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Entries in Oscar Trivia (191)

Thursday
Jan152015

Best (Male) Directors - The Chart!

I wish I had time to sketch Wes Anderson riding to the Oscars on a bicycle made of antique tuba parts (thanks Tina & Amy) but alas. It's nomination day. No time for goofing around.

Manly men and the men who love them and direct them and vote for them to win miniature idols of gold men.

The Best Director chart is now up with details on the nominees and gives you the opportunity to vote for your favorite (the poll will be up until two days before the Oscars). If you fuse all the Best Directors together this year into one über Frankenstein director you get a 6 foot tall white brown-haired American man with some Norwegian/Mexican blood in him who's rapidly approaching his half century mark and who has made about 7 movies in his career all told. (There's no way to fuse these five men's temperaments and styles though... despite being very similar in age, height, and Oscar favor they have very different aesthetics and concerns as filmmakers)

On the new Nominated Directors chart, you'll aso learn how each man got his nomination*. Besides having penises that is. That goes without saying in this category so we left their penises off the chart.

• How much did Birdman's showbiz navel-gazing help Inarritu?
• Which was more important for Linklater: conception or execution?
• How crucial was that spring release to Budapest's overall success?
• And did Morten Tyldum benefit from Oscar's World War II fetish?

Find out on the chart! (More charts to follow)

* for entertainment purposes only you understand. We can't know what lurks in the hearts and minds of voters but we love pretending to!

Thursday
Jan152015

Why Wes, Why Now?

Michael C here. Wes Anderson’s films haven’t been ignored by awards season in the past, so much as they have been relegated to flitting around the edges. His films have received three total Oscar nods, two for Original Screenplay for Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom and one animated film nod for Mr. Fox. His most high profile wins have been a Gotham Award for Best Film for Moonrise and two Indie Spirit wins for Rushmore for Best Director and for Best Supporting Actor for Bill Murray who is in nearly all of his films.

Wes & Tilda on the set

Now that has all changed with Grand Budapest Hotel. No longer the strange side dish, Anderson’s nostalgic remembrance of a Europe that never quite existed has just finished a rampage through the precursors that culminated with Anderson’s first DGA nomination. Over the past few weeks buzz for Budapest grew steadily from “It might pick up a few nods” to “It looks like a lock for a Best Picture slot” to “Hey, it just might snatch the screenplay Oscar away from Birdman”. And today, incredibly, it LEADS the Oscar nominations with nine (tied with Birdman)

For those of us who have been on board with Anderson since the 90’s and have grown used to Anderson being underappreciated it’s hard not to wonder what exactly has changed. Why did Wes break through now when his films have been as good or better in the past? 

Five theories after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jan012015

Happy New Year to the Oldest Living Oscar Peeps

I normally publish this list on Luise Rainer's birthday but having lost her just as 2014 ended after a year already marked by the loss of several screen giants including Mickey Rooney, Peter O'Toole and Joan Fontaine, we needed some positivity to kick off the new calendar!

Olivia de Havilland, two time best actress. She's still defiantly with us!

This semi-annual list of living Oscar-vets was never intended to be a morbid countdown list as a stray commenter or three has complained. Not at all! It's a way for us to honor people while they're still conscious of our appreciation for their indelible contributions to our favorite artform. Your assignment: pick six players here and during the year, rent a key film from each so that they can receive your telepathic waves of appreciation in 2015! (That's only 1 film every other month. You can do it!)

So our very best wishes of good health and happiness to the following actors, directors and craftsmen of all kinds in this new year...

100 OLDEST LIVING OSCAR NOMINEES/WINNERS
after the jump

01  Douglas Slocombe (2/10/13)
Imagine lighting that boulder rolling opening sequence of Raiders of the Lost Ark or the snake pit with torches! This nearly 102 year-old was up to the challenge. He also received nominations for Julia (1977) and Travels With My Aunt (1972). Other key works: The Lion in Winter (1968), The Great Gatsby (1974) and Rollerball (1975)

02 Elmo Williams (4/30/13) 
This centenarian won his golden statue for editing High Noon (1952) one of the earliest movies (though not the earliest) to be told in "real time." He was later nominated for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). 

03  Olivia de Havilland (7/1/1916)
The oldest enduring movie star on this list - she turns 99 this year - won Best Actress twice by the time she was 33 for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). The Snake Pit (1948) and Hold Back the Dawn (1941) also won her nominations. Olivia's legend was cemented years earlier, though, with her first nomination as the kind-hearted "Melanie" in the immortal Gone With the Wind (1939). Only a few living actors with speaking roles from that historic film are still with us. Other Key Works: Maid Marian in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), My Cousin Rachel (1952), and Light in the Piazza (1962). More on Olivia.

