Saturday, December 31, 2005

Year in Review: My Favorite Posts

Hey... I've never claimed to be other-focused. I'm all about me. Herewith my favorite posts from ---um---myself on this here blog this calendar year:

12. God's Gift -April
Without Pfeiffer I am nothing.
11. A Prescient Film -June
Because the rise of religious fundamentalism this year here and elsewhere still continues to concern me.
10. True Faith or Generic Gullibility? -November
Duh. I love Oscar-watching. I was the first to doubt Charlize Theron's sure thing status this year (in September). The first to encourage caution in regards to Munich (early on). Though this sometimes makes me feel ancient and wise, like a stock character played by Liam Neeson or Morgan Freeman, I will keep doing it because very few others in the Oscar prediction game seem to examine hype with huge blocks of salt.
09. Measure Your Pleasure-August
I like Jude Law's penis. Sue me.
08. Sloppy Madonna Dissing
Madonna was regularly featured on the blog this year (mostly due to the release of her new CD). This was my favorite Madonna post on her misunderstood album "American Life"
07. They Shoot Horses, Don't They? -October
This was the inaugaral 'classic movie of the week.' I've been meaning to expand my film knowledge for years. And in 2005, I finally indulged regularly in past decades. It feels good.

06. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf -April
Due to limitations surrounding theater fandom, theater coverage never seems to be all that popular. But I love the theater. And this remains a highlight of my years of theatergoing in New York. Plus, it was a good excuse to rave about the one and only Kathleen Turner's film career.
05. Which 20Something Actress Are You? -July
This was a fun interactive to create. Maybe I'll do something similar again.
04. Happy Endings Hangover -July
I love it when films speak to me or connect to real life in unexpected ways
03. Poptart Sandwich -May
This still makes me laugh at myself.
02. Upcoming Nightmare-October
I continue to believe that this will happen. If I don't maintain a sense of humor about it I will die a painful emotional death on Oscar night in March.
01.Actress of the Aughts -October
Because this countdown during October was my 'breakthrough' in terms of expanding my readership and obviously something the fans were passionate about as well. [to the tune of hundreds of comments and e-mails]

Previous Year in Review Entries if You're a List Junkie Like Me and Just Joining Us... Year in Review: The Great Divide,Cinematic Shame: Worst of the Year,Best of Miscellania, Stocking Stuffers, Favorite Songs, CD of the year, The Year in Hair Part 1, The Year in Hair Part 2

Year in Review: Underseen & Underappreciated.

We kick things off with Junebug.
You're probably scratching your head. 'Junebug was acclaimed. Junebug was a modest indie success. ' etc... But my point is this: Amy Adams aside, when was the last time you heard someone rave about the film itself? It happens like this sometimes: A movie arrives, people (myself included) don't know quite what to make of it at first, but one particular aspect --usually the most accessible and/or loudest element is elevated to "best in show" and develops its own spin-off fandom. (Read the rest. See the other 3 selections. And answer my question about 2046)

The 7th Day of Christmas

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Great Divide

Ostensibly the moviegoing experience is a universal one. Common thinking goes like this: movies are a populist artform. They're supposed to reach across all social strata, race, and religion. But there's something about 2005 that seems to have been frozen in the amber of 2004: the balkanization of movie-loving.

Read more on the triple prism through which we view the success of movies. Later today, the underappreciated and the runners up to my top ten list.

The 6th Day of Christmas

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Funny Ha Ha

I'm trying to write my "year in review" columns and not getting very far (it'll be right here at some point tomorrow).

But speaking of the year in review: Check this out. If that's not the funniest time capsule of this odd year in pop culture, I'd be very surprised.

The 5th Day of Christmas

Freeze That Oscar Buzz

Today is the day. Six Thousand or so nomination ballots are mailed out to the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (also known as AMPAS) today! So freeze that Oscar buzz. Reports have it that the majority of Oscar ballots are returned very quickly. So whatever is in the air right now. That's what the majority of ballots are going for. If something crazy happens late next week like, say Reese Witherspoon committing mass murder?! --it probably won't prevent her from landing that nom. They have three weeks to return the ballots but most will be returned in the first week.

Addendum: ...and for those of you wondering why I am always so down on an Animated Film Category. Consider this:

"Three hundred eleven feature films will compete for the Academy Award® for Best Picture of 2005, it has been announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."

So. Let's see for Best Picture there are 311 choices --which means that the best picture nominees are snatched from the tippy top 98th percentile of the field and above. For animated film there are 10 eligible films which means 30% of all animated films can be nominated. This is why you will always get embarrasing nominations. It's like the TONY Awards when 5 original musicals premiere and 80% of them get a nomination. Blah.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Cinematic Shame: Worst of the Year

Kris Tapley of In Contention and myself rarely agree. But I will give him this: He's probably right to focus less and less attention on "worst of the year" columns each year. I should do the same. But alas, I'm still baring my fangs. Next year, maybe. Don't write me hate mail if you like these films. I just vent so that I can move on.

The Worst of the Year
Before dessert, one must eat vegetables --wait, that's a horrible analogy. Because good movies taste sweet and are healthy too. (Like chocolate flavored broccoli perhaps?) But before we can munch down on the banquet of year-end goodies, let's toss out the rotten cinematic entries before their stench settles in. Read the Cinematic Shame Dishonors.

Hump Day Hottie: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers

There is a line early in Woody Allen's fine new social climbing drama/thriller, in which Jonathan Rhys Meyers flirts shamelessly with Scarlett Johansson and asks her is she's ever heard that she has sensuous lips. Though Match Point is exceedingly clever it is not what one would call a simple comedy. The audience chuckle that follows then reads as kind of involuntary. Did he really just say that? It's rather like imagining Madonna asking Gwen Stefani if she were aware that she was a global pop icon. Or directing Paul Newman or Liz Taylor to ask a co-star if they were aware of how uniquely lovely his/her eyes are? Yes. And well --right back at you. Only moreso.

