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Entries in Nashville (17)

Wednesday
Aug222018

Barbara Harris (1935-2018) 

by Nathaniel R

Barbara Harris in The Seduction of Joe Tynan (1979)

Sad news yesterday. One of the nation's best and most underappreciated actresses Barbara Harris passed away at 83 from lung cancer. The Chicago native got her start as a teenager on local stages and was an original member of Chicago's famed Second City troupe. Her intermittent screen career sprang initially from her stage successes. Though her filmography is mostly in the 1970s, she made a few 80s movies before retiring including Peggy Sue Got Married, Grosse Point Blank, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Curiously for such a talented thespian of both stage and screen, she seemed somewhat ambivalent about her career, stating that she didn't miss acting after her retirement...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jun112018

Showbiz History: John Wayne's Oscar, Altman's Nashville, JLaw's Record

by Nathaniel R

John Wayne in "The Big Trail (1930)" and in "True Grit (1969)"

This day in history is a big one of Hollywood's most popular stars, John Wayne. His career began, as most did in the early days of Hollywood, with uncredited parts in silent films but he became a leading man once the talkies hit. Perhaps he needed that distinctive slow-crawl dirt road voice to stand out? He had his first leading role at just 23 years of age with The Big Trail. True stardom didn't hit, though, until Stage Coach (1939) after which, he was top-billed for the remainder of his career. On this very day in 1969 True Grit premiered in Los Angeles. The role of Rooster Cogburn would net him his third Oscar nomination and prove to be something of a career capper when he took home the Best Actor Oscar. (Jeff Bridges would later be Oscar-nominated for the same role in the 2010 Coen brothers remake). Not one to rest -- Wayne holds the record of most leading roles for an American movie star with *gasp* 142 of them -- the western icon kept right on working through The Shootist in 1976. On this same day in history in 1979, ten years after people first met Rooster Cogburn, Wayne died of stomach cancer. He remains one of the most iconic stars in Hollywood history.

What else was happening on this day in showbiz history? Find out after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr292016

New Directors: Banana, Transpecos, Spa Night, and The Fits

One day I will figure out to keep up with the cinematic madness but April contained none of those days. A week ago the Nashville Film Festival wrapped and I have yet to share with you the prizes my jury bestowed! Not that you've been clamoring to read about films you've never heard of but one of the joys of film festivals is in the discoveries. Hence my great thrill to be asked to sit on the "New Directors Jury". Let's survey a handful of the competitors starting with the two winners, both of which made one step closer to theaters this week.

HONORABLE MENTION The Fits (2016)
I'm starting with this one because it's out very soon (June 3rd in NYC / June 10th in Los Angeles) and you absolutely shouldn't miss it. I'm already eager to see it again. We need directors with fresh voices and a unique gaze and we've got one in Anna Rose Helmer. The Fits follows a young girl named Toni (Royalty Hightower, pretty great) who spends her days helping her older brother with his job cleaning a boxing gym. She's fascinated by the boy rituals and the girl rituals which are happening just down the hall where a local dance squad rehearses in another gymnasium. Just when you think you've figured out the film's theme (there's certainly much to ponder in its gender dynamics) one of the dancers has a violent fit and faints and you realize Helmer has a lot more yet on her mind. There's no easy allegories here and maybe it's a little opaque but there's much to ponder in its metaphysical poetry, thoughtful camera work and editing and, above all else, its persistent fly-on-the-wall curiosity, the camera a soulful twin to Toni's ever-searching eyes. B+ (A-?)

Breaking News: The Fits got a poster (left) and a perfect moody trailer this week from Oscilloscope Pictures. 

More after the jump including an awards magnet which keeps winning festivals... 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Apr282016

Tribeca 2016 Review Index

Tribeca Film Festival wrapped this weekend and I want to hear a huge round of applause for Manuel Betancourt and Jason Adams who filed so many reports. The festival's main narrative competiton was juried by Anne Carey, Chris Nashawaty, and the actors James Le Gros, Mya Taylor and Jennifer Westfeldt. Additional juries handled documentaries, new directors, and international narrative features.

this Persona-riff won Best Actress for Mackenzie DavisFestival Winners Reviewed
Dean (Manuel) -Best Narrative Feature
The Fixer (Nathaniel) -Best Actor Dominic Rains 
Always Shine (Jason) -Best Actress Mackenzie Davis
Women Who Kill (Jason) -Best Screenplay Ingrid Jungermann 
Contemporary Color (Jason) - Documentary Cinematography Jarred Alterman and Documentary Editing Bill Ross
Madly (Manuel) - Actress in an International Feature Radhika Apte in "Clean Shaven," a segment in Madly 

