Oscar History

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Entries in The Tree of Life (35)


Fool For Link

Vogue Vibes on the duel era fashions of Midnight in Paris
Acidemic free ranging piece on the images and scoring of The Tree of Life
Nick's Flick Picks, never one to shy away from a massive project, has decided to recreate Cannes 1986 (25th anniversary) and write all about it. First...
Nick's Flick Picks Robert Altman's Fool For Love. Nick thinks Kim Basinger is sensational in it (so do I).
Guardian on the ever thorny topic of how to "date" a motion picture, production date, release date, initial screening?
Basket of Kisses Mad Men's Aaron Staton (we love him) is the lead in the new video game L.A. Noire
Movie|Line loves Ari Graynor -- they're always trying to claim actresses we also champion damn them -- so must share this clip from the upcoming comedy Lucky.

Stale Popcorn with another halfway mark listicle: the good, the bad and the ugly of 2011
Pajiba advice for screenwriters willing to sell their souls from those who've made billions at the box office with almost no discernible talent whatsoever.
Awards Daily Oscar's blind David Cronenberg spot. Recently I've been thinking that I wanted to do a whole comprehensive review of one director's every film. Maybe it should be him? Although maybe he's made to many. Never mind.

the divas
The Advocate Lady Gaga profile on her connection to the gays and those comparisons to legendary performers like Barbra Streisand, Debbie Harry and Madonna.
Boy Culture EEK. Proof that Madonna is finally back in the recording studio. As of yesterday.
The Broadway Blog honors Marin Mazzie, about to take on the iconic Mrs White role in the revival of Carrie the Musical (yes that musical based on the 1976 pig-blooded classic)

sorry. back to the movies...
ion cinema has a bunch of halfway point top ten lists. Can't get enough of this topic, can you? Or am I just speaking for myself?
PopMatters 10 insane lessons that Transformers Dark of the Moon is trying to teach us
Old Hollywood omg, yesterday was the 90th anniversary of the "Overlook Hotel Ball" (immortalized in The Shining) We MUST remember this in ten years time for the centennial.

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Links: Herzog, Björk and Novaks (Kim & Djokovic) 

The Lost Boy Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams is just a few days away from joining the top gro$$ing documentaries club.
JobMob check out what some celebrity acting resumes look like
Sociological Images Some off flick backstory on that DDT spray scene in The Tree of Life. I wanted to soak in that scene, didn't you?
Tom Shone Terminator 2 turns 20 years old this week. What a stroke of genius casting Robert Patrick was. 
Old Hollywood great my-how-time-changes-things quote from Kim Novak on the initial failure of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
Movie|Line Remember those omnibus films celebrating Paris and New York. It's official: Sydney, I Love You plans to move ahead in early 2012
The Wrap looks at the reasons that the superhero crop of 2011 isn't really delivering as expected at the box office.The last sentence, though, is an unintentionally hilarious negation of the 'there's too many of these' thesis statement. It goes like so...

The good news for the box office: New installments of Batman and Spider-Man are due out next summer, with fresh incarnations of Superman and Iron Man following soon after.


off cinema
The Daily Beast backstage at Men's Fashion Week 
Low Resolution ranking the hotness of Wimbledon men 
Slant reviews Björk's new single "Crystalline". I love this bit:

Bjork's most esoteric album to date, 2004's Medúlla, is also among her best, and so my policy is to indulge Mrs. Matthew Barney in all pretensions so long as the music works.



Madonna is a Member of AMPAS. Pixar Wears Kilts. And Other News

In Contention "No Refunds" sign posted outside The Tree of Life. It's the crazies.
Towleroad gay pride, Cars 2, Bad Teacher, James McAvoy, etcetera
Twitter Look, it's one of the most amusing Official Tweets of the weekend. 

I mean, who knew? Madonna votes on Oscars?!? They haven't even deigned her worthy of Best Song nominations even though she totally has been. 
Boy Culture reminds us that Madonna has good taste in movies. 

Cineuropa I hadn't been following the Cloud Atlas screen adaptation story but talk about complicated. It's got three directors: Germany's Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (of The Matrix fame though I wish they were more thought of as the Bound duo); four Oscar winners: Berry, Broadbent, Hanks and Sarandon; six different stories all set in different eras with the actors playing multiple characters.
Wesley Morris if you're looking for a surprisingly strong defense of Cars 2. I love Wesley but Cars 2? Blech.
Everything I Know... reviews the stage to screen concert of Company with Neil Patrick Harris 
The Wrap Taylor Hackford will serve another term as President of the DGA. Congrats to Mr. Helen Mirren.
Filmes do Chico top 100 gay films. One may quibble with the order but how many have you seen? 

