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Cries & Whispers (#110 of 6)

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions Cinematography

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Cinematography
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Cinematography

As R. Kurt Osenlund pointed out yesterday, there are plenty of categories more flashily controversial this year, but none have become as big a flash point among cinephiles as the cinematography prize. No demographic is more certain that one of Oscar’s longest-running contemporary injustices is its failure to coronate Emmanuel Lubezki, whose lucidly expressive images have now earned him six nominations and a near-fanatic cult devotion. Having to cope with the losses he’s suffered his last three times at bat—with The New World, Children of Men, and The Tree of Life respectively falling to Memoirs of a Geisha, Pan’s Labyrinth, and Hugo—are, for acolytes, like living in an alternate universe where John Alcott’s work on Barry Lyndon lost to Robert L. Surtees’s The Hindenburg, or Sven Nykvist’s lensing of Cries & Whispers lost to Surtees’s The Sting, or Néstor Almendros’s Days of Heaven lost to Robert Surtees’s Same Time, Next Year. Adding insult to injury last time around was the fact that Lubezki’s richly textured analog work in The Tree of Life was chewed up and spit out by the Academy’s now-insatiable sweet tooth for CGI-heavy 3D toy boxes, a trend that’s held for the last four years running.

If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Diego Costa’s Top 10 Films of All Time

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If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Diego Costa’s Top 10 Films of All Time
If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot: Diego Costa’s Top 10 Films of All Time

Editor’s Note: In light of Sight & Sound’s film poll, which, every decade, queries critics and directors the world over before arriving at a communal Top 10 list, we polled our own writers, who didn’t partake in the project, but have bold, discerning, and provocative lists to share.

I can identify two elements common to the films that ended up on this list. They are either about feminine suffering and/or about the impossibility of language to ever quite translate feeling. The criteria which I came up with for this impossible, unfair, and incredibly fun assignment involved remembering the films that led me to think “This is one of the best films ever made” at the time I first saw them, and which, upon a re-screening, several years later, remained just as remarkable—perhaps for different reasons. Also part of the criteria was my (failed) attempt at not repeating directors, and making a conscious effort to go against a cinematic “affirmative action” that would try to represent different periods of time, countries, and genres. It’s also mind-boggling to notice how half of the list includes films made in the mid 1970s. But the list escapes traditional logic. It’s the warping, re-signifying logic of affect and memory that architected this list, which turns out to be nothing short of this cinephile’s symptom.

15 Famous Movie Sisters

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15 Famous Movie Sisters
15 Famous Movie Sisters

In Your Sister’s Sister, Lynn Shelton directs Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt as complicated siblings, whose relationship is further tested by Mark Duplass’s grief-stricken houseguest. Both Blunt and DeWitt have played the sister role before, Blunt as recently as 2008, when she starred as Amy Adams’s sis in Sunshine Cleaning. From The Parent Trap to Crimes of the Heart, divine secrets to divine intervention, cinema has given us all manner of sisterhood, with no shortage of tears, laughs, and catfights. Herein are 15 films that stand out most in memory, their ladies leaving a mark as strong as a thicker-than-water bond.

How It Is: Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque

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How It Is: Edward Albee’s <em>The Lady from Dubuque</em>
How It Is: Edward Albee’s <em>The Lady from Dubuque</em>

Edward Albee’s artistic dominion lies somewhere between the bruising psychological dramas of Eugene O’Neill and the films of Ingmar Bergman, and the absurdist theater of Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. For over 50 years he’s proved his staying power as a playwright, at times forced to defend his work against acrimonious critics or puzzled audiences. His comeback production of Three Tall Women in 1994 won him his third Pulitzer; he had written it after his mother’s death, and had stated in its introduction that, although they “had managed to make each other very unhappy,” he was proud to have translated a “fact into fiction,” without “the distortive folly of ’interpretation.’” And yet, the play, as any of his works, wasn’t a simple matter of fact-taking. It revolved around the question of consciousness: the limitations of what and how we know; the epistemic value of one’s life; the pleasures and consolations, if any, that we may derive from it. “My adoptive mother,” Albee wrote in the intro, “whom I knew from my infancy…and who, perhaps, knew me as well. Perhaps.”

5 for the Day: Double Bills

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5 for the Day: Double Bills
5 for the Day: Double Bills

I grew up in Berkeley, California when the UC Theatre ran a different double bill every day for much of its lifespan. My relationship with the UC Theatre began early when my father took me to see Star Wars at age four, I think. All three original trilogy films were programmed, but as much as I’ve built a memory of seeing the whole series, my dad tells me we just watched the first one before heading home. That was 1986. I kept attending until the UC closed in March, 2001. There were obvious double bills I had to see like Don’t Look Now with Walkabout. And there were other, less-obvious-to-a-ninth-grader pairings I didn’t quite get when I looked at the calendar (but took in nonetheless because of the big names attached to the films) like Breathless with Days of Heaven. Long before DVD and the Criterion Collection, this is how I learned about movies (along with a hearty video store fetish/friendship/relationship).