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Entries in Oscars (11) (327)

Saturday
Feb182012

Just Enjoy The Show

Cope and Dalton have made another spoof video of the Oscars. This one is just as offensive, though less consistently funny, than last year's (the presence of Inception in 2010 helped for the alternate reality comedy).

 

My favorite skewerings are of the self-pitying The Descendants and the eliptical structure of The Tree of Life "the earth. a dinosaur. a shoe. Sean Penn" and the "Rise of..." twist on the All Hell Breaks Loose finale is fun.

You know it's alternate reality and satire when Woody Allen runs screaming through the crowd. Everyone knows Woody never attends the Oscars! 

If you're interested, here's their satirical jab at the forthcoming Oscars...

I want my money back. I want my money back. just enjoy the show ♫

Thursday
Feb162012

Oscar's Best Animated Short Nominees. Predictions!

Amir here. Thanks to Shorts International and TIFF, I’ve had the privilege of watching the nominees for Oscar’s short categories before the ceremony for the first time. As enjoyable as it is to finally have a horse in these races and not leave that part of the telecast to refill my alcohol, I’m sad to say that I found this year’s nominees not just short, but also slight. Not that all the films are disappointing, mind you. There are some gems to be found but compared to last year’s batch, this was a letdown.  

Pixar's "La Luna"

Without further ado...we’ll take a look at the animated films today and I will be back with the live actions over the weekend. (TIFF inexplicably scrapped the documentary shorts from its schedule. If you’re filling your Oscar pools, however, the smart money seems to be on Saving Face. I’ve not yet heard a single bad word about that film.)

Dimanche/SundayDimanche is about a young boy whose dull Sunday routine of going to the church and spending the day with his grandparents is only improved by deforming coins on the train tracks! There’s a pro-environment message as the grizzly bear on the coin comes to life and interacts with the boy, but barring a few funny moments, the film is as lifeless as its premise suggests. The colourless and sketchy design of the animation doesn’t help the film’s cause either.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a marvel as far as the quality of animation goes. (The full length version of the film is available online and Nathaniel reviewed it last week.) I’m cooler on this one than he is. I find the story interesting and I like the idea behind its execution, but I feel like the gimmick is repeated a few too many times. I think Nathaniel’s bang-on about the redundancy of anthropomorphism in the books. At 15 minutes, this is the longest film in competition and it certainly feels that way to me.

Then there’s La Luna. If we need further proof that the Pixar guys can do no wrong with their short films, this is it. I fear that saying anything about the plot will ruin the fun of it for those in the dark. Suffice to say that this story of male bonding between three generations of a family is intimately personal and yet, its fantastical twist is so clever and sweet that everyone can connect with. As usual with Pixar, the quality and detail of the animation is breathtaking. (Read Michael’s Film Experience interview with director Enrico Casarosa here. La Luna will be released later in the year, attached to Brave.)

A Morning Stroll is by far the weakest of the nominees. It tells the story of a chicken that strolls along a street, walks up a set of stairs, pecks at a door and is let in by someone. This morning stroll happens once in 1959, once in 2009 and again in 2059 and each time, the chicken confronts someone new on the street. The allegorical representation of the collective demise of the human race through the eyes of a chicken is an amazing concept but I think the shoddy execution of the animation and unwelcome tonal shifts between the three episodes don’t give the humour any room to breathe.

"Wild Life"

Finally, Wild Life is a gorgeously painted Canadian pastoral about an Englishman who immigrates to an unpopulated Alberta at the turn of the century. One the surface, the film is about one man’s depression as he faces the typical hardships of immigration, particularly the freezing cold of Midwestern Canada. But I found it to be a rich study of personal alienation and a rare look into the lives of Canadian settlers who are far less explored that their counterparts south of the border. Of all the five films, this is the one that most benefits from the technique it chooses, the oil painting effect giving it a romanticist 19th century look that fits nicely into the narrative.

Oscar Predictions: Pixar's Day & Night couldn’t manage to take the prize last year despite being the most widely acclaimed of the nominees. I have a feeling a similar fate awaits La Luna. Flying Books’ charm will probably carry it to the podium.

Will Win: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
Could Win:
La Luna
Should Win:
Wild Life

 

Wednesday
Feb152012

Interview: The Man Behind "Puss in Boots" Is A Dog Person!

Monty and PussMonty meows and leaps up on the chair beside me. Cats always know when something is up. In this case, what's up is a phone call to Chris Miller the director of Puss in Boots, who is still reeling from his first Oscar nomination last month when Puss in Boots won itself a slot in the Best Animated Feature race. "Oh my god, it's insanity," Miller admits. "That day is a blur. I've never been through this before so I was pretty overwhelmed at the scope of it."