Oh, remember that movie The Rocketeer? Wonder why they haven't rebooted that? Here's a fanmade short celebrating it... well, the character more accurately.

The Rocketeer 20th anniversary from John Banana on Vimeo.


Off Cinema
Guardian I'd been wondering why we haven't received any Missy Elliott music in so long. Turns out she's been suffering from Graves disease. But "Block Party" is coming in the near future. Yay. And get well soon, Missy.
fourfour Rich's night out during the gayest of gay nights after NY's historic decision. 
The Daily What "Yahoo 'answer of the day'" in regards to the gay marriage decision. Hee.

Third Looks
I hope it doesn't disappoint y'all that I am not one to rush at every "exclusive" that's posted across 203,001 blogs at once whenever a new anything arrives. But here are three newish ones from the past few days that people seem to like and I do, too. From, respectively:  The Hobbit, The Raven and Pixar's Brave.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in "THE HOBBIT" coming December 2012John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in "THE RAVEN" coming March 2012Princess Merida in "BRAVE" coming June 2012

Final Fun Fact: The Pixar animation department is wearing kilts every Friday while working on Brave (2012). Isn't that adorbs? (I learned that here.)


Overheard at "The Tree of Life"

This weekend I was collecting tweets about things people have overheard at their screenings of Terrence Malick's mysterious artful epic The Tree of Life.

I kicked things off with two stories from my screening. The first was two very old ladies teetering out of the theater arm-in-arm.

Some of that was very moving... but most of it was very boring.

Next came a bored middle aged husband and his angry loud wife...

Wife: I couldn't wait for that to be over.
Husband: It was...long.
Wife: It was a DAY long. I couldn't take one more symbol, metaphor or paradox.

Mikhael joined my "overheard" enthusiasm, submitting the following from his screening:

Woody Allen look-a-like to his wife: So tell me what that was all about?

Will Holston heard this:


Jake Cole saw a hipster in a fedora with a Che t-shirt who was above it all.

It's not as smart as it thinks it is.

And finally Erin had a very boisterous crowd so I think she wins. She heard the following random snippets, all of them utterly hilarious if you've seen the movie.

There's no acting!

Are we in the right film?

Are those sunflowers?

[during last ten minutes] Is that SEAN PENN?!

None of these comments surprise me and all of them delight me because The Tree of Life is so meditative and personal and open to interpretation that anyone can probably feel anything while they're watching it. I imagine that people who don't like their mind to wander, to fill in, to have associative adventures both scary and peaceful and god-knows-what-else during a screening probably become utterly unhinged. I like that feeling in a movie theater but I was unnerved a couple of times by the barrage of things I was feeling and the distinct impression that the film wasn't trying to make me feel them exactly and maybe the film wasn't even responsible for me feeling them... which was both exciting and annoying.

I haven't talked about the movie at all here because i missed the first wave or critical discussion (I have yet to read even one review) and was totally shy thereafter. I mostly enjoyed it but for its repetitive preciousness about prayers to God and the Sean Penn sequences. But I think in some key ways it's the most inaccessible thing I've seen in theaters since Matthew Barney's 10 hour Cremaster cycle (which I was gaga for) so I'm perversely enjoying that some unsuspecting moviegoers are tricked into seeing it by Malick's reputation and the twin towers of stardom that are PITT and PENN.

To be frank I adamantly believe that Sean Penn was a financial compromise the movie shouldn't have made. This part, which should only be a vessel to provide the visual passing of time, needed a complete unknown. His star presence kept taking me out of the movie --  'Why is this big star Brad Pitt's angry son all grown up?' -- because Penn didn't have enough of a character to play to justify an "actor" playing it.  Every other cast member seemed to have been utterly absorbed into the film like they were just appendages or organs powered by its brain, blood and nervous system. Brad Pitt in particular was fantastically convincing and period specific as the frustrated father. Unlike Penn I never felt like I was seeing "Brad Pitt". I'll assume you've read a hundred times by now that the child performances were sensational examples of the kind of "naturalism" that most movies don't ever attempt. One scene in particular with the two eldest boys in tall grass, one of them crying, totally unnerved and upset me and it's my strongest memory of the movie. Well, aside from the bravura creation sequence. Those briefly glimpsed dinosaurs had more soul than any screen dinosaurs ever, yes?

YOUR TURN. Sorry it took me so long to say anything. How unruly was your audience and how conflicted was your own response to the year's most challenging movie to see regular release thus far?


Oscar June Predix Update. What We Know Now...

