Oscar History

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Entries in The Iron Lady (12)


European Film Awards. You've Always Wanted to Visit Malta, Right?

Each year the European Film Awards move to a different location and this year for their 25th anniversary they'll be in Malta. If you vote on their Audience Award prize starting September 1st (today!) you become eligible to win a trip to the ceremony on December 1st (today in 3 months!). Voting closes at the end of October.

vote now

The audience prize nominees, an eclectic bunch, are...


I'm baffled about the inclusion of The Iron Lady as it certainly doesn't fit any "crowd pleaser" definition previously known to man. Unless by crowd you mean the entire population of StreepStanistan. Obviously in any "people's choice" situation the film that has been the most widely seen has the edge, so this prize is probably going to The Intouchables ($363 million globally) given its global phenom status. The Artist ($133 million globally), and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ($131 million globally) look like the only possible spoilers.

Lest you dismiss the European Film Awards outright through headscratching over this particular list, please to remember that it's only their audience prize. Their regular nominations don't arrive until early November. Last year they were the only awards body to give the great Melancholia multiple statues.

In related Ocean-Crossing news, The Oscar Foreign Film Submission Charts are now up to detail the official Academy submissions as well as rumors of which films might compete:



iTunes Review of the Week:

Think 'Zombie Kill of the Week'; just with iTunes Reviews. If anyone can top this one (#7) for the week? I will bow to you.



And no fair making a fake one. Cheating gets you nowhere. Unless you're on Wall Street.

Any takers?


Curio: Painterly Posters by Aaron Wells

Alexa here. I always enjoy a film poster that is actually painted; the eye tires of seeing only minimal vector graphics. So I love these posters I found on etsy created by freelance illustrator and painter Aaron Wells...


I think his choice of films lends itself to the painterly treatment in different ways, both through caricature and use of imagination. 

Or maybe I just like his taste. You can buy prints at his shop, and all are priced under $20! After the jump a two Darren Aronofsky gems and and The Fifth Element...

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Burning Questions: Can Biopics Help But Glorify Their Subjects?

Michael C. here, just returned from witnessing Meryl Streep in all her awards bait glory.

When controversy arrives in Phyllida Lloyd’s Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, it comes in the standard form of news footage montages depicting seas of angry protesters clashing with policemen. The actual substance of the issues - massive union strikes, war in the Falkland Islands – is not discussed so much as reframed in the most generic possible terms. Every issue boils down to the same dynamic: Thatcher’s opponents are invariably lily-livered scaredy cats pushing for compromise if not outright surrender, while The Iron Lady holds firm to strength, courage, and principle over popularity. The filmmakers would no doubt say that they are focusing on character over unimportant detail, but it has the direct effect of letting Thatcher off the hook for her positions. Conservatives are free to mentally fill in their ideology and cheer her resolve, while the rest are encouraged to ignore partisanship and admire her gumption.

To be fair to the filmmakers, if Iron Lady had taken the opposite tack and really dug into the thought process of why Thatcher did what she did it would no doubt serve to amplify charges that the movie was aggrandizing its subject. It appears to be a case of damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. The very act of storytelling itself invites the audience to understand the protagonist’s motives and actions. It begs the question: Can biopics help but glorify their subjects? 

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This &That: Makeup Finals, Foreign Beauties, Rule Changes

So I spent all of last night exuberantly "Oh No You Maggie Smith'nt!"* with friends over the 2 hour season premiere of Downton Abbey. Then I spent the better part of today at a table full of Oscar voters picking their brains (in a polite conversational way, mind you) at a luncheon for The Artist. More on both of those events soon but between last night and today, so many OscarQuakes or at least golden tremors.

*joke stolen from Patton Oswalt

Let's discuss four of them immediately! 

1. Hunger Games beauty Jennifer Lawrence will announce the Oscar nominations.
Usually people dress somewhat sedately for that super AM event but we're hoping Jennifer pulls out another one of those va va voom numbers she kept finding for last year's awards circus. The nomination event happens so early in the morning and if Jennifer wears skin tight white or form fitting red again, that's better than a pot of steaming coffee as an eye opener.