Because Match Point is so well made (tightly scripted, beautifully filmed, etc...) I will forgive Woody Allen this momentary lapse. Perhaps he was merely having a Hollywood Ending style blind-auteur moment when casting. Or perhaps he had never seen Velvet Goldmine and was thus unaware of this Irish actors potent and often lethal beauty. But in the future Jonathan Rhys-Meyers should probably never be instructed to refer to a co-stars beauty --even one as alluring as Scarlett Johansson. It's just too distracting.

Match Point: B + The Beauty of Rhys-Meyers: A +

Previous Hump Day Hotties now starring in "awards season":
Rachel McAdams, Cillian Murphy, Lady Tottington, Daniel Craig, Viggo Mortenson & Maria Bello, Ralph Fiennes & Rachel Weisz

Slates Movie Club

This is usually a good read. (Ongoing) The roster alternates each year.

The 4th Day of Christmas

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Better Than Expected

So um... The Producers? Much better than I was expecting. That is not to say that it turned out to be a really good movie but I had been predicting disaster. To my way of thinking the stage production is wildly overrated. It offers a few good belly laughs rather than the nonstop barrage of guffaws that it is hyped to induce. I never thought it would transfer well to the screen due to its very broad stagey nature. But color me mildly impressed.

Though it goes completely dead in between songs and is, as predicted, at least one shade too hysterical [yes, even for a Mel Brooks comedy], Susan Stroman sure can stage a musical number. It's too bad they didn't give her Rent instead. That's a better Broadway show but its film version has no idea how to sell the musical setpieces.

Now Accepting FYCs for the FB Awards

OK so I didn't plan as well this year for the annual Awards fest --didn't jot as much down throughout the year. So if you have any suggestions for award-worthy participants in the following fields please speak now or forever hold your piece:

Best Line Reading
Best Titles (Opening/Closing) Sequence
Best Beginning & Best Ending
Best Character Introduction
Best Kiss
Best Sex Scene
Best Cameo
Scene of the Year

Also.... Supporting or Lead for the following 4 performers? It's making me cra-zazy. Jeff Daniels & Laura Linney -The Squid and the Whale. Maria Bello -A History of Violence. And Rachel Weisz -The Constant Gardener. Make a case.

The Official Film Bitch "Year in Review" Bonanza commences tomorrow with the Worst of the Year Dishonors

The 3rd Day of Christmas

Monday, December 26, 2005


It's difficult to compile a top ten list (100s of people manage... but I still find it excruciating). And it's this time of year in which you realize that grading systems suck. There's this B+ I can't seem to drop... in favor of anything. So why isn't it an A- ? And a B that I think "if i'm still thinking about this movie this much, shouldn't I have been much kinder?" etc... I hate snap judgments. Don't release 100 movies in December, Hollywood. Play nice. Argh.

The 2nd Day of Christmas

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The 1st Day of Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bakers Dozen: The Critics Awards Thus Far

Already wished you "happy holidays". So here's something to ponder if you aren't in the Christmas spirit --the Critics Awards. Better late than never right? By now Brokeback Mountain's winning streak is old news. Old. What a funny word. Strange how swift the life-cycle of an entertainment commodity can be. So... I prefer to think of this news as comfortably broken in --like a pair of jeans that are really flattering to the collective critical ass. Jeans that won't get dropped at the Salvation Army anytime soon.

The success of Ang Lee's romantic drama is not the only story in the collection of the dozen critics awards announced thus far. Surveying this year's honors you see other notable patterns as well.

Best Picture
Brokeback has nearly 2/3rds of the Best Picture prizes so far. There is always a critical leader but what is more interesting in the spoils is that there is no runner up. The other lucky films named by someone somewhere as "BP" (Cinderella Man, Munich, A History of Violence, King Kong, The Squid and the Whale) number but 5 and none have repeated the feat. So when read together, they read more as "not Brokeback" choices than as "this movie is the best" statements.

Most Notable Omission: Capote. Up until the awards began, it looked like a major contender for BP recognition from critics groups. Hasn't managed one such honor.

Best Director

Same thing here. Ang Lee takes 8 of the 13 prizes but no rival emerges. Spielberg, Meirelles, Clooney, Miller, and Cronenberg all have one city's critics group to claim as their support base.

Most Notable Development: Woody Allen's buzz for the Match Point"comeback" has been slow and steady ever since Cannes. But it still didn't net him any critical wins. Hmmm.

Best Actress / Supporting Actress
Here at last a contest emerges. Reese Witherspoon in Walk the Line has conquered six associations. Her chief critical rival Felicity Huffman from TransAmerica has a trio of supporting groups. Remaining solo prizes go to: Vera Farmiga, Keira Knightley, Joan Allen, and Laura Linney. This is looking just like the Oscar Best Actress race: A couple of dominant players but otherwise this is all over the place.

The supporting actress field is also a mix of names. Catherine Keener for her film anchoring work in Capote (and The 40 Year Old Virgin) and Amy Adams for her scene-stealing work in Junebug both appear four times. But the story here may be that neither leader is a sure get with Oscar. Two time winner Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener looks more bankable as a future Oscar nominee. And, while we're on that train of thought so do one-prize-only ladies numbering three: Michelle Williams, Frances McDormand, and Maria Bello.

Most Notable Development: Shutouts for still frequently buzzed lead Oscar contenders like Dench, Theron, Zhang, and Watts in particular. She seemed to have some degree of passionate critical support --at least as far as the text of actual reviews goes. The supporting awards thus far have dovetailed neatly with what appears to be the actual critical consensus.

