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Entries in Year in Review (159)


Halfway: Best Leading Performances of 2015 Thus Far

½way mark - part 2 of ? You can't see everything but you should see as much as possible if you're in the awardage business, or business of watching awardage, or business of watching awardage watchers and... well you get the picture. SEE MORE MOVIES. I know I need to and I see plenty.

Let's take stock of what's come out in theaters thus far (Jan 1st - Jul 1st for our purposes here). Even if conversations suggest otherwise in November through January each year we always pray that Academy members are regular moviegoers and don't just wait until their screeners arrive.

10 best lead performances from the year's first half...

Click to read more ...


June. It's a Wrap

We're about to start a week long "halfway mark" review of 2015. But first let's wrap up June itself. My birthday month is over *sniffle* so if you've been offline and out in the sun this summer, here are a baker's dozen highlights from the month that was, in case you missed 'em.

Kate, Corseted - Winslet's best period piece performances
The Many Tears of Pixar - Inside Out is here to remind us that the great studio loves to make us cry
The Red Shoes - A theatrically audacious masterpiece
Bold Giddy Pop Art - Dick Tracy's 25th Anniversary
The Gleaners and I - Anne Marie looked back at one of the greatest and most personal films of Agnes Varda's fascinating career. I hope you all will seek it out.
'Gobbledygook' - Michael had words for Cameron Crowe's ill conceived Aloha. Loved this bit:

Bradley Cooper is escorted on his mission by Emma Stone. The pairing generates all the romantic sparks of a guy babysitting his rambunctious younger cousin on a weekend road trip.

1979 Discussion - Discussing the most hand-wringing battle of the sexes movie year
Gia - Revisiting Angelina Jolie's white hot HBO breakthrough
Sense8 - Tim reviewed this odd Wachowski Siblings experiment in global trans sci-fi psychic cluster connection
Best of TV in 2015 (Series) - We shared our favorites and discussed well over a dozen series 
Sing Along - Best movie songs of the 1990s - this list got you talking!
Rising Like a Phoenix - Glenn checked out the recently reedited and reonfigured flop '54 and found it a much better film 17 tears later (I concur. I was able to see it recently and it's so much more focused and enjoyable than it was back then with studio-mandated reshoots lopped off and original material reinserted.)

P.S. And one more round of applause for this month's very special in-house guests!
Cara Seymour talked The Knick, American Psycho and her favorite films 
Ann Dowd talked The Leftovers and how she fell for acting  

Tangerine, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, the films of Kathryn Bigelow in Anne Marie's "Women's Pictures", and looks back at Angels in America and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Reminder: 1995 is our "year of the month" as we prep for another Smackdown on July 26th.


Ask Nathaniel... Plus Next Week's Festivities

It's time for another round of reader questions, so, ask yours in the comments. There's no particular theme for the questions this week but we need a new banner so the "question of the week" recipient will get to choose our next theme. I'll answer a handful or so of your questions on Tuesday.

P.S. On Tuesday or Wednesday we'll start a few days of "Halfway Mark - Year Thus Far" festivities. If you'd like a teaser check out my new piece at Towleroad where I look at the year through the lens of Inside Out's emotions (and no, as you may have guessed, I didn't much like Jurassic World). Naturally we'll go into more cinema nerd detail here by naming Best Performances and the like.


ICYMI: Cara Seymour and More and More

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves into Halfway Mark Festivities and Emmy Nomination Balloting Week (that's next week!) I want to take this time to thank Cara Seymour ("The Knick") for her guest-blogging. She shared a great portrait her acclaimed photographer husband shot of her on the set of An Education, she let us into her research process on one of her most indelible characters yet (Sister Harriett on "The Knick"), shared a few movie and music recommendations, and she even interviewed her American Psycho director Mary Harron! Thanks again to a wildly underrated actress for taking a small break between filming The Knick's second season and a new movie, to visit us.

Other June Highlights...
Tony Award Fashions bold colors + giddy showoffs
1979 Smackdown Kramer vs Kramer holds up beautifully but how about Breaking Away and Manhattan?
Best Original Songs of the 1990s - a movie list whim 
Silence / Silencio - two new movies from top auteurs
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama - your most competitive Emmy race 
MacBeth - the new trailer

Coming in the Second Half of June
Kate Winslet Corseted, Pixar's Inside Out, A 1948 Retrospective including Hamlet, Key Largo, I Remember Mama, The Red Shoes and the next Supporting Smackdown, the Halfway Mark "Best of" 2015 (thus far) lists, and Oscar Chart Updates...

