Film Bitch History
Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


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10th Anniversary: A SERIOUS MAN

"I have never seen a film that mixes laugh-out-loud comedy so intimately with dead serious philosophical questioning. It packs so much into its short runtime. " - Dr strange

"This movie is one of my favorites - Michael Stuhlbarg the biggest reason, he's so heartbreakingly fantastically good in everything." -Rebecca

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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Entries in Maria Bello (7)


On this day: Grace Kelly became a Princess, Madonna's "Live to Tell" and more... 

On this day in history as it relates to showbiz!

1907 Composer Miklós Rózsa born in Budapest. He becomes an Academy favorite in the early 40s and is nominated 17 times for his music with 3 Oscar wins (Spellbound, A Double Life, Ben-Hur

1922 Emmy winner Barbara Hale (Perry Mason) born in Illinois

⇱ 1946 Hayley Mills born in London. She becomes the very last winner of the special "juvenile Oscar winner" for Pollyanna (1960) and chases it with the classic twin comedy The Parent Trap (1961). Did you know she was TFE's favorite classic child star? Now you do.

1947 James Woods born in Vernal, Utah

1953 Rick Moranis born in Toronto. Today's movie fans probably don't know this but in '89 he starred in 3 consecutive $100 million grossers in one single summer (Ghostbusters II, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Parenthood) and it was a very big deal because back then the same people weren't in every movie. TFE's theory is that casting is divided into two eras, pre Samuel L Jackson and after. After Samuel L Jackson (ASLL) it's mandatory to only have excessively familiar faces in every franchise, and it's even okay if they're competing franchises or the same franchises with different roles. It's madness! 

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Tribeca: "Third Person," An Inconclusive Panorama of Trust Issues

Just a few more Tribeca reports to go. Here's Diana on "Third Person."

In another chapter on writer stereotypes (see also: 5 to 7), Paul Haggis’ Third Person opens on Liam Neeson’s hulking handsome frame sitting at a hotel desk, staring at his computer, with an open bottle of red wine and an ashtray heavily weighted down by burnt out cigarette ends. In the midst of the toiling and typing, he hears a child’s voice say, “Watch me.” This phrase becomes an iteration throughout the film, linking together three stories of loss and trust issues. You know how Paul Haggis likes to link (see also: Crash). To paraphrase author Michael (Neeson), all three are weak, but each have strong, albeit bordering on cliche, choices.

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Review: Prisoners

This review originally appeared in my column at Towleroad

Thanksgiving in movies is usually overstuffed with dysfunction and hostility. Who can digest from all the bile at home? That's not the case in PRISONERS, the new dramatic thriller from undersung Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies), which is more retrograde in its approach with the family unit as something sacred and continually under attack. Despite the occassional interjection of ominous music (shut up Jóhannsson... there's plenty of time for your score later!) and an initially drab grey color palette, things seem realistically jovial at this get together.

The Dovers (Hugh Jackman + Maria Bello) are celebrating the holiday at the home of the Birches (Terrence Howard + Viola Davis) just down the street -- close enough to walk -- as they clearly do every year (or perhaps they trade off). The parents are realistically both amused and vaguely annoyed by their children, attentive but 'don't bother me' tired. It's only when the film leaves the homes of the Dovers or Birches that there's trouble brewing... somethings just off. Why did the movie open with a father/son hunting trip? Why is that strange RV parked on the road? Where did Anna's (Hugh's daughter) red emergency whistle go? Are Joy and Anna back yet? The two youngest children just went back to the Dovers to grab that red emergency whistle they wanted to p... OHMYGODwhere are Joy and Anna?

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Tuesday Ten: "Abduction"

Earlier today I got booted from an Oscar contender screening (Mexico's Miss Bala) that was over capacity. There was once this great thing called a "book store" (sound it out. I know it's unfamiliar) where it was easy to kill a couple of hours when you didn't have a laptop with you and something went wrong schedule wise. I've yet to find a suitable alternative so I went to the multiplex. The only movie starting at the right time to fill my schedule gap? ABDUCTION. I feel terrible about contributing to its box office gross but I will make it up to the cinema gods somehow (my first born child?). Don't judge me too harshly. I'm sure you've done something terribly terribly wrong in your life!

I'm opting to stay positive by listing... The Ten Best Things About Abduction

Best Trailer Screen Cap: Sigourney Weaver and Taylor Lautner with a huge black title card celebrating Sigourney Weaver covering his face. YES!!!

01 Sigourney Weaver has a fun entrance in one scene carrying a huge bouquet of balloons. 

02 At one point the villain threatens to kill all of Taylor Lautner's fans* on Facebook. (*okay he says "friends" but some people deserve to die.)

