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Entries in Melancholia (26)

Friday
Sep302011

Persona Non Linka

Thank you to Glenn for drawing our attention to this Melancholia poster starring Lars von Trier (one of a series). When was the last time you saw a director on his own movie poster?


I mean apart from Hitchcock's Psycho -- the one where he warns you about not entering the theater late -- I can't think of one (unless the director is also the lead actor of course). It's impish fun to use von Trier this way in marketing since anyone buying a ticket to Melancholia is going to know who he is. But the "persona non grata" Cannes seal in the upper left corner is the real design coup here. Well done, whoever thought of it.

Links!
My New Plaid Pants chooses five fav Gwyneth Paltrow performances. Where the hell is Flesh and Bone? That'd make mine.
Thelma Adams recruits female pundits and critics to talk Best Supporting Actress
EW is eager to meet all of your Avengers needs 
Flickr More Drive art. See also this week's Curio column
i09 selects the ten best sci-fi death scenes. Number 2 should be number 1, duh!
Shakesville offers up Princess Bride Monopoly (click image to view larger). Well done.  

Source

Awards Daily new pics of Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe 
Form is Void Have you ever seen Jim Henson's Time Piece (1966)? It gave him his first and only Oscar nomination (Best Live Action Short Film). It's "surprisingly spicy."

Finally, it seems that Bennett Miller will follow up Moneyball with Foxcatcher which is the story of crazy rich person / killer John DuPont, the heir to the DuPont fortune who killed an Olympic wrestler on the massive DuPont estate. His defense claimed paranoid schizophrenia but he was still found guilty. Steve Carell will play the challenging role. And, given what Carell has been able to do in Little Miss Sunshine and even Crazy, Stupid, Love. is there any reason to believe this couldn't be an Oscar nominated  next career step? This project is so fresh it doesn't even have an IMDb page yet (though I suspect that will change today given that this news is all over the 'net)

I guess Bennett Miller is only going to do true stories that are essentially tiny- window biopics of famous or somehow notorious men: Capote, Moneyball, Foxcatcher? It's a niche but at least everyone agrees that he's good at it. As for tiny-window biopics -- they're the best kind! The only good kind.

Saturday
Sep242011

NYFF: "Melancholia" This Is The Way The World Ends 

[Editor's Note: Our NYFF coverage begins! You'll be hearing from Michael and Kurt and me. -Nathaniel]

Hey, everybody. Serious Film’s Michael C. here reporting from the New York Film Festival. I’m jumping right into the deep end of the pool with the first title so let’s get to it.

When the world ends in Lars von Trier’s Melancholia it is definitely going to be with a bang and not a whimper. The film opens with a stunning series of images centered around a rogue planet spinning out from behind the sun on a course to smash into Earth like a wrecking ball. It’s a dark nihilistic death dance, the B-side to Tree of Life’s sun-dappled song of life. The sequence alone is worth the price of admission.

From there the film splits neatly into halves. The first concerns the wedding of clinically depressed bride Kirsten Dunst to “aw shucks” wholesome groom Alexander Skarsgård. The second concerns Dunst and sister Charlotte Gainsbourg grappling with the whole possible destruction of the planet thing. Both halves follow similar arcs with characters hoping against hope that the worst case scenario can be avoided before remembering that this is, after all, a von Trier movie.

I’m not sure splitting up the stories was the wisest choice, since the second half never recovers the energy of the wedding scenes. I could write that the second half creaks under the weight of its symbolism, but if Von Trier is willing to fill the sky with an ominous death planet named after his own depression, who am I to point out that the whole thing is a bit "on the nose"?

Melancholia would have to qualify as a minor disappointment considering the shattering impact Von Trier is capable of, but still, it's an experience worth having. The whole cast is aces. Dunst rises to the occasion with a bone deep convincing portrayal of smothering depression, while Kiefer Sutherland, to my surprise, punches through in a big way as Gainsbourg’s wealthy put-upon husband. Best of all, is the wall to wall breathtaking cinematography by Manuel Alberto Claro, which, by the way, is probably the film's best shot at awards attention. The whole thing has a cumulative effect greater than the sum of its flaws.

