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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)


Sing-Alongs & Fight Clubs, Divas & Heroes

Awards growing like mushrooms as we race like mad to finish out the film year that just was since we've already started the 2015 celebration.

Musical Sequences
With actual musicals like Muppets Most Wanted, Into the Woods and "performance" musicals like Begin Again, Beyond the Lights, and Get On Up it's a decent time to be a fan of musicals. And since some of the most memorable sequences in non-musicals are musically inclined (think The Lego Movie's boisterous kick-off) and so many non-musical films have the musical spirit via awesome soundtracks (think A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night), we have a category for that, too. Musicals for everyone! Sing-along with these ten nominees. 

Action Sequences 
Guardians, Katniss, and a sniper may have reigned supreme at the box office but Captain America: The Winter Soldier housed the year's best action sequences albeit not quite the most beautiful. The most ravishing was, incongruously, the ones starring two nuclear-slurping insect like abominations and that lizard king of monsters, Godzilla.

Two of them stop their films cold for self-important monologues. Three more regularly bring the house down. (Okay, sticklers, The Witch technically only brings the bakery door down but it's a figure of speech. Indulge me. And them; divas demand your full attention)

2014 had not one, not two, but three moving odes to solidarity and everyman heroism in Pride, Selma, and Two Days One Night. But since this is the cinema there are heroes all over for us to live vicariously through, some of them "super," others historical. And we can't forget the year's most badass warrior, the "Full Metal Bitch" herself (Emily Blunt) in Edge of Tomorrow

"I just thought there would be more," you say? Well there is. Also added: Best Line Reading and Breakthrough of the Year nominees and Best Movie Poster. Which mean only 5 categories are left to announce and then the medals! 

Can you believe I'm actually going to finish the awards this year????? "TO VICTORY!"


Forget About L()ve 

"2014 is OVER, Nathaniel" - everyone.

I'm aware, thank you. But you know how it is. We have to wean ourselves off of each delightful film year. And we still have to finish our annual Film Bitch Awards and then we're done. Pinky swear. Speaking of the pink... time to surrender it.

Romance isn't what it used to be in the movies. Even when movies have romance at the core somewhere like American Sniper or Divergent or whatever, it's often presented like a mandatory plot point rather than with any real passion; something to check off for all quandrants rather than get lost in. That makes our Best Kiss, Best Sex Scene, and Sexpot of the Year categories sometimes hard to manage but we press on.

Sex is so integral to life that you'd think the movies would want to claim it a little more rather than ceding it to Netflix originals, Showtime and HBO. When movies do go there they're often surprisingly prim (50 Shades of Grey) or arthouse grim. For the latter see Nymphomaniac, both volumes. Or rather: don't. Unless you're willing to fast forward a lot. It would have been infinitely better as one 90 minute film: faster, funnier, and more focused. [NSFW More...]

Click to read more ...


New Oscar Trivia. Courtesy of the 87th Academy Awards

What does a fresh list of winners bring? Why... New TRIVIA of course! 

Do you think Patty Arquette has seen SAVAGE GRACE?

picture birdman director alejandro gonzález iñárritu, birdman actress julianne moore, still alice  actor eddie redmayne, theory of everything supporting actress patricia arquette, boyhood supporting actor j.k. simmons, whiplash original screenplay birdman adapted screenplay imitation game foreign film ida animated feature big hero 6 documentary feature citizenfour cinematography birdman editing whiplash production design grand budapest hotel costume design grand budapest hotel makeup and hair grand budapest hotel  visual effects interstellar score grand budapest hotel song "glory" selma sound mixing whiplash sound editing american sniper  live action short the phone call documentary short crisis hotline animated short feast ...I forgot to ask all of you how you did on your predictions? I did decent but not spectacular 18/24 (but i heard from a few readers who said I helped them win their office pool so there's that) but the short film categories messing me up as usual grrrr

After the jump, there's lots of trivia brought on by the 87th batch. If you have a really good one I forgot, I can always update the post so please to enjoy and comment... 

Click to read more ...


Team Experience: Oscar's Best & Worst Moments

Neil Patrick Harris' big musical opening had fun shadow effectsAre most of you over your Oscar party hangovers now?

I polled Team Experience (and myself) on their very favorite moment and their "Agony!" bit alike from last night's show of shows and here's what they had to say about the 87th Academy Awards. Please do share your single Best & Worst moment in the comments, too as we work our way through putting this film year behind us.


Timothy: Pawel Pawlikowski muscling right on through the play-off music in order to pay due tribute to his late wife.

Julien: That opening song was really some... Oh who am I kidding ? Watching Julianne finally clutch that Oscar was a dream I thought would never come true. 

Nathaniel: Once you get past Julianne I'd go with 1) Emma Stone reaction shots  2) "Glory" 3) Jessica Chastain saying "Chivooooo" 4) the insanity of "Everything is Awesome" - particularly the fake Oscars and the Batman interruption 5) Patricia Arquette's infectious righteousness (sub-shoutout to Meryl & JLo). I understand that people are up in arms the day after but that's called 'missing the point because people love to be outraged' which is an epidemic online that distracts the world from progressive goals like eradicating inequality and sexism. 6) "because you're rich"

More heartfelt applause (and then some jeers) after the jump...

Click to read more ...


Readers Poll Results: Who *Should* Win?

With the Oscars arriving in 12 hours and your host (er, Nathaniel -- your host here at TFE-- not NPH) still sick as a dog, I turn the time over to you. Your votes have been tallied from the polls we ran on the individual Oscar Chart pages over the past month and here's who YOU -- the collective you at least -- are rooting for tonight.


Grand Budapest Hotel won 37% of your hearts. In solid second place was Birdman with 30%. Nightcrawler and Boyhood had their fans with 16% and 12% of the vote respectively. Trailing them all with a poor showing was Foxcatcher with 4%.

acting, director, picture after the jump

Click to read more ...


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.


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.

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 

Foreign Film -Ida
Documentary  - Citizen Four
Makeup - Grand Budapest Hotel 

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.

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.


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.

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 


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.

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