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Entries in The Butler (15)

Tuesday
Jan072014

Mini-Symposium: Oscar's Fifth Spot (Part Two of Two)

Will American Hustle win multiple acting nods?ICYMI we are starting a new tradition here at The Film Experience. Though we usually gather a handful of prominent film bloggers to discuss the Oscar nominations in great detail (once they've had time to sink in), this year we're doing a mini-symposium before the nominations to discuss the always competitive situations surrounding the "just glad to be nominated" spot. Yesterday,  Kurt Osenlund (The House Next Door), Nathaniel R (The Film Experience, c'est moi), Christopher Rosen (Huffington Post), Sasha Stone (Awards Daily) and You (in the comments) began with the supporting categories and who might rise should one of the expected five in each category falter at the finish line. (Though if you really think it over, isn't Nomination Morning really the starting gate?)

Where we left off yesterday: Sasha thought Robert Redford's All is Lost nomination would still be nominated, despite worries that the campaign faded too quickly and that if anyone fell for DiCaprio or Whitaker it'd be Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips. Christopher thought Leo wasn't happening due to Wolf of Wall Street being "Zero-Dark-Thirty'd". We had spent a lot of time agreeing but that ends, now.

CHRIS: I had always thought Whitaker would get in, simply because he's really great and Lee Daniels' The Butler seemed like a perfect Oscar movie, but that one just has not seemed to take. If Harvey gets The Butler a Best Picture nod, I wouldn't be surprised to see Whitaker in there, probably at the expense of Hanks. But that's just crazy talk, since Captain Phillips is lined up as one of the strongest films in major categories. The Redford SAG snub was shocking, he hasn't really campaigned, and Bruce Dern has stolen away Redford's slam-dunk narrative for a win ... but I would still be stunned if Redford doesn't get a nomination. That said: Sasha's theory about Bale getting nominated as proof of the strength of American Hustle is a good one, but a more likely scenario for me is an Adams nomination for Best Actress. Either way, I think one of those lead performances gets a nod for that film, so if Bale winds up in, maybe he steals Redford's slot?

KURT: Hey all. Sorry for the silence on my end. I was out pretty late last night, braving the bitter streets of SoHo tucked into my coat, like a latter day Llewyn Davis. On that note, I think it's absolutely criminal that Oscar Isaac won't be making it into our Best Actor five this year, but I've pretty much accepted that reality, and I guess it's appropriate given the character's non-trajectory.

Leonardo of Wall Street, 30 Years a Butler, and Best Actress after the jump...

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Friday
Dec202013

Prediction Updates: Picture, Director, Costumes & Visuals

Time for major chart fixes now that all the major precursors have announced their nominations. We've started with Best Picture, Best Director, Animation & Documentary, and the Visual Categories... all updated to reflect recent changes (still working on the rest!).

It's The Film Experience, calling about your Oscar nominations...

The visual categories needed the most fine-tuning though they're much harder to predict prior to the guild nominations. Still, I'm feeling pretty bullish on the my predicted costuming lineup -- not that that branch isn't capable of major surprise inclusions and snubs come nomination morning. 

Disco fashions could be hot hot hot with Oscar this year if THE BUTLER & AMERICAN HUSTLE are both nominatedThough the BFCA "Critics Choice" Nominations named the exact ten films most pundits believe are heading towards Best Picture nods, the category is still quite volatile thanks mostly to the precursor underperformance of Saving Mr Banks, the weird resurgence of Rush (of all things), the late breaking Wolf of Wall Street (which underperformed at virtually all the precursors despite a very vocal legion of freshly baptized disciples) and the Weinstein Co's stable of four. It's never wise to count Harvey Weinstein out and the major SAG response to The Butler and August: Osage County combined with the Globe embrace of Philomena and the sweep of "first film" prizes for Fruitvale Station suggest that there's life in that quartet yet.

I'm guessing we have five fairly secure pictures: Hustle, Gravity, 12 Years, Capt Phillips, and Nebraska... which have all shown up everywhere they could have hoped to. But beyond that for the possible 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and/or 10th slots? It still feels like any number and permutation of the remaining eight or so pictures with the buzz could happen. Though, as per usual, I'd love to see a year with just five nominees again if only to watch the internet's collective head explode from the shock of it.

Current Oscar rules do allow for that, you know. We will have anywhere between 5 and 10 Best Picture nominees depending on how the voting goes down (Oscar's own statistical analysis of the past 20 years suggests that 10 is a virtual impossibility). 

So have a look at the refurbished charts and report back. More categories to come.

 

Monday
Dec092013

The AFI Lists. Useful or Redundant?

Earlier today we heard the AFI Lists for film and television. I immediately wondered what purpose they served. There are so many lists these days that are like spotlights on "CONSENSUS!" that the very act of publishing them feels redundant. With so many talking heads commenting on the Oscar race each year, both full time specialists and average reporters who become part time "experts" by virtue of, um, grist for the content mill, consensus is no longer an interesting thing to "find" or "capture" because it is so very inescapable.  AFI's list looks EXACTLY like an Oscar pundits chart, whereas in year's past they seemed to be about 70% Oscary 10% populist and 20% random. In fact, it looks the Gurus of Gold made it!

The AFI Top Ten (Motion Pictures)
12 YEARS A SLAVE
AMERICAN HUSTLE
CAPTAIN PHILLIPS
FRUITVALE STATION
GRAVITY
HER
INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS
NEBRASKA
SAVING MR. BANKS
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET 

In fact it's identitical to the current Gurus of Gold top ten chart but for one switcheroo: the pundit chart includes Lee Daniels' The Butler instead of Fruitvale Station. Interestingly enough, both Best Picture hopefuls come from the Weinstein Company who are our usual Oscar champs but seem to be struggling with traction this year. In fairness, The Butler was never expected to place during "critic's week" but if it doesn't perform well at SAG and the Globes in a couple of days, it's Oscar dreams will die.

This can only mean two things:

 

  1. The AFI committee this year is secretly composed of only BFCA members and they're aiming to exactly predict the Best Picture race.
  2. It's a weak year for British pictures in terms of American traction. Since the AFI only looks at American pictures, strong British Oscar contenders sometimes automatically make the AFI list more interesting because they have to look elsewhere to fill the top ten. The only exclusion that might not be worrying awards strategists today is the exclusion of Philomena (also from Weinstein Co!) which is directed by, written by and stars Brits... and therefore ineligible. 

 

The American Film Institute also releases a television list for some reason despite the name of their organization. That went like so...

The AFI Top Ten - Television
THE AMERICANS
BREAKING BAD
GAME OF THRONES
THE GOOD WIFE
HOUSE OF CARDS
MAD MEN
MASTERS OF SEX
ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
SCANDAL
VEEP

And I think it's a (slightly) more interesting list in that it looks a little more like the AFI lists of yore in that it's partially awardsy but also kind of guilty pleasure buzz-sensitive. Or maybe it's just more interesting because people can actually enjoy these shows instead of the movie list which is (sigh) heavily titled towards movies that have just opened or haven't opened... just like the critics awards. It's still fairly Emmy correlative but there's no Homeland or Modern Family so that's something. I haven't had time to write about it but I am head over heels in love with / in lust for /  in awe of Masters of Sex, which is the single best show on television at the moment. It's so assured, so fresh, so perfectly cast... and weirdly gets better every single week. I really can't get over it. I look forward to each new episode like I haven't looked forward to any tv show's new episode in years. 

Tuesday
Nov122013

A Look Ahead at the SAG Award for Best Cast

It’s Amir here. Nathaniel and I have both previously shared our frustration about the way this prize is handled. Theoretically, this should be one of the best awards of the season. Imagine celebrating directors who can bring together an ensemble of actors with exciting chemistry, films that develop several characters in equal measure, and actors who find their footing by playing against other members of the cast. As previously stated, the award should be more about a collective achievement than multiple individual ones. Sadly, that’s not how it works in the real world.

Slumdog Millionaire's win remains baffling to this day.

 

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Saturday
Nov092013

Oscar's Songwriters Have a Difficult Task in 2013

Glenn here and it's the weekend, which means there is no better time to discuss Oscar's original song category (er, right?). Much like that other much-maligned category, animated feature, The Academy's songwriting branch somehow need to come up with five nominees even if there aren't enough worthy contenders. Last year's introduction of a guaranteed five nominees produced "Academy Award Nominee Ted!", although it did allow for the beautiful song from Chasing Ice (performed by ScarJo!) to come to our attention so maybe it's not such a bad thing after all? I strongly believe that this is their penance for not nominating "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" from Burlesque a few years back. Diane Warren's music branch voodoo doll works in mysterious ways, folks.

At least one song we can all be pretty confident about is "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen. Apparently the studio will only be submitting this one song from the film despite a wide roster of contenders. They're going for the win it would seem and, at least at this stage, unless reception to the film isn't particularly positive it's probably the best bet for the win based purely on history. The video below isn't the best, but it's all we've got at the moment that isn't a Demi Lovato pop version. 

The Butler, The Great Gatsby, Belgian bluegrass and Tom Cruise after the jump!

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