Oscar History

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Entries in The Film Experience (154)


Best of 2015: Nathaniel's Top Fifteen

When you devote your life to the movies, you come to cherish the movies that give back as if they're devoted, in return, to you. Yes, you, specifically. Our consumption of movies may be communal but in some ineffable way, especially when it comes to list-making, they're deeply personal; movies in conversation with your soul. At least if you're doing it right. It's painful enough to "rank" a top 15 for 2015. So I included a second tier of favorites. The 30 best of the year, according to your host, took place all over the world as we know it (Germany keeps popping up as does seemingly every place with an arid climate in an odd but starkly beautiful coincidence) to weirdly recognizable places beyond it (Why, Jakku, you look so much like Tattoine!). The unifying thread might be that however alien their perspectives and locales (inside a young girl's brain, locked in a 10 x 10 shed, or chained to the back of rusted death machines in hallucinatory sandstorms), they resonated as if deeply familiar.

Nathaniel's top 30 films of

If you're looking for __ you won't find it:
I liked Magic Mike XXL -- you may recall that Magic Mike (2012) won the Film Bitch Bronze medal here in 2012 as third best of its entire year -- but can't join the unexpected bandwagon of critics who decided they loved the sequel well after it left theaters. I did enjoy it a lot, though. Also just missing the list, not from an absence of affection exactly but "best?" attributes, is Ridley Scott's disco-lite outer-space romp The Martian. I'm far less keen on recent Oscar nominees like The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, The Hateful Eight, Anomalisa, Trumbo, Son of Saul, and The Revenant but they need not cry from my qualms, indifference, or distaste (depending on the picture) since they have stadiums full of cheering sections elsewhere

And this list is about positive, nay giddy, love. So on to the best of the best. 

15 (Very) Honorable Mentions in Alpha Order
Please seek out: The Troubles via Yann Demange's electric debut '71; Desiree Arkhavan's hilarious bisexual Iranian-American hipster romcom (a genre we didn't even know we needed but love) Appropriate Behavior; Spielberg & Hanks's absorbing Bridge of Spies; Disney's girlie lush live-action Cinderella spin; Olivier Assayas's actressy-angst at those Clouds of Sils Maria; Celine Sciamma's infectiously observed but profoundly sad GirlhoodLily Tomlin & Paul Weitz's Grandma focused road trip; the waking nightmare game of sexual tag in It FollowsIceland's formally compelling beast and man oddity Of Horses and Men; Brazil's smart socioeconomic collisions in The Second Mother; Paul Feig & Melissa McCarthy's Spy romp; Disney's easy money $4 billion bet The Force Awakens; Tom McCarthy's soulful journalism procedural SpotlightAaron Sorkin's presentational Steve Jobs triptych; Xavier Dolan's queasy, queer, razor blade dangerous Tom at the Farm; and the director, crew, and cast who pulled off that continuous shot jaw-dropper stunt that was Victoria... and pulled it off with feeling. 

Without further ado and with deep appreciation...

🎶 they're speaking my language baby 🎶 


(Brett Haley)
Bleecker Street Media. May 15th
92 minutes 

A movie as unassuming as Blythe Danner's still waters star turn, and as gently surprised by its twilight romanticism as the wonderful theme song. It's easy to imagine this film becoming a staple, a comfortable blanket to wrap yourself up in on lonely nights; an old dear friend that understands the value of finding new ones.

You're a good drinking buddy!"


(Spike Lee)
Roadside Attractions. December 4th
119 minutes 

By no small margin the most uneven and sometimes downright sloppy movie on this 15 wide "Best" list --  stop reading the teleprompter Samuel L Jackson, learn your damn verse! But, a permanent truth: perfection isn't everything. Vitality of voice, with something actually worth saying, counts for quite a lot with so many polished but empty-headed and safe pictures clogging up each year's awards pipeline. Spike Lee won an Honorary Oscar shortly before anyone saw his reworking of Lysistrata, transported to contemporary Chicago (nicknamed Chi-Raq for its crime rate troubles). Nobody knew that his best movie in 15 years was about to hit to make that statue feel retroactively less of a tribute to past highs (Do The Right Thing, 25th Hour, etcetera) and more of an "it's about damn time!" honor for a still relevant artist. Chi-Raq is... Crazy. Funny. Sexy. Anguished. Silly. Mad. Experimental. Sickening. Sober. Even Optimistic. In short, "It's 'EVERYTHING!' as the queens say. Now if only everyone would go see this bold bawdy and beautiful everything. And, did someone say "Queen," I can hear Miss Helen (Angela Bassett, who also Got Her Groove Back of late) shaking her head at the meager box office receipts.

