For Your Consideration #9: Under the Skin (dir by Jonathan Glazer)


Under the Skin is one of the most brilliantly divisive films of the year.  To some, it’s a pretentious mess, a collection of seemingly random scenes and obscure themes.  To me, however, it is one of the most haunting films that I’ve ever seen.  It’s a film that’s full of mysteries and questions, one that often demands that we supply our own answers.  It’s one of the best films of the year and anyone who disagrees needs to rewatch it.

From the opening scene, Under the Skin is a dream of dark and disturbing things.

In Scotland, a silent motorcyclist (Jeremy McWilliams) finds a young woman’s dead body lying on the side of the road.  He picks up the body and puts it in the back of a van.  Inside the van, a naked woman (played by Scarlett Johansson) takes the dead woman’s clothes.  As soon becomes apparent, both the motorcyclist and the woman are not human.  They’re aliens and they’ve come to Earth on a mission that is deliberately left obscure.  Though they never speak to each other, the motorcyclist always seems to be nearby.

The woman drives the van across Scotland.  She stops men in the street and, after asking for directions, then attempts to coerce them into her van.  (What makes these scenes especially effective is that the majority of them actually feature Johansson talking to nonactors who just happened to be nearby when she drove up.)  The woman smiles and flirts and has little trouble convincing the majority of the men she meets to get into the van with her.

She drives them to an isolated building where the men follow her inside.  As they step into a pitch black room, both the woman and her latest man start to undress.  The naked man starts to walk towards the woman and is so hypnotized by the sight of her that he doesn’t even realize that the floor has become liquified and he’s sinking.  As Johansson watches coldly, each man eventually vanishes, leaving behind only his empty skin.

(Warning: The two scenes below are definitely NSFW.  Watch with caution.)

Detached from her surroundings, the woman can only watch as real human beings go about their lives.  When she sees a man unsuccessfully try to save a drowning couple on the beach, she reacts by striking the man on the head with a rock.  She drags the man away, leaving the couple’s terrified toddler on the beach.  When the motorcyclist later visits the beach, he too ignores the child.  (Perhaps no scene left me more disturbed and inspired more nightmares than this one.)

It’s only when the woman picks up a man with a severe facial disfigurement (a poignant performance from a nonactor named Adam Pearson) that she finally starts to show some emotion.  The man is as much of an outsider as she is, with the main difference being that he can’t hide who he really is under a disguise.  The woman feels sorry for him and this sudden shock of empathy causes her to reconsider her mission.

However, even as the woman attempts to flee to the Scottish highlands, the motorcyclist is never far behind.  And, unfortunately, neither are real humans…

Under the Skin is pure cinema, a collection of scenes that alternate between being naturalistic and surreal, disturbingly serious and darkly humorous.  Perhaps appropriately for a film about appearances, Under the Skin is a movie that is full of haunting images, the type that, 8 months after first being seen, remain vivid in your mind.  It’s up to the viewers to decide what those images mean.

(For all of the discussion that I’ve seen online about what Under the Skin is truly about, it seems pretty obvious to me that the main message of the film is that guys are so led by their penis that they’ll even allow themselves to sink into a liquid void if there’s a chance they might get laid beforehand.)

Under the Skin has been a player (albeit a minor one) in the precursors leading up the Oscars.  A few of the braver critical groups have nominated it for best picture and have also honored Scarlett Johansson for her wonderful work as an outsider who is both slowly discovering what it means to be human while also dealing with the reality that, try as she might, she will never truly belong in this world.  However, with all that in mind, Under the Skin is probably too divisive and unique a film to ever truly appeal to the Academy.

But that’s okay.

Under the Skin is also a film that we’ll still be discussing years from now.

Film Review Under the Skin

 

Here Are The 79 Songs That Could Win An Oscar!


Okay, this new is really late but, as always, better late than never!

Last Friday, the Academy announced that 79 songs had been judged to be eligible to be nominated for Best Original Song!

Now, if you know anything about me, you know that I love long lists and playing “what if.”  Quite a few Oscar commentators have said that Patty Smith is so obviously going to win the Oscar for her song from Noah that it’s pointless to even speculate about anyone else.  Well, that may indeed be the case but hey, it’s still fun to look at all of these possibilities and wonder “What if…”  Speculation is never pointless, as long as it’s fun.

