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The Turning Point (1977)

"This film is like Beaches long lost relative." -Mark

"I've said it before and I'll say it again, this film's 2 Best Actress nods should've gone to 3 Women" - Yavor

"I really loved Tom Skerritt in this. I think he deserved a nomination for Supporting Actor." -Tyler

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Entries in Viola Davis (84)

Sunday
Jul172016

Q&A: Magnani, Cameos, Oscar Ties, and Homoeroticism

I promised a second round of Q&A this week so here we go. Seven more reader questions answered...

Mr W: Do you have any thoughts on Anna Magnani? She's one of my Top 10 Actresses of all time, but I don't think I've ever read anything on her from you.

I do not. Embarrassing to admit but I've only seen her in The Rose Tattoo (1955) which she was wonderful in. Any suggestions as to where to start?

/3rtful: Is there one unsung veteran actress you would like to see get an award season career boost through Ryan Murphy?

There's very few veterans I wouldn't want to see good a career boost. But i'll just name a dozen (and anyone reading should know I could list another 5 dozen with ease -- I shoulda been a casting director). Given that Murphy usually pulls from the 80s and 90s actressing packs (which, one assumes, reflects his formative fandoms) I wish he would throw a bone to Shelley Duvall (though maybe given her rumored mental health this isn't a good idea), Ally Sheedy, Daryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, or Lesley Ann Warren any of whom might be brilliant within his unusually creepy heightened worlds...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun242016

Thoughts I Had... The 'Suicide Squad' Character Posters

After Finding Dory's big opening this past weekend, our last remaining potential mega hit of the summer is Suicide Squad. The twist on the superhero super-antihero blockbuster is our only comic book film of the season left (shocking, right?) and is pushing hard to turn favor for the DC Universe after this spring's unmentionable. While it has a cast packed with stars and recognizable faces, some of its characters are still unknown to the masses.

And wouldn't you know, here's a new set of character posters to get you acquainted! We've covered the film's building teases, but this is too poppy and fun to pass up. 

Here are some thoughts...

Viola Davis: Superhero sounds like the summer blockbuster we actually need and deserve. Special powers include being flawless, cutting victims down to size with a single withering glance, and making the masses cry on cue. "Worst. Heroes. Ever."?? Not on your life, darling...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May032016

Linky Nyong'o

The Playlist Guillermo del Toro working on a movie where Richard Jenkins is a merman and Sally Hawkins is in love with him? What? And also: why not! 
Sense 8 returns soon. Here's a fun photo album blog on the making of Season 2
Decider It's the 20th anniversary of everyone's favorite crazy teen bitches and also witches movie The Craft (1996)
Variety because sooner or later every male star is required to play a serial killer, Michael Fassbender will do his duty for Entering Hades based on the John Leake's true crime novel
Vulture Jennifer Hudson gets unexpectedly honest about her lack of a Tony nomination

 

Interview talks with romance-novel-cover ready fantasy man, the Outlander star Sam Heughan
Playbill George C Wolfe and Oprah Winfrey are working on a cool sounding project called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks about a woman whose cervical cancer cells were harvested without her permission in the 50s and cloned again and again.
Pajiba this is not the angle of Pajiba's story but as with seemingly all biopic subjects Harriet Tubmann suddenly has two competing biopics in the work: Viola Davis's for HBO and one for theatrical release about which we had previously heard nothing. (Too bad that they can't be fused into one with the best elements of both because good luck finding an actress as famous and as talented and as theoretically bankable  as Viola for the actual theatrical version)
Playbill Patti Lupone on Penny Dreadful (uff, she's so great on that show) and her next musical War Paint
Lenny Letter Tony nominee and Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o reveals why she chose a small play as Oscar follow up in a great piece. Here's a brief excerpt:

As an actress, feeling connected to a fully realized, complex character is what I look for first. The size of the role, and the budget, and the perceived "buzz" around the project are much less important to me. As an African woman, I am wary of the trap of telling a single story. I decided early on that if I don't feel connected to, excited by, and challenged by the character, the part probably isn't for me. If I'm ever in doubt, I envision the career choices of artists I admire, like Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchett, and Viola Davis. They are all fearless actresses who approach every role without ego or vanity. They have a fierce commitment to the moment and the role, whether it's the lead or a character we see for just one scene. They give it their all, and it shows. The thought of having a career that in any small way might resemble theirs excites me.

She has good taste in actress heroes!

To Get It Off My Chest
Collider says the Captain America & Avengers filmmakers, the Russo Bros, are game for an LGBT character in the Marvel-verse and the article praises them accordingly for saying so (sigh). I'm not pinpointing Collider but this is a classic example of something the internet loves: 'filmmakers/actors/authors are for insert progressive thing!' news (this is also happening a lot with Star Wars of late). But here is the thing: it is NOT news but hypothetical speculation and, as such, we should not be praising anyone. Until Marvel (and other studios) and filmmakers actually show diversity we MUST stop giving them credit for suggesting that they will one day show diversity. This is also true of their issues with race. Let's stop congratulating people for hypotheticals and start concentrating on praising filmmakers who already have diversity in their films. It's like everyone praising JK Rowlings for retconning Harry Potter's Dumbledore when she wasn't brave enough to actually have him gay within the books. UNLESS PEOPLE ARE ACTUALLY DOING IT, STOP PRAISING THEM FOR SUGGESTING THAT THEY'RE COOL ENOUGH TO DO IT AND THEY MIGHT AT ANY MOMENT. JUST NOT RIGHT NOW 

Sunday
May012016

Best Actress: An "Overdue" Narrative or Fresh Blood?

