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Vintage '95

The Supporting Actress Smackdown 1995 Edition arrives on Sunday so let's talk context since we haven't revisited as much of 1995 as we'd hoped to! We've only hit the Jane Austen trend, Nicole Kidman's breakout year, a Bonus Podcast on Actresses and Films to Revisit, and Dolores Claiborne. Damn, we had planned much more. But many of you will already have your own personal context for the year, which isn't true of many years of "Smackdown" events so it's fine.

In many ways, though, 1995 was a completely different world. The internet was still in its list-serve infancy. The idea of computer generated movies was a joyful novelty. And aside from Batman, superheroes were still mostly relegated to "light" TV shows. Remember Teri Hatcher in Lois & Clark ?

EW photoshoot from June 1995

Great Big Box Office Hits: 1) Toy Story... the first wholly computer generated feature film 2) Batman Forever 3) Apollo 13 4) Pocahontas 4) Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls 6) GoldenEye 7) Jumanji 8) Casper 9) Se7en 10) Die Hard: With a Vengeance

Michelle & Coolio. They had a hit film, smash video, and the year's #1 single. But zero oscar nodsOscar's Best Pictures: Braveheart (10 noms / 5 wins), Apollo 13 (9 noms / 2 wins), Babe (7 noms / 1 win), Sense & Sensibility (7 noms / 1 win), and Il Postino (5 noms / 1 win).

My theories as to what was just outside the shortlist plus more '95 goodies follow...

Click to read more ...


Smackdown 1995. Meet the Panelists

IMPORTANT UPDATE: The Next Supporting Actress Smackdown has been pushed back one week to Sunday August 2nd. That leaves us just under two weeks for any 1995 madness we want to get off our chest. That's leaves you just under two weeks to finish revisiting the Supporting Actresses at home and get your votes in by Thursday July 30th. Please only vote on the performances you've seen...

Just outside the shortlist that year? Who knows but maybe it was Globe nominees Kyra Sedgwick (Something to Talk About) and Anjelica Huston (The Crossing Guard), or SAG nominee Stockard Channing (Smoke) or future nominee Rachel Griffiths (Muriel's Wedding). Or maybe it was Magda Szubanski (Babe) on account of the Best Pictureness of it all. In our fantasies it was definitely Gina Gershon (Showgirls).

Here's a little bit about our panel to prep you for our conversation as they finish up their screenings...

First Time Smackdowners

Kevin O'Keeffe occasionally stops talking about "Smash" long enough to think about film. He even writes about it sometimes at Mic, where he's the arts staff writer in residence, but he's also written for The AtlanticThe AdvocateLA Weekly and more. Let him be your star by following him on Twitter.

What does 1995 mean to you?

I'm ashamed to admit I was a child in that year, so my big motion picture experience was Babe. (I'm surprised Babe didn't get a nomination for Best Supporting Actress, to be frank.) I hadn't seen many of these movies – the early 90s are a bit of a void for me, since I'm usually revisiting older movies or keeping up with newer ones. That's what drew me to the year for the Smackdown: It was the year I was alive, and yet I knew the least about it of any.


Lynn is a government lawyer who spends most of her time outside work obsessing over arts and pop culture.  Her current fascination is with "The Americans" on FX. Her first love, though, will always be movies, thanks to parents who raised her on an eclectic diet of Ingmar Bergman, talky French films, 1960s musicals, Star Wars, and Spielberg blockbusters.  You can find her occasional musings on movies and TV on her blog and as a new contributor to TFE.

What does 1995 mean to you?

My life as a movie lover can be divided into two periods: Before 1995 and After 1995.  Before 1995, I watched movies with my parents and friends, but didn't really seek out movies that I wanted to see for myself alone.  All that changed starting the summer of '95, when I graduated from high school and for once had nothing to do but watch movies, and that fall, when I headed off to college in an actual CITY and discovered a whole moviegoing universe I'd only been dimly aware of before.  I discovered there was such a thing as theaters reserved exclusively for "arthouse" and "independent" films.  (First movie seen in such a theater: "The Brothers McMullen," or maybe it was "Chasing Amy.")  I discovered Kate Winslet in "Sense & Sensibility."  I discovered that movies could become the college equivalent of water cooler conversation ("The Usual Suspects").  Above all else, I discovered that movies were something you could discuss with communities of fellow movie lovers - and I've never looked back since then.".


