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Entries in Oscars (14) (291)

Saturday
Jan312015

In Conversation: Oscar's Documentary Class of 2014 (Part 1)

Once one of the Academy's most frequently frustrating branches, voters for the Best Documentary Feature category have been on an impressive run lately. In the lead up to this year's Oscar ceremony, The Film Experience's Glenn Dunks is joined by Daniel Walber of Nonfics and Film School Rejects for a discussion on this year's nominees (and some that aren't). If you missed their discussion about 1989's Common Threads then make sure you do and join us over the weekend for part two of this look at the doc class of 2014.


Glenn: Welcome back to The Film Experience, Daniel. Before we get into the individual films, I thought I’d ask how you thought 2014 stood up for the documentary form and whether the Academy’s did a good job of encapsulating the year with their nominations. I don’t see anywhere near as many docs as you do so correct me if my reading of the year in non-fiction is off, but I do think this year’s Oscar line-up did a good job of representing the year in documentary: solid, but not truly exceptional. Certainly, some of the best doc’s we saw weren’t even eligible so it was impossible they would show up – like, for instance, both of Team Experience’s best unreleased films, The Look of Silence and Silvered Water: Syria Self Portrait – but it was always going to be tough to beat 2013’s all-time great nomination list.

Daniel: Last year was certainly quite something. I wouldn’t necessarily say that 2013 was a much better year for documentaries in general, but rather that the top films were harder for the Academy to ignore. I don’t think anyone thought of The Act of Killing as a contender at first, but the overwhelming critical acclaim made the difference. Most of my favorites of 2014 were a little further from the Oscar radar. [More...

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Thursday
Jan292015

What Link Gets Wrong About Blog

AV Club deep screen capture to reveal how well constructed shots in Divergent dont make for a good film
BuzzFeed great essay on the current relevancy of Before Sunrise (1995) and instant nostalgia
Heat Vision Tyrese Gibson obsessed with playing Green Lantern in a film that's at least 5 years away based on a character already ruined by the movies 
Decider 10 essential movies about nuns from our beloved Black Narcissus to less impressive but famous offerings like Doubt


HuffPo Adam Scott and Jason Schwarzmann discuss their prosthetic penises in The Overnight. (Takeaway: no actor will ever truly be naked again onscreen. That's only for actresses) 
THR talks to the director of Book of Life - though disappointed by the lack of an Oscar nomination, he cherishes stories from fans about how it effected their families
Towleroad arts teacher in Texas does "Uptown Funk" with students. Cute. But I only share it because I love Uptown Funk because you know why (first verse) 
Playlist Paul Thomas Anderson loves Edge of Tomorrow and The Grand Budapest Hotel
THR Why Me and Earl and the Dying Girl did not choose the highest bidder at Sundance 

This Week's Must Read
You undoubtedly know already that Mark Harris is one of the best writers on movie culture and the awards beat in general (if for some insane reason you haven't read his first book Pictures at a Revolution, it's the most invaluable Oscar book since "Inside Oscar") but I think his latest column for Grantland is one of his all time finest. He goes deep on "How Selma Got Smeared: Historical Fiction And Its Malcontents" I only wish this essay had broken sooner before Oscar nomination voting.  Now you may be thinking 'please, Nathaniel, I have read enoug about Selma's LBJ problem' and you may even be thinking (as I have been) that complaints about Selma's "Oscar snub" are starting to feel weirder and weirder as the season progresses. Fact: Selma will now go down in movie history as a Best Picture nominee, something only 8 movies from hundreds and hundreds released in 2014 can claim.  But trust me you need to read this anyway.

