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Box Office: The Battle of the Holiday Releases Part 2

18 hours ago

Manuel here offering up the sequel to last week’s Battle of the Holiday Releases you didn’t know you needed. Those Middle Earth dwellers are nothing if not resilient warriors and thus it comes as no surprise that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies held on to #1 for the second week in a row despite some competition from a singing witch and a martyred soldier, both proving quite the challengers. That bodes well for the awards prospects for Rob Marshall’s big screen adaptation of Into the Woods and Angelina Jolie’s uplifting war drama Unbroken. Box office alone does not win awards (or nominations) but it surely doesn’t hurt. It was a busy Christmas week -- even embattled and corporate freedom of speech poster boy The Interview made a dent in a little over 300 screens. 

Random Trivia: This is the first time since December 2007 when »

- Manuel Betancourt

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The Best Picture Puzzle Has How Many Pieces?

20 hours ago

With Into the Woods and Unbroken opening so well over Christmas, one has to think that their Best Picture chances have been bolstered. Both are currently in that foggy area of "will they or won't they?" a siamese twin to "how many Best Picture nominees will we get?" punditry.

If you look to the current Best Picture Chart, I think you'll agree that the eventual fates of anything beyond the top five (Selma, Birdman, Boyhood, The Theory of Everything, and The Imitation Game) seem uncertain. If you compare my chart to the current Gurus of Gold (in which we made suggestions as to what films voters should be screening this week) you'll see that the top ten films are basically the same albeit in a slightly different order and with the consensus being that I'm underestimating Foxcatcher and overestimating Into the Woods

Obviously Grand Budapest Hotel will be enjoying multiple »

- NATHANIEL R

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Review: Selma

27 December 2014 4:00 PM, PST

Michael C. here with your weekend review

Among the many achievements of Ava DuVernay’s tremendous Selma, the biggest may be that it rescues Martin Luther King from canonization as a two dimensional political saint. In the thirty years since Reagan declared a national holiday in his honor, the rough edges have been sanded off King’s legacy, its complexities all but deleted from the public consciousness. The remaining image is a positive but reductive one. To focus solely on King the martyr, standing at the podium, speaking about his dream of a world without prejudice is to gloss over all the messy grunt work that actually went into altering the course of history.

Now we have Selma, which not only restores King’s humanity, but his agency as a shrewd political strategist. The result is a film that doesn’t just bring the 1965 Selma marches blazing out of the »

- Michael C.

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Meet the Contenders: Chris Pine "Into the Woods"

27 December 2014 1:15 PM, PST

Abstew continues the contenders series highlighting one performance per opening weekend

Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince in Into the Woods

Best Supporting Actor

Born: Christopher Whitelaw Pine was born August 26, 1980 in Los Angeles, California

The Role: After a labored development over the years (the musical opened on Broadway how long ago?!?) and much controversy before it was even released (they cut what songs exactly?!?), the film version of Stephen Sondheim's beloved musical Into the Woods finally made its way to the big screen courtesy of Disney and Chicago's Oscar-nominated helmer, Rob Marshall. The story interconnects classic characters from fairy tales (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel) and shows how the story continues after their happily ever afters. Joining in the colorful cast of characters is Chis Pine playing the charming Prince to Cinderella. »

- abstew

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Interview: Timothy Spall on "Mr. Turner" and Fathers and Sons

27 December 2014 9:00 AM, PST

Mr Turner, Mike Leigh's long gestating dream project about the romantic painter J.M.W. Turner recently hit theaters in limited release but it's buzz began back in the summer when Timothy Spall took home the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his grunted commitment to this fusion of great artist and unsavory man. Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with the Mike Leigh favorite (this is their fifth big-screen collaboration). It'd be impossible to list all the ways in which the man and role are different but the physical strikes you first. Spall has slimmed down considerably since playing what he calls this "toby jug of a man." 

The generous friendly actor, a thousand times more articulate than his current character, talked about the hazards of working with Mike Leigh, and beautiful fathers and son relationships both on screen and off. 