Conrado "Coco" Falco can be described as a student currently earning his undergraduate degree at Hunter College, as an aspiring theater director currently working on a play about the life and death of Taylor Swift, or as a film blogger currently writing for his personal blog Coco Hits New York. First and foremost, however, he is a film lover. [Follow Coco on Twitter.] 

What does 1995 mean to you?

One of my earliest (and most traumatic) memories comes from Christmas Eve 1995. I was three at the time. My grandma told me she had wrapped my gift in the "Snoopy" wrapping paper, so I went straight to it before anyone read the tag. To my surprise, the gift was a Pocahontas Barbie doll. I was mocked by all my cousins in what was one of the most embarrassing moments of my childhood. I don't have many specific '95 memories otherwise, except for the fact that  "Babe" and "Toy Story" were big staples of my childhood. I'm currently revisiting '95 movies in my personal blog, and discovering that it might be one of the most underrated years in American cinema. 

Returning Panelists

Nick gets a big photo because he worked 1995 into his bio photo. Look at all those movies!

Nick Davis writes the reviews and features at the website Nick's Flick Picks.  The site's unpredictable cycles of frenzied activity and long dormancy have to do with his also being an Associate Professor of English and Gender & Sexuality Studies at Northwestern, where his research and teaching mostly concern narrative film in different eras, genres, and countries. [Follow Nick on Twitter]

What does 1995 mean to you?

I started college in 1995 and also started going to movies by myself in, at last, a big city with broad offerings. You work out which development was more exciting. I bought the Entertainment Weekly Summer Preview and concluded that five movies were unmissable: "The Bridges of Madison County" (because even the terrible book made me cry), "Little Odessa" (Redgrave, I guess?), "Mad Love" (crush on Chris O'Donnell), "Nine Months" (crush on Hugh Grant), and "Species" (crush on Natasha Henstridge, plus aliens, plus ambivalence about procreating). I saw "Apollo 13" with my dad before I left for school and "Sense and Sensibility" with my mom when I came home, and "Nixon" with my dad over that same Christmas, so basically you're asking me to pick between my parents. I saw "Babe" at least four times and forced skeptics to come with me. I deduced instantly who Keyser Söze was and didn't give a flying coffee cup. I deterred silent, unwanted advances from a friend while we watched "Se7en" and wondered how this movie could possibly be arousing her. I was the only man at near-empty opening-day matinees of "Home for the Holidays" and "How to Make an American Quilt". I walked into a genuine surprise birthday party my friends in the freshman dorm had thrown for me, but I left after two minutes because, I'm sorry, I'd already bought a ticket to "To Die For". I liberally quoted Angela Bassett from "Strange Days" like I was deep. I saw "Leaving Las Vegas" with the same friend I took to "Se7en". She didn't start stroking my neck this time, and we rode home in 20 minutes of unbroken silence, because by that time, a month later, I really was deep. I didn't get "Shorty". I was the face of love. I skipped "Braveheart" till the desperate studio re-released it in February, because these are our crosses to bear, sometimes literally. I skipped "Toy Story" like a damn fool. I saw it plenty of times later. I never saw "Mad Love," so what has it all been for?


Born in Johannesburg but based in London, Guy is the chief UK film critic for Variety, and a home entertainment columnist for The Observer. His writing also appears at Time Out, Empire, The Guardian and any outlet willing to pay for long-form thinkpieces about knitwear in the movies. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyLodge.

What does 1995 mean to you?

In 1995, I was twelve years old and in my last year of primary school — on the knife-edge, then, between feeling confidently grown and authoritative, and being tossed out of my depth into adolescence. My cultural diet was in a similarly transitional state. After a hovering period, 1995 was the year I said goodbye to the children's section of the library and devoured “Jane Eyre” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”; at the movies, my parents merged my growing interests with theirs and took me to see “Three Colours: Red.” (It was both the first subtitled film I saw in the cinema, as well as the first with a no-under-16s certificate. I appreciated their trust.) Out in the larger world, my fellow South Africans were celebrating our rugby team's against-all-odds World Cup victory, joyously consolidating the national repairwork started by the previous year's election. It wouldn't last, and Clint Eastwood would later make that moment in time seem that much drabber. But the memory of temporary invincibility remains..