“It’s On Again” from “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″
“Opportunity” from “Annie”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“Big Eyes” from “Big Eyes”
“Immortals” from “Big Hero 6″
“The Apology Song” from “The Book of Life”
“I Love You Too Much” from “The Book of Life”
“The Boxtrolls Song” from “The Boxtrolls”
“Quattro Sabatino” from “The Boxtrolls”
“Ryan’s Song” from “Boyhood”
“Split The Difference” from “Boyhood”
“No Fate Awaits Me” from “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them”
“Brave Souls” from “Dolphin Tale 2″
“You Got Me” from “Dolphin Tale 2″
“All Our Endless Love” from “Endless Love”
“Let Me In” from “The Fault in Our Stars”
“Not About Angels” from “The Fault in Our Stars”
“Until The End” from “Garnet’s Gold”
“It Just Takes A Moment” from “Girl on a Bicycle”
“Last Stop Paris” from “Girl on a Bicycle”
“Ordinary Human” from “The Giver”
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
“Find A Way” from “The Good Lie”
“Color The World” from “The Hero of Color City”
“The Last Goodbye” from “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Chariots” from “The Hornet’s Nest”
“Follow Me” from “The Hornet’s Nest”
“Something To Shoot For” from “Hot Guys with Guns”


“For The Dancing And The Dreaming” from “How to Train Your Dragon 2″
“Afreen” from “The Hundred-Foot Journey”
“Yellow Flicker Beat” from “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1″
“Heart Like Yours” from “If I Stay”
“I Never Wanted To Go” from “If I Stay”
“Mind” from “If I Stay”
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
“Call Me When You Find Yourself” from “Life Inside Out”
“Coming Back To You” from “Life of an Actress The Musical”
“The Life Of An Actress” from “Life of an Actress The Musical”
“Sister Rust” from “Lucy”


“You Fooled Me” from “Merchants of Doubt”
“Million Dollar Dream” from “Million Dollar Arm”
“Spreading The Word/Makhna” from “Million Dollar Arm”
“We Could Be Kings” from “Million Dollar Arm”
“A Million Ways To Die” from “A Million Ways to Die in the West”
“Way Back When” from “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
“America For Me” from “A Most Violent Year”
“I’ll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo In Malibu)” from “Muppets Most Wanted”
“Something So Right” from “Muppets Most Wanted”
“We’re Doing A Sequel” from “Muppets Most Wanted”
“Mercy Is” from “Noah”
“Seeds” from “Occupy the Farm”
“Grant My Freedom” from “The One I Wrote for You”
“The One I Wrote For You” from “The One I Wrote for You”


“Hal” from “Only Lovers Left Alive”
“Shine” from “Paddington”
“Still I Fly” from “Planes: Fire & Rescue”
“Batucada Familia” from “Rio 2″
“Beautiful Creatures” from “Rio 2″
“Poisonous Love” from “Rio 2″
“What Is Love” from “Rio 2″
“Over Your Shoulder” from “Rudderless”
“Sing Along” from “Rudderless”
“Stay With You” from “Rudderless”
“Everyone Hides” from “St. Vincent”
“Why Why Why” from “St. Vincent”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“The Morning” from “A Small Section of the World”
“Special” from “Special”
“Gimme Some” from “#Stuck”
“The Only Thing” from “Third Person”
“Battle Cry” from “Transformers: Age of Extinction”
“Miracles” from “Unbroken”


“Summer Nights” from “Under the Electric Sky”
“We Will Not Go” from “Virunga”
“Heavenly Father” from “Wish I Was Here”
“So Now What” from “Wish I Was Here”
“Long Braid” from “Work Weather Wife”
“Moon” from “Work Weather Wife”

Begin_Again_film_poster_2014

Here Are The 7 Semi-Finalists for The Best Hair, Makeup, And Fake Nose Oscar!


Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher

Here’s a little bit of late Oscar news.  Two days ago, the Academy announced the 7 semi-finalists for the Academy Award for Best Hair and Makeup.

And the semi-finalists are:

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Did that come out this year?  Wow.)

Foxcatcher (Don’t get me started on noses.)

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Guardians of the Galaxy (yay!)

Maleficent (yay!)

Noah (uhmmm … yay?)

The Theory of Everything

Update your Oscar picks accordingly…

Mal

Here Are The Results From Chicago!


Here’s what the Chicago Film Critics picked for being the best of 2014.  A full list of their nominees can be found here.

