Oscar History

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Entries in John C Reilly (8)


Review: "Kong: Skull Island"

by Chris Feil

Kong is back for another franchise chasing smash-em-up with a slight reimagining in Kong: Skull Island. This time director Jordan Vogt-Roberts is aiming almost exclusively for amusement park thrills after Peter Jackson’s high gloss, Very Serious take a decade ago. While the film does deliver the fun with its own visual zeal and resistance to some of the staples of Kong’s past, Skull Island is best met with limited expectations...

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Beauty vs Beast: Witchy Women

Jason from MNPP here, tackling one of my favoirte movies of all-time for this week's edition of "Beauty vs Beast" -- unless it's Halloween-time I mostly try to lean away from horror films for this series but I gotta make an exception this week, for Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of Dario Argento's fairy-tale giallo Suspiria getting released in Italy. I love that the movie came out just in time for Valentine's Day - with its lurid reds (not to mention a character being stabbed directly in the heart) it feels tremulously appropriate for the season.

It's also a timely moment to celebrate the movie because as you might've heard A Bigger Splash and I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino is currently right this minute in the process of remaking the film, with a starry cast including Tilda Swinton and Dakota Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz. Oh and Jessica Harper, the star of the original film, will appear as well! If only Joan Bennett & Alida Valli, the wickedly cruel mistresses of the dance academy, were still around for cameos...

PREVIOUSLY One week ago we were still holding out hope for the hopeless, aka a ton of surprise Oscar nominations for Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster. But we're happy it got that one nomination at least, and that we got to give love to its two key supporting men - and of the two Ben Whishaw kicked John C. Reilly square in the chin, taking 70% of your vote. And I gotta go with what Nathaniel had to say:

"Team John always. I admire the committment, injuring himself for love. or rather "love""


We Can't Wait #5: The Lobster

Team Experience is counting down our 15 most anticipated for 2015. Here's Teo Bugbee...

Who & What: The Lobster is the latest from Yorgos Lanthimos, writer-director of Dogtooth. It's his first film in English, and his cast is an exciting hodgepodge of both art house and multiplex stars, including Rachel Weisz, Colin Farrell, Léa Seydoux, John C. Reilly, Ben Whishaw, Olivia Colman, Ariane Labed, and Angeliki Papoulia.
As for what they'll be doing, it's all very hush hush, but what we know is that The Lobster is set in a dystopian future where all the single people are rounded up and brought to a hotel, where they are given 45 days to find their mate, or else they are turned into animals and released into the woods.

Why We're Excited About it: Lanthimos' Dogtooth is one of the best movies of the last decade. It's so weird and it's so fun and it's so specific about the kind of cinema that it wants to be—no matter what, we should be excited for what else he has up his sleeve. But that cast! That amazing tease of a plot description! The fact that all the characters have crazy names like Loner Leader and Limping Man and Biscuit Woman! And to be honest, it's more than a little encouraging that Sony has stepped onboard so soon as the film's international distributor, even if US rights are still up in the air. Rare for an art film to be afforded that kind of confidence before a premiere, and it's only making the anticipation greater.

What if it all Goes Wrong? Well, what if indeed? Does it matter if this movie is good or bad at all so long as it fuels the artistic energy of its collaborators? Lanthimos's last film Alps was not particularly well received, but it's always nice to know that there are artists in this industry who are still able to get their films made. It's not hard to imagine The Lobster being bad—if it is, it'll probably be because there are too many elements and too many ideas that aren't being corralled together. But even if it isn't the great film we're hoping for, it's almost impossible to imagine a version of this movie that wouldn't be worth seeing, and that's exciting in its own right.

When: No word on this yet, as the film has yet to premiere or pick up a US distributor. But considering it finished production last year, and considering Lanthimos's friendly relationship with the Cannes Film Festival, it seems likely it will appear there this May.



Oscar's One Hit Wonders or When Bad Nominations Happen to Good Actors

[Here's abstew to talk about a semi-annual Oscar tradition. Even if you disagree with the picks you surely recognize the curious problem. Will any of 2013's future nominees qualify for this list? -Editor]

When it comes to acting nominations, let's face it, not everyone can be Meryl Streep (17 nominations and counting). And with only 20 acting nominations to hand out each year, there's always going to be people left out. So many factors affect nominations: how well the actor is liked in the industry, whether they've been nominated (or won) before, how visible they've been promoting the movie, whether or not it's their "time". Sometimes the actual performance doesn't weigh in as heavily as it should.

