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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd


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Entries in Oscar Trivia (172)


Best Picture: October is The New December

one... two... three... do the release date shuffle ♬

Over the past couple of weeks the last quarter of the year has pulling its usual release date switcheroos, brushing detritus or unfinished masterworks (you decide) from its schedule. We can all act surprised if we so choose but we're only fooling ourselves when we do.

And they say, "Goldfish have no memory"
I guess their lives are much like mine
And the little plastic castle
Is a surprise every time

-Ani DiFranco "Little Plastic Castle"

This happens every year! So no more Foxcatcher in December. No more Grace of Monaco in November. Curiously both films had released trailers seemingly moments before they were pulled from the calendar. (Foxcatcher's trailer was quickly snatched back from view before I even had time to watch it but at least we had time to discuss Grace). 

In paradoxically more alarming / less surprising non-news [more]

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FYC Best Supporting Actor: Ulysses

I have seen the greatest performance by a supporting actor in 2013.  All hail "ULYSSES". Here he is in a key moment from his star-making role in the Coen Bros Inside Llewyn Davis.

What a face! But he doesn't coast on it. He acts with his whole body. If there's any justice in the world, a BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR campaign will rev right up.

Okay okay. I realize this is a silly argument and I know exactly what you're thinking...

You're thinking:

"But Nathaniel, a nomination for Ulysses will never happen. I mean, hello, Oscar Trivia! The Coen Bros filmography, which is chalk full of excellent supporting turns never produces nominations in the supporting category that aren't arguably leads (William H Macy in Fargo and Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men are both in the driver's seat of their film's narrative even if they aren't the protagonists). It's only happened once: Michael Lerner in Barton Fink. And complete unknowns rarely get traction... especially when the film they're in doesn't even feature them in the press notes"

To this I say "But you haven't seen this awesome performance yet and Ulysses DOES drive the plot along -- sometimes in soft footed silence and other times with a sprint. Plus, where's your faith? No supporting actor in a Coen Bros film has ever given a performance this pure of heart or this instinctual. I don't mean to be disrespectful to John Goodman, John Turturro, and the entire Coen repertory company but none of them have ever purred or kneaded their leading men on cue so maybe they just didn't deserve one. 

I consider it an indignity that Ulysses will be left out of the film's SAG ensemble nomination (if it gets one) since he goes uncredited. He has way more screen time than Garrett Hedlund and better close-ups than Justin Timberlake.

Don't hate on gingers. Root for Ulysses.


There is No Frontrunner For Best Actor

By and large pundits seem to have narrowed down the Best Actress category, sadly before all the films have even premiered, to about 6 or 7 women... but many of them won't be able to win for their roles (when you've already won it's more difficult to build a "more" case - this ain't the Emmys) so the fight for the actual statue will probably not be bloody at all. Here you go, Cate! The supporting categories (both male and female) are still hugely competitive as far as nominations go but again the winning could well be set in stone as soon as the nominations are facts rather than assumptions.

Will Oscar feel sentimental about Dern or Redford?

But Best Actor just can't be narrowed down. Not yet at least. [more...]

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Three Reasons Why People Ought to Stop Bitching About the Foreign Film Race and Just Appreciate The Movies

There are now 38 Official Submissions for Oscar's Foreign Language Film race, one of The Film Experience's favorite categories. Which means there are now undoubtedly about 38,000 bitchy articles lodged around the web and print... many of them undoubtedly focused on Blue is the Warmest Color, due to its high profile both from content (lesbian sex!) and prestige (Cannes winner).

the new US poster. It's a beauty

I am exhausted by the griping each year about this category. I really am. And often from people who should know better. The grumbling over this oft divisive category reminds me of how Oscar fans like to say...

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Team Top Ten: Biggest Awards Season Flops

Amir here, to bring you our newest edition of Team Top Ten. Festival season is in full force. Telluride just wrapped. Venice is going strong. And in just two days, Toronto will set the awards season ablaze (Nathaniel and I will be there covering the flames). So we thought we’d vote on something that captures the spirit of the season.

Sort of.

Looking ahead at this point, there are a lot of films that look like surefire Oscar contenders. Inevitably, some of them will miss out on nomination morning, but at this very moment, everyone’s got their hopes high. Even in a year where unfortunate circumstances led to widespread discussion of racism in America, one can’t expect Mandela, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler AND Fruitvale Station to be nominated, but all four films are certainly gunning for it. So has been the story with many films in the past couple of decades, since the Oscars became the most glamorous political race on the planet and the Weinstein’s at Miramax supercharged awards campaigning.  