Best Actor / Supporting Actor
Phillip Seymour Hoffman's title star turn in Capote has nine of the thirteen prizes which would usually mark him as the absolute winner. Then you notice that Heath Ledger is the only other actor to have won anything (four groupings have labelled him the best). Between the two then, there is a stranglehold. This battle supreme will probably last up until the minute that Hilary Swank opens that envelope and reads the lucky name at the Oscar ceremony.

Supporting Actor, meanwhile, is too boring to talk about. The Oscar race will be between Paul Giamatti and George Clooney... neither of them winning for the actual performance but for those intangibles that always make the Oscar race maddening/fascinating.

Most Notable Development: Back to lead actor: Everyone else will have to say "it's just a pleasure to be nominated"

Other Awards
In the other fields a few quick stories emerge or are confirmed. Wallace and Gromit will take the Best Animated Film trophy as expected... No other cartoons have managed anything like its support base. The intoxicating visuals of 2046 still seem to be on a loop in the critical mind, which makes you wonder if the Academy will finally notice a Wong Kar Wai picture. Even with a solo nod like cinematography. They've never done so before but there's a first time for everything. And, it isn't totally uncommon for foreign films to score in that category if nowhere else. And finally, there's this: None of the contenders for Best Screenplay seem invincible. There's big support for at least six of the major contending films.

There's a few groupings left to go as the OFCS, Cinemarati, and the big daddy major kudos from the National Society of Film Critics are announced. Then we'll see all of this translate into Oscar nominations. Or not.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Direct This

The year's Oscar competition for Best Director seems to have been whittled down to seven men. In alpha order they are: Allen (Match Point), Clooney (Good Night, and Good Luck.), Cronenberg (A History of Violence), Jackson (King Kong), Lee (Brokeback Mountain), Meirelles (Constant Gardener), and Spielberg (Munich). There are three more longshot competitors should the DGA throw a bone to Haggis (Crash), Mangold (Walk the Line), or Miller (Capote). Oscar ballots go out in just 6 days and I feel confident that Oscar's shortlist will name 5 of those 10 men just mentioned.

But which five men and/or women will take my coveted [*cough*] prizes? The subway strike has just ended so screenings can again commence [with the help of lots of fluids, cough supressants, etc... Lucky me, I think I have bronchitis]. But for now my field of consideration looks like this:

The [*cough*] FB awards begin soon. In completed unrelated news, Joe Reid's new column is up. He surveys the studios and their scorecards for 2005.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

It's "You Know Who"'s Birthday

OK, well, "Voldemort" isn't blowing out his candles or anything, but the man who plays him in the latest Harry Potter film, Ralph Fiennes may be doing just that. He turns 43 today. He is one of my 50 favorite actors of all time. So Ralph, wherever you are, best wishes!

Forty-Three Reasons to Love Ralph Fiennes on his Forty-Third Birthday
43. Just look at him.
42. Doesn't even need his whole face to act (The English Patient & Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)
41. They had to digitally erase the silhouette of his [ahem] 'manhood' from prints of Red Dragon so as not to shock audiences due to well, you know...
40. After a three year absence he's working. A lot.
39. He got to make out with Angela Bassett. (Strange Days)
38. He has a new movie coming out (The White Countess)
37. He likes older women.
36. He survived working with JLo.
35. He was half of one of the most blindingly pale but hottest sex couplings onscreen in recent years (The End of the Affair)
34. His middle name is my name.
33. OK... you didn't really think I was going to list 43 reasons did you?

I could. But seriously.... this list making has to end. skipping ahead. tra la la
01. He gave one of the greatest performances in modern cinema history (Schindler's List)

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

For those of you about to leave for holiday excursions: Have a good one. I didn't want you to be off without hearing a Happy Holidays "Merry Happy Christmahan-- akwanzukkah" from The Film Experience.

My favorite Christmas song is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and there's nothing better than hearing Judy Garland sing it. In lieu of sound, here is a lovely photo to gaze on from Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) which contains both this cherished song and Judy's second best film performance. Her best, the one that should have brought her a slam dunk Oscar 10 years later, was in A Star is Born (1954). In what was possibly the kick off of the torturous "de-glam" Oscar-Bait gimmick Grace Kelly took the prize that year. She won for playing a longsuffering frumpy wife in The Country Girl. "Look I'm pretty. But I look crappy! If that's not award worthy, what is?!" This gimmick has won umpteen Oscars since and is like annual salt poured on my filmgoing wounds. Or at least fuel poured on the fire of doubts about AMPAS aesthetic discernment skills. Judy's performance is roughly 87 times more impressive. Don't even trust me on this one. See both for yourselves. You'll weep for the injustice.

Ooh, sorry got sidetracked there --Meet Me in St. Louis.

Back to Meet Me in St. Louis! Its riches don't end with Garland's beautifully sung and heartfelt star turn. It's also a heck of a movie, one of Vincent Minelli's best. It's exquisitely shot by George Folsey (who was Oscar nominated. Nobody ever made Judy look lovelier), with a fine ensemble cast. If Christmas isn't your bag, the film takes time for other holidays as well. Consider this a holiday week edition of "Classic Movie of the Week."

...and have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Year in Review: Best of Miscellania

I can't stop making lists! I've always been fond of them but the last time the desire grabbed me so forcibly I had to abstain for months afterwards to regain normalcy. The real "Year in Review" (cinematically speaking) will begin in one weeks time with the 'Cinematic Shame' Dishonors (12/28), Top Ten of the Year (12/29), and the 'Film Bitch' Awards (from 12/29 until it's finished. You know how this goes...)