03 The star's girlfriend's eyebrows are more masculine than his.

04 In the movie's best stunt Lautner hurts his ankle and he remembers to limp for most of the rest of the scene. ACTING!

05 The movie hides the face of one key character the whole time but the lips were enough to give him away. Hi, Dermot Mulroney! Also: I will now fantasize that Dermot Mulroney did this for the money and was smart enough to put it in his contract that his whole face not be shown and thus associated with this movie. If Maria Bello, Jason Isaac, and Sigourney Weaver had all done the same this movie would have been very avant garde what with the entire adult supporting cast only shown through extreme closeups of lips and eyes.

06 The climax takes place at a ball game and I was able to reminisce about how good Moneyball is.

07 Maria Bello has this really emotional scene opposite a block of wood that questions its provenance "Are you my mother?" And she totally sells her love for the block of wood! "I'm not your mother but you are my son." That's what a damn fine actor she is!

08 It ended.

I tried to get to ten. I honestly did! 

It was terr-i-ble.



Small Screen: Prime and Suspect Pilots

I promised a bit more TV talk this year and though I haven't seen any show that would inspire me to cover it weekly (Mad Men and True Blood are rare beasts, as interesting to write about as they are to watch) here's a quick overview of first impressions of new series. 

A bit strange to watch this one in the receding shadow of last weekend's Emmy Awards. The whole time I kept thinking "Oh... here's one to shake up the Best Drama Series field next year if it can be shook. And Best Actress, too!"

But then, immediately after it ended, I felt ashamed of this inner golden-winged monologue. Great acting is no promise of statues after all. I must must must remember my own mantra -- difficult as it is to remember whilst enthusiastically prepping for Oscar season -- Great Work Is Its Own Reward. And Maria Bello is her own reward (and so rewarding, too).  Which is as it has to be given the cold shoulder from Oscar in the past (The CoolerA History of Violence).

Prime Suspect, her new show (adapted from the now 20 year old Helen Mirren series) details the murder investigations of the smart abrasive Jane Timoney, the only woman in her homicide department. The first hour had a few script and performance beats with the zing of those 'Clarice Starling surrounded by tall men' visuals in The Silence of the Lambs but Bello just refuses to shrink. Though procedurals never really capture my imagination, character studies do and Bello demands that I keep watching. Her detective is funny without feeling scripted-quippy and unusually capable without seeming infallible (such a danger for protagonist roles in TV and film). Best of all she shades all of Timoney's more typically admirable qualities like confidence, cleverness, intelligence, and femaleness in such a way that they throw shade; her confidence curdles into arrogance, her cleverness veers towards the reckless, her intelligence has zero warmth and her vagina is both interference and scapegoat. Yes, her department is sexist but isn't her cold arrogance and lack of sympathy for co-workers (who have justifiably open wounds in this episode)  more than half of the problem in being welcomed into their club?

Click for more on Prime Suspect plus Revenge, Charlie's Angels and two more newbies.

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Red Carpet Convo: Emmy Reds, Midriff Blues

In this edition of Red Carpet Convo Nathaniel talks to Mark Blankenship of The Critical Condition and our resident fashion obsessive Jose

Nathaniel: Is it too late to talk about the Emmy divas and their dresses. This pop culture wheel does spin madly these days -- knocking me right off my axis sometimes.
Jose: We're only a day behind E!'s own red carpet talk (not that comparing onself to E! is any sort of compliment.)
Mark: We can think of it as a gift we're giving to a busy world. Sit back. Relax. Fondly remember days gone by... Sunday gone by.

Karen, A Good Wife, Crazy, Gwynnie, Skinny

Nathaniel: Well, it's horrible to follow Joan Rivers but then our purposes are never quite the same with our red carpet coverage. We're here to talk about the ladies and we're less bitchy and we're allowed to discuss actual careers, too. If we're so moved. I think we should start with this "Worst" collection and get the negativity out of the way.
Jose: You did NOT just put Gwynnie in your worst list.
Nathaniel: I did. Left to right. Megan Mullaly. I instantly regret putting her here because at least there are colors other than reds but it reminds me of this one tie I wore back when I thought loud colorful ties were fashionable simply because men's clothing was such a sedative.
Jose: I didn't even know she'd been to the Emmys. I have nothing against the dress at least it's a change from her usual black pant suit look.
Mark: The dress is kind of overwhelming. Like, you expect to unfold it and discover it's actually a giant, silk screened print of an Impressionist painting.
Nathaniel: Damnit, now I like it more.

Nick & MeganMark: Is she on television now in the absence of Party Down?
Nathaniel: She does guest stints on Parks and Recreation where she plays the demonic ex-wife of her actual husband Nick Offerman. They're hilarious together.
Jose: Wait, she's married to Nick Offerman? *mind explodes* I can not for the life of me, wait to see what she and Patty Clarkson come up with to mess with poor "Ron Swanson". [Editor's note: Patty Clarkson will be on Parks and Recreation this year.]
Nathaniel: That show is so great. Okay, Julianna Marguiles, The Good Wife or as she's known in some quarters The Wife With the Goodly Hot Husband. Thank youuuu, reaction shots.

