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Entries in Oscars (00s) (86)

Saturday
Mar012014

But who did Zhang Ziyi vote for?

I know you. You woke up this morning desperate to know what Zhang Ziyi's Oscar ballot looked like. I am here, as ever, to improve your day with answers and actressness.

The Chinese superstar wasn't* nominated for  Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000) or Memoirs of a Geisha (2005, around the time AMPAS invited her to join) despite plentiful US media attention. (I imagine teen and early 20something readers aren't super familiar with her since it's been 9 years since she was a regular fixture in the US entertainment press???) The Grandmaster raised her profile a bit again and she obviously helped the costumes and cinematography to their Oscar nominations on account of good god she's photogenic.

She discussed her ballot with fans on her Weibo account  though she was cleverly vague about whether she was talking votes or predictions (AMPAS members aren't supposed to reveal their actual votes).

She wrote [translated for TFE - thanks Tony!]:

Quite a chaotic year. Voted without taking any precursor awards into account. Some simple predictions based on experience and personal feeling.  

Best picture: Gravity. Animated feature: Frozen. Not just great movies but both female-centric.  Blanchett best actress. J.L. best supporting actress. Leto best supporting actor. For best actor I loved Matthew's performance but voted for DiCaprio, he deserves this no matter what.

For art department and cinematography I'm rooting for the home team of course. Good luck to them. A tip: Mr. Sunglasses** will walk the red carpet

 

In the spirit of Zhang Ziyi's social media sharing you know you want to share this ballot on Facebook or twitter

*As I've stated numerous times Asian actors don't have much luck with the Academy or Hollywood. They don't get invited to present very often at the big show, you rarely seen them in color blind casting decisions, and they rarely get nominated for Oscars even when they have a high profile year like Ziyi or Gong Li before her. In fact, no Asian has ever been nominated for Best Actress (unless you count "Dark Angel"'s Merle Oberon who was half Indian but hid her heritage in the less diverse Hollywood of the 1930s)

** "Mr Sunglasses" would be her director Wong Kar-Wai

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