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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 

 

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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (70)

Monday
Jul072014

Halfway Pt. 3: Sound, Songs, Score. What Did You Enjoy Listening To?

Having covered the most astounding visuals from the first half of 2014 let's move on to Sound. This is when I suddenly become shy, mutable, and tongue-tied as a critic. You may read this post at any decibel level but please know that I'm whispering it. A truth: sound is the aspect of filmmaking for which I feel least qualified to judge. I try to absorb what's happening in underscoring and with the mix and editing. I'm definitely more attuned that I once was. But the fact remains that my ears are neither as well trained nor as aggressive in consumption as my eyes. I love to hear other people talk sound and scoring (I recommend the book The Conversations by Walter Murch which is on film editing but it touches on sound as well) so please do share your favorites in the comments. I'll probably learn something if you do. At the very least I'll have more to consider. 

If I had to vote right now...

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman); Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat); The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat); Noah (Clint Mansell); Snowpiercer (Marco Beltrami)... though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you why in all five cases other than that I responded to the music and thought it a fine match for the material tonally

BEST SOUND MIXING & EDITING: In these categories I'd undoubtedly go with some mix of the otherwordly bestial movies like Godzilla, Noah and How To Train Your Dragon 2 and I'd most definitely opt for Under the Skin and not just because my BFF and I leaned toward each other and whispered Yaz's "I Before E Except After C" lyrics during the enormously creepy vocalizations in the first minute of the film. But other than that I'm open to suggestions...

BEST ORIGINAL SONG: And now we can raise our voices again after the jump because I have five I LOVE already and we're only half finished with 2014. Guess what they are...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jul072014

Halfway Pt. 2: Visual Cinematic Achievements of 2014

Before the holiday weekend we wondered what AMPAS voters might latch on to had they had to vote right then on the Oscars. It was a hypothetical exercize since we all know the studios backload the year and 85% of the intended contenders for "best" honors are as of yet unavailable. On to something not at all hypothetical.

Consider this my tracking sheet for the film bitch awards at year's end. It also doubles as an FYC directed at Academy members. Awards are too often regarded as trivial pursuits but they aren't at all. Award winners and nominees go into the history books or web archives as it were and, later, baby cinephiles seek them out for cinematic education. I speak from experience and I've heard so many similar growing up cinephile stories over the years that I know this to be true. So think carefully over even movies you didn't love when you weigh titles for "Best" in various categories. You owe it to future generations to really focus on the last word in "For Your Consideration"

Here's what I'd vote for (at the moment) in the visual categories if the year ended right now. I hope you'll join me in sharing your favorites (that have already opened) in multiple categories.  

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Seamus McGarvey isn't lighting and composing in a vacuum for this visual fx behemoth, but much of the painterly grandeur and awe that Godzilla, would be king of blockbusters, conjures relies heavily on his gift; While black and white films often win praise solely because they're novelties in the 21st century, Ryszard Lenczewski & Lukasz Zal's work on Ida would be stunning in any color, with its diffuse sensitivities and meticulous emotional focus; Darius Khondji is easily among the most neglected of Oscar-ready DPs with a filmography that includes stunning films from multiple A list auteurs and he does another fine job with the warmly retro but never inappropriately romanticized period work on The Immigrant; Hong Kyung-pyo's nails amazing technical challenges on Snowpiercer and his lighting often makes the grim fascinating imagery pop; and, finally, Daniel Landin serves Jonathan Glazer's mesmerizing purposes beautifully with the eery, cold aesthetics of Under the Skin... like peeks into some unfathomable abyss.

Smart costumes, mutant powers, and big hair are after the jump

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr262014

ICYMI, A Smackdown Addendum

Busy busy week but that was mostly the team running around catching Tribeca Screenings. (We'll finish the write-ups very soon). But other than the film festival, I hope you didn't miss these five key posts from the week that was.

A Year With Kate reaches the Spencer Tracy years
Podcast Gets Under the Skin the gang's all back to discuss Noah and Under the Skin 
Looking Back at Pocahontas Disney's ambitious epic 
April Showers: The Piano Holly Hunter was the surprise star of the week because we also finally got to...
2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown Renée vs. Shohreh vs Holly vs Patty vs. Marcia Marcia Marcia. (What a strange Oscar year that was)

Film Bitch Addendum
For those of you wondering which actresses I voted for back in 2003 (many of you weren't around these parts in those early early days), here was my ballot which only had a little Oscar overlap. FWIW, David Cronenberg's Spider got a one week qualifier in 2002 but back then I went only by NYC release since I wasn't privvy to Academy screeners. Of course AMPAS ignored it as they do most one week qualifiers but Miranda Richardson was all kinds of haunting in it x 3. Curiously my finalists list suggests that I thought The Lovely Laura Linney was equal to Marcia back then within the confines of Mystic River. No more. The only part of the movie that's aged well for me at all is Harden's performance.

