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Entries in film critics (160)

Tuesday
Dec152015

Contrarian Corner: Mad Max Fury Road

Lynn Lee test-drives a new, potentially recurring feature wherein TFE members voice dissent on Oscar hopefuls and critical darlings.

If you’re on this site, it’s safe to assume you pay attention to movie critics. It’s also a fair bet you’re likely—or at least more likely than the average person—to agree with the critics when they coalesce around a particular movie. But if you’re like me, every once in a while a film comes along that generates a level of critical enthusiasm you just don’t get. You’d like to share or at least understand it, but instead find yourself feeling like the lone non-believer in a church full of the radiant converted.

That’s how it’s been for me and Mad Max: Fury Road, which met with rave reviews and solid box office when it hit theaters this summer. More recently, it’s picked up a raft of critics’ awards and nominations that have kept it in the Oscars conversation - not just in the technical categories but the majors, including picture and director. Any doubt about its chances stems from the fact that it’s a “genre” film, not its intrinsic merits, which most agree transcend its genre. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Monday
Dec142015

Awards Update: "Mad Max" for OFCS / "Youth" for EFA 

Michael Caine finally takes a prize for YOUTH. But is it too little too late for Oscar to notice?ICYMI in Awardage
"Previously on The Precursors..."  Gotham, Spirit, OFCS, NBR, NYFCC, LAFCA, BSFC, SAG Noms, SAG Ensemble, Golden Globes, Nominee Reactions, BFCA Noms

The Online Film Critics Society jumped on Furiousa's rig to go on George Miller's wild apocalyptic ride.  Mad Max Fury Road took 4 prizes, the clear winner of their annual honors. Carol won both acting awards for women because that's the world we live in... I could see this happening at Oscar too if they also embrace Rooney Mara's fraudulent "supporting" campaign (sigh). I love both of those performances so I want to be happy about it but... you know... it ain't right. Unless they actually tie for Best Actress. But that's only happened once, so...

Kudos to OFCS for breaking the critical sweep for Amy in documentary -- it seemed strange given the hundreds of documentaries released each year that only one film would win things. They went with The Look of Silence.

More on online critics and the European Film winners after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec132015

Toronto ♥ Tom Hardy, "Carol" and "Phoenix"

The Film Experience loves Toronto. Not only is it home to the best festival, TIFF, but it's also full of Canadians and our own Amir Soltani. On top of those two pluses, the Toronto Film Critics Association includes great critics like Calum Marsh, Bill Chambers and Angelo Murrada (the latter two have guested on "Smackdowns" right here!). The TFCA was established in 1997 and gave their first Best Film prize to Atom Egoyan's brilliant movie The Sweet Hereafter. This year double prizes for Carol, Ex Machina, and Phoenix and a prize for Tom Hardy for playing double as the twin Krays in Legend.

Best Film Carol
Best Director
Todd Haynes, Carol
Best Actress
Nina Hoss, Phoenix
Best Actor
Tom Hardy, Legend

This is the second year in a row that Tom Hardy has won TFCA's Best Actor prize. He took it last year for his solo act Locke. He really should attend their awards dinner as double-thanks. Or pop in on next year's live vote debate to put in his two cents about his successor.

Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Best Supporting Actor
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Best Screenplay
The Big Short, adapted by Charles Randolph & Adam McKay from the non-fiction book
Best First Film
Ex Machina d. Alex Garland

Best Animated Film Shaun the Sheep Movie (Aardman) d. Mark Burton & Richard Starzak
Best Documentary Look of Silence d. Joshua Oppenheimer
Best Foreign Language Film Phoenix (Germany) d. Christian Petzold

Phoenix, one of the year's biggest foreign hits, took two prizes

The TFCA also hands out a Best Canadian Film prize but that one comes with nominations and is announced at their awards dinner. Here's hoping Closet Monster gets a nomination.

 

Monday
Dec072015

OFCS Falls For Category Fraud

The Online Film Critics Society have released their annual nominations. They're the oldest of the many critics group which sprung up with "online" in the title back in the days when there was more of a clear line between print and web. This year unfortunately they've signed up for Category Fraud endorsing both Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara's "supporting" campaigns so it's difficult to take them seriously. If we can't defeat the spreading cancer of category fraud this year with so much attention paid to how ridiculous it is to call protagonists in their own films "supporting" -- even among groups who aren't generally eager to "predict" Oscars with their nominations (and OFCS has been blessedly free of that curse in the past) -- than perhaps the war will never be won. It's all so very discouraging because it makes the honors feel cheap and gamed as opposed to fairly won.

the war on drugs will never be won. perhaps the war on category fraud is just as eternal

As such it's difficult to find joy in happy results like Cynthia Nixon nominated for James White (despite a very low profile and only $52,000 in ticket sales to date) and Sicario, which we'd feared would be forgotten coming on strong. In fact Denis Villeneuve's drug war thriller led the nominations alongside Carol. The complete OFCS nominations are at their site if you're interested.

UPDATE: I have heard from a few members of the OFCS expressing their displeasure with the results and/or this post. Like the BFCA (of which I am a member) there were internal discussions about this before they voted. (Full disclosure: at least two of our own contributors are members of the OFCS). There are people within the organization who are against category fraud but voting within all awards bodies is a matter of math and majority rules.  I don't really expect BFCA to self-correct on this next week when the nominations come out but it's good that there's at least been a discussion for once. Internally the BFCA has suggested to members that Rooney Mara should be considered a lead, despite what the campaign says, but they are still free to vote as they will. We'll see.