But until then, another 'brain vomit'

Favorite Things (Not Related to 2005 Cinema) in 2005
Food Discovery That I Didn't Know I Liked: Parsnips.
Network Television Show: Veronica Mars (Though I'm not as crazy about it as other fans. I know it's a mystery but it's a little incoherent about non-mysteries as well)
Best TV Show Period: Project Runway. I'm so relieved that the second season has begun. It's like a drug to me. From Thursday through Tuesday I'm needing a fix. I'm only OK on Wednesday nights.

Ancient Board Game Unexpectedly Played Incessantly in my Apartment with Friends: Clue
Favorite Touristy Thing To Do in NYC Even Though I am Local: Water Taxi Tours (cheap, memorable, and i love being on the water with excessive wind blowing me about.)
Best Broadway Show Still Playing From Last Season: The Light in the Piazza
" " From Current Season: Sweeney Todd
Best Old Movie Seen For First Time in 2005: toss up. But the following come to mind: Orson Welles' The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Sunrise (FW Murnau, silent period), McCabe & Mrs Miller (Altman, 1971) and I think I saw Trouble in Paradise by Lubitsch this year (from 1932) which is also awesome --but maybe that was 2004.

Food Thing That I Thought Would Be Gross But Isn't At All: Eating sandwiches without bread. Lettuce does double duty pretending it's the bread slices. Voila low carb sandwiches.
Best Shallow Achievement of the Year: Lost 20 lbs to become my former svelte self and kept it off (well until right now but it's the holidays, I'll recover).
Best Teaser for a 2006 Movie: Sofia Coppolla's Marie Antoinette
Favorite Performance in TV Show I Don't Like But All My Friends Watch So I Occassionally Sit Through It Anyway: Sandra Oh, "Grey's Anatomy"
TV thing I miss most: HBO. Don't subscribe anymore... But with S&tC and 6FU gone anyways, probably no great loss.
Movie Star I Miss the Most You Know Who

Previous Year in Review Entries if You're a List Junkie Like Me and Just Joining Us... Stocking Stuffers, Singles, CD of the year, The Year in Hair Part 1, The Year in Hair Part 2

King Kong is Everywhere

I was going to do a big heavily researched post about how King Kong is a crucial part of the collective consciousness. Not quite on the order of say, The Wizard of Oz, but pretty stable in its instant recognition factor. So... anyway. This post was going to survey recent pop culture references like, say...

plus throw in some visual referencing and whatnot. But then I came across this unbelievable ditty from (arguably) the greatest pop band of all time, ABBA. And I figured it doesn't get any better so I'll quit while I'm ahead. The song was recorded in 1973 predating even the failed 70s remake about the Big Ape's tragic adventure. So since I can't play music on my blog, I present you the lyrics to:

ABBA's "King Kong Song"

"Well I was looking at a movie on the TV last night
Then I had a very funny notion, yeah
I really had to write a song about it
And then I'm gonna sing it with my rock'n roll band
And I bet the people gonna like it, yeah
I know that everybody's gonna shout it

And what a dreadful mighty killer
A big black wide gorilla

(We do the) King Kong song, won't you sing along
Listen to the music and it couldn't go wrong
We do the Kong Kong song, gotta sing along
Can't you hear the beating of the monkey tom-tom
Listen to the rhythm of the King Kong song

Now we can make the jungle out of any old place
We can make gorillas out of people, yeah
Well who can tell a monkey from a monkey?
So people get together, gonna have a good time
Everybody listen to the music, yeah
'Cause what we're gonna sing is kinda funky

So let your arms hang down
And waddle all around
Like a dreadful mighty killer
A big black wide gorilla

[Repeat Chorus]

Like a dreadful mighty killer
A big black wide gorilla

[Repeat Chorus & Fade]

This choice track is available on ABBA's Waterloo LP.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cramping My Style

OK so I'm kinda sick with a basic cold/sore throat combo but if I were well this new MTA Strike here in Manhattan is a King Kong sized impediment to moviegoing. AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT. I have just one week left to watch 5 DVDs and see 8 movies. Yikes. Year-end lists/awards must commence one week from now. Theaters I can get to easily w/out the subway number two. They both are showing only big mainstream films I've already seen or films like Usher's In the Mix (which I feel safe skipping in my Oscar predictive duties. That best actor field is just too crowded).

The nearest option that might provide what I need to see in the next week is a 45 minute walk away. The theaters that will certainly have what I need to see are downtown which is about a 2 hour walk (one way). Striking MTA employees need to stop being selfish and think of me !


Site News: New interview with Hughes Winborne, the editor of one of this year's major talking point films, Crash. There's also new online top 10 lists and critics awards --more on these later perhaps.

External News: The former "" is back --providing you with that glorious annual compilation of 400+ critics top ten lists. It begins today HERE. Watch your favorites rise (yay!) and fall (*sob*) on the chart.

Stocking Stuffers from Movies

Remember that scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin when that pudgy kid in Catherine Keener's shop just HAS to have those glittery purple (or was it pink?) thigh-high platform boots? She won't hand them over much to his dismay. She only sells through E-Bay. Sometimes I am that kid. I rarely shop so my coveted objects are found in movies. Which is a long way of saying: If you've been wondering what to get me for Christmas...

Objects / Gadgets I Most Covet from 2005 Movies
* Wallace & Gromit's elaborate mechanized system to take me out of bed, get me dressed, and deposit me at the kitchen table each morning. I love this because, well; simple laziness.

* I have no idea when exploding incense (as seen in Serenity) would come in handy but if you've got a few to spare...? Ideal stocking stuffer.

* Remember that priceless Buddha head artifact stolen from the village in Ong Bak: Thai Warrior? The one that caused all the fuss, the high kicks, the elaborate no-wire stunts all for its retrieval? That head I must have. I figure if it falls into my hands, there's no way Tony Jaa (pictured right) won't come looking for me --that being the real gift, you see. [Not so much a clever diabolical plan as a horny one]

* The wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia. It's not that I want to spend any more time there --but I would sure as hell drag my cat inside with me, for one good long chat. All the animals talk there. And my cat? Love him but he makes NO sense.