Wednesday
Aug102011

John Wood (RIP) and Link Roundup

Before the link roundups I wanted to say a fond farewell to British actor John Wood who died at 81 this weekend in his sleep. I'll always remember him as the Bishop of Aquila who was driven to madness and lust by the beauty of the young Michelle Pfeiffer in Ladyhawke (1985). It happens.

Though the Tony winner spent much of his time on stage he also had several screen roles including parts in hits like War Games (1983), critical darlings like Orlando (1993) and The Purple Rose of Cairo (1995) and Oscar favorites like The Madness of King George (1994) and Chocolat (2000). His final feature film was also the final Merchant/Ivory film The White Countess (2005). RIP John Wood.

Socialite Life Harry Shum Jr (Glee) is taking voice lessons. Guess he doesn't wanna wear that "CAN'T SING" t-shirt on the show anymore.
Vulture surveys Southern accents in the movies and compares them to the real thing.
Kenneth in the (212) remembers Body Heat (1981) and bemoans the passage of time. It gets us all!
i09 Matt Damon is playing a cyborg in Neil Blomkamp's District 9 follow up Elysium. Here's some unofficial photos so proceed at your own risk.
Cinema Blend surveys the extremely crowded December release schedule... in 2012. It's already crazy. Zombie epic World War Z with Brad Pitt is the latest inductee. 

Stale Popcorn Glenn surveys the 60 (gasp) films he watched at the Melbourne Film Festival. Drive gets his number one spot and Melancholia is another favorite.

Off Cinema
The Awl shares t-shirts on view at 2011's Lollapalooza (they still have that?). This amused me for some reason. 
Tom Shone on the election of 2012 and Rachel Maddow's problematic prediction. I so agree and Shone always give good prose. 

Wednesday
Jun012011

Oscar June Predix Update. What We Know Now...

... can fit into a thimble or a wee baby's hand. Sometimes by May's end one or two fairly-sure things have become clear, but the closest we have to that, still, is Rango in the animated film department. Old news.

What did the Month of May teach us suggest to us?


1. The Weinsteins, who finally won their first post-Miramax "Best Picture"  with The King's Speech, will not likely be satiated by that triumph. It'll just make them hungry for another. They have been beefing up their competitive slate. They either have faith in both Phyllida Lloyd's Thatcher bio The Iron Lady (which sounds typically "prestige" enough for Oscar play, even if it turns out dull) and the crowdpleaser The Artist (which sounds accessible enough for Oscar play, despite being a silent film) or they didn't want anyone else to have one or both of them. You never know with them. And you won't know till the last minute; the Weinsteins are notoriously patient about waiting it out, either because they like to see what the awards air is like, or just because they believe more strongly in the "ONLY DECEMBER!" Oscar strategy than any other distributor. We'll find out more about their plan towards the end of the year. 

2. Cannes elevated the intriguing possibility of Kirsten Dunst Best Actress traction for Melancholia -- something we've long hoped for for one of our favorite actresses -- but what's yet more delicious than her Cannes win is the myriad ways this could play out with a complicated mix of voting factors (actual high quality performance, off-performance sympathy votes, career comeback of sorts, Lars von Trier's unpredictable track record in US distribution); Those moviegoers who love to follow the politics of Oscar, not just the movies, are bound to enjoy this particular story as it unfolds. 

