Oscar History

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Nick went to the Oscars!

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Entries in Thelma Schoonmaker (7)


"Silence" is Shorter, Still Possibly Golden

a new image from the film - our first look at Adam Driver

In very good news for butts of all shapes and sizes, news came this morning that Martin Scorsese's Silence is no longer going to be his longest feature film ever. That dubious honor will continue to be held by the excruciatingly long winded duo of Casino and Wolf of Wall Street. It seems that Marty and his trusted editor Thelma Schoonmaker have whittled away some 22 minutes from the earlier reported running time of 3 hours and 1 minute (or thereabouts)...

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I Met Thelma Schoonmaker at the TCM Film Festival

Our coverage of the TCM's 2014 festival in Los Angeles wraps with Anne Marie on legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker

Thelma in the editing bay...

Thelma Schoonmaker is surprisingly calm. Not just calm, calming. As I sat listening to her twice at TCMFF--first at the introduction for A Matter Of Life And Death, next at an hourlong interview--I marveled at the three-time Oscar winning editor's stillness. Considering she is the preferred collaborator of Martin Scorsese, an infamously energetic director, one would think she'd need reservoirs of energy to tackle the boxing matches in Raging Bull or the tense chases in The Departed.

Schoonmaker wasn't at TCMFF to speak about herself, though...

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TCM Fest: Restorationists as Rock Stars

Film restorationists don’t feel like rockstars. But with this crowd…”

the TCM Festival is happening at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood

Mike Pogorzelski, director of the Academy Film Archive, chuckles as another round of cheers breaks out from the audience. Pogorzelski is introducing a 35mm print of The Lion in Winter that he restored from camera negative, and so far the audience has cheered for the words “35mm,” “restoration,” “Academy,” and “Peter O’Toole.” Typically, only one of those gets applause, but then TCM Film Festival isn’t your typical Hollywood film festival.

Every single film that plays at the TCM Film Festival is old. The newest film is Mr Holland's Opus, which celebrates is nineteen years old. This means that every single film, from the 35mm print of Stagecoach to the world premiere DCP of OKLAHOMA! (previously discussed), has arrived through the efforts of archivists and restorationists who preserve and revive these classics. Film restoration is usually an unsung part of the film industry, but the TCM Film Festival, with its concentration on celebrating old classics and announcing new restorations, might be the best publicity film restoration gets.

Saturday, a world premiere digital restoration of A Hard Day’s Night screened at the TCL Chinese Theater. Richard Lester’s 1964 classic was originally shot in 35mm with a mono soundtrack, which isn’t well suited to a gigantic IMAX theater like the Chinese. However, the film has been remastered to crystal-clear 4K definition and--important for a rock n’ roll film--upmixed to 5.1 surround sound, bringing the Beatles 50 years through history. Those purists who would balk at the idea of changing a classic need not fear though, this digital restoration is (great) publicity for the Criterion’s Blu-Ray release of the film later this year, which will also have the original mono option available. A Hard Day's Night isn't the only world premiere with an accompanying DVD release: Blazing Saddles, OKLAHOMA!, and others will also soon be available. In fact, with so many DVD release advertisements being made at the festival, it can feel like the commercials TCM doesn't play on its station are happening here instead.

DVD release announcements are not the only purpose of the TCM Film Festival, however. Thelma Schoonmaker was there to discuss not only her multi-Oscar-winning career, but also the career of her late husband, Michael Powell at a screening of his Technicolor masterpiece A Matter Of Life And Death. I got the brief opportunity to meet her, and I promise to write about it as soon as I stop shaking.

