Archive for March, 2011

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1966

I liken 1966 to 1999. I think it’s because the film that won Best Picture that year is a very — stagy — film. Not that it’s a bad film, but — it goes back to that old cinematic vs. theatrical distinction. By and large, I usually prefer films to be cinematic, because, cinema is a different entity than plays. Which, also — here’s the difference, if you don’t get it — Martin Scorsese movie, like, The Departed — cinematic. There are irises, zoom ins, tracking shots, all of it. (Also, another great example people will recognize quickly — Fight Clubvery cinematic.) Doubt — theatrical film. Revolutionary Road — theatrical film. Films that feel like plays. Because, very often, they were. They’re often directed by actors or actual playwrights. Ya follah?

And therein lies the rub. When your favorite film of the year (or at least, of the nominees. One you feel is deserving of winning Best Picture) is a very stagy film — more so than the usual standards — and a fellow nominee is a very cinematic film, but you just didn’t love it as much — what do you do? Bringing it back to a primordial level — say you always sided with good, but, in one instance, evil actually was right. (I’m not calling one thing out and out “evil” — though I will say, you don’t want a movie to be like a play, just like you don’t want a play to be like a movie. It’s like reading a novel that’s written like a movie. (Looking at you, Dan Brown.) It’s a fun read (for most), but you’re not giving it a book award. Shit. I could have saved all that space if I made that analogy first. But, I’ll get more into this issue when I deal with the year itself.

Now, this cinematic vs. theatrical problem does extend over to the acting categories as well. Which person would you rather see win an Academy Award — the dude who plays Hamlet in a film, and basically just takes the entire text of the play as he’s done it on stage and puts it on film, or the dude who plays a migrant worker who goes down to Mexico with his friend and an old prospector, finds lots of gold and slowly loses his mind because he starts to think the other two are going to kill him and steal his share of the gold? See what I mean? Who you gonna wanna vote for — Othello or Atticus Finch? It’s a tough choice to make, and is exponentially tougher when, you actually kinda want to vote for Othello.


Pic of the Day: “Christ, I miss the Cold War.”

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1999

I think this is the most recent category I’ve done since before the Oscars this year. I like to throw in one everyone knows amidst all the older ones.

If we recall, 1999 is one of those years that had a lot of good films, and really, there were a lot of good choices they could have made. A lot of people didn’t like the choice for Best Picture, even though a lot did. I think American Beauty was a fine choice. Did Sam Mendes need to also win Best Director? That’s up for discussion. But, they often coincide, so, it’s not that surprising. Best Actor was Kevin Spacey, which is a point of debate amongst people, which, I’ll make my feelings known whenever I get to it. Best Actress was Hilary Swank for Boy’s Don’t Cry, and Best Supporting Actor was Michael Caine for The Cider House Rules. I’m trying not to give my opinions away, because, at this rate, it’s so recent, everyone’s seen the movies, so I don’t need to pimp them, so really all they amount to is who the vote is for and what the rankings are. So there’s really not that much to say as preface.


And the nominees were…

Toni Collette, The Sixth Sense

Angelina Jolie, Girl, Interrupted

Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich

Samantha Morton, Sweet and Lowdown

Chloë Sevigny, Boys Don’t Cry (more…)

Pic of the Day

The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1931-1932

And we’re back with another three nominee category. I’m trying to accomplish two things with these: one, spread them out as much as possible, because, a three-person category feels like a cheat (and, if it’s like this one, really fucking difficult to pick, because, really, can you really say which one was the best?), and two, getting them out of the way as quickly as possible. Sure, a three-person category means less for me to write, but, it’s just less interesting. Plus I love talking about it, as much as the thought of actually writing because I have to feels like work, it’s easy once I get going. Seriously, get me talking about movies or Oscars, and I can just keep going.

So, 1931-1932, or as it’s best known in most circles, 1932. This is the year that made history that’s never been repeated (and never will). Grand Hotel won Best Picture without garnering a single nomination in any other category. That is — not win, surely other Oscar movies have won Best Picture without winning any other categories — the film won Best Picture without getting a single nomination outside of Best Picture. That’s — wow.

Other winners this year include Frank Borzage for Bad Girl — Borzage is one of the premier silent film directors and was a powerhouse in this era (he has two Best Director statues to prove it), but, I bet that unless you took a film class (or bought that awesome Murnau/Borzage at Fox boxset), you really have no idea who he is. Which is a shame — Helen Hayes for The Sin of Madelon Claudet, and that’s it. Remember, no supporting categories at this point. They were still figuring shit out. (more…)

Pic of the Day: “I gotta get a drink. Sobriety’s killing me.”

Bringing Out the Dead - 3

The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1975

1975 is the kind of year you just glance at and then move on. It’s one of those years where, at face value, nothing is wrong, and then after the fact, you think, “Wait, were those the droids I was looking for?”

What I mean by that is — all of the choices they made (well, most of them. One of them — whatever), you look at them and immediately go, “Yeah, good choices. There’s nothing really wrong here.” But, when you do think about it, are they actually good choices?

Take Best Picture and Best Director from this year. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. A classic film. A great film. There’s no denying that. Miloš Forman. A great director. Has made some classics — Amadeus, Man on the Moon, Ragtime, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Hair — there’s really no denying that the film and director are great. But — are they really worthy of winning Best Picture? Or more specifically, are they worthy of winning Best Picture this specific year? It’s just a thought. I’ll bring it up later when I actually go over the categories. It’s just something that I’ve been thinking about every time I go back to the categories. If you want to get a head start and try to see what I mean, take a look at what else (and who else) was nominated (and by exclusion, wasn’t). Just take a look. (Hint: My argument is going to have something to do with being cinematic vs. being theatrical.)

Anyway, the other major categories that happened this year basically amounted to a clean sweep for Cuckoo’s Nest. Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher took hom Best Actor and Best Actress. Interesting fact on that, because lord knows I’m all about the interesting facts. The only two times Jack Nicholson has won the Best Actor Oscar, his costar also won the Best Actress Oscar as well. That’s an interesting fact, right? Every time Jack has won, he helped his costar win too. That says something, methinks. What, I don’t know. But something. (more…)