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Entries in Team Experience (54)

Tuesday
Jan142014

The 2nd Annual Team Experience Award Goes To...

Amir here, to bring you the results of the 2nd annual Team Experience Awards, a poll of the year’s best in film by the international group of writers who contribute regularly to this website. In our inaugural edition, Leos Carax’s off-kilter French fantasy, Holy Motors, won the top prize. This year, our 14 voters are more in synch with the American awards season tune. I think it’s fair to say we all like 12 Years a Slave. Like, really, really like 12 Years a Slave. If Steve McQueen’s film were Sally Field, we’d be the Academy circa 1985.

BEST PICTURE
12 Years a Slave
 (Steve McQueen)
Runner-up: Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach) 

BEST DIRECTOR
Steve McQueen
 (12 Years a Slave)
Runner-up: Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity) 

However, the consensus and the number of categories topped by Slave don’t quite reflect the intense competition behind the scenes. In fact, only two categories were landslides: Best Picture and Best Visual Effects. Elsewhere, the competition was intense and never really took shape until the last ballot was in. In the best supporting actress category, for example, five women were within an inch of each other, and Emma Watson (The Bling Ring) and Kristin Scott Thomas (Only God Forgives) missed out on the runner-up spot by a hair. The nitty-gritty of our votes further down but now the winners of the 2nd Team Experience Awards...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec172013

FYCs, Ours and Yours

I intended to write a couple of entries of my own "FYCs" this year for our team project but realized that's essentially what my annual FiLM BiTCH Awards double as. I'm almost ready to go ahead with those, which range from the traditional awards categories through to dozens of fun "extras". I'm fully aware that the last two years of TFE's own prizes have been a bit shaky in terms of speed and completion,  but this year I shan't drag my feet since my circumstances here have changed. I need your help, though, with the "extra categories"  and the music categories (I am always lost with Best Score) so don't let me forget any perfect gems. What should I consider in the fields of: Best Cameo, Line Reading, Action Sequence, Kiss, Sex Scene, Credit Sequence, Opening Scene, Ending, Musical Moment? 

SUBMIT YOUR FYCs IN THE COMMENTS

In the meantime, in case you missed any our "Fringe" FYCs for traditional categories, which aimed to widen the conversation and give awards voters a bit more options to think through than the 15 films they keep hearing about, please click around: Cinematography Her | Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus |  Make-up Evil Dead (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration) | Costume Design Blue Jasmine Score Ain't Them Bodies Saints Sound Editing The Conjuring | Actor Tye Sheridan | Film Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great Gatsby | Score Nebraska (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration) | Costume Design Lawrence Anyways | Foreign Film Neighboring Sounds | Supporting Actress Cameron Diaz | Picture The Spectacular Now | Make-Up Warm Bodies (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration) | Sound Mixing World War Z | Director Edgar Wright | Production Design The Conjuring 

And three earlier suggestions before we formally began... Best Young Performer (for BFCA voters... though they didn't listen) |  Supporting Actor Ulysses the Cat (probably technically not eligible for Oscar consideration) | Make-Up Warm Bodies (no longer eligible for Oscar consideration).

Tuesday
Dec172013

Team FYC: Her for Best Cinematography

Team FYC lets Film Experience contributors highlight their favourite fringe contenders for awards season. Here's Amir Soltani on Spike Jonze's Her.

In recent years, the Academy's cinematography award has been handed out in tandem with the best visual effects one. It has become an inevitability: if there is a best picture nominee that can be described as a "visual spectacle" is present, it will win both awards. This year will be no exception with Gravity, and if I were to put money on it, I'd a hazard a guess that Christopher Nolan's Interstellar will be the beneficiary of AMPAS's infatuation with big, effects driven cinema in this category next year. But Dutch cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shouldn't need to wait another year for his first Oscar nomination.

With Spike Jonze's Her, van Hoytema adds yet another impressive entry to a decade-long resume that already boasts an astonishing range of styles. The soft, colorless hues of Let the Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy are more easily recognizable as the works of the same DP, but the scrappy, hand-held look of The Fighter is almost a 180 degree turn. Her has shades of van Hoytema's collaborations with Tomas Alfredsson, but is infinitely more vibrant. Perhaps more than any other film this year, the cinematography here needs to be recognized as a collective achievement with the works of the production and costume design teams as it brings their colors and sleek, intimate designs to life, but contains them under extremely soft lighting. It is richly realized but also suitably representative of the cyberspace; think of it as beautifulhandwrittenletters.com incarnate.