... can fit into a thimble or a wee baby's hand. Sometimes by May's end one or two fairly-sure things have become clear, but the closest we have to that, still, is Rango in the animated film department. Old news.

What did the Month of May teach us suggest to us?

1. The Weinsteins, who finally won their first post-Miramax "Best Picture"  with The King's Speech, will not likely be satiated by that triumph. It'll just make them hungry for another. They have been beefing up their competitive slate. They either have faith in both Phyllida Lloyd's Thatcher bio The Iron Lady (which sounds typically "prestige" enough for Oscar play, even if it turns out dull) and the crowdpleaser The Artist (which sounds accessible enough for Oscar play, despite being a silent film) or they didn't want anyone else to have one or both of them. You never know with them. And you won't know till the last minute; the Weinsteins are notoriously patient about waiting it out, either because they like to see what the awards air is like, or just because they believe more strongly in the "ONLY DECEMBER!" Oscar strategy than any other distributor. We'll find out more about their plan towards the end of the year. 

2. Cannes elevated the intriguing possibility of Kirsten Dunst Best Actress traction for Melancholia -- something we've long hoped for for one of our favorite actresses -- but what's yet more delicious than her Cannes win is the myriad ways this could play out with a complicated mix of voting factors (actual high quality performance, off-performance sympathy votes, career comeback of sorts, Lars von Trier's unpredictable track record in US distribution); Those moviegoers who love to follow the politics of Oscar, not just the movies, are bound to enjoy this particular story as it unfolds. 

3. The warm reception for Midnight in Paris raised the distinct possibility that Woody Allen could see his 15th Best Original Screenplay nomination. Pundits, including myself, have regularly sold the idea that Mr Allen is always a threat in the Original Screenplay category but in truth, that "always" is quite an overestimation given that he hasn't been a  "regular" since the 90s. (He only received one nomination in the Aughts making him less an always then a 10% kinda guy these days). He didn't even get much Oscar traction for Vicky Cristina Barcelona despite a Golden Globe  Picture win and an eventual Oscar for Penélope Cruz. But Midnight, might be a different story. Firstly, there's no individual performance that awards bodies can latch on to -- the showiest work is done by the people with the teeniest parts -- and if anyone reaps the benefits of the love for the film, it'll be Allen himself. Midnight is quite light on its feet despite a theme with melancholy resonance, and it's performing well at the box office. As The Film Experience has always maintained, Oscar voters tastes are basically a figurative amalgam of critics + moviegoers + media; if those three groups like something (even if they do so for entirely different reasons), Oscar will join them.

4. I'm not sure what we know about The Tree of Life. I feel lost here. At first one heard "mixed reviews" than it won the "Palme D'Or" and then it opened. It's been a whirlwind of activity. If the random stories of older audiences walking out are true -- can one ever trust "stories" about certain demographics loving or hating any film? Said stories always seem rife with possible agendas and/or horse's mouth biases -- than it might be dead in the water for Oscar. BUT. It just opened. Let's see how it plays as it expands. If Malick teaches us anything he teaches us patience, right? See you at his next film in 2019! (I'm kidding. Supposedly the next film has already completed shooting... but I'll believe back-to-back Malick releases when they happen and no sooner.)

5. My guess is that Pirates of the Caribbean bombed too badly with critics to win it much heat in the technical categories where it's previously done fairly well for itself. Thor wasn't a big enough deal financially and in the passion-meter of its fans to score any technicals (though it's worth noting that its production designer Bo Welch is an Academy favorite), so the next two superhero tests are X-Men First Class and Green Lantern. For some possibly silly reason, I've convinced myself that it's Captain America that might get the tech nods that you know at least one of the comic book films will win.

Eventually comic book films will invade Oscar. Though it seems improbable now it's a matter of percentages. As more and more of them get made, Oscar will have less and less ways to avoid them.

Here's something we don't know...

What the hell is going on with The Eye of the Storm? It's one of those titles, an adaptation of a novel, that I only discovered in researching potential Oscar players (and talking in the comments to you!) but I never hear a peep about it in terms of "official" anything. Nevertheless it looks promising and actressy, and maybe Geoffrey Rush's post-Speech heat and general hammy deliciousness (to AMPAS palettes at least) can help it out? I've tried everything I could think of to embed the teaser (everything I could think of = copy and paste) but nothing works so you'll have to go to Twitch to see it.

Fly away, pigeon. Just say your farewell and go.

Dying Charlotte Rampling theatrically dismissing bitchy Judy Davis is my new two second obsession. Enjoy it with me!

Click on the individual category titles to explore further.


