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Entries in Year in Review (158)


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.


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...


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!


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 ...


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


2014's Interview Index

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)
Marisa Tomei (Love is Strange / The Realistic Joneses)
Finn Wittrock (Unbroken / Freakshow

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

Behind the Scenes
Cinematographer Yves Belanger (Wild)
Composer Antonio Sanchez (Birdman
Composer Patti Smith (Noah
Composer Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
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

Oscar Parties / Cocktails / Banter
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)
John Boorman (Hope & Glory Memory and Current Ballot) 

Celebrity Guests For Our Devout Actressexual Readership
Dana Delany (Amazon's Hand of God) shared A+ stories in our '73 Smackdown. Such a movie buff! 
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) one of Hollywood's best scene stealers, guest-blogged with hilarious Oscar memoir
Melanie Lynskey (Happy Christmas, HBO's Together) participated in our '64 Smackdown and cursed herself for picking a bum year 


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.



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...


(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.


(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 ...

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