And our next Fabulous Actress Guest!

The awesomely gifted Ann Dowd (Compliance, Garden State, Masters of Sex, True Detective) who malevolently stared Justin Theroux down so memorably as The Guilty Remnant's leader on The Leftovers this past year. She'll be taking over the reins of The Film Experience for one day next week - one day only! It'll be Tuesday or Wednesday so don't miss it. 


April. It's a Wrap

We're so ready for sunshine and summer movie season! But let's wrap up April first ICYMI... not the whole month but the highlights. We work hard providing fresh content daily so we don't want you to miss anything. There's always something new. And... uh... old. Maybe we went a little overboard on the sudden Joan Crawford fetishizing this month but it happens. The actress fetishes. It's best to just let them play out. They're not going to be ignored, Dan.

Most Popular
Y'all seemed to like the Team Top Ten for Best Sci-Fi films Parts 1 and Part 2 i.e. before and after the populist dam-bursting of 1977's Star Wars & Close Encounters. That sci-fi madness came with a robust Artificial Intelligence fascination that's also going on at the multiplex (Avengers / Ex Machina). The other most popular feature was the return of the Ask Nathaniel Q&As for which I am flattered and must thank you for your participatory enthusiasm (another belated one very soon). It was fun to talk favorite crazy characters, missing Buffy & Battlestar Galactica, and dream screen-to-stage plays. Regarding the latter: I'm now fully obsessed with my Contact idea; I'm brilliant!

Oscar Predictions
The first wave which we affectionately call April Foolish Predictions because it's dumb to start so early are up. Dig into the charts and discuss (The remainder hit tomorrow)

Monthly Playlist
Our listening pleasures this month were showtunes. Margaret eased on down the road with her amazing and creative dream-casting of The Wiz's upcoming remake. Plus, it's Tony Season so Broadway is naturally on the brain. We're rooting for "Fun Home" based on the life of cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Aside from the showtunes we got our fingers tapping to Dolly Parton's immortal earworm "9 to 5".

"Last Night I Dreamt I Went To Manderley"
You didn't sign the guestbook so we don't know if you enjoyed the amenities and conditions of your 5 day stay with us but we had a ball serving you Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca all the same: Day 1 a meet-rude courtship; Day 2 your new home and old (bitter) staff; Day 3 ooh, lingerieDay 4 a costume ball mistake; Day 5 a trial by fire. We're eager to do this relay-revisit again but we need to find the right movie that's entertaining in all of its subsections.

Other Key Posts
The Walk -can you handle the vertigo?
Jane Campion - Anne Marie revisited 5 of her features
Taxi Driver - is it actually about the movies? I think so
Michelle Pfeiffer - she's shopping around a TV sitcom
Movie Amigurumi - we want every one of these brilliant crotchet dolls
Art Movies - these 5 paintings deserve the Woman in Gold movie treatment (only, uh, better movies) 
Furious 7 - Michael reviewed the behemoth hit and didn't disappoint

Getting worked up over the lack of realism on display is like chastising a toddler smashing his Tonka trucks together because, actually, that’s not how to use a cement mixer properly. 


Hot Piece(s) o' the Month 

Hathaway as Miley - that lipsynching! Cox as Daredevil - those lips!

Coming in The Lusty Month of May
Favorite sex scenes, Orson Welles Centennial tribute, rising actor David Dastmalchian, Avengers-mania, and a 1979 retrospective to coincide with the Supporting Actress Smackdown.


March. It's a Wrap

March was busy busy busy once we wrapped up Oscar. Three series returned: Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Ask Nathaniel, and Posterized. Anne Marie spent a month w/ Ida Lupino, Manuel and Nathaniel said goodbye to Looking, the TCM festival and Mad Men premiere, and the finale of the Film Bitch Awards 2014. Whew.

Most Popular
Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella met plenty of silly outrage criticism for its actually thoughtful gender politics, but the handsome and well-reviewed production made a lot of money, continuing both Disney's fairy tale hot streak and Downton Abbey's star-making power. And FWIW, Kenneth Branagh probably needed thisThe Sound of Music was also on the world's mind as it hit its 50th, prompting events, handprint ceremonies, and our own favorite things... by which we mean "shots".

