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Entries in Year in Review (149)

Thursday
Feb192015

Awards Season Dichotomy: Easy Calls & Tough Choices

With time rapidly running out until we get to Oscar - we're just 3 days away - I'm afraid there's no time left for obsessive predictive postings and chart updates. So as a final predictive wrap up, we illustrate one of the conundrums of awards season via Oscar Predictions and our own Film Bitch Awards. With Oscar it seems categories often become either truly easy calls or are just impossible to figure. For the conscientous voter, personal ballots are never easy calls. They're another matter entirely.

To quote the witch Ursula who is not good and not nice but just right:

Life's full of tough choices, in'n't it?

Speaking of personal choices, if you haven't yet voted on the polls on each chart page, go and do that. I'll announce the Reader's Choice this Saturday before the Oscars.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS

Isn't it weird how things just line up for Oscar's  "duh" calls for predictions each year-- even if there's no appreciable difference in quality or the quality actually goes another way? So as recap. Here are the final predictions. Later today I'm doing a piece for Towleroad where you can read further thoughts on all of this if you haven't got enough of it right here. I also urge you to check out the Gurus of Gold chart at Movie City News to see what the general consensus is versus where I and maybe you if you predict at home, fall.

THE EASIEST CALLS
Actress  Julianne Moore, Still Alice (just discussed)
Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, Whiplash (a press favorite all year)
Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood 
Production Design / Costume Design -Stockhausen & Canonero for Grand Budapest Hotel 
Cinematography Emmanuel Lubeski - Birdman 

SEEMINGLY EASY CALLS BUT THESE CATEGORIES ARE KNOWN FOR UPSETS
Foreign Film -Ida
Documentary  - Citizen Four
Makeup - Grand Budapest Hotel 

SLIGHTLY MORE COMPLICATED CALLS
Actor - Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything I understand some are arguing for a Cooper stealth win or a Keaton triumph with Birdman surging but I'm sticking by my original prediction. Oscar has always been deeply fascinated by mimicry and by men playing characters with physical challenges.

TRULY DIFFICULT CALLS
Picture/Director I'm going with a Boyhood/Birdman split though any combo or double from either makes sense. It's all terribly mystifying (Discussed on the podcast)
Visual Effects Interstellar (though I'm not confident)
Editing Whiplash (though Boyhood seems just as likely)
Original Screenplay Grand Budapest (or will it be Birdman?)
Adapted Screenplay Imitation Game (with an outside shot for Whiplash)
Doc Short Glenn thinks Crisis Hotline. I'm going with Joanna
Live Action Short The Phone Call
Animation Short Tim thinks Feast or The Dam Keeper. I'm going with The Bigger Picture
Score Theory of Everything
Sound Mixing Whiplash
Sound Editing American Sniper

And that's it for predictions. I look forward to being completely wrong this year. I love the volatile years most. Punditry is no fun when it's too easy.

FILM BITCH AWARDS

As for my own annual prizes with their own rich history... those are still in progress and much fussed over though the Oscar Correlative categories are all fully complete.

4 nominations for NIGHTCRAWLERNATHANIEL'S BALLOT - ALWAYS TOUGH CHOICES
PAGE 1 - Picture, Director, Screenplay, Animated (complete)
PAGE 2 - Acting (newly completed!)
PAGE 3 - Visuals (newly completed!)
PAGE 4 - Aurals and Oscar-Parallel Tally (newly completed with love for The Homesman, Gone Girl, Begin Again and more...) 

...and the extra "fun" categories are still in progress though there's a little something on each page now to whet your appetite.

PAGE 5 - Extras (new kudos for Pride, Love is Strange & Selma)
PAGE 6 - Character Prizes 
PAGE 7 - Scene Work 

Wednesday
Feb182015

Best Actress. An Oscar Thrill & Personal Ballot

It's just four days until Oscar and I remain stunned and overjoyed that god* will be taking home her first Oscar. I can scarcely believe it. I thought it would be a nail biter given that this never happens. It's true we're about to get our first fiftysomething Best Actress winner in 62 years and I couldn't be happier about it! Given Oscar's very limited idea of what constitutes great acting (let's face it they were never going to "get" how well Scarlett Johansson was embodying a inhuman alien psyche distracted by curiousity) they didn't have much to choose from this year. But we cinephiles did. Best Actress is always a tough category for the actressexual, so I truly wish I had 8 nominees each year. I truly do. Of course then I'd weep for the 9th. You're always going to have to leave people out.

