Film Bitch History
Oscar History

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Directors of For Sama

Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Wanuri Kahiu (Rafiki)
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Entries in Hugo (19)


Last Chance, Netflix: Blazing Saddles, Hello Dolly!, An Unmarried Woman

There are quite a few Oscar'ed titles leaving Netflix on July 1st as they continue to thin their streaming catalogue. So you officially have 1 week left to watch them if you're trying to fill in holes in your movie knowledge. After the jump let's play a little screengrab roulette (sharing whatever comes up), shall we?

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On this day: Billy the Kid, The Dark Knight, Hello Nasty

Happy Bastille Day! Isn't it weird that violent/bloody days often become holidays later on?

On this day in history as it relates to the movies...

Howard Hughes The Outlaw (1943)

1862 The Artist Gustav Klimt is born. Later Dame Helen Mirren will fight for custody of one of his most famous paintings in the bad movie Woman in Gold (2015).
1868 Explorer Gertrud Bell is born. Nicole Kidman played her in an ill-fated unreleased Werner Herzog movie Queen of the Desert
1881 Outlaw Billy the Kid is shot and killed outside Fort Sumner. Numerous stars have played him in movies including Roy Rogers (Billy the Kid Returns), Kris Kristofferson (Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid), Emilio Estevez (Young Guns), and Paul Newman (The Left-Handed Gun). The most famous film version of his story may well be The Outlaw (1943) the Howard Hughes film which starred Jack Buetel as Billy and Jane Russell, in her star-making role, as his girl. You'll probably remember the funny scenes about this scandalous film (and Jane Russell's controversial cleavagae) within Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004)

more after the jump including Harry Dean Stanton's 90th birthday...

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Distant Relatives: Limelight and Hugo

Robert here with my second Distant Relatives of the week, making sure the series covers the major Oscar contenders before the big day (sorry The Help). Plus, Hugo arrives on DVD Tuesday for those of you who haven't yet seen it.


Two weeks ago I compared The Artist to Sunset Blvd delighting in the contrasts between the inspirational modern film and the cynical classic. Hugo might have been an even better point of comparison to Sunset Blvd since both are about young men discovering titans of the silent era whom time has forgotten but a film has many fathers and I'm intrigued by the relationship between Hugo and a film like Charlie Chaplin's Limelight. Like Hugo, Limelight is a film about a rediscovered artist, that's really a film about love of silent cinema that may really really be about the filmmaker himself.
There must have been several things compelling Martin Scorsese to adapt the book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret": Scorsese's legendary love of cinema, his passion for the cause of film restoration and preservation, and as his story goes, a desire to make a children's film that his own child could watch. But might the tale of an underappreciated filmmaker from years past held more personal resonance? In Hugo our hero Hugo Cabret (Asa Butterfield) discovers the presence of Georges Méliès (Ben Kingsley) through a series of adventures in the train station in which he lives. Through further adventures the young boy attempts to bring about Méliès rediscovery.


In the age of the home viewing and the internet it's pleasant to believe (however optimistically) that we don't forget such brilliant filmmakers. But how often must Scorsese have heard in recent years that his best, most productive years and most influential films were behind him. In fact, any of his contemporaries from the 1970's, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, have heard the same from time to time or quite often. And while we may not forget their seminal works as the world forgot the work of Méliès, how quick are we to dismiss them as great artists of the past or bores of the present.
Speaking of which, Charlie Chaplin made Limelight in 1952, almost twenty-five years after the arrival of talkies forever changed his canvas. Of course he hung on as long as he could, making silent films or semi-silents until the late thirties and then scoring a couple of talkie hits. But by the time the fifties came around, Chaplin was most definitely yesterday's news. It's not surprising that he wrote a film about a long forgotten clown named Calvero (Chaplin) rediscovered by a beautiful ballerina (Claire Bloom) and eventually given the tribute he deserves. Of course the film isn't about the art of the clown as much as it is the art of the silent comedian, punctuated by final performance by Calvero and his old partner (played by Buster Keaton). And of course the film isn't about anything as much as the lost prestige of Chaplin who was being banned from the US for his "communist sympathies" just as Limelight was being released.

In these films about young characters who discover old artists, it's entirely possible that Scorsese and Chaplin feel a kinship with the characters of both generations. While it's debatable that Scorsese sees similarities between himself and Méliès, I don't doubt that he knows what it's like to be Hugo, the young boy whose life is defined by the magic of movies. And Chaplin may not be an exact match with the ballerina who falls in love with a clown, but he certainly has an understanding of being a performer whose life is altered after discovering the brilliance and art of real clowns.

What's further telling is how the young people in both films lead sad, dreary, almost hopeless lives until they discover the magic that the rest of the world has forgotten. For Chaplin and Scorsese, these films are a look back at their pivotal moments and a look forward at those who may very well be discovering them, and perhaps a plea for our own lives and our own sakes, not to forget the magic. In an odd way they're both true stories too, however embellished. Méliès was re-discovered and re-appreciated in his life. And the real-life counterpoint for Calvero the clown had his moment too.


