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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Entries in Oscars (11) (330)


Melissa Harris-Perry and "The Help"

I fear that I may have to retitle the blog "The Help Experience" but that's okay. This kind of happens when Oscar contenders show up and get everyone talking. Soon there will be more of them and The Help won't hog so much attention.

If you haven't yet read my review, do that please (they don't write themselves!) but today I wanted to discuss Melissa Harris-Perry's righteous fury at the movie (There is a lot of this going around which Sasha Stone discussed recently though Perry was never mentioned).

For those of you who don't Perry she's a professor of political science at Tulane University, her new book "Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes and Black Women in America" just came out, and she's regularly on political programs as a talking head.  She's also one of the smartest people alive. Every time she's on television I swoon. When her segments are over I often feel as if the fog has cleared from the subject under scrutiny, her commentary is so perceptive and accessible. Gender, race and politics of the South are kind of her thing so, naturally, she HATED The Help. But she was amusing about it so I thought I'd share her disgruntled tweets.

They're not as incisive and genius as her political commentary but 140 characters, y'know. Read on!

Click to read more ...


This & That: Pop Songs, Oscar Campaigns, Carnage Poster

Bill Pullman's new roleAV Club is success spoiling AMC? More rumors and commentary on the increasingly troubled network of Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
Macleans also reacts to this 'blame Mad Men' meme going around
i09 expresses shock that Bill Pullman is so amazing as a creepy motivational speaker/murderer on Torchwood: Miracle Day. I haven't seen it yet because we don't get Starz but Bill Pullman can do anything. Why are people surprised? Oh, right. Nobody goes to the theater. Pullman's performance on Broadway in The Goat: Or, Who Is Sylvia? is one of the greatest performances I've ever seen, I kid you not. (pun!) The movie roles obviously didn't challenge him enough.

The Hairpin has an interview with Kate Beaton who writes what may be my favorite webcomic "Hark, A Vagrant!"
Cinema Blend I was just talking about Patrick Wilson to a friend last night and bingo: today there's news that he's joined the cast of Ridley Scott's Prometheus. I should talk about actors who don't get enough good parts every night before I sleep so they'll be cast the next morning.
Inside Movies A story that the web will undoubtedly love: Andrew Garfield on the size of Spider-Man's package.

Oooh, lookie. It's the first poster for Roman Polanski's Carnage.

That's a weird loud poster but at least it's interesting. The moody faces are kind of an interesting way to get at the play's rollercoaster tonal shifts and convey that it's an actor's piece.

The Campaigning Begins
Gold Derby is already claiming the Best Actor Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio in J Edgar. We'll see. Believe it or not he's still kind of young to win an Oscar. They make the men wait, you know. Different rules for men. Although I suppose it helps that he didn't turn out as elfin gorgeous as he looked like he might back in the days of his youth. Oscar likes his women drop dead gorgeous but doesn't like his men too purty. Just ask Paul Newman how long he had to wait. Or Brad Pitt who still hasn't won.
IndieWire Glenn Close to receive the lifetime achievement award at the San Sebastian Film Festival. Festival honors of the career variety are a standard stop on the way to would be Oscar glory. 
Just Jared just posted this promotional pic of Michelle Williams for My Week With Marilyn but labelled it a "still". If it's really a still in the proper sense than the movie is taking some adventurous chances with its look. 

For Laughs... Movie|Line is listing four reimaginings of princess movies that it never wants to see.

And in other news... True Blood has been renewed for a fifth season. Yay! Get caught up on The Film Experience commentary

Best Song of the 1980s?

Music makes the people come together.... yeah  
Critical Condition's Ultimate Pop Song Tournament has come down to the final four: Madonna's "Like a Prayer" (89), Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time" (84), Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (82) and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (81) This has been such fun for the past few weeks and it also just goes to show you how classic the 1980s are in the cultural canon since songs from other decades were eligible. You already know who I voted for, duh. Go and vote yourselves. May your favorite win... unless it's different than mine.
Boy Culture conjecture about Madonna's upcoming schedule
Examiner DC This is a good piece on the music industry's ability to keep the public interested in the classics, and the film industry's inability to do the same. A provocative mystery, that, right?



Oscar Predix Updates: Costumes, Make-Up, Visual F/X, Sound

Have you seen the Vanity Fair gallery of costumes from Madonna's W.E. designed by Arianne Phillips? Will she be Oscar nominated this year? Hmmmm.

James D'Arcy and Andrea Riseborough modelling the costumes

That's always a tough call given that the costume branch of the Academy sometimes goes their own way entirely, embracing films no one else cares about or have forgotten, and sometimes they just stick with general Oscar buzz or their default choices (Seriously you won't find someone who loves Sandy Powell more than me but that Tempest nomination was ri-dic-u-lous).

Here are my newly updated predictions in the visual categories.

Testify Leo!You'll notice that I've also added J. Edgar to the predicted Make Up Nominees but it wasn't because of this official still of Leonardo DiCaprio. Why then? Well, it was the accompanying text in Entertainment Weekly which read. 

The movie traces Hoover's life from his childhood in Washington, D.C., through his ascent to power in the 1920s, his 50-year reign over the FBI, and his death in 1972 — with Leonardo DiCaprio donning prosthetic makeup to portray the man well into his bulldog-like elderly years.

