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Entries in The Immigrant (6)

Wednesday
Jan212015

...And the 3rd Annual Team Experience Award Goes To: 

Amir here, to welcome you to the third edition of Team Experience Awards, one of the most prestigious critics’ prizes around the world, bestowed on the best in cinema by members of this website sans Nathaniel. We previously honoured Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (with a lot of support for The Master) and Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (with several awards for Gravity). There was a similar situation this year, with two films gaining most of our attention across the categories. Our pick for best picture, however, was a clear consensus favourite and won by a very comfortable margin. 

As always, individual ballots proved a lot more interesting than the final results, making the otherwise tedious process of making up spreadsheets really exciting for me. Though there is no sign of it on the list of winners here, there was passionate support for films as varied as We Are the Best!, Norte, the End of History, The Babadook, Godzilla, A Most Wanted Man and The Last of the Unjust. We will get to some of those titles in the trivia section at the bottom of the post, but for now, here are the Team Experience Awards’ winners:

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec252014

Top Ten Movies from 2014 You Should Catch Up With on Streaming

Margaret here, reporting from the warmth of the family home. In between gift-exchanging and major cooking projects, I'm going to be trying to catch up on as many 2014 movies as possible. For those of us without much time to run to the multiplex, there are plenty of options among recent acquisitions on streaming services. While most of the showiest would-be awards contenders are either still in theaters or holding off on their DVD releases, there are plenty of buzzy (and possibly even soon to be Oscar-nominated) movies available for the couch-bound.

Honorable Mention: Slow-burn crime drama Night Moves (Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning) and Baltimore dirt-biker documentary 12 O'Clock Boys, both on Amazon Prime; Mind-bending relationship dramedy The One I Love (Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass) and low-key Swanberg indie Happy Christmas (Anna Kendrick, TFE favorite Melanie Lynskey), both on Netflix Instant.

 

10. Stranger By The Lake (Netflix Instant) This French erotic thriller had critics raving at the beginning of the year, though it hasn't been in much of the end-of-year conversation.

9. Nymphomaniac, parts 1 and 2 (Netflix Instant) Lars von Trier's latest provocation, served in two parts, is not for the faint of heart but is for anyone who wants to see Uma Thurman rip a scene apart in part 1.

8. Enemy (Amazon Prime) Celebrate our Year of Gyllenhaal with double the Jake in his second collaboration with Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve. It's been called "what might happen if someone let Terrence Malick make a "Twilight Zone" episode, with a quick rewrite by David Cronenberg." 

7. Blue Ruin (Netflix Instant) This grim, ultra-budget indie thriller is up for the Independent Spirit's John Cassavetes Award, given to an outstanding picture made for under 500K. Come for the revenge story, stay for the unsettlingly realistic gore.

 

6. We Are The Best! (Netflix Instant) This early-80s-Stockholm-set dramedy about three middle-grade girls who form a punk band irrespective of actual musical gifts has been cropping up on many a top-ten list, and has been widely praised for its infectious joyful spirit.

5. Locke (Amazon Prime) A tense one-man show, this claustrophobic thriller hangs completely on a star turn from Tom Hardy, who's earned TFE raves and even has Brad Pitt stumping for him at industry screenings.

4. The Immigrant (Netflix Instant) The fact that the Weinsteins are giving this sweeping period the redheaded stepchild treatment and dropping it from their campaign slate shouldn't keep you from checking it out. You, too, can join in the mass internet grumble over its being overlooked at the Oscars for Best Actress, Best Score, and Best Cinematography prizes. (It may yet take home some Independent Spirit Awards!)

3. Snowpiercer (Netflix Instant) Critics have been all over the brutal, absurd, and entirely original dystopian action film. It's a dark horse for Supporting Actress with Tilda Swinton's bonkers performance, and full to the brim with memorable setpieces. Don't be a shoe; watch it!

 

2. Under the Skin (Amazon Prime) The atmospheric alien fever dream has a legion of ardent fans, and is the hip moviegoer's choice for a top-ten-list entry guaranteed not to repeat at the Oscars. Guaranteed to be among the most visually memorable movies you see all year.

1. Ida (Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant) This little movie has been an awards magnet, and may well make a smooth trip to the Best Foreign film Oscar come February. Since it's present on two major streaming services and clocks in at a mere 80 minutes, there's no excuse not to catch up with this starkly beautiful and poignant Polish drama. 

Which movies are you planning to catch up with from home? Have any additional streaming recommendations?

Thursday
Dec042014

Team FYC: "The Immigrant" for Original Score

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Jose on The Immmigrant

Director James Gray has stated on many occasions that he owes his inspiration for The Immigrant to music, to be more specific: opera. How it was when he was watching Puccini’s Il Trittico at the LA Opera, with tears streaming down his face, that he realized he needed to tell this story. Inspired by Puccini’s sinful sister Angelica, he created the character of Ewa (Marion Cotillard) a Polish immigrant forced into prostitution by the conniving pimp Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who in a way is perversely in love with her. Gray wanted to tell a grand story about a woman in the vein of the Barbara Stanwyck films he loved, all of which were snootily referred to as “melodramas”.

