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Entries in Oscars (00s) (99)


Throwback Thursday FYC: Felicity Huffman in Transamerica (2005)

Imagine if this came out today.


A lot changes in a decade's time... and I'm not talking about IFC Films no longer ever being in the Oscar conversation (they probably wouldn't even launch a campaign  today).

You can still win Oscars playing transgender characters (see Jared Leto) but now it comes with a chorus of disapproval that a trans actor wasn't selected. And speaking of... love love love Orange is the New Black but when are they going to give Laverne Cox something else to do besides sassy oneliners as she plays with someone's hair? She had like only two scenes of any note this season.


Podcast: 2004 Anniversary Party w/ Top Ten Lists

For this hour long special edition of the podcast, we took Joe Reid's suggestion and are having ourselves a theme party. The theme is 2004, and on its tenth anniversary Nathaniel, Nick and Joe marvel at what a rich cinematic year it was and how well the highlights have endured. 

We begin with movies we think we should revisit or have shifted in our memory and then compare top ten lists. Movies discussed include but are not limited to: Dogville, Bad Education, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Tarnation, Before Sunset, Blissfully Yours, Shaun of the Dead, Sideways, House of Flying Daggers, Primer, Vera Drake, and Maria Full of Grace among others. 

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download the conversation on iTunes. Continue the conversation with your own 2004 memories and revisits in the comments.


2004 Top Ten Party


Oscar Quandaries: Original OR Adapted?

The Screenplay categories were not always as fluid as they are now and once adhered to very strict rules about a script's prior existence. Now, they let you get away with a little fudging which started in force a dozen years ago when Gangs of New York and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which had spent all of their pre-release hype talking about being adapted from [insert fabulous thing here] were suddenly "originals" through complicated explanations once awards season was in sway and it became clear that the original category was infinitely less competitive. Since then much has changed and now previously established characters is a thing everyone does to fight for adapted (when it suits them) and the lines are really blurry.


So here are four plus movies that seem like they're balancing on a wire between original and adapted. Which way will they fall? 

Bruce Wagner's Maps to the Stars screenplay was a screenplay first, then it became a novel ("Dead Stars") when the movie plans fell through. It's now a screenplay again for a David Cronenberg movie. So if the movie picks up steam once it's released and not just as a curio given Julianne Moore's Cannes win, who knows? In ye olden times this would clearly be Adapted because the old hard line was once 'Previously Published or Produced Material'... but now I'm not sure.

Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel is "inspired by" the writings of Stefan Zweig ... which might mean adapted but "inspired by" is also the excuse Gangs of New York used to change its campaign from adapted to original. So I'm guessing this is up in the air until Fox Searchlight really starts campaigning (and they should).

Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert is based on the life story of Gertrud Bell but so far there are no books credited on IMDb or in articles about the film. Several books have been written about her. Is this a Milk situation where it will claim "original" despite vast reams of information to draw from written by others? And if so, is there anything wrong with that? Perhaps we need a third screenplay category for true stories that are adapted from a wide variety of sources. Other True Story This Might Apply To: Pawn Sacrifice another film about chess prodigy Bobby Fischer)

Damien Chazelle's music drama Whiplash, which has been very well received in the festival circuit, seems like the type of indie that could make waves in Original Screenplay. Only problem is it's technically adapted. It's based on Chazelle's own short film of the same name. This same situation occurred last year with Short Term 12. To date I'm not aware of anyone who tried to argue that adapting yourself is not a thing -- even Nia Vardalos, when Greek Wedding changed course argued that she'd written her comedy hit as a screenplay first before adapting it into a play so therefore it was an original (Bruce Wagner could argue the same this year for Maps to the Stars if he wants).

Under the old clear rules of "previously published or produced" you couldn't get around this even if you absolutely wrote the thing as a screenplay first but for the past 12 years these categories are more fluid and I wouldn't put it past some savvy strategist to claim original and basically negate the hypothetical 'can you adapt your own movie into a new movie?' question when it comes to these categories. 



ICYMI, A Smackdown Addendum

Busy busy week but that was mostly the team running around catching Tribeca Screenings. (We'll finish the write-ups very soon). But other than the film festival, I hope you didn't miss these five key posts from the week that was.

