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Ashley Judd, Pulp Queen

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Entries in The Help (40)

Tuesday
Jan082013

Curio: Alexa's Favorite Film Moments of 2012

Alexa here with my own contribution to the year in review. Everyone seems to agree that 2012 was a great year in film, and many are dissing 2011 in the process. Was 2011 really that bad? I would argue no...but I digress.  This week is about honoring the films of last year, and we will hear from Seth MacFarlane's loud mouth on Thursday which will get the most attention in the coming weeks. So rather than add another best-of list to the heap, I thought I'd share instead my favorite film moments of 2012: my best cinematic experiences, old and new, best film celebrations, and generally the moments that reinvigorated my love of the medium.

10. Discovering the joys of reform school
After finding a musty promotional packet for So Young, So Bad at a thrift store in Georgia, I found myself down a juvenile delinquent rabbit hole, devouring many films in the reform school girl genre, including Reform School Girl (1957), Reform School Girls (1986), La residencia (The House That Screamed) (1969), and my personal favorite, Untamed Youth (1957). 

9. Drowning my Oscar sorrows in pie
Overall I was displeased with the Oscars last year, primarily because my favorite Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was passed over in the few categories for which it was recognized. (Don't get me started on Gary Oldman's loss). So in the spirit of Minny from The Help, a transferred my anger into a pie that was all but annihilated by the end of the broadcast, yet without her secret ingredient.

Take This Waltz, Silver Linings Playbook and more... after the jump

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb262012

It's Oscar Day. Are You Prepared For Guests?

The day has finally arrived! Have you finished all your last minute preparations? Made your final predictions? Bought all your party gifts and decor?

Baked all your chocolate pies and other Best Picture themed foods?

If Anxiety, Excitement, Prediction Jitters, Star Lust, and Indifference were all competing in the same category for "Best Usurping Of Your Mood," which would win?

 

Sunday
Feb192012

Yet More Hardware For... The Help, The Descendants, The Artist

ACE and IMAGE statues. Why are trophies always nude men? Is Emmy the only girl among trophies?It's the last exhausting stretch of awards season and the mantles of everyone involved with The Help, The Descendants, and The Artist are about to collapse even before they take home their respective Oscars.

The ACE Awards which is short for American Cinema Editors has four film prizes each year for features and the winners this year were

Drama: The Descendants
Comedy: The Artist
Documentary: Freedom Riders*
Animation: Rango

* I mistakenly read this as Freedom Writers when I saw the release and momentarily panicked that the Hilary Swank teaching drama had resurfaced in non-fiction form. The Making Of... Now With More Swank.

The Drama winner at the Eddies generally goes on to win Best Picture, but this year may prove a semi rare exception since The Artist is expected to take home the Oscar. In the hoopla over The Artist being a silent film people keep forgetting that it's also a comedy and if it wins, we have our first comedy winner since Chicago (2002). They're all too rare on the big night.

It's also worth noting that Patton Oswalt hosted the ACE Eddie Awards, his third awards hosting gig of the season. This Just In (Inside My Head): Patton Oswalt To Host The 13th Annual Film Bitch Awards in January 2013! (Well, he does says "yes" a lot. Maybe I should ask?)

USC Scripter goes to an adapted screenplay and the book it rode in on each year and The Descendants won for what we assume was arduous carpel tunnel syndrome-laden man hours of copying and pasting the book's prose into onscreen voiceover. Yeesh. (I'm tired. I don't like The Descendants. Forgive me. Soon we'll be able to move on.) I'd feel worse for Moneyball, a far more graceful screenplay, if Aaron Sorkin hadn't just had a big year with The Social Network.