And it’s precisely in this marriage of music and drama where The Immigrant proves to be absolutely sublime, Gray understood that to make an “operatic” film he needed not to exaggerate but to seek a depth of emotion heightened by the work of composer Christopher Spelman. The two have worked together in the past (going all the way back to Gray’s first film Little Odessa) and specifically they have used Puccini before, with Spelman arranging the orchestrations for the pieces used in Two Lovers.

In The Immigrant Spelman not only arranged the pre-existing opera pieces we hear throughout the film, he also composed a series of haunting melodies which both pay homage and carve their own way from where the Puccini ends. Spelman’s melancholy pieces are infused with a sense of longing that will have you humming them inexplicably days, months even, after you watch the film, making for an experience that’s quite operatic indeed.

Other FYCs 
Original Screenplay, The Babadook
Original Score, The Immigrant
Supporting Actress, Carrie Coon in Gone Girl
Visual FX, Under the Skin
Cinematography, The Homesman
Outstanding Ensembles

Tuesday
Feb252014

Interview: Patricia Norris on 12 Years a Slave, Scarface, Twin Peaks

Patricia Norris with her lifetime achievement from the Costume Guild in 2007Patty Norris is a national treasure but I believe she'd be the last person to say so. When I spoke to the enduring costume designer over the phone about sixth Oscar nomination for 12 Years a Slave, she shocked me again and again with her modesty and her absolute lack of sentiment about what I've always thought of as a very illustrious Hollywood career. But her honestly was, shall we say, refreshing.

The 82 year old's career, as we know it at least, began over just over 40 years ago with westerns like Rio Lobo (1970) and Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) but she doesn't get misty-eyed or nostalgic about her filmography. "I think it was just luck. I started as a stock girl at MGM and I've always been comfortable with clothes," she explains. But to hear her tell it, her developing career wasn't born of and ambitious creative drive, but from practicality.  "I was married but I was left with five children and I had to support them! So you start taking almost any work. There are a few I would like not to think about!" 

I instantly worry (aloud) that I'll touch on one of those accidentally but if I do in the ensuing conversation, she doesn't let on.

I assumed her current flurry of work (Killing Them Softly, The Immigrant, 12 Years a Slave) was a sudden return from retirement but she corrects the impression. She's just picky since she's been frugal. "It's one of those things. Save your money and you don't have to do anything. I do just what I want to do. If it doesn't come along I just do housework." 

Happily for fans of costume dramas, The Immigrant and 12 Years a Slave came along. And these she definitely wanted to do. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Dec272013

Oscars Postponed Pleasures (?)

[Here is guest columnist Matthew Eng to remind us of four films we may have forgotten. But they'll be back - Nathaniel R]

Postponements happen every year to a few among the many films on Oscar’s selective radar, to movies whose prospects look both bright and, well, bleak. It very nearly happened to Wolf of Wall Street, but for the skilled hands of Thelma Schoonmaker, who rescued the film from both a rumored four-hour running time and a dreaded NC-17. In cleaning up its act, though the film is still dirty, Wolf pushed Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan reboot Shadow Recruit out of its prime Christmas release date, but I’d wager that that project’s Oscar chances were already on the slim side. Let’s take a look back (and forward) at the four deferred features that tried to make it in time this year in order to win Oscar’s attention.

Foxcatcher (Dir. Bennet Miller)
Oscar Prospects: Picture, Director - Miller, Actor - Carell, Supporting Actor - Ruffalo, among others

Foxcatcher pretty much looked like a sure thing this Oscar season, considering the strangely fascinating true crime story at its center (the murder of Gold medal-wrestler David Schultz by a schizophrenic benefactor), as well as the main talent involved: director Bennett Miller, coming right off of Moneyball and reunited with Capote scribe Dan Futterman; star Steve Carell, transformed and intriguingly un-typecast as Schultz’s killer John du Pont; the ever-reliable and similarly-transformed Mark Ruffalo as Schultz; and a newly-revivified/post-Magic Mike Channing Tatum as Schultz’s brother/fellow Olympic wrestler. Following lots of general intrigue (primarily around Carell) albeit minimal buzz aside from an opening slot at the 2013 AFI Fest, Foxcatcher was moved by distributor Sony Pictures Classics from its late December release to a 2014 date that’s still TBD, in order to, you know, finish the movie. It’s a move thatseems pretty wise in retrospect, considering the already over-stuffed Best Actor line-up that the criminally under-sung and under-rewarded Carell (not even the Emmy?) would’ve definitely had to fight for a spot in. I expect that we’ll all be talking about Foxcatcher this time next year, but in the meantime, continue carefully placing needles in your Jim Parsons voodoo dolls and hope that that fantastically taut teaser reemerges on the web.