Oscar Watching
Cinderella started the race for Costume & Production Design competitions but the talk this month was whether the Academy would go back to 5 Best Pictures.

Monthly Playlist
The phenomenon that is "Empire" concluded its first season and got everyone talking Emmy for Best Actress. Madonna made her best record in 10 years with "Rebel Heart" inspiring us to imagine a video album crafted by favorite auteurs. Three final hot tracks for the March play list: The "Firefly Theme Song" as interpreted by the cast of "The Flash," an all male version of Chicago's "Cell Block Tango," and Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" feat. Tom Hanks.

7 Other Key Posts
We Can't Wait - Our 15 Most Anticipated Movies of 2015 
The Rise and The Fall - of Dreamworks Animation, a retrospective investigation
Pretty Woman at 25 - an ode to Julia Roberts' infectious laughter 
Run All Night - away from Liam Neeson's increasingly tired ass-kickery? 
Richard Glatzer RIP - the co-director of Still Alice passes away 
Posterized: Judi Dench - a true late bloomer, becoming a star in her 60s 

Hot Piece(s) o' the Month
Sophia Loren in Yesterday Today and Tomorrow (1963) and Jake Gyllenhaal in the Southpaw (2015) trailer 

Coming in April
Ex-Machina and artificial intelligence, The Woman in Gold, Tony Awards talk, the films of Jane Campion, Daredevil on Netflix, the return of 'Mad Men @ the Movies', Clouds of Sils Maria, and a celebration of Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca.


We Can't Wait 2015. The Complete Series

In the We Can't Wait series, just wrapped, we looked at our team's most anxiously awaited movies for the 2015 film year that's just begun. ("It's March!" you cry. It's okay. You're new. Our calendar goes Oscar to Oscar.) For the curious, the team decided and yours truly (Nathaniel) looked at the list -- essentially a top 20 at that point -- and voted only on the finalists... which amounted to a couple of "executive saves" I suppose you could say. Here's to hoping that all 15+ of these movies provoking Pavlovian drooling in our corner of the cinephile blogosphere satisfy.

Now that the list is fully up, I wonder how much of the next Oscar battles for Best Actress & Supporting Actress we've inadvertently prophesied what with Blanchett, Streep, Moore, Page, Cotillard, Winslet, Swinton, Rampling in juicy leading roles and Mara, Paulson, Chastain, Wasikowska, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Judy Davis and Dakota Johnson all featured (we assume) prominently in these 15 features, too. (yes, first our Oscar predictions arrive in April)

What movies DIDN'T we cover for the summer and following prestige season that you're most excited about? And which movies on our list did we properly whet your appetite for? 

Lady MacBeth (Marion Cotillard) and her would be king (Michael Fassbender)

We Can't Wait
#1 Carol in which Blanchett ♥ Mara and her husband does not ♥ that
#2 Ricki & The Flash in which Streep rocks out / returns home
#3 Macbeth in which Fassbender seeks the crown whilst Cotillard tries to remove that damn spot and though we've had enough Shakespeare they're both too irresistible to deny
#4 Mad Max: Fury Road in which all post-apocalyptic hell breaks loose
#5 The Lobster ...who knows but electic cast and Dogtooth director intrigue
#6 Crimson Peak in which del Toro goes Gothic with scrumptious cast
#7 45 Years in which Andrew Haigh (Weekend) directs Rampling  Courtenay
#8 Bridge of Spies Spielberg + Hanks  ÷ The Coen Bros
#9 Taxi in which Jafar Panahi continues to make movies despite the ban
#10 Freeheld in which Moore  Page and they reenact a true LGBT rights story
#11 A Bigger Splash gets the I Am Love team back together for erotic drama
#12 The Dressmaker in which Kate Winslet seeks revenge... with fashion!
#13 The Hateful Eight  in which it's Tarantino so... our best guess (we don't read bootleg scripts) is sausage party mayhem + elaborately poetic shit-talking. One thing that's an absolute certainty: not enough actresses. Contrary to Hollywood's entire western genre, women made up half of the population back then, too.
#14 Knight of Cups in which we view Hollywood sellouts through a Malick prism?
#15 Arabian Nights  in which Miguel Gomes (Tabu) makes a 6½ hour political fable

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