Asghar Farhadi has another Oscar contender on his hands...

Oscar History

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Oscar Horrors: The Sixth Sense

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Entries in interview (163)


Interview: Joshua Oppenheimer and Adi on The Look of Silence

Amir here. I first fell in love with Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence in September 2014, at TIFF. It was the last, and best, film I watched at that festival, and it left an emotional mark that I lived with for days. I caught up with the film again when it was released for the public and my conviction that this was one of the best documentary features of all time was reaffirmed – in my book, one of 2015’s holy trinity of films. So, you can understand my excitement when I finally had the chance to speak with director Joshua Oppenheimer, and Adi, the subject of his film.

The Look of Silence, nominated for the Oscar for Best Documentary, a companion piece to the director’s earlier film The Act of Killing (also nominated in its year), is about the victims of the Indonesian genocide, who live side by side with the men who perpetrated those crimes against their loved ones. In his graceful and compassionate study of these people and their haunted spaces, Oppenheimer finds the language to bring invisible pains to the screen and push the limits of documentary form.

We talk about the relationship between his two films, his experiences in Indonesia, influences on his filmmaking, where documentary cinema stands today, and Adi’s life after the film’s release.

AMIR SOLTANI: I know you’re probably tired of comparisons between your two latest films, but I feel like there’s nowhere else to start but The Act of Killing. There’s a theatrical element to the first film that The Look of Silence, despite being polished, stylized and even often staged, doesn’t have. It’s more formally understated. What initiated your formal approach to the second film?  

JOSHUA OPPENHEIMER: I think these two films are both rigorously about the present, or rather, the past’s role in the present. [More after the jump...]

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Interview: David Lang on "Simple Song No. 3" and Storytelling through Music

Lady Gaga may have understandably hogged the media's coverage of this year's Best Original Song category but she's not the only Grammy winning composer in the mix. Diane Warren (the main writer of "Til It Happens to You") and The Weeknd "Earned It" are also Grammy winners. So is David Lang, an eclectic composer best known for his classical work. He's nominated for "Simple Song No. 3" from Youth, the lynchpin song of the whole movie. Like Jane Fonda's movie star in the same film, his song is hyped consistently by the story and characters before we fatefully cross paths with it.

Lang hasn't worked in movies too often, though he did contribute to the incredibly memorable music in Requiem for a Dream (2000). After his elevating and Oscar nominated work on Youth, we're hoping he spends more time composing for our screens.

When David Lang sat down to talk to The Film Experience I warned him that I know next to nothing about music. The good humored composer joked, absurdly, that he barely knows anything either. Lang is one of very few Oscar nominees in the Academy's history to have won a Pulitzer Prize before their Oscar honors. (Here's our talk edited slightly for length and clarity.)

NATHANIEL:  Famously you wrote "Simple Song No. 3" before Sorrentino's screenplay was complete. How quickly did you write it? Did Sorrentino ask for several iterations?

DAVID LANG: I work pretty fast. The way this worked was I made a version of the song and I would get a singer to sing it and send the demo to Paolo. I basically sent him three versions of the song. I probably spent much more time having these philosophical conversations with him and reading the script and having dark neurotic nightmares about it than actually doing the work!


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Interview: Josh Singer on pushing deep with Spotlight's Screenplay and his time on The West Wing

Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer at the Gothams. It would not be the last award for their SPOTLIGHT screenplayAs we head toward Oscar night in an unusually complicated Oscar race, Spotlight is one of the films that's still in the thick of it. And with good reason. This finely tuned gripping account of the Boston Globe's long investigation into sex-abuse coverups was, by any measure, one of the most acclaimed films of the year.

The director Tom McCarthy is a flexible talent -- he acts, writes, and directs -- so it was something of a surprise that he shared writing duties on Spotlight with Josh Singer (The West Wing, The Fifth Estate). But that's somehow perfect since the film places such beautiful emphasis on community and teamwork. And when I began to speak with Singer about his involvement this communal spirit was also obvious. He immediately began deferring praise to the actors, and Tom's gift with them, and was so pleased that they'd been honored already this awards season. 

Here's our interview, edited for length and clarity...

NATHANIEL R: Spotlight is unusual in that the lead character is really the investigation itself

JOSH SINGER: It’s really an ensemble piece. Tom wanted this to be about the Spotlight team. It made me nervous early on, not having one or two protagonists. We have six!

NATHANIEL: Tom McCarthy doesn’t usually collaborate on his screenplays. So tell me what happened there.

 more after the jump...

