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Gone Girl (#110 of 17)

Summer of ’90 Presumed Innocent

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Summer of ’90: Presumed Innocent: Destroying the Destroyer

Warner Bros.

Summer of ’90: Presumed Innocent: Destroying the Destroyer

“That lady was bad news.” This is one of the many ominous phrases used to describe Carolyn Polhemus (Greta Scacchi), a deputy prosecutor whose brutal murder lies at center of Presumed Innocent. Detective Lipranzer (John Spencer) uses that specific expression more than once in reference to Carolyn, who was as widely known for her sexual exploits within the district attorney’s office as her crafty skills in the courtroom. Lipranzer is only a sideline character in the film, a friend and informant to Rusty Sabich (Harrison Ford), the prosecutor tasked with investigating Carolyn’s murder who quickly becomes the primary suspect. Nevertheless, Lipranzer’s summation of Carol is rife with implication and plays like a recurring melody in a symphony that resounds more profoundly with each expression.

On the surface, Presumed Innocent is a deft portrayal of the systemic corruption embedded in the legal system. Nearly every character manipulates, falsifies, or otherwise distorts as a means of staying one step ahead of the very system whose ethics and ideals they’re supposed to uphold, including and especially DA Raymond Horgan (Brian Dennehy). But pulsing through the film is an arguably darker current concerning sexual politics and power stemming from Carolyn’s beauty being regarded with fear and danger. Lipranzer’s comments are among many throughout the film that suggest a collective negative attitude toward Carolyn for being a woman who’d sleep with anyone to get to the top. Carolyn’s reputation is known even to Rusty’s own wife, Barbara (Bonnie Bedelia), who’s keenly aware of her husband’s previous affair with the victim. For the DA office’s men, whose preoccupations with Carolyn despite their own transgressions underline their hypocrisy, Carolyn was only “bad news” because she understood that the system was made to favor men and knew how to advance within it.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions Actress

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Actress
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Actress

That the only nomination for Gone Girl, a critically endorsed box-office smash that sparked a slew of think pieces and also happens to be at its core a film about a woman asserting her sense of agency, came in this category while the year’s most-nominated film forces Naomi Watts and Andrea Riseborough into a non-sequitur lip lock is both too perfect and sadly telling. Women just can’t catch a break. Even this year, while every observer has seemingly added an extra dash of salt to their beef against the Academy’s retrograde tastes and disinterest in multiculturalism, the argument that Oscar’s notion of excellence continues to center around phalli remains a distant runner-up to pointing out its Caucasian persuasion. At the risk of getting self-righteous, we’ve been on AMPAS’s nuts over this practically as long as we’ve been putting them through the wringer: “Does one have to be a raging feminist to suggest that Capote and Brokeback Mountain aren’t aesthetically superior to North Country and Transamerica? Or that what distinguishes your glorified Lifetime movie of the week from your serious Oscar contender is whether or not the lead character has exterior genitalia?”

2015 Oscar Nomination Predictions

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2015 Oscar Nomination Predictions
2015 Oscar Nomination Predictions

The critics have spoken. The guilds have spoken. The Golden Globes have spoken. And here we are feeling the ennui of another three months’ worth of Mondays weighing unusually heavy this year, though it really shouldn’t be. Not all Oscar seasons boast presumptive frontrunners as stubbornly unique and personal as Boyhood or The Grand Budapest Hotel, both of which seem at this point like they would’ve cracked the lineup even in the old (and correct) days of five-deep best picture slates we’ll be telling our grandchildren about. Not all Oscar seasons are gifted by the original, cantankerous spirit of the National Society of Film Critics, which is to say the spirit of the group as it was initially conceived, as a staunch, vanguard opponent to staid groupthink. (Try to ignore the remaining instances of “ditto” among their roster of winners and savor everyone flipping their shit over Godard’s surprise victory.) So why aren’t we in a better mood than usual? Probably because we’ve seen it all go south in so many horrifying ways time and time again, and thus this year’s left us feeling a bit like the Witch staring down the “Last Midnight.” Oscars aren’t good, they’re not bad, they’re just nice. We’re not nice, we’re the hitch, and we’re definitely right.

The 10 Best Movie Posters of 2014

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The 10 Best Movie Posters of 2014
The 10 Best Movie Posters of 2014

Although prominent displays of guns, guffaws, and gadgetry remain popular tropes among a majority of contemporary film posters, a select number each year are able to transcend such numbing repetition by carefully attuning the all-important singular image (and marketing tool) toward the specificities of the film at hand. Twenty fourteen is no different in that regard, with several of the posters listed (and shown) below providing not only compelling complimentary texts for the poster’s accompanying film, but, in some cases, more adeptly rendering the suggested themes than the film itself (Gone Girl, we’re looking at you). Whether colorful or carefully composed, these posters aren’t just suggestions for adorning your home office or home-theater room (though as such, they would be the shit), but meaningful additives to deepening dimensions for the films being marketed.