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Entries in FYC (74)

Thursday
Jan082015

Brilliant Subliminal FYC for "Unbroken"

During awards season the mail stacks up like crazy. Check out this FYC ad cover of The Hollywood Reporter. 

All my life I had always finished the race."

Very sly! Even if Unbroken can't win, Louie Zamperini wants to finish the race, you know?! Let him finish the (Oscar) race. He always finished the race!  American Hero. Also if you squint: Chariots of Fire (1981) flashback. That one finished the race much to Reds dismay!

Oh, and while we're on the subject of subscriptions, sign up for our newsletter when we need to give you important info (never more than once weekly - won't clog your inbox!) and so that you miss none of the movie fun we have here.

Sunday
Dec212014

FYC: Josh Brolin in "Inherent Vice" for Best Supporting Actor

And so we come to the end of our individually chosen FYCs. Amir, our team coordinator, is off for a month long holiday (!) which leaves myself, Nathaniel, your immortal but ever running-late host to wrap things up. To recap: we asked each team member to write up a personal favorite longshot* from one specific category. Here's the final entry in the series, a performance I really love in a film I really don't.

Why highlight a film I don't care for? Because it's important to remember during all-or-nothing awards season that each individual element of a film is different than the big picture and ought to be treated as such for the purposes of awardage.

Which brings us to...

See, it wasn't just the eternal sunshine of California or the vast vistas of desert land and salt water. It wasn't even really the hazy hash-filled air that P.T. Anderson's troupe was breathing. But I was parched and hungry the whole time I was watching Inherent Vice. I needed a fresh water oasis in the salty Pynchonian desert and Josh Brolin came to my rescue as "Bigfoot". Repeatedly. Fortunately he was also hungry, orally fixated you might say, and an eager lunch companion.

Like many characters in the film he's introduced with wonderfully descriptive prose that one assumes is lifted from the novel for voiceover. Brolin's introduction is in glorious widescreen longshot. The V.O.:

Like a bad luck planet in today's horoscope, here's the ol' hippie-hating mad dog himself in the flesh, Lieutenant Detective Christian F. "Big Foot" Bjornsen, SAG member, John Wayne walk, flat top, of Flintstone proportions, and that little evil shit twinkle in his eyes that says 'civil rights violations'" 

Brolin just owns this, presenting as a black & white Western rectangle stiffly inserting itself into the movie's otherwise geometrically ragged and fringed array of colorful people. Of course you can't see an evil shit twinkle in someone's eyes in long or medium shot but you can hear it in their voice.

Congratulations hippie scum! Welcome to a world of inconvenience"

Immediately we move to Bigfoot's office where the detective taunts Doc Sportello with carefully chosen words and obscene self-lubricated hand gestures; he's always shoving things into his mouth: frozen bananas, fingers, diner food. Brolin's line readings aren't just well delivered but perfectly balanced and heaped, as if he's collecting the best syllables on a fork, whichever wons have the most condescending flavor. The actor captures how natural all of this comes to Bigfoot now, that its both performative for Doc and completely innate in Bigfoot's character (we instantly register that the performance is now the reality after numerous pre-movie variations of these same conversations between the two detectives) since he's even doing the same things when he's out of view on the phone or half lost in his own strictly business thoughts when he's eating.

BigFoot's buzzkill nature would be suffocating if Brolin didn't find so many ways to play the notes. And though Bigfoot is mean to stand in opposition to the movie's other characters, he'd be totally at odds with the movie's loose hippie daze tone if he also weren't so damn funny. There are a great many people who think Inherent Vice is a good time movie in and of itself. Whether or not that proves to be your experience know this: it's a far greater party every single time Josh Brolin shows up to crash it.

Motto pankēki!" 

*I selected Brolin before his BFCA nomination so perhaps he's not quite as improbable as expected in a low key supporting actor competition, so I'm crossing my fingers... or licking them in Bigfoot's honor.

RELATED
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR CHART  

Each Longshot FYCs In Case You Missed Any
Actor, Locke | Actress, Belle | Supp. Actress, Gone Girl | Supp. Actor, Inherent Vice
Picture, Obvious Child |  Adapted Screenplay, A Most Wanted Man 
Sound Mixing, Grand Budapest HotelCostume, The Boxtrolls 
Cinematography, Homesman | Prod. Design, Enemy | Editing, Citizenfour  

Short-Lived Longshot FYCs = Academy Thought Otherwise
Makeup, Only Lovers Left Alive (eliminated) | FX, Under the Skin (eliminated)
Screenplay, The Babadook (ineligible) | ScoreThe Immigrant (eliminated)

Saturday
Dec132014

Team FYC: A Most Wanted Man for Best Adapted Screenplay

Editor's Note: We're nearing the end of our individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Amir on "A Most Wanted Man".

Anton Corbijn’s latest film, A Most Wanted Man, is one of the year’s best American films. It’s the type of work that is elevated above the trappings of its overly familiar genre with superb performances and intelligent observations on the real world conditions that give birth to its story. It is arguably the smartest film made about America’s increasingly troubled relationship with, and its definition of, terrorism. Yet, it is surprising to compare the film's screenplay, penned by Andrew Bovell, to its original source, the 2008 novel of the same name by John le Carré, and notice the dramatic improvement that the adaptation has made to the text. 