* I also wouldn't turn my nose up at the gift of Wayne Manor from Batman Begins. I don't have any use for armored cars or bat caves (ew) but a sprawling estate to hole up in? Sold. The deed will fit nicely into my stocking. please & thanks.

* And finally, if you chance upon it. I really MUST have that Magical Door Spinning Device from Howl's Moving Castle. It's got four settings. You just spin, open the door, and there you are, magically transported to one of four pre-determined locations. It may well be the coolest thing I've ever seen in a movie. It'd be a nightmare to actually settle on four places, though.

What do you want in your stocking?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Good Afternoon, and Good Luck.

President Bush is on TV right now as I type this (10:39 AM) desperately defending the Patriot Act and basically paraphrasing Senator McCarthy's 'keep an eye on those traitors in our midst' thing. Blech. So tired of this. I'm suddenly reminded that Good Night, and Good Luck. could make a serious run for the Oscar wins once it is nominated. Like Brokeback, it may be experiencing perfect time/perfect place support of the "this speaks for me / to my concerns" variety. This administration's penchant for paranoia and disregard for civil-rights never lets up, even in the face of falling approval ratings.

The Year in Hair: More Highlights

You thought five nominees were more than enough, didn't you? Alas...

I. can't. stop.

More Hair Awards for 2005
Scariest Head of Hair in 2005 Movies.
Johnny Depp as "Willy Wonka" vs. Frances McDormand as "The Handler" (aeon flux) vs. Rupert Grint as "Ron Weasly"
Best Beard
Jeff Daniels in Squid and the Whale vs. Michael Gambon in The Goblet of Fire vs. Anne Hathaway in Brokeback Mountain (har de har har)
Wasted Potential: Shoulda Been a Hairdo Classic.
Aeon Flux -which shoulda had several hairdos to defy description. Not just one.
Most Authentic Hairdos (Ensemble).
Junebug. Not a trace of the city in the country mice (most of the cast). Not a trace of the country in the city mouse (Embeth Davitz). A hint of both in the one character straddling the line (Allesandro Nivola) --well groomed but totally unadventurous / conservative.
Best Hair (Comedy or Musical).
Lady Tottington, Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit
Best Hair (Drama).
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line --Who knew this still-ascending blond superstar would look so sensational as a big haired brunette?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

"What's That On Your Head?" "[A Wig!]"

To understand why I'm writing this you must read this hilarious Guide Through American History as Told By Anne Hathaway's Hair in Brokeback Mountain [heads up from: Towleroad], and Tim Robey's review of The Family Stone both of which inspired this year-end rundown:

Unofficial 'FilmBitch Awards'
Most Exciting Hair Movies of 2005.
And the nominees are...

We'll kick this competition off with Brokeback Mountain's two decades of changing hairstyles. Anne Hathaway's "Lurene" gets all the attention because she's the only clotheshorse in this production. Nevertheless the other characters do update their locks; a muttonchop here, a moustache there, as the times dictate.

Next up we come to King Kong and The Chronicles of Narnia. You may find yourself scratching your head (careful don't mess w/ your 'do) asking "Why are they here?" Well, first think briefly on this: Remember back in the day when all CGI characters looked plastic? It wasn't that long ago. Even as recently as 2001 you heard Pixar professionals worrying, in every "making of" documentary for Monsters Inc, about whether the fur on their lead monster would have any semblance of reality. Would it blow in the breeze? Would it capture snowflakes? Now look at these hairy CG beasts! Pretty amazing, no? Kong crushes Aslan as the king of the jungle in this effects sweepstakes (by a longshot). But Narnia gets its nomination slot with the added boost of those blond dreadlocks on The White Witch. Pretty imposing. Bonus points for her battlefield lion's wig, too, which cruelly mocks her defeated foe.

Our last two nominees are all about the ladies. 2046, Wong Kar Wai's dreamy future/past drama has the most delicious female supporting cast of the year. Whether perfectly coiffed in retro 'dos or rocking the punk android look every last one of them looks absurdly sensational. And finally we come to The Family Stone. It's narrative is, as Tim Robey detailed in his review (linked above), entirely told by the hair of its four lead females. You know that Parker's tightly bunned hair is going to do battle with Diane Keaton's relaxed skunk matron look and Rachel McAdams dishevelled granola gorgeousity. You also know that Parker's going to eventually let it all hang loose because her sister (Claire Danes) also has perfectly flat-ironed hair but hers flies about freely never once feeling incongruous within the Stone family house or in need of liberation from control-freak tendencies.

Coming Tomorrow: More Highlights from the Year in Hair...

Perfect Timing

A great piece by the indispensable Frank Rich (NY Times) on the wave of support for Brokeback Mountain.

Happy news (remember my CD of they year?) regarding The Light the In the Piazza. The run has been extended so if you're coming to NYC before July, you can still see one of the best shows in years.

With late surges abounding in the Best Actor competition, David Strathairn's campaign can't afford to relax now. Interview from Cinematical.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Everything and Nothing

Blah Blah Blah:
Updates available in every category of the Oscar prediction pages... and the Top Ten Lists (online lists only) page is up. I'm still eagerly awaiting the return of Geninn to give us our critical rankings but I fear annually that he won't. It must be exhausting tedious work.

Also there's a Harry Potter poll at The Film Experience. I always feel like JK Rowling's work is overdetermined, and Voldemorts true sorcerous gift is his ability to forsee everything --I mean his plans are as elaborate and detailed as Faberge eggs and as unlikely to come off without a hitch as if said eggs were made by non-opposable thumbed creatures who also happen to be wearing mittens. Yet come off without a hitch these plans always do---well, at least until each films' story's deus ex machina steps in to straighten it all Harry's favor of course. Zzz. I'd just like a little suspence. I'd like to imagine a Hogwarts world in which unexpected things actually do happen, and Harry gets roughed up a bit.

