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Entries in Oscars (00s) (85)

Monday
Feb242014

6 Days Til Oscar. Cuarón and His Gifts

Our countdown continues with new contributor Adam Armstrong on six-time nominee Alfonso Cuarón

Y tu mama tambíen

There comes a point in everybody’s lives when the awareness of their own mortality becomes apparent. For myself, it came when I was walking to class on a particularly snowy morning and saw a bus slam into a conveniently placed guardrail on a bridge. Snow related accidents are common enough but what happened next is not -- a man in an oversized Santa Claus costume exited the bus, choosing that moment in his life to dabble in the art of traffic enforcement, directing the chaotic traffic away from his fellow passengers as they escaped to a shabby Dunkin Donuts across the street.

Life is a fragile thing and few directors understand this as well as Alfonso Cuarón.

Tenoch, Julio and Luisa (who is very aware of her mortality) are driving to a beach they've hopefully named "Heaven's Mouth" in an effort to escape their unfulfilling lives in Y tu mamá también. Theo and Kee perilously make their way through the war torn United Kingdom to reach the sea where a boat will carry them to salvation in Children of Men. Dr Ryan Stone hangs on to what will to live she has left to descend back down to Earth in Gravity. In all three of these films, which garnered Cuarón his six Oscar nominations, the characters journey to their own deliverance from death, be it in the literal or figurative sense.

Cuaron’s nominations (the script from Y tu mamá también, the editing and script of Children of Men, and the editing, directing and producing of Gravity) each showcase specific storytelling gifts that augment the characters’ struggles and triumphs along the way.  Y tu mamá también’s screenplay layers character-specific dialogue, multiple agendas, and political allegory to deepen its road trip journey. The seamless editing in Children of Men sutures together unsettling drama and thrilling realistic action sequences that thrust the viewer into the scenes right alongside the characters as if we're in danger, too. Cuaron’s concise committed vision enable him to maintain control over Gravity's high concept premise, sustaining its plausibility and telling the story as he meant it to be told. (This is especially true in regards to the lead character when he was pressured consistently to cast a man in the leading role.)

A beach. A boat. The earth. All three destinations represent freedom to the travellers (however temporarily) from their fleeting mortality. Cuarón isn't literally escorting us to safety, but he crafts stories that help us fully value our lives, still in progress. That's quite a gift to bring us semi-annually.

 

previously in our number laden countdown
7 Oscar nominated films about AIDS * 8 time losing Peter O'Toole * 9 nominations for Twelve Years a Slave * Perfect 10 Paul Newman * 11 Days (Bette Midler) *  a 12-wide best picture field * 13 years ago in Best Actress (Matthew McConaughey?) * 14 times nominated giants (All About Eve & Titanic) *  15 Days (Supporting Charts) * 16 times nominated costume designer * 17 years ago + 1917 * Meryl's 18th * 19 Days (Julianne Moore) * 20 Year-Old surprise dramas * 21 Days (Billy Wilder) 

Friday
Feb212014

Red Carpet Lineup: All of Meryl Streep's Oscar Looks

a better photo of the Silkwood Oscar dressThis is the last Streep-centric post for this Oscar season (unless she does something crazy at the Oscars), promise!

I used to always make a point of saying that Meryl Streep gets nominated for 39% of her performances, having appeared in 46 features and being nominated 18 times. But in truth her record is better than that. Once you eliminate the performances that couldn't have been nominated her record is an even more incredible 53% (a good example is her leading role in Plenty released in 1985 since she was nominated for her leading role in Out of Africa and an actor may only have one nomination per category unlike behind-the-camera people who are allowed to double up). So, fact: as soon as she reports to work on each new film she is more likely to be nominated than not for whatever it is she is about to do.

Is this the best record ever? Among actors, yes (once you eliminate the people who only made a few films and died/quit). But, otherwise, nope. John Williams has the closest thing to infallibility since he's nominated for virtually everything he does but let's not get sidetracked. Let's look at Streep's past in gown form and her future in role form after the jump

All of Meryl's Oscar Nominated Looks 1978-2012
With thanks to Google Image Search and Simply Streep 

Click to read more ...