Other Films Reviewed
All We Had (Manuel)
Califórnia (Manuel)
Charro de Toluquilla (Manuel)
Detour (Jason)
Elvis & Nixon (Jason) *now in theaters*
Equals (Jason)
Everybody Knows...Elizabeth Murray (Manuel) 
Fear Inc (Jason)
High-Rise (Nathaniel)
Holidays (Jason)
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Jason)
A Kind of Murder (Jason)
King Cobra (Jason)
The Meddler (Manuel)
Memories of a Penitent Heart (Manuel)
Mother (Nathaniel)
Obit (Jason)
Rebirth (Jason)
Special Correspondence (Jason) *now on Netflix*
Strike a Pose (Manuel) 
Wolves (Jason) 

P.S. We'll have more on Strike a Pose (2016), the documentary about Madonna's dancers from Truth or Dare (1991) that Manuel reviewed, in a couple of weeks. You know we can't pass up the opportunity to celebrate Truth or Dare's 25th anniversary in style so we'll have a "blonde ambition" theme week (May 8th-13th) with Madonna madness and other cinematic blondes to mix it up. (We're now waiting impatiently for news about a proper release for Strike a Pose

Saturday
Aug222015

Posterized: Lily Tomlin

with Paul Weitz. Photo via Getty Images

The great Lily Tomlin hits the road literally and figuratively this weekend in Paul Weitz's terrific Grandma, previously reviewed right here by both myself at Sundance and Joe Reid at Tribeca. The movie just opened in the major markets and more cities will follow soon. For my column at Towleroad published earlier today I ranked the ten movie roles that I think of as her best from her now 40 year old movie career. I hope you'll read it.

Consider this weekend the ignition of her Oscar campaign engine, too. It's Lily's first leading role in a feature since (gulp) 1988's Big Business so this doesn't happen very often at all and we must take notice! Go see it I'm so proud that The Film Experience is on the poster for this one.

Lily was Emmy-nominated last month for Grace & Frankie and if Grandma can continue building on this moment of newfound appreciation of a 75 year-old living legend, an Oscar nomination for Best Actress could well follow. You know how that goes sometimes when the culture rallies around an actor in a particular moment like "Oh, right. We've always loved you -- here you go, diva!" (see Diane Keaton's easy nomination rode for Somethings Gotta Give or Julianne Moore's win last seaon)

Let's take a trip through Lily Tomlin's spotty film career via movie posters (with a couple of excerpts from my Towleroad piece)! How many of her 24 features have you seen? 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep022014

A Brief Celebration of Lily Tomlin in "Nashville"

Here's Andrew with one more Lily Tomlin tribute. Yes, yes, we got a little carried away for her 75th what with polls and memorabilia and now this. But that's because there's just so much to love and there's one exciting brand new project on the horizon - Nathaniel R

We can't let the celebration of Lily Tomlin pass without devoting just a few words to her excellent performance Nashville. Or, part of it. There are too many great things to say about Tomlin’s performance but let's zero in on a brief, but essential moment of Linnea Reese’s journey that’s always stuck. It's probably the first moment you think of when you hear the words Nashville and Lily Tomlin… the "I’m Easy” scene.

Nashville is many things, and a musical is one of them. Its Oscar-winning number “I’m Easy” arrives over two hours into the movie. From Carradine’s soft crooning, to the excellent lyrics, to Altman’s brilliant direction – it’s a great, tender moment of irony for the film. The rascal Tom Frank (Keith Carradine) dedicates this number to “someone special” in the audience and sings about how fragile his heart is, when it’s anything but. In performance the actual song becomes secondary to the reactions it evokes. There are three other women watching, in addition to Linnea, who are certain the song is about them, or hope that it could be.

 But even as all the actors are making this scene work it’s Tomlin’s Linnea that is most profound. It is her scene. I saw Nashville for the first time a few years ago and Linnea seemed so contradictory with the image that Lily Tomlin had always evoked, not because it's a dramatic role but because the essence of the performance is its stillness. That's not something easy to play, and often comes off as underacting. Not for Lily in this film, though, and especially not in this scene.

In a recurring shot Linnea sits somewhere near the edge of the frame looking desolate, surrounded by the rest of the audience. It's a wonder how just watching her reaction evokes such strong feelings. She may not be the only woman responding to Tom's "I'm Easy" lies, but even as she remains still there’s an electricity to her. Altman wisely let's the camera be drawn to her.

This gospel singer and mother of two deaf children doesn’t utter a single word and yet when the final note is sung we’ve learned so much. Just look at that face! Every longing desire, every hope, every secret lustful thought climaxes here. That she and Tom will come together some time after is inevitable. It’s a brief bit in the gargantuan excellence that is Nashville's 160 minutes and but a drop in the greatness of the enduring Lily Tomlin, but essential nonetheless.

previous Lily enthusiasms
Rose vs Sadie Big Business 
Memoirs of an Usherette Lily's history of loving the movies 
Jane & Lily reunited for Netflix