Here's a part I particularly love (bold is mine) that is really illuminating about historical fiction:

About a third of the way into Selma, Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) has a private meeting with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) in an Alabama church (this is not an invention of the movie; the two met in Selma on February 5, 1965, two weeks before Malcolm X was assassinated). The scene is introduced with a shrewd recurring device — an onscreen teletype legend that tells moviegoers what’s happening, but only through the warping prism of FBI surveillance. “C. King in Selma to meet with Negro militant Malcolm X. 03:46 p.m. LOGGED.” The description denotes the assumption of white law enforcement that a conspiracy of one kind is taking place — a clandestine meeting in which King may be moving closer to throwing in with a more militant, potentially violent faction of the movement. In reality, the “conspiracy” that’s unfolding is exactly the opposite; Malcolm tells the wary Coretta that he is not in Selma to impede her husband’s work, but to allow himself to be used, even to be misrepresented, to further King’s goals.

...

DuVernay’s view of the uses of history and of (mis)representation is not careless in this scene or in the movie; it’s clearly thought through. The onscreen typed summary is a perfectly deployed example of how something can be factually correct (meeting with a “Negro militant” is, literally, what Coretta King is doing) without being true; the movie, by contrast, finds many ways of being true without being strictly factual. That is exactly what good historical drama must sometimes do, and must be given permission to do, including in this scene itself, in which DuVernay has a character express an understanding that his presence and his motives may have to be slightly distorted in order to achieve a greater truth and justice.

And Harris illuminates it, strategically, in a scene not even involving LBJ.

Wednesday
Jan282015

Best Supporting Actress: The Poll & My Ballot.

Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut."

Rene Russo is so hardshell intoxicating in Nightcrawler. I understand the potshot I've heard a couple of times that she's cribbing from Faye Dunaway in Network (one of the all time best performances of any kind) but if you're going to steal, steal from the best. My favorite thing about her work is the way she both recoils from and recalibrates to Jake Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom constantly. She's repulsed by him (witness that amazing date scene) but recognizes a soul mate... or rather, a mate in soullessness, and the financial worth of that. 

Anyway, I jumped ahead. While the world prepares to celebrate Patty, Emma, Meryl, Laura, and Keira on Oscar night, we take a brief time out to continue the Film Bitch Awards. Though I enjoyed all of those Oscar nominated performance only two made my own correlative list: the steamrolling Patricia Arquette and Keira Knightley. Knightley has really been pushing herself in the last few years and her commitment is showing in more relaxed, more interesting, and more successful performances. While The Imitation Game isn't her most challenging role, there's something to be said for perfection. She nails her every scene and very nearly saves the film from itself on a couple of occasions.

Keira, surprised to see her name again.It's always a difficult thing to extract five performances from the hundreds available in the supporting realm and say "these five. right here" but it must be done. My "was considering" list was about 24 women long but in the end I went with the aforementioned British beauty, two semi-forgotten actresses who vividly reminded us of their gifts, our most versatile new chameleon, and a singular icon who had a rather amazing multi-headed year of memorable new characters. 

Check out my ballot for why I voted this way. And make sure to vote on the Oscar poll in this category, too!

Wednesday
Jan282015

Pretty Oscar Artwork & Ceremony News

Manuel here. One of my favorite thing about this year’s Oscar nominations was the beautiful artwork that adorned the screen as J.J. Abrams, Alfonso Cuarón, Chris Pine and Cheryl Boone Isaacs read out names like Marion Cotillard, Laura Dern and Dan Gilroy though sadly not Ava DuVernay’s nor David Oyelowo’s (might they have a better chance with their next collaboration, that Katrina murder mystery film?)

 As it turns out, the Academy is really upping its game when it comes to art you wish you could hang in your living room. Last year’s ceremony poster was quite the snooze-fest and I have to admit, other than that fantastic Olly Moss’s gorgeous poster from 2012, AMPAS’ artwork as of late has been rather dull. You have to go back to 2007 to find my other recent favorite poster (those quotes!). While the official poster for this year’s Neil Patrick Harris’ hosted affair has yet to be revealed, AMPAS’ "Imagine What's Possible" Artist Series is giving me hope they’ll wow us. You can see the full roster of posters here, but I’ve picked out my three favorites below.

