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Kathryn Bigelow (#110 of 38)

Summer of ‘91 Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break

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Summer of ’91: Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break

20th Century Fox

Summer of ’91: Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break

In the summer of 1991, the received wisdom on Kathryn Bigelow—especially in the wake of Point Break—was that she was a rising star, making a mark on Hollywood where other women directors had not, by applying her talent to traditional action genres. Here was a woman who made men’s films, not women’s, and was rewarded for it by both critics and the box office.

Those turned out to be half-truths. Today, anyone who’s been paying attention can see that in adopting the male gaze, and in making two films in which women barely mattered and one in which they barely appeared, Bigelow wasn’t selling out, but was illuminating more about women than a dozen “women’s movies” ever could. It wasn’t about making it in a man’s world; it was about confronting and puncturing the eternally adolescent self-importance of “men’s work”—sabotaging not only the buddy action movie, but the whole testosterone-soaked world of moviemaking both on screen and off.

The 10 Greatest Vampire Movies

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The 10 Greatest Vampire Movies
The 10 Greatest Vampire Movies

From Bram Stoker to Anne Rice, from Nosferatu to Buffy, it’s safe to say our cultural fascination with the blood-sucking undead isn’t going away anytime soon. Not unlike zombies, those other revivified metaphors that feast on the living, the template afforded by these folkloric beings allows for no shortage of insights into the human condition, with the topics of sexuality, addiction, and mortality chief among them. By far the most famous of these, Dracula, is often cited as the most popular fictional character in all of cinema, with nearly 200 separate film appearances according to IMDb. Of course, the legend of these creatures extends far beyond just this particular icon, and those who are quick to mock the Twilight franchise for allowing its fanged characters to appear in full sunlight, unperturbed, are clearly unaware of the elasticity they’ve exhibited throughout both print and film history. Here, a fairly strict definition of the corporeal undead has been employed (apologies to Louis Feuillade and Claire Denis). These 10 films highlight not just great vampire films, but great films, period, and for each that made the cut, there was at least one more vying for inclusion.

Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

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Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
Oscar 2014 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

Last year’s tie in this category allowed us the unique opportunity to call it either 50 percent right or 50 percent wrong, depending on how generous we’re willing to be with ourselves for accurately giving Skyfall our “could win” designation. (On the downside, our “will win” prediction for Life of Pi went the way of the tiger.) But lest anyone think we’re playing it safe by predicting that this year’s contest will add another to what ought to be a near sweep for Gravity in the technical categories, let me be the umpteenth person to point out the perception that the movie’s deliberate lack of woofer-rocking explosions makes it an unorthodox frontrunner. I say “perception,” because even though in space no one can hear you Foley, you’d have to be deaf not to note that Glenn Fremantle’s work, as delivered to your bleeding eardrums via freshly installed Dolby Atmos systems, unleashes some of the most punishingly cacophonous noise this side of Chelyabinsk.

New York Film Festival 2013: Captain Phillips Review

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New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Captain Phillips</em> Review
New York Film Festival 2013: <em>Captain Phillips</em> Review

The more movies he makes, the more Paul Greengrass’s have-it-both-ways m.o. as a filmmaker becomes clearer, aiming to craft high-octane action spectacles that also thoughtfully address topical events and current sociopolitical realities without becoming overly didactic. Some, of course, will object on principle to the mere act of turning events such as the Iraq War and the 9/11 attacks—two of Greengrass’s previous subjects—into pulse-pounding thrills in the first place, arguing that he’s exploiting real-world trauma for the sake of shallow entertainment. If nothing else, though, his latest film, Captain Phillips, reveals, perhaps with even more clarity than before, Greengrass’s well-meaning rationale behind his methods—and with it, their imposing strengths and troubling limitations.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Picture

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Picture
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Picture