 

Grace of Monaco (Dir. Olivier Dahan)
Oscar Prospects: Actress - Nicole Kidman

On Oscar Sunday earlier this year, the Weinstein Company made news by buying domestic rights for La vie en Rose helmer Olivier Dahan’s latter-day Grace Kelly biopic for a planned December 27th limited release, building instant buzz around Nicole Kidman’s star performance as the late Princess of Monaco. Flash forward to today, December 27th, and here we are: Graceless. What happened? Aside from a rumor that footage from the film, completed nearly a year ago, would be premiering at Cannes, it seemed as though Grace of Monaco might have been nothing more than an actressexual’s giddy pipe dream, as Harvey Weinstein spent the greater part of the year stumping for seemingly every other movie on his already crowded docket, including Best Actress heavies Philomena and August: Osage County. Add in some early, pre-Weinstein criticism from Kelly’s children over the film’s presumed subject matter and a suspiciously delayed trailer that resembled a Dior commercial more than, um, an actual movie, and the odds weren’t looking so great for Grace and Nicole. Then, a week after the trailer’s release, Weinstein and Co. announced that they would be postponing the film until spring 2014, putting an end to any and all award buzz for Kidman, and subsequently rendering a dishy, ill-timed Vanity Fair cover story on the actress all but pointless. Meanwhile, in October, Dahan gave an embittered interview to a French newspaper, in which he bashed the trailer and called Harvey Scissorhands’ re-edit of the film a “pile of shit.” (Maybe Dahan can start a support group-cum-rebel rally with Bong Joon-ho and Wong Kar-wai?) It has yet to be seen whether Grace will be a spring treat or trifle, but it seems increasingly unlikely that Nicole will be a contender for a project with an such an already-dubious history behind it. One can only hope that Dahan doesn’t pull a Diana and further embarrass Our Darling Nicki.


The Immigrant (Dir. James Gray)
Oscar Prospects: Actress - Marion Cotillard; Cinematography - Darius Khondji

After a mixed reception at Cannes, the Weinsteins picked up acclaimed but Academy-ignored auteur James Gray’s period piece about the personal travails of a newly-arrived Polish immigrant in 1920s New York, with a promising lead performance by Cotillard in the titular role. The Immigrant seemed poised for an Oscar-qualifying release this year, only to find its admittedly modest chances temporarily squandered when Weinstein announced that the film would be delayed until 2014. It’s hard to say if The Immigrant (whose release date is still TBA, despite making its way to festivals in Toronto and New York) was ever really going to be a true-blue awards contender outside of the continually captivating efforts of oft-ignored cinematographer Darius Khondji, as well as Cotillard. After that dazzling La vie en rose win she has become something of a perpetual Oscar afterthought, with, in order of likelihood, Rust and BoneNineMidnight in Paris, and Inception all failing to make Oscar's lineups And even if The Immigrant isn’t the film to bring her back to Best Actress glory, Marion still has her upcoming, David Michôd-directed, Fassy-married, presumably fierce-as-all-get-out Lady Macbeth to potentially get her there.


The Monuments Men (Dir. George Clooney)
Oscar Prospects: Uh, every category Columbia can buy a campaign for...? 

Let’s be honest: this was either going to be a monumental crowd-pleaser for Oscar to bear-hug, orit was going to be a larkish, star-filled period piece, potentially all-dressed-up with nowhere-but-Goodman to go. (Is anyone else getting a whiff of Leatherheads from over here?) Based on its new February release date, not to mention those highly doubtful and groaningly self-serious trailers, it seems that Columbia may have settled the confusion, but not before we were subjected to the baffling sight of George Clooney talking about the trials and tribulations of being a screenwriter in Hollywood, while sitting at the same Hollywood Reporter roundtable as Julie Delpy and Nicole Holofcener. But who knows? Maybe The Monuments Men will be the surprise hit of 2014 and not just a studio-sponsored Eurotrip for Clooney & Co. Maybe it’s the art-saving, Nazi-evading baby in the early winter bathwater. Or maybe it’s just the bathwater.

Wednesday
Oct162013

FYC: Best Actress - Marion Cotillard 

Jose here. It's that time of year when I start begging everyone to give Marion Cotillard awards, this time around I think she's Best Actress material in The Immigrant which recently played at the New York Film Festival.

In the film, Cotillard plays Ewa Cybulski, a young woman who arrives in 1921 New York City, escaping the violence in her native Poland. Her American dream is instantly shattered when her sister (Angela Sarafyan) is left at the Ellis Island infirmary and Ewa begins a destructive relationship with entertainer/pimp Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who forces her into prostitution in order to rescue her sister and avoid deportation.

Click to read more ...