Wednesday, December 31, 2008

December. It's a Wrap

Happy New Year !

We're not really done with the 2008 film year yet. You know how cinema years tend to reach into late February what with that low key industry shindig that happens @ the Hollywood and Highland Center... you know the one. We've got one more month of intense coverage on the best of 2008 ~ the FiLM BiTCH Awards coming right up.

But here are ten highlights from December here on the blog --in case you missed any.

"You blew out my light!" Meryl Streep sure can work the Q&A
Meet Me in St. Louis I had a lovely time revisiting this holiday classic. I hope you gave it a spin
20 Actress Meme wow but this took off like a rocket. People are still doing their lists (go to the comments and see...) I already desperately want to change my list
Podcast The long abandoned podcast kept on thriving this month with Bill Irwin (love) and a giggly Golden Globe conversation. I'm glad y'all are enjoying. More in about a week's time.
Uma & Annie boogie down with the goddesses
"David Fincher, Can We Talk?" nobody got this Sharon Stone joke but maybe after you've screen Benjamin Button you'll appreciated. Ahead of its time!
Year in Review wheeeeee

and I have to take a moment to thank my wonderful guest bloggers who helped me keep up during the plentiful critics awards. Thanks guys. Big hugs...
"She will go insane..." JA's Beetlejuice question was so eminently askable I'm surprised nobody has ever asked it before. Go to MNPP for more from JA
Signatures Isn't Adam (of Club Silencio) doing a great job with this series? Great actress choices, too. He doesn't warn me in advance and I can't wait to see who is next.
For Your Consideration Corner this Oscar campaign dissection is coming atcha by way of Glenn from Stale Popcorn.

Coming in January...
Oscar nomination jamboree and, therefore, more on
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight, Slumdog, Frost/Nixon, WALL•E and other beloved pictures

Also, though I've been a bit remiss in my normal "series" here on the blog we'll get back to a regular posting schedule any second now. Stay tuned!

Underappreciated Films of 2008 / Rental Suggestions

Year in Review Part 4 of 5

"Overrated" and "Underrated" are loaded statements when it comes to the critical and popular reception of movies. They suggest a false notion that there exists an easily cited consensus but depending on who you read and where you get your information consensus may vary. Which means it isn't consensus. Confusing. "Underappreciated", my preferred appellation, has its limits too. It suggests that one can't include films with decent to huge box office so for this year's "Underappreciated" roundup I'm spotlighting films that almost no one saw (along with their gross to prove it). They're not perfect but still worth a look.


Surely you'll agree that Ludivine Sagnier is luscious no matter how many lovers she's juggling, The Fall's hospital bedside storytelling device is more successful than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's, and that Ben Kingsley (Elegy) is far more convincing as a sexual magnet than Philip Seymour Hoffman (Synecdoche New York). Also discussed: Ciao, Turn the River and Trouble the Water
Which films do you think deserved more attention this year?

also in the year in review
Top Twelve Films (Best of the Year)
Hyperboles Gone Wild (Over Appreciated Films)
Hell's Multiplex (Worst Films & Performances)
FiLM BiTCH Awards Promo (because we love motion pictures)

Natalie Portman's Parting Tribute to 2008

The 7th Day of Christmas

Do you have any cinematic New Year's Eve traditions?

... or do you just get drunk at parties like everyone else?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"something very intellectual indeed"

Hollywood's Only Oscar Strategy

Year in Review: 3 of 5

The Prime Prestige Poster Girls
Disturbing Factoid: You're unlikely to spot Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett on movie screens outside of Oscar season. Of Blanchett's 20 most recent films, a full 50% were released in December. Many from the other 50% were small films in which she had supporting roles. Kate works much less often but of her past 20 films (excluding voice work) 45% of her work debuted in Oscar's favorite month of the year. At this point aren't both of them more accurately described as Oscar Stars than Movie Stars?

In lieu of the traditional annual deep thoughts overview on the 2008 film year, I am opting to get something off of my chest regarding the imbalance of movie distribution. I'm tired of feeling overwhelmed every December. I want a steadier film diet. I am not bulimic and don't enjoy being treated that way by the studios.

