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What did you see this weekend?

"Colossal - has a great hook but doesn't live up to that promise. Kind of likable, but no part of it really excels" - Dave

"A Quiet Passion! I did not expect such piercing wit and laugh-out-loud humor from Terence Davies. "- Jonathan

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Entries in Ida (16)

Sunday
Jan112015

Golden Globe Foreign Film Panel

It's Golden Globes night. We'll start covering the red carpet arrivals in a half hour or so. If you missed our predictions those were here on the podcast.

 

A neat new tradition for the Golden Globes is this focus on their foreign film nominees -- they are the "Hollywood Foreign Press Association" after all. In this streamed event you can hear from FORCE MAJEURE's (Sweden) Ruben Ostlund, GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM's (Israel) Ronit Elkabetz &  Shlomi Elkabetz, IDA's (Poland/Denmark), Pawel Pawlikowski, LEVIATHAN's (Russia) Andrey Zvyagintsev, and TANGERINES (Estonia) Zaza Urushadze. Interestingly enough -- it's not common -- four of the five Globe nominees this year (all but Gett) are still in the running for an Oscar nomination in the correlative category

Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec252014

Top Ten Movies from 2014 You Should Catch Up With on Streaming

Margaret here, reporting from the warmth of the family home. In between gift-exchanging and major cooking projects, I'm going to be trying to catch up on as many 2014 movies as possible. For those of us without much time to run to the multiplex, there are plenty of options among recent acquisitions on streaming services. While most of the showiest would-be awards contenders are either still in theaters or holding off on their DVD releases, there are plenty of buzzy (and possibly even soon to be Oscar-nominated) movies available for the couch-bound.

Honorable Mention: Slow-burn crime drama Night Moves (Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning) and Baltimore dirt-biker documentary 12 O'Clock Boys, both on Amazon Prime; Mind-bending relationship dramedy The One I Love (Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass) and low-key Swanberg indie Happy Christmas (Anna Kendrick, TFE favorite Melanie Lynskey), both on Netflix Instant.

 

10. Stranger By The Lake (Netflix Instant) This French erotic thriller had critics raving at the beginning of the year, though it hasn't been in much of the end-of-year conversation.

9. Nymphomaniac, parts 1 and 2 (Netflix Instant) Lars von Trier's latest provocation, served in two parts, is not for the faint of heart but is for anyone who wants to see Uma Thurman rip a scene apart in part 1.

8. Enemy (Amazon Prime) Celebrate our Year of Gyllenhaal with double the Jake in his second collaboration with Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve. It's been called "what might happen if someone let Terrence Malick make a "Twilight Zone" episode, with a quick rewrite by David Cronenberg." 

7. Blue Ruin (Netflix Instant) This grim, ultra-budget indie thriller is up for the Independent Spirit's John Cassavetes Award, given to an outstanding picture made for under 500K. Come for the revenge story, stay for the unsettlingly realistic gore.

 

6. We Are The Best! (Netflix Instant) This early-80s-Stockholm-set dramedy about three middle-grade girls who form a punk band irrespective of actual musical gifts has been cropping up on many a top-ten list, and has been widely praised for its infectious joyful spirit.

5. Locke (Amazon Prime) A tense one-man show, this claustrophobic thriller hangs completely on a star turn from Tom Hardy, who's earned TFE raves and even has Brad Pitt stumping for him at industry screenings.

4. The Immigrant (Netflix Instant) The fact that the Weinsteins are giving this sweeping period the redheaded stepchild treatment and dropping it from their campaign slate shouldn't keep you from checking it out. You, too, can join in the mass internet grumble over its being overlooked at the Oscars for Best Actress, Best Score, and Best Cinematography prizes. (It may yet take home some Independent Spirit Awards!)

3. Snowpiercer (Netflix Instant) Critics have been all over the brutal, absurd, and entirely original dystopian action film. It's a dark horse for Supporting Actress with Tilda Swinton's bonkers performance, and full to the brim with memorable setpieces. Don't be a shoe; watch it!

 

2. Under the Skin (Amazon Prime) The atmospheric alien fever dream has a legion of ardent fans, and is the hip moviegoer's choice for a top-ten-list entry guaranteed not to repeat at the Oscars. Guaranteed to be among the most visually memorable movies you see all year.

1. Ida (Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant) This little movie has been an awards magnet, and may well make a smooth trip to the Best Foreign film Oscar come February. Since it's present on two major streaming services and clocks in at a mere 80 minutes, there's no excuse not to catch up with this starkly beautiful and poignant Polish drama. 

Which movies are you planning to catch up with from home? Have any additional streaming recommendations?

