Oscar History

The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

Powered by Squarespace
Don't Miss This!
Keep TFE Strong

We're looking for 500... no 478 Patron SaintsIf you read us daily, please be one.  Your suscription dimes make an enormous difference. Consider...

I ♥ The Film Experience


Comment Fun

Nick went to the Oscars!

"After an absolutely crappy day at work; when life feels like a total roadblock - this podcast just makes me so happy!" - Adam

What'cha Looking For?

Sassy Gay Black Swan

Given the veritable dogpile (birdpile?) of Black Swan joking on the web for the past four month, you'd think there'd be no laughs left to wring from it. But trust Sassy Gay Friend, to choke a few more out.

I can't even decide what my favorite part is but maybe it's a tossup between the Mila Kunis bit, the awkward Natalaughter and this opening gag.

Nina: Is this heaven?
Sassy Gay Friend: No, it's the hospital. In heaven Annette Bening wins the Oscar for The Kids Are All Right. WHAT WHAT WHAT were you doing?

Oh Sassy you stupid bitch.

FWIW if you've never seen any of these The Giving Tree is still the best one.



Distant Relatives: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom and Dogtooth

Robert here, with my series Distant Relatives, where we look at two films, (one classic, one modern) related through a common theme and ask what their similarities and differences can tell us about the evolution of cinema.

After weeks of Oscar movies I thought we'd get a little esoteric. But don't worry, you don't have to have seen either of these films, you just have to enjoy sex and violence like the rest of us.

There's lots of sex in your violence

Who doesn’t love violence and sex? We go to the movies and cheer at every explosion and gunned down bad guy. Our heart races at the excitement of the fight. And vanquished villains are best celebrated by beautiful men and women, the actors we idolize, stripping down for a love scene, strategically filmed. We watch fantasy up on the big screens where blood is often minimal, skin is plentiful, and the world makes sense. And what happens when when the fantasy ends? When we’re presented reality the fun ends pretty quickly.

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom is notorious as possibly the most disturbing cinematic experience ever put on celluloid. The film follows a group of Facists who kidnap about twenty youths and take them to a beautiful villa for several months of sadism, abuse, mental and sexual torture, and eventually death (that’s not really a spoiler, you’ll not be expecting a happy ending). The film has resulted in censorship, bans and arrests throughout America, Euorpe and Austriala yet has been championed as a work of art by the likes of Martin Scorsese, Michael Haneke and Catherine Breillat.

Dogtooth doesn’t quite have this reputation yet but it’s working on it. While being banned isn’t likely, its Academy screenings have already developed a delightful place in Oscar history with viewers booing, walking out and in at least once case, threatening resignation. The film is a view into the world of a Greek family, where the parents have isolated their children (to the point where they make up new meanings for common words) into a surreal existence. As the children, now adults, become increasingly sexual and increasingly aggravated at the fear of their own reality, events spiral out of control.

Horror films

So we have two films about the older generation secluding and abusing the younger that expect us not to look away. And to what purpose we ask. Is Pasolini presenting us with Facists who do the most horrible things imaginable to convince us that Facism is bad? Is there a purpose at all to the family in Dogtooth whose existence we can’t begin to believe ever possible? Furthermore, how can two films repel us by presenting sex and violence as reality and yet be so unreal?

Consider the modern horror movie where the difference is split. The violence is presented in gruesome realistic detail as part of the adrenaline rush of the genre. These films dare us to keep watching even though they promise to show us unpleasantness simply for the scare of it. But the sex is still strictly fantasy; developmentally arrested men and blonde bimbos tussle beneath the sheets unaware that their only purpose in the film is to be exposed and then executed. But it’s okay since they’re not real people with real feeling and lives. They’re just window dressing.  Films like this are routinely criticized for their dehumanizing and objectifying of human beings.

Real People

Perhaps by non more than Salo and Dogtooth, films that strip sex of all seduction, romance, or anything sexy and present people as nothing more than commodities to buy, sell, trade or kidnap as utilitarian means to the end of appeasing the all-powerful sex drive. As a comparison of Facism with Capitalism so extreme it deals in the sale of human objectification or as a comment on isolation from corruption to the extent it turns basic human sexuality into natural perversity and eventually self-destruction, Salo and Dogtooth suddenly seem like they’re saying something very real in their unreality.

Then again perhaps that’s not what either are about. These two films particularly have had critics and scholars puzzling over various interpretations. But if they are, what are we to take from them? If we’ve ever lusted after an objectified body (and who hasn’t?) are we as guilty as them as the maniacs in Salo? Do we they suppress ourselves into unhealthy resistance like the family in Dogtooth? When it comes to sex and violence we are always victims of and participants in the society that births us. So we retreat back into the Hollywood fantasy where the glistening perfect bodies tangle among each other like bullets forming a crossfire where our heroes never get hit. Sex and violence are fun again, we can enjoy unreality presented as reality and eschew the reality of Salo and Dogtooth presented as unreality


Beauty Break: Kate Winslet

My friend Matt calls this "Mildred Fierce". I concur. The photoshoot is by Mario Testino for Lancome. Pretty pretty pretty and platinum.

I'm totally missing Kate. Stepping out of the spotlight for two years post Oscar win was a great career move. Now, I've gotta find a friend who'll host a Mildred Pierce party when the miniseries arrives on HBO on March 27th so that I'm not months behind.

I'm a freelance writer. I so can't afford HBO. tiny violins

I keep forgetting what a fine cast that the miniseries has because I get so caught up in the Winslet directed by Todd Haynes thing. It's not just Kate. He's serving up Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Mare Winningham, Brian F. O'Byrne and Guy Pearce.

Trivia: This is the second time Winslet's had the surname of Pierce in a movie. She was Sarah Pierce in Little Children (2006). And that's not even accounting for the terrible things she did to Sarah Peirse's character in Heavenly Creatures (1994). The name just haunts her. Maybe she should guest star as Brittany S. Pierce's mom or aunt on Glee?


First and Last

the first and last images from a motion picture.

Here's another clue. The first and last lines of dialogue

First: Sit down and start undressing.
[Various people shouting / screaming]


Can you guess the movie?

 If you'd like to check your answer or your just give up, the answer is after the jump.

Click to read more ...


TV at the Movies: "They're All Going to Laugh at You!"

Shall we have a small screen comment diversion? There are two things in particular that are urging this post on. One: Gwyneth Paltrow as "Holly Holiday" wisecracking sexed up substitute teacher on Glee and Raja's increasingly commendable and now movie-spoofing creativity on RuPaul's Drag Race.

Let's take Raja first. Rita Rudner, who was the guest judge and comedy coach for this week's challenge (developing a comedy routine), was worried that people wouldn't have seen Carrie (1976) "I haven't seen it in 40 years" and therefore wouldn't get Raja's references. Oh Rita; the gays have seen Carrie! It's maybe not as obsessively worshipped as Baby Jane but it's up there. Raja came out wearing this.

Raja as Carrie, Raja as Herself

They're all going to laugh at you! (On purpose.)

I don't want to stress how much I love Raja and did long before he started referencing great movies like Heathers and Carrie verbally or with inspired visual gags. Basically when I love a contestant on any show they are doomed to come in second (or less) to someone hugely inferior. (I knew this was coming last season when Raven, who I was already crushing hard on, referenced Michelle Pfeiffer of all people. I was done!) I have the same weird mutant power to curse great actresses with my fandom, my love being the anti-Oscar. Do you have this power? Maybe it's our combined love that curses them? I'd prefer to share blame -- please, take some of it. Tell me someone you've cursed by loving them.  Only a lucky few escape this particular curse  -- Kidman, Winslet -- and then usually only by denying someone else that I'd rather call an Oscar winner! I'm sorry I/we did this to you Bening, Pfeiffer, Close, Turner, Moore, etcetera!

Speaking of Oscar winners, Gwyneth Paltrow revived some fan love when she absolutely killed in her guest spot on Glee months ago as the Lindsay Lohan mocking, Cee Lo singing, substitute Spanish teacher. Last night she was back to reprise the role, this time offering up some sex ed. Her first scene involving a cucumber and a condom was quite hilarious but she peaked early. The rest of the episode was an uncomfortable preachy weirdly discombobulated mess. Just like every other episode.

Let us fantasize about having so many musical-fix options available on TV and at the movies that we need have no great love for it. Yet we do. Gwyneth's voice is emotionally expressive and can flip from exuberant to sad and is really quite beautiful so the internet nastiness about her possible new record deal is just the typical hatesnark that ever plagues the great Web. If you can listen to her cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide", or rather her cover of the Dixie Chicks cover of that song,  and think that she doesn't have musical chops, you should probably see an Otologist. Salon thinks Gwynnie's character, or at least what she's emblematic of, is ruining Glee. I get the argument but it's really hard to single out one troublesome element since Glee is quite obviously, emphatically and even proudly the Worst "Best" show on television.

To borrow from RuPaul herself, "Can I get an 'amen'"?

Or a second opinion?


Cast This! "Game Change" w/ Julianne Moore

The news of Julianne Moore's casting as Sarah Palin in HBO's Game Change, adapted from the best-selling tell-all about the 2008 Presidential Race, is spreading like wildfire. I haven't read a single piece on it yet (other than the opinion-free news bit from The Hollywood Reporter) but one imagines many Tina Fey references will be popping up. How can anyone outdo that particular crucifixion by spiritiually dead-on mimicry? Perhaps Juli has been considering the role for sometime and asked for pointers on the set of 30 Rock?

Here at the Film Experience we try never to think of Sarah Palin, a true blight on American culture (though perhaps the celebrity we most deserve as Americans given our national habit of treasuring stupidity). Given their diametrically opposed politics, we can only imagine Julianne Moore weeping when thinking of the Politertainer in real life. Though Julianne Moore's whole screen persona tilts toward the weepy so...

Speaking of weeping.

Here at The Film Experience we regularly weep knowing that the surest way for the truly great and imaginative screen actors (like Moore herself) to win prizes is to eschew their own imaginative gift for character creation and hone their technical ability to mimic other famous people instead. But since that's the world we live in, perhaps Julianne can finally win some hardware? At least a Globe? Though she's one of modern cinema's most acclaimed performers she's actually unpracticed at the art of acceptance speeches. Though she won an Daytime Emmy before hitting the movies, since she achieved fame she's won virtually nothing apart from untelevised critics prizes or "special" you're awesome type of career honors -- like the recent Hasty Puddings situation. Apart from a rare "Ensemble" or shared prize she has never won: an Oscar, a Golden Globe, Cannes, SAG, BAFTA, or a Primetime Emmy. She hasn't even managed an MTV tub o' popcorn or even a Saturn win! Her biggest "gets" were the Volvi cup in Venice, the Spirit Award and the "Critics Choice" all for  Far From Heaven (2002). And regarding the latter, had the BFCA been the organization in size, shape and tone that they are now back then, she wouldn't have even won that! And I say that as a (frustrated) voting member.

What do you make of this news? Excited to see her try mimicry for a change?

Since Julianne Moore is the only star announced thus far that leaves four major power couple roles uncast? Who would you have as (clockwise from top left: John & Elizabeth Edwards, Bill & Hilary, John and Cindy McCain, and Michelle and Barack Obama. And oops I forgot Joe Biden in the photo.

Who would YOU place in the other roles?


This & That: Balloon House, Birthday Party, Bookshelf Franco

Refiner 28 James Franco's bookshelf analyzed. Hee.
Crave Pixar's Up (2009) balloon house recreated in real life!
Small World a follow up story to that bit about The King's Speech producer's daughter who dropped the Oscar. This one stars BANKSY.
Rope of Silicon Rememeber that movie that 50 Cent lost all that weight for? I had forgotten all about it, too.
Cinema Blend assembles / decodes all the news and rumors about Stoker which may star the impressive lineup of Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth
Variety on Julie Taymor's possible departure from the Spider-Man Broadway musical and a shutdown for the show itself.
Jacki Beat needs work, gurl! I love that Miz Beat is classy/funny/perverse enough to ask for work on her blog and threaten you with crimes simultaneously. The world needs more dangerous drag queens. I also need work but I have no funny jokes about it. Times is tough.
Movie|Line talks to Jane Eyre star Mia Wasikowska about the book and working with both Michael Fassbender and Jamie Bell.

M|L: In terms of your other love interest, you got to reunite with your Defiance co-star Jamie Bell, which was fun for me as a viewer, thinking “Forest wife!” to myself in the theater.
Mia Wasikowska: I know! We’ve already been married in a previous film! It was so much fun — Jamie is one of my favorite people to work with. We had a blast.

Also, I'm not sure how I missed this but here's Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds at La Liz's birthday party last week (you'll remember her actual birthday was Oscar day).

This casts a whole new light on that bit in Carrie's stage show mapping the complex tabloid-ready relationships of Elizabeth Taylor to her parents Eddie and Debbie.


Unsung Heroes: The Music of Amélie

Michael C. from Serious Film returning for a new season of Unsung Heroes and right off the bat I’m going to cheat a little. I went back and forth as to whether it was stretching to label this achievement “unsung” since I know many people who adore it. That said, I’ve never read a tribute to it, and it’s my column, right?

A memorable theme, an original song, a perfectly applied pop song. They stamp a film’s identity on the public consciousness like nothing else can. The Graduate is arguably one of the closest approaches to flawlessness in film history but would the genius of Mike Nichols be so readily apparent were it not for the contributions of Simon and Garfunkel? Would the image of Holly Golightly remain so iconic were it not inextricably wedded to the strains of "Moon River"? 

I would go so far as to say that in some cases the achievement of the composer outweighs that of the director. I don’t think it’s stretching to suggest Rocky might be just another underdog tale, well liked in its day but half-remembered now, were it not for the aural adrenaline that is Bill Conti’s fanfare. Scan the list of the all-time highest grossers and see how few lack a tune you can hum off the top of your head.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that I believe a huge portion of the credit for Amelie’s status as one of the most beloved films of the past decade belongs to the swirling calliope music of composer Yann Tiersen.

Amélie is one of those films like Singin’ in the Rain that its devotees love out of all proportion. Like that musical, Amélie touches a place of pure, undiluted joy that few movies come within miles of. When Amelie is so overwhelmed with love of life that she has to sweep through the streets describing every detail to the blind man the score sweeps us up right along with her. A lot of movies depict happiness. Amélie radiates it.

It is said that director Jean-Pierre Jeunet was considering The Piano composer Michael Nyman until he heard a production assistant pop in one of Tiersen’s albums. Jeunet must have realized instantly what a perfect match it was. Tiersen’s music with its accordions and harpsichords is unavoidably French, but like Amélie’s depiction of Montmarte, it’s a few fanciful degrees removed from reality, more a depiction of the unreachably romantic idea of France than of France as it is. On top of which, Tiersen’s love of found musical instruments like typewriters and bicycle wheels beautifully reflects the hand-made, nostalgic texture of the story.

The finished soundtrack contains both original compositions and previously recorded material, thus preventing Tiersen from receiving a richly deserved Oscar nomination for his work, and once again depriving that category of one of its year’s defining achievements. Shame. As delightful as Amélie’s script is I believe that ten years later the film still has such a firm a grip on the hearts of so many film lovers because of Tiersen's music. 

[Editors Note: Yann Tiersen is currently on tour for his latest CD "Dust Lane". Tonight he's in Santa Cruz, tomorrow at Belly Up in San Diego and the US portion of his tour closes Friday in Los Angeles.]