NAACP Image Awards were almost certain to fall in The Help's win column given its blockbuster status. But it was interesting to see it happen so soon after watching Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress winners Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer have it out with Tavis Smiley about trophies going to black women playing maids in 2011. [Rant: When this Oscar season is over I think we need to have a long discussion in this country about class rather than race for a change. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a maid. It's honest legal work and why should someone feel ashamed about having a job and doing it? Maybe it's because I used to work in the hotel industry and knew a lot of people who struggled with people looking down on them because of the job they performed. These conversations about The Help feel very tone deaf to one particular fact: there are actual maids in the world and there always will be. These conversations always seem to be saying 'oh god. could there be anything more demeaning than being a maid?' and I'm just not sure how cleaning people's houses or hotel rooms is horrible work you should feel ashamed of but you know, it's fine if you're a white collar person destroying entire swaths of people's livelihoods with shady business practices or pension-fund robbing or lobbying the government for horribly unfair tax codes. I really wish we could over the deeply embedded notion that you're somehow a better person if you have money. The actual quality of a person's character has zero to do with the amount of dollars on their paycheck. The only thing a lot of dollars on the paycheck does, in terms of character, is make it more visible. You can do a lot of evil or a lot of good in the world when you have money but the money itself isn't the determining factor on which you'll choose. /Rant]

Ahem. Sorry. Had to get that off my chest. Speaking of...

Damn, Viola! She's proud of hers, apparently.

So...  The Help took Best Picture. Off the Oscar track, Pariah won best independent movie and Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey won best foreign film. Laz Alonso and Mike Epps took home the actor prizes for the wedding drama Jumping the Broom which also won Best Director. LL Cool J and Regina King won the top TV acting honors for their procedurals, one of those NCIS's and Southland respectively.

Tuesday
Feb142012

Curio: Oscar Unsheets, Part III

Alexa here.  With less than two weeks till the Oscars I'm spotting more and more fabulous unsheets (or fan poster art) inspired by the nominated films. (See last week's post for some criminally overlooked films). This week I'm moving on to the Best Picture nominees.  Interestingly, The Help seems to be one of the nominees most posterized this year; is it the lure of illustrating pie? 

The Help by Hector Pahaut.Here are some of the best celebrations of the Mississippi Maids, along with some key-themed designs for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, mathematical minimilism for Moneyball, and evocative staircase imagery for The Descendants. Click for more.

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb122012

Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer on Black Artists and Image.

I know I've gone on and on about Viola Davis this year. It's no secret that I'm rooting for her in Best Actress. She's such an enormous talent and such an interesting woman and she keeps on reminding me of of both of those truths in different revealing ways this year. (I'm really going to be disheartened if The Help doesn't lead to better and bigger things. I don't want to see her play one more lame anyone could do this "best friend to the heroine" part like in Eat Pray Love.) Thanks to Mark Harris for pointing out this new interview from the Tavis Smiley show on PBS and thanks to Tavis Smiley for starting with the rough stuff. He basically begins by telling the actresses that though he is rooting for them he is uncomfortable about awarding black women for playing maids some 73 years after Hattie McDaniel's Gone With the Wind win and he was also uncomfortable with Denzel Washington's win a decade ago for playing a dirty cop in Training Day. The stars and the host really get into it (respectfully). Here's Viola's take.

That mindset... is absolutely destroying the black artist. The black artist cannot live in a revisionist place. The black artist can only tell the truth about humanity. Humanity is messy. People are messy. Caucasian actors know that. They understand that. They understand that when you bring a human being to life you show all the flaws as well as the beauty. We, as African American artists, are more concerned with image and message and not execution. Which is why every time you see our images they've been watered down to a point where they are not realistic at all. It's like all of our humanity has been washed out. We as artists cannot be politicians. We as artists can only be truth tellers.

The conversation blossoms from there. They talk August Wilson. They talk Fences. They talk Red Tails. They talk about acting as baton passing. It's great stuff and nobody pulls any punches.

Octavia's late interview response about the difficulty of convincing Hollywood to bankroll more black projects takes a nice turn, too.

Let me tell you the other thing. It begins with the ticket buyer. Dee Rees wrote an amazing film called Pariah. And if you haven't paid to see it at a theater near you, you're part of the problem.

It's inspiring that some people, and people as visible as Meryl Streep and these two, have singled out Pariah for praise. It's just too bad the movie had such extremely limited distribution and too bad it was saved until the one weekend of the year when no one would be able to pay it any attention during the Oscar glut. But bygones. It's one of my favorite pictures of last year and I'm hoping it gets a better life on DVD.

The complete interview which I've embedded after the jump is well worth a watch if you have half an hour. 

Click to read more ...