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Supporting Actress: My Ballot & Yours

"Carrie Coon who in her screen debut steals Gone Girl from the much bigger names. Also can we just talk about how between Nora Durst and Margo Dunne that no one has as impressive a breakout in 2014 then Coon. " - Eion Daly

"Agata Kulesza blew my MIND in "Ida," so she easily gets my top ballot." - Lawson

"Keira Knightley. She just seemed like that rare person who can make you want to be better. So endearing, charming and she also has moments where she shows that she knows more about the world. A silent revolutionary." - MCV

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Entries in Year in Review (127)

Wednesday
Jan282015

Best Supporting Actress: The Poll & My Ballot.

Think of our newscast as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut."

Rene Russo is so hardshell intoxicating in Nightcrawler. I understand the potshot I've heard a couple of times that she's cribbing from Faye Dunaway in Network (one of the all time best performances of any kind) but if you're going to steal, steal from the best. My favorite thing about her work is the way she both recoils from and recalibrates to Jake Gyllenhaal's Lou Bloom constantly. She's repulsed by him (witness that amazing date scene) but recognizes a soul mate... or rather, a mate in soullessness, and the financial worth of that. 

Anyway, I jumped ahead. While the world prepares to celebrate Patty, Emma, Meryl, Laura, and Keira on Oscar night, we take a brief time out to continue the Film Bitch Awards. Though I enjoyed all of those Oscar nominated performance only two made my own correlative list: the steamrolling Patricia Arquette and Keira Knightley. Knightley has really been pushing herself in the last few years and her commitment is showing in more relaxed, more interesting, and more successful performances. While The Imitation Game isn't her most challenging role, there's something to be said for perfection. She nails her every scene and very nearly saves the film from itself on a couple of occasions.

Keira, surprised to see her name again.It's always a difficult thing to extract five performances from the hundreds available in the supporting realm and say "these five. right here" but it must be done. My "was considering" list was about 24 women long but in the end I went with the aforementioned British beauty, two semi-forgotten actresses who vividly reminded us of their gifts, our most versatile new chameleon, and a singular icon who had a rather amazing multi-headed year of memorable new characters. 

Check out my ballot for why I voted this way. And make sure to vote on the Oscar poll in this category, too!

Thursday
Jan222015

Poster Madness! The Best of 2014

Glenn here with my now annual list of the best movie posters of the year. I should apologize for being so tardy with this, but I've been working on a big non-movie-related project that took precedent. Never mind that though because we're back. Last year logged the first time that I dragged my lil ol' list of the year's best movie posters over from my own blog onto The Film Experience we're back to see what'll win this year. Last year the honor went to Spring Breakers and this year was no less fierce. I have once more assembled an... eclectic list of films ranging from French orgy dramas and Christian religious flicks to British sci-fi and obscure horror titles.

I have tried to keep the posters featured within down to American 2014 theatrical/VOD releases only. That means designs that emerged online as much as 18 months ago can be on here if the film was only released this year (hi Nymphomaniac!). Likewise, designs for 2015 releases that are already hanging in cinema foyers do not feature - I'm going to spend the next year tossing and turning over whether this hilariously unsubtle phallic poster for Fifty Shades of Grey is actually good or completely terrible. Having said that, being an Australian means I have snuck few Aussie films on the list because, I guess, my list my rules. I should also point out that, just like last year, the lack of many big budget blockbusters on the list isn't my contrariness popping up (my lonely passions are now a thing), rather it's just proves that so many working for Hollywood studios would be absolutely lost without the billions of dollars that they take for granted and the audiences that flock to their movies like sheep.

Follow me as I count down the best posters of 2014!

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan102015

2014's Interview Index

There are a handful more interviews (at least) on the way given that the film year doesn't end until the Oscars are handed out and other films are still playing -- so we'll keep updating this particular page as we did in previous years (linked below). Nathaniel leaves for Los Angeles for the Critics Choice awards mid week and Michael we'll join him at Sundance the following week. It's high season! Can you handle all of these things happening at once every day?

If you've missed any of our chats, they're listed below. It's one of the only perks of a life of movie blogging to be able to meet talented people and grill them about their gifts and work (albeit in a usually rushed way!). Hope you enjoy reading them!

