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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Oscars (11) (327)

Wednesday
Feb222012

Animated Weekend: Two Cats, Multiple Movie Homages

Jose here.

Last weekend I decided to catch up with some Oscar nominated films and realized I was doing terribly in the Animated Feature department having only seen Rango when it came out last year. Back in December after watching Arthur Christmas and The Adventures of Tintin I was sure I'd done my homework, as those were the nominees we were all expecting. However clever old AMPAS sneaked up on us delivering the weirdest lineup the category has seen in its young history. Not being a fan of Dreamworks animation, at all, I decided I might as well just get done with it and saw the 4 movies back to back. 

I kept a journal to accompany me down this trip.

This is how it went...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb222012

The Foreign Language Sweet Spot

Robert here, making no claims to predicting this year's Foreign Language Film category, or making any judgments based on quality. In the life of the mid-west movie lover, we're still waiting for all of these films to show up in our area. But I wanted to make on observation on what is supposed to be one of the more solidly predictable categories this year.

 

Einstein supposedly said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result." So you say you find yourself pretty certain that A Separation has its Oscar locked up based on critical praise and a slew of other awards this season. Tell that logic to The White Ribbon, Waltz With Bashir, Pan's Labyrinth, Paradise Now and Amelie; all foreign language front-runners that had it all come Oscar night, except an Oscar. Whether A Separation meets this same fate is not for me to say.

But consider not what the critics think, nor that Nathaniel is hardly the sole voice to name it the best... in any language. Don't even consider the huge stack of awards its won this season. Instead wonder if it hits the foreign language "sweet spot" that seems to have developed in the past few years. We all know that in the Foreign Language category, voters must watch every entry. This may work against popular films like Amelie and Pan's Labyrinth that are whimsical or fantastical, making them look too slight to voters in the shadow of lesser known but more complex, socially conscious fare. But not too complex, please. The Academy is still The Academy and films with the structural or moral ambiguity of Paradise Now, The White Ribbon and Waltz With Bashir are less commonly embraced than movies with clear messages.

A few frontrunners in the past decade have managed to go the distance, and good as some of them have been, they've all met the requirements of the sweet spot: serious but not ambiguous, complex but not too challenging. Come Sunday we'll know into which crowd A Separation falls. Until then, if I were a betting man, I could think of a dozen other categories I'd rather push my chips into.

Monday
Feb202012

6 Days Till Oscar. Remember When...?

Remember when costume designer extraordinary Sandy Powell won her third Oscar for Young Victoria and she was so over it, dedicating it to costume designers on contemporary films who never get recognized? That was kind of great and terrible simultaneously.

Um. I already have two of these."

Sandy Powell is one of the greatest designers in the history of the movies, previously winning for The Aviator (2004) and Shakespeare in Love (1998). But if you ask me she won her first for the wrong film. She beat herself in 1998 as she was double nominated. Velvet Goldmine. Come on.

Winning for the Aviator (2004) and Shakespeare in Love (1998)Do you think Powell can pull off Oscar number four on Sunday?

Consider...

  • Oscar loves period pieces, the older the period the better, which gives Anonymous and Jane Eyre the edge.
  • Oscar loves gorgeous costume work and a whole unmistakable heap of them, which gives Arianne Phillips work on W.E. the edge. 
  • Oscar loves royalty porn which gives Anonymous and W.E. the edge. 
  • Oscar loves Best Picture frontrunners which gives The Artist the edge. 
  • Oscar loves Sandy Powell and Best Picture nominees in general which gives Hugo the edge.

With such a wide range of possibilities that might be attractive to the voters, I'm guessing it's a five way race which slides this over into the win column for The Artist. But you never know on the below the line categories. Weird things can occur.

Jane Eyre. Formidable competition? Tough to say.

OH. I ALMOST FORGOT. Here are my costume design nominees! which completes the traditional Oscar-like categories in The Film Experience's annual Film Bitch Awards so I've added in the tallies at the end of that page. I'll announce my winners tomorrow I think. Let me sleep on the tough calls.

I'll also start the Final Oscar Predictions tomorrow. Wheeeee, we're almost there.

Sunday
Feb192012

Oscar's Best Live Action Short Nominees. Predictions!

Amir here. We had a look at the Oscar nominated animated shorts the other day. In the same vein, let’s go over the best live action shorts. As with the previous category, I don’t think this group lives up to the standard set in the past - I would vote for Luke Matheny’s God of Love over any of these choices - but that’s a really high bar.

