Oscar History

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Entries in Team Experience (92)


Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt. 2: Firing Squads and Flop Sweat

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this Oscar-winning classic, Team Experience is revisiting the picture, tag team relay style. In Chapter 1, Nathaniel discussed our first look at George and Martha as they "welcomed" Nick and Honey into their home for a late night boozy marital bout. The first true bomb had just gone off when George realized that Martha had broken their "rules"... we rejoin the party now as George strikes back.

 Pt 2 by Daniel Crooke

My first wallop by Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was in my early years of high school after developing a formative penchant for emotionally explosive character dramas, iconic Hollywood movie stars, and Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Once I learned of this film’s existence, I snatched up the first secondhand DVD I could find. It may have proved a bad role model; I shouted and scowled around the house for days, hunched in doorways with a clinking tumbler full of iced tea. The drama was just too magnificent to leave on the screen and, especially in this section, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton have so much fun spitting poison that their hysterical wickedness becomes infectious.

Through my green teenage lens of inexperience, I thought George and Martha should divorce immediately, move on with their lives, and leave this self-destructive cycle in the rear view. Jesus, can you imagine their Tinder profiles? Now that time and experience have obliterated my preconceptions of the idyllic American relationship, I can plainly see that they need one another to survive. They’ve got an arrangement in their marriage that – however revolting or sadomasochistic it may seem to the outsider – more or less works for them.

32:11 ....As long as they stay within the bounds. [More...]

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Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Pt 1: "What a Dump!" 

You are cordially invited to George and Martha's for an evening of fun and games*

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Directed by Mike Nichols
Adapted by Ernest Lehman from the play by Edward Albee
Released by Warner Bros on June 22nd, 1966
Nominated for 13 Oscars, winning 5.

To celebrate the anniversary of this stone cold classic from 1966, Team Experience is revisiting the picture, tag team relay style, all week long as we did with RebeccaSilence of the Lambs, and Thelma & Louise.

Pt 1 by Nathaniel R
50th Anniversary Four Part Mini Series 

When I was a young teenager, a multiplex opened about a half hour from my house that, like every multiplex, showed whatever movies were in wide release. But here was something novel and unfortunately not copied by every multiplex in the land thereafter: they devoted one of their screens exclusively to charity -- the charity of young cinephilia that is. One of the screens, every showing of the day, only ran an older classic as if it were a new release. For an entire week! Then they'd switch movies. I've never again seen a multiplex do that and if it had been closer to home I would have been the most devoted patron. It was there that I first saw Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I thought it was an outstanding elegaic drama and though I freely admit I was too young to grasp its very adult comic brilliance, I'd rarely seen acting that electrifying. In 1966 when it first arrived the posters said "no one under 18 will be admitted unless accompanied by his parent " Perhaps that was wise as it's wholly meant for adults.

00:01. It's fitting that our first shot is of the moon in the dead of night. George and Martha are not werewolves but beware all who enter George & Martha's lair; this is definitely a horror movie...

Before the score kicks in and the camera descends in longshot to look at a university house, which spills George (Oscar nominated Richard Burton) & Martha (Oscar winning Elizabeth Taylor) from its door and onto the campus sidewalk to stumble home, the orchestra sounds like its warming up. It's a perfect sonic nod to the property's live theater origins. A demented harpist is doing runs before Alex North's Oscar nominated score settles into something gently sorrowful. 

01:45 Already a favorite moment and the movie hasn't truly begin. As soon as the title card appears Elizabeth Taylor starts just cackling as Martha walks across the Virginia to the Woolf. George tells her to shut up because it's 2 AM. 

02:16 How lonely but not alone that shot is! How many times have George and Martha made this exact walk at night from that exact building and how many other couples have they tortured entertained in their home after just such a faculty party. I didn't think about these things the first time I saw it but now they're unavoidable mental associations.

Every time I've seen the movie since that first time, it's been just as electric only now the charge is coming from all corners of cast and crew (how about Haskell Wexler's Oscar winning cinematography!?) and not just the Movie Star Couple at the center. In fact, I felt nearly as aroused as George & Martha whenever they realize they've twisted the knife just right in the other's belly, when I queued up the movie again for this particular revisit. Since Liz begins the movie quoting Bette Davis, we'll do it, too, albeit from a different movie entirely.

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy night.

04:00 Surely one of the great introductory shots in all of cinema, Martha flips on the light. We get our first good look at the central couple, blinking and boozed-up. They've seen better days. Martha takes a look around and starts doing Bette Davis gestural circles with her hand...  

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Thelma & Louise Pt. 5: Crossing Over

25th Anniversary Five-Part Mini Series Event 

Pt 1 (Anne Marie & Margaret) 
Pt 2 (Nick Davis) 
Pt 3 (Daniel Crooke)
Pt 4 (Nathaniel R) 

Pt 5 (Finale) by Laurence Barber

It feels awfully daunting to write about the ending of this film, and not just because, as Nathaniel pointed out, ditching the cop who pulled them over isn’t Thelma or Louise’s finest hour. As an Australian who has experienced outback heat, that scene always makes me feel a bit nauseous even if the way their doing away with this discipline daddy is pretty amusing. More logically, they could have made use of his handcuffs to disable him instead, but you have to appreciate that Callie Khouri hasn’t constructed these crimes around what feels like pattern behaviour. Aside from Thelma’s charm assault/armed robbery, their transgressions feel genuinely like two women thinking on their feet.

