Posts Tagged ‘Oscar’

Leadership And Courage Are History in “Darkest Hour”

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Although the Winston Churchill portrayed by Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour” is ten years younger than the Churchill played by John Lithgow in “The Crown” both give one cause to lament the current state of leadership and political courage.

“Hour” is set at a time when Churchill earned his stripes, as a wartime prime minister battling political enemies favoring compromise with the German’s while protecting Great Britain from actual enemies.

The story takes place over the handful of days when British troops are trapped between the ocean and the German army. “Dunkirk” told this story in macrocosm, “Hour” tells it in microcosm, from the home front, as a citizen armada is debated and created and show’s Churchill failure to  recruit an isolationist US to Britain’s cause.

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“The Salesman” Is A Bleak Iranian Allegory

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Beyond the best picture snafu Oscar night there was another upset – the Iranian film “The Salesman” winning best foreign language film over German language frontrunner “Toni Erdmann.”

It was only the third Iranian film nominated for the Oscar, two of which were directed by Asghar Farhadi, who won Oscars  for “The Salesman and “A Separation”  political and social allegories in the disguise of domestic dramas.

If all you know about Iran is what you hear on the news you have a right to be afraid.

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Milwaukee Media Notes: Pudi, Petrie, Public Radio

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Time for another bunch of low hanging fruit from the Milwaukee media tree

Marquette University alum Nick D’Agosto has what Deadline Hollywood calls the “sought after lead role” in the upcoming NBC series pilot “The Trail,” described as a  “documentary style procedural comedy.”

It is a fish out of water tale about a New York lawyer defending a poetry professor played by John Lithgow accused of murdering his wife in a small Southern town.

D’Agosto, a Nebraska native, is currently appearing on “Gotham,” and previously appeared on “Masters of Sex,” “E.R.,’ “House,” “The Office” and “Six Feet Under.”

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The Seven Wisconsin Angles You’ll Meet on Oscar Night

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By my count there are seven (7) Wisconsin connections in this Sunday’s Oscar awards ceremony.

Six are film related and one of them is corporate. To recap.


 The list is front loaded by three local connections to the Oscar nominated stop-motion animated film “Anomalisa.”

Kenosha native and University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee film department Caroline Kastelic oversaw puppet fabrication for the film by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson.

After college Kastelic worked at Starburns Industries, the animation production company co-founded by Milwaukee native Dan Harmon, creator of “Community.”

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Oscar Nominees With Wisconsin Ties, Snubs

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Kenosha native Mark Ruffalo and former Milwaukeean Mark Rylance were nominated for Oscars as best supporting actor Thursday.

Ruffalo appears in best picture nominee “Spotlight,” Rylance in “Bridge of Spies.”

Documentary nominees “Cartel Land” and “The Look of Silence” and foreign language nominees “Embrace the Serpent” and “Theeb” played at the Milwaukee Film Festival.

Stop motion animated film nominee “Anomalisa,” opens Friday at the Oriental Theater.

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Lush “Carol” A Sorrowful Tale Of Period Gender Roles

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You’ll find no film more visually rich and sumptuous looking this season than “Carol.”

But neither man nor woman live on style points alone.

The man of this assessment is Todd Haynes, director of “Far From Haven” made in the trace image of the films of Douglas Sirk whose tear-jerkers were commonly known as women’s dramas but whose subtext was of gay men living in the shadows.

The woman is “The Talented Mr. Ripley” novelist Patricia Highsmith, who wrote the lesbian novel “The Price of Salt,” under a pseudonym and which has been adapted by Haynes.

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Human nature meets animal instinct in Oscar nominee “Wild Tales”

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Worlds cannot do justice to “Wild Tales” but I’ll try.

This anthology film puts ordinary people in worst case scenarios, where no deed goes unpunished good or bad. It’s a blackly comic look at what happens when human nature and animal instinct lock horns.

The six episodes that veer between fate and coincidence portray road rage, woman scorned, for want of a nail and there-but-for-fortune scenarios.

Passengers on a plane learn that they all have something unfortunate in common. The customer of a waitress is the man who ruined her family’s life. A man’s car keeps getting towed by a corrupt bureaucracy.

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“Leviathan” a tragedy Chekov would recognize

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Until now just one foreign language Academy Award nominee has played locally – the Oscar winning “Ida.” The language was Polish and the settings unique to the story being told, but it touched on universally human ideas and had contemporary political parallels. And so too does fellow nominee and Golden Globe winner “Leviathan,” opening Friday, while remaining uniquely Russian.

It’s a slow building tale of fighting City Hall, Russian style where scowling photos of Putin are reminders the corrupt power of the state – hand in hand with the Orthodox church – to crush the little guy, as occurs here in grim and blunt fashion.

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A short history of Wisconsin Oscar connections

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In recent years Oscar nominees with Wisconsin connections have had much success.

Kenosha native and visual effects artist Jim Rygiel won three Oscars for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. And last year Mequon native John Ridley won the Oscar for best screenplay for “12 Years A Slave.”

This year four Oscar nominees have peripheral connections to the Badger state.

But over the long haul the record is not great. There may be nominees in the many technical categories over the years with local ties. But in the acting and directing categories the list is pretty slim.

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Oscar nominated live action shorts offer snapshots of humanity

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Short films are not always, what’s the word I’m looking for here, short.

According to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences rules, a short film Oscar nominee can be no longer than 40 minutes.

While that’s an eternity in short attention span time, it’s a full length feature film shorter than best picture nominee “Boyhood” which runs 166 minutes.

You could argue that “Boyhood” is a collection of short films collected over 12 years observing the lives of the same characters. So consider the best short film Oscar nominees in the same context.

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