In addition, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rolled out some of the hidden gems in its archive. One of its many growing collections is Hollywood Home Movies. Randy Haverkamp (Academy Programming Director) & Lynne Kirste (Special Collections Curator at the Academy Film Archive) talked a rapt audience through several scenes, including backstage footage from OKLAHOMA! and Gone With the Wind, and some scenes of Alfred Hitchcock goofing off with his daughter in 16mm. These are the glamorous home movies, but Haverkamp and Kirste were quick to encourage any possible collectors in the audience to see the value of even the bits of 16mm and 8mm that don’t have famous directors in them.Their presentation underlined the unspoken theme of the festival: film is our visual and cultural history, and before it disappears we need to save and spread as much as possible, or risk forgetting ourselves. Thanks to the TCM Film Festival for making that job seem a little more glamorous.


Liz & Link

Film.com Our friend Joe Reid debuts his Oscar column and explains why Oscars are good for us
Winnipeg Free Press interviews Kim Morgan on her Marilyn Monroe essay for Playboy
Huffington Post will Les Misérables virgins enjoy the film? Mike Ryan did.
Actors & Crew the best iPhone apps for filmmaking 
Natasha VC Feel all your feelings about James Spader (now appearing in Lincoln)
NY Times extensive audio & text piece on the sound design of Killing Me Softly. I love educational web goodies

The Atlantic worries that the conversion to digital will cost us deeply when it comes to the classics. Some of them may never look or sound the way they were intended to again. (With commentary from the brilliant editor Thelma Schoonmaker)
In Contention Can Beasts of the Southern Wild return to the Oscar fray? 
In Contention The "Oscar Bait" got good
Coming Soon photos from the set of R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. They don't look much like zombie police officers to me?
Movieline Did you know that Steven Spielberg was once turned down when he asked to direct James Bond!?
The Carpet Bagger is back and looking at how the new Oscar schedule may change release dates and campaign strategies 

Linds & Tricks
 the wordless acting of Lindsay Lohan in Liz & Dick
TFE Mean Girls predicted the future! 
PopWatch the best lines from Liz & Dick 
Huffington Post 100 Twitter Reactions... their layout is really messy/annoying but if you scroll down the post title can be found in a slide show that looks like an ad... but it's actually the content of the post after a long intro. 

And no... I haven't yet watched Liz & Dick. I know. I didn't have the energy, wasn't in the right mood to see Liz defiled (easily among the top five best celebrities who ever lived -- in multiple senses of "best") and maybe you had to be there at the online viewing internet party anyway!


ACE Eddie Nominations. Will They Transfer to Oscar?

The editors have spoken. Though editing is an artform that greatly fascinates me I nearly always take issue with the ACE nominations. More than most craftsmen, the editors in the guild and in Oscar's editing branch seem to just pick their favorite Best Picture contenders every year even in cases where the editing might not be anywhere close to its strongest element. I understand why people love Hugo for example -- I really do despite my protestations -- but even though I think Thelma Schoonmaker is one of the most gifted editors who ever walked the earth, her work on Hugo is not up to her general (very high) standards. I've discussed this with Nick several times so I know I wasn't imagining it. We were both flabbergasted at the amount of shot / reverse shots where the children just sort of stare at each other blankly in scene after scene.

There is so much dead space in that picture weighing it down. Not trying to pick on Thelma but their choices across the board just look like they were trying to catch up on the Oscar buzz.


  • The Artist - Anne-Sophie Bion & Michel Hazanavicius
  • Bridesmaids - William Kerr & Michael L Sale
  • Midnight in Paris - Alisa Lepselter
  • My Week With Marilyn - Adam Recht
  • Young Adult - Dana E Glauberman

Another interesting point of discussion is Bridesmaids. Given the improvisational nature of the performances, it must have been hell to edit (a very enjoyable kind of hell) so points for managing and it definitely takes great editing skill to make that many jokes land. So props to Kerr & Sale (who are far from the least worthy nominee in this lineup). But, with the compliments out of the way, isn't one of the main criticisms of Bridesmaids that it feels shapeless, haphazard and that it's way too long? And isn't editing a great factor in whether or not movies feel that way?

Dana Glauberman at the Hollywood Awards last yearMy favorite nomination here might be Dana Glauberman's (pictured left)  for Young Adult. I think she's really special as editors go (see also: Up in the Air for which she was absurdly not Oscar nominated). Her work for Reitman tends to have great rhythm, the cut choices are smart and it's just tight tight tight. There is no fat on that picture whatsoever.

