box office receipts.

Y'all make my tired ass tired!" 

 

SICARIO
(Denis Villeneuve)
Lionsgate. October 2nd
121 minutes 

If Denis Villenueve's movies get any more tense they're going to explode by the second reel.

Click to read more ...