Which is why the Academy gives something I like to call the "Oh, sorry we didn't nominate you for that great movie you were in a couple years ago, but let's call it even by nominating you for this instead" nomination. For many actors their body of work greatly out-weighs the single nomination. (For purposes of this list, I'm focusing only on actors who've received their nomination in the past 25 years or so but this has been happening since the beginning of (Oscar's) time.)

With so many greats yet to receive a nomination, perhaps we should be grateful that the following actors can precede their name with "Academy Award Nominee", but knowing how much better they are than this single nomination implies... 

Single Nomination: Best Actress, Catherine Deneuve Indochine (1992)

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Take Three: John C. Reilly

Craig here with this week's Take Three. Today: John C. Reilly

Take One: Terri (2011) 
The last couple of years have brought Reilly a trio of great dramedic roles. He showed real range in a slight but noteworthy career shift from his usual broader comedies to Cyrus, Carnage and Terri. The third film which is about the lonely life of an overweight high school outcast (Jacob Wysocki) was a particularly great role for Reilly. He was unassuming, believable and much more curiously sombre than in most of the roles we've seen him play to date. (He also played Tilda Swinton’s husband in We Need to Talk about Kevin last year, though his role was largely, though I'd argue unfairly, labelled as miscasting.) Playing Assistant Principal Fitzgerald here Reilly gets to balance that oddball characteristic of his – the one where he does that shouty-then-calm bafflement – with more introspective modes of expression. His first meeting with Terri, who is called to his office for wearing PJs to school, is a beautifully played example of Reilly’s ability to quickly establish a strong, unconventional personality, and then let an audience work out and appreciate what that character is all about. He’s pally one minute and almost comically aggressive the next – especially with the ‘problem’ students. He’s probably the only adult figure in these kids’ world who resembles an authority figure but who can serve it to them on a level they might understand. Watching Reilly in Terri you see just how perfectly he understands certain ‘types’ (here the hardened know-it-all with a hidden nice side) and how that understanding allows him to blend the comic and tragic aspects of his characters in a fresh manner.

Two more Reilly takes after the jump

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"Worst" of 2011. A Quick Purge

year in review part whichever

I use the term "worst" loosely as I am generally not paid to see the obviously terrible films that open all year round. Plus, I'm not feeling the negativity this year. Or, rather, I'm trying not to feel it. With Bridesmaids and Melancholia both speaking so eloquently on the subject of depression this year like some perfect if unlikely double feature (more on that soon) why should I wallow in my own? No, 2011 was a good year for cinema. So here is a very quick purge of the things that momentarily led me to believe otherwise. 

Hell's Multiplex
Hell's multiplex has noisy audiences, crying babies, constant texting, and 50 million miniature screens showing only 50 movies, a million microscopic screens for each sorry movie! All of them requiring 3D glasses... even the ones in 2D. I wisely avoided the films I thought might play there -- if I hear the names Nicolas Cage, Adam Sandler or Kevin James or "Part One" I run -- though I inadvertently stumbled on a few grotesqueries. I've no wish to bury amateurish festival films but bigger names and wider releases are fair games. The 8 worst films I saw this year, then, were:

  • Beastly and...
  • I Am Number Four 
    This Double Feature of Dickery tops the list (bottoms the list?), with both of the films starring Prince Charmless himself Alex Pettyfer. What possessed his management to give the go ahead on Beastly in particular in which he must sell -- and sells all too well -- utter despicability of character devoid of all traditional humanity? And selling that so well while playing the hero?
  • Abduction [reviewed]
  • Cars 2 -Cars was Pixar's previous worst film. So naturally all of Cars's worst impulses were jacked up for the sequel. Michael said it best to me when we were leaving the screening "It's like George Lucas deciding to make a Star Wars prequel with Jar Jar Binks as the lead character!"
  • Green Lantern [reviewed]
  • J Edgar - Less outright terrible than devoid of any reasonable expectations of entertainment value or historical insight. Cliche filled stuff spun from complex fascinating real life. [reviewed]
  • The Other Woman [reviewed]
  • Kaboom [reviewed]


