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Entries in Foxcatcher (24)

Thursday
May292014

First Round Oscar Predix Continue: Supporting Actor

Two things we have to acknowledge right up front before we continue our first round of Oscar charts which will be finished by Saturday. Yay.

First. The supporting actor categories are often crazy foggy until people have seen the movies. Since men make up the bulk of film characters there is always a lot to choose from... even within the same film. Take Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Inherent Vice for example. I have yet to read the novel but literally every character in synopsis form sounds like a chance for actors to show off. That could result in a grandiose amount of overkill in scenery chewing for one film to handle- the acting equivalent of a rain of frogs, if you will. But it doesn't help us decipher which of the players will stand out. If you look at any of Anderson's early work -- the true ensembles before he started focusing on the journey of only one or two men (sigh) -- it was often hard to decide who was "best" because everyone was doing such strong work. I've gone with Josh Brolin as a prediction playing Joaquin Phoenix's old nemesis "Bigfoot" but it could just as easily be Benicio Del Toro as "Sauncho" or Owen Wilson as the musician "Coy Harlingen" or... well, you get the picture. The film has a huge cast.

Or it might be no one if the film is not well received. But the nominations for P.T.'s chilly weird The Master, not particularly "Oscar friendly" in the traditional sense, suggest that AMPAS is finally on this auteur's wavelength.

Second. There is no such thing as a line of demarcation between Lead and Supporting anymore. The two categories are fluid and mean nothing dissimilar at this point. It's like ten spots for men and ten spots for women. Period.

There are infinite ways to get away with category fraud in this day and age and the only time Oscar has ever rejected fraudulent campaigns is when a person leading the film has no other actor of stature around or of the same gender to pretend they are "supporting" them (Winslet in '08, Keisha in '03, etcetera). Otherwise they're always okay with it. Voters are especially forgiving of category fraud with male actors, perhaps subconciously reflecting heteronormative pack mentality --  some guy is always the alpha. So even if there is no way you can describe Fox (Collateral) in '04 or Affleck (Jesse James)  in '07 as "supporting characters" without sane people laughing at you, that's okay with Oscar because in no stretch of the Hollywood imagination are  Cruise and Pitt not alpha males. I think we can all agree on that.  

Which brings us to Foxcatcher. Here, things are decidedly more fluid. Carell and Tatum and Ruffalo are not big enough stars to pretend that all other men in any given movie would be supporting them. Hell, Tatum even has second billing to Jonah Hill in the 21 Jump Street series which I find... strange. (Was it the Oscar nominations? Is it the deferrence to alpha order? Tatum led more films before they joined up). Early word is that Sony Pictures Classics will campaign both Tatum and Carell as leads and Ruffalo as supporting. Whether this holds or not is anyone's guess. In Contention posted a piece on how rare double lead nominations are and cited the statistics (not since 1984 for men and 1991 for women) and called it "obviously stiff odds" and that's true, factually. But it's not true spiritually. The article left out the extremely crucial fact that studios don't try to win dual lead nods anymore. Who is to say that we wouldn't have had examples of dual lead nods since then if they had kept campaigning truthfully as they used to do? Maybe voters should check themselves before demoting lead actors to supporting and ask themselves the relevant question "would I vote for them as a lead?" If the answer is "no" than maybe you shouldn't vote for them in supporting. 

THE SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART 
INDEX OF PREDICTIONS 

Tuesday
May272014

Podcast: Cannes Aftermath with Special Guest Guy Lodge

For this quickie edition of the podcast Nick and Nathaniel speak to Guy Lodge on the last day of the festival about his experience, from favorites to disappointments, festival politics and even a little Oscar buzz. He answers the really important questions like: is Kristen Stewart really that much of a revelation in Clouds of Sils Maria?; is Hitchcock's The Birds is a fair comparison for the Hungarian dog movie White God?; Which movie convinces you that Xavier Dolan is the real deal?

00:01 Winter Sleep and the politics of being "overdue"
05:00 Leviathan & Mommy: late bows and multiple raves
07:45 Acting Prizes: Julianne Moore in Maps and Timothy Spall as Mr Turner
13:00 "Foxcatcher is really terrific!"
18:00 Un Certain Regard: The Tribe and White God
22:00 Competition quality and surprises: Party Girl winning Camera D'Or and the media praise for Channing Tatum and Kristen Stewart
28:00 Last words, movies missed.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments... and while you're at it listen to the last couple of week's of the podcast which were two of my favorite episodes and weirdly less remarked upon than usual.