Other Year End RoundUps
Love to read these I do but I can't do my own until I've see about 7 more things. So... for the other Year in Review addicts out there. Here are a few with films that get notable atention in parenthesis: Firecracker Magazine (2046 & Tropical Malady), Hollywood Elsewhere (BBM & Grizzly Man), New York Magazine (A History of Violence & Serenity), Sight and Sound (BBM & A History of Violence), Slant Magazine (The New World & Mysterious Skin),

Movie Mashups 3

Frank Miller fever was rampant earlier this year (including on this here blog). It should re-explode next year with the Sin City sequel. But what if Sin City's aesthetic became super prevalent and Frank Miller could be everywhere at once? Oy. [click on the images to get the full posters.]

This is the final movie mashup post by yours truly --the new moviemixer polls and contests emerge tomorrow at the main site.

But here's an instant contest for the photo-shop happy readers. Send in your own MOVIE MASHUP POSTER --e-mail as jpeg or gif attachment to filmexperience(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries must be submitted by Thursday, December 22nd at Midnight. The winning entry will be posted here on Saturday December 24th along with your comments about its creation. i.e. what the hell were you thinking?

Previous Movie Mashups: Capote 2 and Crash: The Musical.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Friday CatBlogging: Monty Impostor

Check this out. This cat looks exactly like mine. So much like mine I was spooked reading this. Thankfully there is no custody battle over my beloved Montgomery. He is all mine. Mine! Mine! Mine! Don't even look at him wrong. He's mine!

Best of the Year in Music ~Singles

Favorite Singles of the Year

Honorable Mentions I'm not really sure if "First Day of My Life" from Bright Eyes is from this year but I have to mention it. I'm completely embarassed about this next one. But I'm driving in a car with friends earlier in the year and we all ended up simultaneously belting along with Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" . My friend than throws up his hands in the devil style and screams [sarcastically] "Kelly Clarkson Rocks!" LMAO. But there you go. It got to us all. Two nostalgia-influenced pics now from two formerly sensational duos: "Breathe" from Erasure and "Move in My Direction" from Bananarama (see the video). Bananarama's Keren and Sarah are always delish. But it's still not the same w/out Siobhan though [sigh]. Speaking of videos. That's how I fell for "You're Beautiful" by James Blunt. I love simple concepts executed perfectly --particularly in video form.

10 "Triumph of a Heart" Björk
The Medulla CD ain't exactly mainstream accessible but it's top 40 compared to her latest: Drawing Restraint (a soundtrack to Matthew Barney's latest video art). This is possibly her best club ready dance track since "Big Time Sensuality".

09 "Combat Baby" Metric
The only featured Free Download of the week on iTunes that I ever became obsessed with. l-o-v-e.

08 "Cool" Gwen Stefani
I cherish endearing recurring motifs in any artists work --Gwen can't stop writing and singing about Tony Kanal, can she?

07 "Destroy Everything You Touch" Ladytron
To quote Rufus Wainwright 'Electroclash is karaoke too'. Not as great as their earlier hit "Seventeen". But few songs are.

06 "Hollaback Girl" Gwen Stefani
The most addictive novelty song of the year. I think at this point Gwen is the only rockstar capable of keeping a particular brand of 80s pop music alive; silly and girlie party songs (like Cyndi's "She Bop" or Madonna's "Material Girl", etc...) because she's got a sense of humor, playful fashion sense, great voice and...well she's the whole package; a perfect pop star.

05 "Mr Brightside" The Killers
I think I'll listen to it again right now. I can't stop.

04 "Lose Control" Missy Elliott
Missy wows every year. How she keeps up the pace is a great mystery but, you know, god bless. Can't wait to see what she comes up with in 2006, 2007, 2008, and on and on and on...

03 "Hope There's Someone" Antony & The Johnsons
The most exciting new voice in music, says me.

02 "Hung Up" Madonna
Every little thing that she says or does. I'm hung up. I'm hung up on her. Can't wait to see what the next video and single is off this disco-lovin' hit CD.

01 "Extraordinary Machine" Fiona Apple
It's not just her inimitable gift with the lyric (best of the year) or the excitement of her long-delayed comeback (yay!). It's her experimental musicianship (valuable assist --obviously--from brilliant rock and film composer Jon Brion) as well. über creative, totally unique, and plain old wonderful. 'She's good at being uncomfortable so she can't stop changing all the time'

Speaking of Music...

The complete finalists list for Best Original Song is up on the Oscar's official site and also on my aural Oscar categories page. This list shouldn't surprise us but it almost always does. They always disqualify one frontrunner or two. This year the majority of the Globe, Satellite, and BFCA nominees will not be in the running for Oscars silliest prize. How's that for throwing a curveball? Updated Oscar charts at the site...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Best of the Year in Music ~CD of the Year

Sal and Joe and all the cool kids are posting musical year-in-review entries. So, my turn. Every year when I read countdowns in non-cinematic arts I think "wow, i am really not paying attention --i dont know half this stuff" I guess there's only room for movies in my head. I married the movies. For the most part I'm faithful. But here goes anyway... part 1 of 2.

CD of the Year
You thought I was going to say Madonna's Confessions on a Dancefloor didn't you? I kinda wanted to. I really needed Madonna to go all frothy and beats per minute and Maddy always delivers whatever I need from her in any given year. She is scarily psychic in this one particular way. I also wanted to cite the ever adventurous Missy Elliott's latest, The Cookbook. But both can show up on the next musical list and they're not exactly hurting for "best of" mentions. My enthusiasm for Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine is also well known. But, in truth, I prefer the bootleg to the actual many-year-delayed CD. So I figure ...let's turn to a musical genre that needs the attention.

