Archive for July, 2011

Pic of the Day: “You had no trouble, of course, with the police once they verified your alibi?” “When an alibi is full of bourbon, sir, it can’t stand up.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1991

I think we know 1991 pretty well. The Silence of the Lambs wins the big five: Best Picture, Best Director for Jonathan Demme (talked about here), Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins (talked about here), Best Actress for Jodie Foster, and also Best Adapted Screenplay. But we’re not dealing with screenplays here. At least not yet. The other decision that wasn’t this category was Jack Palance as Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers (which I talked about here). In all this was a really good year. (How could it not be, right?)

That brings us to this category. I don’t have a problem with the decision so much. It was actually the best decision they could have made in this category. My problem is with the nominees. It’s a really weak set. One of the weakest I’ve ever seen. So much so that I’m invoking my rule that if I disagree with three of the nominees (and I totally do), I look for alternatives that could have been nominated instead. It’s my way of coping with a shitty category. It helps if I can know there weren’t any better choices. So let’s look.

Yeah, I got nothing. Not really, anyway. And the only difference in the Globes category was Nicole Kidman being nominated for Billy Bathgate. I guess that’s better than Kate Nelligan. That nomination seems like a standard bullshit Academy nomination. Wow, this year sucked for supporting actress roles.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1991

And the nominees were…

Diane Ladd, Rambling Rose

Juliette Lewis, Cape Fear

Kate Nelligan, The Prince of Tides

Mercedes Ruehl, The Fisher King

Jessica Tandy, Fried Green Tomatoes (more…)


Pic of the Day: “What are you singing, Petey?” “Just making it up a I went along, really.” “That’s just weak songwriting. You wrote a bad song, Petey!”


The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1950

This one hurts. A lot. On the surface, you could look at this category and be like, “Oh, of course, All About Eve.” But if you look closer, you see it beat Sunset Boulevard and The Third Man. How could All About Eve have been a better directorial effort than those two? Especially the latter, which is considered one of the top ten or twenty (top five for me) best directorial efforts of all time? As you can see, I won’t even hide my contempt for this decision.

The rest of this year was — well, not very good. I don’t really like it all that much. All About Eve wins Best Picture, which I guess is okay. I prefer Sunset Boulevard, but, meh. Not gonna quibble that much. Best Actor was José Ferrer for Cyrano de Bergerac, a rather forgettable decision. Especially when you had William Holden in Sunset Boulevard and Jimmy Stewart in Harvey as the other choices. Best Actress was Judy Holliday for Born Yesterday, which, I liked as a performance, but am not totally sure about as a decision. After all, she beat Gloria Swanson for Sunset Boulevard (not to mention Bette Davis and Anne Baxter — more so Anne Baxter — for All About Eve). Best Supporting Actor was George Sanders for All About Eve, which is a pretty good decision (it was between him and Erich von Stroheim — a much more historical decision). And Best Supporting Actress was Josephine Hull for Harvey, which I think is pretty good.

So, in all, I find this to be a bad year. Even the okay decisions are very questionable, and it’s all topped by this horrendous cherry on top.

BEST DIRECTOR – 1950

And the nominees were…

George Cukor, Born Yesterday

John Huston, The Asphalt Jungle

Joseph L. Mankiewicz, All About Eve

Carol Reed, The Third Man

Billy Wilder, Sunset Boulevard (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me that you built a time machine…out of a DeLorean?” “The way I see it, if you’re gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?”

Back to the Future - 17


The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1981

Oh, 1981. Chariots of Fire. I think we can leave that decision to speak for itself. Best Director this year was Warren Beatty (which I talked about here), which was better than the alternative of Hugh Hudson winning for Chariots of Fire. Best Actor this year was Henry Fonda, finally winning his long overdue Oscar for On Golden Pond (which I talked about here). Best Supporting Actor was John Gielgud, winning for his wonderful turn as Hobson in Arthur. And Best Supporting Actress was Maureen Stapleton, also winning for Reds.

So, in all — a good year for the acting decisions, but a terrible, terrible year for Best Picture. That’s really all there is to say about the year. As for this category — you know, I have to say, even though she had three of them already, this wasn’t a bad decision. There really wasn’t any other choice. Not really, anyway.

BEST ACTRESS – 1981

And the nominees were…

Katharine Hepburn, On Golden Pond

Diane Keaton, Reds

Marsha Mason, Only When I Laugh

Susan Sarandon, Atlantic City

Meryl Streep, The French Lieutenant’s Woman (more…)


Pic of the Day: “When you pull a gun, kill a man.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1944

1944. Don’t love it. Like Going My Way a lot, don’t like it as a Best Picture winner. Double Indemnity was a much better film and choice. Bing Crosby as Best Actor (which I talked about here) I like as a decision. Leo McCarey as Best Director for the film (which I talked about here), I do not like.

