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Had Your Self a Misérable Little Christmas?

30 December 2012 3:28 PM, PST

Another big cash grab day is ahead for the movies as New Year's Day approaches. But for this weekend the winners are clear. Django Unchained & Les Misérables much ballyhooed "Sad Off" was a true contest for wintry dollars with Tarantino's controversial slavery comedy revenge fantasy eventually pulling out in front of the musical. But the war for profit puts Les Miz in winner's position since it's already equalled it's budget in just the first six days. Django has a ways to go for that milestone but let's not nitpick as they're both true hits. 

Box Office Chart repurposed from Box Office Mojo

In fact, it's been a good box office year for Oscar-buzzing players. Affleck and Spielberg's pictures were both $100 million grossers with Lincoln still going strong. Pi & Playbook have solid sales - they didn't embarrass themselves. Of the front-running Oscar six only Zero Dark Thirty has been little seen »

- NATHANIEL R

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Did You Gag on "Killer Joe"?

30 December 2012 7:02 AM, PST

My screenings these past two weeks -- cram session! -- to complete year end business, have been like one wild tonal shift after another swinging as they have from meta rib-nudging (Seven Psycopaths) to the hormonally twee (Take This Waltz), severely depressed (Oslo August 31st) and on through the defiantly stiff and self-medicated (The Deep Blue Sea)... I can't possibly write about them all. But I did feel the night to blurt out (choke out?) a few sentences on William Friedkin's Killer Joe based on the play of the same name by Tracy Letts.

Friedkin and Letts aren't quite joined at the hip as collaborators go despite the Oscar winning filmmaker taking the cinematic reigns on both Bug and Joe. Letts most acclaimed play August: Osage County went to another filmmaker though it's fascinating to think what Friedkin might have done with the material. He is, after all, at »

- NATHANIEL R

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Interview: Julie Weiss on Visitation Rights to "Hitchcock"s World

29 December 2012 7:04 PM, PST

We haven't talked Costume Design much this year -- course correct, course correct! -- so  let's talk about two time Oscar nominee Julie Weiss and her work on Hitchcock. Hitchcock met with rather cool reception from critics and the public when it debuted last month. Part of that was, I think, due to its all encompassing title. While not a great picture, it self-sabotaged by allowing expectations of a factual and expansive biopic of the Master of Suspense when it actually only had plans on taking a lightly comic snapshot of one year in a famous Hollywood marriage.

Peggy (Toni Collette), Alfred Hitchcock (Anthony Hopkins) and Alma Hitchcock (Helen Mirren) in 1960s Hollywood

Though inside showbiz pictures are rarely big hits, movie buffs and those who are actually inside showbiz tend to like them -- go figure! Julie Weiss is no exception. We spoke on the phone but I could »

- NATHANIEL R

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Que Sera Sera, Whatever We'll Link, We'll Link

29 December 2012 10:30 AM, PST

Roger Ebert delivers his top ten list with Argo up top. Ebert's always been a fairly mainstream Oscar-Friendly voice so it's no surprise to see three of the (presumed) top six Best Picture nominees at the very top. But it's nice to see lesser discussed titles like End of Watch and Oslo August 31st getting their due.

In Contention details a prestigious win that I didn't know about for the French film Farewell My Queen, one of my favorites

IMDb the most pirated movie of 2012 was... Project X. Huh. 

NPR ooh, I missed this interview earlier in the year. Doris Day reflecting on her life and career 

The Guardian here's a fun top ten list if you're feeling that new holiday weight: the best onscreen personal trainers from Mr Miyagi (The Karate Kid) to Pai Mei (Kill Bill)

/Film Test footage for animation/live action hybrid crimes against my childhood: »

- NATHANIEL R

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Kristen Stewart is a Rock Star and Other "On The Road" Discoveries

28 December 2012 10:45 PM, PST

The Scene: September* 2012, NYC. An industry screening and cocktail party for On the Road.

Kristen Stewart stood at the front of the crowded screening room in a white oversized dress shirt and black slacks. Director Walter Salles and co-star Garrett Hedlund stood beside her and she shifted nervously while they all spoke to the assembled Academy and Guild members and small pockets of press types like me. The "stop looking at me" vibe, already familiar from her many public appearances rippled outward. One wants celebrities to enjoy the rarified air they breathe, both because success is a beautiful coveted trophy and because careers in the public eye require being looked at to achieve any degree of it. I've written about my discomfort with her discomfort before in a piece that was provocatively called "Jodie Foster is Wrong: On the Mandatory Price of Fame." Yet, through the course of the evening »

- NATHANIEL R

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Who Were The Most Beautiful Men Ever To Hit the Screen?