I've discussed this before I'm afraid and do tire of repeating myself. So herewith a decree: In 2009, no matter what Oscar buzz befalls Hilary Swank in Amelia, Clint Eastwood's Mandela picture or the collected December '09 offerings, three of my five biggest Oscary pet peeves (#2 December-Only Release Strategies #4 Clint Eastwood #5 Hilary Swank) will be mostly verboten here at The Film Experience. In other words, though it would be difficult not to mention them at all in Oscar discussions, I shan't dwell.

for theories as to why the December Glut is worsening each decade. Can anything be done about it? PLUS: Nifty visual charts from 50 years of Oscar's Best Picture shortlists to illustrate the problem. Enjoy it even if you're illiterate.

also in the year in review

Rental Suggestions (Under Appreciated Films)
Hyperboles Gone Wild (Over Appreciated Films)
Hell's Multiplex (Worst Films & Performances)
FiLM BiTCH Awards Promo (because we love motion pictures)

"My name is ___ and I was linked under unusual circumstances"

Gold Derby what to make of the Eastwood Best Actor buzz w/out SAG & Globe nods
Awards Daily Sasha has an interesting list up for best written female roles. But the Benjamin Button women? Come on now. Even if you love the movie, the writing of those women is not among its chief strengths. What is going on with Awards Daily and that movie?
Antagony & Ecstasy Tim Brayton is rapidly becoming one of my very favorite film critics. Here's his take on Benjamin Button (Sasha won't be pleased)
LA Times The "Hate Storm" around "critic" Ben Lyons

Low Resolution "New York, They Hate You"
The Daily Beast on Mickey Rourke's txt diss of Sean Penn. Told y'all he might screw this up with bad behavior months ago, didn't I? I didn't want to be right
Slate a really insightful piece on Tom Cruise's unique place in Hollywood and Reaganism. Good stuff
TFE more interesting top tens. If you've read a 'year in review' you're particularly wowed by, please point to it in the comments Ken Levine here's another convert to the cult of Paul Rudd
Fabulon "for no particular reason..." oh, planet fab'. You make me LOL so...

FiLM BiTCH Awards Video Promo

Spread the word. The awards start in just two days!

YEAR IN REVIEW (thus far)

Rental Suggestions (Under Appreciated Films)
Hyperboles Gone Wild (Over Appreciated Films)
Hell's Multiplex (Worst Films & Performances)

P.S. I hope you'll all subscribe to my youtube channel because 2009 is going heavier on video. I'm still toying with starting a show. I'm loving the video editing.

P.S. 2 Make your FYCs in the comments

The 6th Day of Christmas

Monday, December 29, 2008

In 55 Days...

These four actors must pass on their crowns -- er, statues. Figuratively speaking...

But who will each of them present the new trophies to?

My new Oscar predictions are up in all four acting categories: ACTOR, SUPPORTING ACTRESS, ACTRESS and SUPPORTING ACTOR (plus Best Pic & Director). But winners? That's another story entirely...

Pet Peeves and Dishonors

Year in Review: Part 2 of 5

I had to stretch to find unworthy characters for my 2008 Cinematic Hall of Shame list. I skipped most of those movies you might find below 30% on the tomatometer for example. But I found a few things to poke a stick at nonetheless. Read it and weep.

<-- That's better! Stop Edward's pervy staring and Bella's endless moping and Twilight immediately becomes more bearable.

[pet peeve tangent] I really hate the Twilight logo. On its on it's totally attractive/cute but how does it properly represent the book/movie? What is that dangling curlicue g for anyway? It makes the property look fanciful/playful not mopey/romantic. It suggests nothing so much as the dangling lightning bolt "P" in the book/movie the media loves to compare Twilight too. Yes, it screams 'You'll like this as much as you like Harry Potter! We hope!!!' Aside from moody teenagers what do those franchises really have in common anyway in terms of temperament? [/tangent]

On the Hall of Shame page, you'll find that one of the normal fields (the pet peeves chart) is empty this year. I'm going to let you fill it out. Load up these comments with minor moments, characters, films, thingamajigs, trends and whatever that you found most annoying in 2008 movies and I'll fill in the chart with some of the best ones. Type a name (quit going "anonymous") and you'll get credit on the page if I use it.

The 5th Day of Christmas

Sunday, December 28, 2008

So... what did ya see this weekend?

There was so much to choose from and y'all are so quiet. Speak up!