Ingrid Bergman winning Best Actress for Gaslight is a choice I think had to happen. I, personally, would have went with Barbara Stanwyck, but, as a decision in and of itself, it makes sense. Ethel Barrymore as Best Supporting Actress for None But the Lonely Heart — it is what it is. Veteran Oscar. Don’t like it, but, what can you do? So, the year is pretty ho-hum for me. It’s just kind of there.

This category in particular — there was really no other option. It was pretty weak, and you had a lead role going supporting, one that was really good at that — there was no other choice.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1944

And the nominees were…

Hume Cronyn, The Seventh Cross

Barry Fitzgerald, Going My Way

Claude Rains, Mr. Skeffington

Clifton Webb, Laura

Monty Woolley, Since You Went Away (more…)


Pic of the Day: “A recon gyrene in an Avatar body…that’s a potent mix! Gives me the goosebumps!”


The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 1960

I do not want to talk about this category. I want to skip over it and leave it as is. I can’t win no matter what I do here. On one hand, Billy Wilder wins this category for a film that, along with Some Like It Hot, defines his career. On the other hand, Alfred Hitchcock directed Psycho. Wilder had an Oscar (three, in fact) already. He won for directing The Lost Weekend and producing it (it won Best Picture). Then he won Best Screenplay for Sunset Boulevard. He also won Best Screenplay this year as well. So in all he won 6 Oscars. Hitchcock won zero. And yet, The Apartment is probably one of my top ten or twenty favorite films of all time. So I can’t win no matter what I do. I hate that.

As for the rest of 1960, The Apartment wins Best Picture, which, I feel is one of the best decisions of all time  (but, I’m biased. Still, I think most people can agree that it’s a very good decision). Best Actor was Burt Lancaster, for his fantastic turn in Elmer Gantry. Shirley Jones also won Best Supporting Actress for the film. Best Actress was Elizabeth Taylor in BUtterfield 8, which is one of the more — controversial Best Actress decisions of all time. Most people acknowledge that Liz won because they thought she was dying and that Shirley MacLaine really should have won. Best Supporting Actor this year was Peter Ustinov for Spartacus.

So, overall, I think this is a pretty good year. I personally would have went another way on Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress — and then there’s the matter of this category — but overall, I think this is a very successful year. This feels like a strong 4/5 movie. And I like that.

BEST DIRECTOR – 1960

And the nominees were…

Jack Cardiff, Sons and Lovers

Jules Dassin, Never on Sunday

Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho

Billy Wilder, The Apartment

Fred Zinnemann, The Sundowners (more…)


Pic of the Day: “What is your name?” “A better one than yours!”


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1953

And the final of the 1953 categories (at least, as of how the articles are being posted now. Much later down the road, this will only serve to confuse people. And that amuses me). There’s almost nothing to say about the year as a whole now, because it’s all been done before. I love it.

From Here to Eternity basically sweeps most of the awards. It wins Best Picture, Best Director for Fred Zinnemann (talked about here), Best Supporting Actor for Frank Sinatra (talked about here) and this award. Four out of six is pretty good. The other two awards were William Holden for Best Actor (talked about here) Audrey Hepburn for Best Actress (talked about here). As you can see by the winners, this is a very strong year.

As for this category, it’s probably the weakest in bunch in terms of nominees. But, Best Supporting Actress has historically been the category with the weakest set of nominees. Look at most Oscar years, and I bet if you had to pick the weakest category, it would, the majority of the time, be Best Supporting Actress. In this one in particular, there were really only two choices, and of the two, one made the most sense because — well, I’ll let you know when we get to My Thoughts on the matter. Still — this makes a lot of sense.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1953

And the nominees were…

Grace Kelly, Mogambo

Geraldine Page, Hondo

Marjorie Rambeau, Torch Song

Donna Reed, From Here to Eternity

Thelma Ritter, Pickup on South Street (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Kill the spare!”


The Box Office Report – July 15-17

Last week, in Box Office…

Pretty ho-hum weekend, as it was a down weekend between two big things. Transformers: Dark of the Moon wins the weekend for its second and final time, as expected, with $47.1 million. $45 million was the number, and it held to a standard 50% drop instead of the closer to 60% that everyone was expecting. But, when you’re dealing with the other crap that came out, this just seemed obvious. Anyway, the film is up to $261 million domestically after two weeks, which is already $60 million over its production budget, which, is probably what they spent on marketing, so they seem to be about even on this film already. And that’s not even counting the worldwide grosses. Expect a fourth installment with a new director and cast within three years.