Mark: See... look, I don't hate this dress. I don't mind that she took teardrops from an old chandelier and put them on her bosom. I find it whimsical.
Nathaniel: I just don't understand it. I keep wanting it to be really abstract and structural with the way it juts out up top like it's decolettage that wants to be a stiff collar or a Disney cliff.
Jose: I applaud the risk she took by going with Armani Privé (these people design like they're dressing up astronauts for dinner parties) but I laugh at her terrible choice, it's just too fugly. Maybe she wanted to carry on the "arrive by way of eggs" tradition established by Björk and Gaga.
Nathaniel: But see that's just my objection to it. If you're going that way, GO that way. It looks much weirder and therefore better from far away.
Mark: For me, seeing it in motion made it kind of fascinating but just staring at this picture makes me like it less.

Who's the  woman in the pink and why is she wearing a mud mask?
Nathaniel: LOL. That's Paz de la Huerta who is insane.
Mark: !!! That's who that is? She's unrecognizable. And I watch Boardwalk Empire for chrissakes.
Jose: This is what happens when you take an oompa loompa out of the chocolate factory and send it to Extreme Makeover. 
Nathaniel: She's been doing that weird lip thing for awhile. If it's not the chocolate factory it's those easter candies that color your mouth.
Mark: Either that or like someone who just strolled out of a nuclear meltdown. Isn't that kind of how your skin looks if it's burned by an A-bomb?
Nathaniel: I wouldn't know.

Mark: This image reminds me of how frustrating she is on the show; all affect, all the time.
Nathaniel: I don't watch the show. Every time I try I think Sopranos During Prohibition. Yawn.
Jose: Ugh no. The Sopranos rocked, this one is just "important", I watched the entire first season to see if it was about more than prestige and winning awards and no, it wasn't.

Nathaniel: Since Jose and I are in disagreement about Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark you must break the tie.
Mark: About her look or her work? Jose do you like her in general?
Nathaniel: Her look. We both like her work. 
Jose: I'd like to coerce you to like this Pucci dress by suggesting that it was paying homage to this.

Mark: Ha! yes. Although I thought she was tipping her hat to Madonna's Shanti/Ashtangi period.
Nathaniel: Again I repeat. If you're going that way, GO that way. None of this half-assedness. Half-assed and midriff, no relation.
Mark: Zing!
Jose: I ADORE Gwynnie. She is the only reason I subject myself to Glee and why I have gotten into so many bar fights about the 1998 Oscars.
Nathaniel: LOL.
Mark: I really like her too. I think she's talented and charming and reasonably aware of how ridiculous she can sometimes be. That said, loving someone means telling them the truth and truthfully, this outfit is bad news. If it were all one dress, then maybe, but the midriff is just awful. The top looks poorly cut to me and slices up her body in a strange way. I agree that she should have gone further here. Farther?

Nathaniel: I don't like any dresses that risk making super skinny women look like they've put on lbs because that's CLEARLY an optical illusion. Gwyneth has a great body.
Mark: Either way show me some bellybutton or cover it up altogether.
Jose: I shall go the grave defending this look, it's just perfect to me!
Mark: I hope this is not the rift that ruins our blossoming friendship, Jose.
Nathaniel: I sense trouble. "1998 OSCARS!" *runs*
Jose: lol. Let's discuss  Jayma Mays before you two continue to break my heart.

Mark: Well she looks like a lamp. Or a bottle of cheap bourbon dressed as a Southern Belle.
Jose: I loved her. She looked a hundred years younger than the actually younger Glee girls. Did y'all see what Dianne Agron was wearing? Yikes.
Nathaniel: Well the younger Glee girls are always trying so hard.  I think they're scared of life after Glee. But the tiers on this dress are so weird like a pepto-bismol wedding cake. And I think when you're as delicate as Jayma, something that looks flimsy, easily torn or flammable if placed over a lightbulb is not a good idea.
Mark: Has her character gotten any better on Glee? I stopped watching partway through Season 1.
Nathaniel: Let us not discuss "character" and Glee in the same sentence lest you kill my buzz for the season premiere tonight.
Mark: Fair. But has her random collection of weekly, contradictory impulses gotten any more coherent? I know the answer before I...
Jose: lol.

Jose: I hate Glee but I shall respect your wishes, Nat.
Nathaniel: I hate myself for loving it but love it I do. Let's move on to BEST ACTRESSES!
Mark: The Best Comedy Actresses, you mean? 
Nathaniel: Same difference. Best Actress Drama doesn't count until they stop nominating Mariska Hargitay.
Mark: Hahaha!

READ THE REST for best actress comedy, best dressed and a few men.

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