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Entries in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (25)

Thursday
Feb022012

Oscar Symposium Day 2: Invisible Art & Self Love

Previously on the Oscar Symposium... we discussed and defined the business of actors elevating their movies, spent time at "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"'s stale office party mingling with the nine Best Picture nominees (only one of which we all seem to love) and agreed that Brad Pitt deserves Best Actor. Eventually Nathaniel's second favorite movie of the year (The Artist) took quite a beating so he sulked off to lick his wounds.

And here we pick up for Day Two of our three day symposium...

MARK HARRIS: While we're waiting for our host... Nick raised a really interesting point yesterday in his persuasive case for Plummer, which is: Just what the hell is a supporting performance anyway? I like his definition (and Plummer would probably get my vote too, for showing amazing restraint in a part that could be played as one Big Moment after another). But I'm also drawn to performances like Jonah Hill's, in a role that exists purely to give Pitt's character a wittily contrasting somebody to bounce off of, and like Melissa McCarthy's (my favorite in that category, I'm not ashamed to admit), even though she's more a standout in an ensemble than a pure supporting actress. Do any of you feel that there are supporting performances this year that are miscategorized? The French clearly do, since when the Cesars nominated Berenice Bejo for The Artist, it was for Best Actress.

NATHANIEL ROGERS: I plead the fifth on category fraud. I've said too much over the years about that whole... nightmare.

KURT OSENLUND: I'm going to flip it on its head and go 'lead to supporting.' By which I mean, I think I'm one of the few who still believes Viola Davis belongs in the supporting category. I'll admit this is a complicated stance. I think it's the film/text that's guilty of cheaply attempting to make Aibileen a lead character, giving her a tacked-on coda of "closure" and trying to reduce the shame of taking a black women's story and still handing it, mainstream-style, to a white redhead. By extension, I think awards bodies are guilty for taking the bait. Ideally, I'd like to see Meryl walk away with Best Actress, Viola walk away with Supporting Actress, and Octavia sit comfortably with a nomination, for a performance that's highly enjoyable, but shrill and stereotypical and nowhere near as soulful as her co-star's.

My short answer to the 'supporting to lead' question would be that, this year, I actually think all of the supporting stars are placed where they belong.

NICK DAVIS: I don't think the ending of The Help feels tacked on. I don't even think it feels like closure: we have no way to predict Aibileen's next move, much less to presume its ease.  And from those opening minutes with all of her backstory and daily routine, and through all of Davis's impeccable playing of heavily weighted scenes, I think she's definitely a lead.  I know her screen time must be small compared to other leads, but at the very least, she falls squarely in that Marge Gunderson/Hannibal Lecter category where her charismatic impress is so profound from the lead/supporting borderline that it pushes her handily over.  It helps that even the blocking and costuming and editing and lighting choices keep conspiring to shift focus from Skeeter to Aibileen whenever they share a scene.  Emma Stone is just giving away those scenes, as markedly as Meryl all but erased herself in the Doubt standoff.  I wouldn't want anyone watching me act opposite Viola Davis, either.

MARK: At last, a fight! I'm going to strongly disagree about Viola Davis, who not only carries the emotional weight of The Help, but has considerably more screen time than past lead-performance winners like Frances McDormand in Fargo. Kathryn Stockett's novel isn't Skeeter's story, even if Skeeter is a storyteller -- it's told from the first-person perspectives of Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. (So, if the movie were really true to the book, Octavia Spencer would probably have to be considered a third co-lead.) To me, Skeeter's "...and then I wrote the book" storyline feels as inorganic to what The Help is really about as the closure the movie gives Davis. The movie's emotional strength -- what there is of it -- lives in Aibileen's struggle; she's arguably even the title character. Yes, the movie is technically Skeeter's story, but only in the way that Training Day is technically Ethan Hawke's. So I'm happy Davis is where she is.

After the jump: The Help, Best Screenplay, and Masturbatory Movies

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jan312012

Curio: Oscar Unsheets, Part I

Alexa here.  Announcement of the Oscar nominations brings about a flurry of poster creations by design geeks around the net, something I love to follow.  Screenwriter John August has called them unsheets (a play on the term onesheet), and the label seems appropriate, especially since so many of these indie designs are now influencing real onesheets (like those Iron Lady campaign posters, for one).  With so many great designs out there, I'm devoting my Curio posts leading up to the Oscars to unsheets made from the nominated films.  This week I'm focusing on designs from films nominated outside of the Best Picture category, say for acting, Best Foreign Language Film, etc.  Enjoy the design candy!