Prosthetic makeup. Bulldog-like. Elderly. DingDingDing. Though, really before I get to settled on this prediction I need to recall my own words on the Make-Up branch within the Academy. I just copy and paste this every year onto my charts because it never ceases to be true.

About the Make Up Category

Nearly impossible to predict... even up until the last moment. They like werewolf movies except when they don't. They love Rick Baker except when they don't. They admire old age makeup except when they don't. They eliminate films with extensive CGI work except when they don't. They never vote based on awesome period hairpieces and makeup (though that's part of the equation) except when they do. They disapprove of multiple nominations for the same series except when they don't. It's almost as if their membership is entirely dismissed and reformed from scratch each year.

 But back to J. Edgar. I must say that synopsis signals that I have official worry for the movie.  Covering fifty years in someone's life usually means the very traditional kind of biopic. The kind that is all "....and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened", the Greatest Hits Biopics. Those are always the least focused and the most boring kind of biopics. 

Visual Category Prediction Updates
Aural Category Prediction Updates
Unfortunately there's still many films that have not announced their composer so Original Score punditry is still nothingness.

You'll notice that Rise of the Planet of the Apes suddenly, well, rises in Sound categories and Visual FX. (Once films start showing themselves these things always change.) In visual effects in particular it's obviously become the instant frontrunner. You know that Andy Serkis's trailblazing motion capture acting will help the FX team win, though the FX team will not help Andy Serkis get recognition. It doesn't go both ways, though I think we can all agree that they make a beautiful team. 



Sandra Bullock on Octavia Spencer

Methinks Octavia Spencer, currently stealing The Help (reviewed) as pie-baking Minnie, already has one Oscar vote. Here's Sandra Bullock on her former co-star from A Time To Kill (1996):

Her energy and personality are so infectious that any room she walks into, everyone wants to be her friend, or just hang out with her and be in her space. Now, that doesn't always mean someone like that has a talent for the camera, but in this case it does.

When you meet her, you know she is destined to entertain. I know not all people with tremendous talent are given the opportunities that they so deserve, but in this case a lifelong friendship with Tate Taylor brought together two very talented people who deserve success and who are grateful for it. This opportunity will not go wasted or be abused by one fabulous Octavia Spencer.

That quote is from the new Backstage profile of Octavia Spencer in which Octavia's career thus far is mapped out. I didn't know this but it turns out that she was on the casting team of A Time To Kill before getting a role, her first. (I tried valiantly to find a photo of them together, but no luck). Spencer had previously intended to be a producer, not an actress. She credits Sandra Bullock for giving her the push!


Something is Golden in the State of Denmark.

Hot off an Oscar win in February for In a Better World, Denmark has announced their follow up contender ...or at least their intention to announce it. The land of my ancestors has narrowed down the past year in Dansk film to three tre: SuperClásicoMartin Zandvliet's Dirch (A Funny Man) and Pernille Fischer Christensen's En familie (A Family). 

En Familie, which my Danish informant Thomas (tak!) predicts will be the selection is a drama about a wealthy family with a dying patriarch. Jesper Christensen stars. You might recognize him from the Daniel Craig Bond films (he plays Mr White) or from the popular Swedish flick Everlasting Moments. He's also in Melancholia this year though I don't know how large his role is there.

SuperClásico is a divorce comedy which actually takes place in Buenos Aires. No word yet on whether that naked bum on the poster is Argentinian or Dane in origin ;). It's from the director of Flame & Citron, a film that got a healthy festival run a few years back. Important Note: Paprika Steen headlines and you'll recall that she was the Film Bitch Silver Medalist right here in last year's "best" celebrations. It'll be nice to see her smile this time around!

Nathaniel's Favorite Danes: Paprika Steen (SuperClásico) and Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Dirch)

The final contestant, Dirch or A Funny Man is a biopic about a famous Danish comedian. It stars Nikolaj Lie Kaas who you may have seen in Lars von Trier's The Idiots or famous Scandinavian films like Reconstruction or Brothers (he originated the role that later housed Jake Gyllenhaal). He's only recently started to branch out into English language films (something many Scandinavian giants do albeit usually in minor supporting roles) so you might have also seen him in Angels & Demons or in Whistleblower, Rachel Weisz's Oscar bid, which recently opened here in the States. You might think that Dirch would be too homegrown specific for Oscar submission but you never know. There are always a few biopics in the 60+ wide submission list of people who are infinitely more famous in their home countries than abroad.

IN DARKNESS, Poland's Holocaust Themed Oscar EntryMore Best Foreign Film News
GREECE, which up until last year's Dogtooth, hadn't been nominated since 1977 (and has never won), will submit Attenberg, which you'll recall won the Best Actress prize at the Venice Film Festival last fall. 

POLAND, 8 nominations / zero wins, will submit Agnieska Holland's In Darkness which In Contention made the following funny about. 

Poland... appears to have intensively focus-grouped the Academy’s foreign-language branch and subsequently created their Oscar entry in a purpose-built lab: a true-life Holocaust drama about a Leopold Socha, a reformed petty criminal who heroically helped numerous Jewish refugees hide in the sewers of Nazi-occupied Lvov.


Holland was previously nominated for best screenplay for her arthouse hit Europa Europa in the early nineties, also a Holocaust drama.

What does all this mean? That I've got to start building the Oscar Foreign pages again. (My work is never done!) In case you missed it... here's the discussion about what Norway might submit.