Picture: “Boyhood”

Director: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Actor: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

Actress: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Adapted Screenplay: Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”

Animated Feature: “The Lego Movie”

Documentary: “Life Itself”

Foreign: “Force Majeure”

Editing: Tom Cross, “Whiplash”

Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman,” and Robert D. Yeoman, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Here’s What Won In Toronto! Love you, Canada!


Love you, Canada!

Love you, Canada!

Here are the Toronto Film Critics Awards.

BEST PICTURE
“Boyhood” (Mongrel Media)
Runners-up
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Fox Searchlight)
“Inherent Vice” (Warner Bros.)

BEST ACTOR
Tom Hardy, “Locke”
Runners-up
Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”

BEST ACTRESS
Marion Cotillard, “The Immigrant”
Runners-up
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Runners-up
Josh Brolin, “Inherent Vice”
Edward Norton, “Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Runners-up
Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”
Katherine Waterston, “Inherent Vice”

BEST DIRECTOR
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Runners-up
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

BEST SCREENPLAY, ADAPTED OR ORIGINAL
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”, screenplay by Wes Anderson
from a story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Runners-up
“Boyhood”, written by Richard Linklater
“Inherent Vice”, screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson
based on the novel by Thomas Pynchon

BEST FIRST FEATURE
“The Lunchbox”, directed by Ritesh Batra
Runners-up
“John Wick”, directed by Chad Stahelski
“Nightcrawler”, directed by Dan Gilroy

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (GKids)
Runners-up
“Big Hero 6″ (Walt Disney Studios)
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″ (20th Century Fox)
“The Lego Movie” (Warner Bros.)

BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FILM
“Force Majeure” (filmswelike)
Runners-up
“Ida” (filmswelike)
“Leviathan” (Mongrel Media)

BEST DOCUMENTARY
“The Overnighters” (filmswelike)
Runners-up
“Citizenfour” (Entertainment One)
“Manakamana” (filmswelike)

JAY SCOTT PRIZE FOR AN EMERGING ARTIST
Albert Shin, director of “In Her Place”

Here Are The Houston Film Critics Nominations!


houston_skyline

I love it when groups from my home state make their voice known.  Here are the Houston Film Critics nominations!

Best Picture
A Most Violent Year, A24 Films
Birdman, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Boyhood, IFC Films
Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel
Inherent Vice, Warner Bros.
Nightcrawler, Open Road Films
Selma
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Imitation Game, The Weinstein Compaany
Whiplash, Sony Pictures Classics

Director
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Actor
Bendict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne, Theory Of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Tom Hardy, Locke

Actress
Essie Davis, The Babadook
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Supporting Actor
Andy Serkis, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Supporting Actress
Emma Stone, Birdman
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Kiera Knightley, The Imitation Game
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

Screenplay
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo; Birdman
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budpest Hotel

Animated
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Book of Love
The Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie

Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Hoyte van Hoytema, Interstellar
Robert Elswit, Nightcrawler
Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Documentary
Citizenfour
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Life Itself
The Overnighters

Foreign
Force Majeure
Ida
Leviathan
The Raid 2
Two Days, One Night

Original Score
Alexander Desplat, The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Antonio Sánchez, Birdman
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Johann Johannson, The Theory of Everything

Original Song
Big Eyes, Big Eyes
Everything is Awesome, The Lego Movie
Glory, Selma
I’m Not Going to Miss You, Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Lost Stars, Begin Again

Texas Independent Film Award
Above All Else
Boyhood
Hellion
Joe
No No: A Dockumentary
Stop the Pounding Heart

Best Poster
Birdman
Godzilla, IMAX
Guardians of the Galaxy, Primary Theatrical
Inherent Vice
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Technical Achievement
Birdman – Creation of single long take for bulk of film
Boyhood – Filming over 12 years
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – creation of ape characters

Worst Film of the Year
Blended
Dumb and Dumber To
Left Behind
The Identical
Transformers: Age of Extinction

Like A Mythical Beast Rising From The Ashes, Here’s What Won In Phoenix!


Birdman

Here are the winners of The Phoenix Critics Circle awards!  You can see a full list of their nominees here.

Best Picture — Birdman

Best Comedy Film — The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Horror or Sci-Fi Film — Snowpiercer

Best Mystery or Thriller Film: Nightcrawler and Gone Girl

Best Actor — Micheal Keaton in Birdman

Best Actress — Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Best Supporting Actor — J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress — Emma Stone in Birdman

Best Director — Alejandro G. Inarritu for Bidrman

Best Screenplay — Birdman

Best Animated Film — The LEGO Movie

Best International Film — Force Majeure and Ida