Beginners by Sondy Bojanic.
A Separation by Pendar Yousefi.

click for more, including Albert Nobbs and Marilyn...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jan112012

ASC Nominees. Cinematography With the Soldier-Spy Tattoo

The cinematography guild has spoken and, like the Art Directors, Directors, Producers and Writers they're totally packing off for a vacay in the snowy murderous isles of Sweden with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. What the hell is going on over there in Hollywood?* There was once a time, believe it or not, when instant remakes of foreign films were looked on suspiciously (from an artistic standpoint, not a financial one). Even The Departed which won rave reviews and eventually the Best Picture had some early doubters due to its remake nature. And Dragon Tattoo doesn't have those "masterpiece!" reviews. That said Jeff Cronenwerth is an amazing DP and like all of Fincher's films this one is beautifully put together. (We just wish he'd chosen material more worthy of his immense gift is all.)  

The ASC Nominees

 

  • Jeff Cronenwerth (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
  • Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
  • Robert Richardon (Hugo)
  • Guilliaume Schiffman (The Artist)
  • Hoyt van Hoytema (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)

 

Emmanuel Lubezki, A.S.C., G.E.N.I.U.S.An excellent list all things considered.

I've given up hoping for Emmanuel Lubezki (100% certified genius) to ever win the Oscar and I suspect this year he'll lose again especially because The Tree of Life doesn't seem to have much AMPAS support. I expect the Oscar will go to either Schiffman or Richardson. The whole of the Academy votes on the winners and they often vote on their favorite film as opposed to how it's shot and lit. 

But will these five men carry over to the Oscar nominations? Usually one person is dropped for the Oscar list.

* My three theories
a) Everyone is waking up and going "D'oh!" about The Social Network losing last year. Sorry Fincher!
b) Everyone loves violence against women (sadly this is obvious in pop culture) especially when its got the sheep's clothing of a sort of feminist icon wrapped around it.
c) Hollywood just really likes the movie and its freshest in the memory.

Saturday
Dec312011

Five Linky Pieces

But You're, Like, Really Pretty has fun reimaginings of all those actresses once rumored for the Lisbeth Salandar role like Evan Rachel Wood. Mia Wasikowska is actually the closest to a Rooney Mara look and Anne Hathaway is just so wrong. (My what big eyes she has!)

The Hollywood Reporter looks at the 'Contender Cast-Offs'. Those films we kept wanting to put into Oscar lists but which kept not having release dates like Wettest Country and On the Road

The Atlantic thinks A Better Life made a stunning case for immigration reform. (That movie sure is keeping itself in the spotlight well past its summer run!)

The New York Times has a fun piece on the personal angst of top ten lists by Dan Kois.

Empire grills celebrities on movies they enjoyed this year. Zac Efron likes "freaky" movies like The Skin I Live In and Shame (who knew?) and Emma Stone is a walking FYC for Bridesmaids which she calls a "game-changer". Patton Oswalt, who I can vouch for as a movie maniac since I've heard him gab about movies casually in person with fellow industry types loves The Tree of Life and Bellflower

Tuesday
Dec272011

#TeamLink

Anne Helen Petersen has 5 crotchety excellent questions about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Bad Ass Digest a terrific piece on Margaret & #TeamMargaret, the time between Christmas & New Years and the space between Mess & Masterpiece
Daily Mail Christina Hendricks returning to the 1960s for Bomb a political period piece from sporadic director Sally Potter. The film is about two teens who get involved in the "Ban the Bomb" movement. The film will star Elle Fanning and Alice Englert. Englert is actually the daughter of the great filmmaker Jane Campion though most sites are missing this info since people keep spelling her last name wrong. 

Movie|Line interviews Dee Rees on her feature Pariah which is about to open at long last. Go see it!
Black Book interviews the incomparable Sandra Bernhard before her New Year's Eve shows.
Awards Daily Sasha looks back on box office versus Oscar and how drastically things have changed over the years from when Terms of Endearment could end the year at #2 just behind a Star Wars movie. We covered this topic in great detail a few years ago but it's always worth contemplating if crazy depressing. Basically what it boils down to is adults started watching pay cable and left the movie theaters and the industry got really good at making films exactly like television: i.e. your favorite series returns on ____ . Stay tuned!

