Oscar History

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Directors ofFor Sama

Lulu Wang(The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra(Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes(Diamantino)
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Entries in Book of Life (2)

Jan 29 2015

What Link Gets Wrong About Blog

AV Clubdeep screen capture to reveal how well constructed shots inDivergentdont make for a good film
BuzzFeedgreat essay on the current relevancy ofBefore Sunrise(1995) and instant nostalgia
Heat VisionTyrese Gibson obsessed with playing Green Lantern in a film that's at least 5 years away based on a character already ruined by the movies
Decider10 essential movies about nuns from our belovedBlack Narcissusto less impressive but famous offerings likeDoubt

HuffPoAdam Scott and Jason Schwarzmann discuss their prosthetic penises inThe Overnight.(Takeaway: no actor will ever truly be naked again onscreen.That's only for actresses)
THRtalks to the director ofBook of Life- though disappointed by the lack of an Oscar nomination,he cherishes stories from fans about how it effected their families
Towleroadarts teacher in Texas does "Uptown Funk"with students.Cute.But I only share it because I love Uptown Funk because you know why (first verse)
PlaylistPaul Thomas Anderson lovesEdge of TomorrowandThe Grand Budapest Hotel
THRWhyMe and Earl and the Dying Girldid not choose the highest bidder at Sundance

This Week's Must Read
You undoubtedly know already that Mark Harris is one of the best writers on movie culture and the awards beat in general (if for some insane reason you haven't read his first bookPictures at a Revolution,it's the most invaluable Oscar book since "Inside Oscar") but I think his latest column for Grantland is one of his all time finest.He goes deep on "HowSelmaGot Smeared: Historical Fiction And Its Malcontents"I only wish this essay had broken sooner before Oscar nomination voting.Now you may be thinking 'please,Nathaniel,I have read enoug about Selma's LBJ problem' and you may even be thinking (as I have been) that complaints about Selma's "Oscar snub"are starting to feel weirder and weirder as the season progresses.Fact:Selmawill now go down in movie history as a Best Picture nominee,something only 8 movies from hundreds and hundreds released in 2014 can claim.But trust me you need to read this anyway.

Here's a part I particularly love (bold is mine) that is really illuminating about historical fiction:

About a third of the way intoSelma,Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) has a private meeting with Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) in an Alabama church (this is not an invention of the movie;the two met in Selma on February 5,1965,two weeks before Malcolm X was assassinated).The scene is introduced with a shrewd recurring device — an onscreen teletype legend that tells moviegoers what's happening,but only through the warping prism of FBI surveillance."C.King in Selma to meet with Negro militant Malcolm X.03:46 p.m.LOGGED."The description denotes the assumption of white law enforcement that a conspiracy of one kind is taking place — a clandestine meeting in which King may be moving closer to throwing in with a more militant,potentially violent faction of the movement.In reality,the "conspiracy"that's unfolding is exactly the opposite;Malcolm tells the wary Coretta that he is not in Selma to impede her husband's work,but to allow himself to be used,even to be misrepresented,to further King's goals.


DuVernay's view of the uses of history and of (mis)representation is not careless in this scene or in the movie;it's clearly thought through.The onscreen typed summary is a perfectly deployed example of how something can be factually correct (meeting with a "Negro militant"is,literally,what Coretta King is doing) without being true;the movie,by contrast,finds many ways of being true without being strictly factual.That is exactly what good historical drama must sometimes do,and must be given permission to do,including in this scene itself,in which DuVernay has a character express an understanding that his presence and his motives may have to be slightly distorted in order to achieve a greater truth and justice.

And Harris illuminates it,strategically,in a scene not even involving LBJ.

Oct 16 2014

Interview: Jorge Gutierrez & Guillermo del Toro on "The Book of Life"

Jorge Gutierrez has won two Annie awards and an Emmy,but in order to get his passion projectThe Book Of Life(which opens tonight!) onto the screen,he needed a little help.Gutierrez found it in Guillermo del Toro.The Mexican fantasy director has been using his production company to foster new visions in genres like horror and animation.A little bitOrpheus and Euridice,a little bit Dia de Los Muertos,and a little bit musical theater,The Book Of Lifeis anything but ordinary.

Anne Mariehere.I was lucky enough to interview Guillermo del Toro and Jorge Gutierrez when they came to San Diego Comic Con in July.But before I could even start asking questions,del Toro noticed the squid design on my necklace,and launched into a rhapsodic monologue about his favorite movie,20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.From that point on,I basically just held on to my seat as del Toro and Gutierrez riffed on each other with the ease of good friends and partners.They discussed everything from Ray Harryhausen to the purpose of a director to whether children's movies need bad guys.

Here's how it went...

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: [20,000 Leagues Under the Sea] is a magnificent movie.And to this day I collect models of the Nautilus.

ANNE MARIE: Of the Nautilus?

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: Yeah.I have,I think I have most every one,except the ten meter one,which is too big for me...But I have the 3 ft one.I have the little ones,the medium ones,the electric ones,the ones that light up [JG laughs] the ones that make a little noise,all of that.That and The Time Machine are my two favorite sort of steampunk-y pieces of design.

JORGE GUTIERREZ: It's awesome.It holds up,too.Anyways![Laughs]

ANNE MARIE: You've both describedThe Book of Lifeas a personal pet project.Can you talk a little about the process of getting it going?

JORGE GUTIERREZ: Absolutely!Fifteen years I've been working on this,based on a student short I did at Cal Arts.When I graduated I pitched it everywhere.Everyone said,"Nah,you're just a kid out of school.No one wants to see this stuff."

GUILLERMO DEL TORO: "You don't understand."

JG: "You don't understand.We need talking animal movies."Literally,that's what I was told at every meeting.


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