A Year With Kate reaches the Spencer Tracy years
Podcast Gets Under the Skin the gang's all back to discuss Noah and Under the Skin 
Looking Back at Pocahontas Disney's ambitious epic 
April Showers: The Piano Holly Hunter was the surprise star of the week because we also finally got to...
2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown Renée vs. Shohreh vs Holly vs Patty vs. Marcia Marcia Marcia. (What a strange Oscar year that was)

Film Bitch Addendum
For those of you wondering which actresses I voted for back in 2003 (many of you weren't around these parts in those early early days), here was my ballot which only had a little Oscar overlap. FWIW, David Cronenberg's Spider got a one week qualifier in 2002 but back then I went only by NYC release since I wasn't privvy to Academy screeners. Of course AMPAS ignored it as they do most one week qualifiers but Miranda Richardson was all kinds of haunting in it x 3. Curiously my finalists list suggests that I thought The Lovely Laura Linney was equal to Marcia back then within the confines of Mystic River. No more. The only part of the movie that's aged well for me at all is Harden's performance.


Today's Retro Watch
Given the 2003 Smackdown discussion, it's a great time to look back at this classic Cold Mountain sketch from French & Saunders as they poke fun at Nicole Kidman's whispering & posing and the Zeéeeee's overacting in the Cold Turkey DVD commentary track


Will Renée Zellweger Ever Achieve 'Comeback' Status

We welcome back Matthew Eng (who has been studying abroad) with a response of sorts to yesterday's Smackdown just in time for the Zeéeeee's 45th birthday today.

Renée Zellweger at an Armani show in October last yearWhat is there left to say about Renée Zellweger that hasn’t already been said by nearly every snarky film blogger since the Oscar win that ignited an entire anti-actress fatwa? Of course, you can’t really blame those who vehemently turned against Renée based solely on the performance that won her what has to be—give or take Crash—the most-maligned win of the Aughts. But surely there were other forces at work here that contributed to Zellweger’s descent from perennial A-list awards darling (an astounding three Globes in three years) to seemingly-unemployable former ingenue.

Is it the implied greediness for awards, signaled not by the type of overly-gleeful, wild-eyed, “wanting it too much” acceptance speeches that have been catnip for the Hathahaters, but rather by a clear preference for shameless Oscar vehicles that initially worked in her favor (ChicagoCold Mountain) before the vehicles themselves soon revealed their own inadequacy and consequently watched their awards chances (and hers) all but fizzle out (Cinderella ManMrs. Potter)?

Or is it something else...?

Click to read more ...


Supporting Smackdown '03: Holly, Marcia, Patty, Renée & Shohreh

For the latest edition of StinkyLulu's Supporting Actress Smackdown -- which was delayed for reasons I won't bore you with again --  Stinky and I welcome you to a much-discussed Oscar contest, ten years back. This was not, as we've rediscovered, a particularly strong vintage despite a certain nostalgic pull for any storied shortlist that combines five very distinct performers. The truth of it is that most of 2003's acting races were messy affairs with little precursor agreement or too much of it. Further complicating matters was a mix of various stages of career momentum, a frontrunning film without any acting bids (Return of the King), and that semi-annual deadly combo that always mucks with Academy discernment: weak prestige pieces and much of the best work occuring in genres Oscar doesn't care for. The Best Actress race, for example, was historic but totally odd and disatisfying, and Best Supporting Actress coalesced around these five players...


Shohreh Aghdashloo, a "discovery" at 51 though she was already famous in Iran, and previously snubbed character actress sensation Patricia Clarkson were the first timers. Oscar winners Marcia Gay Harden and Holly Hunter were also included for anchoring gritty dramas as desperately confused mothers. And finally Renée Zellweger, the eventual winner, on her third consecutive nomination but her first for a drama after two lead nominations for popular comedies. (All legitimately supporting roles. That doesn't happen over a whole supporting field anymore)

You know who won the Oscar but who will win the Smackdown? Read on...


Nick Davis, Guy Lodge, Joe Reid, Nathaniel R, Tim Robey, Stinkylulu and You (we tabulate reader votes as well and quotes from your ballots appear).


Click to read more ...


"They call this war a cloud over the land..."

... But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shitit's raining!”

Isn't that a great line from Cold Mountain? It's profound down-home truth and blunt poetry at once.

Realizing you're your own worst enemy is tough business. Even if you've realized it countless times before. Many have you have asked whatever happened to the 2003 Supporting Actress Smackdown and if you don't mind a little navel gazing you can click for more on the why and the new hopeful when...

Click to read more ...