P.S. Is the publicity team behind Hunger Games the hardest working team in showbiz? You know this is all part of that evil world domination blitz. 

2. Documentary Rule Changes
Michael Moore and others proposed some Oscar Rule changes to the Academy and they've been adopted. The most controversial one, which we're totally fine with, involves requiring a review from the Los Angeles or the New York Times. The idea behind this rule is that the papers have a policy of reviewing each film that opens for a full week engagement. But it seems silly to stipulate that a review is required when the whole point is to get the movie in theaters for a full week. Why not just say "must play a week in Los Angeles and New York City to qualify?" Seems strange to put the qualification requirement on newspapers. According to Michael Cieply at the New York Times documentarians are not on board with these changes which would drastically reduce the number of qualifying entries.

I take a rather hard stance on this topic all the time and I assure you that it is not an anti-filmmaker stance. My stance is only a pro audience stance. I do not believe that films should be eligible for awards if they are not playing for the public. I'm tired of this elitist film culture where people only show their films in very discreet ways for very select audiences and hope that they'll win awards by which they will then try to lure paying audiences. On an individual case by case basis it's easy to see why the vast majority of pundits and filmmakers side with filmmakers on this topic and back these rules that make peekaboo engagements possible. But if you back up and look at the full picture it is much healthier for the survival of cinema if theatrical engagements are required and the audience is included. If movies aren't made to be seen there is no point in making them. If you want an engaged audience you have to create one. And to create one you've got to get the films out there in the marketplace. 

3. Makeup Citations
The bakeoff for Oscar's continually confounding Best Makeup category has finally happened and seven films are moving on to compete for the 3 wide nomination list. I've never found any reasonable explanation as to why this category has such a tiny amount of nominees given that a huge portion of movies require wig and makeup and prosthetics work but it is what it is. Despite "Best" often equating with "Most" J. Edgar and Green Lantern did not make the cut. Neither did that much talked about Michelle-to-Marilyn transformation wow them.

So your finalists go like so...


  • Albert Nobbs
  • Anonymous
  • The Artist
  • Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Hugo
  • The Iron Lady

I am not remotely a fan of The Iron Lady but I think it'd be a very deserving nomination in that category since the makeup work on Streep is just flawless / transformative. The rest of the field I don't have strong opinions of. Do you? It's worth noting that no Harry Potter film has ever been nominated for Makeup though a few of the previous films have made it to pre-nomination lists like this one. 

4. Foreign Film Finalists Will Be Announced on... TBA?
I wish I knew when. If so I could plan better. Every day I wake up in fear that I will miss my chance to tell you how much I liked movie A or B before Oscar cuts them in the winnowing process, he says pessimistically. And every day I run out of time. I need a deadline! Last year they announced a week ahead of the regular nominations so I guess that gives me... 5 or so more days?

Left (France's Declaration of War) Right (Denmark's SuperClásico with the always awesome Paprika Steen)

For the record in case I get no other chance to say it should the Academy not respond well to them the 'Movie A' in question is France's cancer dramedy Declaration of War which is super lively, passionate, funny, and tearful (Take that 50/50... You are nothing to me now!) and the 'Movie B' in question is Denmark's divorce comedy SuperClásico starring the inimitable Paprika Steen (Applause) who you already know I 'stan for whenever I get the chance.

I interviewed her recently (we'll get to that eventually) and much to my delight she dubbed me a "nerdy film blogger!" Her exact words! Now I love her even more. I wish American directors would hire her because she speaks English fluently and is a great actress who can do both intense drama and spiky comedy. What more do they need? Why should the Nykqvists, Mikkelsens and Skarsgaards be the only Scandinavian actors Hollywood has on speed dial? Paprika can act circles around so many people. Get on that, Hollywood! Time is a wasting.


