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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R


 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Year in Review (107)

Tuesday
Apr012014

Are You "Divine"? On Recent Divas, Heroes, and Sexpots


A NOTE BEFORE WE BEGIN: I am aware that you're impatiently awaiting 2014's April Foolish Oscar Predictions but please to note: I am aiming for April 13th but they definitely won't be here today and that's no April Fool's Joke.

With 2013's best films all soon to or already arrived on DVD, let's wrap up the Film Bitch Awards which are getting later and later each year, damnit! I'm leading with "the most beautiful woman in the world" to your left, Divine, who also went by the alternate title "filthiest person alive." Can't they both be true? If you haven't caught up with the documentary I Am Divine, you should. It's really fun. I saw it about a year ago at the Nashville Film Festival at a late night screening in which two of our fellow moviegoers, utterly sloshed girls we accidentally befriended at a festival party, got lost in the theater looking for each other and tumbling down stairs in the dark (no one was hurt). It was a memorable midnight screening let's just say.

I'm never sure if I should include documentary figures in our extra special 'character-specific' awards but sometimes you just gotta have it. And by it I mean the mad brilliance of Divine. She famously inspired one of Disney's all time greatest villains (Ursula the Sea Witch) but she's competing for the gold in Best Diva this time with another instantly iconic character: Queen Elsa from Frozen.

On the new Film Bitch Awards chart (We've only one page to go and we're done woo-hoo) you'll also find movies like The Heat, Stoker, Man of Steel, in our choices for Best Hero, Best Villain and Diva and Sexpot of the Year. Scarlett Johansson (Don Jon & Her) and Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and American Hustle) both managed double nominations this year so have a looksie.

And please do comment away - I don't relish solitude like Elsa.

 

Sunday
Mar022014

Best of the Year: Introducing... Nathaniel's Top Thirteen

I've waited so long to share my top ten list that it's become a crushing psychic weight, a symbol of my failure to keep up in this strange Oscar season I've had.  I realized today that if I didn't share it on this very day, it wouldn't happen at all which is unthinkable. TRADITION. TRADITION...... TRADITION  

We're all eager to move on to 2014 but I personally can't make the calendar leap without the Film Bitch Awards (and the Oscars, duh). They're my own internal clock and how I clock the film years. If I could rewind said clock I'd watch all the movies again. They're all dusty now, like cherished objects I shoved into closets or drawers for reasons of clutter when people were coming over. Now I can't remember where I've left them or why it was I thought they were worth hoarding in the first place. 

You still with me? Oh god stay with me. This is my moment of neurotic need! 

If this were a top twenty I'd be writing about these films too, in random order: two animated charmers Frozen and Ernest & Celestine, Joe Swanberg & Jane Adams little seen but extremely worthwhile collaboration All the Light in the Sky, 2012's Spanish Oscar submission Blancanieves (released in the states this year), Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring... "I wanna rob", two gargantuan blockbusters I seemed to have liked more than most sentient life forms Iron Man 3 and World War Z and the dark, gripping and literally labyrinthine Prisoners. Does that make twenty-one pictures? I'm bad at maths.

ONE MINUTE FROM EACH FILM
Now, the hard part. Hierarchies of wonderment. To break free of the mental shackles that have been holding me back from writing and sharing this list, a self-imposed directive: I am putting each one of these in my DVD player (the joy of screeners) and shuffling to a random scene. Wherever it lands I watch one minute to jog my memory and write whatever comes to mind. Get it? Let's go.  

HER
(Spike Jonze)
Warner Bros. December 18th.
126 minutes

... and Action [98:24] we enter mid montage during a Scarlett Johansson rendition of "Moon Song"...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Feb122014

Best Actress: Nathaniel's Ballot & Oscars

It's time to get back to our Film Bitch Awards. I've 18 days to finish everything. Give me strength! 

