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Fyc: Tracy Letts in Lady Bird

16 December 2017 12:00 PM, PST

by Ben Miller

Tracy Letts directing your attention to Greta Gerwig at the Lady Bird premiere at Tiff

As a father, few things bring me greater joy onscreen than portrayals of loving, supportive fathers. Tracy Letts’ performance in Lady Bird is my favorite on-screen dad in years and years (though we'll get to other fine portrayals of onscreen dads of 2017 in a later post).

Letts plays Larry McPherson, the patriarch of Lady Bird’s clan.  He is shrouded in a bushy beard and balding head which characterizes him in his late 50s/early 60s.  In reality, he’s only 52.  At 6’3”, he towers over every character.  Despite his frame, Larry is nothing but heart and warmth »

- Ben Miller

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The 2017 Animated Contenders: "Birdboy: The Forgotten Children"

16 December 2017 9:46 AM, PST

by Tim Brayton

For the finale of our five-part tour of some of the more obscure films competing for the Best Animated Feature Oscar, we turn to a film that premiered over two years ago, but has only just opened in the U.S. this very weekend: the Spanish psychological horror cartoon Birdboy: The Forgotten Chidlren. The film is based on the comic Psiconautas by Alberto Vázquez, who co-writes and co-directs with Pedro Rivero; it's the duo's second film based on these characters, following the 2011 short Birdman, which serves as the new feature's backstory (the short is available online).

The basic hook here couldn't be any more direct or nasty-minded. This is a silly talking animal film warped into a portrait of the world as bleak, hopeless hell. "Psychological horror," I called it, because I'd be hard pressed to name any better category, but that's not really enough to communicate the sheer, »

- Tim Brayton

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38 days til Oscar nominations. 1938 favorites?

16 December 2017 8:09 AM, PST

by Nathaniel R

While I update some Oscar charts, let's talk 1938. The first decade of Oscar was tumultous with rule changes and size changes in the Best Picture category but it settled at ten pictures in 1936 and stayed there for most of its second decade until five became the norm in 1944 and stayed there for decades and decades. Here's what we got in '38...  »

- NATHANIEL R

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Ashley Judd might have been Arwen... or Galadriel

15 December 2017 7:27 PM, PST

by Nathaniel R

Ashley Judd in her blockbuster breakout "Double Jeopardy" in 1999I keep getting into trouble when I tweet out semantic arguments on the internet as if I'm missing the point of very serious topics. So let me assure you that I'm not missing the point. I am filled with rage when I read these stories about the toxic treatment of actresses in Hollywood but the only way I can cope (I live for actresses, duh) is to nerd out and take deep dives into thinking about their filmographies, or looking at Oscar stats, or other less fraught things to rage less. Lashing out in all directions with rage or feeding my rage by continually sharing it is just not my way and has never helped me cope with pain. So, in other words, I'll save my little semantics quibble until the end of the post. 

Anyway the reveals »

- NATHANIEL R

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R2Link2

15 December 2017 4:16 PM, PST

Episode something or other.... [cue link theme]

• Racked Titanic's necklace almost bankrupted a whole company!

• My New Plaid Pants geeking out over Ms. Laura Dern who spoke to NYC at the Film Society of Lincoln Center recently

• Deadline an interview with the great production designer Santo Loquasto on Wonder Wheel 

• Out Ryan Murphy's Boys in the Band Broadway Revival has cast a bunch of its players already and it's basically all the famous gays: Charlie Carver, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Zachary Quinto some of whom at least have stage experience.

• The Muse talks to Glenn Close who has some interesting things to say about gossip, Harvey Weinstein, and being an older actor in Hollywood

• Indie Wire on the multi-pronged creative casting efforts for The Florida Project

• Vanity Fair interviews Joe Wright of Darkest Hour, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice fame

• Variety the Roseanne reunion sitcom will start airing March 27th. Wheeee

• Mubi on the »

- NATHANIEL R

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Chicago Loves Lady Bird. Aafca Loves Get Out

15 December 2017 11:17 AM, PST

The Chicago Film Critics Association was established in 1988. Last year they broke big for the three arguable top dogs with Oscar so their tastes, shall we say, align. This year there were only two clear favorites were Lady Bird (4 prizes) and Call Me By Your Name (3 prizes) with a surprise Director win for Christopher Nolan and Dunkirk

Chicago's winners and the African American Film Critics Association prizes are after the jump »

- NATHANIEL R

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9 Foreign Film Finalists for the Oscar Race

15 December 2017 9:24 AM, PST

by Nathaniel R

"The Wound" from South Africa might be the biggest surprise on the finalist list.The Academy's foreign film nominating committees have whittled down the 92 contenders to 9. If you've forgotten or never heard the procedure it involves multiple volunteers watching a certain number of entries to be eliglble to vote on them. The top six films advance from those ballots and the executive committee chooses another three which makes the 9 finalists. Then a final committee watches the nine finalists and votes to determine the five nominations. We correctly predicted 7 of the 9 finalist (you can peak here though we'll be updating that chart to reflect the official standings shortly)

A Fantastic Woman directed by Sebastián Lelio for Chile

In the Fade directed by Fatih Akin for Germany

On Body and Soul Ildikó Enyedi for Hungary

Foxtrot directed by Samuel Maoz for Israel

The Insult directed by Ziad Doueiri for »

- NATHANIEL R

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In Context: The Contentious Making of "Frida"

15 December 2017 5:00 AM, PST

by Ilich Mejía

The New York Times published an op-ed by Salma Hayek where she discloses how working with Harvey Weinstein, then head of Miramax, affected the production of her passion project Frida. The film, centered around the life of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, was released in 2002 with Hayek portraying the titular character. In the article, Hayek relates her refusals to Weinstein's inappropriate proposals (massages, showers, sex) to his explicit sabotaging of the film and its release. Up next, we contextualize five of Hayek's most poignant tellings of how Weinstein's ruthless power machine compromised the making of a promising film. »

- Ilich Mejia

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"Ocean's Eight" Awaits

14 December 2017 6:46 PM, PST

Chris here. While the world is continually bad, one of our sustaining mantras has been the promise of female ensemble heisting with Ocean's 8. The main refrain of this meditation / mindfulness exercise is obviously its stars - say their names with me and feel renewed: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Sarah Paulson, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, and Awkwafina.

Well done.

We've got a new poster and a photo of the assembled crew to distract ourselves, but even this is just a hint of the fun to come (you can expect a trailer to come very soon, impatient readers). Bullock will be playing Danny Ocean's equally conning sister Debbie, so the opportunity remains for some fun crossover with Steven Soderbergh's trilogy. The film's big heist will take place during the Met Gala and juicy cameos should be expected. Ocean's 12 already made a "Julia Roberts pretending to be Julia Roberts" gag, »

- Chris Feil

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Blueprints: "mother!"

14 December 2017 2:29 PM, PST

With the announcement of the Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations this week, we are officially in the awards race. So from now until Oscars, Jorge will be examining 2017’s most talked-about movies and their screenplays. First, he shows up uninvited at a party...

mother! is a fever dream. The stream-of-consciousness journey of a woman that just wants people to get the hell out of her space. It’s a biblical allegory, a metaphor for the destruction of the environment, a hallucination of the protagonist. It’s all of these, and it is none.

Watching the movie is a trip (take that word for whatever meaning). It’s more visceral than narrative. Trying to find a traditional, cohesive plot in it is useless, and it’s better to experience it through gut reactions of the vignettes presented. But how does the screenplay look? Exactly as you would imagine »

- Jorge Molina

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Into the Link-Verse

14 December 2017 12:20 PM, PST

• Dim the House Lights a conversation about those Sondheim auditions in Lady Bird

• /Film why is Big Little Lies still competing as "Limited Series" when it has a second season order. The controversy is starting to bubble up

• Cartoon Brew I didn't even know that there was Another new awards show but come to think of it there's always another new one, isn't there? We now have the European Animation Awards and they gave their top prize to Loving Vincent. This is not to be confused with the European Film Awards which also gave Loving Vincent Best Animated Feature

• Cartoon Brew on the key points of that giant Disney/Fox deal. It's scary people. Now basically only 4 American-owned entertainment companies have control over America’s cultural identity. 

• Forbes on the teaser for Into the Spider-Verse with Miles Morales finally making it to screen...

• Indie Wire talks to the great actress »

- NATHANIEL R

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The Power of Reese Compels You in "Home Again"

14 December 2017 11:14 AM, PST

Home Again is out on DVD and Blu-Ray. Here's Spencer Coile... 

Home Again is not a particularly good movie. The film debut of Nancy Meyers' daughter, Hallie Meyers-Shyer, follows Reese Witherspoon as she deals with motherhood, a recent separation... and the three young filmmakers she agrees to let stay with her for an extended period of time. Standard fare, right? And it is, despite that third curve. The writing is a little too on-the-nose, characters do not feel fully fleshed out, and the editing implies serious cuts were made. Still, though, it is hard not to be won over due heavily to Witherspoon herself...  »

- Spencer Coile

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Does Woody Harrelson spell trouble for Willem Dafoe?

14 December 2017 5:00 AM, PST

by Nathaniel R

A police chief and a hotel manager, both overwhelmed and sympathetic and arguably the moral center of their movies.

It's been a long time since we had a double-nomination situation in Best Supporting Actor. The last time it happened was 26 years ago when Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel were nominated together for Bugsy (1991) - a curious event since Keitel was so much stronger in another Oscar nominated classic from that year. Given the rise of Woody Harrelson with that Screen Actor's Guild nomination and the overall assumed strength of Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri in the Best Picture race, it could well happen again. His co-star Sam Rockwell, already felt locked and loaded for the same movie in a (somewhat) larger part. 

But does this spell trouble for Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project? Consensus was beginning to form that Dafoe, who became famous in the mid »

- NATHANIEL R

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Rian Johnson: A Star Wars Story

13 December 2017 4:30 PM, PST

By Salim Garami

What's good?

To many, this weekend is the imminent release of "oh my god, the new Star Wars movie". To me... it's also the imminent release of "the new Star Wars movie", I can't even pretend that's not the way I think of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I just also find it very exciting to look at as the new Rian Johnson movie, a filmmaker I've followed since the start and am incredibly happy to find in his successful and stable position. This especially considering that he's one of the few filmmakers who never established a production company of his own (Endgame Entertainment, who produced The Brothers Bloom and Looper, is the only company to produce more than one of his films). 

So if you'll join me, today I'd like to look back on his journey from the lo-fi shoe-string ingenuity that inhabited the beginnings of »

- Salim Garami

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Are Three Multiple-Win Actors Competing for the 5th Spot in "Best Actor"?

13 December 2017 1:47 PM, PST

by Nathaniel R

They were 35, 37, and 32 when they won their first Osars

This Best Actor race has not been shaping up as we suspected two months ago when few imagined that fresher faces like 21 year old Timothée Chalamet, 28 year old first time leading man Daniel Kaluuya and 39 yr old but reads younger fringe dweller James Franco would be looking more secure for Best Actor spots than three of Oscar's all time favorite legendary leading men: Denzel Washington (2 wins), Tom Hanks (2 wins), and Daniel Day Lewis (3 wins). But that's what it feels like today after the SAG nominations have capped off a busy busy couple of weeks worth of pre-Oscar honors. 

But can it really be true that there's only one spot to claim between these three titans of Oscar hearts? Or are we reading the tea leaves wrong? Are voters ready to move on to fresher blood (two twentysomething in »

- NATHANIEL R

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Soundtracking: "Magnolia"

13 December 2017 10:30 AM, PST

With a new Paul Thomas Anderson film waiting in the wings, Chris looks at the music of Magnolia...

Rarely is a film and musician as inextricable from one another as Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia and Aimee Mann. The singularity of her voice repeated throughout helps streamline Anderson’s massively expansive vision, like a tidy bow pulling together the film’s many untidy pieces. With the film’s religious themes and allegories, her omniscient voice makes Mann the film’s watchful angel, perhaps a messenger of God. She's as much as character as everyone else, if a far more enlightened one.

“One is the loneliest number...” and Anderson announces his ensemble as a collection of “ones”. The Harry Nilsson track is a smart choice, establishing that no matter their twisty associations to one another, each is essentially isolated. Having Mann cover the classic song marries the old and the new, »

- Chris Feil

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"Everyone is Nominated... but you!" Our annual SAG Ensemble Rules Exposé

13 December 2017 7:21 AM, PST

by Nathaniel R

Betty Gabriel is not included in the Get Out ensemble nomination. For shame, SAG!The Film Experience started a tradition of exposing the Screen Actors Guild Awards unfortunate rules regarding ensemble nominations back in 2004. If you'd like a little history as to why we became advocates for change in this matter you can find the details at the bottom of the post. But for now let it suffice to say that SAG's rules for inclusion strike us as punitive for less famous actors and thus unbecoming given that they are a union and unions are ostensibly there to support the workers. The rule boils down to this: you need your own title card in a movie to be so honored - being on a shared title card or in the credits scroll won't do. With a new set of nominees for Outstanding Cast of a Motion Picture »

- NATHANIEL R

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Screen Actors Guild Nominations 2017

13 December 2017 5:32 AM, PST

By Nathaniel R

Another day, another set of honors to parse. Refresh your screen for updates. The nominations were announced by Olivia Munn and Niecy Nash this morning. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and Big Little Lies led the honors with 4 nominations each. Generally speaking the SAG lineups indicate you have a great shot at also becoming an Oscar nominee, if not a locked shot, so the nominees this morning have a lot to be excited about. SAGs nominations for TV are less relevant in terms of awards prospects since they don't divvy up the categories in quite the same way as the Emmys, nor is their timetable the same. 

The nominees are »

- NATHANIEL R

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Five Lingering Questions About the Globe Nominations. Do share your answers!

12 December 2017 6:27 PM, PST

By Nathaniel R (and guests)

Okay last Globe conversation frenzy for a bit with SAG nominations happening tomorrow. We'll save a few truly silly questions about the Globes until the Golden Globe week hits but for now the rest of our informal polling of friends and Tfe contributors now that you've read the Big Sick / All the Money / Snubs responses (you read that, right?). Join the conversation in the comments won't you?

Five questions and special guests answering them after the jump starting with this one. What's the "surprise" you don't think is surprising at all? »

- NATHANIEL R

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Doc Corner: 'Jane' is Our Oscar Frontrunner

12 December 2017 7:30 AM, PST

by Glenn Dunks

We are informed at the beginning of Jane that the footage we are about to see had been previously lost. While it is absolutely astonishing that such incredible footage could have somehow just vanished and nobody thought to look for it before now, let's be thankful. It means we get Jane, a compelling and often awe-inspiring documentary from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Brett Morgen.

Jane is gorgeously composed documentary. An exciting play of form that that swings among the vines thanks to the prowess of contemporary rhythms of structure and construction, yet hums to the classic, even nostalgia-inducing visions at its heart »

- Glenn Dunks

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