Box Office: Mission New Years

Your mission should you choose to accept is it to rate the Mission: Impossible movies. I'm not sure that I can since I've found all four so easy to watch, even thrilling intermittently, until I promptly forget about them the next day. That said, I think I like Ghostocol, aka. I Am Mission Four the very best. And given how well it held up after a pretty big opening weekend, perhaps other audience members felt the same?

I wonder if Tom Cruise chose the tagline himself "No Plan. No Backup. No Choice"? That might well describe this franchise for him in terms of mega-star survival if you smooshed it together. "No Backup Plan. No Choice". He needed this movie to work and it did. Well done. Extra points for choosing Brad Bird aka Mr. Incredible as your boss, Tom. 

Box Office Top Ten 3 Day New Years Weekend (Estimates)
01 MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 4  $29.5  (cum. $132.4)
02 SHERLOCK HOMES 2 $21.0  (cum. $131.0)
03 ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS 3 $16.3 (cum. $92.7)
04 THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO 2.0  $14.8 (cum. $55.8) 
      ....whoa, Fincher's remake falling under the 3rd week of the Chipmunks regurgitation? Ouch. 
05 WAR HORSE 1 $14.3 (cum. $40.4)
06 WE BOUGHT A ZOO 1 $13.2 (cum. $40.6)
07 THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN  $11.4 ($47.2)
08 VALENTINES DAY 2: NEW YEARS EVE $6.3  (cum. $46)
09 THE DARKEST HOUR 1 $4.3 (cum. $13.2)

Talking Points
The Iron Lady was packing them in (extremely) limited release which just goes to show you that the Weinstein Co was setting fire to money by not opening it wider right away given that it's a) Meryl and b) the media is all up in that shit with Meryl profiles, 60 Minutes and the Kennedy Center Honors. That's free publicity that'll will wear off before the movie goes wide! Plus The Iron Lady is not the sort of movie that will benefit from word of mouth as it's not very good. A Separation and Pariah also opened to totally respectable if not earth shaking results which is too bad because they're both among the very best of the movies. This season is such a tough market for small movies. And yet they try to sell dozens of the best ones round about now every year.

Timid release strategies *can* work well for high quality hard to sell movies (The Artist, Shame) but you always run the risk of losing momentum... especially when you have major stars (Carnage / Dangerous Method) or brand recognition (Marilyn)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (up to $4 million) and The Artist (up to $5) both had their first million dollar weekends now that they're no longer quite so impossible for moviegoers to see. Wider please. A Dangerous Method and Carnage, which have much more improbable Oscar dreams, continue to do pretty well in super limited release. If they don't go wider soon they're totally going to miss a window since it's hard to imagine them scoring major Oscar nods.

New Year's Eve was up 92% this weekend. Gee, I wonder why! Expect it to vanish from the face of the earth next week despite being on over 2000 screens at the moment. Who gets those screens? Why is only one movie, a horror film, going wide?

Did you see a movie on New Year's or were you nursing a hangover?



So... Meryl is Really Campaigning This Time, Eh?

The Diva Wears Prada Sweaters and Jeans for her TV profileDid any of you catch Meryl on "60 Minutes" on Sunday? She got one quarter of those minutes. Someone else noted this on Twitter, not I, but it's wonderful to imagine her prep work for these interviews. 'Oh, 60 Minutes is here? I'll just run a comb through my hair.' 

My favorite bits from the 15 minutes

• On the realness of her work becoming the characters: "I'm not insane. I do know that I'm acting!"
• The moment where she "acts" her own voice to demonstrate that she and Thatcher both have "light" voices and you need to take them deeper for dramatic resonance or to be taken seriously. She was also the morning announcer at her high school so THAT VOICE was always drawing attention to itself.

• The actreses she loved when growing up, were not contemporaries but classic movie queens: Carole Lombard, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, and Barbara Stanwyck. 

I like girls with attitude, you know? Moxie. There's an old word."

