Oscar History

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Entries by Chris Feil (629)

Dec 31 2015

Don't Forget About Michael Keaton

Greetings fromChris,wishing you all a Happy New Year!And a Happy Voting to Academy members finally filling out their nomination ballots.With plenty ofFYCblurbs out on the internet proclaiming personal favorites outside of the race,I want to talk about someone much more obvious that's somehow missing out on the love:Michael Keaton inSpotlight.

Of course,he's winning attention as part ofSpotlight's ensemble,but it's a headscratcher that he missed nominations from SAG,the Globes,and BFCA.Even various regional critics groups are favoring Mark Ruffalo to single out.The potential reasons for Keaton's omission (too much competition from his own film,category confusion,the notion he doesn't have a "scene") feel petty given the gravitas and soulfulness he brings to the narrative.

Some saySpotlightlacks threat or conflict,that the big,bad church we keep hearing will put their weight on the Boston Globe for their investigations never actually does.But whatSpotlightis really about is getting the story right and facing up to our own culture of ignorance and the times we've looked the other way.All of that is perfectly embodied by the resurgent Keaton.It's not just that he's the member of the ensemble that has the clearest arc,but the grace to which he fills Walter "Robby"Robinson with regret and anger.Ruffalo's "scene"allows that actor a catharsis that Keaton's coiled disposition doesn't receive until the final moment when his team's efforts are shown to have an effect on the lives of victims.

The performance is a study gentlemanly rage.He underplays every scene where he is calling for justice,filling silences with loaded pauses and a judging stare that fuels the film's angry undercurrent.If you think he doesn't have a showy moment,rewatch any time wherein he studies the layers of spin and bullshit delivered by Billy Crudup's sleaveball lawyer and tell me thatSpotlight's central conflict isn't right there on Keaton's expressive face.WhereBirdmanallowed him to run wild with mannered anxiety and deep well of emotion,Spotlightserves us the actor at his confident and naturalistic best.

Following theBirdmanmiss,it's particularly odd that Keaton is on the outside ofthe nomination conversation.Best Supporting Actor often favors combacks from older actors and previous losers,so you think he'd be a plum candidate to ride the past year's momentum ina Best Picture frontrunnerat that.He'll soon return to leading roles in John Lee Hancock's McDonalds biopicThe Founder,but don't let the opportunity to reward some of his best work pass you by!

Dec 24 2015

THR's Screenwriter Roundtable

Chris here.I hope you're having a relaxing and safe holiday weekend!

Earlier this week,hiding among the constant updates on the reams of moneyThe Force Awakensis floating in,we got this year's Screenwriters Roundtable!You'll remember from November that we had some feelings aboutthis year's Actress Roundtableand I'll confess that I found this year's Actor Roundtable underwhelming in lineup and discussion.However,the Screenwriters edition is often the loosest and freshest each year - with its selected participants typically on point.

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Dec 23 2015

While We Wait for Carol...

The natives are growing restless.

Greetings friends.Chris here,the newest member of Team Experience.Like I'm assuming many of you,I live far away from the lucky 16 theatres currently housing Todd Haynes' return to the big screen.SoI'm happy with even the slightest shiftthat bringsCarol's glacial release to my local screens.Non-US readers have an even longer wait.We've all become the human embodiment of that inescapable Rooney Mara image.

It's worth noting amid all our impatience the cautionary tale told this year by the likes ofSteve JobsandThe Diary of a Teenage Girl: going too wide too soon can result in a quick crash and burn in this increasingly crowded marketplace.So let's take a breather and feel grateful thatCarolhas a distributor like The Weinstein Co.focused on reaching a passionate audience,even if it means waiting longer than we want.After all,the film is still the film no matter when we see it.

Meanwhile,I've got 10 fun homework assignments to keep you occupied while you wait...

1.Read Patricia Highsmith's novel (also published asThe Price of Salt).The film is not a page-to-page adaptation,so some surprises will still be ahead - including more of our titular love interest!

2.Rewatch the Todd Haynes filmography!I'll do the leg work for you:Velvet Goldmineis availble on Netflix Instant,PoisonandI'm Not Thereon Amazon Prime...

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Dec 18 2015

Review: "Sisters"

Remember friends,The Force Awakensisn't the only film arriving today,even though it may be taking the lion's share of your multiplex's screens and dominating the cultural landscape.Limited audiences finally have Cannes favorite and Foreign Language Oscar frontrunnerSon of Sauland the masses also haveSistersandAlvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip*shhhh,keep walking*.

Sistersis an interesting choice for counter-programming against the behemoth,but should satisfy its own crowds looking for a steady stream of laughs.The film would face more trouble without the trustworthy chemistry between stars Amy Poehler and Tina Fey,as it strains to set up relationships (and not just of its leads) and conflict in a murky and bumpy first act.Once Poehler and Fey are given the room to shine,the film finally finds its footing and becomes the laugh riot you were hoping for.


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Dec 16 2015

Cinematography Outsiders

The creative leaps forward we've been seeing in the past decade have been staggering with our prominent cinematographers constantly developing new ways to experiment with visual storytelling and reinventing old tricks.Each year we also get exciting new voices added to the fray,but the Academy's cinematography branch has been reticent to include such future legends as Bradford Young and Greg Fraser.

This year is no different,with the heavyweight directors of photography set to dominate the category once again.Previous winners and perenial nominees Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant),Robert Richardson (the 70MM UltraPanivisionThe Hateful Eight),Janusz Kaminski (Bridge of Spies) and John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road) are all possible candidates,with thestillOscar-less Roger Deakins (pictured above,Sicario) is always a threat.Our likeliest first-time nominee Edward Lachman forCarolis an example of how hard it can be to break through while delivering brilliant work.

But why so exclusive?This isn't a category that hugs close to the Best Picture lineup typically,and while they've rewarded creative risks,it is typically for a seasoned vet rather than a fresh voice.None of this is meant to diss these veteran artists - they're the elite for a reason.However,here are some non-frontrunner candidates worthy of more discussion:

Creed- Maryse Alberti

While the ballyhooed single take shot is a perfect example of the furious energy Alberti visually brings to key story moments,it's the more subtextual moments that shine - like the shot above or Adonis shadowboxing to stock footage of his father.Her work here is like a less taxing companion to what she did withThe Wrestler,but just as potent.With female cinematographers unrecognized by the branch,I dare you to see her work and claim that the lack of female nominees is because there are no worthy candidates.

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Dec 11 2015

Is Marvel Recruiting Cate Blanchett?

Yesterday,fresh off herGolden GlobeandSAGnominations,Cate Blanchett was reported to be a potential candidate for an unknown role inThor: Ragnarok,another high profile star to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.Twitter has not been pleased.

BUT!Before you get out your pitchforks and scream of heresy,let's note a few thingsabout the third Thor entry that might change your mind:

1.Taika Waititi is taking over directing duties.If you haven't watched his vampire mockumentaryWhat We Do In The Shadowsfrom earlier this year,fix that!The film excels at the kind of farcical character humor that was the strongest element of Kenneth Branagh's original installment and was mostly absent from the sequel.

2.Mark Ruffalo is also starring in his Hulk's first time outside of an Avengers film,so the film is already giving us something we've been asking for.

3.Galadriel!Blanchett isn't afraid of genre material,and when she's having a ball,so are we.

4.Let's not forget how the MCU works with potential crossover characters - think of the possibilities.How about this one: none other than Tilda Swinton is in the forthcomingDoctor Strange.One can dream!

5.As we were reminded with herrecent W Magazine spread,fun things happen when she gets to be a little kooky.

There's plenty reason to be optimistic!

Nothing is known of the role yet (please be a villain,please be a villain,please be a villain),but this and the assembled team thus far at least point toward Marvel making this one feel a little more special than what we got with Thor's round 2.Thor: Ragnarokis coming November 3,2017.