Monty does a little spin and settles in. If my cat understood any words beyond "treat", "Monty" and "no"*, he might be incensed by Miller's next confession when I ask him about his own pet situation. "Technically I'm more of a dog person. I can't lie about that."

* There is still some debate about whether or not Monty understand this word.

Miller is sadly pet free himself at the moment, still in mourning for the loss of a beloved pug. But this past year in cinema has been a dog person's dream and Miller is enjoying it. Martin Scorsese's plea for a write-in vote for "Blackie" at the inaugural Golden Collar Awards made him laugh and, like the rest of the world, Miller is crazy about "Uggie" from The Artist. He sheepishly admits that the main reason he attended a recent screening and Q&A of Oscar's frontrunning film was Uggie-related. "I thought 'I wonder if Uggie will be there. Oh I hope the dog shows up' I'm being totally honest!"

He was surprised and thrilled about Antonio Banderas open letter which added to the Golden Collar fuss by speaking out about Puss's snub. Puss in Boots, the character, has been in Miller's life for nearly ten years and it's the one cat he loves as much as dogs. "That cat was my favorite from the onset," he says recalling his years with the Shrek franchise. He loved Puss' intrigue. "He came with some history already. Or at least you knew he had some incredibly history. "

"Fear me. If you dare!

NATHANIEL: I'm curious about the career track for animation directors. You've done a lot of voicework and story art? How did you graduate to directing?

CHRIS MILLER: I was involved in story early on in my career and the writing end of it. With Antz and the Shrek movies we were given a lot of latitude to come up with material, characters and dialogue.
A lot of times we'd be sort of given an idea and sent off to come up with something. You share it with the producers and the directors and you sell it a bit. In doing that you get a little taste of everything in cinema. You're writing, you're composing shots, you're blocking out scenes, coming up with character interaction. You're really getting a first crack at visualizing a sequence. Looking back it was a great training ground for direction.

[Improvisation, Oscar madness, and moviemaking from your bedroom after the jump]

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb122012

Seeing Double: Best Actress

So, Meryl Streep won the BAFTA for Best Actress playing British political icon Margaret Thatcher and looked great doing so. At first all I could think was Dynasty power bitch combo pack (Collins power / Evans warmth) with those shoulder pads and the dramatic bodice.

But then it hit me...

Aunt Josephine!

Congratulations to Streep and all the BAFTA winners. I know there's been a lot of drama among The Film Experience readers and Streep fans -- the categories overlap ;) -- about who should win Best Actress . This site attracts more than its share of the drama in that regard given that we talk about the category so often even when nobody as beloved as Meryl is involved. I assume the race is neck and neck and neither outcome would surprise on Oscar night. Streep was always going to win BAFTA with the added advantage of the already awards-magnetic gift of mimicry hitting the eyes of the people who would recognize the skill of the mimicry the best and The Help being very American-skewing in its appeal (I'm actually a bit surprised it was nominated for the BAFTA). The Iron Lady was dodgy enough politically not to really get people riled up about its always controversial subject which I think hurt the film but helped the Meryl awards prospects if that makes any sense. But even though she was always going to take it (I never doubted) it still does help her stay in the Oscar conversation; Oscar ballots are due on the 21st so people are still voting.

I hope we can all agree that when the Oscar conversation involves actresses as massively gifted as Meryl and Viola we all win.

That said I still hope it's Viola just on the grounds of these two performances and because if someone has to beat Streep I'm much more comfortable with it being an actor who you know can really throw down with her. Too often Oscars go to people just because they're well liked and not because they're Oscar caliber talents. This is why so many of the greats don't have even one Oscar... and people don't like to think about the harsh realities but if Viola loses that would mean we'd have to add her to that list of Moore, Close, Bening, Weaver, Pfeiffer, et all who can't catch the gold man despite world class gifts.

Streep and Davis at the SAG Awards 3 years ago when Meryl wisely demanded that Hollywood give Viola great rolesI'll be happier for either of them since one is an all time favorite and one is a current favorite who I hope becomes an all time favorite. If only we could have a tie!

I hope we can all agree that if Viola isn't offered great roles after The Help, regardless of who wins next Sunday, we all lose.

I think that should be my last note on this particular Best Actress matter before Oscar Sunday because good lord this topic has taken up huge chunks of the internet and this blog. And to think the world spent the first half of the year obsessing over Meryl vs. Glenn!

Each year brings surprises and who would have ever predicted this neck and neck battle back when they were first watching Doubt (2008)?

 

 

Sunday
Feb122012

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer on Black Artists and Image.