Friday
Dec192014

Oscar's Foreign Language Finalists. Shocking As Per Usual...

And now, dear reader, we have our official OSCAR FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM FINALIST LIST direct from the Academy and it's full of tongue-twisting shockers, no matter your mother Mommy tongue. You mean no Xavier Dolan? No Marion Cotillard and the Dardenne Brothers? No rampaging dogs or winter sleeps that made people cheer at Cannes? Nope...The nine remaining films are (in alpha order)

Can IDA finally break Poland's losing streak in this category?

THE FINALIST LIST

  • ACCUSED (The Netherlands. 7 nominations | 3 wins)
    This film, known as Lucia De. B in The Netherlands, is a courtroom drama about a lawyer who later regrets convicting a nurse for murder. The director was previously Oscar nominated for Zus & Zo
  • CORN ISLAND (Georgia. 1 nomination | 0 wins)
    Capsule Review though we called the Oscar prospects for this farmer and his daughter outpost drama "nil" ...oopsie! 
  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden. 14 noms | 3 wins)
    Reviewed and then reviewed some more because this sharp comedy about masculinity and marriage (among other things) is so damn good. Currently in release and the only film on this finalist list that's occasionally nabbing Foreign Film critics prizes from Ida 
  • IDA (Poland. 9 nominations | 0 wins)
    Love this movie but then again, doesn't everyone? It's the third biggest subtitled hit of the year and the most unlikely since its a confrontational stark black and white drama about a Jewish nun.
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia. 13 noms | 4 wins)
    Reviewed but more on this one (which is difficult to summarize) coming soon... it's also very good. 
  • THE LIBERATOR (Venezuela. Never nominated)
    Reviewed though we called the Oscar chances "unlikely" Oopsie again. We did SO much coverage on this race this year that I guess we got a little cocky. And also... maybe I was a little irritated by it since I was so in love with the runner up for submission from Venezuela. 
  • TANGERINES (Estonia. Never nominated)
    I've been predicting this film, about a farmer who takes in a wounded soldier, for months now after hearing intense love for it from a festival programmer in LA. Have yet to lay my own eyes on it though.
  • TIMBUKTU (Mauritania. Their First Submission!)
    Reviewed but I haven't yet seen this searing drama about Sharia law and the havoc it creates on a tribal community. I hear only exciting things (though miserably depressing things).
  • WILD TALES (Argentina. 6 nominations | 2 wins) 
    Reviewed and lurved. It's really hilarious and somehow maintains its energy throughout despite being essentially a collection of shorts 

Wild Tales is the only film to plan an opening right around Oscar night that lucked out by doing so.

The biggest omissions in terms of how high profile they were are undoubtedly Canada's Mommy (which I suspected would be too youthful anarchic for them), and Belgium's Two Days One Night which were two of the best films of 2014 according to many (including myself). The latter film is currently hoping for a Best Actress nomination for Marion Cotillard (UPDATED CHART)  and this omission could actually help her. Past races have shown us that perceptions of unkind treatment in the foreign film category can boost your nomination chances. Consider the fates of City of God (subitted but not nominated for foreign one year but chased with a regular release the next), Talk to Her (not submitted by Spain), and Three Colors: Red (deemed ineligible) which went on to nominations in other categories. 

It's also worth noting that ALL of the LGBT entries (there were six) did not make the finalist list. 

THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SAVE
One of the more discussion-prompting elements of this Oscar game each year is their recently refined rules which involve two different sets of groups coming up with these nine finalists. The six top vote-getters from the ballots of the general committee volunteer AMPAS members who attend the screenings make the list but then 3 additional films are chosen as finalists by a special committee (presumably to prevent really embarrassing omissions like Oscar had when say 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, an instant masterpiece from Romania, didn't make the cut). The titles (aka which films are which) are never revealed so it's internet speculation only that says...

Oh, the Executive Committtee totally saved that one!" 

NO MOMMY
So what this means is that whichever films that special more powerful committee saved, they liked them more than Mommy and Two Days One Night and whatnot. I'm sad to see both go but you can make a VERY respectable shortlist of Oscar nominees from these nine. I've only seen 4 of the remaining 5 but all 4 are worthy. 

You should expect to see some shifting release dates around this news. It's a huge danger to plan your releases around Oscar campaigns, as Mommy did by waiting to open (presumably until the nomination came). Every year films succumb to this hope addiction when it's better to mount an honest "this film is great!" release and if Oscar comes, it comes. Other movies that did not make the finalists that were planning on opening very  soon are Germany's Beloved Sisters, Two Days One Night (both due on Christmas Eve in theaters) and France's Saint Laurent, like Mommy was probably waiting for Oscar to come up with a plan.