And your host...

Nathaniel is the founder of The Film Experience, a reknowned Oscar pundit, and the web's actressexual ringleader. He fell in love with the movies for always at The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) but mostly blames Oscar night (in general) and the 80s filmographies of Kathleen Turner & Michelle Pfeiffer (specifically). Though he holds a BFA in Illustration, he found his true calling when he started writing about the movies. He blames Boogie Nights for the career change. [Follow him on Twitter]

What does 1995 mean to you?

'I'm getting a bit old for that whorey look.'


1995 is when I graduated from college so it was a big year but it seems to have entirely evaporated in my memory but for the birth of the late 20th century's New Trash Masterpiece "Showgirls".

If I dig a little-bit harder into the memory banks I remember heavy rotation among roommates and friends for Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill," Björk's "Post" and the "Pocahontas" soundtrack (showtunes 4ever! Don't judge). Cinematically, I was in deep deep throes of love for broken-winged Brad Pitt in "Se7en," Elisabeth Shue's booze-drenched boobs in "Leaving Las Vegas," and Angela Bassett's fierce elocution and even fiercer hair in "Strange Days." My least favorite movie-going memory was seeing "Braveheart" in the theater and hearing audiences cheering its ridiculous homophobia. My best movie-going memory from '95 is taking my three little nephews to see "Babe" which they loved and kept quoting in their adorable squeaky little kid voices which they would try to make yet squeakier to approximate the mice. One of them just announced his engagement  - Eeek! How was 1995 twenty whole years ago!?!?!

What does 1995 mean to you dear readers?

Do tell in the comments.


Tim's Toons: 1995, the year that changed animation

Tim here. We're celebrating 1995 this month at the Film Experience, and I'm ecstatic to bring the conversation around to that year's animated films. 1995 was, y'see, the most transformational year the animation industry had experienced in a generation, the dividing line between a 60-year-old tradition on one hand and the entirely different landscape of animated features in the twenty years since.

We have to begin even farther back. You can't tell a story about a revolution without looking at the ancien régime, and in '95, Walt Disney Feature Animation was as ancien as it gets. After having spent almost twenty straight years wandering around in the wilderness following namesake Walt Disney's death, the studio finally began righting itself through a painful learning process that started with the 1986 release of The Great Mouse Detective. Beginning with that movie, almost every subsequent Disney feature would improve upon the box-office take of its immediate predecessor.

This was the Disney Renaissance, when the studio just couldn't stop itself from cranking out one new classic after another. There was Beauty and the Beast, the only animated film nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in a field of 5; Aladdin, the first animated film to break $200 million at the U.S. box office; and then, the hit of all hits, 1994's The Lion King, a blockbusting monster that is, for many, the defining film of contemporary American animation. The company was at the all-time height of its influence and prestige. There was nowhere to go but down.

And down things went, with Pocahontas in June, 1995...

Click to read more ...


Tim's Toons: The Many Tears of Pixar

Tim here. We're just a couple of days from the release of Inside Out, the 15th feature produced by Pixar Animation Studios, and by virtually unanimous consent, a return to the glory days of a company that has spent the last few years in search of its artistic mojo.

It’s a movie about emotions, the personification of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear present in the mind of an 11-year-old girl. As befits its topic, virtually unanimous consent is also that it will make you feel lots. And it will make you cry. Lots.


Click to read more ...


Dinosaurs & Toys: New Posters!

Manuel here bringing you a double dose of dino-related posters. Jurassic Park and Toy Story, two seminal early 90s smashes continue to make waves in 2014. This shouldn't be so surprising seeing as they both function as perfect metaphors for Hollywood, one premised on the ability to bring back to life the dead and forgotten, the other quite literally representing a world where our cherished toys get a big screen treatment.