The Actors
Joan Chen & Zhu Zhu (Marco Polo)
Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes / Terminator: Genysis)
Laura Dern (Wild)
Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year)
Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods / The Last 5 Years)
Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)
Timothy Spall (Mr Turner)
Finn Wittrock (Unbroken / Freakshow

Auteur Theory
John Carney (Begin Again)
Stephan Haupt (The Circle)
Jennifer Kent (The Babadook)
Hong Khaou (Lilting)
Chris Mason Johnson (Test)
James Marsh (Theory of Everything)
Matthew Warchus (Pride)
Daniel Ribeiro (The Way He Looks)
Toa Fraser (Dead Lands
Liv Ullmann (Miss Julie)

Behind the Scenes
Cinematographer Yves Belanger (Wild)
Costume Designer Michael Wilkinson (Noah)
Production Designer James Chinlund (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
Stuntman Bobby Holland Hanton (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Producer Guillermo del Toro (The Book of Life)
Producer Joanna Natasegara (Virunga)
Screenwriter Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy
Composer Antonio Sanchez (Birdman
Composer Patti Smith (Noah

Oscar Parties / Cocktails / Hors d'oeuvres
Allen Leech, Alex Lawther, Matthew Beard (Imitation Game Party)
Ava DuVernay, Common & John Legend (Selma Luncheon)
Ava Duvernay, Niecy Nash, and Lorraine Toussaint (Selma Premiere)
Jessica Chastain, J.C. Chandor, and Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year Premiere)

Celebrity Guests For Our Devout Actressexual Readership
Dana Delany (Amazon's Hand of God) shared A+ stories in our 1973 Smackdown. She's such a movie buff 
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) one of Hollywood's best scene stealers, guest-blogged with a hilarious Oscar memoir
Melanie Lynskey (Happy Christmas, HBO's Together) participated in our 1964 Smackdown and cursed herself for picking a bum year 

and...

Quick Impressions - in this unique experiment we celebrated the non-famous working actor, day players and/or possible future stars. Thousands of showbiz dreams are embedded in every frame of your favorite movies from the principles on down to the one-liners. In this three episode tryout we talked to actors who worked on Gone Girl, The Boxtrolls, and American Horror Story: Freakshow. Should we resume for 2015?

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2013's Index - Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Paulson, Sally Hawkins, etc
2012's Index - Nicole Kidman, Eddie Redmayne, Kerry Washington, etc.
2011's Index  -Jessica Chastain, Charlize Theron, Corey Stoll, etc.
2010's Index - Julianne Moore, Kirsten Dunst, Juliette Lewis, etc.

 

Monday
Jan052015

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously we looked at ten runners-up -- practically an alternate top ten if you will the year was so good. Now on to the list you've been waiting for as our own awardage begins. 

The years best films marched in the streets in London and Alabama, cruised Scotland with nefarious intent, uncovered skeletons in Poland, and jogged around DC. They performed on the stages of Manhattan while also house hunting there; neither activity is for the faint of heart. Only two of them sprang from books though another cast its biggest spell while holding one. Two taught us about history in ways that felt absolutely relevant and useful to how we live now and one let us watch 12 years of it unfold. The thing that unites all ten is the imagination, fine judgement (when to employ a light touch and when to hit hard) and technical prowess of the filmmakers and actors, lifting their scenes, themes and stories however mundane, silly, deep or fanciful to greater heights that we could have reasonably expected.

With deep appreciation...

NATHANIEL'S TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER
(Anthony Russo & Joe Russo)
Disney. April 4th
138 minutes 

The public has been more than generous with Marvel Studios over the years as they stumbled into surprising glory given that they were playing with a half deck having sold so many key characters. Ten films in: perfection! Captain America: Winter Soldier artfully dodges nearly every typical superhero movie problem (as well as general sequel problems) with a stunning grasp of mood, total commitment to a "square" character, a smart choice of villain, and thrilling action scenes that feel authentically dangerous (a complete rarity in blockbusters) rather than like stop-and-gawk "setpieces" with no actual stakes. Add in Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson both embracing their supersized charisma and physical perfection (while deepening their rapport and characterizations) and you have the year's best popcorn entertainment.

