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Entries in List-Mania (131)

Wednesday
Jul062016

Comment Party: Halfway Mark - Best Pictures? 

You have a pretty good idea of the films I've loved this year thanks to reviews, frequency of posting, and other "honors" - consider it a warm up before the year end party... so that we don't forget the early films. So let's dispense with all the froufrou and just get right to the questions:

If Oscar voting happened now, would LOVE & FRIENDSHIP lead?

1. If you had a 5-wide Best Picture Ballot right now (January to June releases only) who would you vote for?
2. What would Oscar nominate if 
the Academy voted right now? 

Here's my guesswork about the Academy. If they voted right now (only January through June releases eligible) my guess is that we'd see the following films up for Best Picture... 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jun282016

Halfway Mark: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (So Far)

Mainstream cinema is having a rough summer, qualitatively... but let's honor what mainstream cinema often does best, for this episode of the Halfway Mark Review. Which is to say the broad strokes of Good vs Evil.

Not that mainstream movies always ace this low bar, mind you: Marvel remains mostly terrible at crafting villains, Batman v Superman was so inept that it didn't even understand that you need heroes in superhero movies. X-Men Apocalypse was a crowded repetitive mess on either side of the good/bad divide. But enough about stinkers - happy thoughts:  BESTS! 

Heroes of the Year

• The Avengers (Chris Evans, Cast & FX Team) in Captain America: Civil War
Can't they all just get along? While it'd be silly to say that Civil War doesn't tell you which team to be on (Hint: it's in the title) it does offer up enough sympathetic furrowed brow angst when looking at Team Iron Man that it's easy to understand both sides of this argument. That's half the battle in the selling the film. The other half is staging the battles so that everyone survives but looks deeply affected by the blows, which it also does well. Black Panther and Spider-Man are wonderful new additions, and Black Widow again demonstrates that she's the swiftest, most asskicking, and consistently double sided tape that arguably holds these movies together. If only Captain America, Marvel's most successful comic-to-film translation, weren't having to fight for so much attention in his own damn franchise; Iron Man never had to that. 

Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in Gods of Egypt
What's that you say? 'Gods of Egypt is a terrible movie!' Why yes, Yes it is. But that doesn't mean I can't honor Nikolaj's well shaped silly/serious turn as a blinded God. He's one of only two actors who knows what kind of movie he's in (the other is Geoffrey Rush, even better with the heightened camp) and he's fun to watch, helping to make this a sort of enjoyable terrible movie insteaad of just a terrible movie.  

Zootopia, Warcraft, The Conjuring 2 and more after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun232016

Happy Birthday, Frances McDormand

Kieran, here. There are certain actors whose absence would create a huge void in cinema. It’s not always the movie stars, despite their merits. It’s often the character actors. The beautiful, interesting, wholly human faces that populate our films, only semi-regularly leaping forward to truly headline a vehicle, but still remaining a vital part of the movies we love. Few actors working today embody this more fully than the wondrously versatile, endlessly watchable Frances McDormand whose entry into the world we celebrate today.

What’s your favorite Frances McDormand performance? Okay...that’s a rhetorical question. We all know what it is. But her filmography is diverse and fascinating to explore, who what's your #2?

Frances McDormand’s 5 Best Movie Performances

 5. Burn After Reading (2008)
Broad, but undeniably funny and completely understanding the tone of the vehicle. Mileage varies in terms of McDormand’s many outings with the Coen Brothers, but it’s almost never uninteresting... 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jun012016

The 50 Greatest Films by Black Directors

Slate magazine has drawn up an interesting list of great black films, the twist being that they have to have been directed by a black person rather than about the black experience so out go Old Hollywood musicals like Carmen Jones or Cabin in the Sky or Oscar favorites like Sounder.  In the wake of recent conversations about Hollywood's power structures and overwhelming whiteness, Slate assembled a field of critics and filmmakers and scholars to produce the list.

Eve's Bayou

I need to get cracking on my gaps in knowledge from this list, especially because of the titles I've seen from this list several were great and the ones I didn't personally connect to were still interesting (Night Catches Us) or memorable (Eve's Bayou - I've been meaning to give that another shot now that I'm older). Unsurprisingly Spike Lee has the most titles with six. Curiously, though I've seen many Spike Lee joints (and tend to like them - I'd have included Chi-Raq on this list), I've only seen half of his titles that actually made it (gotta get to Mo' Better Blues, Crooklyn, and When the Levees Broke soon). The list is after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
May262016

