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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Les Misérables (55)

Saturday
Jan262013

29 Days 'til Oscar: Best Make-Up & Hairstyling

The Academy recently changed the name of the Best Makeup category to Best Makeup & Hairstyling but in truth hairstyling, wigs and whatnots have long been part of the diverse criteria for which Oscar voters are meant to reward Achievements in Makeup. But how does one define "achievement"? True to awards season in general (it's not just Oscar voters, mind you) the definition is usually "most=best". Sadly nearly almost all the golden statuettes in this category have gone to prosthetic effects -- werewolves, dwarves, you name it! It's the one category other than visual effects where genre films regularly lord it over more "noble-minded" efforts... (though strangely zombie pictures are the exception since they never even make the finalist list). 

So, how refreshing would it be if the Oscar went to the Hair and Makeup team of Les Misérables this year? I was surprised to hear on the podcast that my co-conspirators were almost universally opposed to this particular nomination but I actually think it's the strongest nominee in this category. It's got a very consistent boldly stylized feel and a shit ton of traditional wigs and prosthetics work if you're also looking for "Most" in your "Best". They've aged Hugh Jackman and scarred him up, imagined really putrid diseased miserables of many sorts, made Cosette even prettier than usual, and even dipped Helena Bonham-Carter's wigs in coffee and tea for "more character" - though I suspect it's not the first time her head has been dipped in vats of dangerously hot liquids.

More traditional nominees can be found in The Hobbit and Hitchcock this year...

...wherein actors are heavily buried in prosthetics to appropriate the look of inhuman things: dwarves, orcs, master auteurs. 

My advocacy for Les Miz might have a little to do with the fact that I love the film, but I do try and differentiate individual categories from overall feelings as much as I humanly can (as all awards voters should since great work is found in bad films and vice versa) but mostly it has to do with the actual achievement. And, as a bonus points, Les Miz also wins by virtue of my tiebreaker manifesto "Spread the Wealth!". I assume that The Hobbit is the frontrunner given voting habits in this category and yet I don't wish for the Oscars to become the Emmys and just hand the same statues to the same series each year as their small screen counterparts do. Given Peter Jackson's shameless story stretching for billions, this category could be tied up for decades if they keep handing Middle Earth Makeup Oscars (it's already won twice). Under the umbrella of "spread the wealth" it's also worth noting that the Les Miz team (Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell) is the only nominated team that has no Oscars among them*: Hitchcock's Howard Berger previously won the gold for The Chronicles of Narnia (as well as an Emmy for The Walking Dead); Peter King and Tami Lane on The Hobbit team both already have Oscars, his for this particular franchise and hers for The Chronicles of Narnia

Q: Why does Lisa Westcott have no Oscars despite two nominations (Her Majesty Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love) prior to Les Miz?
A: Because she doesn't do werewolves or fantasy creatures. 

Can we call a one year moratorium on dwarves, elves, monsters and prosthetic biopics in this category and give it to the zombie whores and scarred bread thieves for once !?!

While we're on the topic... here are the Film Bitch Award's Makeup Nominees for 2012

 

Saturday
Jan262013

One Night Only ♪

Have you heard that The Academy is going to honor the renaissance of the movie musical with tributes to Chicago, Dreamgirls and Les Miz during the ceremony on February 24th? I'm never been that big on amorphous "tributes" which usually come in the form of sloppy montages at the expense of time celebrating either specific grand careers (lifetime achievements) or actual nominees. And I can't quite see what the through line is between those three pictures (as opposed to any other modern musicals). But you know I love musicals. Still... this makes precious little sense to me, not when you have a decent current lineup of Original Song nominees you could focus on for once. And not when you're only focusing on three films, two of which had little to do with the musical genres resuscitation.

It's a Musical Diva Throwdown

Everyone knows (or should come to understand) that it was the one-two-three-four punch of Disney's resurrection (The Little Mermaid + Beauty & The Beast) + Dancer in the Dark + Moulin Rouge! +  Hedwig and the Angry Inch from 1989-2001 that reopened the musical floodgates artistically and reminded everyone "ohmygod... look what this versatile genre can do!!!". Chicago (2002) then was the behemoth that came charging down that road that had been pre-paved for it by stronger films, despite how grandly entertaining it was, to claim the trophy for the whole genre.

At any rate the strangest exclusion from their planned tribute is surely Moulin Rouge! which had, if you'll recall, just as many nominations as both Les Miz and Dreamgirls (I guess 8 is the magic number for non-BP winning popular musicals), starred people who are still very much in the cultural conversation, and is already widely regarded as part of the new canon. That's something that none of the three films Oscar is planning to rehonor on the ceremony can quite claim... no, not even Chicago.

Thursday
Jan242013

Which musical performances will we see at the Oscars?

Though the Academy has officially announced that Adele will be singing "Skyfall" (her first time performing it live) on Hollywood's High Holy Night, we still don't technically know if there will be Best Original Song performances as there often used to be on Oscar night. The Academy had previously announced a 50th anniversary celebration of the James Bond franchise and it's probable that Adele's soulful warbling will be folded into that, whether or not the whole category is represented. We also don't know if she'll be singing before or after her Oscar win*.

