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TWO OPINIONS ON MAPS TO THE STARS
Nathaniel's Julianne Spazzing & Glenn's Cronenberg Finger Wagging 

"There is a great movie in Maps of the Stars and that is the one Moore stars in, not the one the screenplay insists in bringing to the front." - Mr Goodbar

"If I had to guess why Cronenberg went with a largely "invisible" or even non-style style, I'd say it has to do with his approach to the narrative, which is kind of a bait and switch, setting us up for a hollywood satire and then giving us a final act that plays more like a myth or a fairy tale." -Roark

Beauty vs. Beast

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Entries in sci-fi fantasy horror (139)

Wednesday
Feb262014

"Nominations for Everyone!" - Saturn Awards

I maintain that a lot of "special interest" awards bodies would instantly be more respectable if they'd limit their number of nominations in a category. The Saturn Awards, who've been handing out prizes for sci-fi/fantasy/horror films for 40 years now, are one such group. When you narrow your field of eligibility -- as all special interest awards bodies must to still fit within their special interest boundaries -- why then should your nominee list be larger than the standard model (that'd be Oscar. pay attention). Despite what seems like a neverending barrage of pictures released that are catering to the comic-con community, there are actually less movies like that than those that are eligible for other prizes which only have "release date" as criteria. And yet the Saturn Awards feel the need to have six-seven nominees in all the acting categories and multiple Best Picture awards. If you combine all of their Best Film categories, they have 34 Best Picture nominees! though Gravity and The Hobbit: The Smaugening are the nomination leaders.

It must be so insulting for any picture that was not nominated... though I can't think of any that weren't offhand. Hundreds of nominations with brief grumpy commentary are after the jump. 

Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture:
“Iron Man 3″
“Man of Steel”
“Thor: The Dark World”
“The Wolverine”

The only snubbee I can think of here is Blue is the Warmest Color but those lesbians have no superpowers beyond very limber bodies and the ability to eat huge amounts of food without gaining a pound. 

30 more Best Picture nods after the jump...


Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec272013

Link is the Warmest Blog Post

The Awl the year in topless Geraldo Rivera. Super good read.
Deadline an FYC video for Adèle Exarchopoulus... can she sneak into the locky-locked-up Best Actress lineup?
Badass Digest 10 best alternative old movie posters of 2013 vintage
Thompson on Hollywood great movie quotes of the year - #1 is a moment I'm personally obsessed with already
Badass Digest thinks American Hustle will be destroyed by winning the Oscar. Which, yeah, most films are but it's not going to win. And also. Will people please stop comparing it to Wolf of Wall Street. I hate this comparison and especially hate that people think Wolf is better. Er, no. Or by better did you mean longer? In which case, yes. 

HuffPo FYC another August: Osage County interview in which everyone understands that Julia Roberts is the lead. Now, if only Oscar will follow suit and save the supporting category for supporting ladies
The Advocate Blue is the Warmest Color and other great LGBT graphic novels of the year. I love Artifice, too (wrote about it here)
Cinema Blend Gail Gadot begins training for 'body mass' to play Wonder Woman in that probably very ill advised Batman vs. Superman movie
SPR Kurt's top ten list - he's still bravely mad for Lee Daniels' The Butler and Spring Breakers
i09 on breakout stars of genre television. Some good choices though they have weird conceptions of who is "new"... like Norman Reedus (Um, he's been around a LONG time in film and television)
Newsweek internet predictions circa 1995 in a piece called "why the web won't be nirvana" a great find from twitter that's wrong about virtually everything except this:

 Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. 

It's a Wolf Wolf Wolf Wolf World 
Business Insider Scorsese's film already inspiring future Belforts as the financial industry cheers it on 
The Informer Wolf of Wall Street victim speaks out  
Antagony & Ecstacy has a smart take down of the film a lot of people don't want to hear taken down -- wear protective gear, Tim! 
Some Came Running a defense of Wolf of Wall Street against readings that Scorsese has no point of view on the characters. (Critics who love this one are very riled up about its detractors, like they've just come from a Belfort fist-pumping retreat... only, like, way more articulate about their 'fuckyeahs!') 