Y'all make my tired ass tired!" 


(Denis Villeneuve)
Lionsgate. October 2nd
121 minutes 

If Denis Villenueve's movies get any more tense they're going to explode by the second reel.

Click to read more ...


Mark Your Calendars

It's time for a calendar update. It's the remains of Oscar season comin' atcha. You may have noticed that this weekend many of the Oscar nominees expanded (Carol) added a few cities (Anomalisa, Son of Saul) or significantly reversed their theater declines (Spotlight, Brooklyn, Room) hoping to capitalize on the nominations. What's next?


17th Critics Choice Awards (on A&E)
21st Sundance Film Festival begins
23rd PGA Gala
29th SAG ballots due
31st Art Directors Guild Gala / Sundance ends. Gives awards

Also in January: You should also expect Nathaniel's annual Film Bitch Awards daily announcements since we're down to the wire. Wish me luck. Other January festivities will include a celebration of Sundance Festival classics, and the Team Experience Awards. 


2nd Visual Effects Society Gala
6th DGA Gala - who will it be?
11th Berlinale begins - Amir will be covering the festival for us
12th Oscar ballots out to AMPAS
14th BAFTA AWARDS /  American Society of Cinematographer's Gala
17th Embrace of the Serpent opens (last Oscar nominee release of year - Foreign Film)
23rd Oscar voting ends
23rd Costume Designers Guild Gala
27th Film Independent Spirit Awards / Golden Reel (sound editing) Gala
28th OSCAR NIGHT! (aka Hollywood's High Holy Night aka The 88th Annual Academy Awards)

Also in February: Final looks at various achievements of 2015, looking forward to 2016 film year, and a 25th anniversary celebration of The Silence of the Lambs (1991)



It all starts again for a new film year, you hear? Which means some of your favorite series return like Supporting Actress Smackdown, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, and more. Please don't be a fair weather reader. The cinephilia is even more rewarding when the crushing avalanche of Oscar news and happenings are over with. Many exciting things in store for 2016. 




Prediction Stats & Well Wishing

Focus, Nathaniel, focus. So many posts are in embryonic stages of writing so be patient. This day is so demanding but we love it. It's our Christmas (Oscar Night being our New Year's Eve). True, The Academy always delivers a few ungodly lumps of coal (like ignoring Carol in Best Picture) but you take the bad with the good or you go insane. 

First we should begin by saying "Congratulations!" to all the nominees. In the next 48 hours we'll talk about our favorite choices the Academy made, wonder about the headscratchers, say a symbolic farewell to our beloved but snubbed, and cover trivia and such.  If you missed recent interviews with some of the nominees now would be a great time to catch up with them and comment away: Jack Fisk (Production Design, The Revenant), Jacqueline West (Costume Design, The Revenant), Phyllis Nagy (Screenplay, Carol), László Nemes (Foreign Film, Son of Saul), Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Foreign Film, Mustang). More Oscar Nominee interviews are coming soon including Alicia Vikander, Sandy Powell, Chivo, and a little Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As for how I did on my predictions? I scored 79% accuracy in the big eight categories but a 74% overall. Not shabby but not great either in one of the more difficult years I've experienced as a pundit. You can see the breakdown on the nomination index page (nailed Actor and Sound Editing, biffed big time on Song & Production Design) or on this blow by blow account. 

Did the morning turn out as you'd predicted?
One things for sure: If you were betting against The Revenant you were viciously mauled by The Academy. They went for it in nearly every category they could save Best Supporting Actress where they passed on Judy the bear.  I'll confess: though I admire much of the craftwork, it's  already my great borennoyance of the season, just grunting and bleeding and sufferring and suffocatingly obssessed with its own masculinity.


December. It's a Wrap

No. No. We aren't wrapping 2015 yet. There's still prizes to hand out and a few more lists to finish writing. But we can and must wrap up December since it ends in a few hours when everyone will be kissing on everyone and screaming "Happpy New Year!" 

Since the film year doesn't truly end until the last Oscar statue is handed out, it'd be more accurate to scream...

Happy New Calendar Year -- the Oscars Are Only 58 Days Away!"

But try convincing the drunk masses to scream that one out at midnight tonight!


