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Oscar History

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Entries in Oscars (09) (10)


10th Anniversary: Laika's "Coraline"

by Timothy Brayton

Coraline, which opened in theaters ten years ago today, was groundbreaking in all sorts of ways. It was the first feature made by Laika, soon to become a cultishly loved, critically praised animation studio with an Oscar nomination for every one of its four films (a fifth, Missing Link, is set to open in April). It was one of the first films in the most recent 3D fad to demonstrate a real sense of the emotional and narrative possibilities of using stereoscopic effects, and it was only rarely equaled in the years following. It represents an extraordinary leap into a brand new mixed-media animation style that I refrain from calling "revolutionary" only because nobody else but Laika seems to be interested in experimenting with it.

The truly special thing about Coraline is not that it achieved any of these things. Plenty of films invent new stuff. What's special – downright miraculous, even – is that Coraline feels just as fresh and bold in 2019 as it did in 2009...

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The Furniture: The Chicanery and Posterity of 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus will always be known, perhaps primarily, as the movie interrupted by the tragic and sudden death of Heath Ledger (10 years ago today). This part of its reputation precedes it, particularly given its relatively muted critical reception. The story of its making, and the enlisting of Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell to fill the void, is essential to its reputation. It’s become a marker in time, an unplanned moment in the history of celebrity culture.

It is also, interestingly, a fairly specific moment in the development of visual effects. It lost the Best Production Design Oscar to Avatar, after all. These films stand for two dramatically different ways of using design and CGI to create cinematic worlds, even if they are both fantasies on the surface. And, perhaps, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus comes out ahead...

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Today in History: Joan Crawford's Oscar, Bel Powley's Rise, Loretta Young's Emmy

Need to feel festive today? Think on these anniversaries or birthdays today in showbiz history and celebrate accordingly. 

1914 Director Morton DaCosta was born in Philly. Though most of his career was on the stage he did direct three features: Auntie Mame, The Music Man, and Island of Love, the first two of which were Best Picture nominees!
1933 The game "Monopoly" was invented -remember that time when it seemed like every "brand" was going to become a movie and Ridley Scott was going to make this one?
1942 Televangelist wife and pop culture makeup icon Tammy Faye Baker is born. 

Much more after the jump...

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Sandra and The Kiss

We're celebrating Sandra Bullock as she hits 50. Here's Matthew Eng on her most infamous awards show moment - Editor 

I'm not sure why exactly the Critics' Choice Movie Awards need to exist, except as another obvious precursor ceremony for glorified Oscar season star-baiting with ridiculous genre-segregated acting categories (so glad we all got to rightfully recognize Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit as a nominee for Best Actress in an Action Movie!) and a prime airtime on the CW, and whose only (only!) difference from the Teen Choice Awards is that the former hands out actual trophies, whereas the latter gives out surfboards.

That being said, I remain eternally grateful to this over-bloated awards pageant for providing us with perhaps the single greatest, or at least most-rewatchable moment of the 2009 Oscar season five years back: the Meryl-Sandra kiss...

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Readers' Ranking: Streep's Oscar Noms, #10-6

Previously on Streep Reader Rankings we covered The French Lieutenant's Woman, Music of the Heart,  Doubt, The Deer Hunter, One True Thing, and IronweedNow we hit the top ten. Ten and Nine were a statistical tie, constantly trading dominance as I tallied the results of your ballots. Since both films were listed in last place on 7% of the ballots, I broke the tie by looking at first place votes. Only one of the two had any.

According to The Film Experience Readers

10. Julie & Julia (2009)
Role & Balloting
: Streep has played many biographical parts in her long career which accounts for some of her record-obliterating nomination haul (8 of her 17 nominations are for biographical roles and she is now 5 nominations beyond her nearest rival Jack Nicholson). This widely seen warm serio-comic interpretation of the famous chef Julia Child is the last film in the countdown without any #1 placements on reader ballots.

Who Won the Oscar
: Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
Other Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Meryl (Julie & Julia), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Helen Mirren (The Last Station)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?
:  One supposes the fifth slot was neck and neck between Mirren and Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria). There wasn't a ton of enthusiasm for either film though, since the top four candidates absorbed all the Oscar heat. 

09. Out of Africa (1985)
Role & Balloting: Streep had another huge success with this romantic epic about the Danish author Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blixen). If Geraldine Page hadn't been so absurdly overdue (It was her 8th nomination which was at the time the longest stretch by any actor without ever having won the gold. Peter O'Toole now holds the record with 8 nominations without a win) the Best Actress race would've been between Whoopi and Streep both headlining very very big hits. (The Eighties were a different time with box office and moviegoing;  people still flocked to prestige dramas in big numbers.)

Who Won the Oscar: Geraldine Page, The Trip To Bountiful
Other Nominees in Guesstimate Order of AMPAS Love: Whoopi Goldberg (The Color Purple), Meryl (Out of Africa), Anne Bancroft (Agnes of God) and Jessica Lange (Sweet Dreams)
The Dread Sixth Place Finish?:  Cher was left on the outside looking in for Mask as the mother of a deformed boy. The snub even resulted in an Oscar night moment when Cher, clad in one of her typically outre outfits quipped:

As you can see, I did receive my Academy booklet on how to dress like a serious actress."

Reader Comment. Marcos writes:

I first noticed Streep in The Deer Hunter. I liked her a lot and was impressed, but I became utterly fascinated when I was able to realize the extent to which she immersed herself in roles that were so different. Choosing between Bridges and Out of Africa [for #1] was difficult. One of Streep's best scenes ever was her lover's funeral. She moves forward to grab a handful of earth to throw it on Robert Redford's grave. She moves ahead, but the camera stays still. She grabs some earth and extends her arm to throw it on his grave. Her hand starts shaking and, without releasing the earth, she brings it to her chest and walks away."

Three more Oscar roles after the jump

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Q&A Leftovers: Oscar Madness, Black Actors, Carrey & Kunis

Okay, before I decide how to reconfigure the fun but exhausting new Q&A series, I thought I'd answer 5 Oscar questions I stubbornly avoided before.

Ellen Burstyn in "Resurrection" (1980)

Michael: Going back to 1980 out of the five nominees - who would you have handed the Best Actress Oscar to?
Nathaniel:  I can't vote on 1980 because I've never found an opportunity to see Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection and I don't vote without seeing all five. Or at least I don't vote without all five if I really love the missing actor... which, in this case, I do. (Also: regarding 1980. I've heard the pleas for me to talk about Gena Rowlands since I never do. I just have to decide how to attack that large subject.)


Philip: Why do you think Oscar never took a liking to Jim Carrey?
Nathaniel: He was trying too hard when they weren't ready for him yet. The Truman Show (1998) was too close to his comic persona for people to get how brilliant he was in it. By the time he'd work up to "due" and gave his best performance (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004) he happened to do it within a romantic masterpiece. Alas, it's only women who ever get Oscar credit for those. Sexist but true.

Two Actors. Beloved by Plant Life. Not by Oscar.

Adam: What sort of project do you think Mila Kunis should tackle for Oscar recognition? Comedy or drama? Any roles in particular?
Nathaniel: I talked about this briefly last monthnot in the context of Oscar but in the context of a wise career move. I wrote:

My basic feeling is that she should ditch the comedies briefly for something E-V-I-L. That vaguely sinister erotic charge that she gifted to Black Swan and the way you could read it as playful one minute and agenda-filled the next, suggests that she has an untapped capacity for darker roles

But what's good for the career isn't always good for Oscar favor. But wait there's more!

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