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Entries in Oscars (11) (329)

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. 

Wednesday
Feb082012

Get Swept Away With Mr Lessmore's "Flying Books"

Have you had a chance to see any of Oscar's short film nominees yet? The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore is available for the iPad in interactive format but it's also viewable in its original form here as an animated short. It's a beauty. 

The fifteen minute short, well worth a quarter hour of your time, starts with a hurricane and Mr Morris Lessmore is yanked up into it along with his stack of reading. The words are literally blown off the page. Not that the short is literal. (More after the jump including the full short)

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Feb072012

Links, Fences, Songs, Brainnnnns

Free Unqualified... The Artist = Anchorman ?
SuperPunch for your next horror movie party with friends, zombie chocolates with cherry brainnnnns! 
Carpetbagger talks to Stuart Craig on the challenges of art directing Hogwarts over eight Harry Potter films 
Antagony & Ecstacy offers up a great top ten list: ten best Oscar slates ever from 2009's animated feature to 1939's best actresses and everywhere inbetween.
Senses of Cinema looks at the question of identity in Splendor in the Grass (1961) 

Flavorwire Disney Princess tattoos. Why the hell not?
Movie|Line on Clint Eastwood vs the ever-nuttier GOP after his Superbowl commercial
Towleroad  No song performances at this year's Oscars? Christ, AMPAS really needs to call me. They could've had such a watercooler live tv moment with "Man or Muppet". I explain how.

Complex the '25 Hottest Women on Horror TV shows'. Fun list with shoutouts to two of the best TV shows of all time Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twin Peaks 
World of Wonder three things
Empire clears up that silly rumor that Harrison Ford was going to be in the Blade Runner sequel that nobody should be making to begin with shame on you Ridley Scott do you really want to turn into George Lucas I'm just saying... 

Today's Must Read
Grantland Mark Harris writes a fabulous column on Viola Davis's extraordinary gift, the Best Actress race and Hollywood's race relations.

Faced with the peril of that archetype, Davis did the hardest job of anyone in the Best Actress category: She made the movie better — much better — without playing against it. Much of The Help is bright, candy-colored, and loud: It’s full of silly wigs and garish costumes, sitcom slapstick and shit pies, wicked old dears like Sissy Spacek, finger-snappin’ Designing Women tell-offs, and the kind of steroidal pivots from comedy to poignancy to melodrama that would shame an episode of Glee. What Davis gives the film is humanity. Aibileen is a gentle but wary woman — she’s lived long enough to know that in her world, you survive by bending, not breaking, by keeping your thoughts to yourself, by seeing and hearing everything while appearing to register very little, and by trying to apply your own sense of decency and kindness to a badly needed paying job in an often indecent and unkind world. When she’s on-screen, the hummingbird shrieks of the movie’s other characters are hushed; you’re reminded that the human toll of daily, casual racism doesn’t really get addressed by making Bryce Dallas Howard eat poo. Because Davis is a physically gifted actress who can incorporate the exhaustion and strain of being Aibileen into every motion and muscle, and also the rare performer — even in this year ofThe Artist and Max von Sydow — whose silences draw you even closer, she seems to correct The Help’s excesses without ever standing self-protectively outside it. At every turn, she un-simplifies the movie.

Nick and I keep wondering when Hollywood is going to make August Wilson's Fences (for which Viola won a Tony opposite Denzel Washington) into a movie and everyone I know who is into theater keeps wondering why this hasn't happened for Fences or really any of August Wilson's plays. So it's nice to see that subject is revived again here. Seriously what time like the present Hollywood? Get on that. How many times do we have to ask?

Monday
Feb062012

Oscar Luncheon Photos

The Oscar luncheon was held today. So most of the nominees assembled to be a part of the big class of 2011 photo. Well done, all. Congratulations. 


I love that the naked gold man is just standing right smack in the middle of all of them, the reason for the season. 

This one goes out to @AwesomeRob --- What do you think Meryl and Rooney were saying too each other? Or maybe they weren't saying anything. Guess away in the comments.

George Clooney & Jean Dujardin get along famously after the jump.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb052012

Box Office: Without Super Powers, You Are Nothing

The global love of superpowered young men hasn't even begun to decline as the star-less Chronicle, about three teenagers who develop uncanny powers opened at #1 for Superbowl weekend. It almost doubled its production budget on opening weekend. Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe had to settle for second place with The Woman in Black but that's probably because he's no longer the most powerful wizard on earth.

Chronicle is unkind to cars.

BAKERS DOZEN (Estimates)
01 CHRONICLE  $22 new  
02 THE WOMAN IN BLACK  $21 new  
03 THE GREY $9.5 (cum. $34.7)
04 BIG MIRACLE  $8.5 new
05 UNDERWORLD AWAKENING $5.6 (cum. $54.3)
06 ONE FOR THE MONEY $5.2 (cum. $19.6)
07 RED TAILS  $5 ($41.3)
08 THE DESCENDANTS  $4.6  (cum. $65.5)
09 MAN ON A LEDGE $4.5 (cum. $14.7)
10 EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE $3.9 (cum. $26.7)
11 CONTRABAND  $3.4 (cum. $26.7) (cum. $62.1)
12 THE ARTIST $2.5 (cum. $20.5)
13 BEAUTY & THE BEAST 3D  $2.4 rerelease  

Someone's wearing lifts... Janet McTeer is 6'1". Daniel Radcliffe is 5'5"

Talking Points
• It's a good weekend for Janet McTeer, huh? Not only did she finally feel some major industry love again post Tumbleweeds (1999) with her Albert Nobbs Oscar nomination, but she's co-starring in The Woman in Black. What's more Albert Nobbs held up well in limited release, according to IndieWire suggesting it has more life in it yet. Will it expand further now?

The Descendants may soon surpass Sideways to become Alexander Payne's biggest hit yet. It's just 6 million behind it now.

A Separation has crossed the 1 million mark which is a big deal these days for a foreign film. Hopefully they'll keep expanding since they've just been adding a tiny number of screens each week. 

The Artist is slowing down a bit in wide release but it's already tap danced its way clear of being called "lowest grossing Best Picture winner ever" (should it win) since it's a bigger hit than The Hurt Locker. That said anything that wins this year beyond The Help is going to end up in the 10 lowest grossers list. The Atlantic did some tallying and adjusting for inflation a year ago and they claim that these are the lowest grossing Best Pictures ever. All of them are superpower free (unless you count Javier Bardem's "Chigurh" as a supernatural evil force which maybe you can):

  1. The Hurt Locker (2009) $15
  2. All The Kings Men (1949) $60
  3. Hamlet (1948)  $61
  4. An American in Paris  (1951) $67
  5. Crash (2005)  $67
  6. Marty (1955) $70
  7. No Country For Old Men (2007) $85
  8. lt Happened One Night (1934) $86
  9. The Last Emperor (1987) $89
  10. The Great Ziegfeld (1936) $95

What did you see this weekend?

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