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The 2017 Animated Contenders: "Loving Vincent"

2 hours ago

by Tim Brayton

Last week, we got word of the 26 films declared eligible for Best Animated Feature at the 90th Academy Awards. That means it's time for the Film Experience's not-quite-annual look at some of the animated contenders that don't have the high profile and financial backing of a big studio affair like Coco or Despicable Me 3. Some of these might possibly be within hunting distance of an Oscar nomination; some, sad to say, won't have a chance in hell. But they're all worthy of attention.

I picked our first subject, Loving Vincent, for no particular reason other than because it's been one of my most-anticipated and because it's done quite well at arthouse theaters suggesting a good deal of interest. As such, it's with some qualified disappointment that I come to tell you all that it's... definitely not great.

 I certainly won't say it's bad. But it's kind »

- Tim Brayton

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Review: "Justice League"

4 hours ago

by Chris Feil

Has the Dceu gotten all that brooding out of its system now that the team is finally together? The answer delivered in Justice League is a "yes... but.” Here the combined powers of Batman, Wonder Woman, and (you likely guessed it) the reanimated corpse of Superman are joined by three new cohorts, though they are hardly to blame for the series’s new tonal obstacles that it has created for itself.

As teased in Batman v Superman, we get three new heroes and luckily more texture for the Gotham / Metropolis twin city scene. Ezra Miller as The Flash is the biggest breakout, all snappy wit and wide-eyed amazement at his and the team’s abilities. Cyborg surprisingly plays the film’s emotional core, even though Ray Fisher feels trapped in CGI hell. Aquaman gives Jason Momoa little to do past providing the eye candy. He's also stuck »

- Chris Feil

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Stages of Grief: "Difficult People"

15 hours ago

By Spencer Coile 

After three hilarious seasons, Hulu has cancelled Difficult People.

The show starred Julie Klausner (also its creator) and Billy Eichner as best friends who will stop at nothing to become famous. We covered the show's third season -- the non-stop jokes, the banter, and the beating heart underneath all of the cynicism. Needless to say, this news has been shocking for many of us here and will continue to sting months after »

- Spencer Coile

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The 2017 Actress Roundtable Lineup

19 hours ago

Chris here. There may already Gotham noms and film festivals, but Oscar season doesn't really start until The Hollywood Reporter's Actress Roundtable - at least in our hearts. This year's lineup includes returning folks Jennifer Lawrence (mother!), Emma Stone (Battle of the Sexes), and Jessica Chastain (Molly's Game), while the newbies are Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird), Mary J. Blige (Mudbound - finally arriving on Netflix today!), and Allison Janney (I, Tonya).

The reliance on returning guests is still irksome, and that is particularly felt this year with a smaller lineup. The ongoing reckoning with sexual predators in the industry looms large over the conversation, but we also get the usual soundbites on creative risk, career advice, and dream collaborators. Who who you like to add to this lineup? Or what film would you recast with these ladies? (I'll offer Tiffany Haddish, and a Steel Magnolias where Lawrence plays Ouiser) Tell »

- Chris Feil

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Blueprints: "Jackie"

21 hours ago

In this week’s edition of Blueprints, Jorge takes a trip to the brief shining moment known as Camelot to look how a script can transmit mood.

There can sometimes be a common misconception that what a writer contributes to a script is limited to story structure, action description, and dialogue. These are in no way small feats; after all, it’s the creation of an entire world, the people who inhabit it, and what they do. But it is often thought that his or her job stops there, and it is everyone else's job to fill in the blanks with textures.

Many of cinema’s most deep, emotional, and transcendental moments are a marriage of sound, image, and performance; devoid of any substantial plot or dialogue. So much of what makes cinema powerful is about mood. And while there may be the belief that this is the work of the director, »

- Jorge Molina

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Review: Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

15 November 2017 2:00 PM, PST

by Eric Blume

The good news is the bad news:  director Kenneth Branagh’s new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is exactly what you think it will be.  It’s a stylish, corny, enjoyable two hours filled with movie stars and that absurd moustache.  It delivers on romantic glamor and old-school moviemaking, but there’s not a surprise to be had.