Jurassic Park, as we know is headed for a splashy 2015 summer sequel. Word on Jurassic World has been quiet (give or take a couple of pics of Chris Pratt in a body-hugging Henley) but since we are only eight months away (!), it’s clear publicity for the film will start kicking into high gear. This is necessary as they’ll be busy dropping plot hints and opening dates and casting rumors for the inevitable sequel by the time the film is actually in theaters. In any case, director Colin Trevorrow released the poster below via Twitter this week.

Toy Story, which had a significantly more successful run as a movie trilogy, has of late been the subject of a couple of funny if feather-weight short films (airing either before Disney/Pixar films or during prime time on ABC) that take our beloved characters into new situations as if they were a couple of CGI-variety show performers. They took on horror last year and this year they’re up against a bunch of dino-fiends in Toy Story That Time Forgot. (I will say, I like the teaser poster better).

Are you excited to revisit these worlds? Do these posters get you excited for these new projects or nostalgic for the properties they inevitably call to mind?  


Posterized: Disney/Pixar

My review of Monsters University will be up tomorrow but for now, let's revive our supposedly weekly (ahem) series Posterized to look back at all 13 Pixar Features and discuss their chronology and, the fun part, their hierarchy. AND... I just keep gilding this CGI lily,  how they compare to the first 13 DISNEY Animated Features. Yep, throwing a little curveball into the frequent "ranking Pixar" conversations, I am.

Toy Story (1995) 3 Oscar nominations. Won an Honorary Oscar. Basically changed the (showbiz) world forever. [my ten favorite moments from this classic]
A Bugs Life (1998) 1 Oscar nomination (Score, Musical or Comedy)
Toy Story 2 (1999)  1 Oscar nomination (Song). It was right about here that people started arguing for an Animated Feature Oscar category (Tarzan and The Iron Giant were also released this year) but that wouldn't happen for another couple of years. 

And then...

Click to read more ...


Finding Nemo 2: Jumping the Shark

By now you've heard the news that Pixar is working on a Finding Nemo 2 with director Andrew Stanton (John Carter) returning to the fold. Someone really needs to give little Nemo a compass, poor thing. 

More distressing is the persistent rumor (not fact as far as I can tell) that Toy Story 4 is being developed. If they make it, I honestly believe that they should revoke all of Toy Story 3's reviews and its Best Picture nomination; its massive success and emotional wallop hinged on it being the finale, the moment you, like Andy, had to say a tearful final goodbye. If they make Toy Story 4 it was a lie. (It already was a fib given that the characters lived on in short films immediately thereafter.)

The Hollywood Reporter doesn't mention Toy Story 4 in their roundup of what's going on with Pixar but they do say this very very odd thing:

The move is also a safe one by Pixar, the company that once was praised for cranking out original film after original film, but now seems to trying to balance commercial prospects with unique creations.

What is there to balance?

Pixar IS the safe commercial prospect. Sequels are redundant since people go because the movies are Pixar. They don't go because they love the characters/singular franchise. Most of the time they haven't met the characters yet. All Pixar movies are already "safe commercial prospects" by virtue of the studio's reputation and marketability. So why not make original movies and keep the reputation intact, keep the legacy and critical sheen as The Greatest Movie Studio Ever?


Frankly I don't get it. Yes, Finding Nemo 2 will make more than Brave but why sacrifice your reputation and legacy for an extra ½ billion when everything you release makes at least that much? Brave, an original that was seen as a risk given its female protagonist, has earned $244 million globally and is still going strong and Merida herself will surely generate 100s of millions more in merchandising by virtue of that billion dollar Disney Princess branding. Ratatouille, an original that was seen as a risk due to its subject matter (ewww!), earned $623 million globally. Up, an original that was seen as a risk given its old man protagonist,  earned $731 million globally and a Best Picture nomination. WALL•E, which was seen as a risk given its nearly silent movieisms, earned $521 million globally along with an instant reputation as a masterpiece and did more than most Pixar pictures to cement their reputation as a commercially minded company that also indisputably produces great art.

Didn't Cars 2 do enough to sully their reputation, making them appear as Profits-First driven as every other studio?