 

Today's Retro Watch
Given the 2003 Smackdown discussion, it's a great time to look back at this classic Cold Mountain sketch from French & Saunders as they poke fun at Nicole Kidman's whispering & posing and the Zeéeeee's overacting in the Cold Turkey DVD commentary track

Wednesday
Mar122014

There Are No Small Parts. Beauty from the Margins

One of my favorite activities each year is compiling a list of actors who really nailed their brief but not necessarily coveted roles. Oh sure sometimes a small part is a true get and key to the narrative. There's no way to watch 12 Years a Slave, for example, and miss the importance of "Mistress Shaw", so perfectly rendered by Alfre Woodard. And some tiny parts are designed as cameos for stars: think Jean DuJardin and Matthew McConaughey in The Wolf of Wall Street. But the bulk of small roles each year in any actor's medium, go unnoticed with the actors adding depth to the ensemble and colors to the director or writer or showrunner's palette. Me, I love looking at the peripheries and seeing which actors are hungry, which find ways to maximize their tertiary characters or simply inhabit them so well that you get everything you need in that one scene or, if they're lucky, two scenes.

There are few things more unexpectedly satisfying than feeling like you could follow a minor character off into their own movie just this side of the screen. It makes the movie you're watching that much richer. 

Consider David Dastmalchian who plays the key suspect "Bob Taylor" in Prisoners. The actor pops up from time to time in sinister roles (he recently played a serial killer on "Almost Human"). I suspect this is the result of lazy amateur physiognomy happening in casting offices: Angular Face = EVIL! But he was so weirdly sympathetic but "off" and damaged in this role that I kept wanting to recast the movie in my head, and give him Paul Dano's role instead. More please.

Sometimes the face is more familiar but as far from ubiquitous as its possible to be. There's a lot to be said for casting directors that don't rely on whichever character actors happens to be all the rage to plug in to any movie here or there.

Remember Polly Draper from thirtysomething? I was happy to see her pop up in Steven Soderbergh's Side Effects but I figured it would be a disposable part. In lesser hands, maybe. All aspiring actors should watch roles like this. Lead roles are very hard to come by but there are no small parts. If you get one, texture it. Serve the narrative but give it enough specificity that we could follow you right out of the scene.

It was difficult to narrow down my "Best Limited Role / Cameo" category this year. Eventually I settled on ten players ranging from little known talents like Hilary Baack (The East), to sitcom stars Kaitlyn Olson (I can't tell you how much I love that "Tatiana" scene in The Heat) and treasured characters actors like Robin Bartlett and F Murray Abraham (both from Inside Llewyn Davis) and yes, even movie stars. They're much less shy about doing "small parts" than they once were.

And, no, you're not even safe from the McConaissance here...

Begin your chest-thumping chants and read on...

Sunday
Mar022014

Best of the Year: Introducing... Nathaniel's Top Thirteen

I've waited so long to share my top ten list that it's become a crushing psychic weight, a symbol of my failure to keep up in this strange Oscar season I've had.  I realized today that if I didn't share it on this very day, it wouldn't happen at all which is unthinkable. TRADITION. TRADITION...... TRADITION  

We're all eager to move on to 2014 but I personally can't make the calendar leap without the Film Bitch Awards (and the Oscars, duh). They're my own internal clock and how I clock the film years. If I could rewind said clock I'd watch all the movies again. They're all dusty now, like cherished objects I shoved into closets or drawers for reasons of clutter when people were coming over. Now I can't remember where I've left them or why it was I thought they were worth hoarding in the first place. 

You still with me? Oh god stay with me. This is my moment of neurotic need! 

If this were a top twenty I'd be writing about these films too, in random order: two animated charmers Frozen and Ernest & Celestine, Joe Swanberg & Jane Adams little seen but extremely worthwhile collaboration All the Light in the Sky, 2012's Spanish Oscar submission Blancanieves (released in the states this year), Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring... "I wanna rob", two gargantuan blockbusters I seemed to have liked more than most sentient life forms Iron Man 3 and World War Z and the dark, gripping and literally labyrinthine Prisoners. Does that make twenty-one pictures? I'm bad at maths.

ONE MINUTE FROM EACH FILM
Now, the hard part. Hierarchies of wonderment. To break free of the mental shackles that have been holding me back from writing and sharing this list, a self-imposed directive: I am putting each one of these in my DVD player (the joy of screeners) and shuffling to a random scene. Wherever it lands I watch one minute to jog my memory and write whatever comes to mind. Get it? Let's go.  

HER
(Spike Jonze)
Warner Bros. December 18th.
126 minutes

... and Action [98:24] we enter mid montage during a Scarlett Johansson rendition of "Moon Song"...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb262014

Nathaniel's Ballot: Supporting Actress & Breakthroughs

Scrambling to finish my own Film Bitch Awards now, as Oscar night looms. Two new categories announced today: Best Supporting Actress completes the traditional Oscar parallel categories. It won't surprise you to see Oscar nominees Lupita Nyong'o and Sally Hawkins listed but otherwise I'm off-Oscar with three other acting triumphs I just couldn't shake. They deserve longer write-ups but the tradition requires these mini-capsules.

I've also added The Breakthrough Category because it's not right to let the year go by without naming the five newish actors I'm most excited to see again. The list begins with 17 year olds Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12)  & Tye Sheridan (Mud) -- who'll soon be co-stars! --  and continues on through the oldest, The Great Gatsby's Elizabeth Debicki, 23, who is only 23 so it's a really young group this year. Debicki was so grabby a screen presence that she didn't get lost in Baz's gaudy party but somehow became the life of it. Too bad she's barely in it!

And, ICYMI, it Best Songs, Scores and Sound

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