Out of the gate, Branagh plunges us into a prologue that’s both boring and obvious.  He means to establish Hercule Poirot’s philosophy and fastidious nature, which sadly serves only as clunky groundwork which you know will circle back by the finale (which it does).  He also tries to bring some levity to the piece with a few lame jokes.  At first Branagh seems to be overplaying his hand...   »

- Eric Blume

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109 days 'til Oscar. And the FBI Agent nominees are...

15 November 2017 12:00 PM, PST

by Nathaniel R

This year marks the 109th anniversary of the FBI. They were founded in 1908 during the Roosevelt administration. This anniversary begs the question -- at least for us Oscar freaks -- of how many actors have been nominated or won Oscars for playing FBI agents? The only one that pops immediately to mind is Jodie Foster as Agent Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs a movie we dug deep into here at The Film Experience last year.

But one can't be the right number. Working for the FBI is a rarity in real life but on the screen it's a different story; FBI agent is up there with doctors, cops, waitresses, lawyers, actors, serial killers, superheroes, and assassins as ubiquitous career goals »

- NATHANIEL R

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Soundtracking: "Batman Forever"

15 November 2017 9:30 AM, PST

Chris ponders the cultural death of the soundtrack and Batman Forever...

While this series is mostly curious on how music is used in the movies, it’s interesting to also consider a film’s soundtrack outside of them as well. There were times when film soundtracks were provided some of the most popular and culturally recognized music, but those days are essentially over. Perhaps one of the first films to birth the “songs inspired by” soundtrack moniker was Batman Forever.

And much of its songs are simply filler, either referencing characters or existing as discarded b-sides (make that c-sides) from hip artists with some. It’s merely a package to be merchandised and sold next to action figures and tie-in product. It started a model to be repeated in blockbusters to come, from The Hunger Games to Twilight to Space Jam. »

- Chris Feil

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Tarantino's Family

15 November 2017 7:00 AM, PST

By Salim Garami

What's good? 

Earlier this summer in July, Palme d'Or and Oscar winner Quentin Tarantino had announced the development of his ninth feature film (assuming Kill Bill considered as one work on his part): a movie revolving around the infamous Charles Manson family cult and their terrorizing in Hollywood in 1969. Reportedly, the focus is not going to be on Manson himself but orbiting him as it was also announced that Margot Robbie is slated to play his most notorious victim, the late actress Sharon Tate (of Valley of the Dolls and The Fearless Vampire Killers fame).

None of this is particularly news at this point, nor is the fact that Tarantino removed the production away from the Weinstein Company in the aftermath of the overwhelming amount of sexual allegations against company co-founder and former co-chairman Harvey Weinstein.

What is news is a newfound bidding war »

- Salim Garami

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Nicole Kidman Honored by Los Cabos & Glamour Magazine

15 November 2017 5:00 AM, PST

By Ilich Mejia

As if being Australian wasn't celebratory enough, this past week has forced Nicole Kidman to vacate two more spots on her already-crowded mantel.

First, she was honored at Los Cabos' 6th Annual Film Festival with a Lifetime Achievement Award. There representing Yorgos Lanthimos' The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Kidman accepted her award on behalf of all the filmmakers and film festivals that have supported her career. While in Cabos, Kidman also lamented the industry's dearth of working female directors and joked about how some certain Mexican directors keep turning her down (the nerve!). This is only the second year the Mexican festival gives out a Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor was first given out last year, during the festival's fifth celebration, to Italian actress Monica Bellucci.

Only a day after picking up her silver whale at Cabos, Kidman was off to New York to receive her next shiny thing. »

- Ilich Mejia

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Interview: Nikolaj Lie Kaas on Playing the Complex Lead in Denmark's Oscar Submission 'You Disappear'

14 November 2017 3:54 PM, PST

By Jose Solís.