The next Best Actress race hasn't remotely started so we're at the "anything goes" stage. Sally Field is the only player thus far who feels like a distinct if long shot possibility. With a Golden Globe Comedy nod highly likely for Hello My Name is Doris she'll be discussed again at year's end reminding people of her endearing star turn in the sleeper hit. But what to make of the Best Actress race. Most or all of the contenders are yet to come and there are no sure things. 

Sure, Viola Davis looks good on paper to repeat her Tony win in 2010 for Fences as the long suffering wife of a trash collector who was once a promising ball player. But there are some "what ifs" involved. Denzel Washington hasn't yet proved he's special as a director and when the revival in which they starred on Broadway hit not everyone agreed on her category placement with some theater awards deeming her "featured" (the stage's term for "supporting") rather than lead like the Tonys. And then there's the not small matter of whether the Fences will be ready in time for a release and a big Oscar push. If Viola doesn't dominate, will we have an Overdue Narrative this year or a Fresh Blood moment in Best Actress?

Consider: La Pfeiffer (3 nominations... deserved many more. Waiting to win since 1988); The Bening (4 nominations... waiting to win since 1990); Amy Adams (5 generous nominations. Waiting to win since 2005); Viola Davis (2 nominations... waiting to win since 2008). With Jessica Tandy, Hilary Swank, Rachel Weisz, and Meryl Streep winning their rightful Oscars there's ample opportunity for a "make up" year in Best Actress. 

But then again not every leading race sees a "career win" like Julianne Moore's or Leonardo DiCaprio's recently. Do you think 2016 will be an old guard year like that or a new blood situation (Negga? Pike?)? Or will it be somewhere inbetween (Emily Blunt...waiting so long for a first nomination? Jessica Chastain, twice nominated thus far?). Check the Best Actress chart and make a call in the comments. 

Thursday
Apr212016

Tribeca: Custody

Team Experience is at the Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Manuel on "Custody".

"I wanted to have the film center on female characters." That was James Lapine in a post-screening Q&A of his latest film, Custody, which premiered this past week. And boy has he delivered. Steering pretty far from familiar ground for him (he of Into the Woods and Six by Sondheim fame), Lapine has crafted a mosaic-like portrait of the labyrinthine bureaucracy that are the family court proceedings in New York City. Sara Diaz, a young single mother of two (Catalina Sandino Moreno, putting those wounded eyes to great use), finds herself embroiled in a custody battle when an accident leaves her son with a black eye that forces the school to call child services. Sara is assigned to a freshly minted lawyer, Ally Fisher (Hayden Panettiere, in her most mature role to date) who quickly realizes there's more to this case than her client leads on. This makes pleading her case at Martha Schulman’s court all the trickier, especially as the city is still reeling from a previous tragedy caused by a failure in the system; all involved are committed to not letting another child be sent back to a negligent household.

The structure of the film is such that we see the court proceedings but also get to know these characters: we see Schulman (Viola Davis, imperious and sympathetic in equal measure) as she struggles with marital problems, and see Sara adjusting to the increasingly frustrating ordeal of being separated from her kids, while Ally finally attempts to bring closure to a family secret. And while these three actresses are fantastic all around, coloring their interactions with the complexity and nuance which Lapine's script demands, it is Ellen Burstyn, in two key scenes as Ally’s grandmother, that gives everyone a master class in acting. She's helped by a prickly (and at key times light-hearted) script that grapples with Big Issues but wraps them in personal stories that never feel (solely) didactic. 

That is, until the last 20 or so minutes when Lapine inexplicably gives Viola and Catalina two monologues that play like bluntly-written thesis statements for the film. They’re impassioned pleas that nevertheless sell the screenplay short, giving viewers who would dub this a "TV movie on the big screen" all the Law & Order/Boston Legal comparisons you'd ever need. 

Grade: B / Performances all around: A

Monday
Feb012016

Vanity Fair's 2016 Hollywood Issue Cover - A Close Look

Someone's been paying attention to every single media firestorm in Hollywood this past year from ageism to equal pay to diversity. Gracing this year's cover of Vanity Fair's Hollywood Issue is political showbiz icon Jane Fonda (2 Oscars), the inspirational crusading awesomeness of Viola Davis (1 phantom Oscar -- well, everyone knows she deserved it!), "the world is round people" diva Cate Blanchett (2 Oscars), and equal-pay-demander Jennifer Lawrence (1 Oscar).

VF's "Hollywood Issue" tradition is one of the key attractions in the showbiz circus of Oscar season. Though the covers aren't tied thematically to the Oscars they usually include current nominees. The primary form is a "predict the future superstars" covers in which they lean into the young in-demand crop who are having good years. The less common form is a survey of A listers and legends and a few people that scream "now"  and that's the type we got this year. And girl, it's a beauty.

The only real gripe is that even when the media is actually trying to express diversity (presumably to "help" Hollywood though the media, including this Vanity Fair cover tradition, has its own problems in that arena) they are still thinking in binaries of black and white. Why not include an Asian or Latina actress or let Ellen Page have a place on the cover again since she's still headlining films and working hard to stay in the game after coming out? 

Let's take a closer look after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
Jan182016

5 Thoughts I Had While Looking At Those Suicide Squad Posters

Manuel here. Guys. There’s a bunch of new posters for the new Viola Davis movie! The two-time Oscar nominee may well be very busy with her TV gig, How to Get Away with Murder (anyone watching season 2? Did we jump prematurely from the never-quite sudsy enough show?), but she’ll next be seen in one of the Internet’s most anticipated films of the year: Suicide Squad.

The DC anti-heroes film released a number of gorgeous character posters ahead of the film's trailer premiere later this week, that had my mind reeling. [more...]

Click to read more ...