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


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Entries in Year in Review (164)


Halfway Menagerie: Ten Best Screen Animals 2015

½way mark - part 8 of 9 
Did you find yourself wishing that the Maloja Snake wasn't just the movement of the Clouds of Sils Maria but an actual snake? Did Channing Tatum still turn you on in dog-human hybrid form in Jupiter Ascending? Did you cringe when that cute double-headed mutant lizard met such an ignoble end in Mad Max Fury Road's first scene?

If you answered yes to any of those questions you might be an animal person and this list is for you!

Because Nathaniel R is a crazy cat lady

10 Paddington in Paddington
His fur may be too mangy (who needs photo realism?) but he sure is a polite amiable fellow and his movie is mostly a treat. 

 09 Cat Stevens in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
I get that this movie is probably making fun of me Greg's dad's love for his cat, Cat Stevens, but I don't care because screen time for cats always improves movies. And this one needed the help. Injustice: the cat actor playing Cat Stevens is not credited.  

8 more furry friends after the jump... 

Click to read more ...


Halfway: Top Ten (Thus Far) and Best of Miscellania

½way mark - part 7 of 9
It's list time. [cue catchy as yet unwritten TFE jingle here]. We're nearly done with our "halfway mark - year in review" festivities so here is the top ten pictures and a few more Oscar-ish lists for good measure this fine Tuesday.

Top Ten (Thus Far)
in order of official release in 2015

-You know there are people in this world who go on first dates that are perfectly fine and then they wait awhile before they engage sexually.

-That's disgusting."

Appropriate Behavior (USA) d. Desiree Akhavan 
Jan 16th (Screened in January 2014)
Laugh out loud funny and encouragingly specific, it's a shame this Iranian American LGBT romantic comedy didn't break out bigger. It's available for full as a purchase/rental on YouTube.


'71 (UK) d. Yann Demange.
Feb 27th (Screened in September 2014)
One of the scariest movies I've ever seen, full stop. Jack O'Connell wholly believable as a soldier abandoned in the projects during The Troubles, terrified for his life. 

Of Horses and Men (Iceland) d. Benedikt Erlingsson
Mar 11th (Screened in November 2013 - Iceland's 2013 Oscar Submission) 
It only took a year and half to make it to the States, but this extremely strange tragicomedy (?) about men and their horses is totally memorable. Somehow, despite expert direction and a unique fully formed sensibility, it's a debut feature?!?

7 more pictures after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Halfway: Best Supporting Performances of 2015 Thus Far

½way mark - part 6 of ?
While it was a great deal of fun choosing and articulating the Best Leading work of the year (thus far) at the halfway mark, the Supporting fields prove a more difficult task. This is not exactly the norm as movies tend to have more supporting role than leading ones. But -- grossly generalizing now -- a lot of movies underuse their supporting casts, especially the women. This is particular true of summer blockbusters: Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys, for example, don't even have any supporting females. You're either a male character, a leading female love interest, or you don't exist... except perhaps in cameo form (the eternal plight of one Judy Greer). Either that or the character actors are severely underchallenged. It's easy to feel exceptional warmth for Mary Kay Place in I'll See You In My Dreams or Sally Hawkins in Paddington, for example. Both women are welcome onscreen at any time, terrific actresses, but they're not expected to do much at all other than be a warm and welcoming presence. 

Anyway, let's proceed. 

Supporting Actress: Rose Byrne & Kristen Stewart 

But...that's not playing by the rules which is to choose five performances like you're doing an Oscar shortlist (though these lists should never be mistaken for Oscar Predictions which is a different topic altogether). So let's try again.

Here we go with 4 acting categories after the jump

Click to read more ...


Halfway: Oscar Chart Updates - Picture, Director, Visual, Sound

½way mark - part 5 of ?
All this week we're taking stock of what's happened thus far in the film year but also at what's to come... at least as it involves Oscar Charts. They're updated in every category now (save Foreign Film... for which I now start the hard 70+ country research work on backstage).

Best Picture | Best Director 
In these charts you'll see gains for Inside Out and Youth and Sicario after hot responses in Cannes or in theaters and for Suffragette and Steve Jobs which both arguably aced their trailer game, which helped to build perceptions of "forthcoming jewel - see it!". And though the vast bulk of the contenders in Best Director are still white American men, there is at least one woman (Sarah Gavron's Suffragette) and one African American (Ryan Coogler's Creed) and a few foreigners who you can imagine traction for if their film's explode critically or with the media or at the box office.

I've also added George Miller to the director chart -- I don't really see a precedent for an actual nomination, mind you, but it's fun to imagine the director's branch getting ballsy each year and rallying behind someone whose work really impressed in non-Oscar bait projects. And given that this 70 year old schooled just about any action director whose name isn't James Cameron, there's a lot to be impressed by. It's worth noting that his Oscar record is damn weird. He's been honored in four categories in the past, winning the Animated Feature Oscar (Happy Feet) and receiving one nomination each for Best Picture (Babe), Adapted Screenplay (Babe) and Original Screenplay (Lorenzo's Oil) ...but he's never been nominated for Best Director, and essentially he's a director who dabbles in other things. It's kind of like the hilarious statistic that Lars von Trier is only Oscar nominated as a songwriter. Tee hee. 

Visuals | Sound
Though I lost a little faith in In the Heart of the Sea and Bridge of Spies, with buzz on other films growing and in the case of Spies a middling trailer, I didn't drop them for the tech charts per se. As we know the Academy's visual branches are not as prone to think outside the Best Picture box as they once were which is sad for visual artists working on movies (sometimes the individual parts are much greater than the sums). You'll notice thatMad Max Fury Road was also added to a few charts. Given the hallelujah critical chorus that greeted its arrival and the likelihood that a DVD release and top ten lists could result in a reprise of that very same chorus -- we're pretending (at least for the time being) that Oscar voters might consider it despite it being the fourth film in a franchise that they've had no time for.

Immortan George directing Charlize Furiosa

Previously at the Halfway Mark
pt. 1 Oscar Chart Updates - Acting
pt. 2 10 Best Leading Performances
pt. 3 Best & Worst in Animation 
pt. 4 Most Ubiquitous - Alicia Vikander 


Halfway: All Hail Alicia Vikander!

½way mark - part 4 of ?
Here's Lynn Lee on 2015's Most Ubiquitous Actress

In the act(ress)ing world, there are rising stars and then there are rockets – the ones whose careers lift off so high so fast it leaves us all blinking a little.  Think Jessica Chastain in 2011, or Jennifer Lawrence in 2012.  2015 looks to be a rocket year for young Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, who’s attracted favorable notice here at TFE and by critics and directors on both sides of the Atlantic, though she’s yet to achieve mainstream moviegoer recognition.  

If she keeps going as she’s begun, she may soon have that, too.

I first took note of Vikander in 2012, the year of her breakthrough role in the historical drama and Oscar best foreign film nominee A Royal Affair, as a young queen who helps bring the Enlightenment to 18th century Denmark, and a supporting turn in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina.  Nathaniel nominated her for a Film Bitch Award that year and she’s worth watching in both films, especially the former. But it wasn’t until I saw her back to back in this year’s Ex Machina and Testament to Youth that I really got what the fuss was about. 

And what is it about, exactly?...

Click to read more ...


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.