Despite the hysteria, it may not be appropriate yet to call a time of death on the decades and decades’ worth of precedent that will be shattered when Argo wins Best Picture despite very conspicuously not being nominated for its director, not having even remotely close to the year’s highest nomination tally (it trails behind four other films), and not having even a halfway plausible shot at winning more than two other categories aside from this one. After all, there’s still one tradition working in the movie’s favor. It’s going to win the all-important Oscar for Best Editing, some would say for how exhilaratingly it crosscuts between a grim interrogation at a Mehrabad Airport checkpoint, Walter White barking out commands in D.C., and Alan Arkin and John Goodman being humorously cockblocked from answering their telephone by archetypal union (i.e. guild) workers, whereas others would say for how ruthlessly it edits out any historical perspective that doesn’t turn the Iranian populace into swarthy pod people.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Sound Editing

Subtlety isn’t a quality that dignifies the nominees in this category; typically, the film endowed with the most clanging, banging, and crashing suitable to shake your theater seat prevails. That probably rules out Django Unchained, which, despite its impressive range for bone-crunching and eye-gouging sound effects, doesn’t offer enough quantity of sound to count it as a legitimate contender. Also a long shot is Argo, whose sonic palette is distinguished by little outside the opening embassy raid scene and airport finale. Then there’s Zero Dark Thirty, which might gain some leverage from its handful of deafening explosions, courtesy of Paul N.J. Ottosson, who picked up both sound categories in 2009 for The Hurt Locker. Alas, Zero Dark Thirty is a more modest effort than The Hurt Locker in terms of sound and can probably be counted out of this year’s race, unless, that is, voters are feeling guilty about completely shutting out Kathryn Bigelow’s film.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Actress

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Actress
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Actress

Unlike Anne Hathaway, who’s probably even sidestepping sidewalk cracks lest she break some old Academy member’s back, and perhaps jeopardize her inevitable Fantine-quoting speech (“Life hasn’t killed the dream I dreamed!”), Jennifer Lawrence is taking a page from Mo’Nique’s book and playing the campaign game by her own rules. With Hollywood’s hottest new franchise already cranking up her star wattage, the on-fire frontrunner has, without denying her desire for victory or tainting her “It Girl” image, shown a refreshing, and even alarming, awards-season irreverence, such as in that little SNL intro bit, or her recent howler of an interview with EW. The lack of formality may prove off-putting to some, who prefer, say, an Oscar angel like Natalie Portman, but odds are Lawrence still has this win in the bag, as further evidenced by her precursor record and the sheer influence of Silver Linings Playbook producer Harvey Weinstein.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Director

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Director
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Director

After Argo collected nearly every major industry award in the lead-up to the Academy Awards, in the process emerging as this year’s Best Picture frontrunner, it came as a shock to everyone to see Ben Affleck shut out of the running here given how often Best Director and Picture coincide. It’s with some irony, then, that two filmmakers who’ve emerged as the main contenders in Affleck’s absence are also among the very few previous winners here whose films were denied Best Picture trophies: Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg. But let’s try to rid our minds of the deplorable notion that Spielberg and Lee are contending for an award that belongs to Affleck. Stripped of this context, an Affleck-less battle for Best Director has all the makings of otherwise good Oscar drama.

Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Documentary

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Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Documentary
Oscar 2013 Winner Predictions: Documentary

It almost seems like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is trying to pull one over on us—or, at the very least, sneak one past us while we’re not looking. After years of taking heat for the screwy nominations and screwier winners in categories such as this, all sorts of quality controls were initiated for face-saving purposes, from committees who’d govern over those wishing to vote in these categories to members needing to validate that they’ve seen all the nominees at screenings before casting their ballots. Then, one day after this year’s Oscar nominations were announced, while the world was still reeling from a litany of jaw-dropping snubs (Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck, Jafar Panahi, etc.), AMPAS president Hawk Koch announces that all Oscar voters will be invited to pick the winners in the documentary feature and live-action and animated short categories after being sent screeners of all the nominated films, and all on the Academy’s dime. Which begs all sorts of questions: Why not the documentary short category as well? Hell, why not every Oscar category? Who gets to explain to Eli Wallach what a screener is? If 5 Broken Cameras lands first in Vanessa Redgrave’s DVD player, will she care to see any other nominated film in this category? If a tree falls…