Nathaniel R: I’ve »

- NATHANIEL R

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Entertainers of the Year, An Alternate Take

26 December 2014 7:00 PM, PST

Year in Review. Two yummy lists each day. Here's Matthew Eng on "Entertainers of the Year"

Let’s face it: Jimmy Fallon is an okay if utterly predictable choice for Entertainment Weekly’s annual “Entertainer of the Year” title, which can occasionally become more of an honor for being widely-known and well-liked than, you know, being consistently entertaining. (Have they made a truly interesting choice since that three-year, Oscar-certified run of Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman, and Denzel Washington from 2000-02?)

Rather than continue to pat the backs of those like Ben Affleck, Taylor Swift, Robert Downey, Jr., and J.K. Rowling – i.e. prominent pop culture presences and former “Entertainers of the Year” whose dominance over their respective industries is already deep and durable – let’s take a moment to honor some of our favorite hard-working actors and actresses who zig-zagged across mediums this year, making crucial contributions to the entertainment landscape, »

- Matthew Eng

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The Animated Feature contenders: Minuscule - Valley of the Lost Ants

26 December 2014 1:43 PM, PST

Tim here. Our journey through the list of films submitted for the Best Animated Feature Oscar now takes us to France and Belgium and the utterly beguiling children’s film Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants. Cumbersome title notwithstanding, it’s a light and breezy little lark, with a simple fairy tale-esque story so elemental in its particulars – an infant ladybug separated from her parents falls in with a colony of black ants and helps them in their war against aggressive red ants - that the movie can get away without having a single word of dialogue to be found anywhere in its running time.

Writer-directors Thomas Szabo & Hélène Giraud have adapted the movie from their television series Minuscule (which I understand to be terrifically popular in places that aren’t the United States), made up of 6-minute comic shorts in which a variety of insects get into comic scrapes. »

- Tim Brayton

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The Less Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

26 December 2014 8:29 AM, PST

Or, "Try Harder Next Time You Talented So & Sos!"

Our Worst of the Year feature "Cinematic Shame" has shrunk in size. This is not because movies are better. This is because your host (Nathaniel R) has somehow become less jaded and more appreciative of the cinema over the years. In fact, he often can be seen crinkling his brow when faced with reminders that a lot of people who write about the movies don't like very many of them. Even more casually evident: lots of people who write about awards season don't like awards season. (A solemn promise to the disgruntled: there are plenty of other topics worth writing about - pitch those to your editor and Trust that this topic will be amply covered, and all over the place, in your absence!)

But let's not distract ourselves.

 In the lists that follow as we gently spank famous people on »

- NATHANIEL R

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'happy birthday mr co-star... happy birthday to you...'

26 December 2014 6:00 AM, PST

don't bother to knock

Happy Centennial to Richard Widmark today, the noir star who won instant fame (and an Oscar nod) for his film debut as dangerous "Tommy Udo" in Kiss of Death (1947). He almost made it to his centennial too but passed away in 2008. Other highlights from his filmography include: Night and the City (1950), Don't Bother to Knock (1952), Pick Up on South Street (1952), and that late career trio of all-star-cast Oscar darlings: Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), How the West Was Won (1962), and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).

Any favorite Widmark performances? I have never seen (gulp) Kiss of Death. I suppose I should get on that given the Oscar nomination. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Interview: Anna Kendrick at the Palace and Summering in Ohio.

25 December 2014 12:30 PM, PST

A holiday gift to you, an interview with the internet's collective girlfriend Anna Kendrick, our new Cinderella in Into the Woods which hits theaters today. Merry Christmas!

Kendrick lets me know right away that she isn't entirely comfortable with all the online fawning. When I compare her very modern kind of stardom to that of Benedict Cumberbatch she freezes "Oh god, don't say that!... It gives me anxiety. He probably can't leave his house!" Kendrick and I have both been herded into a chilly hotel suite after some scheduling confusion and me with my notes out for someone else entirely, someone far less Princess-like. It's a surprise switch but a welcome one, like expecting to remain in your pot scrubbing dress and suddenly you're at the ball in magic slippers. Excuse the analogy but I'm the one playing Cinderella this time since I've traded up. Kendrick wraps herself in the »

- NATHANIEL R

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Top Ten Movies from 2014 You Should Catch Up With on Streaming

25 December 2014 9:34 AM, PST

Margaret here, reporting from the warmth of the family home. In between gift-exchanging and major cooking projects, I'm going to be trying to catch up on as many 2014 movies as possible. For those of us without much time to run to the multiplex, there are plenty of options among recent acquisitions on streaming services. While most of the showiest would-be awards contenders are either still in theaters or holding off on their DVD releases, there are plenty of buzzy (and possibly even soon to be Oscar-nominated) movies available for the couch-bound.