Sunday
Dec062015

LAFCA Winners (Plus: NYFCO Madness)

 With today's announcement of the Los Angeles Film Critics Associations winner the die is set for critics awards. People can argue until pigs fly about whether and how and to what extend critics awards affect Oscar voters but here is a fairly universal consensus among people in the know: these things only matter to the extent they convince voters to attend that particular screening or put that specific screener on top of their to-watch stack. And the two critics groups that voters hear most about and are thus most likely to be influenced by are the two most prestigious coastal giants, LAFCA and NYFCC (who already announced with Carol winning big).

Will Oscar voters take MAD MAX: FURY ROAD seriously or just think "action film"

LAFCA 2015 Winners
Film Spotlight (ru: Mad Max: Fury Road)
Director
George Miller, Mad Max Fury Road (ru: Todd Haynes, Carol)
Actress
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (ru: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn)
Actor
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (ru: Geza Rohrig, Son of Saul)
Supporting Actress
- Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina (ru: Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria)
Supporting Actor
- Michael Shannon, 99 Homes (ru: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies) 

More and a very cool bit of trivia after the jump via Joe Reid...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec062015

Boston Film Critics choose hometown heroes -- "Spotlight" for Best Picture

Every other year the BSFC chooses the future Oscar winner as their Best Picture. Look at the evidence: 2009 The Hurt Locker; 2010: The Social Network; 2011: The Artist; 2012: Zero Dark Thirty; 2014: 12 Years a Slave; 2015: Boyhood. Before that it's a little bumpier statistically since 2008 saw a tie between Slumdog Millionaire (the eventual Oscar winner and WALL•E, a much more deserving (and braver) choice. But it was only in 2006 with The Departed that they started lining up regularlyt. Before then Boston could often be counted on for more iconoclastic choices like Mulholland Drive, Out of Sight, Three Kings, Trainspotting, Bull Durham, Ran, etcetera. They've been handing out awards since 1980 when Raging Bull won their inaugural Best Picture award.

Here's what they chose this year...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec052015

The Link Awakens

Vulture every lightsaber in the Star Wars franchise ranked. Solid rankings actually and I rarely say that about other people's lists ;)
NPR
talks to Harvey Keitel about his role in Youth
Coming Soon
Trainspotting 2 is officially a go. The entire principal cast returns to reprise their roles. Ready for round two of Ewan McGregor as Renton?
i09
Ryan Coogler may follow up Creed behind the cameras of Marvel's Black Panther (2018)

LA Times Directors of Room, Love and Mercy, Brooklyn, Sicario and more discuss nailing crucial scenes
People Sisters "The Farce Awakens". Tina Fey & Amy Poehler are going head to head with Star Wars on December 18th
Interview Magazine talks to Jake Lacy (Carol), our favorite "square" boyfriend at the movies
In Contention Laverne Cox helps with the Tangerine Oscar campaign
Awards Daily the current BFCA scores for several movies. It's always amusing to see how this lines up with their actualy nominations (which arrive on December 14th)
BroadwayCon it's pricey but theater fans are getting their own convention this January. A big list of theater favorites (Alice Ripley, Jonathan Groff, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Kerry Butler, etcetera...) already confirmed as guests
The Tracking Board has a ton of information and downloadable PDFs of 2015's Hit List, the best as yet unproduced specs

Old Queens We Love
Hey we were as surprised as you that they all showed up in the news feed on the same day
THR Kathleen Turner speaks about equal pay in Hollywood and reveals new plans -- a King Lear adaptation starring her. I just died reading that. She is so amazing on stage.
THR two time Oscar winner Glenda Jackson sticks toe back in the acting waters after years of retirement... from acting at least
/Film Barbra Streisand is supposedly going to direct a Catherine the Great movie. I'll believe it when I'm in the theater. She's as bad as Warren Beatty about kicking back at home and occassionally promising to work. It rarely happens!
Vulture Sir Ian McKellen improvised a song for Beauty & The Beast but Bill Condon didn't put it in the movie!
The Stake discovers how funny Carrie Fisher is with an old bit from SNL. That's a good thing about the Star Wars revival since she's a national treasure. Read her books!
Wall Street Journal talks to Carrie Fisher who gives good quote as usual.

Was there ever a point when you thought, ‘I don’t want to do this new movie’?

Never. I’ve been this character for 40 years, why would I not? Because I’m going to be associated with Princess Leia more? There is no “more.” And I’m a female working in show business, where, if you’re famous, you have a career until you’re 45, maybe. Maybe. And that’s about 15 people.

List Mania !
Guardian is doing a top 50 countdown daily... they're almost to the top ten and for US readers they've already covered lots of films you loved from 2014 (Mommy, Birdman, etcetera) some from 2016 (The Lobster) and 2015 goodies like Steve Jobs, Sicario and Tangerine (way way too low at #48)
BOFCA
released their awards and they yelled "what a day. what a lovely day" giving Mad Max Fury Road five prizes. As we stated last season, we're no longer going to follow / write about all the regional critics awards - just the one's that are long running with history. Why? There are nearly 40 of them now and most debuted in the past 10 years. It's too much and only important in the cumulative. But we'll probably link up like this.
Time Magazine recently hired Stephanie Zacharek (good choice, Time) and her top ten list is here: It's topped by Spotlight as so many top ten lists will be and includes both Hollywood triumphs (Creed) and indie sensations (Tangerine). Love what she writes about I'll See You In My Dreams:

How do you know when there are no surprises left in life? The surprise is that…you don’t. In Brett Haley’s gentle but potent comedy, veteran actress Blythe Danner plays a seventy-ish retired schoolteacher, long widowed, whose staid life takes a sharp left when two men appear on the scene almost simultaneously: Pool cleaner Martin Starr is the kind of platonic friend you meet only once in a lifetime; silver fox Sam Elliott is the love interest you never could have planned for.

Must Watch
I shudder when I see mashups like this to think of the man hours in making them. Adele's "Hello" cobbled together from a huge variety of movies...

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