Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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the design of THE LOVE WITCH


"The look of the film is really fantastic, but the script begins to run out of steam after the first quarter." -Rob

"Great write-up. I had the pleasure of seeing this beauty in 35mm." -Roger



Melissa Leo (The Most Hated Woman in America)
Ritesh Batra (The Sense of an Ending)
Asghar Farhadi (Salesman)

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Entries in Tracy Letts (7)


The Furniture: Wiener-Dog's Sickly Green Cages

by Daniel Walber

Wiener-Dog is a deceptive movie. It is technically a sequel to Todd Solondz’s cult classic Welcome to the Dollhouse, but only for about a quarter of its running time. It’s actually an anthology, built around the often tragic life of an adorable, stoic dachshund. Each stop is totally separate from the last, each new character a slightly different riff on solitude and bitterness.

Yet even this structural diversity is deceptive. For while the film contains a variety of stories and locations, it is essentially one long expansion of a single set. The opening credits play over an anonymous animal shelter, where Wiener-Dog patiently waits to be adopted. One side has bars, the other a clear panel. The bright light highlights the sickly green walls, like the antiseptic glow of a dystopian hospital.

Wiener-Dog makes it out, but the cage lingers...

Click to read more ...


Review: Indignation

Manuel here with a review of Indignation, now in theaters.

Indignation is the type of film that, even if you didn’t know was adapted from a novel (by Philip Roth), you’d describe as “literary.” Part of this has to do with its dialogue which is both highly literate and thematically robust. And the other part comes from the strategically and efficaciously deployed voice overs that all but announce themselves as being cut whole cloth from a novel with a highly sophisticated narrator whose attempts at self-knowledge would be comical if they weren’t so earnestly intense.

The very first pages of Roth’s novel introduces us to Jewish student, Marcus (a wonderful Logan Lerman) as he’s rankled by his father’s sudden mistrust of him ahead of his heading to college. His father is clearly afraid for his boy—he’s seen too many of his relatives head to Korea never to come back. His pestering (and in the film, Danny Burstein gets at Marcus’s father worry as tinged by his own anticipated grief) leads him to constantly keep tabs on him, asking him where he’s been, how he can be trusted, and more pointedly: how does he know Marcus won’t go to places where he’ll get killed...

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Interview: Introducing Carrie Coon, 2014's Most Exciting New Actress

Carrie Coon at the premiere of Gone Girl in NYCActors who can register potently in all three acting mediums are less common than you'd think. Some movie stars are duds on stage (and vice versa) and, though it's becoming less of an issue as mediums shift and even merge, you can sometimes spot noticeable scale shifts in charisma in the actors who jump back and forth between TV and film as if one is the place they were born to live in and the other a nice place to visit. The lines may be blurring as more and more actors make a habit of doing all three but some actors seem right everywhere. It's not the medium but the acting itself that's their true home.

Carrie Coon is not a superstar (yet) -- "I'm not famous," she insists as we settle into our conversation about her breakthrough year -- but whichever medium you first caught her in, chances are you've already fallen. In a shockingly swift and continuous series of firsts over the past year and a half she's logged her first Broadway show (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Tony Nomination 2013) her first series regular TV (The Leftovers, expect nominations any second now) and her first film (Gone Girl, a huge hit, and inarguably one of the most talked about features of the year even if its awards season prospects are still hard to read).

Perhaps it's a case of mutual Midwestern ease but our hastily scheduled phone call feels not unlike meeting a very cool stranger a party who is completely chill and ready to TALK.

Our conversation on Gone Girl & The Leftovers is after the jump...

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Contest: See Toni Collette & Marisa Tomei on Broadway!

I have a special surprise for you NYC-area readers whose actressexuality extends beyond the silver screen to the stage. I have one pair of tickets for the March 12th dress rehearsal of the new Broadway play The Realistic Joneses to give away. It stars Toni Collette, Michael C Hall, and Marisa Tomei. I've seen all of them perform live and they're every bit as good on stage as they are onscreen (not something that can be said of all film actors!).

"How well do you know your neighbors?" THE REALISTIC JONESES asks.

...a new play about love and life, friends and neighbors.