Art by Hattie Stewart, Santtu Mustonen & Nick Chaffe respectively.

I wish we could say the same thing for the rest of their marketing efforts (am I the only one underwhelmed by those NPH Oscar ads?). Thankfully, they’ve recruited Oscar winners Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez to pen an original number for the triple-threat host, though he surely has mutant shoes to fill! This, added to recent news that Adam Levine will be performing "Lost Stars" (from Begin Again) and Common & John Legend will be performing "Glory" (from Selma) means we might have quite the musically-inclined ceremony.

Are you looking forward to NPH's crack at Oscar hosting? Do you also love these artistic portraits of that most famous golden statue? Might the "Let It Go" songwriters be aiming at an Emmy to add to their crowded awards shelf, you think?

Tuesday
Jan272015

Red Carpet Lineup: The 21st Annual SAG Awards

Greetings, fashion followers and actress admirers! Anne Marie and Margaret here with the Screen Actors Guild Awards edition of Red Carpet Lineup. We're carrying on without Nathaniel this time, since he's over at Sundance walking some red carpets of his own.

Anne Marie:  Last night held few surprises awards-wise, but the red carpet looks were as wide-ranging as Tatiana Maslany's clones in Orphan Black. Without further ado, let's talk fashion!

Margaret: Color-wise, it was a subdued red carpet, so let's start with some of the ladies in black and white: our queen Viola (VIOLAAAAAA), it-girl Emma Stone, the Supreme Sarah Paulson, and proud "complicated woman" Maggie Gyllenhaal. Which neutral getup is your favorite?

Anne Marie:  VIOLAAAAAA! Damn, she looked good. She sounded good, too. That speech was wonderful, and almost made me forgive How To Get Away With Murder for its grievous faults. Sarah Paulson, queen of my heart and the master of photobombs, is also rocking that black and white dress. I don't, as a general rule, like two-piece separate dresses like this, but she is... dare I say... bewitching. (Groan all you like but it's true.)

Margaret: I have to say, all four of these ladies' makeup artists deserve a serious bonus. Their faces look magnificent.

Anne Marie: True. Although, what the heck is going on with Emma Stone's dress? She looks like she's wearing an oversized suit jacket with a gauze skirt stapled on.

Margaret: Perhaps it's an avant-garde nod to her Birdman role, an abstracted fashion cape?

Anne Marie:  Sort of a Lois-Lane-by-way-of-Morticia-Addams kind of thing?

Margaret: Sure looks like it. If I'm honest, I hope her people pull her something twice as kooky for the Oscars. Liven things up a smidge.

Anne Marie: Any final thoughts on our first 4 ladies in white-and-black?

Margaret: Just that Maggie Gyllenhaal's cleavage keyhole amuses me, and that I'm almost sorry that Frances McDormand beat her last night because after the glorious stoneface Ms. McDormand produced after losing at the Golden Globes, I can't help but mourn for the gifs that might have been.

Now, on to our second lineup, the theme of which is WINNERS. 

Maternity couture, OITNB, and casting ideas for a gritty Little Mermaid reboot after the jump...

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Sunday
Jan252015

Birdman Surprises at PGA. Is it a Three Way Best Picture Race?

The Film Experience has never loved the complacency of locked up Oscar races, so it is with great pleasure that I share the news (though you probably didn't miss it) that Birdman won the Producers Guild Award tonight. Do we have an actual race for Best Picture? Have you voted as to who should win yet?

This doesn't mean that Boyhood is in trouble, necessarily, but it's a fascinating curveball, especially given that Boyhood was such a feat of producing; Imagine bankrolling and shepherding a small scale but dozen yaer experiment when you had no idea how it would turn out or if it would work at all?!

As you know from my top ten list I do slightly prefer Birdman to Boyhood but let's forget about Oscar's unfortunate "side-taking" for a minute and face facts: either of those films would make thrilling, atypical and totally deserving Best Picture winners.

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