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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X-Men: First Adaptation

Andreas here. In his recent review of X-Men: First Class, Nathaniel pointed out how movies keep trying to master "television's most powerful asset (long form storytelling) without having the right equipment by which to master it (weekly hour-long episodes)." This is exactly why, to my mind, the most successful adaptation of the X-Men comics to date wasn't directed by Bryan Singer, and doesn't have a numeral after it. It's the Marvel/Saban-produced X-Men: The Animated Series, which ran for 76 episodes in the mid-'90s.

Like many superhero-themed TV shows, X-Men: TAS served as a "greatest hits" compilation, compacting decades of comics storylines into dense, bite-sized portions. It showcased some of the comics' most thrilling narrative arcs and most terrifying villains, like Apocalypse and the Sentinels. While the X-Men films have only scratched the surface of most characters, reserving the vast majority of screen time for Xavier, Magneto, and a few privileged others, the animated series had time to explore its mutant ensemble, devoting whole episodes to individual crises.

Better yet, X-Men: TAS used its guise a kids show (complete with lasers, spaceships, and time travel) to introduce a new generation to a range of social issues: institutionalized oppression, harassment, self-loathing, political assassinations, police states, and more. It was covertly progressive and slyly written in ways that are still impressive today. The show ended its run over a decade ago, yet its main authority figures (who doubled as bad-ass warriors) were a black woman and a disabled man.

So while I'm still excited to see X-Men: First Class, I doubt it'll top X-Men: The Animated Series, which embraced and exploited its source material's superpowered soap opera. (It was also my childhood gateway drug into the nerdy world of superheroes and comics, so that nostalgic attachment helps.)

I'll close with my big wish as a cinephile and animation junkie: why can't we get more high-quality, feature-length, animated superhero movies, à la Batman: Mask of the Phantasm? Bad example, I guess, since that was tragically unprofitable... but the idea's still good! I'd definitely pay $8-10 to see X-Men: The Animated Movie on the big screen. Oh, and Marvel, while you're catering to my dreams: can you please bring back the Sentinels?

What dreams would you like Marvel to fulfill?


Linkland: Thelma & Louise, Marion & Melanie, Regina & Shawn

Movie|Line "what the box office skeptics are missing about Super 8"?
In Contention does not like Super 8. "Super h8ted it" Uh oh.
Just Jared Dakota Fanning's High School Graduation. Congrats Dakota!
Mister Hipp "sometimes you can still catch me dancing in it" - just lovely. Still my favorite Tim Burton film.
Kenneth in the (212) Thelma & Louise, 20 years later (in Toronto.) Awwww I ♥. Sadly, Brad Pitt was not there.
Tom Shone loves Melanie Laurent in Beginners. As do I.
The Critical Condition has a really interesting question/thought about Marion Cotillard in Midnight in Paris. NOTE: Don't read it until after you've seen the movie!
Splash Page talks to Chris Evans about working on The Avengers.

X-Men "Born This Way" Parody.

Teehee. Fun lyrics although some may quibble about Magneto not being... that other way.

Finally, Scott Feinberg shares the nominees for the 1st annual BTJA "Critics Choice" Awards. Mad Men cleans up but the interesting part is the Emmy-diversion details: Glee is nominated but Jane Lynch is the only cast member with a nomination; they're absolutely nuts for all AMC shows; and Southland got a nomination for Shawn Hatosy (yes!) but not for Regina King (boo!). If you watch Southland you'll know that Hatosy's role got crazy intense this past season as his screen partner Kevin Alejandro was killed (so that he could sex up Lafayette on True Blood... or was that a post-job-loss career get?) and Hatosy's character broke down hard. But the MVP of this show is still Regina King. Go Regina!


TV @ The Movies: Parks and Recreation

Summer is a strange time at Chez Nathaniel. Though I'm a film guy, summer movie season isn't really even close to my favorite movie time. And though I'm not totally a TV guy, I miss my shows (No Mad Men this summer is going to be the strangest).

Fr'instance, I'm already missing Parks & Recreation since the fantastic two part Season Finale aired a week back.

The Haverford Charm Ray! wah-wah-wah

You know I LOL'ed at this moment when Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) decides to use the "Haverford Charm Ray" on an old lady who works on the dread 4th Floor. How to do it? Flatter her with screen goddess comparisons.

He wants this old lady to do his work for him. Time to butter her up.

Click to read more ...


"True Blood" Witches. True Blood Watchers?

I've been on a True Blood tear, catching up with Season 3. I haven't enjoyed it nearly as much as Season 2 (the peak) partially because the Big Bad "Russell, King of Mississippi" (Denis O'Hare) wasn't half as interesting, dynamic or amusing as immortal maenad "MaryAnn" (Michelle Forbes) from Season 2. Plus, I've missed the comedy gold that sprung up in the religious cult satire subplot which starred Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten), the ensemble's undersung hero. Yes, everyone loves his body. But he's arguably the most gifted comic in the cast.