And on this same topic, today's must watch...

It's a Wonderful Life on Wall Street

Saturday
Dec142013

Oscar Rejects and Finalists: Makeup and Hairstyling

Though it's perhaps unfair to possible future Oscar nominees who are (tentatively) celebrating, the finalist lists that are announced in the categories that have "bake-offs" have an unfortunate side effect: the story by necessity becomes about who didn't make it; "finalist" status is not, we must remember, an Oscar nomination and might not turn into one but rejection is hard fact. The Oscar's makeup branch, though fond of showy prosthetics like old age makeup or fantastical creatures has never nominated a zombie movie and also isn't crazy about horror (despite horror employing so many makeup artists) so I knew the chances weren't great for World War Z or Warm Bodies or Evil Dead or any other genre films though I am a little surprised that Oz: The Great and Powerful was already culled. Yes, Mila Kunis's Wicked Witch looked dumb but this branch's history doesn't always give one confidence that they'll choose well.

Surprising Rejections and Unexpected Embraces after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec142013

Thoughts I Had... While Watching the "Interstellar" Teaser

Presented in the order I had them without self-censorship... you do the same in the comments!

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec132013

Three Christmas Movies for Friday the 13th

Anne Marie here to spread some holiday scares. Friday the 13th has crept up on us again, bringing joy to thousands of horror fans. If you're a Christmas lover, then these three movies should scratch that holiday horror movie itch. And if you hate the holiday season, then that's all the more reason to watch an evil naked Santa go on a murder spree. 

Black Christmas (1976) - This is considered a slasher classic alongside its more famous calendar-themed cousin, Halloween. Black Christmas follows a group of sorority sisters in what I swear must be Canada as a deranged unseen killer picks them off one by one. The cast alone is worth the watch: Olivia Hussey six years after Romeo & Juliet, Margot Kidder two years before Superman, and Andrea Martin twenty six years before she fondled John Corbett's hair and offered him lamb in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. While the kills themselves are relatively tame by today's ridiculously gory standards, the true chills in the film come from the babbling and screaming phone calls the killer makes to the sorority house every time he claims a new victim.I should point out that Black Christmas was remade in 2006. However, I'm hoping that a Christmas miracle will happen and the remake will be vanish, never to be seen again.

 

Gremlins (1984) - The Gremlins are proof that giving your kid a pet for Christmas can be a very, very bad idea. This 80's classic strikes a very difficult balance. On the one hand, it is adorable, as when the fluffy mogwai Gizmo drives a toy car around a department store for the last third of the film. On the other hand, it can be downright violent, as when the gremlins murder a neighbor by causing her stairlift to fling her out a window. Overall, the flim tends to err on the side of campy humor: Gremlins get drunk, breakdance, and mostly act like tiny, lizard-like bros at a frat party. This mischief and mayhem make Gremlins the most light-hearted movie on this list. Fun trivia: Gremlins is actually responsible (along with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) for the creation of the PG-13 rating. Apparently the MPAA agreed that mogwais were too cute for an R rating but too bloody for a PG one instead.

 

Rare Exports: A Christmas Story (2010) - "He sees you when you're sleeping. He knows when you're awake. He knows when you've been bad or good. And he doesn't give a ****!" Finnish horror movies have a strange sense of humor. In Rare Exports, an archaeological dig uncovers an old man with a long white beard frozen in stasis. When he awakens, he immediately starts kidnapping children and hauling them away in potato sacks. For this monster is only the helper to Santa Claus. The true Father Christmas is far, far worse. This movie gets serious points for being one of the most bizarre reinterpretations of the Santa Claus mythos. On top of that, it's an engaging, funny, scary movie. I promise you'll never look at mall Santas the same way again.

 What scary ghost stories do you save for the holidays? Post your Friday the 13th suggestions below. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good fright

Sunday
Dec082013

FYC: The Conjuring for Best Sound Editing

We're looking at our favorite fringe awards contenders just to widen the conversation. Here's Tim Brayton on the year's biggest horror hit.


