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


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Dreamworks Animation Pt 2: The Fall

"I loved this article. It reads like vintage EW, back when they relished the behind-the-scenes stories of Hollywood and the studios." -John T

"Dreamworks should not have oversaturated the animation market. Home is Dreamworks 31st animated film. Do you know what is Walt Disney Animation's 31st film? Aladdin. It took Disney over 5 decades to get there." -Chinoiserie

Part 1 here if you missed it



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Entries in Film Bitch Awards (67)


Divas, Heroes, Sexpots, Villains

I've been neglecting the Film Bitch Awards for far too long so here is another page to enjoy ~ the character prizes in our four fun character categories: Diva, Hero, Sexpot and Villain of the Year. I should note that many of 2011's most memorable protagonists didn't fit neatly into these slots: a lot of 'heroes' were actually anti-heroes like "Date Rape Brown" in Rampart, the driver in Drive or "Mavis Gary" in Young Adult; there were potential divas who missed the point and didn't even want to be worshipped or even looked at like "Lisbeth Salander"... but she sure is a memorable character anyway. 

It's amazing how many movies can't hit the mark on delivering memorable heroes or villains. You don't even need to be especially complex in those categories but you have to be memorable... and what's memorable about the characters in that movie about the ringed intergalactic police corp or the one about the boy and his dog searching for a pirate ship and even the one about the ragtag group getting back together to defeat a maniacally laughing tycoon which hands so much of its screen time to a self-doubting newbie.

In short there wasn't a lot to applaud or boo-hiss at. So a big big thank you to our nominees who livened up this past film year with highly watchable fabulousity, heroics, eroticism and evildoing.

Who will thrill us this much in the new film year? There's a lot to live up to collected right here from films like Melancholia, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Crazy Stupid Love, Captain America, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Bridesmaids and more. Who gets your vote?




"More please!"

...That's my chief criteria for nominating actors for Breakthrough prizes at this site's own annual gongs, the Film Bitch Awards. (For new readers the name is a long story. We're not so bitchy about the movies unless by bitchy you mean so in love with them that we hold them to high standards). We're hoping that Pariah is only the first great performance from Adepero Oduye (pictured left).

Rather than hand Her Lady of Sudden Ubiquity (Jessica Chastain) the gold silver and bronze this year, we're giving her a special "body of work" medal.

It's not our usual practice to nominate someone whose been working as long as Olivia Colman alongside debut artists like Martha herselves Elizabeth Olsen, but Colman was completely unknown to us here in the US.

You can see the Breakthrough nominations under the Film Bitch pulldown menu up top. We've also started handing out medals in the Oscar adjacent categories. Check them out!

P.S. Here's a cute video of the remaining nominees Tom Cullen & Chris New from "Attitude"'s photoshoot if you haven't seen it.


FB Awards Flashback 2002 ~ Viola Davis Wins "Breakthrough"

I was looking up old Film Bitch Awards the other day, to verify that I had awarded Viola Davis a prize once before, because when she took home the SAG prize I felt like shouting "I SAW HER FIRST!". Turns out I gave her two gold medals the first year I "met" her. For kicks, and because I haven't finished the First Ten Years book for purchase, here is a little flashback for you exactly as they appeared (typos and all)! Viola won the following two prizes "Best Actress in a Cameo or Limited Role" and "Breakthrough"... I had totally forgotten most of these details.


Viola only had one scene in Antwone Fisher so I guess I never found a photo of her. LOL. I remember a teensy bit of Viola and Mary Lynn Rajskub's performances. Toni Collette's cameo on the other hand is super vivid  as most things The Hours are, nine years on.  Tilda Swinton and Geraldine Chaplin's roles are much fuzzier memories. In fact, I didn't remember until looking at this that Tilda was even in Adaptation (the bulk of my memories from that one are Streep's -- particularly the famous dial tone sequence -- with a little side dish of Chris Cooper). 

[Note: The year before I had given the medals to Naomi Watts, Gael García Bernal and Kerry Washington]

Remember when Maggie Gyllenhaal was Jessica Chastain?

I'm lol'ing at my "Give her a lead role instantly" command about Viola Davis. Meryl Streep would issue the same command at the SAG Awards several years later. It only took Hollywood nine years to get back to me on that with The Help. The other thing that's amusing to me about this flashback is Jesse Eisenberg as a semi-finalist. I didn't seem to have much faith that micro-budgeted indie Roger Dodger would lead anywhere for him but I thought he was great in it. 

Does this bring back any memories of 2002 movies for you?

I know I've been slow going on finishing the Film Bitch Awards this year, and even slower to bring you all the promised book of "The First Ten Years". When I finally finish it I hope you'll all purchase to support the site's continued life. [In the meantime a "subscription" on the right hand sidebar -- That's like 8 cents a day -- is a great way to make sure we keep typing at you for yet another year].

Who will win breakthrough and cameo prizes this year? And will we laugh about who was highlighted and who wasn't nine years later? The answer to the first question is coming soon but obviously there's a long wait before we can answer the second.



The Art Direction I Live In

I always try to finish the "Oscar Categories" of my own Film Bitch Awards before the Oscar nominations. I was racing to the deadline, panting heavily, sweating profusely and then I collapsed. I am now crawling towards the finish line. If anything can revive me it's eye candy! So here are my nominees for Art Direction and Cinematography. I would post Costumes too but I'm still arguing with myself over 8 films. (So many worthy efforts!) 

But while I have your eyeballs, I want to talk about one film in particular. Film is a visual medium so you'd think it would be a given that filmmakers would convey their themes and moods and characters visually. But many of them don't, relying on dialogue as exposition or voiceover profundities or leaning heavily on the gifts of their actors to get themes and nuances across. In other words, we have too few Pedro Almodóvars behind the camera.