Since his breakthrough performance in The Idiots, where he played the sensitive, tragic Jeppe, Nikolaj Lie Kaas has remained one of the most interesting male actors in the world. Jumping from genre to genre, and from big Hollywood productions, to intellectual television series, his body of work is as varied as it’s complex. He’s played real life people, an assassin trying to thwart Tom Hank’s plans, a romantic hero, and one of the most beloved literary characters in contemporary Scandinavian fiction. But in Peter Schønau Fog’s You Disappear he reveals layers previously unseen as he plays Frederik Halling, a school headmaster whose world is shaken when he’s accused of embezzlement. Could it be that the brain tumor affecting his personality is to blame, or has Frederik always been this way?

The late, great Michael Nyqvist plays Frederik’s lawyer, and Trine Dyrholm plays his loving wife. »

- Jose

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Linksmith

14 November 2017 11:00 AM, PST

New York Social Diary Rip gossip columnist Liz Smith. I grew up reading her syndicated column *sniffle* This link is a remembrance of her by Denis Ferrara who was a very close friend and collaborator on her column

Esquire the ten best comedies of the year including Ingrid Goes West, Thor Ragnarok, Girls Trip, and Lady Bird

Independent Firing Kevin Spacey from House of Cards might be more difficult than Netflix thought, legally speaking

Awards Daily the case for Michelle Pfeiffer. Give her her damn Oscar already

Variety Zendaya is doing a film about the first African-American woman to graduate from Vassar (who passed as white to do so). It's called A White Lie

Deadline Wonder Woman 2 has moved to a November 1st 2019 release and Gal Gadot, contrary to reports over the weekend, is already locked in to star. Patty Jenkins will direct again. We hope there's no sophomore »

- NATHANIEL R

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Doc Corner: David Lynch and the Allure of 'Blue Velvet Revisited'

14 November 2017 8:30 AM, PST

By Glenn Dunks

The massive Doc NYC festival continues this week in New York City until the 16th, showcasing over 250 films and events. We have one more capsule collection to go up the coming days to close out the festival, but today we're entering the wonderful and strange world of David Lynch in Blue Velvet Revisited, which screens tonight at Cinepolis Chelsea at 9.30pm.

I don’t know about you, but 2017 hasn’t been the strongest year for movies in my eyes. Part of that may have to do directly with the product itself. But a more significant part is that quite literally no movie I have seen this year has had quite the gravitational pull of Twin Peaks. The return of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s classic 1990s television series was maligned by many, but found a dedicated collection of fans for whom it was 18-hours of pure Lynchian madness, »

- Glenn Dunks

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110 days 'til Oscar. More Lord of the Rings?

14 November 2017 8:00 AM, PST

It's only eleventy days until Hollywood's High Holy Night. If you aren't familiar with "eleventy" think back to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).

That whole Oscar winning trilogy kicks off with the celebration of Bilbo Baggins eleventy-firth birthday or 111th birthday in human years. Eleventy can refer to 110 or numbers much larger; one stops counting after awhile »

- NATHANIEL R

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"Get Out" to Be Considered Comedy at Globes

14 November 2017 4:00 AM, PST

Chris here. Is it time yet to start pondering the Golden Globes comedy field? One quick bit of potentially major news is that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has just officially designated Get Out to compete as a comedy. While this is probably music to team Get Out's ears, I'd argue that it's the appropriate choice - the film is sharp satire first, serious scares second to this viewer. But yes, this gives the film a major leg up to win a major trophy this season in a less competitive field.

This could also mean stronger chances for lead actor Daniel Kaluuya and possibly Allison Williams (who is strangely being campaigned as a lead) for Globes consideration as well. The stiffest competition will probably come from Lady Bird, but what other contenders should we be thinking about? Will The Disaster Artist register beyond James Franco's performance? Could hits »

- Chris Feil

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Interview: Dir. Hana Jusic on How a Best Actress Winner Inspired Croatian Oscar Submission 'Quit Staring at My Plate'

13 November 2017 6:27 PM, PST

By Jose Solís. 