Hyperboles Gone Wild

Year in Review: Part 1 of 5

Recently I was discussing my CEP (Clint Eastwood Problem) with a friend. Frequent or even fairweather Oscar-time readers will know what that is since Eastwood makes movies every single year (he's become Woody Allen regular in his 70s). I find the megastar an overappreciated filmmaker. Though he's made some fine films (no argument from me there...and my estimation of Million Dollar Baby went up on a subsequent viewing) he's also made his share of mediocrities. Yet each and every film, even the ones that fade quickly and eventually produce many detractors (say, Flags of Our Fathers) open to anywhere from a few to abundant "masterpiece!" raves and impossible-to-miss Oscar buzz. This, if you're at all sympathetic to my "issue", is maddening. This, if you're unsympathetic, you'll view as only just and right. I bring this up because I was hashing Gran Torino out with a friend the other day. The following paraphrased conversation followed...
Nathaniel: I know it's an impossibility since movies require marketing and costs millions of dollars but just once I'd love to see a Clint Eastwood arrive that no one on earth knows he made. His name isn't on it anywhere. He doesn't star in it. What would the reviews be like?

Yeah, that's impossible

Nathaniel: I know, I know... but let me get to my hypothetical.

for my partial concession to Clint Eastwood fans, thoughts on the subjectivity of movie-love, The Dark Knight and other movies I sadly couldn't connect with as much as many of you...

The 4th Day of Christmas

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The First Links Club

Philadephia Inquirer man shot for talking during Benjamin Button!
Get the Big Picture on the best posters of the year. Yes, I'll do my own list veddy soon.
Stale Popcorn also goes there
<--- IMDB a court decision regarding those Watchmen battles is in and Warner Bros loses to Fox. Translation: That March 2009 release date is looking very subject to change
Art of the Title on Edward Scissorhands. God, I love those credits
In Contention looks briefly at the disparity between two sets of critical roundups on the year's best.
Harvey Fiertstein (the great) has some insightful words for Barack Obama
Best and Worst Musicals of the year courtesy of EIKILFM
'Sean Penn is not in Milk, as the credits suggest'
Huffington Post
all the celebrity divorces of the year. Awardage for best divorces, Madonnamony and whatnot
Moviefone has a list of the 50 best movies. They manage to include just about everything including a few really awful movies. The top ten is a please-everyone mix of superhero movies and Oscar hopefuls.

And while we're on the topic of top tens ... /Film wants to know why you read top 10 lists. This topic always makes me crazy because I get weirded out by the fairly common notion (which this article actually kicks off with) that individual lists that don't fit the larger consensus list are worthless. Ummm... isn't that a Bizarro world complaint. Isn't the joy in list-making and reading what's individual and idiosyncratic? For many I guess it isn't. I'm just trying to figure our where said joy is for those people --is there joy to be had in reading 100 lists that are virtually identical? I'm not trying to judge but to understand. Am I missing some hidden beauty in homogeny?

Grey Gardens Promo

Early in the year I mistakenly assumed that the feature inspired by the classic documentary Grey Gardens was headed for movie theaters. It's going to air as an HBO film. The movie stars Jessica Lange ("Big Edie") and Drew Barrymore ("Little Edie") at their current ages as well as in old age prosthetics. Apparently the narrative structure is closer to the Broadway musical telling (albeit without the songs) which had Act 1 taking place in the mother & daughter's well-heeled past and Act II in their isolated ruins (the familiar time frame of the documentary). Here's the first promo.

We've known for some time that Jessica & Drew weren't headed for the Oscar Best Actress race this year but maybe next years EMMYs will be within their grasp. HBO tends to kill in TV awardage. [news source]

Year in Review & the Music Video

Next year @ the film experience I hope to look at shorts and DVDs more on account of easy access for all of you -- this year was so discouraging in how hard it was for anyone outside of NY & LA to see the new releases I wanted keep talking about. Maybe next year we shoot for more accessibility.

[soapbox] I can't be the only one that's concerned that the movies --particularly the awards hopefuls -- are veering further and further away from the direction of general pop culture which is all about instant access. Why do the movies keep withholding? --no wonder Oscar ratings keep sinking. I think it's a far more complex problem than "the public doesn't like serious films". I think it's more a problem of "the public likes these movies less and it's really hard to see them even if you're interested in them". After all, who cultivates interest in something they have extremely little access too? Not many people, that's who. Anyway.... [/soapbox]

Here's a look back at the best of music video (everyone's favorite short film genre) for 2008... the form was once dying but the web has started to resuscitate it. Like my best of television list this is hardly comprehensive... I'm sure I missed some goodies. But here's 10 I loved from the year (in fluid but vaguely preferential order)

10 Matt & Kim "DAYLIGHT" and 09 P!NK "So What"
Because music videos should understand how to be fun. Is it just my imagination or is P!NK too modest what with the "I'm still a rock star" bit. Isn't she more than "still"... doesn't she get better all the damn time?