 

THE BABADOOK
(Jennifer Kent)
IFC Films. November 28th 
93 minutes 

You can't intellectualize away its terror, though reviews and many a future masters theses will try. This alarming horror film, a brilliant debut for Australian director Jennifer Kent, is as hard to shake as its title character whether you take it as a straightforward monster film, a mental illness or grief allegory, or get hung up on its minefield of taboos (mothers who don't much like their children / over-medication of children / weapons in schools). It's as rich and imaginative a study of depression in its own creepy-crawly way as Lars Von Trier's Melancholia so it's wonderfully apt that Jennifer Kent once apprenticed with the Danish provocateur

Eight with more than enough Great after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Jan032015

Best of the Year Pt. 1: Double the Swedes & Triple the Tilda

With love for last year's cinema.

2015 has a lot to live up to. This past year delivered amazing films from fresh-voiced directors, a good number of them female for a change, and it also came through, unexpectedly, with a surprising spread of high quality empathetic and diverse LGBT cinema. But even if you're stuck in multiplex-only towns, the mainstream also delivered with sneaky overachieving surprises in genres as oft-lazy as superheroes, horror, animation, giant monsters, and crime thrillers. When it came time to draw up my lists I had 30 pictures I really wanted to celebrate. Thirty! 

So let's briefly sum up (alphabetically) the films that just missed the top 20


The Boxtrolls - Laika's boldly grotesque superbly-voiced Victorian fable. 
Godzilla - Smartly reimagined not as reboot but myth returned. The paratroopers. Gah!
Edge of Tomorrow - Emily Blunt's 'full metal bitch' isn't easy to forget. Neither is the film's gleeful rapid fire anarchy in treating Tom Cruise as South Park might. "You killed Tom Cruise!" Repeat ∞
Happy Christmas - No budget? No problem. Just write a warm funny script, film it in your home and hire famous actor friends. Joe Swanberg is living the Cassavettes dream only seems much happier about it.
The LEGO Movie - Excessively clever and fun. But in truth I'd rather it win a Clio than an Oscar.
A Most Violent Year - a slow simmer but Jessica Chastain is at full boil
Nightcrawler - Jake & Rene's bring out each other's best but their character's worst in this amoral nightmare. Great dialogue but man do those laughs curdle.
Two Days One Night - Belgium's Oscar submission is simple in narrative if not in complexity of feeling but Marion Cotillard is impossibly good / real / Oscar worthy
The Way He Looks - In a simply fantastic year for queer cinema (thank god - it's been a while) this was the sweetest offering, a coming of age pic about a blind teenager and his two best friends
Wild Tales - A raucously entertaining Argentinian anthology produced by Pedro Almodóvar and directed with skill and wicked invention by Damian Szifron. If you can, see it with a group of friends (comedies are always best that way). I'm already sad I didn't include it in the top 20!

So here we are. Twenty may feel like an indulgent number to settle on for this 2014 countdown party but it comes down to this. No matter how many times I adjusted my "tippity top" movies list I couldn't live without these twenty. They were the ones that refused to budge, that defined the year for me, that demanded top ten placement, refuting the laws of math. To sum up: This cinephile had a great year in the dark. If you were positive I loved it and you don't see it in the top 20, it's tied for 21st! 

The film year is not drawing to a close just yet -- we keep celebrating through Oscar night. But the calendar year is a wrap so here is part one of my favorites roundup starting with a Tilda Swinton double feature...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jan022015

The Funniest Films & Performances of the Year

 Two year in review lists per day for a few more days... Here's Michael to look back at the year in laughs

That was a tough year for good comedies that weren’t animated or special effects blockbusters. By my count only 7 of the box office top 50 were live action comedies (depending on whether or not you count Gone Girl) and of those all but Neighbors were immediately disposable. So if you want to find good comedy without animated toys or talking raccoons you had to look to the margins. In fact, the film that sits on the top of my list of list of 2014’s funniest is currently ranked 157th for the box office year.

Also interesting is how few of 2014's funniest came billed as pure comedies. Aside from the animated and sci-fi extravaganzas the laughs arrived smuggled in such genres as horror/thriller (The Guest) mystery (Gone Girl) and drama-fantasy hybrid whatchamatcallits  (Birdman).

So here are 2014's funniest movies, keeping in mind that this isn’t based on overall quality, but is ranked solely by which films most tipped the needle on the Laugh-O-Meter:

2014’s Ten Funniest Films 

Click to read more ...