Finishing second was Horrible Bosses, which made $28.3 million. Most people had this between $25 and 30 million, so this made sense, especially since its competition sucked. In the quality sense, not necessarily the moneymaking sense. We’ll get to that in a second. But, this is a pretty decent number for a film that surprisingly wasn’t terrible. Even Aniston was watchable. That surprised the shit out of me. Really, what saved this film were Spacey and Farrell. But still, decent number, and it’s almost made its budget back after one weekend. That bodes well. It shouldn’t hold well, but, still, I think Hollywood is starting to figure it out. Smaller budget movies. Or maybe they’ll only do that with R-Rated comedies, and put all their eggs in that basket. They’ll never learn, will they? (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1930-1931

This is one of the exciting years. You see, I assume that most people aren’t familiar with the Oscars. Why would you? That’s what I’m here for. And even if someone does have some knowledge about the categories, like who won Best Supporting Actress in 1985 (Anjelica Huston), I can be pretty certain that there’s an even smaller percentage of those people who really know about the 1927-1933 years. Again, why would you?

1930-1931 is kind of the second real definitive Oscar year. That is, the first year was Wings, and that was an establishing year. Then the second year was a mess, because they were dealing with shifting over to sound, so The Broadway Melody won, since it was the biggest film that used sound the best. Then 1929-1930 was All Quiet on the Western Front. That was the real first year where they chose an “Academy” decision. That film is just wonderfully made. And this year, Cimarron won Best Picture, which is an epic western, based on a bestselling novel — a prestige picture. Of course it was going to win. It’s a pretty good film. I personally prefer the film that won Best Director this year, Skippy. Norman Taurog directed the hell out of it, and I’ll further discuss my love for the film shortly.

The other award this year that wasn’t this one (remember, no Supporting categories until 1936) was Marie Dressler winning Best Actress for Min and Bill. This decision makes a lot of sense, because Min Dressler, at age 62, was the biggest star in Hollywood at the time. Her winning Best Actress was a way of validating the category. The same thing happened in this category. Lionel Barrymore was, at this time, what Laurence Olivier was in the 50s. Which is why, no matter how I feel about who should have won, this decision ultimately was the right one.

BEST ACTOR – 1930-1931

And the nominees were…

Lionel Barrymore, A Free Soul

Jackie Cooper, Skippy

Richard Dix, Cimarron

Frederic March, The Royal Family of Broadway

Adolphe Menjou, The Front Page (more…)


Pic of the Day: “I don’t feel I have to wipe everybody out, Tom. Just my enemies.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actress – 1994

1994 is a very contentious year among people my age. More so than the Shakespeare in Love/Saving Private Ryan thing. The reason for that is — Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction. All three great films. Everyone has their preference. And even if you don’t, everyone recoils and is like, “Ooh…yeah. That’s tough.” I’m not getting into which was best here (I always take Quentin. Just saying.), but I’ll leave it at, Forrest Gump wins Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis, and Best Actor for Tom Hanks, his second in a row, and the one of the two I actually think is a good decision.

Also this year, Jessica Lange finally wins her overdue Best Actress award for Blue Sky, mostly because her category was really weak, and her only competition was from Jodie Foster, who clearly gave the best performance in the category, but won twice already within the past seven years, and, she went full retard. Trust me, both things were factors. That’s why Lange won. And Best Supporting Actor this year was Martin Landau for Ed Wood. A great performance. It also beat Sam Jackson for Pulp Fiction and Gary Sinise for Forrest Gump. Mostly Sam Jackson. That was a tough pill to swallow, even though I love Landau’s performance there.

Anyway, that does it for everything else. Now, here — I hate this category. Hate it. I completely disagree with two of the nominees, and one film got nominated twice. So I count that as three, and I’m looking for alternatives. Guess what? There aren’t any. Unless we want to nominate Sally Field for Forrest Gump. We could stretch it and nominate Robin Wright Penn for it instead of Sally, but, Penn was clearly in the “lead” type role. But hey, they were possibilities. People seem to love Heavenly Creatures. How about nominating one of those two? Hell, give me something interesting. This is such a lifeless category.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – 1994

And the nominees were…

Rosemary Harris, Tom & Viv

Helen Mirren, The Madness of King George

Uma Thurman, Pulp Fiction

Jennifer Tilly, Bullets over Broadway

Diane Wiest, Bullets over Broadway (more…)


Pic of the Day: “She’s crazy about him.” “And he about her. That’s what love is, dear – a harmless mental illness.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1974

1974. The Godfather Part II wins Best Picture. Francis Ford Coppola wins Best Director for it after not winning for the first one (which I talked about here). And Robert De Niro wins Best Supporting Actor for the film as well (talked about here). Art Carney wins Best Actor for Harry and Tonto, a decision I consider the single worst Best Actor decision of all time (which I bemoaned here). And Ingrid Bergman wins Best Supporting Actress for Murder on the Orient Express (talked about here). Which means two things. One, aside from one terrible decision and one poor one, this was a rather stellar year. And two, this is actually the last category from this year I’ve yet to discuss. This might be a first for me.