08 She & Him "WHY DO YOU LET ME STAY HERE" and 07 Janet Jackson "ROCK WITH U"
Zooey Deschanel sings. She makes an adorable rock pixie even if her film career is getting fairly one note --I love this bit from a Yes Man review @ Tractor Facts
Blessed with those wide, striking, chocolate eyes, Deschanel's performance still feels out of sorts, as if she's staring into the abyss of her limited range.
Hee. And in other news Janet Jackson returns (even if it wasn't quite a "comeback") with a nifty one take video. I love that one take gimmick (see also Hitchcock's Rope)

06 Grace Jones "CORPORATE CANNIBAL" and 05 Madonna "4 MINUTES"
I've featured both of these videos before and wrote about Madonna's extensively. I went a little crazy but she does that to me. The reaction to Grace Jones has been memorably divisive. Some people think this video is 'creepy and subpar' and others 'utterly astonishing'. But I think we can all agree that it's a good thing Grace is back to haunt us.

04 Radiohead "HOUSE OF CARDS" and 03 Gnarls Barkley "WHO'S GONNA SAVE MY SOUL"
I used to occasionally be annoyed with videos that relied heavily on trippy visual effects or conceptual gimmicks (I'm not a fan, for example, of one of the most favored videos of all time "Sledgehammer" but now that so many mainstream artists view video-making as a toss off optional ad for their cds --even Madonna has gotten relatively haphazard about when she'll make them and how much effort gets put in -- conceptual and f/x videos are more thrilling... at least they still seem interested in the form.

Gnarls Barkley - Who's Gonna Save My Soul? from Toolshed Media on Vimeo.

02 The BPA "TOE JAM" and 01 Beyoncé SINGLE LADIES
Choreography is still king (or queen as the case may be) to the music video. The Toe Jam video feels like a fun-loving lark but you know it was intricately planned work and it's a pleasure to watch. I'm not even a fan of Beyoncé (too disturbingly retrograde in her gender politics for me) but this video deserved all the mainstream attention it got --even as I wished they'd have been more upfront about their debt to Bob Fosse (maybe a "dedicated to" note at the end of the video, single lady?)

And yes I was killing time.

I know why you're here: le cinéma. The Year in Review proper begins tonight (or tomorrow morning?). It's always such a daunting task. Bear with me.

The 3rd Day of Christmas

All Horses Outta the Gate!

Glenn here. I thought I'd take a quick moment out of my busy schedule (hah! I have discovered I have chicken pox, which puts a serious crimp in my movie-going plans!) to ask y'all what you think of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button or anything else that the studios have finally found us mere mortals worthy enough to set our eyes on. My thoughts on Benjamin can be found here, but I (and I'm sure Nat too) would love to know what YOU think.

Cold and distant or touching and poetic?

Speak up in the comments!

Another topic of discussion - Tilda Swinton: immortal goddess or alien from Jupiter? hmmm...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Academy Ballots Are in the Mail

It's the day after Christmas which means but one thing: you're out returning gifts the Oscar ballots are getting shipped out!
  • Who do you suppose fills them out first? (I mean besides Sally Kirkland)
  • What do you suppose they're ranking as #1?
  • Freeze the buzz. What happens after, say, a week from now hardly matters. Most ballots are returned quickly.
Would you give back all your presents for a chance to fill one of those puppies out?

The 2nd Day of Christmas

Thursday, December 25, 2008

RIP Eartha Kitt

A sad note on Christmas, legendary singer/actress Eartha Kitt died today @ 81 years of age. Like most people in my generation I first encountered her purrrfection as one incarnation of "Catwoman" on syndicated reruns of the campy 60s Batman series. I always meant to attend one of her cabaret shows here in NYC but never did (pricey $) but I was able to see her on Broadway once in The Wild Party where she stopped the show with the 11th hour eventual classic (just wait) "When It Ends." Though she was always more of a celebrity and TV star than a film actress, she did that too: recent credits included Holes and voicing Yzma for Disney's The Emperor's New Groove. You'll also undoubtedly remember her great purring cameo in the Isaac Mizrahi documentary Unzipped.

Here's Eartha doing her classic "Santa Baby". She was still performing in her early 80s. Here's to indisputable longevity and individuality. Eartha had both.

