Oscar History

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Entries in racial politics (106)


Will this year's Best Director Oscar race be the most diverse ever?

by Nathaniel R

from left to right: del Toro, Guadagnino, Wright, Peele, Jenkins, Rees, Nolan, McDonagh, Aronofsky, Baker, Spielberg, Gerwig, Scott, Bigelow, Coppola, Villeneuve

While I was updating the Oscar charts for Picture and Director it occurred to me that the Academy's directing branch could well come up with their most diverse shortlist ever. Generally speaking when the Best Director lineup has had some variations from its usual five middle aged white American directors it's been with older white European auteurs. But in the past twelve years things have been shifting for that category quite a lot despite frequent complaints that they aren't changing at all. Or at least that they're not changing fast enough.

Consider that the following things have all happened in the past twelve Oscar races:

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Will "Wind River" Find a Second Life?

by Nathaniel R

Last night word spread round that this summer's sleeper success Wind River, about a rape/murder investigation on an reservation, had possibly found a new lease on life. It was a Weinstein Company release this summer -- their only "hit" this year actually -- and that connection was thought to have obviously doomed its chances this awards season following Harvey Weinstein's banishment from Hollywood after the numerous sexual harrassment and rape allegations. 

If you remove that associative stain, though, the film is, in essence, a non-genre sleeper hit aimed squarely at adults and thus theoretically Oscar compatible...

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Streaming: "Brawl in Cell Block 99"

by Ben Miller

Everything does not have to be filet mignon.  Sometimes, you just want a hamburger.  There is nothing wrong with a burger, and it can be really well made.  There’s a difference between the two and burgers will not be any good if you expect them to be filet mignon.

The new film from director S. Craig Zahler, Brawl in Cell Block 99, is a great burger.  And like any great burger, there are so many chances for it to go very wrong, very quickly...

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Beauty Break: Ed Skrein and "Hellboy" Replacement Suggestions

by Nathaniel R

Major Ben Daimio. The part will no longer be played by Ed Skrein

Well here's a delightful righteous first. The British actor Ed Skrein, whose best known to date for being the big bad of the first Deadpool movie, has taken a stand against the frequent white-washing of Asian characters on film. He has dropped out of the Hellboy reboot having learned (via the instant online backlash) that the role in the comics is a Japanese-American man. He wrote a heartfelt public letter about the decision...

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1963 Convo Pt 2: Lilies of the Field 

Previously, in this '63 Party:
The Supporting Actress Smackdown 
Podcast Conversation Part 1

To close out our little Oscar 1963 celebration, Nathaniel talks Lilies of the Field and more with this month's panel: Teo Bugbee, Keiran Scarlett, Séan McGovern, and Brian Mullin. 

Smackdown '63 Companion Podcast Part 2
(42 minutes)
In which we wrap up our discussion of big budget airport trifle The VIPs. Then the panel has differing opinions on the merits of the classic feelgood Lilies of the Field. Also up for discussion: Sidney Poitier's unique spot in Hollywood history, Denzel Washington comparisons, and an aside to Alfred Hitchcock and The Birds. And, as we say our goodbyes, we each offer up one must-see film from 1963 that we hope you'll watch.

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunesContinue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 

Smackdown '63 Conversation Part Two - LILIES OF THE FIELD


Podcast: Detroit, Girls Trip, Atomic Blonde, Landline

Nathaniel and Nick discuss six new films. No spoilers.

Index (42 minutes)
00:01 Why you should see A Ghost Story & Lady Macbeth
04:00 Kathryn Bigelow stumbles with Detroit (what we hope she does next)
16:40 Atomic Blonde is a blast, a true feat of direction and Charlize Theron-ness
29:40 Girls Trip is crazy well-acted fun
37:00 Landline is a let-down
38:30 Recommendations from 1963 for the helluva it

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunesContinue the conversations in the comments, won't you? 

Atomic Blonde, Detroit, Girls Trip


The Incredible Linking Man

• The Cut "I'm rooting for the Lannisters" fun piece on Game of Thrones (which I still read about on occasion even though I haven't watched since season 2)
/Film Guillermo del Toro's official tequila looks like it's from one of his movies
• Vulture every Charlize Theron performance ranked. Interesting list though I quibble with the order (as they seem to equate the quality of the movies with the quality of her performance and Theron is precisely the star she is because she is often able to be good even in terrible pictures). Also Young Adult should be #1

Playbill all star cast lined up for Steve Martin's next Broadway show (after his musical Bright Star), this one's a comedy called Meteor Shower
Browbeat the internet goes wild for old Russ Tamblyn dancing clip from 1956
Tracking Board Nicole Kidman is in talks to headline a crime thriller called Destroyer directed by Karyn Kusama. Kusama is promising that though it's a genre film it's also "a beautiful character study of an incredible female"
Variety we were wondering when Ruth Negga would start lining up big roles after Loving. She'll star opposite Brad Pitt in the sci-fi movie Ad Astra
Awards Daily This is Us has lost one of its Emmy nominations, costume design.
The Wrap this piece about Marvel's plans for Spider-Man got a lot of internet pass-around but it really doesn't tell you much other than they're going to make Spidey a thing in all the crossover movies

Two pieces about criticism/discussion of racial politics in movies/theaters right now

American Theater a thoughtful piece on the counterproductive assault on Broadway's Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. (We haven't yet heard if the show is actually closing following it's poorly handled casting changes but it might... but the producers were apparently considering it)
• Birth Movies Death a very navel gazing piece about being an ally and trying to navigate pop culture criticism in the current political climate and intersectional age

Exit Video
Handsome talented Aaron Tveit is taking on the classic role of Bobby in another production of Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece (one of them, at least) Company. This one starts in a couple of days in Massachusetts so go if you live near there and report back. Here he is rehearsing...


Race in Lady Macbeth and The Beguiled: Not so black or white?

by Lynn Lee

Florence Pugh in Lady Macbeth / Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled

In a summer filled with movies by or starring women of exceptional talent, The Beguiled and Lady Macbeth make an especially fascinating cinematic pairing.  Both films center on mid-19th century women who appear trapped by their societies’ constricting gender norms.  In both, the women are confined to an isolated, often claustrophobic space, yet nature is a constantly beckoning presence that at once shapes and reflects their desires.  (Both even have plots that turn on poisonous wild mushrooms!)  And in both, the women up-end the patriarchal structure of their circumscribed universe without liberating themselves.  If anything, they reinforce that power structure even as they seize momentary control of it, leaving not a feeling of triumph but a somber queasiness.

For all these thematic similarities, the differences between the two films are even more striking...

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