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Adam Stockhausen: From a Budapest hotel to a "Bridge of Spies"

Adam Stockhausen won the Oscar on his first nomination for GRAND BUDAPEST HOTELEmmanuel Lubezki (who keeps winning prizes) isn't the only craft superstar repeating the Oscar rounds this year. Last year's winner for Production Design Adam Stockhausen (Grand Budapest Hotel), a 43 year old powerhouse who's amassed a very impressive resume in just a doesn't years, is back in the mix this season with the Cold War drama Bridge of Spies.

That Best Picture nominee is his first movie with Steven Spielberg but he's already worked with auteurs like Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom) on terrific projects, too. 

Here's our interview:

NATHANIEL: From Wes Anderson to Steven Spielberg! These auteurs seem very different. I imagine Wes Anderson making his own dioramas, and being like "Recreate this. Adam!". Whereas Spielberg, I don’t think of him in that 'this is what the set looks like' way at all!

ADAM STOCKHAUSEN: They have more similarities than you think. I don’t know if I want to get too deeply into what they do, because I’ll leave that for more esteemed people than myself, but I certainly see similarities. There are differences in the day to day: Wes pre plans shots and they’re carefully choreographed, Steven is slightly different in that the shots aren’t planned in advance, but the choreography is very similar. 

more after the jump...

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Interview: Tobias Lindholm on the Oscar Nominated 'A War' and Creating Time on Film

Writer/Director Tobias LindholmJose here. In Tobias Lindholm’s A War, the hardest battle for Danish commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) comes not in the warzone of Afghanistan, but in a courtroom back home where he faces prison time for a tactical decision that ended the lives of civilians. A thoughtful essay on the rules of humanity during wartime, the film remains largely apolitical while still engaging audience members who might question the very nature of foreign invasions, the need for war, and our roles as humans in a world that pits us against each other. Directed with confidence by Lindholm, the film remains outside any specific genre while providing a master class in how to create tension, intimacy and thrills.

A War has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and Lindholm isn’t completely unfamiliar with the experience, having also worked as a writer in the 2012 nominee The Hunt. The versatile filmmaker is next working on yet another screenplay with Thomas Vinterberg and is also writing Paul Greengrass' next film. I had the opportunity to talk with him the day after the Oscar luncheon, and he shared his insight into creating time on film, his cinematic pet peeves and the excitement of awards season.

Our interview is after the jump...

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Interview: Sandy Powell on Color, Character, Carol, Cinderella, and Cate

Sandy Powell on the set of CinderellaSome people rush to movies if their favorite movie star's face is prominent on the poster. Others swear allegiance to directors. Obsessive cinephiles go for all sorts of reasons. One of ours at The Film Experience is Sandy Powell. If she's the costume designer, we're there, no questions asked. We sat through The Tempest (2010) just for her and trust me that that's devotion.

Meeting her in person earlier this season to talk Carol and Cinderella, which brought her her 11th and 12th Oscar nominations and could well bring her a 4th Oscar, was a personal joy. I had talked to her once before by phone but in person we were able to look at costume stills together and had a great conversation. This cinematic MVP was a fun, lively, and personable interviewee. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. 

NATHANIEL R:  I intervewed you once a long time ago and I was really taken aback by something you said. You implied that you were surprised and amused by analytical readings of your work.

SANDY POWELL: I was talking about that today with Judy Becker and she said thing "I've learned so much about my work today!". People read things into it that you weren't consciously thinking about. But they're not bad things! You start thinking "maybe subliminally..." You start taking credit for it! 

A lot of the time you work so fast that you make snap decisions and you don't know what it's based on. I do work instinctively and intuitively. I don't sit and analyze. I don't think about the significance and "What shall I consciously put on her or him or her to convey that?"  I do what feels right. And quite often just by doing that you've got it right, you actually have given something so symbolism.

NATHANIEL R: Do you start thinking of full outfits while you're reading a script?

her answer and much more after the jump...

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Interview: Chivo on The Revenant, Great Auteurs, and Instagram Spying

For a man who's won two consecutive Oscars and could well make history with a third in as many years, Emmanuel Lubezki is a surprisingly humble fellow. The Mexican cinematographer, better known these days as "Chivo" since everyone is familiar with extraordinary gift and using his nickname now, shakes off my initial gushing as we meet. He is quick to cite assistants and crew members and focus pullers for the magic. But I press on. I really want to know hear how it feels for him to be a legend in his field, a two time Oscar winner and someone who's name is spoken with a certain reverence. He shakes this off, too, adamantly but graciously "I don't know what you're talking about! I don't feel that at all. But thank you!"

Some of his innocence about the kind of reviews he regularly receives could be chalked up to how completely immersed he gets in each picture. His work isn't over when a film wraps since post production can also be lengthy with different prints for IMAX and such. He's been inside The Revenant for a year. 

 I'm just coming out of the cave where I've been, I'm just starting to come back to life. 

Our interview is after the jump...

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