[source news]

The 1st Day of Christmas

Christmas Horror

James from Out 1 here to wish you all a happy holiday season. I was sitting here tonight watching It's A Wonderful Life and thinking about all the Christmas movies that we all see year after year after on TV. There are a lot of Christmas movies out there, and some of the ones we don't hear about so much are Christmas related horror movies. I'm a big fan of Christmas horror, although most of it, admittedly, isn't very good. Still, I'm always up for shaking up Christmas spirit with some good ole Christmas fear. There may be slim pickins, but I wonder if anyone else out there has some oddball Christmas movies that they watch every year. Among my horror picks are the Silent Night, Deadly Night series (mainly the first two, see the picture above) and Santa's Slay starring former professional wrestler Bill Goldberg. I'm also big on The Nightmare Before Christmas (as is everyone else, it seems) which isn't technically horror, but it certainly rattles the Christmas season. Anybody else have any odd Christmas favorites, horror or otherwise, that more people should know about? In true holiday fashion, give us the titles so we can receive them in our homes! And happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Instant White Christmas

No dreaming required.

Mobile post sent by nathanielr using Utterli. reply-count Replies. mp3

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"oh I wish I had a river, I could skate away on..."

Top Ten: Best of 2008 TV (A Limited Perspective)

Tuesday Top Ten: For the listmaker in me and the listlover in you

First things first, this disclaimer: I watch so little television that I'm rather like a SAG and movie awards show voter voting on the best of the film year having only seen 15 movies or so... (oh, come on, you know that's how they do. How else to explain the tiny pool of films they award or their lack of imagination in what to honor within those same films?) so with a huge grain of salt... my ten favorite TV-amajigs of the year

biggest anxiety: Joss Whedon's Dollhouse comes out in 2009. I've spent too much time in 2008 thinking about it. The reports of trouble on set are not surprising. This is the pinpoint reason I can't invest in TV... it's not safe to love anything. It's too emotionally draining to love TV. Movies last forever but TV shows get cancelled immediately if they're at all different/interesting: see #2

biggest surprise:
the US version of Kath & Kim is not terrible. It's a little shaky but it's improving and Molly Shannon is still an underrated actor who exhibits range working from within very narrow characters (see also: The Year of the Dog). That said I heard from an LA friend who heard from a friend on set (unsubstantiated gossip. Wheeeee) that Molly & Selma Blair are most definitely not getting along: screaming matches!

Nathaniel's Top TV of 2008

10 Ronnie on Make Me a Super Model and Cody on Step It Up & Dance. Basically the only reason to watch reality television is to crush on cute boys (or girls depending on how you do). Don't you agree?

09 Rachel Maddow on MSNBC

08 Brothers & Sisters I didn't use to understand why so many people added the qualifier "guilty" to "pleasure" when talking about it. Now I see. It's hard to take seriously but I've never once been tempted to stop watching it.

07 The plot complications and expanding cast of The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
I have been a Terminator nut since -- for as long as I can remember. Despite that, I thought this show was a bad idea (how does one improve on Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day? The answer is that one does not. Though one wishes Lena Headey would at least try) and the first several episodes did nothing to change my mind. I still don't love any single performance or any episode in particular. But the longer it goes on, the more delicious nutty, overpopulated and convoluted it gets, the more I enjoy it despite all the things that aren't so good about it. Who'da thunk?

P.S. Good luck to Terminator Salvation trying to pretend that so many story threads from 3 Terminator movies and a tv series never happened and make sense of the ones they choose not to ignore.

06 Samantha Who? Hardly groundbreaking for a sitcom but still endearing. Extra bonus points: the trio of supporting actresses in Samantha's orbit (Jennifer Esposito, Melissa McCarthy and Emmy-winning Jean Smart) are totally invested in making with the funny: well done.

05 True Blood. I love vampires. I didn't use to have to qualify that but here it goes. I love vampires that are interesting, mean, bloodthirsty and/or horny --not the stupid asexual twinkle-in-the-sunshine kind that were so popular this year. Blargh!

04 30 Rock. The only show on television that literally makes me LOL each and every episode. Sometimes even LMFAO.

03 Battlestar Galactica -still breath-stoppingly brilliant all the way into its fourth and final daring season. It will go down in history as one of the fullest small screen experiences of all time. If you're still not watching, watch the video Catch the Frak Up before the final episodes air in early 2009.

02 Pushing Daisies -There's no show I look forward to seeing each week more. The second season has been an itty-bitty uneven but who cares. It's so rich: alternately amusing, bittersweet, wicked, morbid, musical, witty, eccentric and lovable. There's something to lose your fool mind and heart over in every damn episode. Just thinking about going without Olive, Ned, Chuck, Emerson and Aunts Vivian & Lily next year makes me need carbs. Lots and lots of them in pastry form --preferably with drops of anti-depressants added in the baking.