Written by Pulitzer Prize finalist WILL ENO and directed by SAM GOLD (Fun HomeSeminar), it's an outrageous, inside look at the people who live next door, the truths we think we know and the secrets we never imagined we all might share. Hailed by The New York Times as "a tender, funny and terrific new play with the spring's most enticing new cast," THE REALISTIC JONESES moves into Broadway's Lyceum Theatre on March 13.

Marisa Tomei at a Golden Globes party recentlyTickets are not on sale for this event. This is an invite only performance so you'd be with the very first audience to see it! The show begins previews the following day. 

The play also stars Tracy Letts, the playwright, of Killer JoeBug, and August: Osage County fame (you've seen him act on Homeland and he won the Tony recently for yet another revival of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf"). I spoke to him at the Critics Choice Awards and he told me that he'd be in rehearsals for this very thing on Oscar night when Meryl & Julia are competing for statues in his August: Osage County

TO ENTER THE CONTEST: Email The Film Experience by Sunday February 23rd with the following information:


1. "Joneses" in the subject line
2. Your full name and email
3. And a sentence or two naming your favorite Toni Collette & Marisa Tomei performances or your favorite neighbor-to-neighbor relationship from a movie (so many to choose from)

Good luck! 



Yes, No, Maybe So: "August: Osage County"

Oscar-teasing trailers are just like Oscar bait movies: they all come out at the same time. Can't there be a little breathing room? After Captain Phillips warned us that Tom Hanks (and Paul Greengrass) are ready to come roaring back... After Gravity teased us with visual effects so terrifying that the prospect of Sandra Bullock acting out existential despair (not something she's known for you must admit) already seems like The Must Event of the Year... After The Butler threw a Handful of Presidents & First Ladies , Oscar Winners, Ten History Lessons, and OpPRRRrraaAAHHHh in one trailer pot and stirred itself into an Oscar Bait Frenzy (or Parody)... came The Weinstein Co's major player: AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY.

The film stars 3 Oscar winners (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper), 3 nominees (Juliette Lewis, Sam Shepard, Abigail Breslin), 1 underappreciated awesome fellow (Ewan McGregor), 1 recent Emmy winner (Martindale), 1 rising star Benedict Cumberbatch, 1 curiously resurgent Dermot Mulroney and 1 Misty Upham from Frozen River... so you know FYC ads will have to be five page spreads. The Hollywood Reporter's already counting the ad dollars because that's a lot of names to push. [more after the jump]

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Did You Gag on "Killer Joe"?

My screenings these past two weeks -- cram session! -- to complete year end business, have been like one wild tonal shift after another swinging as they have from meta rib-nudging (Seven Psycopaths) to the hormonally twee (Take This Waltz), severely depressed (Oslo August 31st) and on through the defiantly stiff and self-medicated (The Deep Blue Sea)... I can't possibly write about them all. But I did feel the night to blurt out (choke out?) a few sentences on William Friedkin's Killer Joe based on the play of the same name by Tracy Letts.

Friedkin and Letts aren't quite joined at the hip as collaborators go despite the Oscar winning filmmaker taking the cinematic reigns on both Bug and Joe. Letts most acclaimed play August: Osage County went to another filmmaker though it's fascinating to think what Friedkin might have done with the material. He is, after all, at least as willing as Letts to attack his material with edgy flair, wicked humor and artistic abandon... for better and worse.

[NC17 madness and two SPOILER images after the jump]

Click to read more ...


Venice: "Killer Joe", Last Days & Critical "Carnage" Consensus

[Editor's Note: Manolis has been reporting for The Film Experience and the Greek site Cinema News. We thank him for that. You can read all the Venice reports here. - Nathaniel R]

Emile Hirsch worshipping at Venice's red carpet

This is my last report from Venice which I'm writing from Athens. During my last two festival days I caught five films ranging from great surprises to total mediocrities.  

Quando La Notte
This little Italian romantic drama about a troubled young mother and a mountaineer would have benefited immensely by trimming 15 minutes from its running time. The last reel or so of the film is totally unnecessary and unfortunately shows of Cristina Comencini’s weaknesses as both screenwriter and director. The two stars, Filippo Timi and Claudia Pandolfi give very good performances, but they weren't enough to save the film from the Italian critics who just massacred it. Interesting subject matter, mediocre film.