In a way, Her's aesthetic is one of contrasts. It is bursting with reds and pinks but it feels melancholy. It is sensitive but equally icy. It seems perfectly appropriate for a film about "artificial" intelligence, creating a landscape that looks ethereally digital, but also oddly palpable. It's apt, because Her is as much about our future as it is about our modern condition and van Hoytema’s work captures that contrast beautifully. Will Academy voters recognize his genius? Does the strong critical response to the film tell us anything about its Oscar hopes? It is certainly possible. Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time a Spike Jonze finds favor with critics and no luck with AMPAS. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Monday
Dec092013

Team FYC: 'Spring Breakers' for Best Sound Mixing

This FYC series brings together all Film Experience contributors to highlight our favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Glenn Dunks on the sound mixing of Spring Breakers.

The neon-infused opening credits to Spring Breakers are accompanied by the peaceful echoes of a beachside before the hordes of teenagers arrive for Spring Break. Director Harmony Korine barely gives audiences a minute to relax before he throws the kitchen sink at the screen and turns the Skrillex up to 11. The images of drunken, sexually open teenagers cavorting about the ocean could hardly come with a better, more abrasively confronting soundtrack. If you were lucky to see this violently satirical black comedy on the big screen then you’ll know the propulsive impact this soundtrack choice had blasting out of the speakers to a crowd of (mostly) unsuspecting victims. Korine wasn’t mincing words: so long to any chance for a nice time at the movies. His movie was to be in your face. And boy, was it ever. And in your ears, too.

It’s not just Korine’s soundtrack choices that made me choose Spring Breakers for sound design but rather the inventive, puzzle-like work he does throughout. There’s the repetitious dialogue that Korine layers over the top of unrelated sequences to discombobulate the viewer (or beat them into submission, who can tell?). There’s the bold way he builds and deconstructs entire soundscapes throughout a single scene. There’s the way he blends in the original score of Cliff Martinez and the aforementioned Skrillex, perfectly harmonised with Benoît Debie’s cinematography to juxtapose moods.

Independent cinema is frequently where one finds some of the most creative sound work. I could have easily chosen the dense layering of cultural beats in Lucy Mulloy’s Una Noche, the piercing cacophony of Blackfish, or the pin-point precision of Park Chan-wook’s Stoker. I find these works infinitely more interesting uses of sound than most of what will likely make up the Oscar nominees. The work on Spring Breakers is truly definitive. It’s impossible to imagine the film without it. In keeping with Korine's chaotic tone, the sound work is constantly interesting and ever-changing. It morphs just as often as the film from abrasive dubstep to a tender Britney Spears ballad. Just like the action movies with their voluminous walls of sound that so often find Oscar success, the ebb and flow of the sound mixing here is as meticulous and carefully constructed as you can get. It’s the ace in the film’s hole (pardon the salacious pun).

previous FYCs
Sound Editing The Conjuring | Actor Tye Sheridan | Editing Stories We Tell | Screenplay In a World... | Supporting Actor Keith Stanfield | Song The Great Gatsby | Score 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

Saturday
Dec072013

Team FYC: "The Great Gatsby" for Original Song

This FYC series brings together all Film Experience contributors to highlight our favorite fringe Oscar contenders. Here's Andrew Kendall on a tune from Gatsby, a movie which just won two Grammy  nominations

Too often when we consider original song contenders we tend to focus on the lyrics at the expense of the music but my favourite number of Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby soundtrack manages to excel on both levels. Considering “Over the Love” lyrically, it would win in the battle in find which song has the most fidelity to its source novel. It features references to the “yellow dresses”, “green light” and that “ocean in the way”. But, it’s the musical arrangement of the song which takes it from lovely song into a true contender. I like Luhrman’s Gatsby, even though it falters in an example of reach exceeding grasp. What “Over the Love” manages to do is retain the steady rise from sanguine charm to a heady feverish climax with aplomb, which seems to be what Luhrman is going for but doesn't quite succeed at.