01 Mad Men - it wasn't really a contest.

What were your favorites this year?

p.s. 1 Next Week: The Top Ten Movies -- the countdown begins. The annual FiLM BiTCH Awards are on their way.

p.s. 2 A preview of Big Love coming back soon...

Monday, December 22, 2008

The For Your Consideration Corner

Glenn here for another round of For Your Consideration ads before Christmas. All images are courtesy of Awards Daily unless otherwise noted.

As I was perusing the FYC Gallery today I was struck by something. Ron Howard's Frost/Nixon seems to be on the path to a Best Picture nomination, doesn't it? Well if that works out for the team behind the film they will have proven that one does not need a good FYC campaign to win a nomination. Oh sure, the movie has a large collection of ads appearing throughout Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, but this collage I made shows that the studio is obviously saving some coin by not hiring a art designer for their work this year.

The only ad in the film's arsenal so far that don't follow this layout is a Variety cover featuring a prominant image of Ron Howard. The phrase "I could do that!" springs to mind. I'm tempted to open up Photoshop and indeed make one myself just to prove it, but alas I can't be bothered. Aww.

I suppose they think they've already cornered the "omgfranklangellaisrichardnixon" type of voters and that there's no need to try and show off the similarities of Langella's portrayal, but poor ol' Michael Sheen getting routinely relegated to a small side box featuring him looking pensive. Why not use some images from the original theatrical production to show off how long these actors have lived with their characters? Or use images from the original Frost/Nixon tapes (now available on DVD) to show off the work that went into replicating them? Although I guess all those boxes gives off the illusion of televisual transference and speaks to the way one views life as opposed to... oh, I dunno. I can't keep up that amount of pretention for too long.

For Your Consideration Ad of the Week

(A Tale of Bloody Violence in One Act):

Give me the statue or I'll eat your face off!

But please... I'm a character actor!

I feed off character actors and spit them out. I need that statue and I need it now!

But, please, I don't have one and I don't have a hope of ever winning one if you big famous celebrities take all the acting spots for performances that don't deserve it. I've got a family to feed too ya know!


*chomp* *chomp*

Angelina devours the lowly character actor in her destructive path for more Oscar glory and carries on her merry way.

{to be continued}

Jake Knows If You've Been Bad or Good...

I, Linkius

Billy Loves Stu notices a stupid trend in horror remakes
Gallery of the Absurd Brangelina Collector Plates. Hee
Tractor Facts smart piece on Carrey & Deschanel in Yes Man
The House Next Door interesting Doubt review. Negative but it's good for counterbalance. This film has definitely been coddled due to its solid performances
Hollywood Elsewhere Baz not taking Australia's failure well?

Webster's Is My Bitch Brad & Ang make each other Christmas gifts. (Awww... who else here loves Running on Empty and their similar birthday tradition?)
discovers the Life Magazine Oscar archives. Yummy
Tribeca Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino and 'Manly Men' movies
Coffee, Coffee and... RIP Robert Mulligan
Obsessed with Film looks at the weak box office for the new Will Smith & Jim Carrey vehicles
NY Mag
Fug Girls '10 things we learned from fashion in 2008
' includes applause for Marion Cotillard, boos for Evan Rachel Wood and more

The Fact about Fiction

I'm not sure if Nat - or anybody else for that matter - has mentioned it, but could the lack of a frontrunner in the Best Actress category be entirely in correlation with the lack of women portraying real life people this year? Of Nathaniel's top tier of Best Actress contenders only one - Kate Beckinsale - is the star of a biopic (and even that's stretching it). After that it doesn't get any more factual with only Keira Knightley (The Dutchess) portraying a real life lady. Where did they all go? I can't help but feel this category would be more sewn up if there were more.

The top tier of actor contenders features four real life men being portrayed (two from the one movie, actually). The supporting categories are also barren except for Josh Brolin.

So, Film Experience readers, what happened this year? Has there been biopic overload this decade and the studios decided to take a break or have they simply ran out of interesting contenders? Somebody did, after all, make a movie about the man who invented window wipers!

"They could re-release La vie en Rose and I'd WIN AGAIN!!"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Actress Psychic ~ Point Frenzy Update

This post goes out to those of you who predicted the Oscars with me wayyyyyy back in April. On December 3rd we totalled the points thus far in the "Actress Psychic" contest. Now, after 3 weeks of precursor madness an update. May the most psychic contestant win it all!

Points since December 3rd (and a few I forgot last time)

Anne Hathaway,
Rachel Getting Married +35 (NBR Best Actress, 1st time solo SAG nominee, 1st time Golden Globe nominee, BFCA nominee, critics awards -she maxed out on minor prizes, rotten tomatoes score above 85%)
Sally Hawkins
Happy-Go-Lucky +27 (1st time Globe nominee, critics awards -she maxed out on all possible points here, major and minor, rotten tomatoes score above 85%)
Meryl Streep,
Doubt + 24 (BFCA, SAG & Globe nominee, two minor critics prizes, film opened)
Kate Winslet
Revolutionary Road +24 (SAG & Globe nominee, critics awards -maxed out on minor prizes, EW cover shared)
Angelina Jolie,
Changeling +23 (SAG, BFCA & Globe nominee, one minor critics awards)
Melissa Leo,
Frozen River + 23 (AFI top ten list, NBR special award, first time solo SAG nominee, BFCA nominee, two minor critics prizes, rotten tomatoes score over 85%)
Kate Winslet
The Reader +10 (Globe, BFCA & SAG nominee ... only in Supporting, two minor critics. Only lead awards count)
Meryl Streep,
Mamma Mia! +9 (Globe nominee, one minor critics prize)
Cate Blanchett,
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button +4 (AFI top ten list, BFCA nominee)
Kate Beckinsale,
Nothing but the Truth +3 (BFCA nominee, film opened)
Vera Farmiga,
Nothing but the Truth +2 (BFCA nominee... only in Supporting, film opened)
Hiam Abbas, The Visitor + 2 (rotten tomatoes scored over 85%)
Rachel McAdams, The Lucky Ones or The Time Traveller's Wife + 1 (NY Times Style cover... I forgot this point last time)

Rachel, Rachel... oh Rachel

Remarkably not one of the Best Actress contestants was listed in the EW "Great Performances 08" section that just came out. In fact, it's been kind of a lame year for Best Actresses in terms of media interest/coverage. Few magazine covers all year have gone to our leading screen actresses. The only point possibilities remaining are last minute magazine covers, box office points, the NSFC prize, The FiLM BiTCH Awards (that's my nominees if you're just joining us), BFCA and Globe wins, rotten tomatoes score for the movies that have just opened or are soon opening (scores still in flux) and of course the OSCAR NOMINATIONS themselves after which the contest ends and we announce the gold, silver and bronze medalist in psychics. Your current leaders, way out front, are KiYe and Rich Aunt Pennybags. Here's that complete chart of contestants and their points. Hayden W, JarJar K, Jaydawg, Rizz, Sasnyder and Matt Noller appear to be battling it out for the bronze... unless of course Jolie or Winslet are snubbed (they're on a lot of the ballots) in which case it could be a number of people's game. The tiebreaker (how many nominations will Revolutionary Road get?) will undoubtedly have to be used this year.

Next year we'll do this Psychic contest differently -- maybe we'll start later in the year and do both Lead and Supporting... I'm still brainstorming.

"it's silly, but I believe"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

1000 Greatest Films?

The movie lists that get the most attention these days are sadly fan-pandering lists from major movie publications (EW, Empire, etcetera) that cater to the last 25 years or are overly worried about mainstream relevance and DVD sales (AFI)... forgetting that the most noble purpose of 'all time lists' is not to pat people on the back for what they love but to inspire them to dig deeper. "Great" lists should be filling up our rental queues. Best book lists are not best seller charts after all but encouragements to read. Best music lists are often about new discoveries, too. What haven't you heard? So I'm totally excited to study They Shoot Pictures, Don't They? reworked "Top 1000 Films of All Time" list.

I am powerless against a good list. Here's two samples from their top 1000. First, the top 20 and I've picked two that I really insist that you see right now (since you probably haven't)
  1. Citizen Kane (1941)
  2. Vertigo (1958)
  3. Rules of the Game (1939)
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  5. 8 1/2 (1963)
  6. The Godfather (1972)
  7. The Searchers (1956)
  8. Battleship Potemkin (1925)
  9. The Seven Samurai (1954)
  10. Tokyo Story (1953)
  11. Singin' in the Rain (1952)
  12. Sunrise (1927)
  13. Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
  14. The Bicycle Thief (1948)
  15. Casablanca (1942)
  16. L'Atalante (1934) rent it immediately
  17. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) unforgettable -see now and twice
  18. Raging Bull (1980)
  19. Rashomon (1950)
  20. The Godfather Part II (1974)
Aside from Singin' in the Rain it's very solemly serious. Of those I have yet to see The Searchers, Tokyo Story and Rules of the Game and am appropriately filled with shame. Because there are 1000 films and not 100 there's less shunning of "women's pictures" than most Greatest Films list attempt and that's a relief. There's multiple countries represented as there should be. Overall it's good stuff. I quibble with certain things (that's the other great purpose of lists): There's way too little William Wyler (no Dodsworth in 1000 movies? F*** you, list and list-makers!), too little Spike Lee and Mike Leigh (1 film each? STINGY!), the wrong Sydney Pollack (no They Shoot Horses Don't They or The Way We Were? I cry foul) there's only 14 movies from the Aughts and yet they found room for Oldboy? Yeesh, I hate that movie's boastful sadism.

The thing I love most about this list at first glance is the ease by which you can dig in. You can sort by year and watch movies chronologically. You can sort by director. Here's their top twelve auteurs with the number of films they were alloted.
  1. John Ford: 18 (He's also Oscar's favorite director with 4 Best Director wins. Who knew that cinephiles would agree with the Academy so wholeheartedly?)
  2. Fritz Lang: 16
  3. Luis Bunuel: 15
  4. (tie) Jean Luc Godard & Alfred Hitchcock: 14 movies each
  5. Ingmar Bergman: 13
  6. Federico Fellini: 12
  7. (4-way tie) Jean Renoir, Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa and Howard Hawks: they all get 11 films in the top 1000. Kubrick only made 16 films so that's quite an accomplishment. They just left out his first 5. I guess he was warming up.
  8. Charles Chaplin: 10
I think it's the first "greatest films" list I've ever seen that honors Steven Spielberg but doesn't go completely overboard (only 7 films... what a relief). Since it's an excel spreadsheet with numerous columns they've even been generous enough to include amazon and imdb links if you want to purchase or study and --my favorite part -- the running times. If you never have enough time to drink up all the movies your eyes thirst for, you can either start with the longest movies and sip away or start short and gulp them down --there's 391 movies that are under 100 minutes. Oh, the delicious nectar of succinct motion pictures!

Once you download you can even add your own columns to mess with it privately. No way can I have a list without Dodsworth, Sleeping Beauty, Heavenly Creatures or any Merchant/Ivory. I think I'll "fix" this list right now...

Motor City Mama

As In Contention recently reported, the Detroit Film Critics have given another Supporting Actress prize to my girlfriend Marisa Tomei. I couldn't let this pass as, despite my critical fatigue I am a Detroit boy. I grew up dreaming about being the film critic for the Detroit Free Press. Which means of course that I wouldn't have a job anymore.

Pic & Dir: Slumdog Actor & Supporting Actress: Mickey Rourke & Marisa in The Wrestler Actress: Kate Winslet in Revolutionary Road Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

This is great fun since Tomei's character in The Wrestler , "Cassidy/Pam", could so easily have been imagined as a Motor City transplant (the movie takes place in New Jersey). Apparently this puts Marisa at a tie with Penélope Cruz in most supporting actress precursors (I wasn't aware... pile enough critics awards on me and my brain goes as slushy as Detroit roads this time of year) though of course teensy critical notices are not as powerful as a SAG nomination in drawing Oscar's attention. Still, I think she'll be nominated. I spoke with Marisa again last week and I'll share some of that conversation with you after Christmas. But I'll drop this little tidbit for now: I was pleased to hear that she's a big fan of Milk --"it blew me away" she said. Here's hoping it blows other movie-loving Academy members like her away since Slumdog, Frost/Nixon and Doubt seem to hogging the media attention (at least this week).

Two other critical awards I haven't yet discussed in case you're less insatiable than I: The Women's Critics Circle which have rather unique awards no Best Picture just "Best Film About Women" which went to Changeling (how anyone can think that's a better film about women than Rachel Getting Married or Frozen River I will never in a million years understa--oh, right Clint Eastwood. Got it) and The African American Film Critics Association which went like so...

Picture & Supporting: The Dark Knight & Heath Ledger Dir: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire Actress: Angelina Jolie, Changeling (her only critics award this year (no the Satellites aren't "critics" prizes) Actor: Frank Langella, Frost/Nixon Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Doubt

I am making a vow for next year right here and right now. No critics organization that doesn't keep an updated webpage will be included in my awards coverage. I'll just ignore them entirely. It'll make things more professional and easier on me. The AAFCA and the WFCC are yet two more that haven't updated their websites in several months.