Whenever naming anything the best of the year you ought to be very serious about it. So for me there wasn't really a question. It had to be the best musical score since The Last Five Years(2002) and arguably the best original score to make it onto Broadway in two decades. I'm talking about Adam Guettel's The Light in the Piazza. It's crazy beautiful. Twenty years from now the next generation of theater queens and starry-eyed M/D/T majors will still be singing its praises. In a very happy turn of events audiences actually liked this one too as did Tony voters (though they pandered with their actual Best Musical award which went to Spamalot! because, well, the Tonys are as mainstream hit happy as the Oscars. No, moreso.) Despite the sad trending on Broadway --all "hit" songbook shows and corny film-to-stage adaptations these days, Piazza was actually successful. Hooray and, well, buy this CD!

Tomorrow... Favorite Singles of the Year

What Hollywood Really Wants To Be is the Recording Industry

Movie prices may be going up again. All of this despite increased revenue from commercials playing before films and plummeting ticket sales in 2004. One wonders how many movie fans will need to desert Hollywood before they realize that they've become the new Recording Industry --a business hellbent on destroying their relationship with their customer base through bad faith, price gauging, and indifference to consumer complaints.

I am a die hard moviegoer. At the very least I'm there once a week. But even I will have to draw the line somewhere if this becomes the norm. Either that or buy bootlegs on the streets --see how this pattern works Hollywood? The recording industry never lowered prices on CDs even as they became cheaper to produce and what sprang up? Free downloads. Generally if people feel that someone or something has cheated them, they lose some of their resistance to doing unscrupulous things themselves. Basic human nature and karma. You get back what you give out.

$12.50 for a movie? You gotta be kidding.

Precursor Chat

Two awards-junkies (myself & Joe Reid) on this past eventful week of precursors and questions that suddenly arrive. Is Crash finally crashing? Will ScarJo win the Globe on her 4th attempt? How hot is Jesse Bradford? What of a Brokeback backlash? What to do with Match Point? Will Gong Li strike back? How thin is Narnia? And more...

Read it and pretend you were there.
Comment here.

If You Can't Fix It. You Gotta Stand It.

This is so irritating. Everyone who is remotely paying attention knows that FOX News is a right-wing propaganda machine. But one can forsee in this article something brewing that will become more widespread as Brokeback Mountain continues to platform. This idea that gay visibility [this time in the form of a successful movie] MEANS that the gays are taking over. It's so silly. Two must-read blogs ModFab and Towleroad have done a fine job of tracking this brewing backlash/panic if you'd like to keep an eye on the situation. But back to the matter at hand...

Heterosexuals everywhere: Try to be breathe.

You're not going to become extinct if your homosexual counterparts have one movie to enjoy that is publicly celebrated. Learn to share the world with others. You're sexual proclivities are in no danger of going the way of the dinosaur if Brokeback Mountain wins the Oscar. Know what else is not going away? Movies that present men as macho ass kicking poon-hounds. Tom Cruise will always be there for you!

There's room for all of us in the movie theater.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Movie Mashups 2

Don't ask. [click on image to left to see it in full] I can't even pretend to know where this thought came from. Maybe, like Harper Pitt, I am just hallucinating Antarctica.

Previous Movie Mashup: Crash the Musical and last year's mixes.

Current Movie Mashup now playing at a theater near you? King Kong. How many movies does Jackson reference in this thing? I ask sincerely. Loved the unexpected shout out to Billy Elliott. Kong is great fun but Jackson apparently never got any notes of the "less is more" variety or "quit while you're ahead," etc... This one goes to eleven.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Movie Mashups 1

Y'all remember these movie mixers? We're doing it again this year starting on Thursday or Friday. Only this time with prizes.

But just to get you in the mood, here's a quick fix from the surreal multiplex inside me cinema-crazed cranium. (The movies -- They all bleed together this time of year. There's so many of them, you know.)

Anyway.... Now playing at a theater near you...
(Click on image to see the poster in its full glory)
How much would u love this film?

"I'm Not Dead"

"Bring out your dead!"
"I'm not dead."

"Match Point" -Best Picture
Joan Allen, "The Upside of Anger" -Best Actress

"Well you will be soon. You're very ill"
"I'm getting better. I think I'll go for a walk"

Diane Keaton, "The Family Stone" -Best Supporting Actress
David Cronenberg, "A History of Violence" -Best Director
Gong Li, "Memoirs of a Geisha" -Best Supporting Actress
Ralph Fiennes, "The Constant Gardener" -Best Actor
Naomi Watts, "King Kong" -Best Actress
"Crash"-Best Picture
Christopher Doyle, "2046" -Best Cinematography

"I feel happy. I feel happy." [WHACK]

Eric Bana "Munich" -Best Actor
"Memoirs of a Geisha" -Best Picture
"Cinderella Man" -Best Picture
Tommy Lee Jones "Three Burials" -anything

Golden Globes With Commentary

In this trying time of predicting pundits with awards shows ( like the BFCA) the Hollywood Foreign Press Association --better known as the Golden Globes, that original Oscar-influencing wannabe, needs and deserves your support more than ever. Talk about their choices. Support them. Argue with them. They make horrible calls sometimes. But they also actually vote for things they love instead of things that Oscar might love. Which is the only reason to have your own awards show; Voicing your own opinion.

My feelings on each category HAVE BEEN POSTED on the main site here . Discuss here if it so pleases your Foreign Press loving hearts. Official changes to Oscar predictions (if they're be any... i'm pretty thrilled with the accuracy of my pre-precursor hunches) will arrive as scheduled on the 16th. Enjoy...