More coming on this category soon once we've fully digested the news.

Related Pages

Current Predictions
Submission Chart Pt 1 Afghanistan through Ethiopia 
Submission Chart Pt 2 Finland through Nepal 
Submission Chart Pt 3 Peru through Venezuela 

Everything You Wanted To Know About the Foreign Film Race... but were afraid to ask 
Part One: We explored trivia about the Oscar's most global category
Part Two: Nathaniel jumped to Towleroad, "a site with homosexual tendencies," for a discussion of the six LGBT films in the competitive long-list.

29 of 83 Foreign Submissions Reviewed or Otherwise Investigated  AfghanistanArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCubaCzech RepublicFinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyHungaryIcelandIsrael, Iran, ItalyLatviaMauritania, New ZealandNorwayPanamaPolandPortugal, SwedenSwitzerlandTurkeyUruguay, and Venezuela.
Complete Oscar Charts Here.

 

Sunday
Dec142014

Awards Roundup & Predictions: A Circus That Never Shuts Down!

I swear to you that I've been working my ass off of late but somehow TFE has fallen further and further behind. Let's blame the traffic nightmares in NYC of late (I normally subway it but with that fractured toe there were many cabs), that long Thanksgiving weekend, all the free food and drink consumed at various schmoozy Oscar campaign events and 1:1 interviews. These last are truly the Bermuda triangle of time-suckage. Interviews themselves generally last between 15-20 minutes but somehow they can consume entire days. I wish that I were exaggerating (since I love doing them) but I'm not what with travel time, scheduling negotiations, waiting time, rescheduling snafus, and then the only way those interviews gets to you: transcription time and article construction)

Wah Wah. I'll shut up. First world Oscar pundit problems! The inimitable Missi arrives soon (and while she's entertaining you we get caught up behind the scenes and update every single Oscar chart so comment on those right here )  After the jump all the stuff we haven't talked about yet (EFA Awards, Regional Critics Prizes + "Critics Choice" Predictions).

Can Unbroken start sprinting after a very rough week? Just how hot is Ida? Will the BFCA swarm around their fall favorite Gone Girl? 3...2...1... GO!

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec092014

Online Film Critics Society Have Got 'Mommy' Issues

Well this is a pleasant surprise!

Glenn here with a look at the slate of nominees that the Online Film Critics Society sent our way today. You can thank me for a smidgen of the rather wonderful list since I am a member. The cynical person that I am assumed group think and the homogeny of the pack would give us the usual suspects, but the OFCS blessedly included some curveballs and left of field choices that should make the AFI and other singularly Oscar-hunting awards bodies look foolish. Let's take a look.

 

BEST PICTURE

  • BOYHOOD
  • THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
  • IDA
  • THE LEGO MOVIE
  • MOMMY
  • NIGHTCRAWLER
  • SELMA
  • TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT
  • WHIPLASH
  • UNDER THE SKIN

This being an online critics organisation, they are going to lean a little bit to the "cool" side of things. Having said that, only four of the organisation's nominations for Best Picture are likely going to get correlating Oscar nominees - they could be Boyhood, Grand Budapest, Selma and Whiplash. The rest of the list is spectacularly diverse with three foreign language films, a semi-experimental sci-fi, a creepy genre thriller, and the other meta-superhero flick from 2014. Speaking of which, the omission of Birdman is as surprising as it is delightful. I mean, I like the movie, and certainly much more than Whiplash, but I have no qualms with it missing for the sake of Xavier Dolan's Mommy. Not one bit.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Dec072014

Podcast: Special Behind-the-Scenes LAFCA Episode

For this unedited edition of the podcast, Nathaniel, Joe and Nick speak with Justin Chang from Variety about the Los Angeles Film Critics Association's annual voting, their commitment to voting their hearts free of the golden "O" word, their runaway favorites like Boyhood and the unlucky but well loved films like Grand Budapest and Birdman that were always in the mix but didn't win big. We also talk diversity of choices on the acting ballots and how surprises like Tom Hardy (Locke) and Agata Kulesza (Ida) come to happen in their two tiers of voting. How do they decide things like the Gena Rowlands career achievement prize and how close did Marion Cotillard come to this, the first critics prize of the season that eluded her. 

Have you even begun to digest this intense critics awards weekend? Did those long drawn out announcements Sunday stress you out? Unwind with this relaxed conversation about the Los Angeles third of the big day. You can listen at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes starting Monday night. Continue the conversation in the comments! 

LAFCA 2014 Discussion