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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 | letterboxd

 

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Entries in Zero Dark Thirty (23)

Tuesday
Jan222013

Amir's Best of 2012

Amir here. Nathaniel has invited TFE contributors to share their top ten lists along with his own. Drawing up this list is a real dilemma every year. Not that I’m under the illusion that a list like this bears any significance on my personal affection for the films I leave out, but I still want it to be representative of the whole picture. This year was particularly tough. It’s been a terrific year for cinema, possibly my favorite since 2007. Even with five honorable mentions I still couldn’t find room for Moonrise Kingdom, Queen of Versailles, Silver Linings Playbook, The Grey, Damsels in Distress, Anna Karenina and so many others that I thoroughly enjoyed. But these lists are never definitive. Ask me on a different day and I might give you a whole different set. At this moment, this is where I stand.

Honorable Mentions
We don’t get to see films as unique and original as Beasts of the Southern Wild very often so it pains me to leave it off. It moved me to tears and its images are etched in my memory all these months later. Magic Mike was a real highlight, a fully realized screenplay that dug beneath the flesh of its stars to explore universal themes and it had a few career-best performances to boot. As a big documentary buff and in such a banner year for the form, I find myself surprised that no doc made it to the top ten but three of my favorites were left just off: Sarah Polley’s brave and engrossing Stories We Tell in which the young Canadian filmmaker had the audacity to reveal the deepest secrets of her family through her poetic vision; Searching For Sugar Man, where the incredible story of a gifted, but largely unknown artist takes a twist that is as heartbreaking as it is heartwarming; and The Gatekeepers, an unprecedented exposé of the politics of the Israel-Palestine conflict and undoubtedly the most important film of the year. 

top ten after the jump

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan202013

Box Office Playbook: Jessica vs. Jennifer

As if doing battle like Best Actress Gladiators both Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence are all over the nation's theaters. They'll be horns locked for the next 5 weeks in the media, I'll bet. JLaw was joking about beating JChas to the Oscar on SNL -- too gently? -- but it was Jessica who won the box office. And twice over. The last time I remember that happening was Leonardo DiCaprio at Christmas 2002 I think (Gangs of New York and Catch Me If You Can?)  [UPDATE: Sharp-eyed TFE Reader Brian Z actually reminds us that it happened in 2011 too... also with Jessica Chastain for The Help and The Debt]

On a related side note: I just know I'm going to start calling them Jessica Lawrence and Jennifer Chastain before long; name slippage is coming!

Box Office Top Ten
01 MAMA $28.1 *NEW* Jose likes the wig
02 ZERO DARK THIRTY  $17.6 (cum. $55.9) Top Ten List  
03 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK  $11.3 (cum. $55.3)  Beau's Review
04 GANGSTER SQUAD  $9.1 (cum $32.2) 
05 BROKEN CITY $9 *NEW* 
06 A HAUNTED HOUSE  $8.3  (cum. $29.9)
07 DJANGO UNCHAINED $8.2 (cum. $138.3) More on Django
08 LES MISERABLES $7.8 (cum $130.3) Top Ten List
09 THE HOBBIT $6.4  (cum $287.3)
10 THE LAST STAND $6.3 *NEW* 

In other movie/money news: Skyfall became only the 10th movie to break the $300 million barrier in the US box office this decade (Alice in Wonderland and The Hunger Games are the only non-sequels in that list... though both are franchisey in that remake or kick-off kind of way); Two very expensive movie gambles Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians will inch over the $100 million mark in the next few days which must be a relief even if it doesn't quite spell "big profit!"; Chasing Ice, a nominee for Best Original Song, crossed the $1 million mark which is a big deal for documentaries; Sony Pictures Classics are still being really conservative with Amour -- it's only in 36 theaters despite 5 Oscar nominations last week though they grossed nearly ½ a million this weekend; And despite nobody caring about it or talking about it whatsoever Tom Cruise's latest actioner Jack Reacher crossed the $75 million mark this weekend... Oscar season always makes it easy to forget that a huge portion of the moviegoing public never even thinks about "Oscar Season".

WEIRD, RIGHT? 