Will any of the comedy nominees make it to Oscar? The Artist might. You could also argue that editing is even slightly more crucial to the success of comedy (it's all in the timing) and action (it's all in the rhythms and sustained tension) than to dramatic pictures. And yet with Oscar you'll find that mostly drama is honored... because that's where the "best pictures" are located. In short, I'd like the editors to think a little harder on their selections from year to year. 

DRAMA Nominees

  • The Descendants -Kevin Tent
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Angus Wall & Kirk Baxter
  • Hugo - Thelma Schoonmaker
  • Moneyball - Christopher Tellefsen
  • War Horse - Michael Kahn

Christopher Tellefsen in the editing bayMy vote -- if only I had one -- would go to Christopher Tellefsen in a split second. Moneyball had such great easy flow, consistently engaging whether it was cutting from footage to flashback to the linear story being told, and really attuned to the nuances of Brad Pitt's star turn.

Will all of these make it to Oscar?
I truly think Tellefsen is deserving, which is why I worry he's the most likely to be dropped when Oscar nominations roll in. Argh!


  • The Adventures of Tintin - Michael Kahn
  • Puss in Boots -Eric Dapkewicz
  • Rango - Craig Wood

More nominations for television over at the American Cinema Editors official site


The Family of "Hugo" Cabret

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Hugo a second time at my favorite* NYC theater, the Ziegfeld. It's an enormous "Old Hollywood" feeling place, one of the last of its kind so it couldn't have been a better setting for an all guild screening of a movie that's obsessed with the history of the movies just like Martin Scorsese himself. Let's call him "Papa Scorsese" today since he brought along nearly his entire movie "family" apart from cinematographer Robert Richardson (referred to as "Bob") who Scorsese joked was  'off filming a movie with this new guy called Quentin somebody (?)'

3-time Oscar winners Thelma Schoonmaker and Sandy Powell await their cue © Nathaniel Rogers

Everyone else was there: Legendary art director Dante Ferretti, legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker, legendary costume designer Sandy Powell... well you get the idea...


Dante Ferretti, Art Direction
His job didn't change much in 3D, he revealed. He joked that the room we're sitting in is 3D. It took him six months to build the sets. He and his team built everything: the station, the glass movie house, even Papa Georges's (Ben Kingsley) apartment. With the look of the film they were attempting to base it not on realistic research but on images from the cinema and French cinema of the period specifically.

Ellen Lewis, Casting
She had not seen The Boy With Stryped Pajamas when the casting search for the lead role of Hugo began in New York, London and Los Angeles simultaneously. Someone sent her the movie and she met with Asa Butterfield the first week she was in London.

She added:

Many times, oddly, in casting children you find the child you're looking for in the first week or the last week. I don't know how to explain why."

They decided to have everyone speak in British accents after casting Asa because they didn't want to alter his voice and he was the first actor cast. 

Visual Effects
The visual effects supervisor -- his name escapes me in. Apologies -- had this to say about George Melies as the originator of special effects?

He didn't have anything to refer to besides his own imagination. Before I started the movie I had only seen Voyage to the Moon and I thought it was okay but then I started to really study his films, like that clip where he throws his head up into the stanza of music. That's genius. I had to play it back three or four times to figure out how he did it. He did this in 1905 so I felt rather small."  

Costume recreations, Scorsese joking about budgets and more after the jump.

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Reader of the Day: Jamie

Today's Reader of the Day is Jamie who lives in LA.  I've never met her but she once volunteered as a magical Film Experience elf to give us a few articles direct from the Cannes Festival (this year's lineup is announced very soon, so stay tuned). So let's start there.

Nathaniel: How did your Cannes journey come out? What's your favorite memory from it?
JAMIE: I had the privilege of attending twice (2008, 2009) through my university. Unlike many college programs, our mandate was simply to see as many films as possible. Simply getting to worship at the altar of film that frequently over the course of two weeks is irreplaceable.

