Oscar History

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Entries in Reviews (591)


The Epic and Crowded "Mudbound"

by Murtada

About halfway into Mudbound, the new film from Dee Rees (Pariah), the matriarch of a family of landowners in the Mississippi Delta Laura Mcallan (Carey Mulligan) offers a maid job to Florence (Mary J Blige), whose family are land tenants of Laura's husband Henry (Jason Clarke). The offer comes after Florence had been forced to leave her own family for a few days to help Laura with her sick young daughters. It is a startling offer that comes out of nowhere and Florence isn't given an option to accept or refuse, but rather told it’s been decided to hire her.

However before the audience can process the audacity of Laura’s offer and Florence’s resignation, we are immediately pulled into a combat battle in WWII where Henry’s brother (Garrett Hedlund) and Florence’s oldest son (Jason Mitchell) have enlisted. Herein lies Mudbound's dilemma...

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NYFF: Joan Didion's Magic Years

by Jason Adams

"Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends."

The instant. Not "an" instant, which is how most of us would sort that sentence. When writing of her husband's death in her book The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion said "the" instant, and in Joan Didion's wake nothing else seems right. Because it is not just any instant. It's the one that changed your life. At most, depending on how long we live, we might get a couple. Joan Didion, at 82, has had her own intimate yet earth-quaking share. And Joan Didion, as ever, is here to distill them down into apple crisp sentence form for us.

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, the new documentary on the author, was directed by Didion's nephew, the actor Griffin Dunne, and he makes similar Didion-esque economy of Joan's handful of instants...

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Brief Takes: Blade Runners, Tennis Stars, Feisty Queens, Fish Men

In an effort to break out of my silence -- October is my favorite month so why has it been so hard? -- micro thoughts on 5 Oscar hopefuls I meant to review but didn't. Whoops. Please to discuss in the comments.

Battle of the Sexes (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
The story of Billie Jean King's (Emma Stone) famous 1973 match with Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and her efforts to make women's tennis viable in a sexist industry

: A timely well-crafted look back to the beginnings of a gender war that's depressingly still raging and a soupçon of queer romance to give it unique personality. Dayton & Faris's light touch is the right choice for this briskly-paced but delicately felt recreation of a pivotal American moment. Emma Stone is perfection as the heroic tight shouldered athlete at the center. Just discussed on the podcast. B+
Oscar Chances: This one could go either way. Much will depend on how smart Fox Searchlight is at selling it to voters. Though maybe don't bet against Emma Stone returning to Best Actress; she's very burrowed into King's skin but still as sunny as Emma Stone.

Blade Runner 2049, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, Victoria and Abdul and the Shape of Water are after the jump

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The Return (and Allure) of Riverdale 

by Spencer Coile

Hello, fellow TV watchers. Dripping in nostalgia, season two of Riverdale returns to the CW this week (the first episode aired last night). And who says that pulp television is dead? There is no better way to celebrate the series' return than to dive into what makes Riverdale so appealing to viewers -- teens and adults alike. 

Without spoiling much, as I am sure there are plenty of people still trying to catch up on season one (available on Netflix), this season of the CW's latest foray into teen drama picks up immediately where we left off. Our teenage heroes and heorines are left scrambling to pick up the pieces of a local shooting, a deadly fire, and lots and lots of (almost) hooking up. 

This all sounds so dramatic, which it is. And that is precisely why the show works...

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NYFF: "The Rider"

by John Guerin

One of the more exciting breakouts from this year's festival circuit is Chloe Zhao’s elegiac equine drama The Rider. This wistful blend of documentary and poetic realism follows Brady Jandreau — a 20-year-old horse trainer who suffers a near-fatal head injury that stunts any chance of his continuing an impressive rodeo career. Suffused with a melancholic color palette and somber score, The Rider makes palpable the dashed dreams of our young protagonist, charting the reverberations of his accident and their implications with impressive and authentic skill... 

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Review: The Mountain Between Us

by Eric Blume

I know what you’re thinking:  you’ve watched the trailer for The Mountain Between Us, the new movie where Kate Winslet and Idris Elba are stranded in the mountains together after a plane crash.  And since you’re a smart moviegoer, you probably thought, 'okay the trailer looks a little bit terrible, but it’s Kate!  And Idris!  They’re so sexy and talented!  Surely the movie itself can’t be that bad?'

I’m sad to report, it truly is...

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Nick's Foreign Film Take, Pt 1: Sheikh Jackson, First They Killed My Father...

by Nick Davis

There’s niche-marketing, and then there’s micro-targeting, and then there’s saying to your friend Nathaniel, “I hope you’ll still keep an eye out for Shahrbanoo Sadat’s Wolf and Sheep, even though Afghanistan didn’t select it as their Oscar submission.” We really do live in a weird bubble, but that is why one is grateful for The Film Experience, where folks are all the same kind of different as you. And as we all know, this site has been a longtime devotee of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in all stages of curation and competition. So, seizing the opportunity of a sympathetic audience, and amidst a season where many of the 84 movies put forward by their home countries as Academy Award contenders are floating around at festivals—big and small, rural and urban, American and elsewhere—I thought I’d weigh in on the titles I’ve caught.

Argentina, Zama
It’s an amazing vote of artistic confidence for Argentina to choose Lucrecia Martel’s deeply demanding, deeply rewarding colonialist-bughouse period drama as their contender. They passed over all three of her previous features as their submission, and as always, they had plenty of viable possibilities this year, including Santiago Mitre’s The Summit, an absorbing drama of North and South American political machinations. That movie’s somewhat televisual style might have made it palatable to some voters. Zama, by contrast, is as cinematic as they come. In fact, “they” don’t really come like this: a movie almost without establishing shots or hand-holding narrative cues, aggressive with its weird ambient sounds and literally eccentric frames. The movie telegraphs the protagonist’s escalating madness but without letting him go Full Aguirre and without entering the kind of outsized, Lynchian vortex that unmistakably makes the point: it’s easy to watch and think that you, not Zama, are failing to keep up. This seems like a Shortlist prospect with Oscar at the very best, but it’s also guaranteed to be among the year’s most extraordinary movies. Talk about a summit!
My grade:

Austria's Happy End, Cambodia's First They Killed My Father, and Egypt's Sheikh Jackson are after the jump...

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NYFF: Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Before We Vanish"

by Jason Adams

I want you to close your eyes. I want you to close your eyes, and picture Love. Not Valentine's Day Heart Cards or little sugary candies that say Eat Me, and not the faces of the people you've held hands with on cold afternoon walks, although the latter will probably help you on your way of getting there. I want you to picture the entire concept of Love. The warmth and the palpable agony of it - the electricity of fingertips and further parts intertwining and entangling, and the aftershock of separation - the whole dang lot.

Now I want you to imagine the violence of all of that being torn out of your body...

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