I was rooting for Brie Larson all season, but Oscar had bigger stars in mind

When it comes to Oscar's Best Actress field this year I'd rank the performances in this order without hesitation: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) > Adams (Hustle) ≥ Streep (August) > Dench (Philomena) > Bullock (Gravity). But as usual my own lineup differs quite a lot. I looked beyond the twelve titles that voters were considering nominating for Best Picture and then conveniently dropping onto their ballots in each and every other category. I also had to consider shoeless Emma (Mr Banks) who obviously just-missed Oscar's cut-off since they were all about their ol' standbys this year (this year's amalgam of all five contenders has been nominated 7.6 times which is probably a statistical "most" record in any acting category). So in addition to Oscar's conversation topics I took long hard looks at the Before... franchise's Julie Delpy again (she was nominated right here in 2004), Jane Adams and Paulina Garcia in the little seen arthouse gems All the Light in the Sky and Gloria respectively, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said), too. And then there were the fresh faces (well, fresh before the spaghetti sauce and sobbing) like Adele Exarchopoulus and familiar young stars like Brie Larson (Short Term 12) and Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) who are just now coming into what feels like their true power as screen stars. I even considered Melissa McCarthy in The Heat, she of the perfect line readings, who was quite unjustly robbed of a Golden Globe comedy nomination this year. 

It was a tough call. I tore my imaginary hair out. In the end, as always, you want six or seven nominees but you conly get five. And here they are with my capsule comments... The Best Actresses of 2013.

P.S. If Oscar voters choose anyone other than Cate Blanchett, it's going to be so catastrophic for my mental health that you'll see me on a park bench somewhere in 2014 chattering away to no one in particular as I replay the events of 2013 endlessly on a loop, torturing myself as to how it all went so terribly wrong.

P.P.S. The Best Actress Oscar Page now has "how they were nominated?" theorizing and a reader poll

P.P.P.S. Like TFE on Facebook and follow Nathaniel on twitter. Why haven't you already? Lot of exciting plans for 2014 including more interactivity with you.

Friday
Jan312014

January. It's a Wrap

We spent most of January reeling from the Oscar nominations, braving mountain altitudes and indie film frenzy at Sundance, attending the Critics Choice Awards and counting down our most awaited films of 2014... a year doesn't really start for us until March 3rd when we can safely put 2013 behind us. But herewith, in case you missed them...

A dozen highlights from the month that was 
Sally Hawkins the actress that's worked with both Cate Blanchett and Godzilla
Katniss in Context just how rare is Jennifer Lawrence's box office success?
50 Best Movie Posters of 2013 Quite a beautiful collection
Joanna Scanlan Interview the ace character actor of Getting On fame told us about working with Pfeiffer, Dench, Blanchett, and Fiennes in her filmography

Sarah Paulson on her multiple breakthroughs, American Horror Story and 12 Years a Slave
Podcast "Bring Your Own Dream Date" we had so much fun on that one
Actors Who Need Their 1st Nom Andrew proposed just ten but opinions varied
The Real Maleficent a smart tribute to Disney's greatest villain
A Year With Kate is an awesome journey and Anne Marie just reached Hepburn's first taste of Oscar glory with, well, Morning Glory 

Most Discussed "American Hustle's Jennifer Lawrence Problem" This supporting actress performance essay by guest star Matthew Eng really took off. No surprise, really. It's fabulous.
Most Eyeballs Anything Oscar Race related, of course, and January had many golden upheavals. But the most exciting development was clearly that weird PGA tie or maybe that train wreck Original Song situation?

Coming in February? We'll wrap up 2013 properly with the Film Bitch Awards and more Oscar coverage. Any suggestions for other topics?

Monday
Dec302013

The Secret Year of Spike Jonze

[Editor's Note: Tonight's guest column comes from Andy Hoglund, previously featured in reader spotlight. Here's his choice for "Entertainer of the Year"]

Spike on the set of "Her"

As we sign off on the final moments of 2013, the same names have repeatedly been uttered as defining this year in entertainment. From Miley twerking, to Kanye’s limitless ability to stimulate conversation, to Sandra's space solo, and so on, they've all had their moments. Overlooked thus far is 2013’s quintessential utility man in pop culture—the equivalent of Chone Figgins (versatile infielder/outfielder who finished 17th in American League MVP balloting in 2005). This all-around talent has worn multiple hats this year in film and music, some of them unsung. Spike Jonze may still not quite be a household name in 2013. He should be.