97 more greats after the jump

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec302014

Luise Rainer (1910-2014)

Luise Rainer, Oscar's first back-to-back Acting winner for The Great Ziegfeld (1936) and The Good Earth (1937) was, for the past handful of years, perhaps better known for outliving everyone than for her brief movie stardom. She was just two weeks shy of her 105th birthday when she passed away early this morning of pneumonia. She is survived by her daughter and two granddaughters.

She was recently name-checked not so flatteringly in the Hollywood bio Hitchcock (2012) but the actress, still very much alive at the time, could surely roll with it. The outspoken import lived through tumultuous times, beginning her acting career on the German stage and screen before fleeing as Hitler consolidated power (she was Jewish) and then being sold to the American public as "The Viennesse Teardrop" because German wouldn't do back then. She quickly becoming a star while briefly marrying (unhappily) the playwright Cliff Odets who had several tumultuous affairs with famous actresses (as portrayed in Frances, 1982).

The outspoken diva was very vocal about what she thought of Hollywood, her unsatisfying career, and "The Oscar Curse" which she doesn't believe in though she admits that the back-to-back Oscars weren't at all helpful. The adulation prompted Hollywood to just throw her into anything, with no worries of miscasting or her own creative satisfaction.

Her career ended as swiftly as it began as she fought with the powers that be for more choice in her films. Soon she left Hollywood for New York and then London where she settled for good. 

I had a seven-year contract that I broke and went away. I was a machine, practically, a tool in a big, big factory, and I could not do anything. I wanted to film Madame Curie, but Mayer forbade me. I wanted to do For Whom the Bell Tolls, but Selznick took Ingrid Bergman and brought her to Hemingway and I didn't know Hemingway. And so I left. I just went away. I fled; yes, I fled."

She flew away to, by all reports, a happier life outside the spotlight. Her remarkable longevity and semi-regular all smiles appearances over the years suggests that she enjoyed it. 

Friday
Dec192014

Oscar's Foreign Language Finalists. Shocking As Per Usual...

And now, dear reader, we have our official OSCAR FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM FINALIST LIST direct from the Academy and it's full of tongue-twisting shockers, no matter your mother Mommy tongue. You mean no Xavier Dolan? No Marion Cotillard and the Dardenne Brothers? No rampaging dogs or winter sleeps that made people cheer at Cannes? Nope...The nine remaining films are (in alpha order)

Can IDA finally break Poland's losing streak in this category?

THE FINALIST LIST

  • ACCUSED (The Netherlands. 7 nominations | 3 wins)
    This film, known as Lucia De. B in The Netherlands, is a courtroom drama about a lawyer who later regrets convicting a nurse for murder. The director was previously Oscar nominated for Zus & Zo
  • CORN ISLAND (Georgia. 1 nomination | 0 wins)
    Capsule Review though we called the Oscar prospects for this farmer and his daughter outpost drama "nil" ...oopsie! 
  • FORCE MAJEURE (Sweden. 14 noms | 3 wins)
    Reviewed and then reviewed some more because this sharp comedy about masculinity and marriage (among other things) is so damn good. Currently in release and the only film on this finalist list that's occasionally nabbing Foreign Film critics prizes from Ida 
  • IDA (Poland. 9 nominations | 0 wins)
    Love this movie but then again, doesn't everyone? It's the third biggest subtitled hit of the year and the most unlikely since its a confrontational stark black and white drama about a Jewish nun.
  • LEVIATHAN (Russia. 13 noms | 4 wins)
    Reviewed but more on this one (which is difficult to summarize) coming soon... it's also very good. 
  • THE LIBERATOR (Venezuela. Never nominated)
    Reviewed though we called the Oscar chances "unlikely" Oopsie again. We did SO much coverage on this race this year that I guess we got a little cocky. And also... maybe I was a little irritated by it since I was so in love with the runner up for submission from Venezuela. 
  • TANGERINES (Estonia. Never nominated)
    I've been predicting this film, about a farmer who takes in a wounded soldier, for months now after hearing intense love for it from a festival programmer in LA. Have yet to lay my own eyes on it though.
  • TIMBUKTU (Mauritania. Their First Submission!)
    Reviewed but I haven't yet seen this searing drama about Sharia law and the havoc it creates on a tribal community. I hear only exciting things (though miserably depressing things).
  • WILD TALES (Argentina. 6 nominations | 2 wins) 
    Reviewed and lurved. It's really hilarious and somehow maintains its energy throughout despite being essentially a collection of shorts 

Wild Tales is the only film to plan an opening right around Oscar night that lucked out by doing so.