Anyway, this particular category is the most interesting of the bunch (even more so than the abortion that was Best Actor this year), mostly because there were three legit competitors this year. Like, legit contenders. You have Faye Dunaway, who pretty much cemented her overdue status with this performance. In a way, she was building toward her Network performance that eventually won her the award. But still, she was good enough to win here. Then there was Gena Rowlands, who delivered a tour de force performance in A Woman Under the Influence, which, even though she wasn’t due, she did deliver the strongest performance in the category. And then there was Ellen Burstyn, who delivers a very good performance and was overdue. You see, the year before this (talked about here), she probably should have won Best Actress for The Exorcist (it wouldn’t have been a sexy decision, but it was the right one, I feel). Her not winning there basically assured she’d win here. But for me — I have to choose between these three performances. I have my work cut out for me, don’t I?

BEST ACTRESS – 1974

And the nominees were…

Ellen Burstyn, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

Diahann Carroll, Claudine

Faye Dunaway, Chinatown

Valerie Perrine, Lenny

Gena Rowlands, A Woman Under the Influence (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Let me speak to the man in charge.” “Sarcastically, I’m in charge.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1938

1938 is such a weak year. It’s like the Academy, having the chance to make bold choices, got nervous and went with the sure thing. How can it be falling into its own stereotype when it’s only 11 years old? You Can’t Take It With You wins Best Picture. It’s a fine film, a really great one, but is definitely not a Best Picture winner. Frank Capra wins his third Best Director trophy in five years. 1934, 1936, and this one. Did he need it? Absolutely not. I talked about it here. It’s really strange the Academy went with the film, especially when The Adventures of Robin Hood, Pygmalion and especially Grand Illusion were also up for Best Picture.

Best Actress this year was Bette Davis for Jezebel, winning her second Best Actress trophy in four years. I’m a big opponent of this decision. I’ll talk about it eventually. Definitely not a fan. Fay Bainter wins Best Supporting Actress for the film, which is a very good decision, for both legitimizing the category and also because she was nominated for Best Actress this year, so that was a good choice. And Best Supporting Actor was — guess who — Walter Brennan for Kentucky. This was his second of three, winning every other year out of five, just like Frank Capra.

So, I consider 1938 a failed year. They had a chance to really do something interesting, then took the safe choice. We really shouldn’t be surprised. The Academy will often take the safe choice. Oh, and did I mention? I consider this specific category to be the SECOND WORST BEST ACTOR DECISION OF ALL TIME. How’s that for a lead in?

BEST ACTOR – 1938

And the nominees were…

Charles Boyer, Algiers

James Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces

Robert Donat, The Citadel

Leslie Howard, Pygmalion

Spencer Tracy, Boys Town (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with Samurai swords.”


The Oscar Quest: Best Supporting Actor – 1969

1969 is the year 1967 really took effect. You see, 1967 is generally marked as the year where the Academy — and Hollywood in general — finally turned that corner and embraced more modern films. Bonnie and Clyde is the landmark film here. The depiction of violence was unheard of and was the start of those wonderful 70s films I (and a lot of people, I’d imagine) fetishize so much. But really, when you look at the Oscars — nothing really changed for two years. In the Heat of the Night wins in 1967, which, sure, it’s a look at racism, but, looking at the other four nominees that year, it was the second weakest choice in the bunch. Then 1968 was just a weak year in general (it was kind of like Hollywood releasing the excess water in the pipes while getting the good stuff ready for 1969), and then 1969, they finally went modern.

Midnight Cowboy wins Best Picture, Which was really the turning point for the next decade. Personally, I’d have picked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but I can see why they went the way they did. Midnight Cowboy was written by a formerly blacklisted writer, and it was a kind of rejection of the old ways. I understand. John Schlesinger wins Best Director for the film, which makes sense. Best Actor was John Wayne for True Grit, perhaps the most acceptable career achievement Oscar ever. Best Actress was Maggie Smith for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which I talked about here. And Best Supporting Actress was Goldie Hawn for Cactus Flower.

In all, I’d consider 1969 a very good year. My preferences lean the other way for the major two awards, but, hey, it’s not like they made a bad decision. So, in all — a good year. A forbearer of (mostly) great things to come.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – 1969

And the nominees were…

Rupert Crosse, The Reivers

Elliott Gould, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

Jack Nicholson, Easy Rider

Anthony Quayle, Anne of the Thousand Days

Gig Young, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (more…)


Pic of the Day: “Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?”