The deep impact Jonze achieves with a project as ambitious and heart-wrenching as Her should be no surprise. After all, his first feature length film, Being John Malkovich, was a touchstone of one of Hollywood’s most audacious years. Rather than pursue a work schedule along the lines of the prolific Steven Soderbergh, Jonze has released only three films since that impressive debut in 1999.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Dec282013

20:13 for 2013 Screencap Fun: Ghosts, Zombies, Flappers

icymi here's part one.

Screencapping fun! We've frozen early 2013 releases* at the 20th minute and 13th second of their running times. Here's what we found. How many of these have you seen and do you think this moment is telling of the whole?

I had been drunk just once twice in my life and the second time was that afternoon."

In case you are illiterate, Baz Luhrmann's got you covered in his version of The Great Gatsby! (He sure is good at shooting party sequences, though. No filmmaker can touch him in that ultra specific place.)

This next screencap I had to lighten a bit so you could actually see it... Bed sheets are being yanked down... but by what/who?

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec262013

Year in Review: Best Ensembles & Best Casting

To the tune of Madonna's "Music" ♫

Hey Mr Director, get your ensemble on, all the guys & ladies
And once the movie starts
don't ever let them stop, they're gonna drive me crazy

People make the movie come together - yeah


As annoying as it was in 2003 when Mystic River was attempting to halt the inevitable Lord of the Rings coronation with a sort of 'people are the best special effects!' Oscar campaign, the sentiment was true and remains so. I've been going to all kind of movies my whole life and  I've yet to see anything that's as remarkable as the happily regular occurence of weird electricity and true magic sparking when fine actors collide, collude, combust or cooperate.

So as we're all celebrating the holidays with our own personal ensembles of friends and family, I thought it would be a good time to honor the most special collections of players in 2013.  I can never let the Screen Actors Guild have the last word on this matter because, though acting is their raison d'etre, they never get this category right, opting for popular Oscar bound films with big casts and not really thinking about the WHOLE cast, and how all those players are interacting and bouncing off or working together. This year, they chose August: Osage County, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and I think two of those are really poor choices (though I like all five films) when you're thinking about the acting collective as opposed to just one or two performances within it. SAG's past history suggests that they're only comfortable with "star" ensembles so they were never going to go for fine teams like Frances Ha and Short Term 12 but why not Prisoners which is a sharp example of stars NOT connecting with each other on purpose. Everyone in that cast is alone since all the characters are horrified by each other (and sometimes themselves), trapped in their own personal grief and grievances.

When you're talking about great ensemble work I think you're also talking about fine direction and smart casting, though there are exceptions. Two fascinating examples of how complicated this all gets in that you can have one without the other(s) are August: Osage County and 12 Years a Slave. A:OC has a lot of fine actors in it but the director John Wells can't figure out how to see all of them at once, opting too often for shot / reverse shot when he needs to widen the camera or choreograph them differently so we can watch them together. I've never understood why so many contemporary directors have trouble absorbing this concept since their peers who are skillful at shooting group scenes are hardly obscurities. Just watch a couple of movies by David O. Russell and Paul Thomas Anderson (or classic departed directors like Wyler or Altman) and you'll instantly be smarter about ensemble vision; They know exactly when to go to or stay with a two-shot or a three or four or even five shot... Hell, get everybody in there -- the more the merrier! As for 12 Years, I'm on record as complaining about the casting. Too many of its (white) supporting players are too familiar as  faces go which, in a lesser movie, would really derail the existential horror. But there's no denying that when this cast is acting together it's absolutely electric... I still get chills thinking about the way Michael Fassbender leans on his co-stars like they're his furniture and the way the various actors playing the slaves freeze up whenever they're being observed and the multiple nuances of when the actors are willing to look at each other and when they're too scared or smart to. It's all top notch work but if the director wasn't wise enough to let you see this -- and many directs aren't, just stiching 90 minutes of establishing shots and close-ups together and calling it a movie -- the ensemble probably wouldn't be winning as much praise.

Without further ado... My Nominations for Best Casting & Best Ensemble

And, in case you haven't seen THR's Casting Roundtable. I watched it only after making my lists since I didn't want to be unduly influenced but it's completely interesting. 

I only wish they could have found room for Rich Delia and Douglas Aibel, since I'm honoring both this year.