Marijana, the heroine of Quit Staring at My Plate, doesn’t know she’s allowed a life away from her controlling family. Even though she has a full time job, and is of age, she gives her mother all her wages, spends more than half the day working, and dutifully sits at the dinner table as her parents and unemployed brother criticize her lifestyle. Then one day Marijana finds a sidejob that takes her the furthest she’s been from home in a very long time, and her many awakenings begin. Anchored by a breakthrough performance by Mia Petricevic, the film plays like a moral fable seen through an unsentimental lens. In her first feature film, director Hana Jusic proves that not only does she have an eye for talent (the story of how she found Mia is film worthy) but she also has the kind of »

- Jose

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Happy 50th to Underappreciated Steve Zahn

13 November 2017 2:15 PM, PST

by Nathaniel R

"Bad Ape" is still one of the best movie characters of 2017. He comes courtesy of the ambitious War for the Planet of the Apes, various visual effects technicians, and Steve Zahn who brilliantly embodies him. On the actor's 50th birthday a quick list of our 5 favorite Zahn performances over the years. He's one of Hollywood's most reliable (and most adorable) character actors and still has never really gotten his due. 

01 "Sammy Gray" in Reality Bites

02 "Glenn Michaels" in Out of Sight

03 "Lenny Hase" in That Thing You Do!

04 "Bad Ape" in War for the Planet of the Apes

05 "Fuller" in Joy Ride

P.S. Also celebrating birthdays today: actors Whoopi Goldberg, Gerard ButlerXiaoming Huang, Frances Conroy, Chris Noth, Joe Mantegna, and Shawn Yue, cinematographer Conrad W Hall, and director Gary Marshall; And though they are departed they are not forgotten: author Robert Louis Stevenson, and actors Hermione Baddeley, »

- NATHANIEL R

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Beauty vs Beast: Hear Her Roar Ragnarok

13 November 2017 12:22 PM, PST

Jason from Mnpp, championing the second weekend of big-time Thor receipts with some "Beauty vs Beast"  love for its ladies - among all the intergalactic biological diversity that Ragnarok director Taika Waititi brought to the Marvel franchise it shouldn't be discounted the prime roles he gave to several actresses, including the villain Hela (some Australian actress, never heard of her) and the drunk Asgardian runaway Valkyrie (Tessa Thomspon).

As with all the best villains Hela's got a solid claim to righteousness as the throne is hers and her father's a hypocrite... although I do wish Taika had gotten her more mixed into the bulk of the action. And Valkyrie is a fascinating, damaged, complicated character, imperfect in ways Female Heroes don't usually get to be. And even better the two of them have their own antagonistic history so I can easily ask you to choose sides...

Previously From Gods to Angels, »

- JA

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111 days 'til Oscar

13 November 2017 10:45 AM, PST

Can you believe Germany's Wings Of Desire (1987) was not nominated for Best Foreign Film? It won numerous prizes that year but Oscar skipped it.

According to numerologists 111 is a very powerful number, sometimes called an "angel number" for spiritual guidance. It signifies that a gate of opportunity is opening -- your dreams can become manifest with positive thinking. (Or some such. Don't ask me I'm not a numerologist. I'm just trying to find cute ways to count down to Oscar, okay?)

In other words those current long shot Oscar campaigns need to be harnessing all their positive thinking on this very day! So tell us your #1 dream for Oscar night this coming March 4th. What reality shall you will into being, nomination-wise or statue win? You know mine already.  »

- NATHANIEL R

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The Furniture: 25 Years Trapped in Castle Dracula

13 November 2017 8:37 AM, PST

"The Furniture," by Daniel Walber, is our weekly series on Production Design. You can click on the images to see them in magnified detail. 

Bram Stoker’s Dracula turns 25 years old today. It is, appropriately, not dead. Not that a film can die, exactly, but this one has held onto its toothy vigor with particular success. Even the ridiculous way Keanu pronounces “Bewdapest” still charms. Eiko Ishioka’s Oscar-winning costumes seem simultaneously ancient and way ahead of their time. The same goes for the Oscar-winning makeup, which transforms Gary Oldman across centuries with bewildering commitment. The visual effects, which went unnominated, remain thrilling, a dizzying phantasmagoria of cinematic shadow-puppetry.

But I’m here to rave about the only nominated category that the film didn’t win. Production designer Thomas E. Sanders and art director Garrett Lewis were nominated, but they lost to Howards End. Hard to argue with that, of course. »

- Daniel Walber

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