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Alicia Vikander cast as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
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Entries in Oscar Trivia (278)

Tuesday
Apr262016

Mad Miller & the Cannes Jury

Oscar-robbed George Miller is back! Well, not in movie theaters (alas) but as president of this year's Cannes Film Festival competition jury. The announcement of the jury is always a cause for excitement since the list provides an annual eclectic mix of international artists both behind and in front of the camera. For 2016 we have:

President
George Miller (Writer/Director/Producer, Australia) fresh off of his across-the-board triumph Mad Max Fury Road

Jury Members (Alpha Order)
Arnaud Desplechin (Writer/Director, France) His current release is My Golden Days (our interview) and he's also responsible for the sublime double of Kings & Queen (2004) and A Christmas Tale (2008) which are must-see feats of intricate storytelling & actressing

Kirsten Dunst
(Actress, US) Little Kiki has long since grown up though she's the youngest member of this jury at 33. There seems to be a renewed appreciation for her talent out there, for which we have Fargo season 2 to thank. But really the artistic renaissance goes back to All Good Things (2010). Though she was all but wasted in Midnight Special (just discussed) she has exciting projects coming including the remake of The Beguiled.

Valeria Golino
(Actress/Writer/Director/Producer, Italy) Though Golino hasn't been a major presence in Hollywood since the late 80s/early 90s (Rain Man, Big Top Pee Wee, Hot Shots!) she's kept the career going in her homeland -- recently winning Best Actress in Venice -- and branched out to be a multi-hyphenate threat.


Mads Mikkelsen (Actor, Denmark) we've loved him since his early Danish films and now the whole world does. This is rarely acknowledged but he's the reigning face of Oscar's Foreign Film category having starred in more nominees than anyone else in the past ten years (After the Wedding, The Hunt, A Royal Affair). And 2016 is another big year: he'll chase jury duty with two probable box office behemoths: Rogue One and Doctor Strange this winter. 

László Nemes
(Writer/Director, Hungary) has had an incredible year 12 months. His film debut Son of Saul took the Grand Prix last summer at Cannes and then an Oscar and now he's in the jury. What a swift rise. We wonder what he'll do for an encore. He's the second youngest member of the jury - he and Dunst are the only members under 40. 

Vanessa Paradis
(Actress/Singer, France) Her most recent film success was with Jean Marc Vallée's Café de Flore (2011) and she's still recording music. You can listen to her on Spotify if you so choose. Do you choose? Most famously (at least stateside) she's Johnny Depp's babymama. Her son with Johnny is only 13 and since he's named after Johnny (John Christopher Depp III) he'll have to go by his middle name or his nickname "Jack" if he wants to follow daddy into showbiz. Their 16 year old daughter has, of course, already started her acting career.

Katayoon Shahabi
(Producer, Iran) We aren't familiar with her but she's apparently a mover and shaker in international distribution and Irandian documentaries. Also her company produced the masterpiece A Separation which you know we worship here.

and...

Donald Sutherland
(Actor, Canada) Over 50 years in front of the camera now with classics occasionally peppering that gigantic resume. With over 180 credits we assume he just lives on sets.

What do you think of this year's jury? 

Tuesday
Apr192016

Newish Home Viewing: The Lady in the Van, The Oscar in the Franchises.

Here's what's new recently for your eyeballs.

Newish to DVD/BluRay
Fifty Shades of Black. Marlon Wayans sends up the Grey S&M movie.
The Force Awakens. Not available for rental yet but when it is we shall rewatch
The Forest. In which Natalie Dormer enters Japan's Suicide Forest to confront true terror: the reviews of Gus Van Sant's 'Sea of Trees' which is also set there.
Ip Man 3. For your completists. I haven't seen any of these since I figured The Grandmaster covered it for me. You?
The Lady in the Van. In which Maggie Smith gets grittier and descends the economic ladder for once. Maintain high society snobbier via her delusions of
Norm of the North. Animated. Though probably nothing we need worry about over here.
The Revenant. That which did rob George Miller of his rightful Best Director Oscar in February.

new to streaming
AJIN (S1) on Netflix. An anime sci-fi series about a teenager who realizes he is not human. Cue: suspenseful music, giant expressive eyes.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (S2) on Netflix. I haven't started yet due to travels. Can't wait to see my Jane Krakowski again. Tell me NOTHING. 
Mad Max on Amazon Prime. The original. Roughly 20 years before everyone realized Mel Gibson was also Mad.
Kong, King of the Apes (S1) on Netflix. This is a kids sci-fi series about Kong battling robot dinosaurs or some such. Has Netflix been doing kids series for awhile and we're just now noticing?
Tangerines on Amazon Prime. Not the awesome LA trans hooker comedy but the Estonian Oscar nominated drama.