The biggest omissions in terms of how high profile they were are undoubtedly Canada's Mommy (which I suspected would be too youthful anarchic for them), and Belgium's Two Days One Night which were two of the best films of 2014 according to many (including myself). The latter film is currently hoping for a Best Actress nomination for Marion Cotillard (UPDATED CHART)  and this omission could actually help her. Past races have shown us that perceptions of unkind treatment in the foreign film category can boost your nomination chances. Consider the fates of City of God (subitted but not nominated for foreign one year but chased with a regular release the next), Talk to Her (not submitted by Spain), and Three Colors: Red (deemed ineligible) which went on to nominations in other categories. 

It's also worth noting that ALL of the LGBT entries (there were six) did not make the finalist list. 

THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE SAVE
One of the more discussion-prompting elements of this Oscar game each year is their recently refined rules which involve two different sets of groups coming up with these nine finalists. The six top vote-getters from the ballots of the general committee volunteer AMPAS members who attend the screenings make the list but then 3 additional films are chosen as finalists by a special committee (presumably to prevent really embarrassing omissions like Oscar had when say 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, an instant masterpiece from Romania, didn't make the cut). The titles (aka which films are which) are never revealed so it's internet speculation only that says...

Oh, the Executive Committtee totally saved that one!" 

NO MOMMY
So what this means is that whichever films that special more powerful committee saved, they liked them more than Mommy and Two Days One Night and whatnot. I'm sad to see both go but you can make a VERY respectable shortlist of Oscar nominees from these nine. I've only seen 4 of the remaining 5 but all 4 are worthy. 

You should expect to see some shifting release dates around this news. It's a huge danger to plan your releases around Oscar campaigns, as Mommy did by waiting to open (presumably until the nomination came). Every year films succumb to this hope addiction when it's better to mount an honest "this film is great!" release and if Oscar comes, it comes. Other movies that did not make the finalists that were planning on opening very  soon are Germany's Beloved Sisters, Two Days One Night (both due on Christmas Eve in theaters) and France's Saint Laurent, like Mommy was probably waiting for Oscar to come up with a plan.

More coming on this category soon once we've fully digested the news.

Related Pages

Current Predictions
Submission Chart Pt 1 Afghanistan through Ethiopia 
Submission Chart Pt 2 Finland through Nepal 
Submission Chart Pt 3 Peru through Venezuela 

Everything You Wanted To Know About the Foreign Film Race... but were afraid to ask 
Part One: We explored trivia about the Oscar's most global category
Part Two: Nathaniel jumped to Towleroad, "a site with homosexual tendencies," for a discussion of the six LGBT films in the competitive long-list.

29 of 83 Foreign Submissions Reviewed or Otherwise Investigated  AfghanistanArgentinaAustraliaBelgiumBrazilCanadaCubaCzech RepublicFinlandFranceGeorgiaGermanyHungaryIcelandIsrael, Iran, ItalyLatviaMauritania, New ZealandNorwayPanamaPolandPortugal, SwedenSwitzerlandTurkeyUruguay, and Venezuela.
Complete Oscar Charts Here.

 

Tuesday
Dec162014

Makeup & Hairstyling: The Elephantine Origin Story (and this year's finalists since we must)

It's history time, kids! Gather round. Did you know that The Elephant Man, currently on Broadway with Bradley Cooper, is indirectly responsible for the Academy's makeup Oscar? No, not that kind of make up Oscar ... though the Academy gives those all the time, too (why, hello Ms. Julianne Moore "Ms. February 2015"!) and maybe Bradley Cooper will get one of those someday?

what's that? u think this intro was an excuse to post a photo of shirtless Bra---FINE! don't judge.

I digress. In the stage version of The Elephant Man the lead actor traditionally performs while wearing no special makeup; he merely acts deformity. But that stylization hasn't yet been tried on film. When it came time to make the film version in 1980, David Lynch, no stranger to depicting deformity without prosthetics -- deformity of the soul at least -- opted for makeup effects. People bitched about the lack of Oscar recognition since The Elephant Man was an Oscar hit (8 nominations) and the very next year we had our category! Unfortunately for the The Elephant Man's team Christopher Tucker and Wally Schneiderman and all, it was too late. Those makeup artists never won a Makeup Oscar or even the other kind of Make up Oscar for overdue peeps.

Once there was an official category a young pony-tailed prosthetics genius named Rick Baker immediately began his relentless reign, hogging 11 nominations and 7 statues starting with An American Werewolf in London. The Makeup prize continued on its weirdly lyncathropic, excruciatingly unstable number of nominee (0,2,3,4) effects-obsessed path for decades thereafter.

UNTIL...

Click to read more ...