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the oscars2

Watching The Oscars has been a tradition in my family ever since my grandma was nominated for best costumes for the original TRON in 1982. We place our bets months in advance, then, when the night of the award show comes around, we get drunk, eat too much, become overly competitive, and lose a lot of money. It’s a blood sport that usually ends in tears. Last year I live-blogged the event from a studio apartment in East Harlem. This year I am back in Los Angeles at my parents’ house. The following is me live-tweeting our inevitable downward spiral.

frankenstein behind the scenes

Last Halloween, I’d asked a few Nervous Breakdown contributors to share their favorite terrifying movie scenes, and D. R. Haney was among them with his contribution from Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I, on the other hand, had picked the tunnel scene from Willy Wonka, which I explain so you understand why I like collaborating with Duke. My brain grows three sizes bigger by association. He’s like a cinematic moral compass for which true north is James Dean. And this year for Halloween, Duke and I decided to discuss the classic tale that produced another old-school Hollywood icon.

ebert

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.

Walking Dead Season 3As season three of AMC’s The Walking Dead wraps up, it’s a good time to think about some of the much-maligned female characters in this series, starting with the most notorious example, the “adulterous” housewife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). Any visit to a Walking Dead-related message board will inevitably confirm the broad animosity viewers have toward this character. This is partly because viewers tend to, still, find adulterous women far more offensive than adulterous men (never mind that “adultery” seems an unnecessarily harsh word for Lori, a woman who thought her husband was dead). This is also partly because the first two seasons and opening episodes of season three were dominated by episode after episode of the love triangle between Lori, her husband Rick (Andrew Lincoln), and his best friend Shane (John Bernthal). Like many TV love triangles, this one grew stale quickly.

This list was originally going to include the biggest snubs of the past 10 years, but that proved too daunting a task. Then I cut the list down to include only the past five years, but it still felt endless. The thing is, the Academy overlooks more greatness than it rewards every single year. Blame it on politics, Oscar-baiting or there just not being enough room, but deserving films and performances fall by the wayside all the time.  And this year is no exception.

So, without further ado, here are 15 notable works (give or take) that I think deserved recognition from the Academy this year…

denis-lavant-holy-motors

20. Mud

DIRECTOR: Jeff Nichols

CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Paulson, Sam Shepard and Michael Shannon

RELEASE DATE: TBD

Take Shelter writer/director Jeff Nichols continues his string of ominous Southern parables, and McConaughey continues his string of challenging and interesting work, with the story of two young boys who befriend a fugitive.

 

Trance

It would’ve been easier to write a list called “The Only 3 Movies I Won’t See in 2013,” but that wouldn’t have done anybody any good. So instead I made an entirely subjective list of 40 reasons why I think this will be an amazing year for film. Missing are big films that I’m just not that enthusiastic about (The Hunger Games: Catching FireMan of Steel), films that would be on the list if it weren’t for the director’s last film being a total letdown (e.g. Ridley Scott’s The Counselor; thanks a lot, Prometheus!), and films that would be on the list had I written it any other day (sorry, The EastLowlife, and Kill Your Darlings). For the most part, the order is arbitrary. However, the top five are set in stone, and if I could only watch one movie this year it would be the film at number one.

So, without any further ado…

Start your New Year off with a little Bad Writing, Vernon Lott’s documentary featuring Margaret Atwood, David Sedaris, Nick Flynn and more, streaming for free all month:

 

I wanted to make a movie list for Christmas, but not a list of Christmas movies, so I decided to zero in on something we often wish for but rarely get for Christmas in Texas where I live: snow. (Funnily enough, we might actually get it this year.) What follows is a chronological list of some of the most memorable moments in film where snow has made a cameo, whether it’s playing a key role or just hanging out in the background. Warning: may contain spoilers.

Technically, fans were already given a first look at Star Trek Into Darkness when J.J. Abrams unveiled a clip on Conan in October, but fortunately this new “announcement” trailer reveals a lot more than just three frames. A slightly longer version is expected to premiere with 2D and 3D screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey next weekend, but those catching The Hobbit in IMAX are in for an even bigger treat: the complete first nine minutes of STID.

The first Star Trek was a huge hit, bringing in nearly $400 million worldwide. This Trek got off to a bumpy start when talks with Academy Award-winner Benicio Del Toro as the villain, rumored to be none other than Khan, fell through about a month before shooting. Abrams auditioned other Latino actors, namely Edgar Ramirez and Jordi Molla, before settling on Sherlock star and non-Latino Benedict Cumberbatch. Judging from the looks of this trailer, he’s filling the still-unspecified role admirably.

Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, John Cho and Simon Pegg are all returning in the film, to be released May 17, with newcomers Cumberbatch, Alice Eve, and Peter Weller:

Since Lindsay Lohan’s life seems to be playing out like a campy made-for-cable movie these days (She ran over a pedestrian! She’s going to jail! Her family is insane!), it should have made sense that she was tapped to play Elizabeth Taylor on Lifetime.  Who else would they get? Kate Winslet? Instead, when the news broke the Internet lit up with snarky speculation and gleeful derision. Then, months later, the reviews started popping up. Everyone from the Hollywood Reporter to Huffington Post urged us to watch this train wreck of a biopic and cackle until our abs ached. The reviews promised a Mommie Dearest “so bad it’s good” kind of flick. They told us to play drinking games. They said we’d have a great time. They set us up.

With the November 20 release of Larry Clark’s Marfa Girl as a $5.99 pay-per-view feature-length film on his personal website, Clark (Kids, Bully) joins the ranks of indie directors (see Hal Hartley) who’ve been circumventing the system and, as he notes on his site, cutting out “the crooked Hollywood distributors.” Earlier this week Marfa Girl proved a hit at its Rome Film Festival premier, earning the Golden Marc’ Aurelio for Best Film. The synopsis from Clark’s site:

While the twenty-third Bond flick Skyfall enjoys its record-breaking box office debut, the auto and lifestyle online magazine Web2Carz is featuring an exclusive interview by Steve Karras with the man who’d shaped the look of the franchise in its earlier years – award-winning production designer Sir Ken Adam.  Adam has seven of the Bond films to his credits in addition to films like Agnes of God, The Madness of King George, and Dr. Strangelove. In the interview Adam discusses his family’s escape from Nazi Germany, his time in the RAF, 007, and his work with Stanley Kubrick.

Worried about how you’re going to get your zombie fix after the latest season of The Walking Dead is over? Well, fear no more. A double-dose of apocalyptic euphoria is on the way.

Clint Eastwood’s tete-a-tete with a chair at the Republican National Convention seems a distant memory now that the 2012 election is a wrap, but at BAFTA’s Brittania Awards in Los Angeles last night Daniel Day-Lewis sat invisible Obama down for an encore of sorts.  Gesturing to an empty chair of his own, Day-Lewis, who received the Stanley Kubrick Award for Excellence in Acting from his Lincoln director Stephen Spielberg, said: