Oscar History

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What did YOU see this weekend?


Elle. Basically the same movie as The Piano Teacher but sillier. Huppert is great, but when is she not? -Jonathan

The Edge of Seventeen because I needed something light and fun. So delightful, and anchored by a wonderful Hailee Steinfeld performance. - Marina


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Maria Schrader (Stefan Zweig...)
Boo Junfeng (The Apprentice
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Entries in Oscars (11) (330)


Oscar Madness Hits So Early...

I have a post scheduled to go up later suggesting that the new Film Experience 'season' will start on Tuesday September 13th.... after a wee break. But it seems that the Much Oscared Web we travel and help weave isn't even waiting till after the Labor Day Holiday to spazz out about Oscar This, Oscar That. You'd think Labor Day was already past us the way the web is collectively all up in Fall Movie Season's grill. Over at Movie|Line Stu Van Airsdale surveys the red carpeted landscape ahead with quotes from yours truly and other pundits who suffer, as I do, from gold fever. You know who they are. 

Are you ready for fall movie season yet? How ready: Scale of 1 to 10?
Or do you need a summer vacation from summer first?

In other news, little nuggets from Venice are on the way soon from two Film Experience correspondents. Stay tuned. 


Foreign Film Oscar: South Korea's "Front Line"

Oscar's foreign film submission announcements will be flying at us for the next month and you can keep track of the whole list at my foreign oscar predictions pages. A short time ago I told you that South Korea had narrowed down their Oscar submissions. That news was shortlived as the competition is over and they've gone with the battlefield drama The Front Line. [Thanks to faithful TFE reader Jin for the info.]

Here's the warry trailer.

Excuse me but I barely see any actressing! I mean other than Kim Ok-bin. Shouldn't there be a rule against films light on actressing in South Korean cinema? They have so many good ones and their one representative film for AMPAS is practically bereft of them? sigh.

To make up for their sudden xy departure, here's a recent photoshoot starring Kim Ok-bin, who you'll recall was a Film Bitch nominee right here in 2009 for Thirst.


I feel much better already...

Three other selections were announced last week...

Romania, like South Korea, doesn't have any Oscar nominations to show for years of cinephile enthusiasm. The Academy generally can take some time to catch up so if a country wants to get Oscar play their international cinema heat can't be shortlived. Their entry this year is Marian Crisan debut feature Morgen, a hit at the Locarno festival, which is about an unlikely friendship between a security guard and an illegal Kurdish immigrant.

Actor Roschdy Zem's second feature as a director Omar Killed Me stars Sami Bouajila, who international arthouse audiences might remember best from the gay comedy The Adventures of Félix or from major roles in two different Algerian Oscar nominees Days of Glory and Outside the Law (both of which happened to co-star Zem). Bouajila pops up in English language films once in awhile too (The Siege, London River). The previous Oscar heat doesn't stop there: Director Rachid Bouchareb, who directed both of the recent Algerian nominees starring these two, helped with the screenplay adaptation of this biopic about an innocent prisoner. The Hollywood Reporter calls it "intense and superbly acted."

Alejandro Bellame Palacios’s The Rumble of the Stones is about a mother attempting to rebuild her family's lives after a natural disaster. There are many hardships along the way but apparently it's an optimistic picture; one fan on Facebook called it a "true tribute to the nobility of Venezuelan women."

Not yet announced but getting there...

It's not official yet but you shouldn't be surprised if Mexico goes with festival sensation Miss Bala for their Oscar film which we've mentioned a few times. Awards Daily likes the trailer but I'm not watching it since I'm seeing the film in a couple of weeks and want to be surprised. I'm pretty wild for the poster. It's provocative ... and I mean story-wise though I'm sure breasts never hurt in selling a movie. The movie is getting a U.S. release in the fall courtesy of Fox International.

Mexico currently has these 11 features under consideration. Thanks to Armando for sending in the list. The films are


  • Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
  • 180˚(Fernando Kalife)
  • Dias de Gracia (Everardo Valerio Gout Grautoff)
  • El Baile de San Juan (Francisco Athie) 
  • Flores en el desierto (José Alvarez)
  • La Mitad del Mundo (Jaime Ruiz Ibáñez)
  • Bala Mordida (Diego Muñoz Vega)
  • Siete Instantes (Diana Cardoso)
  • Somos lo que Hay (Jorge Michael Grau)
  • Una Pared Para Cecilia (Hugo Rodríguez)
  • Viaje Redondo (Gerardo Tort)

If I'm not mistaken, none of these filmmakers have ever been put forward by Mexico before so with no "favorite son" precedent it could be anyone's ball game ...were it not for the obvious critical enthusiasm for Miss Bala that is. The other film that has something of an international profile is the disturbingly grotesque Somos lo Que Hay which opened in the US as We Are What We Are. For all its horror dread potency, I can't see Oscar touching that one.