GOLDEN GLOBE instant impressions.

More detailed post coming. But...Whoa. You can always count on the Globes to grab pre-season by the shoulders and give it a real shake.

BELLO in Lead! MATCH POINT! BROKEBACK Galore. MACLAINE! Etc... A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. No Capote in screenplay? SQUID AND THE WHALE all over the place. PARKER but not KEATON?
MUNICH shut out of BP. etc...

Blogged Up

Yesterday this blog had its best day ever by a big margin, passing the 1000 visitors mark (I guess it really is awards season) Thanks for tuning in. If you're new say hello. Today the Golden Globes baby, the Golden Globes. (Predictions: Mine and Joe Reid's)

Monday, December 12, 2005

More Crap

All Oscar pages updated with the past four days of awards-diarrhea. This shit is exhausting. I'm going to bed.

Man on Man (Leading) Action

The year's most media celebrated Oscar category (Best Actor) is also causing yours truly much anxiety. I love more than five guys this year. How will I ever decide who to hand the medals to? Here are the top 15 currently (presented in random order). Yes Crowe and Murphy were good. I just think these 15 were better...that's all. (Yet to see that might affect this category? Three Burials, King Kong, The White Countess, Munich, Match Point)

Which men will lead the way to filmbitch nominations? Stay tuned! (Isn't this time of year exciting? Tomorrow it's all GOLDEN GLOBES all the time.)

The Group Who Didn't Yell "First!"

The National Board of Review have announced their awards... just a few days behind schedule. Here are the results. I'm doing pretty well this year prediction wise. Some huge lapse of judgment will have to occur on my part very soon to even things out. So... to make a long story short.

Good news and multiple prizes for... Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Memoirs of a Geisha, Hustle & Flow, A History of Violence, and Good Night, and Good Luck.

Bad news for... shut outs Cinderella Man, Pride & Prejudice, and The Family Stoneand a 'we only like you because you have great special effects' perfunctory nod to King Kong.

Any Tom, Dick or Harry. Any Tom, Harry or Dick.

Despite the hoopla of the boring BFCA choices in most categories, I don't think the Oscar race for Supporting Actor is cleared up just yet. With such a diffuse category it could still go in interesting directions (particularly with the Globe nominees arriving tomorrow -my predix here). But I'm thinking more of my own awards today anyway. Where they are now. Where they might be headed.

That's my top 20 at this moment (in random order... though I kinda feel like I'm forgetting someone. Hmmmm) --but who will make the cut? And will the remaining December films offer up more competition?

Thank Heaven For (Supporting) Girls

Supporting Actress. It could be this year's most competitive Oscar category. And it's already stacking up nicely for the FB Awards too. I still need to see the ladies from The Family Stone, Match Point, and The White Countess. But aside from those remaining unseen, these 20 -presented in random order, are the most special to me this year. (Why 20 you ask? Well, because there are MORE supporting roles than leading roles... hence more candidates to consider thoroughly)

Who will place in the FB Awards in this über competitive category?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

AFI Top Ten

I'm still kinda sad that the AFI Awards lasted only one year (back in 2001). Because in that single year they really did seem to have their own voice. Their Top Ten this year? Far more interesting than bandwagon-driving unimaginative BFCA. They chose: Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Crash, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Good Night and Good Luck, A History of Violence, King Kong, Munich, The Squid and the Whale, and Syriana.

Respectable and interesting choices and not one desperate Oscar-baiter in the mix (GNaGL doesn't count because it actually has a purpose for being) --I'm talking to you Cinderella Man and Memoirs of a Geisha. Seriously. Does anyone think either movie would exist were it not for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science's annual ceremony? OK maybe Geisha. I'll give on that since it's based on a best-seller.

For those small-screen watchin' readers they chose: 24, Battlestar Galactica, Deadwood, Grey's Anatomy, House, Lost, Rescue Me, Sleeper Cell, Sometimes in April, and Veronica Mars.

Two days isn't enough to see "consensus" but it is not looking good for Match Point --what happened to Woody's comeback. My theory is they waited way too long to capitalize on the Cannes buzz. Seriously... a New Year's release?

BFCA Awards --True To Their Rep

As per usual, the BFCA shows their hand. They want (badly!) to be the predominant Oscar predictor. Last year that was evident in their Best Picture nomination for Phantom of the Opera before it was clear that the film would not be in Oscar play due to savage reviews (and this is a "critics group" --snort). This year they doff their hats to the very non-raved Memoirs of a Geisha in the hopes that they can be very predictive of Oscar. Sad. It's like I always say. The only point in giving awards of your own is if you have your own opinions. If you just want to be predictive of Oscar write a freaking article and be done with it.

Biggest Winners? I'd say there's three of them. Brokeback Mountain with 8 nominations. Crash with its much needed Director and Picture nominations (as well as two Supporting bids). And, finally Catherine Keener who after this weekend looks to be in the hunt despite a non-typical performance. She's great in Capote. I just wasn't expecting her to do so well in precursor season given the very background and quiet nature of her character.

Biggest Losers: The Family Stone, A History of Violence, and Match Point. Two of which went entirely unmentioned. History should've done better but then, this is not a true "critics" group (it's more a mainstream journalist/talking head group) so it's not that shocking.

Most Vindicating Feeling This Weekend: I've been right about more things than usual this year. I was right about Brokeback Mountain all along. It wasn't a popular entry in my one-year-in-advance writeup. I was correct that Crash would resurface in a powerful way. I was right about Memoirs and Munich being shakier than expected. I was right about Rachel Weisz and Joan Allen still being in play... all of these things are things I took heat for in Oscar watching land so na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo haters!

Maybe I was wrong about Cinderella Man's death. Ugh.