Cannes 2014 in Review

Saturday
May242014

Cannes Diary: "Foxcatcher" and Best Actor, "Clouds of Sils Maria" and Actresses

Diana Drumm reporting from Cannes for The Film Experience

With the Palme d’Or announcement looming over the Croisette, critics and casual filmgoers are scattering to catch the festival favorites screening throughout the Palais and/or selecting their bets for the Awards ceremony. Yours truly is in a bizarre, hazy limbo between the two, writing up what’s left of my coverage and running to more screenings. Without further rambling, here are two more competition films (an Oscar favorite and an indie to look out for) along with my personal pick for Best Actor. Will Jane Campion and jury agree? 

Foxcatcher
Bennett Miller’s true story drama looks at the relationship between Olympic wrestlers Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and American old money heir John E. du Pont (Steve Carell), that would lead to a point-blank murder. Opening with black-and-white footage of a foxhunt (horses, hounds, riding gear) on the du Pont Foxcatcher estate, the film then cuts to Mark Schultz in not quite as posh straits, getting paid $20 to give a speech to an elementary school and chowing down on lukewarm ramen. So when he gets the call that John E. du Pont (apparently an avid wrestling enthusiast despite his status and it being a sweaty arm sport) wants to fly him out to meet, Mark leaps at the chance before getting any specifics on du Pont...  

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May212014

Cannes Tidbits: Mommy, Foxcatcher, Two Days One Night, Lost River

And here is where the internet punishes me for being so woefully behind on my Oscar predictions. I had been planning to predict Channing Tatum for Best Supporting Actor since January... and I would have done so and people would have scoffed only to be blown away a mere month later by my prophetic gift when the Foxcatcher reviews hit at Cannes. 

Channing Tatum & Steve Carell headline. Will any movie ever campaign two leads again?

No matter that Chan is, by most accounts, the lead. You know how Oscar do with two-lead/same-gender movies - they cheat!

Foxcatcher isn't the only movie greeted with raves the past couple of days. In fact, it seems like with each day of the festival (which ends Sunday) we have a new Palme D'Or frontrunner. If you believe everything you read on Twitter, for example the winner is clearly going to be Two Days and One Night With Mr Turner & Foxcatcher's Mommy in Timbuktu. I've heard more than one critics proclaim Marion Cotillard the obvious winner of best actress for her leading role in Two Days One Night but haven't they been paying attention at past Cannes ceremonies? She's always the "sure thing" at that festival and she has yet to win. So try not to jinx her, s'il vous plait.

Not every movie is going to win a prize. Atom Egoyan's Captives was widely panned but seemed to quickly dissipate from the converation. Ryan Gosling's Lost River doesn't look like it's going to be so lucky. There's a certain level of joyful snark and target practice that only emerges from critics when a major star is involved in a project so that one appears to be the biggest punching pag since Grace of Monaco on opening night. [The No Duh Lesson: People care about Ryan Gosling and Nicole Kidman. They do not care about Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively]

After the jump a collection of Cannes tweets about Xavier Dolan's Mommy (and a few other movies) that have raised my eyebrows enough to share them.

 

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Apr192014

YNMS²: Foxcatcher & Gone Girl

Unless you count the LEGO Movie's probable Best Animated Feature bid and the Sundance bow of Love is Strange (I'm still hopeful - it's playing Tribeca right now) 2014 hasn't seen much in the way of Oscar contenders just yet. Recent trailers are changing the collective shrug to raised eyebrows - between The Homesman (previously discussed), Jersey Boys (if you're feeling very generous), the Cannes lineup announcement and these two trailers from past nominated directors Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) and David Fincher (Gone Girl) the body is ready for the first wave of Oscar predictions. We'll manage them before April wraps.