Speaking of the public -- though the specific and not the general --  what did you see this weekend?

the three most popular movie musicals since Cabaret. Les Misérables is nearing their lofty box office heights

P.S. Les Misérables only needs a few more weeks of heat -- which Oscar season will surely provide -- to pass Mamma Mia! and become the third most popular movie musical of the modern era stateside (after Grease & Chicago). Of course the atrocious Mamma Mia! has the absurd distinction of being so popular around the globe (over ½ a billion) that it's actually the most successful modern musical if you include the entire world in your overview. Usually we prefer to be international but Mamma Mia!? Blargh!

 

Friday
Jan182013

Best of the Year: Nathaniel's Top Ten

Previously: The Honorable Mentions

Often during the calendar-straddling list-making frenzy of "top ten season" a scene or a line of dialogue or even a whole film will refuse to dislodge itself from any internal conversation you may have with oneself about the year. That moment for me this year was Kylie Minogue's cameo late in Holy Motors when she arrives in a trenchcoat, like some lost Casablanca love, to sing:

Who were we. When we were. Who we were back then?

It'd be ineloquent bathos, too crudely and redundantly stated, if it weren't sung. But this heightened musical longing for a lost identity, lifts and soars with pathos instead. The year's best films kept reinforcing this most interior of questions as they wrestled with their past selves towards an uncertain future.

Nathaniel's Top Ten of 2012
From all movies screened that received US theatrical releases...

ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow)
Sony/Columbia. December 21st 

[SPOILERS FOLLOW] My favorite exchange in Mark Boal's dense script occurs between a government official and a CIA operative. "What the fuck does that mean?" "It's a tautology". I laughed at the wordplay in the film but wasn't expecting the widespread tautological eruptions that followed the film's premiere as everyone bent themselves into self-affirming pretzels to debate its portrayal of torture in the film's opening scenes as if there were only one way to look at the damn movie... as if torture were the only thing worth discussing about the film! To Zero Dark Thirty's credit, though I too was discomfited by its suggestion that torture yielded useful intel, there's nary a comfortable or pandering moment in the film. Like The Hurt Locker before it, ZDT attempts something like an apolitical stance though how successful that is (or ever can be) will be left to each viewer to decide. In my mind, Bigelow doesn't suggest that you're meant to enjoy torture or even embrace the mission's success, exactly...

more on Zero Dark and 9 more triumphs after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Jan132013

Multiple Zeroes. Dark Thirty

With a post Oscar nominations wide expansion into movie theaters Zero Dark Thirty won a strong $24 million opening weekend. $24 million is chump change for superheroes and cartoons but it's a big deal for contemporary dramas without bankable stars. Put it another way: that's well over what The Hurt Locker earned in its entire theatrical run here in the States. The torture controversy may have soiled ZDT's Oscar winning prospects somewhat (including that surprise snub for Bigelow) but it hasn't hurt it at the box office.

The Top Five This Weekend

Chart repurposed / visually adjusted from Box Office Mojo

Gangster Squad grossed less than the cheapo laughs of A Haunted House once again confirming that the earth is doomed and also that filling your movie with stars doesn't necessarily help (which also means the earth is doomed... at least for those of us who like our movies with movie stars in them.) That said it took Brad Pitt a long time to be considered "bankable" and Ryan Gosling is inching ever upwards. This is his second best opening (after Crazy Stupid Love, which was also jam-packed with fellow stars) though he has yet to star in a $100 + million hit.

Meanwhile Django and Les Miz continue to prove that their hit status is bonafide. With only three weeks in theaters both are well over $100 million and are on their way to very healthy profits, with or without Oscar statuettes.

Fantine may be impoverished and unemployable but Anne Hathaway now has her SEVENTH $100+ million hit.

I've noticed that that really tired annual meme that Oscar hates blockbusters and that general audiences don't like "Oscar-Bait" movies has died this year thank God! That death rattle lasted forever. Your Best Picture lineup this year is more proof that that's only ever been partially true at best and is often misleading. The average gross from this year's crop is $76 million and it's going up every week. Among the nine only (arguably) Silver Linings Playbook has underperformed given it's box office friendly stars / genre but that's only because they opted to pretend it was a tough arthouse sit with that crawling release pattern. Even after the Oscar nominations its still in less than 900 theaters. 

Do you support Oscars economy each year by seeing the nominees in the theaters?
 

