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Entries in Zodiac (4)

Wednesday
Nov222017

Happy 50th Mark Ruffalo !

by Eric Blume

Today marks the 50th birthday of one of our very best actors, three-time Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo burst onto the scene in 2000 with a remarkable lead performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count on Me.  His complex, layered work had critics fairly sprouting comparisons to Brando, and his gorgeous duet with Laura Linney still feels like the standard-bearer for on-screen sibling chemistry.  It’s astonishing to think Ruffalo missed out on an Oscar nomination that year, considering his performance is unquestionably better than several of the eventual nominees -- was it category confusion or lack of name-recognition? Oscar has remained historically slow to coronate good looking young actors, and that recognition remained on hold for him for over another decade...  

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Monday
Mar062017

Mt Linkmore

THR Shin Godzilla wins really big at the Japanese Oscars while massive anime hit Your Name takes 3 prizes. A film called Her Love Boils Bathwater (????) took both of the actress awards. Gimme.
TFE ... ICYMI Shin Godzilla came in at #18 at the US box office in terms of foreign film success last year (just behind critical darlings The Handmaiden and Elle)
Two Dollar Cinema had a fun blog-a-thon called 'Mt Rushmore of Movies' in which bloggers could just any fourpart tribute - I only hear about blog-a-thons after the fact but I'm happy some people are still doing 'em. Entries include: four characters with great beards, best movie cameos, movies where romantic leads don't end up together, and more

Much more film & TV news, videos, and linkage as well as Barry Jenkins & Damien Chazelle's friendship after the jump because this is a super long post. It's impossible to keep up as of late!

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Tuesday
Sep032013

Team Top Ten: Biggest Awards Season Flops

Amir here, to bring you our newest edition of Team Top Ten. Festival season is in full force. Telluride just wrapped. Venice is going strong. And in just two days, Toronto will set the awards season ablaze (Nathaniel and I will be there covering the flames). So we thought we’d vote on something that captures the spirit of the season.

Sort of.

Looking ahead at this point, there are a lot of films that look like surefire Oscar contenders. Inevitably, some of them will miss out on nomination morning, but at this very moment, everyone’s got their hopes high. Even in a year where unfortunate circumstances led to widespread discussion of racism in America, one can’t expect Mandela, 12 Years a Slave, Lee Daniels' The Butler AND Fruitvale Station to be nominated, but all four films are certainly gunning for it. So has been the story with many films in the past couple of decades, since the Oscars became the most glamorous political race on the planet and the Weinstein’s at Miramax supercharged awards campaigning.  

We’re looking back today at the films of the past 25 years – let’s call it the Campaigning Era – that looked like major Oscar players this far out in the year, or hell, even five minutes before nominations were announced in some cases, but failed to make a dent of any size. This is Team Experience’s Top Ten Awards Season Flops. Note that this is not a qualitative judgment - some stank, some were superb. But, for one reason or another, they fell short of what The Golden Man deems "Best". In simple terms – borrowed from Team Experience member, Nick Davis – these are the ten films that have the largest gap between their Oscar hopes and their Oscar outcomes. Without further ado… 

Bobby and 9 more dashed-hopefuls after the jump...

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Friday
May062011

Unsung Heroes: The Casting of 'Zodiac'

Hey there, film experiencers. Michael C here from Serious Film. After nearly two dozen episodes of this series I think it’s about time I touched on what is probably the most important under-the-radar job there is: the casting director.

Think about the challenges casting director Laray Mayfield was up against filling out the cast of David Fincher’s Zodiac (2007). 

The sprawling, decade-spanning narrative covers dozens of important speaking roles, various cops, reporters, and victims, which the viewer is expected to keep straight as they appear and reappear over the course of the story. Actors have to be cast who can embody the personality of the character in a way the script doesn’t have time to explain. Yet within those types, she has to find performers who can deliver a unique flavor that stands out from the pack. Dermot Mulroney, Donal Logue, and Elias Koteas all make believable cops, but no one is going to confuse one with the other.

John Carrol Lynch, loveable "Norm" no more.When it came to casting Zodiac himself, Fincher went with the bold choice of having different actors appear as the killer in order to fit the conflicting descriptions the surviving victims gave in each incident. Mayfield and Fincher somehow manage to pull it off without distracting or confusing the viewer. Each of the various Zodiac incarnations has a distinct feel – the Zodiac at the lake is more thuggish than the sinister Zodiac who threatens the woman and her baby on the highway – but the technique never calls attention to itself.

Mayfield outdid herself with the casting of the more substantial roles of the Zodiac suspects. With a story this maddeningly ambiguous the suspects need to project everything and nothing. We need to believe we may be in the presence of evil, but not tip the scales so far that we can’t buy it when the leads don't pan out as hoped. The casting of John Carroll Lynch – loveable Norm from Fargo – as lead suspect Arthur Leigh Allen is a particular masterstroke. In that riveting interrogation scene the viewer studies Lynch’s face along with the cops trying to decipher if they are witnessing the sneering arrogance of the Zodiac or just dumb belligerence. 

Along with her intuitive casting choices, Mayfield distinguishes herself with the depth of her talent search. Names like Anthony Edwards, Ione Skye and Charles Fleischer aren’t exactly at the top of every casting director's  A-List, but they’re perfectly deployed in Zodiac. They slide into their roles with utter believability and their underused star power in small roles adds immeasurably to the film.

It’s outside the box thinking like this that led Mayfield to provide The Social Network with one of the most memorable ensembles of recent years.

There is little fame and glory to spare for the casting director, yet one hears over and over that it is in the casting that most films are made or doomed. As a viewer, all I can judge is the finished project, and going by those results I think it’s safe to say Laray Mayfield is doing her job as well as anyone working today.