Oh look! It's one of our first official stills from Soderbergh's stripper drama Magic Mike (2012) with all of the boys four of the boys accounted for: Joe Manganiello, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, and Mike's leading man Channing Tatum. 

top ten bonanza! 
Beiber fever caps the Top Grossing Documentaries of 2011 according to IndieWire -- It's interesting to note that the list contains only two of the movies from Oscar's 15-wide finalist listBuck and Bill Cunningham New York | Our friend Katey Rich delivers her top ten for Cinema Blend and boy has she stayed loyal to Meek's Cutoff  | Acid Cinema has a fun snarky preface and an individualistic top ten | Paste Magazine offers up a bizarre top 50 (Happythankyoumoreplease???? Really?) | Guy Lodge at In Contention doubles up for a top twenty with high marks for Weekend and Drive, of course, which he famously offered to have sex with at Cannes last summer |  Now Toronto's list reminds us that release dates differ greatly from country to country. 

Wednesday
Dec212011

Once Upon a Time in the Link

Slate has an amusing piece arguing against the Consider Uggie campaign for that wondrous terrier in The Artist
Academy Awards 265 have qualified for Best Picture. Here is the complete Official list. I can't hear anything from all the LOL'ing since it's alphabetical and starts with... wait for it... ABDUCTION. Teehee

Oscarmetrics Mark Harris makes a case for Brad Pitt in The Tree of Life, which we agree is one of the year's best performances. Oscar is often about "it's time" and given that both of Pitt's performance were A grade this year, isn't it? And I swear I was linking up to this one before I even realized I was name-checked. 

tomatoes - reviews worth reading...
Devine Wrath a lovely review of romantic drama Weekend which is now available on Netflix Instant Watch. What are you waiting for?
Capital New York Sheila O'Malley, one of my favorite critics, is wowed by Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

O, Hai...

Can I change all my BFCA and Indie Wire poll votes to this one?

top ten o' the day
Ali Arikan, a friend who is always worth a read, throws his top ten at the Chicago Sun Times from far flung Turkey. The Turkish film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which sits stubbornly beside my TV waiting to be watched (Oh the guilt-a-thon that is December!), tops his list. But for me I was most curious to read what he thought of two films I had remarkable trouble connecting to: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and We Need To Talk About Kevin (both of which I recently said a very few words on). I definitely appreciate what he has to say about Kevin though I don't like the film any better:

would reading the book help Nathaniel understand the love?A harrowing tragedy is at the centre of Lynne Ramsay's film, one we never quite see, although its repercussions we most certainly feel. The particulars of the event are at first ambiguous, and, paradoxically, it tends to become more so, thematically at least, once we find out the nature of it. Is it a mass killing at a high school? Or is there something deeper? Is the tragedy Kevin, a precocious psycho of a boy whose mother, Eva (Tilda Swinton), never really wanted? Is it, in fact, Eva's selfishness? Or is it, in fact, the apotheosis of motherhood that is the real tragedy? The anachronistic and misogynistic view that the female of the species was launched for one sole issue, armed and engined for the same?

The film doesn't provide the answers, instead offering a glimpse into Eva's psyche, both before and after the events that sent Kevin to prison. Eva's emotional self-immolation doesn't betray just an "oy vey iz mir" pity-party of one, but also a sort of solipsism: a misappropriation and transmogrification, perhaps, of Henley's "Invictus," with Eva not just as the master of her fate, but also the executioner of her soul.

Finally...
IndieWire has year end critics consensus polling. I participated this year though as usual I'm still screening before I publish my own lists (I have about three more things I'm trying to see and two that need rewatching). The results are interesting but ...odd. Especially the supporting categories. Here's the 25 most well regarded films... the big surprises for me being A Dangerous Method (I guess those who love it, really love it) and Midnight in Paris which I expected critics to have turned against by now in the grand tradition of "if it's too popular, it's no longer cool to like it." Critics have a much higher tolerance for slow contemplative cinema as you can see. It'd be interesting to do a study of the average running time of this batch of films... or perhaps more revealing would be a study of the ratio of cuts per minute of film. After all it's hardly unusual these days for the top grossing mainstream blockbusters to have bloated running times as well. Only one of the top ten grossers of the year is shorter than an hour and 45 (that'd be The Hangover Part II) but do all of them really have 2+ hours worth of story to tell? I'd guess not. 

Are you with consensus or far from it this year???
I tend to vary greatly by year though this year I'm definitely toward the middle of consensus rather than full in or way afield. I've found 2011 to be ridiculously enjoyable on the big screen.