Bram Stoker's Dracula, Helena Bonham-Carter, and Peggy Lee Fever

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

1828 Feral teenager Kaspar Hauser is discovered wandering Nuremberg, claiming to have been raised in total isolation. Theories abound and the story inspires many artists down the road including Werner Herzog in the film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (1974).
1877 Influential dancer Isadora Duncan is born. Vanessa Redgrave gets an Oscar nomination playing her in Isadora! (1968)
1886 Al Jolson is born. Will later star in the first "talkie" The Jazz Singer (1927)
1894 Silent film star Norma Talmadge is born
1897 Bram Stoker's epistolary novel "Dracula" is published. Never stops being adapted for film and television but our hearts will always belong to Francis Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) despite the aggravating double possessive
1907 John Wayne was born. Did he always talk like that?
1913 Peter Cushing is born in England. Later stars in Hammer Horror films with his irl best friend Christopher Lee, the Dracula to his Van Helsing. Perhaps most famously Carrie Fisher 'recognizes his foul stench' when she's captured in Star Wars
1914 Geoffrey Unsworth, two time Oscar winning genius cinematographer is born. Shot so many gorgeous movies like 2001, Cabaret, TessSuperman as well as a legendary bad one in Zardoz

1920 Peggy Lee is born. The popular singer was mysteriously left out of AMPAS's annual "In Memoriam" section at the Oscars despite numerous film connections, like voicing multiple characters in Lady in the Tramp, starring in a remake of The Jazz Singer, popularizing the song "Why Don't You Do Right?" in Stage Door Canteen (later spectacularly used in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?), and even nabbing an admittedly strange supporting actress nomination for Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). Now where's that biopic we were promised from Todd Haynes starring Reese Witherspoon?
1926 Miles Davis is born. His biopic is in theaters currently because famous men get biopics.
1948 Stevie Nicks emerges with her diaphamous shawls from mother's womb; starts spinning. We see her gypsy.
1949 The legendary Pam Grier is born. Also answers to "Coffy," "Foxy Brown," and "Jackie Brown"
1961 Tarsem Singh is born. Eventually trades truly weird beautiful auteurial stuff for still weird CGI mainstream drudgery


1966 Helena Bonham Carter is born. Initially pegged as Merchant Ivory's favorite dress up doll, she goes on to have a rather spectacularly enduring career. Happy 50th Helena!

Helena's 10 Best Performances? My List...

  1. Wings of the Dove (1997) shoulda won the Oscar
  2. Fight Club (1999) shoulda been nominated for the Oscar
  3. Howard's End (1992) shoulda been nominated for the Oscar
  4. Sweeney Todd (2007) shame about the singing voice. because otherwise...
  5. A Room With a View (1986) 
  6. Suffragette (2015)
  7. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)
  8. Eyesore in Wonderland (2010)
  9. Lady Jane (1985)
  10. Hamlet (1990)

1971 Lenny, by Julian Barry. opens on Broadway. Barry adapts it to film three years later with Bob Fosse directing. They both receive Oscar nominations. Lenny even gets a third life in a way when it basically serves as the film within the film of All That Jazz
1984
"Let's Hear It For the Boy," from Footloose, hits #1 on the pop charts. Goes on to an Original Song nomination at the Oscars. Loses to "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder from Woman in Red
2006 X-Men: Last Stand, the third X-Men motion picture, opened in theaters and was bad enough to destroy the franchise...except they kept right on making them. Tomorrow X-Men 6 opens, better known as X-Men Apocalypse.

Thursday
May192016

Throwback Fun: Favorites of 1994?

Tuesday's revisit to the essential and apparently sorely underseen Queen Margot (1994) and the comments thereafter had me thinking about favorite films from 1994. This website wasn't around back then of course (I think the internet was just in listserv mode at that point?) but I was already making lists. So what would I have nominated had our Film Bitch Awards been around back then? What would you have nominated had you had an Oscar ballot?

The answers (fluid as they are should rewatching ever occur) are after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr152016

Pfeiffer + Aronofsky = !!!!!!!!!!!

Pfeiffer in Beat-Up Little SeagullJust so everyone knows, I am indeed still alive. After briefly passing out. I was on a flight when news broke that Michelle Pfeiffer had signed on to the cast of the new untitled Darren Aronofsky film due in 2017 with filming to start this June.

La Pfeiffer has been MIA from the movies in a significant way since White Oleander (2002) her last Oscar worthy performance (she has famously never won despite multiple breathtaking star turns)  and the last onscreen appearance without significant breaks thereafter. She flirted with a comeback in a brief flurry of activity around 2007-2008 (Stardust & Cheri being the highlights) but it's been relatively quiet since then. But no more?...

Click to read more ...