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New Q & A - Actors who should be more famous and more...


"For the life of me I will never understand why Audra McDonald isn't bigger outside of Broadway." - Brian

"I will add to that list Irfhan Khan; he gets roles steadily, but in my mind he should be a household name." -Rebecca

"I'll also echo that Rosemarie DeWitt is one of the most talented working actresses, full stop. There is no other Best Supporting Actress of 2008." - Hayden


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Entries in Oscars (90s) (193)

Thursday
May172018

Blueprints: "American Beauty"

Last month we dove into one of the most iconic shower scenes in cinema for April Showers. For May Flowers, Jorge takes a look into one of the most famous thematic uses of a flower in film.

American Beauty was at one point supposed to be titled American Rose. This is neither a coincidence nor an appropriate alternative. The film, a satire about American suburbia and the layers of darkness that society hides underneath their pretty but rotting exteriors, heavily uses the recurring image of rose throughout. Not just in the now iconic nude sequence with Mena Suvari. 

Roses appear through the script in many key parts, usually in places where a character is putting up a façade for the world, or when they are completely submitting to their darkest impulses. Or when those two collide. Let’s take a look at where the flowers ominously represent both the attachment and the repulsion against society’s “pretty” standards...

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Wednesday
Apr112018

Coming Soon: Smackdown 1970 and Smackdown 1994

The next two regular Smackdowns were among the most requested years last time I shared the remaining years that haven't been done (among the years where it's still possible to find all five films -sigh). In both cases there are only 4 movies you need to watch to play along. I'm still on the hunt for panelists but in the meantime get to watching for the first time (or rewatching!)

Helen Hayes in "Airport"

May 13th "Supporting Actress Smackdown 1970"
Host: Nathaniel R; Meet the Panelists: Mark Blankenship, Dan Callahan, Denise Grayson, Lena Houst, and Bobby Rivers; Vintage: Showbusiness in 1970; Nominees:

  • Karen Black, Five Easy Pieces
  • Lee Grant, The Landlord
  • Helen Hays, Airport
  • Sally Kellerman, MASH
  • Maureen Stapleton, Airport

Balloting is currently open and closes May 10th. Send your ballot to me with "1970" as subject line and a heart rating for each contender of 1 (awful) to 5 (perfection). Please only vote on the performances you've seen since the results are weighted accordingly so as not to punish the underseen or overvalue the widely seen.

Dianne Wiest in "Bullets Over Broadway"

June 17th "Supporting Actress Smackdown 1994"
Host: Nathaniel R; Panelists: TBA; Nominees:

  • Rosemary Harris, Tom & Viv
  • Helen Mirren, The Madness of King George
  • Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction
  • Jennifer Tilly, Bullets Over Broadway
  • Dianne Wiest, Bullets Over Broadway

Balloting opens May 14th and closes June 13th. Same rules apply with "1994" in subject line. (Please do not confuse the inbox by trying to vote on different years in the same email. Your votes would likely not be counted that way)

Tuesday
Feb202018

Mike Leigh at 75: On Wallpaper, Topsyturvydom and Empire

"THE FURNITURE," by Daniel Walber, is devoted to Mike Leigh this week for his 75th birthday. (Click on the images to see them in magnified detail.)

Topsy-Turvy is a subtle, even deceptive film. It moves like a light-hearted showbiz comedy, almost a Victorian Waiting for Guffman. Yet there’s much more going on. Why is it so long, for example? What is Mike Leigh trying to express with so many characters? Why "The Mikado"?

These are questions that can be answered by paying close attention to its production design, the Oscar-nominated work of Eve Stewart and Helen Scott. This is a film about London at the peak of the British Empire, a metropolis gobbling up the riches and the bric-a-brac of the entire world. And the chosen entertainment of its people, eager to take in the sights and sounds of their imperial fantasies, were the operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

The first to appear in Topsy-Turvy is "Princess Ida", a fantastical lampoon of Victorian mores that took place in a sort-of Pre-Raphaelite, Medieval court. 

The version presented here involves a stage flanked by a traffic jam of trees, vine-covered Classical architecture and a great many helmets and snoods...

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Thursday
Dec212017

Blueprints: "Edward Scissorhands"

Happy holidays, everyone! Jorge takes a look at a beloved cinematic moment that feels like Christmas...

 

For this week’s “Blueprints”, a film that isn't so much about a particular holiday, as one that encompassed the feeling of it: flickering, warm, and hopefully lovely. So let’s see what Winona Ryder dancing under a stream of shaven snow looked like on the pages of the Edward Scissorhands script...

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Monday
Dec182017

The Furniture: Revisiting the Surreal Spaces of Toys

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Barry Levinson’s Toys, a film you don’t hear about very much anymore. It wasn’t exactly beloved at the time, certainly, and wound up with a Razzie nomination for Worst Director. However, it also showed up at the Oscars, receiving nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Production Design. At the very least, it remains a pleasant reminder that sometimes even flops are given a fair shake by the Academy’s craft branches.

And now, in the dramatically different context of 2017, it deserves some renewed attention. Its critique of militarism and toxic masculinity has aged surprisingly well, as have the more committed of the performances. Joan Cusack’s absurd turn as the eternally childlike Alsatia is at the top of the list.

 

But the best elements are still those that were recognized at the time.The work of production designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti, art director Edward Richardson and set decorator Linna DeScenna is beyond...

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Saturday
Dec092017

Tweetstruck

We have to start with this exchange since Chris' love of mother! is well known. 

After the jump our tweet roundup of amusements, provocations, and random movie-loving featuring Moonstruck, I Tonya, P.T. Anderson, Big Little Lies, Meryl Streep's forehead, and more...

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