There's also been rumors that some permutation of the Les Misérables cast will be performing live but unless they're doing a choral version of "Suddenly", that doesn't necessarily equate to Best Original Song performances either since a cast performance sounds more like a "One Day More" type situation.

But, if you ask me, they'd be crazy not to just have five Original Song performances this year since that'd give you the opportunity to have four superstars on stage at various points: Scarlett Johansson ("Before My Time"), Adele ("Skyfall"), Norah Jones ("Everyone Needs a Best Friend") and Hugh Jackman ("Suddenly") plus a gorgeous little outreach for a little world music ("Pi's Lullaby") on the side.

I know that people think the Best Original Song category is silly but if you look back through the history of the Oscars it has often provided great water-cooler moments or at least tuneful bathroom breaks. 

*the night's biggest lock?

Tuesday
Jan222013

I Could've Linked All Night

Boy Culture shares photos of 25 stars first and last appearances onscreen. Fun randomness. Greta Garbo & Marlene Dietrich transformations are big whoas.
FilmDrunxx has a funny piece on declining Rotten Tomatoes scores (in this case: The Last Stand with Schwarzenegger). Be warned sensitive Steven Spielberg fans: there's a jab at him at the tail end.
Guardian is asking for mocked up movie posters with title casting and soundtrack suggestions for JJ Abrams proposed Lance Armstrong biopic. My guess is their inbox is already full.

Pajiba looks at 20 interesting facts about Joss Whedon and The Avengers -- I'm not sure what brought this on, now, in January but I enjoyed reading it. 
The Sun Benedict Cumberbatch teases his legion of crazed fans by joking about how tight his Star Trek Into Darkness costume is

You can almost see what religion I am." 

CHUD famed poster artist Drew Struzan has been asked about doing posters for the next three Star Wars films. I approve. Weirdly the article refers to Strusan as "the director"... um... the director of his airbrush and cintiq?
Vogue UK has Miucci Prada sketches for The Great Gatsby costumes 

Small Screen
Pajiba b*tch rankings with Downton Abbey
Advocate recommends FBI vs serial killer show The Following which is supposedly slightly gay-ish horror. Doesn't American Horror Story already cover anyone jonezing for that? 

Devil's Advocate
David Edelstein 'why i hate the Oscars'... the piece, though anti-awards, is much richer than the dumb headline
Telegraph 'why I walked out of Les Misérables' it's another attack piece but I'm linking up because there is stuff of note: like voice goddess Marni Nixon's (Sound of Music, West Side Story, My Fair Lady) feelings on live-singing. This piece has further convinced me that people, in general, whether they love musicals or not, have a really hard time dealing with musicals of any kind, being satisfied by them, knowing even what they expect of the form. I'm still not sure why the genre has such difficulties with audiences given the absolute suspension of disbelief afforded every other genre in modern times. The silver lining for the ongoing Les Miz debate for me though is that more and more people seem to be saying 'why can't they just cast great singers and let them sing great songs' which is reductive but correct and also what I've been bitching about for my entire lifetime since I wasn't alive in that mythical time (post-silent cinema - pre Cabaret) when people loved musicals without shame and without so many hard-to-navigate hangups, caveats and ever-mutating conditions.

Friday
Jan182013

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously: The Honorable Mentions

Often during the calendar-straddling list-making frenzy of "top ten season" a scene or a line of dialogue or even a whole film will refuse to dislodge itself from any internal conversation you may have with oneself about the year. That moment for me this year was Kylie Minogue's cameo late in Holy Motors when she arrives in a trenchcoat, like some lost Casablanca love, to sing:

Who were we. When we were. Who we were back then?

It'd be ineloquent bathos, too crudely and redundantly stated, if it weren't sung. But this heightened musical longing for a lost identity, lifts and soars with pathos instead. The year's best films kept reinforcing this most interior of questions as they wrestled with their past selves towards an uncertain future.

Nathaniel's Top Ten of 2012
From all movies screened that received US theatrical releases...

ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow)
Sony/Columbia. December 21st 

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] My favorite exchange in Mark Boal's dense script occurs between a government official and a CIA operative. "What the fuck does that mean?" "It's a tautology". I laughed at the wordplay in the film but wasn't expecting the widespread tautological eruptions that followed the film's premiere as everyone bent themselves into self-affirming pretzels to debate its portrayal of torture in the film's opening scenes as if there were only one way to look at the damn movie... as if torture were the only thing worth discussing about the film! To Zero Dark Thirty's credit, though I too was discomfited by its suggestion that torture yielded useful intel, there's nary a comfortable or pandering moment in the film. Like The Hurt Locker before it, ZDT attempts something like an apolitical stance though how successful that is (or ever can be) will be left to each viewer to decide. In my mind, Bigelow doesn't suggest that you're meant to enjoy torture or even embrace the mission's success, exactly...

more on Zero Dark and 9 more triumphs after the jump...

Click to read more ...