Honorable Mention: Slow-burn crime drama Night Moves (Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning) and Baltimore dirt-biker documentary 12 O'Clock Boys, both on Amazon Prime; Mind-bending relationship dramedy The One I Love (Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass) and low-key Swanberg indie Happy Christmas (Anna Kendrick, Tfe favorite Melanie Lynskey), both on Netflix Instant.

 

10. Stranger By The Lake (Netflix Instant) This French erotic »

- Margaret de Larios

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It's a Gift!

25 December 2014 5:00 AM, PST

 The Film Experience loves you and thinks you're naughty  nice.

And the Film Experience loves awards season. It's no accident that awards season begins just before Thanksgiving (Gratitude) peaks during during Christmas time (Movies Are Gifts To The World) and ends around Valentines (♥♥♥♥♥)

Happy Holidays to all readers, wherever you may be and whatever you're celebrating! Make great memories and see you back here very soon. As soon as you come back tell us which movies you saw during your Christmas break!

  »

- NATHANIEL R

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A Year with Kate: One Christmas (1994)

24 December 2014 5:00 PM, PST

Episode 52 of 52: In which we say a fond farewell to Kate.

How, from where we started, did we ever reach this Christmas?

After 52 weeks, 62 years, and over 90 hours of movie-watching, we have arrived at the end of Katharine Hepburn’s career, and likewise the end of A Year With Kate. Never when I started this series did I believe that it would grow as it has. My intention when we began was simply to honor an actress I loved. From that humble beginning, A Year With Kate evolved into a series on celebrity and stardom, a box office tracker, a promoter of hair-brained hair theories and balloon puns, a Hollywood history blog, and above all a forum for everyone from superfans to newcomers to celebrate and debate classic movies.

There is so much to say (including many thank yous), so this last goodbye is being split into two. Next »

- Anne Marie

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Best Actress Battles: Marion vs. Rosamund?

24 December 2014 2:01 PM, PST

With the internet strenuously erecting a ring in which Julianne and Jennifer can mud wrestle, and wondering who could be a surprise snub, let's look at one more imaginary Best Actress Battle with this Oscar category that appears to have six women in it. One too many. Let's call this one the Critical Darling Cha-Cha. 

Gone Girl vs. Fired Girl

Two weeks ago when their was a seeming abundance of "fifth slot" possibilities for Oscar's Best Actress race, Marion Cotillard emerged from a non-campaigning overseas cloud to claim Critical Darling status. In quick succession she took prizes from three early-announcing critics group: the venerable New York Film Critics Circle as well as Boston Society of Film Critics and the young New York Film Critics Online group. Some of those prizes were shared with The Immigrant but since The Weinstein Co wasn't backing their early release with a campaign of any kind, »

- NATHANIEL R

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Yes No Maybe So: Woman in Gold

24 December 2014 10:13 AM, PST

Manuel here trying to fend off urgings to unwrap all my (cinematic) presents today ahead of schedule (why must so many good films come out on Christmas Day?) Thus, while I have to wait until tomorrow at least to catch Selma, A Most Violent Year, Two Days One Night and Into the Woods, I’ll have to settle for some christmas stocking stuffers in the form of a new trailer featuring the one and only Tatiana Maslany.

Oh, and some Oscar-winning Dame as well.

The Woman in Gold follows Maria Altman (Helen Mirren), a Jewish refugee hoping to get back the family possessions taken from her by the Nazis, with the aid of a young lawyer (Ryan Reynolds). Among these possessions is the Klimt painting "The Lady in Gold" which gives the film its title.