Here's the new teaser for the fourth season of True Blood. If Fiona Shaw, the sensational stage actress, Harry Potter's Aunt Petunia, and our favorite batshit crazy sociopathic rich lady (The Black Dahlia) is this season's Big Bad, maybe Season 4 will rival Season 2?

Here's the teaser.

Quick show of hands for any TFE coverage?
Please vote.



Game of Thrones, Three Hours In 

I've resisted commenting on the new HBO series Game of Thrones, made possible by way of The Lord of the Rings. (That's a gift that will hopefully keep on giving to the fantasy genre. No one wants to go back to the 80s when B movie status was forced upon an entire genre.) I wanted to see how the series did or did not evolve from the kick-off show a couple of weeks back. So after three hours in the Seven Kingdoms, it feels like time to discuss.

After glancing at a few reviews and comment pieces, most of which seem elated at the ratings or the instant second season renewal, it seems the general consensus is FuckYeahGameofThrones. I am personally not elated though I did want to be. I imagined that the right cast or storytelling decisions in the series would smooth over or even hurdle some of the problems with the book series. I loved the first book but grew less enamored with each until I finally gave up on the series halfway through the third. By that time we had been introduced to dozens of major characters (plus several dozen minor ones) and the story threads, splintered at the thrilling final chapters of the first book, had only been rebraided in the abstract. The characterizations were, generally speaking, quite interesting. What killed it was the lack of interaction between the characters. The map is so big and the plots so resistant to truly intertwining that it felt like you were reading 100 different novels at once and even the ones about blood relatives would almost never overlap. Great characters are great characters but even they need chemistry with other great characters to truly leap off the page or screen.

George R R Martin can turn a phrase with the best of them, build a thrilling moment, and make complex decisions about characterizations (the best longform aspects of the book may be that, aside from maybe three or four characters, most of them minor, nobody seems entirely like heroes or villains). But I found the author's voice too cruel -- the ratio of gruesome plot turns to endearing or lighter or funny or romantic bits is roughly 99 to 1 -- and the stories far too repetitve once it was clear that entire books would go by and we'd still be harping on the same points (in that way it was already a television soap opera!) and still yearning for some face-to-face time between ANY of the characters we'd seen interact in the first novel.

But here's how the pros and cons and character detail breaks down thus far.

Click to read more ...


The Time Link Machine

The Now
Pajiba Joanna reveals 10 current tv characters she'd like to shag. Hear hear on #7 Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott on Parks and Recreation). Zoinks but I love him. And the show, too. One of those blessed TV shows that gets consistently stronger all the time, as if learning from itself rather than calcifying.
The Wrap Hugh Dancy takes the lead in Spree. I was wondering what had become of him outside of being on Claire Danes arm at awards shows.
Gold Derby Emmy categorizations. Chris Colfer (Glee) and Ed O'Neill (Modern Family) are going for supporting again despite the lead Comedy Actor category opening up a bit with the exit of Emmy slot hogs  from Monk and Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Kenneth in the (212) turns us on to a Mark Ruffalo Guest DJ program
Scene Stealers ran a fun Thor hammer photoshop contest. See the amusing results.

gif via Sonia

The Future
My New Plaid Pants Jeremy Renner would like to play Steve McQueen in a movie but JA has a better idea: Rainer Werner Fassbinder. My feelings are Yes and Hell, Yes.
Boing Boing Omelette recipe printed on an egg. Oh Technology you clever clever scamp.
IndieWire Ed Burns is never going back to theatrical releases (via Tribeca Film Festival).

The Past
Towleroad Karl Lagerfied is the new Willy Wonka.
i09 Restored uncensored version of Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is being published. Does this mean we'll get another film version.
The Awl, like Pajiba, is feeling the lusty month of may already. 111 Literary characters in order of Bangability. Ha. You'll never believe it but Mr. Darcy is NOT #1.
BET remembers Imitation of Life
Old Hollywood on affection for former lovers via Jeanne Moreau.
Stirred Straight Up With a Twist did you know that Joan Crawford was almost named Joan Arden.


Oscar Calendar and Today's Linkage

A note before we get to the links. Here's the new Oscar calendar. I'm updating the clock (downloadable) in the side bar as we speak.

  • 12/27/2011 - Nomination Ballots mailed
  • 1/13/2012 - Ballots Due
  • 1/24/2012 - OSCAR NOMINATION MORNING! (aka Christmas!)
  • 2/1/2012 - Voting Ballots mailed
  • 2/6/2012 - Nomination Luncheon
  • 2/12/2012 - All Ballots due
  • 2/26/2012 - OSCAR NIGHT (aka New Year's Eve!)