A BURNING QUESTION: WHAT'S WITH OSCAR'S FRANCHISE FICKLENESS?
All the Bourne films (2002-2012 - 4 films thus far) and all the X-Men films (2000-2014 - five films thus far) have been reissued on DVD & BluRay for the obvious reason: new theatrical outing about to happen. This prompted head spinning when randomly thinking about their Oscar histories. Weirdly both series have been popular from the start with audiences but have just one film within them that Oscar responded to: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007, 3 Oscar noms/wins) and X-Men Days of Future Past (2012, 1 Oscar nomination).

Rehearsing a fight scene for Bourne Ultimatum. Photograph by Greg Williams

Isn't it fascinating how non-patterned Oscar is with franchises as a general rule? Sometimes they're not into them at all and then all of a sudden they are (those franchises and James Bond of course). Other times it's steady if halfhearted interest (superhero films in particular categories). Often it seems vaguely disconnected to the particulars of individual films. Consider this: Batman Forever is easily the Academy's second most all time favorite Batman film? WTF.  They've also been weirdly sporadic in Harry Potter love ignoring one of the best entries (Order of the Phoenix) that actually worked hard for an Art Direction nomination while rewarding the film that took place mostly in a tent (Deathly Hallows Part 1).

On the broad surface of things you'd think that Oscar voters, many of whom are ordinary working people who just happen to be in showbiz (like Emmy voters) would treat franchises the way that Emmy treats TV... which is all franchises. Not that we recommend this! With Emmy if they don't notice you at beginning they almost never do -- and they're loyal to the point of stupidity if they like you at all! Oscar doesn't really equate with that at all in ongoing narratives. What do you make of that? I ask because I'm not sure. I don't have all the answers!!! Is it just happenstance involving the every shifting competition in each calendar year at the movies?

Monday
Apr182016

The Furniture: The Wonderfully Weird Production Design of the Wonderful World of The Brothers Grimm

With Tale of Tales and The Huntsman: Winter’s War both opening this weekend, we have a sudden double feature of fairy tale movies on our hands. That makes it an excellent time to revisit the only fairy tale film nominated for the Oscar Best Production Design, The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. (That seems impossible, I know, but it's true.)

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm was the first narrative feature to be shot in the original 3-panel Cinerama process. The second, and last, was How the West Was Won, which I showcased two weeks ago. While the epic Western, or at least some its directors, tried to smooth over the unwieldy 3-camera process with landscapes and the occasional single-camera 70-mm shot, directors Henry Levin and George Pal really ran with Cinerama for their fairy tale epic. The results were a bit bonkers...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Apr042016

Doctor Strange, Alexandra Byrne, and Superhero Oscar Trivia

'Last one to Oscar is a rotten egg!'

Doctor Strange (1 time nominee Benedict Cumberbatch) and Baron Mordo (1 time nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor) are running from or towards something in this set photo from the forthcoming Doctor Strange which opens November 4th, 2016. Also in the cast are other 1 time Oscar darlings Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams and future Oscar nominees (well, maybe... eventually) Mads Mikkelsen and Michael Stuhlbarg. 

After the jump more set photos, costume design, and Oscar prospects...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Mar182016

Posterized: Saoirse Ronan

Since we forgot to celebrate Saint Patricks Day and since Brooklyn is fresh on DVD, let's talk everyone's favorite current Irish lass! Saoirse Ronan is only 21 years old (she turns 22 next month) but she's already logged over a decade of work having started as a child in a Irish television series called "The Clinic". Her first movie role was as Michelle Pfeiffer's daughter in the romantic comedy I Could Never Be Your Woman shot in 2005 though it took along time to emerge due to behind the scenes studio and distribution dramas. Her breakthrough Oscar-nominated performance in Atonement (2007) quickly followed. She's now ascended to a real movie star with her warm engaging film-carrying work in Brooklyn (2015).