Sunday
Jan132013

Terms of EnLinkment

E! Online Jessica Chastain sings Happy Birthday to Marc Malkin and sounds damn fine doing it. Laughs about the now broken 'Chastain Curse'. 
Vanity Fair looks back at their photos of our new Oscar Nominees
Self Styled Siren watches old movies with her mom over the holidays 
Timothy Brayton on Silver Linings Playbook. Lots of salient points in this mixed review which never once BELLOWS like the movie does.
The Hot Blogs Look what the Life of Pi team will be wearing to the Globes 

Just Jared Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult are both available again. You're free to ask them out... well, separately I mean.
Pajiba an all female (photoshopped) Avengers - have you seen Alison Brie as Captain America?
The Geek Twins every Superman logo for the past 75 years. Oh yeah, I somehow didn't notice that Man of Steel is arriving for Superman's 75th Anniversary year. Good timing. 
Carpetbagger talks to Jacki Weaver who admits she didn't cast an Oscar ballot this year
The White House's legit, official, and officially hilarious response to the petition to build a real Death Star.  

Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

Touchy Touchy Touchy - Everyone Gets So Touchy This Time of the Movie Year
In Contention Kris Tapley speaks his mind about the "Critics Choice Awards". I agree with almost all of this. The BFCA have always had a problem in trying to feel superior to the Globes but in practice being inferior or at least equally shameless about what they're actually up to with celebrity fawning. Trust that I understand the celebrity fawning impulse but I hope it gets better. Why not be a "principled alternative"?
IndieWire filmmaker Alex Gibney defends his attacks on Zero Dark Thirty 
Huffington Post Scott Mendelson is up in arms about the treatment of Kathryn Bigelow by the media
THR Quentin Tarantino thinks he's above criticism when it comes to discussions of violence in film
Film.com 'I don't agree with the Quvenzhane Wallis nomination'
Oscah Fevah "this has been a visual review of Les Misérables"

On Les Miz, please to note: I no longer cringe at the hyperbolic hate. That got boring after two weeks. I've officially turned a corner and I now find people's overwhelming loathing of Les Miz terribly amusing in all its narcimasochistic performativity -- if only one of the legion of haters would actually gouge their eyes out instead of just saying they'd rather do that or wanted to while watching it, than we'd have a story. Come on, people. COMMIT ! Tom Hooper did ;) Hating Les Miz is now the run amok mob equivalent of that nun orgy scene in Ken Russell's The Devils. And I love The Devils so I'm good here. Let it all out. Work yourself into a point-of-no-return frenzy!

Shirley Maclaine visit Downton Abbey

I Forgot to Mention This Weeks Ago
Michael Musto says that Shirley Maclaine's daughter has written a tell all. Good timing since Shirley Maclaine has been resurrecting her stardom lately with small movie roles (I wish she had more to do in Bernie) and a showcase television gig (sparring with the stuffy Brits of Downton Abbey... though her dialogue is bizarre, no?). So this book... Mommie Dearest 2.0? Uh oh.

Which movie star's parenting skills would you love to read about?

Sunday
Dec302012

Had Your Self a Misérable Little Christmas?

Another big cash grab day is ahead for the movies as New Year's Day approaches. But for this weekend the winners are clear. Django Unchained & Les Misérables much ballyhooed "Sad Off" was a true contest for wintry dollars with Tarantino's controversial slavery comedy revenge fantasy eventually pulling out in front of the musical. But the war for profit puts Les Miz in winner's position since it's already equalled it's budget in just the first six days. Django has a ways to go for that milestone but let's not nitpick as they're both true hits. 

Box Office Chart repurposed from Box Office Mojo

In fact, it's been a good box office year for Oscar-buzzing players. Affleck and Spielberg's pictures were both $100 million grossers with Lincoln still going strong. Pi & Playbook have solid sales - they didn't embarrass themselves. Of the front-running Oscar six only Zero Dark Thirty has been little seen but that's a function of timing and platforming rather than audience choice. If Zero Dark Thirty doesn't delay its expansion for too long it seems certain to demolish The Hurt Locker's gross in no time.

Did you see both Django & Les Miz over the break?

I almost went to The Hobbit but abruptly changed my mind and tweeted as much:

 

 

Oh sweet relief! I really do feel it.