Monday
Feb172014

13 Days Til Oscar: Matthew McConaughey... And the 2000 Best Actress Race?

[The Oscar countdown continues with new contributor Matthew Eng - he wrote that popular Jennifer Lawrence piece! -- making a fascinating cross gender lines comparison to 13 years back]

Thirteen years ago, the only acting prize Matthew McConaughey seemed likely to ever win was a Razzie*. Or, you know, at least a Teen Choice Award. And yet, here we are, thirteen years later, all those Wedding Planners and Failure to Launches gone (but not forgotten), and Matthew McConaughey just so happens to be:

  1. an Oscar nominee
  2. the indisputable frontrunner of the Best Actor raceand
  3. a presumable Oscar winner.

It’s the Second Coming of McConaughey, a shockingly successful, rule-breaking career reversal that approximately zero people saw coming. But can you really blame us, especially considering that pre-Magic Mike McConaughey seemed pretty intent on solidifying his status as a Hopeless Hollywood Himbo, continually submerging his skills behind a pair of wide-eyed peepers, a self-satisfied smirk, and a notorious, Southern-fried catchphrase that may have made for one great Matt Damon impression but which can still send even some of the more willing McConaughey converts up the wall?

It’s always nice to see a performer sizably step up their game, to start choosing roles for the challenge, rather than the check. Maybe it’s the nature of the Dallas Buyers Club role or maybe it’s the inconsistent reputation of the genre he spent the better part of the past decade residing in, but McConaughey’s performance and subsequent awards trajectory have been giving me major flashbacks to Julia Roberts and the 2000 Best Actress Race, which culminated with Roberts’ inevitable coronation nearly thirteen years ago. [More...]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb132014

Surprise. "Freeheld" Back On. Now With Julianne Moore!

You're forgiven if you've long since forgotten that Ellen Page was trying to get a feature version of the Oscar winning documentary short Freeheld (2007) off the ground. She first tried in 2008, shortly after her rise to fame with Juno (2007). The film, based on a true story, is about a lesbian couple, the young Stacie (Page) and her older police detective partner Laurel Hester (Moore) who receive devastating news: Laurel is terminally ill and the government won't let her assign her pension benefits to Stacie. At the time this was first announced it looked like a great Oscar project for Page but nothing ever came of. The good news: It's back on!

But the news gets even better...


Julianne Moore is on board to play Laurel so maybe she's finally got her Oscar role. Not that Oscar is the most important thing here. The important thing is tell good stories about women with great actresses playing them. Curiously several of Julianne's roles have been gay or gay-adjacent (Far From Heaven, The Hours, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, The Kids Are All Right, Chloe, A Single Man, Savage Grace, Psycho). If Freeheld is anywhere near as good as The Kids Are All Right, The Hours, or Far From Heaven, her gayest and most Oscar celebrated films, we're in for such a treat. 

The news gets even better.

Peter Sollett, who directed the little-seen but totally amazing gem Raising Victor Vargas (2002) and later the slightly more seen but still underappreciated Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008) and nothing since (seriously is he waiting tables?) will direct. 

The news gets even better.

Since the project now has three stars (Zach Galifianakis will play an activist) it looks like it is really going to happen and aims to start production this summer. 

UPDATE 02/15: THE NEWS JUST GOT BEST
Ellen Page came out as a gay woman on Valentine's Day 

Tuesday
Feb112014

19 Days Til Oscar (Feat. Julianne Moore)

Hollywood's High Holy Night is less than three weeks away now. Today also happens to be the 50th birthday of one Sarah Palin but rather than wish one of the worst people alive a Happy Birthday, here's a random 'What If?' question for your discussion pleasure...

Q: Julianne has been nominated for four Oscars (Boogie Nights, The End of the Affair, The Hours, Far From Heaven), famously losing all of them. If her Sarah Palin movie "Game Change" --  which won her the Globe, SAG, and Emmy --  had been a feature film, would she be 5/0 with Oscar or a winner? How would she have affected that Oscar race

Honestly you could ask the same question of "Behind the Candelabra" in this Oscar race in both the Lead and Supporting Actor categories, courtesy of biopic love and category fraud. 

P.S. Here are Julianne's Oscar looks for beauteous fun. The first three years she was a nominee. (If I ran the world she would've won two of those races) though I don't suspect she'll show this year with only Non-Stop to promote and 11 long years without a nomination.