Let's repeat a bit of Oscar trivia since it's quite impressive and important: Saoirse Ronan (nominated at 13 and 21) is only the 4th child star in history to received an Oscar nomination before and after turning 18. The very short list includes only the icons Jodie Foster (first nominated at 14), Natalie Wood (first nominated at 17) and Sal Mineo. (first nominated at 17) so that's astonishingly good company for Saoirse! (If you count "special" non competitive Oscars you can include Judy Garland, too, who received a "juvenile" statue for The Wizard of Oz when she was 17.) Most child stars peak when they're children, you see, but Saoirse is surely just getting started. 

How many of her films have you seen? (all posters after the jump)

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Mar062016

Ghosts of Ceremonies of Years Past

Manuel here. Love them (guilty!) or hate them (okay, sometimes I do), you have to admit that the Academy Awards are an institution, one with a long storied history. And while we've come down from last weekend's highs and lows and will soon wearily brace ourselves for what next year’s season might look like (first predictions April 1st as TFE does), whenever you need to scratch that Oscar itch take some time to look back on Oscar history before you start looking forward again.

Thankfully, the Academy is here to help. Finally embracing the 21st century they have slowly been building quite the digital archive over at oscars.org.

They now have video and photo highlights for ALL of their ceremonies. I’m sure Nathaniel and many others will cringe at the fact that they refer to this most recent ceremony as the “2016 Oscars” which as you know can sometimes get tricky. (This despite the Academy previously citing the film years (you can still see this at the tourist friendly Dolby Theater where each year the new Best Picture plaque goes up with the correct year noted (Spotlight is probably already up where the placeholder "2015" once was.)

Shouldn’t clicking 1950 give me access to the ceremony that awarded George Sanders his Best Supporting Actor win? It’s become common -- it's possibly IMDB's fault (and Jeopardy! now does it too possibly sabotaging Oscar purist trivia experts) to list by the ceremony year rather than the film year. We understand it (the 88th Academy Awards took place in 2016) but that doesn’t mean we have to like it; tying Spotlight to 2016 seems odd. 

It’s a small quibble but trust that there’s a smorgasbord of images and videos to keep you entertained should you want to leave dissecting the 2015 2016 Oscars for another day. So take a look and help us find the best/most amazing/randomest photo from ceremonies past you can find.

Wednesday
Mar022016

The New Actor Hierarchy: Oscar's Most Beloved Male Stars


Leonardo DiCaprio is now an Oscar winner but where does he stand in history?

If you're feeling celebratory -- and we've all lived through his rise into cinematic legend so why shouldn't we? -- you really need to check out this cute video of Leo getting his Oscar engraved or this silliness of a party of bros celebrating his win like mad men (hey it's better than the bro-ness of the pussy posse reuniting) or the once mocking memes that have turned into odes to Leo Joy. Good funny stuff.

Even if you weren't enamored with The Revenant (*raises hand*) or find it downright suspect, his filmography is so loaded with memorable films that surely anyone can find one therein to direct all their feelings towards in this momentous week for the 41 year old superstar. I'm choosing to view the Oscar as a career achievement Oscar for specifically prompted by Gilbert Grape, Romeo + Juliet, and The Departed... love them all!) 

Last year when Julianne Moore won her long-awaited Oscar for Still Alice we quickly tabulated the All Time Oscar Actress Hierarchy; movement in the ranks at last!  Given that DiCaprio waited even longer for his eventual statue, nabbing his first nomination at the dewy age of 19 for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), four years before Julianne Moore's first nomination, it seemed only right to do the same thing for the men in the wake of Leo's coronation. 

What follows is Oscar's 32 All Time Favorite Actors !
It's restricted to men with 5 or more nominations. Only the acting statistics are accounted for so George Clooney, for example, is not (yet) ranked. If you counted non-acting nominations, you'd also see DiCaprio jump a rank as he was nominated for producing Wolf of Wall Street two years ago and Brad Pitt would also factor in since he won Best Picture for 12 Years a Slave. Now that many major stars are involved in producing these types of extra nominations stats are likely to make Oscar lists of the future progressively murkier so we're opting not to include them for now. 

If you'd like to see how the ranks were determined (it's not as simple as basic addition or there would be many ties) that's at the bottom of the post.

OSCAR'S FOUR KINGS
And 28 other Royals 

after the jump 

Click to read more ...