Curio: Oscar Unsheets, a Final Roundup

Alexa here.  Even though my excitement over the Oscar nominees this year is a bit thin, the films are enlivened for me when I see them through the eyes of other artists. (Another reason the Academy should follow the lead of the BAFTAs and hire some illustrators already). In last week's Curio I posted some of the more interesting unsheets (a creative term for fan poster art) popping up on the web for Best Picture nominees The Help, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Moneyball, and The Descendants.  Without further ado, here are the best unsheets I've spied for the remaining nominees Hugo, War Horse, The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris, and The Artist. Happy Oscar all!

The Artist by Gideon Slife.

The Artist by Hunter Langston.

The Artist by Ramin Kohanteb.

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6 Days Till Oscar. Remember When...?

Remember when costume designer extraordinary Sandy Powell won her third Oscar for Young Victoria and she was so over it, dedicating it to costume designers on contemporary films who never get recognized? That was kind of great and terrible simultaneously.

Um. I already have two of these."

Sandy Powell is one of the greatest designers in the history of the movies, previously winning for The Aviator (2004) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). But if you ask me she won her first for the wrong film. She beat herself in 1998 as she was double nominated. Velvet Goldmine. Come on.

Winning for the Aviator (2004) and Shakespeare in Love (1998)Do you think Powell can pull off Oscar number four on Sunday?


  • Oscar loves period pieces, the older the period the better, which gives Anonymous and Jane Eyre the edge.
  • Oscar loves gorgeous costume work and a whole unmistakable heap of them, which gives Arianne Phillips work on W.E. the edge. 
  • Oscar loves royalty porn which gives Anonymous and W.E. the edge. 
  • Oscar loves Best Picture frontrunners which gives The Artist the edge. 
  • Oscar loves Sandy Powell and Best Picture nominees in general which gives Hugo the edge.

With such a wide range of possibilities that might be attractive to the voters, I'm guessing it's a five way race which slides this over into the win column for The Artist. But you never know on the below the line categories. Weird things can occur.

Jane Eyre. Formidable competition? Tough to say.

OH. I ALMOST FORGOT. Here are my costume design nominees! which completes the traditional Oscar-like categories in The Film Experience's annual Film Bitch Awards so I've added in the tallies at the end of that page. I'll announce my winners tomorrow I think. Let me sleep on the tough calls.

I'll also start the Final Oscar Predictions tomorrow. Wheeeee, we're almost there.


VES Wins: Hugo, Rango and... "Dior J'Adore!"

Paramount had a big night at the Visual Effects Society awards. We knew that Hugo was bound to do well given that the VES Statue is already Papa Georges friendly (pictured left). But they won in other categories too thanks to Rango and Transformers. Will all three of those movies take home prizes at the Oscars? Transformers has the biggest hurdle there in all three of its categories but especially in visual effects since its battling Rise of the Planet of the Apes. "Caesar" is probably too agile to fall prey to "The Driller"

Visual Effects Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams
Supporting Visual Effects Hugo: Ben Grossmann, Alex Henning, Rob Legato, Karen Murphy
Visual Effects in an Animated Feature Rango: Tim Alexander, Hal Hickel, Jacqui Lopez, Katie Lynch
Animated Character in a Live Action Feature "Caesar" Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Daniel Barrett, Florian Fernandez, Matthew Muntean, Eric Reynolds
Animated Character in an Animated Feature "Rango" Rango: Frank Gravatt, Kevin Martel, Brian Paik, Steve Walton

Created Environment in Live Action
 "155 Wacker Drive" Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Giles Hancock, John Hanson, Tom Martinek, Scott Younkin
Created Environment in Animated "Main Street Dirt" Rango: John Bell, Polly Ing, Martin Murphy, Russell Paul

Quick recall: I'm sure you remember Main Street in Rango since virtually all the action unfolded there. But if you need a quick memory nudge "155 Wacker Drive" is the building that took such a brutal beating in Transformers, an action sequence that they used so heavily in commercials since they correctly guessed that "The Driller" was their biggest WOW. In fact that action sequence was so memorable that it appears that Battleship wanted nothing more than to remind you of exactly that in their 'Transformers Jr.' Superbowl commercial.

Rango in the Dirt Saloon

Virtual Cinematography in Live ActionHugo: Martin Chamney, Rob Legato, Adam Watkins, Fabio Zangla
Virtual Cinematography in Animated "The Dirt Saloon" Rango: Colin Benoit, Philippe Rebours, Nelson Sepulveda, Nick Walker
Models "Driller" Transformers: Dark of the Moon: Tim Brakensiek, Kelvin Chu, David Fogler, Rene Garcia
Compositing "Skinny Steve" Captain America: The First Avenger: Casey Allen, Trent Claus, Brian Hajek, Cliff Welsh

The rest of the awards were for television and commercials. Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and Terra Nova (is that cancelled or not? Confusion) took home most of the prizes. You can see a full list of winners at the  VES Official Site. And just because we love it so much, and its such an actressexual fix, let us all gaze once more upon the great "Dior J'Adore" which won Visual Effects in a Live Action Commercial.

Remarkably Charlize Theron's beauty is not computer generated but an actual thing that exists in nature (Good job God!) but mixing in those famous immortals required computer assistance.