I know I've gone on and on about Viola Davis this year. It's no secret that I'm rooting for her in Best Actress. She's such an enormous talent and such an interesting woman and she keeps on reminding me of of both of those truths in different revealing ways this year. (I'm really going to be disheartened if The Help doesn't lead to better and bigger things. I don't want to see her play one more lame anyone could do this "best friend to the heroine" part like in Eat Pray Love.) Thanks to Mark Harris for pointing out this new interview from the Tavis Smiley show on PBS and thanks to Tavis Smiley for starting with the rough stuff. He basically begins by telling the actresses that though he is rooting for them he is uncomfortable about awarding black women for playing maids some 73 years after Hattie McDaniel's Gone With the Wind win and he was also uncomfortable with Denzel Washington's win a decade ago for playing a dirty cop in Training Day. The stars and the host really get into it (respectfully). Here's Viola's take.

That mindset... is absolutely destroying the black artist. The black artist cannot live in a revisionist place. The black artist can only tell the truth about humanity. Humanity is messy. People are messy. Caucasian actors know that. They understand that. They understand that when you bring a human being to life you show all the flaws as well as the beauty. We, as African American artists, are more concerned with image and message and not execution. Which is why every time you see our images they've been watered down to a point where they are not realistic at all. It's like all of our humanity has been washed out. We as artists cannot be politicians. We as artists can only be truth tellers.

The conversation blossoms from there. They talk August Wilson. They talk Fences. They talk Red Tails. They talk about acting as baton passing. It's great stuff and nobody pulls any punches.

Octavia's late interview response about the difficulty of convincing Hollywood to bankroll more black projects takes a nice turn, too.

Let me tell you the other thing. It begins with the ticket buyer. Dee Rees wrote an amazing film called Pariah. And if you haven't paid to see it at a theater near you, you're part of the problem.

It's inspiring that some people, and people as visible as Meryl Streep and these two, have singled out Pariah for praise. It's just too bad the movie had such extremely limited distribution and too bad it was saved until the one weekend of the year when no one would be able to pay it any attention during the Oscar glut. But bygones. It's one of my favorite pictures of last year and I'm hoping it gets a better life on DVD.

The complete interview which I've embedded after the jump is well worth a watch if you have half an hour. 

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Feb092012

12 Linkeys

Brad to the Bone
Yahoo Movies
Another Oscar roundtable I participated in. This time I'm talking Best Actor with Thelma Adams, Sasha Stone and others. I kick it off with more Brad love.
Serious Film on Brad Pitt's winning streak. It's not just 2011.
Press Play stumps for Brad Pitt (Moneyball) for Best Actor. It's weird all the excitement seemed to be in Best Actress until just recently and then Best Actor was all anyone could talk about. Maybe because it still feels like a race? 

Links
Flavorwire
Ridley Scott and Michael Fassbender for a new Cormac McCarthy penned movie?
Guardian Naomi Watts signs to play Princess Diana in a bio directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) called Caught in Flight on the last two years of her life. I guess we need to start thinking about all the 2012 2013 Best Actress contenders.
NY Post Daniel Radcliffe not happy that Harry Potter 7.2 was not Best Picture nominated. And here I thought people had stopped thinking about that.
In Contention Happy 80th birthday for John Williams
Funny Or Die Jean Dujardin auditions for every villain role
Carpetbagger has been doing a series where they invite celebrities to fill out fake Oscar ballots (i.e. non AMPAS members. Today Tabatha Coffey. I always wanted to do this random celeb Oscar chat thing but alas, The Film Experience doesn't have the clout of The New York Times. Someday ;)
Boy Culture excavates an old Madonna interview from when she was only 34 wherein she talks about aging and knows that people will want to put her out to pasture soon. We love that she's living her ideals 19 years later and not allowing that. Given that life expectancy keeps moving up in years, you'd think civilians (who age faster than celebrities!) would stop groaning about celebrities that are "too old" to be entertaining us. I'm pretty sure in 20 years times I'll still rather see Meryl at 83 than, you know, some random 20 year old Hollywood is trying to shove down my throat. May all the talented ones keep working until they croak! This goes for the fresh ones too who are just starting out. Jessica Chastain, pace yourself. We hope to enjoy you when you're 71... if we're still alive!

Finally... the Berlinale Film Festival kicked off today with Opening Ceremonies. Here are the jurors arriving and lining up... which I snapped from the live feed.

From left to right: Director Asghar Farhadi (last year's Berlinale winner for A Separation), Actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, Director Mike Leigh, Actress Barbara Sukowa,  Director Francois Ozon, Director Anton Corbijn, Writer Boualem Sansai, and Actor Jake Gyllenhaal ("Jakey!!!") who the crowd and photographers went wild for the second he stepped out of the car and onto the red.

Sundance is the first major festival of each new film year but Berlinale is always hot on its heels. Will anything as great as A Separation debut there this year? We'll soon hear. 

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