The Exchange
The Israeli film within the Competition section started off nicely. Eran Kolirin's follow up to the much praised The Band's Visit watches an everyman watching his life from the outside; he can't figure how he ended up living the life he lives. He starts to view his life from a different perspective. What begins as a somewhat original premise soon becomes repetitive and by the film's end the story seems to have gone nowhere. But for the most part it's entertaining and Rotem Keinan gives a nice turn in the lead role. 

This was much anticipated in Venice and many thought that it would turn up to be the eventual winner. I am not so sure. Faust is clearly the work of a master director and I adored Aleksandr Sokurov's previous efforts like Mother and Son, Russian Ark and Elegy but this 140 minute film felt closer to 280. Great imagery and cinematography do not guarantee a great film.  There is too much dialogue in “Faust” about difficult and philosophical matters but not enough time to “digest” all that's being said. The actors were not impressive or to be fair, I was not impressed by the way Sokurov directed them. The movie split the audience with several walkouts and others loving it. Faust is not an easy film and though it is difficult to deny its artistic merits, this is not Sokurov's finest hour.

Killer Joe
The best late surprise of the festival. William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) is back on form with a film that reminded me somewhat of movies from Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Nobody expected this to do as well as it did, but the press reactions were very encouraging. This black comedy based on the play by the acclaimed Tracy Letts (August Osage County, Bug) has several fine performances: Juno Temple is superb, Thomas Hayden Church and Gina Gershon are hilariously pathetic and Matthew McConnaughey gets what may well be his finest screen role.  I would add the phrase “Best Supporting Acting category contenders”, but the film is clearly not the Academy’s regular cup of tea. I can imagine the voters walking out of the screenings at a particularly campy moment (which involves a chicken leg) but I would be very surprised (and delighted) if it does win Oscar traction.

Another nice surprise. This Spanish sci-fi film from director Kike Maíllo has great production values and a screenplay about a shy man designing robot software which manages to hold the audience’s attention consistently. One of its great successes is that, despite its genre, we never think “imagine what they could do if they had a Hollywood style budget”.




The visual effects may not be many and spectacular, but they are exactly of the quality and quantity that such a film needs. Eva stars the always watchable German/Spanish star Daniel Brühl and the 12 year old Claudia Vega who is a revelation.

Critical Consensus
During the Festival, a special version of Variety magazine is published in Venice (half of it in English and half in Italian). In a special chart critics from major publications (Times, Screen, Le Monde, Indiewire, Herald Tribune, La Republica and others) provide their star ratings. It is interesting to see the critical consensus about the In Competition films; English language films dominate with both Roman Polanski's Carnage and Todd Solondz Dark Horse faring much better than expected. Please note that the films competing in the last 2 days of the Festival are not yet included in this chart and this chart will not necessarily reflect the opinions of Darren Aronofsky's festival jury.

The rankings go like so.

  1. CARNAGE - 3.95/5 average (four 5 star reviews)
  2. SHAME - 3.45/5 average (three 5 star reviews)
  3. IDES OF MARCH - 3.45 (two 5 star reviews)
  4. DARK HORSE -3.23 (three 5 star reviews)
  5. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY -3.14 average
  7. A SIMPLE LIFE -3.02
  10. TERRAFERMA -2.83
  11. ALPS -2.69 (two 5 star reviews)
  12. THE EXCHANGE - 2.68 (two 5 star reviews)
  13. 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH -2.65 (one 5 star review)
  14. PEOPLE MOUNTAIN, PEOPLE SEE -2.52 (two 5 star reviews)
  15. HIMIZU -2.34 (two 5 star reviews)
  16. UN ETE BRULANT -1.80
  17. SAIDEKE BALAI -1.68
  18. QUANDO LA NOTTE -1.58


I personally support SHAME, ALPS, and CARNAGE.

Closing my series of reports from Venice, I would like to thank Nathaniel for the hospitality as well as the Greek site Cinema News, and you, the Film Experience readers.  I hope you've enjoyed the brief reports. Ciao,