Since as far back as the thudding echo of footsteps that stalked Jane Randolph in 1942's Cat People, savvy horror directors have understood that one of the surest ways to wring the audience into a terrified frenzy isn't to wage a frontal assault on our sense of taste with gallons of stage blood and pig organs, but to instead mount a side attack on our ears. Some of the scariest movies of all time have gotten that way above all because of their skillful use of sound effects, and the sound editing in director James Wan's terrific The Conjuring - led by supervisor Joe Dzuban - is so hugely important that it was even foregrounded in the film's outstanding teaser trailer. Anybody can show a ghost jump out of the darkness to give you a quick, cheap freak out. It takes genius to get the same jolt from of the well-applied use of harsh, distant clapping.

And if that's the only thing that The Conjuring had to recommend its audio landscape, we could stop right there - a terrific setpiece is fine, but not the stuff that year-end recognition is made of. But while the Clapping from Hell is easily the *showiest* aspect of the film's soundtrack, it's not at all the most important. For that, we might sooner listen to the frequent near-silence that penetrates the story's central haunted hause: to create the idea of a place that hums with danger and malevolence, the sound team literally built in humming, a deep vibration in the bass that frequently crops up just to mess with our perception. And then, there's the hard flatness of the "normal" sounds, which land on the ears with a sort of shrill hollowness. The sound contributes significantly to the feeling that this house where so much of the film's terror occurs is a dead, suffocating place.

In all great horror, the effect on the viewer isn't just created by the big gestures, but by a backdrop which permits those gestures to hit with the most impact. That describes the distorted sound of The Conjuring to a T: unrealistic and vivid and deeply unsettling. This horror hit is not dignified enough to attract trophies, but the craft, and the glorious way it knocks the viewer around, is as impressive and effective as anything with more overt artistic aspirations.

previous FYCs
Actor Tye Sheridan | Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great GatsbyScore Nebraska | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar Wright | Production Design The Conjuring | Supporting Actor Ulysses the Cat

Wednesday
Dec042013

Team FYC: The Conjuring for Best Production Design

In this FYC series series, our contributors are highlighting their favorite fringe contenders this awards season. Here's Dancin' Dan on The Conjuring...

Let's face it: The Academy doesn't, as a rule, like horror films. Even when they're done well. But James Wan's The Conjuring is one we hope they'll honor, especially in the below-the-line categories. The technical elements are all exceptionally well-done, but the production design in particular is damn near flawless. For starters, take a look at that Annabelle doll. Creepy, right? But also totally believable as a toy that a girl might have loved as a child in the 40s or 50s and kept with her as a young adult in the 60s.

The whole film is stuffed with smart design like that. Production Designer Julie Berghoff, Art Director Geoffrey S. Grimsman, and Set Decorator Sophie Neufdorfer built the Perron house used in the film from the ground up and filled it with period-appropriate appliances, photos, and toys that felt used and loved - and, perhaps most importantly, that don't look "scary".

The smartest thing The Conjuring does is to not look like a modern horror movie - all dark and tinted blue or gray, with every set and prop looking like it's on the verge of decay. The Perron house looks old because, simply, it's an old house, and the Perrons bought it knowing it was a bit of a fixer-upper. The items in the basement look old and rotting because they've been blocked off for decades. The family's personal items look new, or at least new-ish, as would fit a middle-class family in 1971. The attention to period detail is all over the movie, and it gives the movie a homespun quality that always works in its favor.

There are a lot of reasons why The Conjuring works as well as it does: strong, surprisingly nuanced performances from Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Lili Taylor; the genuinely unsettling score; the almost old-fashioned cinematography - but for me the MVP is all the little details around the edges of the frame, constantly lending a sense of reality to the film. The art direction of The Conjuring is effectively scary when it needs to be (the spiral mirror reflecting on Vera Farmiga's face, that monstrous wardrobe, the Warrens' room of occult objects), but mostly it serves to remind you that these were real people this happened to - a family that could have had a normal life if things had just worked out a little differently. And that's where the true horror lies.