Let’s break it down with the Tfe-patented approach of Yes/No/Maybe So, shall we? »

- Manuel Betancourt

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Quick Links Over Coffee. And "Listen!" It's the Critical Decision

24 December 2014 9:23 AM, PST

Jude Law drinking coffee back in the dayWhoa! Off to such a late start today.

 

Happy Christmas Eve

Here are a few links for you to enjoy while I drink my lunch (aka coffee) and prepare a few posts... posting continues through the holidays so if you're having a Blue Christmas, please know that we're here for you in the comments section / posting form with reviews coming up for Selma & Into the Woods. If you'll be offline for most of the holiday week, collect your belated gifts when you return. The Oscar stuff, year in review collections, chatty interviews and podcast, and silly polls will all still be here when you return. (Just click on that  "pages" thing once you run out of the freshly baked articles at the bottom and you'll get to the day old stuff and so on. Only a few of the articles have expiration dates, »

- NATHANIEL R

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"Extra" FYCs? Your Last Chance

23 December 2014 8:35 PM, PST

Open Thread

We hope you're the Year in Review thus far.  We've already suggested stocking stuffers, gawked at great fashion, stroked furry friends, and named the year's Mvp. I'm still madly cramming movies into my eyeballs but have begun drafting the FiLM BiTCH Awards this site's long running Oscar alternative. I'm willing to listen to FYCs for any of the special categories and aiming for Monday December 29th to kick things off.

Any 2014 "Best" suggestions for... Line Reading? Action Sequence? Cameo? Kiss? Musical Sequence in a Non-Musical?  Sex Scene? Credits/Title? Scene of the Year? 

P.S. If you're heading out early for Christmas festivities have a happy holiday. There wlll be many blog post presents under this tree to catch up with when you get back.  »

- NATHANIEL R

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Crazy Cat Lady Yearbook

23 December 2014 4:25 PM, PST

Year in review. Two yummy look backs each day.

People often get my name wrong in the comments. I do not answer to "Nate" or "Nathan". "Nat" or "Nathaniel" will do.  I also answer to "Crazy Cat Lady".

Cats do not get enough screen time if you ask me but they're not pack animals so there's no cat union to promote their representation in the movies. I actually felt a bit betrayed this summer when Toothless, one of my all time favorite screen cats suddenly seemed almost doggish in How To Train Your Dragon 2. If Dreamworks wants to know why they struggled a bit at the box office there I can only point to Toothless. There was  A) Not nearly enough of him in the movie and B) He seemed to have gone to the dog side. 

So herewith the four cats from the film year I couldn't love more. »

- NATHANIEL R

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Podcast: Wild Catcher

23 December 2014 12:39 PM, PST

In this new episode of The Film Experience, Nick, Joe, and Nathaniel go wandering with Witherspoon and wrestling with Tatum to try to make sense of it all. And by 'all' we mean the directorial styles of Jean-Marc Vallée and Bennett Miller, our complicated and divided personal reactions to the films and the performances, and a light sprinkling of Oscar talk. 

Breakdown

00:01-15:32 Wild 

15:33-41:57 Foxcatcher

Recommended Supplemental Material: 

"The Making of Foxcatcher" - by Mark Harris

You can listen at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation in the comments.  »

- NATHANIEL R

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some say the blog will end in fire, some say in ice

23 December 2014 10:08 AM, PST

GeekRex on great sounding movies of 2014. So glad they included Wild but I don't understand the defense of Interstellar's sound mix given how difficult it sometimes was to hear the dialogue

Gurus of Gold I believe there's an update today but look at where things stand now in the big Oscar categories

Av Club Sarah Jessica Parker may be returning to HBO sitcom glory via Divorce (no, not from Matthew Broderick. On the show!)

In Contention Antonio Sanchez is not happy about his disqualification from Best Original Score for Birdman and why shouldn't he be. Their rules are so arbitratily enforced. Remember when Gustavo Santaolla won his second consecutive Oscar for a film Filled with pre-existing music (Babel) and his score only being a small percentage of it.

The Dissolve Robert Rodriguez to helm a live action remake of Ralph Bakshi's Fire & Ice. I used to love that rotoscoped »

- NATHANIEL R

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