The song begins with the piano as its sole accompaniment and the faintest howling of winds in the background – ominous. The song continues as you expect, verse + chorus + verse + chorus with the piano and a steady percussive sound marking time as well as suggesting a subtle sense of time running out. Then, with a minute and a half left it's launched into the bridge with the evocative line.

“Cause you’re a hard soul to save, with an ocean in the way. But I’ll get around it.”

It's an unsubtle lyric, recalling Gatsby’s own vow to return to Daisy. The lovers are divided by water in the present day where the chasm of  the space between East Egg and Long Island Sound in West Egg separates. But, it's also the Atlantic Ocean, more water, which separates them when Gatsby heads off to war. The double meaning is a nice touch, but it's oddly chilling in the way its rendered ominously, as much a promise as a threat when sung by Florence. And instead of a bridge + chorus + ending like most ballads, Florence’s “cry” leads us into the freneticism of the song’s last bars. Everything builds as “I can see the green light. I can see it in your eyes” is repeated building to an agitated climax until the song ends. It does not fade out to an end, like some songs, but ends decisively, abruptly on an utterance of the choral “I can see it in your eyes”. It is as if musically the song has reached this feverish pitch only to abruptly expire.  Like Gatsby’s life, it feels suspended. A song good in its own right, but haunting in the way it ends just at that climax.

On its own, without context to the film's story, “Over the Love” would still be a beautiful song. But the way its wailing tones not just lyrically but musically enhances the film, and is in turn enhanced by knowlege of the film is what makes priceless. It’s impactful in a way songs written for films don’t always manage to be.

Wednesday
Dec042013

Team Top Ten: Oscar's Greatest Losers (Actor Edition)

Al Pacino won his Oscar on his eighth nomination. He deserved it more the other seven times!Amir here, back with another monthly team poll. Back in May, we had a look at the Best Actress Oscars and picked what we thought were the greatest losers in history. Since we all love symmetry, it’s only fair to give the losing gentlemen their chance to shine. And it's also quite topical in December 2013. This year's Best Actor race has so many worthy choices that the losers are inevitably worth celebrating in advance. 

This was an incredibly arduous task. Though we may all have our regular disagreements with AMPAS, there’s no denying the wealth of talent on display in their record of movie history. These are some of the most iconic performances in film history and to narrow them down to just ten is a fool’s errand. List-making always is! How does one judge Mickey Rourke’s brooding anti-hero Wrestler against Chaplin’s satirical Great Dictator?  Is tortured Joaquin Phoenix in The Master too fresh in the memory to compare to tortured James Mason? Jack Lemmon in The Apartment or Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot? It’s heartbreaking to leave anyone out, but now it’s done. Have a look for yourself and let us know who would have made your list. 

THE 10 GREATEST BEST-ACTOR-LOSING PERFORMANCES
after the jump

Click to read more ...

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.

Tuesday
Dec032013

Team FYC: 'Nebraska' For Best Original Score

In this series TFE contributors sound off on their favorite fringe contenders. Here's Anne Marie on Mark Orton and the Tin Horns.

Alexander Payne's latest film Nebraska is getting much-deserved acting kudos. Bruce Dern has undoubtedly given a career-topping performance as the muddled and melancholy Woody. However, an unacknowledged but equally fine character is the folk score by Mark Orton. Orton reunited with his band the Tin Horns to play the music for his first feature film score. They mix traditional bluegrass elements like guitar and fiddle with surprises including a dobro and a xylophone. The effect is full Americana with a lot of quirkiness and a little sadness--giving voice to the unvoiced themes in the film.

Like Deborah, I ask that the Academy think small this year. We have the usualy heavy-hitters filling film scores with sound and fury, and soon the Coen Brothers will be releasing that other folk film that's sure to turn attention away from Nebraska. However, Mark Orton's score stands alone.  Like other characters in the film, the score hints at deeper meanings but never falls into the easy cliches and chords of melodrama. With deceptively simple orchestrations and a powerful musical thread throughout, Mark Orton has crafted a beautiful score that feels both familiar and unique.