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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (49)

Thursday
Dec262013

Year in Review: Best Ensembles & Best Casting

To the tune of Madonna's "Music" ♫

Hey Mr Director, get your ensemble on, all the guys & ladies
And once the movie starts
don't ever let them stop, they're gonna drive me crazy

People make the movie come together - yeah


As annoying as it was in 2003 when Mystic River was attempting to halt the inevitable Lord of the Rings coronation with a sort of 'people are the best special effects!' Oscar campaign, the sentiment was true and remains so. I've been going to all kind of movies my whole life and  I've yet to see anything that's as remarkable as the happily regular occurence of weird electricity and true magic sparking when fine actors collide, collude, combust or cooperate.

So as we're all celebrating the holidays with our own personal ensembles of friends and family, I thought it would be a good time to honor the most special collections of players in 2013.  I can never let the Screen Actors Guild have the last word on this matter because, though acting is their raison d'etre, they never get this category right, opting for popular Oscar bound films with big casts and not really thinking about the WHOLE cast, and how all those players are interacting and bouncing off or working together. This year, they chose August: Osage County, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and I think two of those are really poor choices (though I like all five films) when you're thinking about the acting collective as opposed to just one or two performances within it. SAG's past history suggests that they're only comfortable with "star" ensembles so they were never going to go for fine teams like Frances Ha and Short Term 12 but why not Prisoners which is a sharp example of stars NOT connecting with each other on purpose. Everyone in that cast is alone since all the characters are horrified by each other (and sometimes themselves), trapped in their own personal grief and grievances.

When you're talking about great ensemble work I think you're also talking about fine direction and smart casting, though there are exceptions. Two fascinating examples of how complicated this all gets in that you can have one without the other(s) are August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. A:OC has a lot of fine actors in it but the director John Wells can't figure out how to see all of them at once, opting too often for shot / reverse shot when he needs to widen the camera or choreograph them differently so we can watch them together. I've never understood why so many contemporary directors have trouble absorbing this concept since their peers who are skillful at shooting group scenes are hardly obscurities. Just watch a couple of movies by David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson (or classic departed directors like Wyler or Altman) and you'll instantly be smarter about ensemble vision; They know exactly when to go to or stay with a two-shot or a three or four or even five shot... Hell, get everybody in there -- the more the merrier! As for 12 Years, I'm on record as complaining about the casting. Too many of its (white) supporting players are too familiar as  faces go which, in a lesser movie, would really derail the existential horror. But there's no denying that when this cast is acting together it's absolutely electric... I still get chills thinking about the way Michael Fassbender leans on his co-stars like they're his furniture and the way the various actors playing the slaves freeze up whenever they're being observed and the multiple nuances of when the actors are willing to look at each other and when they're too scared or smart to. It's all top notch work but if the director wasn't wise enough to let you see this -- and many directs aren't, just stiching 90 minutes of establishing shots and close-ups together and calling it a movie -- the ensemble probably wouldn't be winning as much praise.

Without further ado... My Nominations for Best Casting & Best Ensemble

And, in case you haven't seen THR's Casting Roundtable. I watched it only after making my lists since I didn't want to be unduly influenced but it's completely interesting. 

I only wish they could have found room for Rich Delia and Douglas Aibel, since I'm honoring both this year.

Tuesday
Dec172013

FYCs, Ours and Yours

I intended to write a couple of entries of my own "FYCs" this year for our team project but realized that's essentially what my annual FiLM BiTCH Awards double as. I'm almost ready to go ahead with those, which range from the traditional awards categories through to dozens of fun "extras". I'm fully aware that the last two years of TFE's own prizes have been a bit shaky in terms of speed and completion,  but this year I shan't drag my feet since my circumstances here have changed. I need your help, though, with the "extra categories"  and the music categories (I am always lost with Best Score) so don't let me forget any perfect gems. What should I consider in the fields of: Best Cameo, Line Reading, Action Sequence, Kiss, Sex Scene, Credit Sequence, Opening Scene, Ending, Musical Moment? 

SUBMIT YOUR FYCs IN THE COMMENTS

In the meantime, in case you missed any our "Fringe" FYCs for traditional categories, which aimed to widen the conversation and give awards voters a bit more options to think through than the 15 films they keep hearing about, please click around: Cinematography Her | Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus |  Make-up Evil Dead (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration) | Costume Design Blue Jasmine Score Ain't Them Bodies Saints Sound Editing The Conjuring | Actor Tye Sheridan | Film Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great Gatsby | Score Nebraska (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration) | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration) | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar Wright | Production Design The Conjuring 

And three earlier suggestions before we formally began... Best Young Performer (for BFCA voters... though they didn't listen) |  Supporting Actor Ulysses the Cat (probably technically not eligible for Oscar consideration) | Make-Up Warm Bodies (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration).

Sunday
Nov242013

Male Acting 2013: Lopsided Embarrasment of Riches

It's that time of year when we have to start taking stock of the year and prepping all that delicious Year in Review nonsense that goes on forever (aka 2 months at least). I can't help myself with the listing from December through January (and sometimes beyond). We already surveyed impossible ballot decisions when it comes to the women. So now it's time for the men. I thought about delaying this another week since the great remaining unseens for me are male-centric. I'll see Out of the Furnace, American Hustle and Wolf of Wall Street all within the next 8 days and will try and catch up with Rush, too... if only because, generally speaking, I adore Mr Daniel Brühl.  

We'll start with the weakest of the four acting quadrants both historically speaking and this year, too. Even in this meager list of 12 men I'm considering (before those last four key films) two of them are arguable leads...

SUPPORTING ACTOR - my longlist ballot
in no particular order

Click to read more ...

Friday
Nov222013

Female Acting 2013: Embarassment of Riches

You guys.

How am I ever going to decide on my own awards ballots this year? When the Film Bitch Awards begin in late December / early January - hell even before then when I vote at the annual BFCA "Critic's Choice" Awards --  I will have to make a Sophie's Choices and narrow it way down. There are so many fine performances this year. How will I choose??? Oh god, how will I choose. And with a few films still unseen these two fields could even grow.  

BEST ACTRESS - MY LONGLIST BALLOT
in no particular order 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Aug102013

Podcast: FYC Summer & Fruitvale Station

Season Something. Episode 2
A second consecutive week with Nathaniel, Nick, Joe and Katey ... can you believe it? (But, pssst, we recorded this one at the same time as last week's Blue Jasmine convo. As you listen Nathaniel is heading out of town for his first gay wedding, Bride & Bride division)

This week's headlining film topic is the divisive response to Fruitvale Station (previously reviewed) and whether or not it can bear the burden of its hype on "Oscar"'s march towards Oscar. We also weigh in on whether Octavia Spencer and Michael B Jordan deserve nominations for their work. But it's not all Fruitvale. We find ways to throw Short Term 12, World War Z, Blancanieves, and The Heat, into the conversation and a few old movies, text messages, and documentaries make cameos too  -- you know we like to keep it loose and rangey.  

P.S. Nick's DVD shelves make one more key appearance so to fully understand us you'll want to remind yourself of his chronological shelving and his idea of a Year Zero... 1982's Frances

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download it on iTunes.

Fruitvale and FYCs