Boy Culture SPOILER ALERT writes up the finale party of RuPaul's Drag Race. With video interviews of the cast. (This is the first time I've been happy about the winner of any season. Not only was Raja my favorite contestant but she was also, perhaps not coincidentally, the most obviously movie-aware, referencing Carrie, Heathers, and other movies and classic stars throughout the competition.
Scene Stealers Top Ten movies about Runners. Apparently Track and Field isn't my thing. I was shocked to realized that I've only seen [gulp] 10% of this list. Which is not something I normally can say about top ten movie lists.
Sociological Images asks "who goes to the movies" the answers, given what Hollywood makes, may surprise you.
Marvel commemorates the start of The Avengers production with a set photo. Logo chairs!
My New Plaid Pants commemorates the same by offering up costume design of his own for Chris Evans' Captain America.
Serious Film condemns and defends The King's Speech now that it's out on DVD; Oscar winners have a tough time defending their reputations as history marches on.


IFC will make you scroll through five pages for the full list but they're naming the Top 25 Best Female Characters From TV. It's an all time list rather than a current list so don't get too excited about seeing, like, "Tami Taylor" on the list (I'm so obsessed with Friday Night Lights. Final season airing right now). 30 Rock's Liz Lemon is the highest ranking contemporary character (#9) and we can fully get behind #1, especially if it's night time, we're outside, and fanged creatures are approaching us.


Nashville: Chatting with Sam Jaeger and Sarah Hagan

I'm back in NYC, yo. So let's wrap up Nashville coverage with some odds and ends, starting with two familiar television actors who had movies in the festival, Sarah Hagan and Sam Jaeger.

Sam Jaeger
, you may recognize as "Joel" from Parenthood or series regular stints on short-lived series like Eli Stone and Girls Club. We spoke in the late afternoon on a day when the VIP tent was strangely empty. Without competition for attention (his world premiere was the next evening and he'd just arrived) I yanked him my way, verbally. He was super amiable, funny and made no attempt to escape the conversation. (Ha! See, I always wonder if actors dread the constant need to be "on" while they talk to press, fans, or industry types.) We talked about his directorial feature debut Take Me Home, which is about a down on his luck photographer who ends up on an emotional roadtrip with a stranger in his part time gig as a cab driver. I revealed my surprise to him that when I got to the end of the screener I was surprised to see his name everywhere: writing, directing, producing in addition to acting. (The best thing about festivals for me is seeing films without any buzz, hype or information clouding the experience.) He had a self-deprecating sense of humor and revealed that he figured no one else would star in it with the amount of money he was planning on paying the lead. Heh.

From there we talked about Parenthood and I told him about my skeptical initial reaction to his character: 'oh i know exactly where this is going. TV is so conservative and the stay-at-home dad always morphs into a cheating villain' (see Brothers and Sisters for a recent cliche example). To my great surprise his character didn't turn out like that at all. He was not suddenly a "recurring" character instead of a regular. He laughed...

I'm glad they didn't fire me, too!

Parenthood is still awaiting word on renewal for its third season but he says he's feeling confident that they're getting picked up. If you watch Parenthood, you should read this piece at Vulture about what it does right and a few areas where it needs more work. I rarely agree so whole heartedly with an indepth analysis such as that. (Though I fear any attempt to "complicate" the Joel & Julia characters would result in some clichéd cheating that I have no interest in seeing as a plot development.)

Sarah Hagen I didn't recognize quite as immediately. But when she walked past me I did one of those 'I know this person' double takes. It took me a few seconds before I was like "Slayerette! Millie!" Though she's always a welcome small screen presence she is one of those actors who looks quite different offscreen, more traditionally glamorous and pretty than she ever is in onscreen since she's often playing "geeks" (hence: Freaks and Geeks).

Sarah Hagan in (fromt left to right): Buffy, Freaks & Geeks, and Jess+Moss

After we chatted briefly she walked me over to meet her director Clay Jeter, who is originally from Tennessee (hence the "Spirit of Tennessee" award announced yesterday). I congratulated him on Jess+Moss's recent festival win (Dallas) and asked if they'd found distribution yet. They hadn't but the awards notice and reviews had them feeling positive about a pickup. Her director wanted to know how I'd recognized her. I told him Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he said that's the number two response but he hears Freaks and Geeks most often. That was the clincher, I tell him, a one-two punch. And only two of the best television series of all time, lucky girl! Hagan, who turns 27 next month, plays Jess, a recent high school graduate in a memory piece film about a shared summer with her cousin Moss (Austin Vickers).  I asked her if she's eager to move on from the mental association we have of her as a highschooler. "Play young as long as you can, right?" she says with a smile and shrug and I guess that's true for actors of all ages. Unfortunately I was unable to fit a screening in before I had to catch my plane back so Jess+Moss remains unseen... for now. But it certainly looks intriguing in stills and was apparently shot on degraded film stock.