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Entries in Oscars (90s) (104)

Friday
Feb272015

Black History Month: Spike Lee's '4 Little Girls'

Our black history month coverage continues with Margaret on Spike Lee's 1997 nominee for Best Documentary Feature...

Spike Lee is famously an Oscar loser. With every passing year--25 of them now behind us--it makes less and less sense that Do the Right Thing lost its nomination for Best Original Screenplay, let alone that it failed to earn Oscar nominations in the Best Picture or Best Director categories. When one thinks of Spike Lee, what comes to mind is a distinct stylization, and a reputation for incendiary cultural commentary. His inflammatory style has often been implicated as the cause of his cool reception from the film establishment.

His less remembered brush with Oscar was a nomination for Best Documentary in 1997 for his film 4 Little Girls, and that loss is more mysterious. No less artfully crafted or emotionally gut-punching than the best of his filmography, the documentary is also more formally and stylistically straightforward: other than the title card up front identifying it as "A Spike Lee Joint" it's absent many of the colorful hallmarks of the Lee's work.

The historical events examined by 4 Little Girls should be familiar to anyone who caught the recent Best Picture contender Selma.  [Read more...]

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Tuesday
Feb242015

Black History Month: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Our Black History Month through the lens of Oscar continues with Jason on Samuel L. Jackson...

If you'd like a master class in screen-acting (not to mention a Minor in Pronouncing Vulgarity in New & Unique Ways) then you couldn't do much better than by studying the two times Sam Jackson's called upon to recite his character's favorite Bible scripture, Ezekiel 25:17, in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. The scenes essentially bookend the film with Jules holding an audience captive through just the conviction of his delivery. Hardly the last time Sam would manage that feat.

More...

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Sunday
Feb222015

Black History Month: "Schwarzfahrer," an Oscar Night Memoir

For this Oscar day special episode of Black History Month, we asked devoted reader Paul Outlaw, who you'll know from the comments, to share his Oscar memoir from the 1993/1994 ceremony. We're happy to call Paul a friend after our last few trips to Los Angeles. He starred in a German short film that won the Oscar years ago.


An elderly German woman (Senta Moira) and a black youth (yours truly) sit side-by-side on a Berlin streetcar in Schwarzfahrer, a twelve-minute 35mm film that premiered at the Berlinale 22 years ago this week. The film’s title is a play on words: a “Schwarzfahrer” is slang for “fare dodger” as the film was called in the UK , but if you break the German compound word into its components, it translates as “Black Rider” (the US title).

“Schwarzfahrer is a trenchant and stylistically assured work which makes the best use of all possibilities open to the short film. The film deals with a topical subject in a very humorous and extremely entertaining manner. The jury only wishes that German feature films would portray burning social issues and events with a similar lightness of touch and craftsmanship.

- Jury statement at the awarding of the first Panorama Prize of the New York Film Academy, 43rd International Film Festival, Berlin, Germany, 1993

 

When the short premiered I was an expatriate living in Berlin. After the film’s extremely positive reception – we were promptly invited to Cannes – I got the idea in my head that Schwarzfahrer could one day win an Academy Award.
Our journey to Oscar after the jump...

 

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Saturday
Feb212015

Black History Month: Whoopi Goldberg in "Ghost" (1990)

Our Black History Month through the lens of Oscar continues with abstew on Whoopi...

It took fifty-one years after Hattie McDaniel's historic win for Gone With the Wind (1939) for another black actress to hear her name called as the winner on Oscar night. Her successor scored an Oscar factoid of her own becoming the first black actress to score two Oscar nominations (thankfully, she is no longer alone with that distinction, having been joined by Viola Davis). Instead of prestigious talents along the lines of a Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, or Alfre Woodard, the honor went to a comedienne that took her stage name from a gag toy that makes fart sounds. Not exactly the typical Oscar winner, but that uniqueness has always been what defined Whoopi Goldberg as a performer and her Oscar win for playing medium Oda Mae Brown in the hit film Ghost (1990) is perhaps the quintessential Whoopi performance.

Born Caryn Johnson, Goldberg's first encounter with Oscar came for 1985's The Color Purple from director Steven Spielberg and based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winner. While performing in her one-woman show on Broadway, Goldberg was asked by Spielberg to play the lead, Miss Celie, in the film. She won the Golden Globe and became the 5th black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award, but she lost the Oscar that year to sentimental favorite Geraldine Page in The Trip to Bountiful, who finally won her Oscar on the 8th try. 

Goldberg had much better luck the second time around, but her Oscar-winning performance was almost not to be. [More...]

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Tuesday
Feb102015

Curio: Keaton and Moore's Vintage Features

Alexa here with some pre-Oscar nostalgia. As many of you know, I have quite the magazine stash in my basement: stacks of old issues that allow me to trace my various pop culture obsessions through the years. In 1989, 16-year-old me was crushing hard on Michael Keaton and was very excited about his upcoming turn as Batman. And then, in 2002, I was excitedly anticipating the adaptation of one of my favorite books, The Shipping News, starring Julianne Moore.  Hence these issues of Rolling Stone and Movieline were found in the piles.

I thought a little interview nostalgia was in order for these two arguable (yes, Redmayne) Best Actor and Best Actress frontrunners. After the jump, some excerpts...

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