She also talks about the strength of women repeatedly and is obviously proud of her track record at working with female directors (we have some names for your wishlist Streep!).

• Her flirty "not to me" when asked if the legendary Joe Papp was a taskmaster on stage.
• I didn't know this but during that first flush of stardom one summer post Deer Hunter, she was working on Kramer vs. Kramer and Woody Allen's Manhattan during the day and then playing "Taming of the Shrew" at night on stage! Crazy.

• That they compare Streep to Royalty. So this here then is one of America's royal families. The Gummers.

Mamie (28), Henry (32), Grace (25), Luisa (20) looking up at mom & dad: Meryl and Don


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Interview: Olivia Colman on "Tyrannosaur" and Mumsy Meryl Streep

British actress Olivia Colman speaks softly and with great modesty but perhaps that's wise. Her talent speaks loudly on its own behalf by way of ntroduction. Though British audiences have embraced her comic talent for years now, international audiences are just now getting to know her as a dramatic force. She's utterly devastating as a meek Christian shop owner in the violent drama Tyrannosaur. The film, directed by the actor Paddy Considine (In America), is gathering a small but very vocal fanbase who think Colman really ought to have a Best Actress nomination in her very near future. Later this month, she'll be onscreen again as Carol Thatcher daughter of The Iron Lady, but even if you exited the first movie only to immediately enter the latter, you'll scarcely recognize her from one film to the next.

We spoke briefly on the phone recently about her rising stardom, drama and comedy acting muscles, and having a living legend as a co-star.

Olivia Colman is a true believer in "Tyrannosaur"

Nathaniel: Have you been able to soak in all of this attention from Tyrannosaur? Your name being on the awards radar here in the US and such?

OLIVIA COLMAN: Not really. it's quite surreal. Because it's not my first job. I'm 37 and i've been working for a long time. So... [long pause]  This job means so much to me that I'm thrilled that people are liking it. That's the best thing about it, that other people are taking it to their hearts as much as we all did.

Nathaniel: Your involvement with Tyrannosaur goes way back. You were also in Paddy Considine's short film "Dog Altogether" about the same characters. Did this feel like a do-over? What was it like going back?

COLMAN: lt felt different. A lot of the scenes from the short were also in the feature and the reshooting of those scenes that we'd done years before were the hardest to film. It's weird because it's like an echo. You can hear yourself. You've already said it but years ago. It felt very different apart from that because we suddenly had a sense of a much longer journey. In the short I didn't know about Hannah's backstory at all. 

Nathaniel: This gave you a chance to dig deeper then?

COLMAN: Yes. It's lovely to get your teeth into it.

Nathaniel: In terms of Hannah's religiosity and her generous nature. How did you approach constructing her? A lot of religious characters in cinema aren't, well, sympathetic like this. 

COLMAN: It was so clear from the page. Paddy had written it so beautifully you just had to do what was written, really.  I knew who she was straightaway. Even if she hadn't been a Christian of good faith, she would still have been a good person. Her faith is sort of her protection and her armor but even without it, I would have known who she was.

Nathaniel: Paddy is such a brilliant actor but he's not in front of the camera for this one. So what it was like being directed by a fellow thespian?

COLMAN: Amazing! It made such a difference. I don't imagine all actors can direct at all. I think probably a lot of them would be terrible but he was so comfortable on that side of the camera. He knew how difficult he found it in front of the camera and he made sure we never felt like that. We always felt safe. He's an extraordinary creature. He would say exactly the right thing to get you to the right place. I've said this before but I think he could get a performance out of a log. He's amazing, just taps in. Everybody wanted to make him proud. And he's a great leader of people. A little thumbs up at the right moment would made someone feel 10 feet tall.

For those of us who don't act, we always assume that sets of intense brutal dramas like this one must be sober or difficult to be on. But maybe it's not like that exactly. 

The "jolly" Tyrannosaur team

[Olivia on working with Meryl Streep and Michelle Pfeiffer... AFTER THE JUMP.]

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