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10th Anniversary: A SERIOUS MAN

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Entries in Oscars (00s) (172)

Tuesday
Aug202019

The New Classics: Inglourious Basterds

Michael Cusumano here to take a break from batting around Once Upon a Time In... Hollywood to look back a decade.

Scene - Chapter 2: Inglourious Basterds 
The Inglourious Basterds marketing team knew what aspects of the film to emphasize ten years ago. 

“A basterd's work is never done” boasted the tag line next to the image of a triumphant Brad Pitt brandishing a machine gun atop a pile of dead Nazis. “An inglourious, uproarious thrill-ride of vengeance!” promised another line. The centerpiece of the trailer was Pitt’s Aldo the Apache jutting his chin into a tight close to declare “I want my scalps!”. The promise was clear. The director of Kill Bill is trading samurai swords for hand grenades.

Rewatching it now, ten years later, I can still feel the chasm between the film that was sold and the film that was delivered. Basterds is a sprawling, oddly-shaped, thesis paper of a movie. And while there is no shortage of violence, it takes a back seat to dialogue, mostly arriving in quick bursts to punctuate long scenes of conversation. At times, Basterds could be mistaken for an adaptation of a stage play, and a foreign language one to boot. 

“Uproarious” though. The tag was telling the truth about that...

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Tuesday
Aug062019

10th Anniversary: Julie & Julia is an 'Over & Over'

by Ginny O'Keefe

BONJOUR! It’s now been 10 years since Amy Adams (with a bad wig) and Meryl Streep (with platforms to make her look 6’2”) starred as the title characters in the delicious Nora Ephron film, Julie and Julia. The film follows New Yorker Julie Powell in 2002, challenging herself to make every recipe in Julia Child’s famous cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” while simultaneously chronicling Child’s start of her cooking profession in 1950’s France. I saw this film for the first time in theatres when it premiered back in August 2009 and thank God I had a large popcorn and Buncha Crunch by my side because otherwise I would’ve died of starvation.

Without a doubt, this is my favorite food film ever. It lets a legend and a regular person share the spotlight while paralleling each other through their obsession and love of good French food. This film inspired an interest in the culinary arts for this then 14-year-old me. I decided to make more food for myself (instead of just relying on my mom)...

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Saturday
Jul202019

"The Client" and Populist Oscar Choices in Acting

by Nathaniel R

Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of The Client which was a big sleeper success in its summer, ending the year as the 13th highest grossing movie of 1994. Only that number wasn't bad luck since Susan Sarandon netted a Best Actress nomination for the legal drama. That nomination kept her momentum as "overdue for a win" going strong until the next year when she won the Oscar for something in Oscar's more typical wheelhouse, Dead Man Walking (1995) an issue drama based on a true story.

So let's discuss something no one talks about much. What are the lead acting nominations that would never have happened without the big hit status for the movies that housed them? This is NOT meant as a critique of the performances. Sometimes Oscar just needs to be convinced by enormous success to look at worthy pieces of acting within genres they take less seriously (their loss) or star vehicles they might not have stopped to mull over without all the general audience enthusiasm forcing the movie to be taken seriously... 

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Tuesday
Jul162019

The New Classics - Before Sunset

Michael C here to honor a film with an emotional impact that hasn't diminished over countless repeat viewings...

Scene: The Car Ride
When people talk about the appeal of Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy they tend to focus on the enchanting dialogue or the romantic European locations, but I think one of the big reasons this series is so beloved is that it avoids all the contrivances usually deployed to keep couples apart in movies... 

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Tuesday
Jun252019

The New Classics - The Hurt Locker

Michael Cusumano here to look back on one of the few classics about the Iraq War on the 10th anniversary of its release. 

Scene: The Daisy Chain Bomb
When Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker hit theaters in the Summer of 2009 it was sold as an all-thrills, zero-politics experience. Here, the ads promised, was a film that wasn’t going to go all Valley of Elah on you with ponderous anti-war messages. The trio of soldiers that make up the film’s central bomb disposal unit never discuss politics. They defuse the bombs, they don’t get to hung up on why they are there in the first place. At no point do any of them sigh during a low moment and wonder, “Man, I don’t even know what we’re doing here...”

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Thursday
Jun202019

Smackdown '01: Connelly, Tomei, Winslet, and the Dames

A bohemian novelist, a longsuffering wife, a snobbish Lady, and a supremely competent housekeeper were the Oscar-honored roles in the Best Supporting Actress competition of 2001. 

The shortlist that year was a veritable who's who of this very category, most of the actresses had been nominated before / would be again. One was already a two-time winner and Dame of the British Empire in fact (Maggie Smith... Helen Mirren wouldn't become a Dame until 2003). The anomaly / party crasher was Jennifer Connelly, who had been a teenage star and was receiving her first taste of awards glory as an adult, building on the momentum of a critically well-received turn the previous year in Requiem for a Dream with a borderline leading role in on of the year's biggest hits (A Beautiful Mind made an incredible $170 million at the US box office, believe it or not). 

THIS MONTH'S PANELISTS   

Here to talk with your host Nathaniel about these five nominated turns are (in alpha order): Erik Anderson of Awards Watch, freelance critic Valerie Complex, This Had Oscar Buzz's Joe Reid, and Shane Slater from Awards Circuit. Now it's time for the main event...

2001
SUPPORTING ACTRESS SMACKDOWN + PODCAST  

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