Also, you catch a glimpse of a shotgun behind him as he trades shades with Louise so I’ve always believed he figured his way out somewhere down the line (shoot the lock, dummy!).

Thelma: Officer, I’m real sorry ‘bout this.”

Louise: I apologise also.”

1:40:00 This aspect of the scene has always spackled over my misgivings about it too. Much has been said and written in recent years about the way women over-apologise, exercising a kind of ingrained cultural deference to male authority. In this scene, however, their apologies become a subversion; the way Sarandon half-heartedly apologises tells us that she’s given up caring about the needs of men in any meaningful way.

Replete with her new Aviators – a hot new look Scott drinks in with a zoom that feels as awed by Sarandon as we do by this point – Louise and Thelma jump back in the Thunderbird and put rubber to the road, the final stage of their road trip stretching out before them. In a brief cut back to the police part of the plot, Harvey Keitel gravely intones, “Dreams will only get you so far, and luck always runs out.” Lighten up, toots...

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Thelma & Louise Pt 4: The Call of the Wild

25th Anniversary Five-Part Mini Series Event 

Pt 1 (Anne Marie & Margaret) 
Pt 2 (Nick Davis) 
Pt 3 (Daniel Crooke)

Pt 4 by Nathaniel R

When Daniel wrapped up part three, he astutely described the roomful of men watching Thelma's armed robbery on TV as "blockheaded." As loathe as I am to admit it, the other adjective he used, "slack-jawed," is the one that would also apply to me in that scene. It's when I most fully relate to the men in the movie. How can you watch what these women (and actresses) are doing and not be a little dumbstruck?! Although in my case, it's more awestruck than horrifed trepidation about what they're capable of.

1:15:00 In one of the funniest exchanges in the movie, Thelma worries about how fast Louise is driving, their unruly mops whipping around in the wind, both of them reenergized by Thelma's sudden resourcefulness...

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Thelma & Louise, Pt. 3: Pitt Stops 

25th Anniversary Five-Part Mini Series Event 

In Pt 1 of our lookback at Thelma & Louise, a fateful night at the Silver Bullet threw Thelma & Louise off their course. In Pt 2 the best friends weren't so friendly  as they struggled to find a new one. When we left them, they'd picked up a charming hitchhiker (Hellooo, Baby Brad) and but Louise needed a cup of coffee and to collect herself. Anne Marie & Margaret, our own superheroine duo in Los Angeles were grappling with the surprise killing of a would be rapist. Was it rage and pride that motivated Louise to shoot after she had already saved Thelma? It certainly provoked audiences but was there any other way to play the film's themes?

Louise is trying to plot their next move when we return to them, just before they jump back in their '66 Thunderbird - Editor

Pt 2 by Daniel Crooke

50:58 – Surprised to see her leather-faced boyfriend, Louise looks like she’s seen a ghost. Based on their last phone call, it didn’t sound like she was planning on casually bumping into Jimmy north of the border anytime soon. These men just can’t get out of our heroines’ way; is it that maddeningly impossible to trust an independent woman to chart her own course in this world? (more...)

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Thelma & Louise, Pt 2: The Venetian Blindside

25th Anniversary Five-Part Mini Series Event 

When we left our heroines in Pt 1 of our 25th anniversary lookback at Thelma & Louise, they were fleeing the scene of their (first) crime but Louise needed a cup of coffee and to collect herself. Anne Marie & Margaret, our own superheroine duo in Los Angeles were grappling with the surprise killing of a would be rapist. Was it rage and pride that motivated Louise to shoot after she had already saved Thelma? It certainly provoked audiences but was there any other way to play the film's themes?

Louise is trying to plot their next move when we return to them, just before they jump back in their '66 Thunderbird - Editor

Pt 2 by Nick Davis

Now's not the time to panic. If we panic now, we're done for."

24:50 You could say this is the moment where Thelma and Louise shifts from a movie about two women fleeing some problems, at least temporarily, to two women solving a problem, probably permanently. Sure, I'll run to any movie where two women let their hair down, but I will fucking jet-propel myself to any movie where two or more women join forces to think their way out of a fix.  Well, not Mad Money.  And not The Boss.  Okay, there are exceptions.  But Thelma & Louise is the glorious rule, and this is where the drama of deduction, cognition, mutual examination, and deep self-reflection really kicks into fifth gear.

I should mention that I saw this film in the theater at 14.  Sheltered and naive about sex and violence, I didn't completely understand what rape was--which is to say, I think I learned it here.  I had never had a drink, much less been drunk, or even seen a margarita.  Ironically, the post-shooting moment when Thelma and Louise start spiraling into unknown territory was  when I started to connect with their world and feel common ground with the heroines.  I didn't know from waitressing jobs, fishing trips, honky tonks, convertibles, freeways, mesas, relationship troubles, shitty husbands, hitchhikers, horny moods, pistols, or structural misogyny, but I absolutely related to relying on wits to think your way out of a problem, and disclosing aspects of yourself in how you did so, and concealing parts of yourself at the same time.

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Team Experience - Favorite Presenter Moments from the Oscar Show

The Academy has announced the names of many presenters for the big night on February 28th. The list includes the best actress nominee who gave us this often used gifable funny moment, reacting to the makeup in The Wolfman (2010).

A few writers from The Film Experience share 7 more favorite moments from the presenters after the jump, including Meryl, Jim Carrey and Emma Stone...

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