Box Office: The Tree of Hungover Pandas in Paris

I know I said I was taking today off but I ended up drawing instead. I am not a summer person. (I am the opposite of bears, my form of hibernation involving air conditioning in summertime and avoiding bright light.) But moving on to more pressing movie matters...

Memorial Day Weekend at the Box Office proves that it's a repetitive world with tons of franchise action (Bridesmaids 2 already has a greenlight, right? If not, it can't be far off.) It all blends together for me.

Pandas are total lightweights.

The Box Office (4 Day Weekend Actuals!)

01 THE HANGOVER PART II new $103.4
02 KUNG FU PANDA 2 new  $60.8
03 PIRATES 4 $50 (cumulative 163.6)
04 BRIDESMAIDS 1 $20.7 (cumulative $89.3)
05 AVENGERS PREQUEL #2  $12 (cumulative $162.4)
06 THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, 5TH EDITION $7.8 (cumulative $197.3)
        and leaving the world o' franchises behind...
07 MIDNIGHT IN PARIS $2.5 (cumulative $3.4)
08 RIO $2.4 (cumulative $135.4)
09 JUMPING THE BROOM $2.3 (cumulative $34.6)
10 SOMETHING BORROWED $2.2 (cumulative $35.1)

The success stories of the week -- honestly everyone and their dog monkey knew that the Hangover and Panda sequels would sell tickets -- were in limited release: Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life had, by a significant margin, fuller houses than any other films.

If Woody's annual offering continues to generate this kind of interest he may be looking at a Match Point / Vicky Cristina Barcelona level success. Both of those films had real legs at the box office topping out at about $23 million domestically and nearing $100 million globally and both went on to a bit of Oscar play. For those who are curious about how he has such free reign despite never having "hits" in the traditional sense, it comes down to low budgets and a global fanbase which has been far more loyal to him than American audiences. Nearly all of his movies are much more successful overseas which is definitely not the norm... for American comedies especially.

Though it's sort of off topic, I still maintain that had Dreamworks done a better job with Match Point's release -- it was a sleeper waiting to happen but they held back and held back losing all of its Critics/Cannes/"Comeback!" steam before that lame weekend-after-Christmas Oscar glut strategy -- it would have been even bigger. Midnight hasn't even gone wide yet so things are looking very good IF they keep expanding. As for The Tree of Life... the latest augmentation of the Malick Mystique could have conceivably landed in the top ten had it been less timid about revealing itself; the theaters were packed but they numbered only four.

Oscar Predictions Updates Coming Wednesday. (Working on them now.) My reflections on The Tree of Life coming later. I'm mystified that so many web critics can write huge pieces on complicated movies without time to reflect or edit their words mere moments after they see them... but that's the way film criticism is going. It's an instantaneous world. Alas. (I know I need to speed up, shut up!)

What did you see this holiday weekend?
If it wasn't a holiday for you, did you still have time for a movie or three?


Cannes Winners: Kiki, Malick, and More

The 64th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up today with the jury awards.

Some awards announcements feel like deflations to robust film festivals but not this year. Major conversation pieces won big, extending the buzz if not adding much in the way of a surprise element that can sometimes send hype spinning in new directions.

First and foremost I, personally, must let out a whoop of joy at the news that Kirsten Dunst took Best Actress. I've long been a champion of her underappreciated gifts. She's one of those rare actresses who is just as skilled at both comedic and dramatic roles and her filmography will eventually have the last laugh over her many detractors.  Her "comeback", artistically speaking, probably started with All Good Things this December. She won very complimentary reviews and a last minute Oscar campaign even though the film itself didn't get much attention. [The Film Experience Interview from Kirsten Dunst if you missed it.]

Gif via Rich at FourFour


Main Jury (Robert DeNiro was Jury President)
This jury, the jury that gets all the attention, hands out the prizes for the films in the main competition roster. But Cannes has several sidebars as well.
PALME D'OR The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick.
GRAND PRIX (runner up) The Kid With The Bike by the Dardenne Brothers who seem to win something each and every year and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan

JURY PRIZE Polisse by Maïwenn Le Besco (we discussed her very briefly)
DIRECTOR Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive (making good on the critical excitement)
SCREENPLAY Joseph Cedar for Footnote
ACTOR Jean DuJardin for The Artist
ACTRESS Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia (see previous posts)

Camera D'Or (Jury President Bong Joon Ho, of Mother and The Host fame)
GOLDEN CAMERA (Best First Feature)  Las Acacias directed by Pablo Giorgelli [Argentina]

Un Certain Regard (Jury President Emir Kusturica of Underground and Black Cat White Cat fame)
PRIZE OF UN CERTAIN REGARD (tie) Arirang by Kim Ki-Duk and Stopped on Track by Andreas Dresen