28 December 2012 8:08 PM, PST

If you're tired of all the bickering and partisanship from this very young Oscar season (We've got 8 more weeks of people fighting about Les Miz and whether or not Zero Dark endorses torture. Have...uh... fun!) why not choose sides on a much different less weighty topic? 

Boy Culture has launched a very extensive opinion piece on the History's 100 Hottest Movie Actors. It might be the perfect antidote right about now if you honestly can't take one more "Argo F*** Yourself" joke, Ode to Lincoln, or "Jennifer or Jessica?" blog post.

Only half of Matthew's list is currently up but there's already an impressive range of eras (a list which stretches from Rudolph Valentino through Colin Farrell is okay by me, clock-wise), nationalities, talent levels (from none to cup overflowing) and fame curve in the 50 men selected. If Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jude Law aren't top ten'ers I will pay for Matthew's next optometrist visit. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Dlink. The D is Silent

28 December 2012 5:24 PM, PST

Mandatory the 100 funniest tweets of the year. Some of the movie folk who get punchlined: Liam Neeson, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp.

Nicole's Magic Scans from Paris Match -- Nicole Kidman looks great as Grace of Monaco

E! Anjelica Huston is PETA's person of the year

i09 Futuristic predictions that came true this year

The Lost Boys farewell to Peter Knegt's long running blog.

Slate I've been talking a lot recently about people being hideous jerks when it comes to the topic of Les Misérables so here is a negative review from Dana Stevens which I think is completely fairly written and actually pretty clever in some of its digs. I've only ever asked that people be fair about it and state their biases if they have them (Stevens doesn't like the source material).

Unreality looks for gender flipping of Star Wars in the cosplay community. Sadly the gallery has no Prince Leia Lee. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Interview: Eddie Redmayne Talks Live-Singing, Skinny-Dipping, Name-Calling

27 December 2012 7:12 PM, PST

If there's a surprise name called out as one of the Best Supporting Actors this year on Oscar Nomination morning, might it be Eddie Redmayne? The rapidly ascending 30 year-old actor, a recent Tony winner for "Red" on Broadway, stood in as surrogate for our enduring communal crush on Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) in My Week With Marilyn just last season but the spotlight is even brighter now. Les Misérables' entire second act romantic structure spins on his swooning revolutionary Marius. In one of the quirks of movie awardage, male actors aren't generally honored for their facility with romantic drama, but Redmayne's secret weapon could well be his rendition of the grief stricken show-stopper "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" in which he mourns his fallen brothers who died at the lonely barricades... at dawn. He'll undoubtedly jerk at least some tears from the Academy's acting branch this week as they »

- NATHANIEL R

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Interview: Kerry Washington on "Django" & Diversity

27 December 2012 9:29 AM, PST

Kerry Washington and I were both blindfolded if not gagged when we spoke about Django Unchained. Metaphorically, you'll understand. Neither of us had yet seen Quentin Tarantino's latest revisionist revenge flick when we found a window in her schedule to talk but talk we did.

Kerry Washington as "Broomhilda" in Django Unchained

Amusingly we had quite different feelings about not having yet seen it. I was desperate to attend a screening. Kerry was, apparently, not. When I asked her if she enjoyed watching her films she laughed with a "No!" and a shudder...

It's a process I force myself to endure. Usually not more than once.