Pentecost is an Irish comedy about a young altar boy who is grounded by his father after a mishap at the church. When the archbishop visits the local church, the boy’s given a second chance and promised that he can watch his favourite soccer team Liverpool play if he doesn’t screw up again. As someone who cares more deeply about soccer than the church, this film should have been exactly my cup of tea, but I can’t help but wonder how it slid into the top five. I sympathize with the childish sentiments of the protagonist and the film’s funny enough for such a small dose, but the filmmakers should probably be happy with their nomination.

"Raju"

Raju is the only nominee on the serious side. It tells the story of a German couple who are in India to pick up the child they have adopted. Things go awry on the busy streets of Kolkata, however, and dark secrets are revealed about the unfortunate circumstance of their decision. Though Raju effortlessly pulls off the tension in the first half and gives a sense of impending disaster early on, its drama feels unearned. The answer to the central ethical question of the film is so obvious that it seems answered immediately after it's posed. Nevertheless, since the film handles a serious issue, and to its credit is very well made, it might be a serious contender.

Speaking of unearned emotions, The Shore, the second Irish-flavoured entry, stars Ciarán Hinds as a man coming back to Ireland after 25 years of living across the pond. Tepid is the word I’d use to describe it. Director Terry George (of Hotel Rwanda fame) tries to make us feel the emotional charge of the reunion between three old friends, but fails to make any of the characters interesting enough to care for. The scenery is gorgeous and the actors do their best with what they’re given, but this film is only worth watching for Ciaran Hinds’ fantastic voice (and accent) giving us the backstory in a monologue.

Time Freak tells the story of a science student who builds a time machine only to remain tangled in a time web that takes him back to the same few minutes in his life. Of the five films, this is the one that feels least like an Oscar film but I wouldn’t count out its chances. The comedy works very well and the audience seemed to love every minute of it. There was a student film feel to it that I personally could not quite overlook but nevertheless, the new take on the old time machine premise was refreshing enough to give this film a fighting chance at the win.

The final entry is Tuba Atlantic, a Norwegian film about the unlikely friendship between a dying man and a teenage girl sent to be his death angel. The unmistakably Scandinavian absurdist comedy gives its characters more depth and meat to chew on than any other film in the race. Technically impressive, comically violent, and unexpectedly poignant, this is far and away the best film in competition. Quirky as it is, I think it’s ultimately a film everyone will connect with.  

Predictions
This category is tougher to predict than the animated ones. The Shore could potentially appeal to the older demographic, but Tuba Atlantic touches on the same themes and it’s different enough to stand out from the bunch. Time Freak might be a surprise winner. They were open to rewarding young hip comedies last year, weren't they? At the end of the day, I think if anyone can crash Tuba’s party, it will be the topical and dramatic Raju.

Will Win: Tuba Atlantic
Could Win:
Raju
Should Win:
Tuba Atlantic

Saturday
Feb182012

Interview: Oscar Nominee Arianne Phillips

It's long been my goal to up the visibility of the craft of costume design here at The Film Experience. So when the W.E. team was making the press rounds, I jumped at the chance to talk with Arianne Phillips, who has long been a designer I admire both for her technical and visual invention and for her uncanny ability to hit the pop cultural bullseye with instantly memorable looks whether she's designing for musicians (including longtime collaborator Madonna) or for actors. Her film career took off with the one-two comic book punch of The Crow (1994) and Tank Girl (1995). And it's continued to fascinate through Hedwig and the Angry Inch and on to her first Oscar nomination for Walk the Line (2005).

Arianne Phillips in front of her W.E. costumes. Photo via Society News

She received her second nomination last month for W.E. (2011) which has an absurd amount of use for her skills. In my mind they really ought to have done away with typical star "billing" and listed Arianna Phillips up top. No disrespect intended to Abbie Cornish and Andrea Riseborough, who lead the picture through its double-sided narrative.

Years before W.E. materialized Phillips has been living her own double-sided career "by design". Arianne speaks with a mixture of confidence, sincerity and appreciated bluntness: she agrees that costume designers don't get enough credit calling it an "a gorllina in the room. It's such an annoyance" but she corrects my slight misunderstanding about her past collaborations with musicians. She freelances as a stylist and editor for print photography, concerts and music videos. She doesn't dress stars for events.

a recent Madonna/Riseborough photoshoot styled by Arianne

I do videos and album covers, mostly narrative based: fantasy, illusion and character. It's very connected to film. You're creating the fantasy of who that person is.
-Arianne Phillips on her second career as a fashion editor and stylist.


Continue for... Madonna, Larry Flynt, Biopic & Concert Tour Challenges

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