The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.


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Marriage Story Review

"They're saying this is for Adam Driver what Kramer vs Kramer was for Dustin Hoffman. More about him than about her.  Scarlett, to me, is the open question. By now it's Driver vs Phoenix for best actor." - Melchiades - Andrew

"Mini-shutout to Alda, whom I loved and thought did absolute wonders in his what, 3 or 4 scenes. Great review!" -Alex

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Directors (For Sama)
Lulu Wang (The Farewell)
Ritesh Batra (Photograph)
Schmidt & Abrantes (Diamantino)
Jia Zhang-ke (Ash is Purest White)

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The Films of 2014. The 15th annual FiLM BiTCH Awards



Best Actress
Marion Cotillard
Essie Davis
Agata Kulesza
Julianne Moore
Reese Witherspoon
"Cheryl Strayed"
 Acting as simply "being," all spontaneous response and deep-rooted feeling, even when she'd rather not feel. It's like the Dardenne Bros discovered an unknown non-actor who'd just lost her job. Bonus Points: How does she keep topping herself?
 A simply great Horror performance meets a superb dramatic delineation of maternal ambivalence and romantic grief like Stockholm Syndrome. Bonus points: How great is she at playing groggy & out of it ?
Her jaded Communist is the character that haunted me most this year. Every gesture speaking volumes and each line like a dare or a threat -- even the olive branches -- in this fascinating turn. Bonus points: Expert mapping of her shift towards her niece Moore's inimitable gift for placcid exterior with earthquake interiority gets a return-to-form workout as this woman who is slip slip slipping away from herself. Bonus points: "I have Alzheimers" she knows when to toss off a line
 Her best dramatic work, the superstar harnesses her sizeable charisma for this unusually internal journey of a very different. Her tears and the grace she finds are deeply palpable. Bonus points: That ineffable ending owes so much to her face

Finalists: Scarlett Johansson offers up one of the best auteur vessel performances in some time and deeply convinces as a humanoid that's not at all human in Under the Skin | Rosamund Pike's "Amazing Amy" seems to contain about 11 performances but some of them are just superb. A star is born. | Anne Dorval's Mommy is high wire full throttle theatrical, and sometimes comic, too but Dorval manages the slippery slide into deeper mournful feeling.

Semi-Finalists: Keira Knightley relaxed nuance and wonderfully self possessed in Begin Again | Emily Blunt proving herself the best action heroine since Angelina Jolie or maybe even since Sigourney Weaver in her awesomely magnetic Edge of Tomorrow star turn| Gugu Mbatha-Raw begins with the sexual exterior in Beyond the Lights but then starts peeling like an opinion with love and blooming self-awareness | Luminita Gheorghiu formidably intense and complex in the vivid Romanian drama Child's Pose | Elisabeth Moss owns the camera and her ever moment in Listen Up Phillip and makes you yearn instantly for plentiful big screen leading roles once she lets "Peggy" go.


Best Actor
Ralph Fiennes
"Gustav H"
Jake Gyllenhaal
"Lou Bloom"
Michael Keaton
"Riggan Thomson"
David Oyelowo
Eddie Redmayne
"Stephen Hawking"
 Mixing elegant calm, once aspirational now innate class, abundantly comic but never crass carnal and social appetites, and daunting perfectionism, he makes it impossible to imagine anyone else playing the part. 
 His vampiric unblinking stare and relentless salesmanship mesmerizes. Plus foregrounding this sociopath's most human if morbid trait: curiousity
Bonus Points: The inherent soullessness of  catchphrases. 
 Revealing new things with each scene partner, while illuminating the baggage of lost stardom. A miraculous light tough juggling act of star persona, tragicomedy and psychological turbulence

Bonus Points: "Caw!"
For spiritual grace and thunder mixed with human exhaustion and worry. Especially impressive, subversively so for a great orator, when he's silent: taking the temperature of rooms w/ friends, wife, allies & enemies alike For conveying so much life, romantic feeling, and personality with his eyes. Plus expert mapping of increasing selfishness and physical decline
Bonus Points: Wary calculations & negotiations w/ Jonathan - those peas!
Finalists: Channing Tatum for his "monosyllabic mountain of Grace" - Streep's words from the Gotham Awards -- as Mark Schultz in Foxcatcher | John Lithgow for that lived in romantic partnership, subtle regrets and innate joie de vivre in Love is Strange