December Highlights
• SAG Ensemble who got left out even though their film was nominated? 
• Son of Saul Interview the director and star of Oscar's foreign film frontrunner (now playing)
• Star Wars Oscar History then but now?
• Critics Choice Shark Jump we embarrassed ourselves like never before over the new Star Wars
• Outstanding Achievement in Abs meet the new Tarzan, more eight-packy than the previous Tarzans
• Mildred Pierce Manuel looked back at Todd Haynes pre Carol, HBO miniseries
• Julianne Moore Acts for Tips in Times Square
• Brokeback Mountain, Mermaids, and Doctor Zhivago we celebrated the 10th, 25th & 50th anniversaries with our favorite scenes and memories
• Production Design: Room one of the year's most creatively boxed-in challenges 
• "You Need Serious Hair" magical DIY makeovers

We spent a lot of time obsessing over the year's best picture Carol, it's true. But mostly we've had a ton of fun sharing our "15 best of '15 lists". There's a few more coming but if you've missed any please do dive in. We've already covered:

• Scariest Moments BOO!
• Hardest Working Actors ubiquity for days
Best Things on TV from Veep to Penny Dreadful
• Greatest Screen Hunks dino trainers, strippers, boxers, and farmhands ohmy
• Movie Animals Not all of which try to eat Leonardo DiCaprio!
• Co-Star Chemistry these pairs caught lightning in a bottle!
• Biggest Box Office Hits in 4 different categories

• Worst of the Year Hateful Eight and other things that aggravated
• Red Carpet Looks only one per lady allowed 
• Delicious Music Videos Sia, Tame Impala, Madonna and more
15 Most Popular Tweets

The Film Bitch Awards for 2015 (we stuck one toe in thus far), the BAFTA nominations, The Golden Globe and SAG Awards, various Guild Nominations, and much Oscar Mania. You should also expect lots more on the big Oscar titles including interviews and second looks. Plus we'll gaze at Sundance from afar (since we couldn't afford the trip this year - tight budget for 2016). ANY REQUESTS?


Mark Your Calendars!

With the Gotham Awards coming tonight, it's time to look at the awards season calendar. Here's a handy prep list. Dates in italics are not official just right around when it happened last year. Dates in bold are nomination dates or televised ceremonies.

Are you ready? Can you ever be?


1st (ish) Oscar's Documentary Finalist List announced
1st National Board of Review Awards
2nd New York Film Critics Circle (NYFCC) Awards
6th Boston Society of Film Critics (BSFC) Awards
7th Golden Globe nomination ballots due

13th Toronto Film Critics Awards
18th (ish) Oscar's Foreign Language Finalist List announced
20th FiLM BiTCH AWARDS begin. That's ours... (I know I know. we'll try to trim the running time this year.)
30th Oscar nomination ballots go out to AMPAS


5th PGA & ADG Nominations
5th NBR Gala
6th ASC Cinematography Nominations
7th SAG nomination ballots due
8th Oscar nomination ballots due
8th BAFTA Nominations
10th GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS (73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards on NBC)
10th Visual Effects Society "Bake-Off" presentation for the Oscar finalists
12th DGA Nominations
13th FiLM BiTCH AWARDS Nominations Wrap-Up
17th CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS (Annual BFCA Awards on A&E)
21st  Sundance Film Festival Begins
23rd PGA Gala
29th SAG ballots due
30th SAG AWARDS (22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT/TBS)
31st Art Directors Guild Gala


6th DGA Gala
12th Oscar ballots out to AMPAS
and American Society of Cinematographer's Gala
17th (ish) 18th Annual Costume Designers Guild Gala

23rd Oscar Ballots due
27th Film Independent Spirit Awards

28th OSCAR NIGHT! (aka Hollywood's High Holy Night aka The 88th Annual Academy Awards)


It all starts again for a new film year!



November Highlights Pt. 2

We've reached the finale -- there's just one month left in the 2015 calendar. Well one month and a day but tomorrow is monday - don't nitpick. Three months if you count through the awards season as part of the film year (which we do, tbh) so consider December the warm up to the finale (awards shows!). 

Here are ten highlights from these past two weeks in case you missed any...

Year of the Shopgirl ?

Saoirse Ronan and Youngest Best Actresses a list / a youth trend
Cocktails with Jane Fonda on the Oscar campaign trail
Mustang's Deniz Gamze Ergüven fascinating chat with an emerging director
Hunger Games & Oscar not even one measly nomination in four years
The Celluloid Closet & Vito Manuel's HBO series reflects on shared LGBT histories
Spirit Award Noms Carol, Anomalisa, Beasts, Tangerine and more 
Black Mass what do you think of its ensemble work? 
Imelda Staunton in Gypsy a remarkable West End triumph 

Most Discussed
THR's Best Actress Cover Notes on the cover image & actress choices
Box Office somehow this one morphed into a discussion of who might win a third Oscar like Meryl & Daniel

Coming in December
Year in Review List-Mania, Film Bitch Awards, Hateful Eight, Oscar Hoopla, Carol week, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Anniversaries of key classics, and... well, you know how festive December gets. Wheeeeee!