With densely plotted novels, particularly in the espionage genre, one of the biggest challenges of adaptation is the careful omission of narrative threads without disrupting the harmony or logic of the story. Le Carré’s book is one of his lesser works, a straightforward piece about Issa (Gregoriy Dobrygin), a Chechen fugitive in Hamburg, whose history of being tortured in his homeland is sufficient cause for authorities (German and American) to assume ties with terrorist organizations. Issa’s story is intertwined to three other protagonists who are afforded equal attention in the novel: a banker named Tommy Brue (Willem Defoe), a lawyer named Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and a spy named Gunther Bachmann (Philip Seymour Hoffman)...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec112014

Team FYC: The Grand Budapest Hotel for Sound Editing and Mixing

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. Here's Teo on the sound work in Golden Globe nominee, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

 By now, Wes Anderson's house style has become so familiar that it can be easy to take it (and him) for granted. But for fans, the surface similarity of his films is just an invitation to look for the differences. And in every way, a closer look at The Grand Budapest Hotel pays off.

I had the opportunity to sound edit a film over the summer. It was a documentary, but in a process like sound editing, the difference between documentary and fiction film is generally negligible. You fix what the on-set mics couldn't capture. You try to find or create sounds that can approximate what you lost. What's unique about Anderson's sound editing is that he doesn't try to make his films sound like reality any more than he tries to make his films look like reality. Instead, Wes Anderson's films are filled with sounds that are almost hyper-real. They're crisply recorded and minimal in their design...

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Team FYC: Obvious Child for Best Picture

Editor's Note: We're nearing the end of our individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar / Globe / SAG race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be a voter, take note! Here's Matthew Eng on "Obvious Child". (Do you think it can swing a Globe nod?)

In the category of “Movies That I’m Thrilled Even Exist,” Obvious Child would easily take the cake this year, without question. Writer-director Gillian Robespierre, in the first of a hopefully long line of complex, female-focused comedies, has crafted a film that takes such confident and unfussily righteous pride in its pro-abortion stance, all the more crucial considering the efforts still being made to demonize and outlaw the act.

Working with co-writers Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm, and in tandem with the warm, witty, and wondrously empathetic efforts of redoubtable leading lady Jenny Slate, Robespierre has produced a near-rarity: a romcom heroine we can believe in. [More...]

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Tuesday
Dec092014

Team FYC: Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Belle" for Best Actress

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's abstew on "Belle".

As a graduate of Great Britain's prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Gugu Mbatha-Raw was trained in the classics of British theatre. She began her career treading the boards in productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet with Andrew Garfield and Hamlet on Broadway with Jude Law. Like most classically trained British thespians making the leap to the big screen, a Merchant Ivory-type period piece would naturally lend itself to her Shakespearean background. But despite her pedigree, Mbatha-Raw probably wouldn't traditionally be cast as Queen Elizabeth I or Jane Austen's Elizabeth Bennett on film. Which is why her breakout performance as Dido Elizabeth Belle in the real-life story about a biracial heiress in 18th Century England that defied the conventions of the day, couldn't have been a better fit for Mbatha-Raw, tailor-made for her talents and utilizing her classical training.

In most corset dramas, the greatest concerns seem to be about finding a husband to secure financial stability. But Belle, while still maintaining a romance we come to expect from the genre (with Sam Reid's law apprentice, a man as noble and just as he is handsome), is concerned with loftier issues. Race, class, and social injustice are all part of the bigger picture and at its center is the remarkable Mbatha-Raw, giving a face and humanity to what could very easily turn into a film about ideas.

Raised alongside her cousin as if they were sisters, yet at the same time not allowed to dine with her own family, Dido is caught in-between worlds. Mbatha-Raw's expressive face, at turns inquisitive and knowing, effortlessly conveys the internal and emotional struggle Dido confronts everyday. In one heart-breaking scene, she rubs and beats at her skin, its color a constant reminder of her difference. Tears stream down her face as her frustration overwhelms her. And in that moment Mbatha-Raw allows us viscerally to feel Dido's plight, communicating this woman's important and fascinating story with intelligence and compassion.

And if that wasn't enough, Mbatha-Raw showed her range and versatility by delivering an equally compelling performance in a completely different role about identity as a modern-day pop star in Beyond the Lights. But as Dido in Belle, Mbatha-Raw gives the kind of performance that heralds the arrival of a new star, a signature role that will become synonymous with the actress. Hopefully the Academy takes notice as well, rewarding this young thespian with a nomination for her efforts and crowning 2014's best new cinematic discovery. 

 Other FYCs 
Costume Design The Boxtrolls | Production Design Enemy | Editing Citizenfour Makeup and Hair, Only Lovers Left Alive | Best Actor, Locke | Supporting Actress, Gone Girl | Visual FX, Under the Skin | Cinematography, The Homesman | Outstanding Ensembles | Screenplay, The Babadook |  Original ScoreThe Immigrant