Michelle & Nicole in widely hated filmsWorst Reviewed Movies of 2011 That I Myself Did Not See
New Year's Eve and Trespass ...yes I have every intention of seeing these two films; I am willing to suffer for my Pfandom and my Kidmania. But I'm no hurry. But those I intentionally avoided include: Jack and Jill, Just Go With It, The Roommate, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Season of the Witch, Red Riding Hood, Dream House, Zookeeper, I Don't Know How She Does It, The Rite, The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Worst Actress
True story Part 1: I had never* seen Vanessa Hudgens act before seeing Beastly.
True Story Part 2: I still haven't seen her act because no reasonable person could call it such. 

Mating Rituals From Hell's Multiplex: BEASTLY

Worst Actress That Has Been Good In Other Things
If you figure out what Abbie Cornish was doing in W.E. besides counting down the days till the shoot ended please share this information. But my guess is that's what was going on because otherwise I can't figure it...

Worst Actor
Let's play "Jeopardy" instead...

Violins, totem poles, Grandma Willow, trees, 'Mr. Pointy', antiques, wardrobe, pianos, chaise lounge, picket fence, Treebeard, staves, matches, witch's broom... 


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NYFF: "Carnage" 

Though critics screenings have been well under way for some time, tonight is the official opening night of the New York Film Festival. The kick off film is Roman Polanski's Carnage, about which we should undoubtedly say a few words. And then scream them, as we lose our composure.

Moviegoers who have seen Yasmina Reza's hit play "God of Carnage" in any of its many stage productions, had just cause to fear a film version; it's very much a work of the stage. What if they cast the two young boys whose stick-wielding playground tussle prompts all the (psychological) carnage between their parents, who meet to discuss the fight? What if the movie leaves the apartment where the entire play takes place? What if the actors can't handle the tricky satirical tone that has to be rooted in internal drama but stylized enough to extract external laughs?

The first two fears involve the dread "open it up" problem that hover like dark storm clouds over so many stage-to-screen adaptations. If you don't "open it up" you run the risk of your movie feeling weirdly hemmed in and even cheap. If you do "open it up" you run the risk of arbitrary and awkward resizing that feels more like nervous approval-seeking then an attempt to serve the material. With Roman Polanski, an expert at claustrophic storytelling, guiding the tight-quarters squabbling perhaps we shouldn't have worried.

The trouble-making sons of Penelope and Michael Longstreet (Jodie Foster and John C Reilly) and Nancy and Allen Cowan (Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz) do appear in the film but in a wonderfully smart and ambiguously played framing device. This change from the play stays magically true to the spirit of the source material but is also entirely new and right for the change in medium (which is EXACTLY what adaptations should strive for). So the first thing Roman Polanski does right is that even though we do technically leave the confines of a realistically sized New York apartment (i.e. small) both visually and physically (the apartment building's hallway), we never once feel as though we've escaped the crowded private hell of two married couples. For a smartly succinct 80 minutes (it happens in real time) you are trapped with the parental quartet and their justifiable concern: what to do about a violent encounter between their children. The comedy and drama of the play-turned-movie are the ways in which said real and justifiable but basic-sized problem morphs, twists, pivots, wiggles, shrinks and expands -- it just can't hold its shape -- until it's a series of problems both microcosmically petty (home cooking, name calling, cel phones) and gargantuan unsolvable (Genocide! Corporate Greed! Marriage!).   

For the most part the actors all do solid work. Christoph Waltz, in the film's best and most nimble performance, ably suggests that Alan is a bit of a sadist and the only one who is actually enjoying all the squabbling and suffering (until he isn't). John C Reilly has the biggest about face, appearing to be the most accomodating character (and the dullest actor) until alcohol and aggravating phone calls from his mother loosen him up. Kate Winslet and Jodie Foster, two of the screen's most formidable actresses are both good. Kate is best with Nancy's comedic outbursts  (her weak stomach and quick inebriation, just as in the play, provides some of the most memorable moments) but one wishes for more character detail in the inbetween when she isn't the focus of the scene. Foster has the most difficult role. Penelope is an extremely uptight and self-righteous Africa-obsessed mother and she's the one character that's simultaneously the worst at keeping it together and the one most concerned with keeping it together. Though Foster has fine moments her comedy is the wobbliest; one ends up pitying Penelope more than laughing with or at her which is a strange place to end up inside of a viciously dark comedy. Still, there's a certain go-for-broke original bravura in Foster's vein-popping despair (hers is the performance least like the original play's), that one has to admire it even while one mentally recasts. 