For the rest of us the prospect of seeing one of the screen's most stunning actresses is a lot more enticing than 'something to endure'. Since Kerry's big screen roles have rarely been as sizeable as her talent, a key role from an »

- NATHANIEL R

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Movies Are Too Long

27 December 2012 7:26 AM, PST

I throw my back out all the time. It's not a matter of being old since I've been working that old man "my back!" drama since I was like 15. But can you throw your ass out? Maybe the movies are to blame for my back trouble? I'm always sitting. They shouldn't call a film's duration its "running time" but "sitting time". Yes, yes, it's my own fault for seeing Les Misérables and Zero Dark Thirty two & and a ½ times each in the past month (That's 787 minutes! What's wrong with me?). Take a look at the 12 movies most likely to find themselves with a Best Picture Nomination on January 10th from longest to shortest

Django Unchained - 165 minutes 

Zero Dark Thirty - 160 minutes 

Les Misérables - 157 minutes

Lincoln - 150 minutes

The Master - 144 minutes

Life of Pi - 127 minutes

Amour - 127 minutes

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - 124 minutes

Silver Linings Playbook »

- NATHANIEL R

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The Deep Blue Link

26 December 2012 8:55 PM, PST

Awards Daily Spike Lee won't see Django Unchained "slavery was not a spaghetti western" and Sasha is right that if he made the film he'd be crucified in the media that's now celebrating Tarantino.

E! It's a third marriage for Kate Winslet who could now legally change her name legally to "Kate Rocknroll" should she want to.

Michael Murray's hilariously inappropriate interview with Rust & Bone's "Marion Cotillard

Movie|Line a good interview with Tom Hooper on his Les Misérables direction... and the controversial choices he made

Coming Soon the cast of Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom follow up The Grand Budapest Hotel is revealed. I'm sad that there's no Anjelica Huston (I need her in my Wes movies) but it's fun to know that some regulars will return and the newbies Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law and Saoirse Ronan, who has, according to the man himself "quite a big part" are exciting gets. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Nicole as Grace on Paris Match

26 December 2012 8:16 PM, PST

I haven't mentioned Nicole Kidman in forever! (heh) The goddess has been busy. In addition to awards press for The Paperboy, she's been been filming Grace of Monaco and now she's covering Paris Match.

I tend to like Nicole's riskier messy projects more than her prestige polished ones. Give me a Dogville or a The Paperboy any day over a Cold Mountain or a Human Stain (anyone remember that one?). So I'm not looking forward to Grace of Monaco or The Railway Man, her 2013 films, in quite the way I usually look forward to her projects but I'll definitely see them for her. Stoker on the other hand...

I'm not sure that cover does Nicole any favors but I've been steeling myself for the inevitable "she's too old to play Grace Kelly" criticisms to come, which will conveniently forget that Grace Kelly lived to be 52 and that we only think »

- NATHANIEL R

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Les Miz Opens Big. But Don't Expect That to Silence The Critics!

26 December 2012 2:03 PM, PST

I started a link roundup but by the time I was two hours into surveying my Google Reader, the post had morphed into a rant as long as Les Misérables running time (which I'm about to indulge in again). It began with these three links:

Antagony & Ecstasy ooh, a list right up our alley: ten best adaptations of stage musicals, to celebrate the release of Les Miz. Interesting disqualifying comments on Cabaret

Slate "I Dreamed a Tween" Excellent excellent piece on Les Misérables' appeal to tweens and its long hold on its young fans once they've grown up

Advocate And another essay on our long histories with this particular musical phenomenon.

All of which are Pro Les Miz so buyers beware.

Eddie Redmayne takes aim. The critics have too.

As y'all know I've been quite touchy about this film. More »

- NATHANIEL R

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Rip Charles Durning (1923-2012)

26 December 2012 12:03 PM, PST

2012 has been, so definitively, the year for huge teeming male casts (Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark, Magic Mike) of stars and character actors playing anxious determined men that I felt an extra pang of sadness to hear about the passing of Charles Durning on Christmas Eve. He was 89 years-old. 

Charles Durning at the SAG ceremony in 2008 accepting his lifetime achievement award

Had any of those movies (well, not, Magic Mike) been made in the 1980s, he would with certainty have popped up --  100% -- growling great lines in a suit or stove pipe hat.

Since the seeds of my movie mania were planted in the early 1980s, Charles Durning was one of the very first actors that embodied and defined the term "Character Actor" for me. I absolutely loved him in Tootsie (1982), one of the all time great movie comedies, as Jessica Lange's widower dad who took an unfortunate shine »

- NATHANIEL R

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Fyc Film Bitch Awards

26 December 2012 7:32 AM, PST

It's that time of year. I've starting to draw up my lists of the Best This and Best That in every category... so many categories! The Nomination Party begins on December 28th and runs through January 23rd. As per usual, I'd love to hear your input on categories that are harder to winnow down and easier to mess up on by forgetting something totally brilliant. Last year I had some issues completing things but I am happy to report that I'm not quite as terribly behind schedule this year. So hit your FYCs in the comments for the following categories:

Best Line Delivery | Action Sequence | Sex Scene |  Musical Moment | Best Kiss |  Credit Sequence | Opening Scene | Best Actor or Actress in a Limited or Cameo Role | Best Scene in General

Best Actress Film Bitch Long List: Knightley, Hunt, Wallis, Chastain, Riva, Cotillard, Weisz, Corinealdi, Fanning, Dowd, Seydoux, Lynskey, Winstead, Streep. or Williams? »

- NATHANIEL R

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10th Anniversary: Nicole Kidman On Her Oscar Win

25 December 2012 1:00 PM, PST

Today is the 10th anniversary of the release of The Hours. That's just another reason to feel merry today and remember that gratitude isn't just for Thanksgiving. Especially not when it comes to the gift of cinema. We celebrate the movies all year long but we get extra weepy about the greatness of the artform right about now when drowning in awards and top ten lists .

Christmas 2002 brought three very special actresses together

Not that The Hours is an especially festive or celebratory movie but each Christmas does seem to bring us a super-depressing Best Picture Event (this year's iteration: Les Misérables). The Hours tracks three parallel women Virginia Woolf (Oscar winning Nicole Kidman), Laura Brown (Oscar nominee Julianne Moore) and Clarissa Vaughan (Meryl Streep) who are connected by difficult personalities, anxious spirits ("I feel as if I'm unravelling"), and Woolf's masterpiece "Mrs Dalloway" which she is writing and Laura »

- NATHANIEL R

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Santa's Helpers!

25 December 2012 7:14 AM, PST

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmahanakkwanzukkah to all of you out there who make up The Film Experience's sexy, smart, diverse, magical, actress-loving, Oscar-obsessed cinephiliac community of readers. The site literally wouldn't still exist without you, whether that's through your blogging-fuel comments, e-mails of gratitude, cup o' joe donations (see right hand sidebar), and just general sharing and retweeting and emailing and the engaged fandom that has increased Tfe's profile over the years enough to snag us the occassional ad buy, festival gig, Bfca membership, and audiences with and greetings from various goddesses. 

Thanks for being there over the years and thanks for still being there. If I had a magical sleigh and flying reindeers I'd drop gifts down each of your chimneys, but I only have this blog to give. More interviews, final Oscar nomination predictions, and Year-End goodies to come in the final two weeks before Oscar Nominations. 

May your holiday week be filled with. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Worst of the Year (Pt 2). My Eyes... My Eyes... My Very Soul!

24 December 2012 8:19 PM, PST

Previously in the Year in Review we visited Snow White and the Overrated, Misjudged, Miscast Tomorrow the joyous positivity starts but until then, we purge. Let's rush through this final bout of negativity.

Worst Forever-trend: Bad Movie Posters

Now I know how the vampires of True Blood feel whey they cry... My eyes! My eyes!

These three posters for To Rome With Love, Quartet and Marvel's The Avengers probably do not represent the absolute worst movie advertisements of the year but they are indicative of three subspecies of Horribilus Posterus: To Rome With Love shoves its cast into  multiple little boxes, a common technique that is nearly always hideous on posters but that never stops designers from trying. To make matters worse they've selected color palette so bland that it seems to be advertising air-conditioned nap time, oatmeal breakfast at a theater near you, and A Film By Nancy Meyers »

- NATHANIEL R

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Holy Christmas Eve. It's More Critics Prizes

24 December 2012 1:13 PM, PST

Argo is still soaring as precursors go...Tis the Season to Hear from Film Critics Circles and Orgs and Societies. The big news today – if you can call anything Off-Christmas news on Christmas Eve -- is that the Online Film Critics Society have announced their annual nominations with a parade of accordion accompanists on the streets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Or at least that’s what I wish they’d done since they nominated Holy Motors for four prizes instead of the typical requisite runner up position here or there or nowhere. Instead of an accordion parade they just posted their nominations online…as societies are prone to do.

But they’re definitely worth mentioning this year as they seem to be sort-of-maybe a-little-bit-kind-of thinking for themselves beyond the standard pet-peevish traps -- there's plentiful category fraud (even though it doesn't really make sense for critics groups »

- NATHANIEL R

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