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE Elena by Andrey Zvyaginstev
DIRECTING PRIZE Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid é Didar

Critics Week  (Jury President Chang-dong Lee of Poetry and Secret Sunshine fame)
This jury concentrates on new directors (meaning first or second timers)
FEATURE Take Shelter (which played at Sundance) starring Michael Shannon & Jessica Chastain.
SPECIAL MENTION Snowtown (a controversial choice)
CID/CCAS and the OFAJ Las Acacias (which also won the Camera D'Or)

The Skin I Live In wins a Cinematography Prize. Notice the poster on the wall is the one they've been using for the film's teaser poster

VULCAN PRIZE (for an artist technician) went to cinematographer José Luis Alcaine for Pedro Almodóvar's The Skin I Live In (previous posts)
SPECIAL DISTINCTION went to Sound Designer Paul Davies and Editor Joe Bini for Lynne Ramsay's We Need To Talk About Kevin

Cross-CountryCinefondation and Short Films (Jury President Michel Gondry)
PALME D'OR Cross-Country by Maryna Vroda
JURY PRIZE Swimsuit 46 by Wannes Destoop

1ST PRIZE Der Brief (The Letter) by Dorotyea Droumeva
2ND PRIZE Drari by Kamal Lazraq
3RD PRIZE Fly By Night by Son Tae-gyum


In terms of the Oscar race, which rarely correlates with Cannes and doesn't need to, this still adds a helpful sheen of prestige to The Tree of Life, Melancholia and Take Shelter which will all see the US marketplace. Given the multiple prizes for the Argentinian debut film Las Acacias one also wonders if it will be Argentina's Oscar submission?

What do you make of all this? Did anything surprise you?


Cannes Check: A long weekend

Robert (author of Distant Relatives) here. It feels like the dog days of Cannes. Film reactions keep coming in and while they seem endlessly mixed or average it's always helpful to remember that when most of these films make their way to the states (in what could be a week or a year... or two years... or never) many of them will be greeted by accolades and Rotten Tomato scores upwards of 80%.

Let's start with the gems. Alex has already clued you in on the success of The Artist. There was one other big hit this weekend. The Dardenne Brothers at this point could direct a Sham-Wow infomercial and it would be accepted to Cannes. But there's a reason why. The Kid With a Bike is being received as one more of many high points in their career. Are the Dardennes in the running for their third Palme? [Rotten Tomatoes page]

Footnote by Israeli director Joseph Cedar, who had an Oscar nominee in Beaufort recently, is also finding itself plenty of fans, as the MUBI roundup will attest. The film, about an accomplished but underappreciated professor constantly at odds with his very appreciated academic son is being praised for its mixture of dry, often awkward comedy and meaningful family pathos.

If you've seen previous Cannes winner The Son's Room, you're familiar with the work of director Nanni Moretti. His entry this year is We Have a Pope which is about a reluctant pontiff seems to have not struck the right note between comedy and drama. "Intermittently amusing" is the faint praise coming from IndieWIRE. 

Fans of Korea's Kim Ki-duk (3-Iron, spring summer fall winter...and spring) will be happy to know that he's returned, albeit with an odd project. Arirang is a documentary in which the director has turned the camera on himself to record his crises of confidence after an actress almost died on the set of his film Dream. A few viewers find the process intriguing, but many echo the sentiment of AV Club's Mike D'Angelo who calls it "self-indulgent, useless, “therapeutic” one-man tripe."

Miss Bala

Un Certain Regard film Miss Bala, a tense film about a Tijuana beauty queen's encounter with gangsters is getting good to strong notices.  As usual MUBI has done a fine job of summing up.

You can now consider yourself caught up, except for the 500lb artistically narrated gorilla, which opens today.

[Editor's Note: Hi. It's Nathaniel. I'm back from a short trip away. We are opting not to say much about The Tree of Life, or to cover the inevitably ecstatic reviews and tweetgasms that are pouring in. For one thing, initial response to highly awaited festival fare is always tricky to gauge. No matter what this type of movie is like, the reaction will verge on hysteric (in any direction) since no critic -- even the best of them  -- will have had the proper time to truly contemplate it before writing their reviews (especially given that none of them are getting any sleep at the moment.) But mostly we don't want any spoilers. No, Malick's films aren't typically plotty but do you really want his amazing gift for indelible imagery described to you in detail before you're seeing it? I do not. I want to experience it in the purest way possible. Since the film is opening THIS MONTH patience is not only a virtue, but it's an easy (okay, easier) trait to adopt. Resist the modern urge to have every experience spoiled in advance for you!]