I force myself to narrow it down to 12 semi-finalists each year for a happy dozen before I make the final calls so here's a last shout out to a dozenish favorite leading ladies of 2014 (in alpha order) though this time it's a baker's dozen because I had to include the baker's wife albeit in her other incarnation this year.

Let's hear it for this incredible work. (Weak year my ass)

  • Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow
  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night
  • Essie Davis, The Babadook
  • Anne Dorval, Mommy
  • Luminita Gheorghiu, Child's Pose
  • Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
  • Keira Knightley, Begin Again
  • Agata Kulesza, Ida
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice / Maps to the Stars **
  • Elisabeth Moss, Listen Up Phillip
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

See the Film Bitch Awards Best Actress nominees here!

* Julianne Moore is God.

** I could never understand what the f*** was happening with Maps to the Stars (Globe eligible but not Oscar eligible - what the hell?) so it is not included in my 2014 awards though I would surely have nominated Juli for it. I haven't yet decided if I will consider it for 2015 -- it supposedly opens February 27th -- but it seems to have been lost in the gap between film years. I will never understand this predilection of distributors to confuse potential audiences and critics in year end prizes. Never ever. It fills me with such bile every annum.

Saturday
Jan312015

January. It's a Wrap

"Time passes. That's for sure."
-Eileen Myles

2015 is 1/12th done and we haven't even fully wrapped up 2014 yet. Slow down, geez. Here are some highlights from that month that was. Please to enjoy icymi 

January Highlights
Unjust Pride DVD Sony has put the gay heroes in the closet 
Up Close at the Critics Choice Awards Jessica Chastain & more
Tangerine, GrandmaIt Follows and The Witch -Our favorite Sundance films
SAG Fashions the pretties
Why Wes? Why Grand Budapest Hotel?
When u think of costumes... do u think of Watts?
The Five Stages of Grief via Oscar nominations
Fairy Tales and Oscar Streep is the first storybook kind of witch (though not the first literal witch)

Retro Glories
Best Actress 1977 A short detour discussion 
Julianne Moore's Top Ten Pre-Alice Performances - how does your list vary?
What if Into the Woods had been made in 1949? 
Excuuzzzzze Me it's the 75th anniversary of His Girl Friday 

List Mania / Best of Year
Team Experience Awards for 2014 | Voice Performances | Supporting Actress | Actor | Supporting Actor#10-01 Nathaniel's Top Ten | Breakthrough Stars | Movie Posters 

Coming in February
Oscar Countdown, Black History Month, Valentine's Day, Spirit Awards, Pinnocchio 75th Anniversary, The Last Five Years, and more...

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 ...

Tuesday
Jan202015

Bradley, Benedict, Eddie, Michael and Steve. OR...

The Best Actor chart is revised for your perusal with our usual game of 'how'd they get nominated' -- especially relevant in this stacked category (sniffle goodbye Timothy Jake Fiennes-Oyelowo) -- and the readers poll of who you think is actually best.

So check that out and vote, would you?

Though I've already expressed my disappointment in the Acdemy's shortlist given the wide variety of strong performances they didn't love enough, one thing that is satisfying about it is how many first timers we have. Indeed, had they not nominated Bradley Cooper and chosen, say, Oyelowo or Spall we could have had an all virgin Best Actor lineup.

Trivia Break: there's been a lot of talk about Cooper's 3 consecutive nominations (2012-2014 for Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle and American Sniper). If you're curious, no, it's not an acting record. The all time consecutive record holders for men are Marlon Brando (51-54) and Al Pacino (72-75) each with four. Neverthless Bradley is the first to accomplish it since Russell Crowe (99-01) and if he is nominated again for this new year of film we're entering he'll be tied for #1 in the male division. Greer Garson (41-45) and Bette Davis (38-42) are the all time record holders with five consecutive acting nominations each. You can wish Cooper good luck if you're a fan but four consecutive is extremely rare; the last person to do it male or female was Al Pacino in the 1970s and even Meryl Streep hasn't managed it.

Enough trivia. I hope you haven't forgotten my own kudos. Here is my ballot for Best Actor as we continue the Film Bitch Awards (nominations have now been announced for Picture, Director, Screenplays, Animated Feature, and Actor)

For what it's worth I made my selections before Oscar votes and didn't expect the final list to be so contrary to mine so this is not to be misunderstood as a pointed corrective but actual opinion. The further we get away from the heat of nomination day the more sad I am that the wondrous "Gustave H", one of the best character conjurings in years, was not selected. In fact, I think it's Ralph Fiennes most Oscar-worthy work since Schindler's List

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