Yes, No, Maybe So: "The Artist"

Sometimes our Yes No Maybe So series is just formality. Who doesn't want to see this big shiny novelty, a silent movie for 2011!?

Nevertheless let's manage expectations with our patented Yes No Maybe So system. Yes (all the reasons we're on board) No (potential issues the trailer suggests we could have) Maybe So (random introspection that's neither positive nor negative exactly)

Yes That Cannes win for Jean DuJardin is tantalizing, especially since the performance in short trailer form looks so deliciously physical and charismatic rather than a traditional 'Master Thespian!' type deal. But mostly the concept alone, the evidence of joyful dance scenes, clever physical comedy and the a heart that beats with the sincere love of cinema promises a good time. 

No Uh.... what to say... what to say... how will any onscreen terrier ever measure up to Skippy who starred in The Thin Man and The Awful Truth?
As you can see I'm failing to come up with a "no" this movie looks so gorgeous and fun. In all seriousness, though there's nothing in any way "turn off" about this brief look, I do wonder how the movie will sustain its gimmick over 100 whole minutes. 

Maybe So I've successfully read nothing about the plot of this picture but the trailer suggests A Star is Born style plot yes? I understand that we're dealing with Hollywood homage and archetypes and tropes so it's appropriate and all of that but my god that's been done hundreds of times already.

Here's the trailer...

are you a yes, no or a maybe so? does the trailer justify (for you) the Oscar buzz?


Who is Jessica Chastain?

Here's pretty much all that we know about her: She was raised in North Carolina, she just turned 30, she's in every seventh movie opening in 2011, and though we've only seen three of them thus far (The Tree of Life, The Help and Take Shelter) it takes a minute in each to realize that yes, that's her. Even in photoshoots she seems to be more than one person.

Is she a moldable young starlet?
Is she a Swintonesque Off-Hollywood provocateur?
Is she a Lead Star just waiting for her own vehicles?

Further IMDb and Wikipedia grazing reveals that she graduated from Juillard and that her best friend is the actress Jess Weixler (of Teeth fame. How about that?) but the point is this: we like people we can't pin down immediately.

I don't want to play the same character twice. There's something about the feeling of 'I don't think I can do this.' If you have that moment of doubt, you have to rise up and meet it. I learn from my failures more than my successes."
-Chastain to Michael Musto at the premiere of The Debt 

Hitting a Take Shelter screening last night I tweeted "Okay, Jessica Chastain. Show me what else ya got" Of her three summer performances (her fourth The Debt opens soon) it's the least impressive but it's almost the most telling. 'What I got' was the surest indication yet that she's a future Oscar winner as she embraced their favorite role, the long suffering wind-beneath-her-husband's-wings type, with such unfussy naturalistic ease.

Regarding Oscar...
While she's ethereal and lovely in The Tree of Life it seems less an acting feat than a well judged minimalist act to allow Terrence Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki's camera and the rich scoring to fill her Way of Grace with meaning. Auteur vessel performance are rarely nominated. While she's hugely entertaining in The Help she probably has too much internal competition for traction. And her most Oscar-friendly role in Take Shelter is within a film that one suspects will be too under the radar for Oscar. She may have to wait for the Kodak theater but it'll be exciting to watch her work her way there.


Happy 50th Birthday, Alexandre Desplat

Robert G here from Sketchy Details wishing a Happy Birthday to the most in demand film composer of our time.

Can you believe that Alexandre Desplat has scored 128 separate film and television projects since 1985? How about how a year hasn't gone by since 1991 where he didn't score at least three different TV or film productions? He has had quite the successful career in France and has started to work consistently in America in the past eight or so years.

Desplat has been nominated for Best Original Score four times at the Academy Awards: The Queen, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The King's Speech. He's clearly doing something right to get the Music Branch's attention. His work is especially noticeable for not being the super flashy film scoring that demands attention. He does what needs to be done to set the right tone and lets the film be the focus.

Indeed, every year he lost the Oscar, he lost to a film with a far flashier or more pronounced score...

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