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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (94)

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 ...

Monday
Dec142015

FYC...

Our year-in-review party begins Wednesday and Nathaniel's own Film Bitch Awards kicks off piece by piece on Monday. Now's your time to make your pitches for the following dozen or so categories:

SCENES: Best Kiss, Best Sex Scene, Best Action Sequence, and Best Musical Sequence
BEGINNINGS & ENDINGS: Best Opening or Closing Titles, Opening Scene, Ending (no spoilers please)
ACTING: Best Performance in a Limited or Cameo Role and Best Line Reading
and our favorite extra fun shrines to...
ROLES: Diva, Villain, Hero, & Sexpot of the Year.

You know what to do in the comments!

Tuesday
Jul072015

Halfway: Top Ten (Thus Far) and Best of Miscellania

½way mark - part 7 of 9
It's list time. [cue catchy as yet unwritten TFE jingle here]. We're nearly done with our "halfway mark - year in review" festivities so here is the top ten pictures and a few more Oscar-ish lists for good measure this fine Tuesday.

Top Ten (Thus Far)
in order of official release in 2015

-You know there are people in this world who go on first dates that are perfectly fine and then they wait awhile before they engage sexually.

-That's disgusting."

Appropriate Behavior (USA) d. Desiree Akhavan 
Jan 16th (Screened in January 2014)
Laugh out loud funny and encouragingly specific, it's a shame this Iranian American LGBT romantic comedy didn't break out bigger. It's available for full as a purchase/rental on YouTube.

Shhhh."

'71 (UK) d. Yann Demange.
Feb 27th (Screened in September 2014)
One of the scariest movies I've ever seen, full stop. Jack O'Connell wholly believable as a soldier abandoned in the projects during The Troubles, terrified for his life. 

Of Horses and Men (Iceland) d. Benedikt Erlingsson
Mar 11th (Screened in November 2013 - Iceland's 2013 Oscar Submission) 
It only took a year and half to make it to the States, but this extremely strange tragicomedy (?) about men and their horses is totally memorable. Somehow, despite expert direction and a unique fully formed sensibility, it's a debut feature?!?

7 more pictures after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr172015

Quick Impressions: Annie Funke's Violent Year

Quick Impressions. There are showbiz dreams embedded in nearly every frame of your favorite TV shows and films. Consider this series a celebration of SAG card holders and free advice for casting directors.

Meet Annie Funke (It's pronounced "funky"). She's only made one movie but what fortune to land such a strong one for your debut! The actress has just two scenes in J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year (2014), just out on DVD & BluRay, as the unexpected heir of a rival company who Oscar Isaac's desperate businessman must turn to for help. While the cast is uniformly fine, there was just something about Annie Funke's pin-drop tense scenes in particular that we just couldn't stop thinking about. We had to know more...

While Funke's first movie and a buzzy breakthrough a couple of years ago in a play called "If There is I Haven't Found It Yet" which she refers to as a "game-changer" have both been heavy dramas it turns out she came up through musical comedy. Because of scheduling conflicts during the casting of A Most Violent Year she thought she wouldn't get the part but here we are. And here is where we'll jump into our conversation...

NATHANIEL: I love musicals and plan to see your next one but it's exciting that you're making waves elsewhere now, too. 

ANNIE FUNKE: As a kid in Oklahoma with a musical theater degree I had no idea that my career would go in any way to tv/film. It wasn't on my horizon at all

But then you got A Most Violent Year from a self-taped audition!

When I showed up on set the first day I hadn't met anyone. That was completely like being shot out of a cannon. [Laughs] 

more...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar292015

Film Bitch Awards ~The Medals Ceremony

Can we take a moment to appreciate that I finished the awards this year?!? A momentous recovery given that this most popular feature has slid in follow-thru without true wrap-ups the past two years. Self sabotage is a wicked trait. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Birdman and Under the Skin led the nominations with 15 and 11 respectively since they were my two favorites of the year. The biggest surprises are surely Gone Girl's 11 nominations and the piddly nomination counts for two of top ten films (Love is Strange and Mommy - how did I do so wrong by them?) but these things don't always work out as expected when you concentrate on individual elements within collective achievements. Some movies are just greater than the sum of any one part and other movies have a hundred excellent parts but not quite a genius whole.

On to the ceremony. Please to imagine the title themes from the corresponding films blaring as their medalists take their places. The tunes you'll hear most often are:

 

Overall - films with the biggest trophy hauls
Under the Skin (5 gold medals, 2 silver, 2 bronze)
Birdman (4 gold medals, 5 silvers, 1 bronze)
The Grand Budapest Hotel  (4 gold medals, 2 silver)

...which is a funny coincidence because they happen to be the exact three medalists from the Original Score category, if not in quite that order!

 Gone Girl just misses the final podium with 3 gold medals, 2 silver, and 2 bronze... quite a showing for a film that only made it to #17 in my favorites of the year. I've been wondering ever since I published the top ten list if I should've had that Fincher/Flynn collaboration on it. I put on the DVD in the other day to check on one detail and ended up watching the whole thing. Again. So now it's also the movie I've seen the most times from 2014. Meanwhile  Boyhood, my bronze medalist in Best Picture, didn't have a huge trophy haul in the end, just 4 medals: 1 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. Two films that did well in medals despite low nomination counts were Begin Again and The Boxtrolls. See all the medals (indicated by gold, silver, and bronze star icons) on the Film Bitch Awards charts

-Oscar Correlatives
Picture, Director, Screenplays, Animation
All Four Acting Categories
Visuals
Sound and Music (and Oscar Correspondent Stats)

- Extra Fun Categories

Special Acting-Related Categories
Character Awards (Heroes, Divas, etcetera)
Best Individual Scenes (and Overall Stats) 

And with that we close out the 2014 Film Year! Finally. Whew. What an exhilarating ride it was. This is when we shout "AGAIN!" like a giddy child and line up to do it all over again albeit with a different set of films.

Thursday
Mar262015

Best Limited or Cameo Role. The Women

In the imaginary awards ceremony we hold for the Film Bitch Awards each year (when: January through March; where: Nathaniel's brain and on this website) Missi Pyle as "Ellen Abbott" announces the nominees for the limited or cameo role categories. With three or four sharp scenes in Gone Girl she's too big for this category but she's good TV, you must agree. Getting the balance right for this category is tricky. Which roles are too big to fit? Many of the people who immediately popped to mind this year as "cameos" were really were more than that. Oprah Winfrey is great in that crucial opening expose about voter suppression in Selma but she also marches, gets arrested and her throughline doubles as the whole narrative arc of the movie, so we couldn't really include her. Lindsay Duncan in Birdman, was another close call, but we opted to include due to only two scenes even though she's the focus.

We take this seriously y'all. As proof look at all these fine actresses we were considering... 

Top left to right by row: Karin Myrenberg (Force Majeure), Charlotte Rampling (Young & Beautiful), Lesley Manville (Mr Turner); Jena Malone (Inherent Vice); Alison Pill (Snowpiercer); Lindsay Duncan (Birdman); Hong Chau (Inherent Vice); Sela Ward (Gone Girl); Anamaria Marinca (Fury); Menna Trusslar (Pride); Tilda Swinton (Grand Budapest Hotel); Annie Funke (A Most Violent Year); Uma Thurman (Nymphomaniac Vol. 1); Casey Rose Wilson (Gone Girl); Kathleen Rose Perkins (Gone Girl); Karina Fernandez (Pride)

And here are the nominees, wrapping up nominations in all categories for the 15th annual Film Bitch Awards. The nomination stats are at the bottom of the "best scenes" page if you're interested. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in all categories will be handed out this weekend.

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