New to The Film Experience or just tuning in again after a hiatus?
Check out highlights from the year thus far before we start passing out Best of 2015 awards! November Pt 1, October, NYFF Index, September, TIFF Index, August, July, Halfway Mark Prizes, June, April, March, and the beginnings of the film year... We Can't Wait 2015 and Sundance. And if you're anxious to get the year in review really going, make sure to watch this beautiful '2015 in Film' montage by Ben Zuk.



Nathaniel Gives Thanks

You've heard from a few members of our team of their quick lists of gratitude so naturally your host and obsessive ringleader, Nathaniel, must chime in. As you read this I'm surely already stuffing myself but this year I've planned ahead with a big diet and exercize program to commence on November 30th.

I'm thankful for...

..."rug" in Room, steering wheels in Mad Max Fury Road, the train sets in Carol and Ant-Man, and Gerda's evolving portraits of Lili in The Danish Girl

... Grandma's bonobos fixation

... Sarah Paulson's ability to elevate every single project she's in whether said project is awesome (Carol) or, let's say, "challenged" (AHS: Hotel and AHS in general for that matter)

... the way 2015's hottest topics kept reminding us of Cate Blanchett's Blue Jasmine speech in 2014

The world is round, people!"

...a tight squeeze, with shimmering bosom, in Paolo Sorrentino's Youth

... bits and pieces of Magic Mike XXL but oddly not the parts involving bits and pieces. [Ahem]

...the rise of continuous shots. Hello Victoria ! Can we keep getting one of these movies every year?

...communal meals in Brooklyn. And speaking of communal meals -- that time Katey, Nick, Joe and I were all in the same room (first time ever) and then that time I met her awesomeness Teo Bugbee for lunch and we retreated, without warning, into the weird pockets of our brains that are completely infected with Isabelle Adjani madness. (After we were done talking about drooling on Carol that is.)

... Tilda Swinton's tan in Trainwreck, Michael Keaton's self-assessment in Spotlight, and Juliette Binoche's laughter in Clouds of Sils Maria

...the beautiful commitment to ugly psychology in UnREAL

... Patton Oswalt's memoir "Silver Screen Fiend"

...the shot of Jack's feet tentatively touching the sterile hospital floor in Room

... *unfolds dread acceptance speech list of names that probably won't mean anything to readers but means a lot to me* Nicolette, Tony, Lisa, Lea, Chris, Gena, Courtney, Amy, Benjamin, Melanie, Denise, Rob, Matt, Thomas, Joey, Cory, Thelma, Todd, Dan, Ed, Kay, Matt, Tim, Jenn & Alan, Vern & Evi, Deborah & Roberta, multiple Williams & Davids & Ryans & Johns & Andrews and many others I'm forgetting right this second who either work in showbiz and make my job more pleasant from their outreach and kindness or don't work in the movies at all but make my life more pleasant and joyful in one way or several others.

... the absurd jump in quality (when the show was already excellent) in S2 of The Leftovers.

... three superb actors we've loved for years that were kind enough to guest blog right here at The Film Experience in 2015 for an entire day: Ann Dowd, Cara Seymour, and David Dastmalchian. Humbled and blessed to have them.

And, finally, a toast to imaginary friends within the movies -- Bing Bong (Inside Out), Lucky the Dog (Room), and Larry & Barry (Mad Max Fury Road) -- since every character we love in a movie serves the same function for us!

We'll end with a reminder of our deep gratitude to all you readers (international and domestic) -- especially those that donate, subscribe, comment, and share their favorite articles -- and to Team Experience who do so much to keep this blog popping daily when I'm exhausted, overwhelmed, offline, travelling, or even when I'm doing just fine and they're just sharing their love for movies in articles and or comments. Community means so much to The Film Experience because what is the obsession with movies other than the thrill of sharing stories together in the dark?

Nathaniel (c'est moi) posing with Natalie (Portman)! Nathaniel R, the creator and owner of The Film Experience, is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. He is the film columnist for Towleroad, a renowned Oscar pundit (Gurus of Gold), and his writing has appeared in both online publications (Vanity Fair, Slate) and print magazines (Esquire, Winq). Nathaniel has served on international festival juries and appeared as an on-air Oscar pundit for CNNi, Sky News London and more. Michelle Pfeiffer on a piano top (1989) altered his life's trajectory, and Julianne Moore high on coke and mommy issues (1997) and Nicole Kidman descending from the rafters (2001) at the Moulin Rouge sealed his fate as the hopelessly movie-mad Actressexual you see before you. [Follow Nathaniel on Twitter | See all Nathaniel's Articles

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