In the two stills above from The Skin I Live In (which went without any Oscar nominations and was not submitted by Spain for Best Foreign Film) you can see how visually rich and how carefully planned every beat in an Almodóvar film is [MORE AFTER THE JUMP]

Click to read more ...


Nathaniel's Ballot: Best Actor

Another few hours, another write up. I might have to quit here... quickly losing energy and must store some up for the Oscar onslaught on the morrow. 

One thing that's really been bothering me about The Artist backlash is the notion that the movie doesn't really understand silent films, drawing as much from 1930 and 1940s and even 1950s cinema visually and aurally as it does from the 1920s. My very erudite response to that criticism: So what?!?

A pure "found film" is not what Michel Hazanavicius and team were going for here which you can see quite obviously in [SPOILER ALERT] the dream sequence and the finale which both work like sound films [END OF SPOILER]. I love that Jean Dujardin pulls so liberally from Gene Kelly (1940s and 1950s) rather than strictly silent movie stars for example since The Artist is polyamorous in its loves. People have reduced it to a love letter to the silents but it's just as smitten with the very tumult of movie stardom and the idea of Hollywood in general and those things span decades. We're still in love with them in 2011! 

Each year it seems like I have at least one acting category -- two at the most! -- that closely align with Oscar and Best Actor is where we might meet sorta see eye to eye. Crossing my fingers for Michael Fassbender's Shame to resonate with enough voters, though I've predicted otherwise


Nathaniel's Ballot: Best Actress

Actresses being my favorite thing in the world, "Best" is a strange term to apply. It has to be plural, you see. There are more great actresses in the world than there are great roles, sadly. If you are a screenwriter reading this, fix this situation! We'd prefer the roles to grow rather than the number of great working actresses to dwindle.

The 12 Lead Actresses I Loved Most This Year

I only allow myself 12 total honors or "semifinalists" each year with 5 of them absurdly lifted up above the other 7 in the end. Though really, such exercizes are excruciatingly subjective and incite an internal war where all sides of the self lose. Except when watching these rich performances. Ask me again in a few years and the lineup might change. This year was so embarrassingly rich I'd be happy with a lineup consisting of any of them. A dozen performances and I still had to shut out a few performances I found interesting or moving or "of note" which includes many of the Oscar contenders. Last year Oscar and I really saw eye to eye in this category but this year we have to part ways. It goes like that sometimes.


Regarding The Queen of the Universe
As for Meryl Streep, I will let you know up front that she is not one of my nominees this year though I happily agree that she is her usual mix of generous entertainer, great actress, and true movie star in The Iron Lady and I will be very happy for her once she finally wins that long overdue third Oscar. But: how weird is it that even Meryl Fucking Streep has to do biopic mimicry to get something like winner's heat? I feel like I'm always apologizing to people for not embracing the biopic performances since you're really supposed to love them and admire them above all else (as consensus proves in most years. See also: Michelle Williams who I honestly think is way better in her previous two Oscar nominated turns. What can I say. They just don't capture my imagination in quite the same way as they do everyone else's and these are my awards. I just happen to be, generally, more excited by acting which builds an entire believable life from only words on a page, or finds a way to humanize an auteurist exercize or blazes into full stylization with great creativity.

If you're angry -- devoted Streep fans are famously feisty -- consider this: In the 11 years I've been giving out awards Meryl has already won my top prize (The Devil Wears Prada) as well as two additional medals which is more than you can say for her track record with the Academy. She's not "overdue" here at the Film Experience though it's true that I nominate her less than Oscar does. To make it up to you we'll soon have a Streep Party in the form of Reader Rankings. It got pushed a week becayse this time of year is, well, you know. Tomorrow morning: eeek!


Film Bitch Awards: Song, Score, Sound & Film Editing

Around this time of year when I abruptly stop watching movies in full (a breather if you will. It usually lasts two to three weeks) I tend to spend a lot of time skimming through films I've already seen for writing purposes or little reminders of what makes them tick (or tick me off). Scanning through Hanna recently I was amazed anew at the rich theater of its sound work. I didn't quite love the movie or even like it at all in spots and yet it's really difficult to shake.


Of course, you always notice great sound work more when you're also responding to the music and you'll see that reflected in the song, score, sound mixing and sound editing categories which contain nominations for films ranging from Drive to Captain America, The Skin I Live In to The Muppets, Moneyball to Super 8. I don't tend to write much about these categories and I don't claim to be an expert but every year I promise myself to pay a little more attention to sound and scoring. I can't say that I kept the promise in 2011 but since Hollywood was busy obsessing over silent movies (Hugo and The Artist) I'll interpret that as a deferrment.

Let's talk scoring a lot more in 2012, mmmkay?!

As for 2011, which is still going on in our world since Oscar is the New Year's Eve of the film year, I'm all about Alberto Iglesias. There are a number of composers that do multiple films a year these days. Many of them repeat themselves. I think the strain is starting to show a smidgeon with Alexandre Desplat, for example, a god among composers. He's the Jessica Chastain of composers; working round the clock and signing up for endless more projects.  But WOW with Iglesias this year. He's done great work before but The Skin I Live In and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy are both A grade scores for very different films. I'd nominated him for both but for my policy of not doing that (I treat the craft categories like Oscar treats acting. You're only allowed on nomination in a category each year).

I hope Iglesias hasn't peaked yet but if he has, you'd be hard pressed to find a better twofer from any composer in the space of a single year. Both scores really fit and elevate their films.


P.S. I've add editing to the VISUAL CATEGORIES. I meant to have more done by now but I'm told that I was wrong about their being 32 hours in every day. Who knew?


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