Both of these trailers have been around for a bit and both blissfully play more like teasers despite their length; the job of a trailer is to sell a future ticket, not to make you feel like you've already seen it so you don't need one.  Foxcatcher's traiser was actually released last year and then swiftly pulled before we could get to it but it recently resurfaced and Gone Girl has been kicking around for a week but I've heard your plea to discuss so a couple of quick notes follow

GONE GIRL

Yes. What's not to love really? Remarkable use of music and uncomfortable juxtapositions in the montage. Plus, Rosamund Pike's gorgeousity turning to the camera just in time for the vocals of "She" is just a marvelous 'we're-making-a-star here' relief given that her career, though healthy, deserves more fame and a richer choice of scripts. That final shot of her in the water is so disturbing. (Yikes). And though they aren't prominently featured in this trailer the supporting cast is really good with a lot of underused faces like Sela Ward and Missi Pyle. 

No. I got nothing though I guess I hope Fincher takes a break from crime thrillers soon and that greenish color palette which was fun for a couple of films but three in a row. It's approaching Eastwood's inky black and Soderbergh's yellow as a default rather than an artistic choice.

Maybe So. Casting Ben Affleck as your leading man has to be considered kind of risky, right? Aristically speaking. He's not the terrible actor some say he is but neither has he ever proven himself a great one. 

FOX CATCHER

Yes. Another minimalist peak at a crime drama, this one being a horrible and super weird true story. It has a very good chance of being riveting given the cast, the story and the writer/director (Bennett Miller of Capote and Moneyball fame). The "A coach is..." speech here is beautifully judged as a teaser framing device, especially with that pathetic shuffle into the gym with the pistol out. Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum seem like a pretty great trio to hang a movie on. And did I just spot Vanessa Redgrave?!? ( "Yes, please" times so so so many.)

Also Yes. Channing Tatum in a singlet

No. I dread any potential "sweepers" in any of the acting categories -- just on principle because there are ALWAYS more than four great performances in a film year -- so though I've long thought Steve Carell was an Oscar calibre actor (I nominated him right here for Little Miss Sunshine) I don't relish seeing him win everything because he went the prosthetic and vocal affectation route. He looks good in the trailer, don't get me wrong. I just know that no matter how brilliant he is, he'll be wildly overpraised merely because of this and the meat of the role. 

Maybe So. I suppose the ultra specific details of this tale might not help it with accessibility for the masses, or even to feel potent thematically. But we'll worry about that later if it happens.

 

Are you a Yes, No or Maybe So ?
And does the strength of your answer coincide with your faith in their Oscar play? 

 

Friday
Jan312014

We Can't Wait #3: Foxcatcher

[Editor's Note: We Can't Wait is a Team Experience series, in which we highlight our top 14 most anticipated films of 2014. Here's Glenn Dunks on "Foxcatcher"]

Mark and Dave Schutlz played by Ruffalo and Tatum respectively

Foxcatcher 
Based on the true story of Olympic gold medalist Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), Foxcatcher tells the story of how John du Pont (Steve Carell), member of the millionaire du Pont family, murdered Schultz's brother, wrestling champion Dave (Mark Ruffalo). 

Talent
Director Bennett Miller, unlike the David O. Russells of the world, is switching his casts with each movie. Here he is working with a screenplay by Oscar-nominated Dan Futterman and Emmy-nominated E. Max Eyre. Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum take the three major roles, but the peripheries are filled out with such names as Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller, Anthony Michael Hall and prolific character actor Brett Rice.

Why We Can't Wait
Appearing, at least on first inspection, like a cross between the real life sport drama of Moneyball and the small town true crime drama of Capote - Foxcatcher looks like another winner from Bennett Miller who is three for three and that's before you even count his arguable best work (the bscure and bonkers documentary The Cruise)The eclectic cast should be interesting and it'll be exciting to see what Carell does with darker more challenging character material. The trailer that was released last year (and then pulled) looked disturbing and creepy and Carell appears to be on fire with the weight gain and voice weak like watered-down tea.

But We Do Have To Wait
Sony Pictures Classics will distribute later in 2014, which perhaps suggests that it's a smaller movie than many will expect with a cast such as this (and hoping for Oscar attention). It seems likely that it will premiere at one of the big festivals (Venice would suit).

Previously
Under the SkinInherent ViceInto the Woods , Snowpiercer , Nymphomaniac , Boyhood , Big Eyes ,The Last 5 Years , Gone GirlCan a Song Save Your LifeVeronica Mars and those that just missed the cut