Semi Finalists: Timothy Spall Mr Turner | Bradley Cooper American Sniper | Alfred Molina Love is Strange | Benedict Cumberbatch The Imitation Game | Chadwick Boseman Get On Up


Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette
Jessica Chastain

Keira Knightley

Rene Russo
Tilda Swinton
 For buttressing this boy's journey with maternal warmth and refreshing wit. For authentic exasperation and her lack of vanity both physically, aging onscreen and in performance.
Bonus Points: "I just thought there'd be more." She's just full of humanity here.
 She goes big movie star with gestural force and vocal flourishes for this portrait of a mobster's daughter gone straight but it's delectable, like a hit pop single with multiple hooks. Plus she subtly, smartly adds layers: this woman's bark is worse than her bite.
 She lends the film its most authentic humanizing heart and sympathetic soul, nearly justifying the film's abstraction of Alan's "otherness" to include her own gender-policed journey.  
Bonus Points:  "You said to do it under six minutes"
For showing us what we've been missing; she's a helluva lot more than Thor's mom. That hard shell beauty cracks when curiousity is piqued. Brief glints of desperation, disbelief, and the friction between carnal disgust and professional gain emerge. With her daring fusion of authoritative Thatcher-like sadism paired with anime-sized evil gesture flourishes, Swinton's Mason is instantly iconic.  I feared it was too much but in truth, I've never forgotten a second of this performance from our most singular actress.
Finalists: Erica Rivas comes rivetingly undone with heart and humor in Wild Tales | Carrie Coon is thoroughly engaging in her film debut as a sarcastic protective twin sister in Gone Girl | Rose Byrne aces what could have been a far lamer role in Neighbors with her loose comic inspiration and relaxed 'still got it!' sex appeal 

Semi Finalists: Kim Dickens - Gone Girl; Suzanne Clément - Mommy; Laura Dern - Wild / The Fault in Our Stars; Emma Stone - Birdman (There are at least 10 more women I wanted to list but I only allow myself top 12s... good year!)


Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin
"Bigfoot Johansson"

Ethan Hawke

Kristofer Hivju
Edward Norton
"Mike Shiner"
Mark Ruffalo
"Dave Schultz"
Physically and character precise from his stance to awesome oral fixation and "evil shit twinkle" in his eyes. Delicious line readings! Bonus Points: Motto pankēki (a full ode to this performance here)
 He ably suggests a life offscreen but his primary contribution is an authentic arms-length love. It's as if he's watching the Boyhood with us, also with wonder, but intermittently able to shape it.
Hapless foils are easy to overlook but this viking is pitch-perfect as he tries to a) keep the peace and b) shore up his friend's ego while trying to escape complicity. An intricate and endearing balancing act.
 From his brilliant scene stealing intro he  takes no prisoners... and by prisoners I mean saves himself in this send-up of a difficult actor with a gargantuan ego. Consistently hilarious.
 For illuminating the tactile love and communication of this fraternal bond while revealing that he's ill equipped for a war over his brother's soul. Bonus points: That interview scene is A+ work

Finalists: Chris Pine displaying a heretofore unseen gift for physical comedy along with a more rewarding two-dimensional stylization as a Charming prince in Into the Woods; Shia Labeouf may be a crazy person but his evocative intensity in both Fury and Nymphomaniac beautifully suggests things about the characters that are significantly more interesting than what's on the page. Perhaps he's the right role away from a signature classic part?

Semi Finalists: Jonathan Pryce - Listen Up Phillip; Patrick D'Assumçao - Stranger by the Lake; Charlie Cox - Theory of Everything; Tyler Perry - Gone Girl; Paul Jesson - Mr Turner

*For those who are curious I consider J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller to be co-leads in Whiplash (and they both just missed the top 12 lead actor lists above)