3. The warm reception for Midnight in Paris raised the distinct possibility that Woody Allen could see his 15th Best Original Screenplay nomination. Pundits, including myself, have regularly sold the idea that Mr Allen is always a threat in the Original Screenplay category but in truth, that "always" is quite an overestimation given that he hasn't been a  "regular" since the 90s. (He only received one nomination in the Aughts making him less an always then a 10% kinda guy these days). He didn't even get much Oscar traction for Vicky Cristina Barcelona despite a Golden Globe  Picture win and an eventual Oscar for Penélope Cruz. But Midnight, might be a different story. Firstly, there's no individual performance that awards bodies can latch on to -- the showiest work is done by the people with the teeniest parts -- and if anyone reaps the benefits of the love for the film, it'll be Allen himself. Midnight is quite light on its feet despite a theme with melancholy resonance, and it's performing well at the box office. As The Film Experience has always maintained, Oscar voters tastes are basically a figurative amalgam of critics + moviegoers + media; if those three groups like something (even if they do so for entirely different reasons), Oscar will join them.

4. I'm not sure what we know about The Tree of Life. I feel lost here. At first one heard "mixed reviews" than it won the "Palme D'Or" and then it opened. It's been a whirlwind of activity. If the random stories of older audiences walking out are true -- can one ever trust "stories" about certain demographics loving or hating any film? Said stories always seem rife with possible agendas and/or horse's mouth biases -- than it might be dead in the water for Oscar. BUT. It just opened. Let's see how it plays as it expands. If Malick teaches us anything he teaches us patience, right? See you at his next film in 2019! (I'm kidding. Supposedly the next film has already completed shooting... but I'll believe back-to-back Malick releases when they happen and no sooner.)

5. My guess is that Pirates of the Caribbean bombed too badly with critics to win it much heat in the technical categories where it's previously done fairly well for itself. Thor wasn't a big enough deal financially and in the passion-meter of its fans to score any technicals (though it's worth noting that its production designer Bo Welch is an Academy favorite), so the next two superhero tests are X-Men First Class and Green Lantern. For some possibly silly reason, I've convinced myself that it's Captain America that might get the tech nods that you know at least one of the comic book films will win.

Eventually comic book films will invade Oscar. Though it seems improbable now it's a matter of percentages. As more and more of them get made, Oscar will have less and less ways to avoid them.

Here's something we don't know...

What the hell is going on with The Eye of the Storm? It's one of those titles, an adaptation of a novel, that I only discovered in researching potential Oscar players (and talking in the comments to you!) but I never hear a peep about it in terms of "official" anything. Nevertheless it looks promising and actressy, and maybe Geoffrey Rush's post-Speech heat and general hammy deliciousness (to AMPAS palettes at least) can help it out? I've tried everything I could think of to embed the teaser (everything I could think of = copy and paste) but nothing works so you'll have to go to Twitch to see it.

Fly away, pigeon. Just say your farewell and go.

Dying Charlotte Rampling theatrically dismissing bitchy Judy Davis is my new two second obsession. Enjoy it with me!

UPDATED OSCAR PREDICTIONS ALL CATEGORIES
Click on the individual category titles to explore further.

Sunday
May222011

Cannes Winners: Kiki, Malick, and More

The 64th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up today with the jury awards.

Some awards announcements feel like deflations to robust film festivals but not this year. Major conversation pieces won big, extending the buzz if not adding much in the way of a surprise element that can sometimes send hype spinning in new directions.

First and foremost I, personally, must let out a whoop of joy at the news that Kirsten Dunst took Best Actress. I've long been a champion of her underappreciated gifts. She's one of those rare actresses who is just as skilled at both comedic and dramatic roles and her filmography will eventually have the last laugh over her many detractors.  Her "comeback", artistically speaking, probably started with All Good Things this December. She won very complimentary reviews and a last minute Oscar campaign even though the film itself didn't get much attention. [The Film Experience Interview from Kirsten Dunst if you missed it.]

Gif via Rich at FourFour

 

Main Jury (Robert DeNiro was Jury President)
This jury, the jury that gets all the attention, hands out the prizes for the films in the main competition roster. But Cannes has several sidebars as well.
PALME D'OR The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick.
GRAND PRIX (runner up) The Kid With The Bike by the Dardenne Brothers who seem to win something each and every year and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

JURY PRIZE Polisse by Maïwenn Le Besco (we discussed her very briefly)
DIRECTOR Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive (making good on the critical excitement)
SCREENPLAY Joseph Cedar for Footnote
ACTOR Jean DuJardin for The Artist
ACTRESS Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia (see previous posts)

Camera D'Or (Jury President Bong Joon Ho, of Mother and The Host fame)
GOLDEN CAMERA (Best First Feature)  Las Acacias directed by Pablo Giorgelli [Argentina]

Un Certain Regard (Jury President Emir Kusturica of Underground and Black Cat White Cat fame)
PRIZE OF UN CERTAIN REGARD (tie) Arirang by Kim Ki-Duk and Stopped on Track by Andreas Dresen

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE Elena by Andrey Zvyaginstev
DIRECTING PRIZE Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid é Didar

Critics Week  (Jury President Chang-dong Lee of Poetry and Secret Sunshine fame)
This jury concentrates on new directors (meaning first or second timers)
FEATURE Take Shelter (which played at Sundance) starring Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain.
SPECIAL MENTION Snowtown (a controversial choice)
CID/CCAS and the OFAJ Las Acacias (which also won the Camera D'Or)

The Skin I Live In wins a Cinematography Prize. Notice the poster on the wall is the one they've been using for the film's teaser poster

C.S.T
VULCAN PRIZE (for an artist technician) went to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine for Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In (previous posts)
SPECIAL DISTINCTION went to Sound Designer Paul Davies and Editor Joe Bini for Lynne Ramsay's We Need To Talk About Kevin

Cross-CountryCinefondation and Short Films (Jury President Michel Gondry)
SHORT FILMS
PALME D'OR Cross-Country by Maryna Vroda
JURY PRIZE Swimsuit 46 by Wannes Destoop

CINEFONDATION
1ST PRIZE Der Brief (The Letter) by Dorotyea Droumeva
2ND PRIZE Drari by Kamal Lazraq
3RD PRIZE Fly By Night by Son Tae-gyum

 

In terms of the Oscar race, which rarely correlates with Cannes and doesn't need to, this still adds a helpful sheen of prestige to The Tree of Life, Melancholia and Take Shelter which will all see the US marketplace. Given the multiple prizes for the Argentinian debut film Las Acacias one also wonders if it will be Argentina's Oscar submission?

What do you make of all this? Did anything surprise you?

Friday
May202011

Links: Danish Girls & Norsk Men, Melancholia & Muppets

News
The Playlist
Looks like more development hell for Nicole Kidman transgendered drama The Danish Girl
New York Magazine Can AMC survive its own success. Growing pains for the network (They've just rejected all six of the pilots they were considering.)

Randomness
Stale Popcorn Glenn continues to the best of the posterologists online
Just Jared interviews Kristin Chenoweth. She's tremendously busy but I sure hope this Tammy Faye musical works out. Wouldn't she be perfect?
Ultra Culture thinks Lars Von Trier's Melancholia is major.
Cineuropa loves the new Norwegian film at Cannes from Reprise's director and star (pictured left) and writer (not pictured) called Oslo August 31st. You may recall that I was absolutely nuts for Reprise -- and met and interviewed Joachim Trier (who was a doll) -- so I'm looking forward to this one.

And in other Cannes news, Hitler has already reacted to the Cannes Festival / Lars Von Trier kerfuffle...

It's a little long for a concept joke but there are some great lines.

List Fever
Pajiba The Five Coolest Muppets
La Daily Musto
the two biggest lies actors always tell. I wholeheartedly co-sign. I've never seen an actor talented enough to sell either of these but they always try, bless.
Telegraph's 10 Best HairDressing moments in film
Movie|Line 13 Facts about Woody Allen and the Box Office