We’re looking back today at the films of the past 25 years – let’s call it the Campaigning Era – that looked like major Oscar players this far out in the year, or hell, even five minutes before nominations were announced in some cases, but failed to make a dent of any size. This is Team Experience’s Top Ten Awards Season Flops. Note that this is not a qualitative judgment - some stank, some were superb. But, for one reason or another, they fell short of what The Golden Man deems "Best". In simple terms – borrowed from Team Experience member, Nick Davis – these are the ten films that have the largest gap between their Oscar hopes and their Oscar outcomes. Without further ado… 

Bobby and 9 more dashed-hopefuls after the jump...

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The First Televised Oscar Ceremony!

For today's daily nooner leadup to the Supporting Actress Smackdown of 1952 -- and to get us all pumped up for the burst of Fall Film Oscar Madness,  I thought we'd look at the Oscar ceremony itself and some really fun trivia. Ready?

Shirley Booth in NYC accepts her Oscar while the LA crowd looks on

• Did you know that the 1952 Oscars (held in March 1953) were the first televised Oscar ceremony ever? Now you do!  They were also bi-coastal (!!!) with Bob Hope entertaining in LA and the great Fredric March working the crowd in New York. 

• Shirley Booth, who won for Come Back Little Sheba, fell on the steps to the stage! You can watch it here. Jennifer Lawrence didn't invent that little attention grabbing Best Actress move this past FebruaryMORE AFTER THE JUMP

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StinkyLulu's Preliminary Thoughts on Supporting Actressing in '52

We are pleased to welcome StinkyLulu back to Smackdowning. Give him a warm welcome in the comments! - Editor

It has been a while since I dropped into a random year’s field of Supporting Actress nominees. Still, as I have re/screened the relevant films in preparation for Saturday afternoon's Supporting Actress Smackdown, it’s startling how familiar the 1952 roster feels. Remember that “Best Supporting Actress” was only in its 15th year or so (having been introduced in 1936, almost ten years after the Oscar game got started) but, already by 1952, the category seemed to have established some of its most enduring quirks.

1952’s nominated roles are definitely cut from Oscar’s favorite cloth: the hooker with a heart; the hale helpmeet; the full force of youth; the long (briefly) suffering wife; and the shrewish “ex.”

Oscar loves a type - you see these types still!

The field we'll be discussing Saturday definitely reminds us that, by the early 1950s, Supporting Actress had emerged as one of Oscar’s favored ways to anoint the newcomer/s with one hand, while taking care to honor the time-tested trouper/s with the other. As example, 1952's nominations honor not only breakout performances by “new stars” Jean Hagen and Terry Moore (not to mention the screen debut of Colette Marchand) but also familiar work by previously favored nominees Gloria Grahame and Thelma Ritter. And, yes, Oscar’s habit of nodding to certain troupers also stirs the faint whiff that a Supporting Actress nomination might sometimes be an apology bouquet of sorts — Oscar’s way to say “please forgive my neglecting to nominate (or award) that other performance…but do accept this as a token of the Academy’s esteem.” (Might Grace Kelly’s 1953 nomination for Mogambo and Katy Jurado’s 1954 nomination for Broken Lance been made possible, at least in part, by Oscar’s neglect of their High Noon turns this very year?)

And in a field full of what I have called “coasters” (efficient supporting actressness buoyed by being part of a heavily nominated film), Jean Hagen’s nomination looms especially large as that “single nominated performance from an ignored-in-other-major-categories picture”. That's a particularly burdensome last bit of support not infrequently borne by Supporting Actress nominees.

Katy Jurado (High Noon) and Ethel Waters (Member of the Wedding). Who would you call snubbed from '52's Supporting Actressing?

All told, 1952 stands as nearly exemplary of the idiosyncrasies of the Best Supporting Actress category, and is thus perhaps the ideal one to revive the peculiar pleasures of the Supporting Actress Smackdown. And while I might wonder what this roster might have felt like if, say, High Noon’s Katy Jurado or Member of the Wedding’s Ethel Waters (or even Viva Zapata’s Mildred Dunnock) had “coastered” into the field, the Smackdown challenges us to look closely at the work of the women who were nominated, for it is in such “actressing at the edges” that the category’s true pleasures shine.

See you on Saturday!