My favorite memory was not seeing one of the many award-winners or much-hyped titles, but rather attending the world premiere of the restored print of The Red Shoes. Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker hosted the screening, and hearing Scorsese talk at length about the passion the film inspired within him, as well as Thelma's relationship with Powell, made me feel like I was part of some exclusive club of cinephiles. I ended up having to miss the premiere of Precious to attend, a decision that bewildered my fellow festival-goers, but it was so worth it. I had never before seen The Red Shoes and seeing it in that environment was almost a holy experience.


A holy experience.

First movie? First movie obsession?
I do not remember my first movie (for shame), and I had a lot of strange obsessions when I was younger. Due to my father's job, we always had access to all of the premium cable and pay per view channels, so I would just re-watch the films I loved on some type of continuous loop until I could move on. That's why I still know all of the dialogue to Selena.

However, my first informed obsessions came toward the end of my high school career. I impulsively bought a Miramax Best Picture DVD set that included The English Patient and Shakespeare in Love. I fell madly in love with each of the films and became obsessed with the narratives that emerged around them and their unfairly maligned legacies. It's when I first became aware of the many intricacies and politics of Oscar season. The films fostered an obsession with Harvey Weinstein and Miramax that eventually led to my first film internship, my honors thesis, and my current not-allowed-to-talk-about job.

Which current director are you rooting for in a big way in the next few years?
Lone Scherfig earned my eternal devotion with An Education. I think she has the potential to become a vital, female commercial directing voice. I don't usually root for the directors I love to sell out, but I think we need more ladies working within the studios. And Armando Ianucci made me laugh harder than I feel comfortable admitting with In the Loop. I love that he doesn't treat politics as sacrosanct and doesn't allow the humor to get in the way of making a resonant point.

Tell us about the biopic of your life. Who will it star, etcetera?
I will have to anger the movie gods and instead opt for a television series. I want Paul Feig and Judd Apatow to create an updated version of Freaks and Geeks based on my high school experience, still starring the lovely Linda Cardellini. The one thing that always bothered me about that show was that Lindsey was forced to choose between being completely straight-laced with Millie and the mathletes or a burn-out with the freaks. I too went to a suburban public high school rife with the usual parties and drama, but it was also extremely competitive and the popular kids were amongst the highest achieving. I'd love to see someone meaningfully tackle the intricacies of being a seemingly "normal" but hyper-ambitious teen still negotiating the pain and angst of growing up.

Freaks and Geeks is so genius. It takes place in a Michigan High School and name-checks places we actually went while in high school in Michigan. The clothes, the language, the "types" ... everything brings back memories -- more than any other movie or high school set show ever has for me. The show reminds me of my sister (although we were far enough apart in age that we didn't actually go to high school together like the brother / sister in the show) and all my Michigan friends so I it so hard. I really do.

Oops BIG TANGENT! Ok. Let's wrap up. Your favorite movie in the following 5 genres: musical, drama, romance, Woody Allen, and last year (yes, "last year" is a genre). Go.
Due to some unknown childhood trauma, I've always been wary of traditional musicals but I absolutely love All That Jazz and Dancer in the Dark. Regarding the former, the recent news about Bryan Singer directing a Fosse biopic infuriated me. What can any biopic reveal that All that Jazz didn't already cover? 

Network is my all-time favorite film, so it easily takes the drama category. As much as I tired of Aaron Sorkin's tear through Oscar season, I couldn't help but smile at every Paddy Chayefsky reference. Romance: Before Sunset. Even though I think it's Woody Allen's least favorite, I adore Hannah and Her Sisters. The "not even the rain has such small hands" moves me every time I see it. Having said that, I was raised on Woody Allen films and would jump at the opportunity to watch any of them at the slightest notice.

Finally, despite my previous Sorkin slight, The Social Network was by far my favorite last year. It felt like one of those special movies made just for me.