As Carnage winds down... Stop. Winds down? Yes, though Polanski often comes up with clever angles by which to watch the four characters interact, the film does run into some trouble with momentum which the play didn't have. The hallway scenes offer new and funny ways of thinking about the fact that the couples can't seem to end their evening even while their hatred for each other grows, but they strain credulity as well. If you're that close to leaving... There are strange lulls just as things are reaching fever pitch, and the ending itself is one of those and weirdly sedate.

Despite Polanski's very smart and controlled approach to the material, one almost wishes he'd taken a page from Jodie's book and just gone jugular. He employs so many different techniques to keep you visually stimulated: depth of focus, variety of shot lengths, staging, camera stability (things get a bit shakier in time with the copious alcohol) that one almost wants to scream at him to commit to one of them, embrace it feverishly and "DO IT UP REAL BIG LIKE!!!" Take your cues from Winslet's ugly vomiting, Foster's whiny-screaming or Christoph Waltz's man-pouting and let your hair down a little. Lose your composure. Risk bloodying yourself up but good.

Carnage (2011) is maybe the best film version one could hope for given the absolute stageyness of the source material but it's good enough that it leaves you wanting one that you didn't dare hope for. B/B-*

Previously on NYFF
Miss Bala wins the "must-see crown" from judge Michael.
Tahrir drops Michael right down in the titular Square.
A Dangerous Method excites Kurt... not in that way, perv!
The Loneliest Planet brushes against Nathaniel's skin.
Melancholia shows Michael the end of von Trier's world. 

* Carnage is unique enough that the grade probably doesn't suggest how "see worthy!" it actually is. It's also the kind of property one might conceivably feel differently about on a second pass. For those of you wondering Carnage's best bet Oscar-wise is an Adapted Screenplay nomination. Since no consensus seems to have formed about "best in show" acting traction will be hard to come by for a shared movie.


Venice: A Second Take on "Carnage"

[Editor's Note: Ferdi, pictured left, is one of our two correspondents in Venice this year. Which affords us the rare pleasure of reading two pieces on the same movie back to back. I hope you're feeling appropriately spoiled since we're getting original photography and everything! Here's another opinion on Carnage. -Nathaniel R.]

Carnage (2011)
80 acid minutes of poison, screams, metaphorical scratches, literal vomits and memorable laughs. God, this movie rocks. Maybe it’s the original stage material which is so funny, clever and so well translated to the screen. Maybe it’s the eye of European mega-auteur Roman Polanski, who has rarely taken a misstep in his career. Maybe it’s just me: I love movies where all the focus is on the actors branch. The fact is I can’t stop thinking of Carnage since this early morning press screening.


What else can I say? You have to sit and watch and have fun. You're taken by the tension of the story without even taking a breath from start to finish. It’s a pitch-perfect arthouse movie, a little, subversive masterpiece about verbal violence and adult hypocrisies; a complex, powerful, crazy kammerspiel that begins, as many of you already know, as a polished comedy of manners and ends as a cruel psychological massacre. 

Christoph and Kate are "best in show" says Ferdi

The pleasure of seeing these incredible actors going so over the top has no price. John C Reilly is surprisingly right for the part, hilarious and totally convincing. Christoph Waltz is once again genius and effortless as in Inglorious Basterds. Maybe the weak link is Jodie Foster who has some great moments that prove she can be very funny but she is too tight and anxious from the very beginning. (She is a great straight-forward physical actress but the part required something more subtle.) In fact, Foster doesn’t really seem to catch the satirical tone of the pochade; she goes more and more hysterical from one scene to the next instead of being multi-dimensional. This is were Kate Winslet excels. She’s the real standout, absolutely exhilarating without even doing too much.

All that said, I don’t see any Oscar play for anyone (Winslet aside, maybe, as supporting actress, but it would be a category fraud, because they all are leads), neither for the movie, which is possible too cynical, dark, weird and beautiful by Academy standards.
Kate Winslet in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta
Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta